The armistice that ended the fighting in the First World War was signed at 5 am Paris time on 11 November 1918, and came into force at 11 am to allow the news to filter to all parts of the Western Front. Many soldiers, exhausted from the perils of a long war which had cost more than 17 million lives, responded to the abrupt release from danger with bewildered disbelief or by falling into an exhausted sleep. Among the civilian population the news was received with wild jubilation as crowds across the world gathered on the streets to sing and dance and cheer. In Dublin, some 50,000 men, women and children gathered in College Green to witness the unveiling of a Celtic Cross before its transportation to France as a permanent memorial to the dead of the 16th Irish Division. In London, people cheered as the Big Ben rang out for the first time since October 1914 and hundreds of thousands made their way to Buckingham Palace to greet King George V on the balcony. However not everyone in London was in festive mood. Tommy Armstrong continued dangerously ill, while Jess received news from Welland that broke her heart.
Monday 11 November
Armistace [sic] Day. Tom seems better this morning. The maroons1 went off at eleven, when Peace was declared. We watched the crowds out of the window, cheering & shouting, & it went on all day. It was a wonderful sight, everyone running out without hats etc: & waving flags, & the streets crowded. It was rather too much for Tom, so in the evening we barricaded [sic] up the windows, but we could still hear the noise, which went on just the same nearly all night, & fireworks too. Ione slept here, in my bed, & I slept on the box. She couldn’t have got through the crowd.
Signing the Armistice
Tuesday 12 November
Ione went out to shop, & I washed up & tidied etc: Tom much better today. Sir T. came in the morning & says she is much better, but that she must make an effort to do things. After lunch I cleaned the floor etc: & Mrs Isacke came up to see Tom, I read to Tom in the afternoon. Ione went back early as she had people coming for tea. Ceely, Janie & Venetia came to see us, & they came in to see Tom, & we gave them tea, & Tom liked it. H. lay down & then stayed in bed all night, as she felt giddy, so Muz & I slept together in Tom’s room. I finished reading “Diana & Destiny”2 yesterday.
Wednesday 13 November
Tom very well, but not quite as well as yesterday. I tidied up etc: after breakfast. Ione came in the morning, & went back after tea. Huff arrived in the morning, he is going back from leave. He came up to see Tom, & sat & talked to her for a long time, then came again later. I wrote letters etc: so didn’t see him till later, then he came & sat with me in the writing room, till he went to dinner. Then I tidied up for the night, then Huff came up, & I went down with him to see him off. H. sat up all night, & I watched the crowd out of my window, all the traffic was stopped, & the streets were absolutely crowded, cheering, shouting & dancing. Last night they made a huge fire in Trafalgar Sq. The noise has gone on all night, ever since the 11th! I went to bed at about 11-30, but hardly slept at all, & felt very lonely.
Thursday 14 November
Tom feeling sick nearly all day, & was sick. I tidied & washed up, in the morning. Ione came round. Mrs Kirwan came up to see us, & Muz & Ione went downstairs to see her, then she went to Flemings with Ione for lunch, & they both came back here for tea, & we had it in Tom’s room, Mrs K. goes down tonight. H. was up all day, & went out to shop. I wrote letters etc: & sat in the other room & downstairs. Did all the washing up & tidying for the night, & went to bed at about 11-30, but hardly slept at all, & felt awfully lonely again. H. sat up till one, & then went to bed, & Muz stayed in bed, & watched Tom. The people are still cheering & shouting in the streets! & it goes on nearly all night still. Big Ben strikes now, began on the 11th.
Friday 15 November
I tidied & washed up etc: Tom doesn’t seem so well today, rather slack. At about 12 I went down to write letters, & then went out & shopped, & didn’t get back till after five. The Stubbs’ had been while I was out, & Sir T. & I met Mrs Phillips as I was coming in. Muz had got a wire while was out, from Mrs Roxburgh, to say that my Dus: died last night. Ione slept the night with us.
Armistice celebrations in Birmingham
Saturday 16 November
I slept with Muz all night. Ione & I were to have gone up to Welland by the 5 A.M. train, but Muz didn’t want us to go, as Tom wasn’t so well. It is just awful not being able to go, I don’t know what I am going to do without her. Ione went to tea with Lady de Lisle, & Muz & I went for a lovely walk, while Tom slept. I sat up till about 11-30, & Muz went to bed about ten, & H sat up, & later Muz sat up too. We are not telling Tom about Dus: yet, as she isn’t well enough. It is so dreadfully lonely without my Dus:
Sunday 17 November
Tom being sick a bit, H. went with a note to Sir T., & I telephoned to him, & we thought he was coming in the evening, Ione came round just before lunch, & stayed till 3-30, Joan de Hoghton was going to tea with her. I sat with Muz & creepied her, & then did her feet. Sir T. didn’t come. I settled the things for the night & Muz went to bed the first part of the night, & H. went later. The cheering etc still going on in the streets, but this is to be the last night. I went down to write to Mrs Roxburgh, then went in to Muz’s room to get warm & creepied her for a bit. I went to bed about 11-30. They may be burying Dus: today, I did so want to be there.
A fond farewell to Dusky
A firework that makes a loud noise resembling that made by a cannon, used as a signal or warning ⇑
Diana and Destiny (1905) was written by the prolific author Charles Garvice (1850-1920). Although virtually unknown today, Garvice enjoyed enormous popularity in his lifetime, his 150 romantic novels (some written under the pseudonym Caroline Hart) selling almost two million copies across the globe annually. ⇑
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