Flying the flag for the day peace was declared
MADGE HOWDILL never forgot the day she joined the jubilant crowds thronging Leeds as the city celebrated news of the Armistice.
Madge, like so many others, excitedly carried a colourful handmade flag to show her joy at the end of the Great War.
The 15-year-old’s relief was understandable, with two of her brothers lucky enough to survive the fighting.
The flag – which is on display at Leeds City Museum – has been carefully kept by Duncan McCargo, a professor of political science at the University of Leeds, after discovering it in the attic of the Howdills’ old family home in Hanover Square, which he moved into in 1993. A neighbour put him in touch with Madge, who died in 1999.
Prof McCargo recalled: “She didn’t tell me exactly what she wanted me to do with it, but I came away knowing that she’d kept it for a reason and with the distinct impression that I’d been given a mission from Madge to do something significant with it.”
Another touching story is attached to a pair of worn leather boots kept in the University of Leeds’s Liddle Collection.
They were worn in 1918 by the then 21-year-old 2nd Lieutenant William Macdonald. Nearly a quarter of his sixth form class failed to make it home.
Every Armstice Day for almost 70 years, Mr Macdonald, who moved to Leeds in 1925 to work as a GP, donned the same boots to commemorate the war and the lives lost.
Meanwhile 100 people, aged one to 100, gathered at the De Grey Rooms, York, to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War, joined by special guest Mick Calpin, 68, from Thirsk, whose grandfather, Ernest Calpin, was one of 10 brothers from York who served in the war. The Calpin brothers are thought to be the biggest band of brothers to have fought in the conflict. Miraculously nine came home alive.
And yesterday children from Wibsey primary school, Bradford, laid a wreath at a specially made 5ft 8in Cenotaph, as part of a special commemorative Assembly.
I had the impression that I’d been given a mission from Madge. Duncan McCargo, professor of political science at the University of Leeds.
THROUGH THE AGES: Clockwise from top, Leeds City Museum curator Lucy Moore with a 100-year-old flag that Madge Howdill flew to celebrate Armistice Day; children at Wibsey Primary School in Bradford carry a poppy wreath; 100 people, aged one to 100, gathered at the De Grey Rooms in York; one-year-old Baillie Douglas hands over a drawing to 100-year-old Wilf Denham; boots worn by war hero William Macdonald.