Sunday 11th November marks a memorable date in British History. The Centenary, 100 years to the day that World War 1 officially ended at 11am when Germany signed The Armistice supplied by Britain and France. An Armistice is a peace agreement that signifies the end of fighting.
How was the news delivered and received?
Throughout the war the British Spotters (Lookouts) located around the cities would fire Rockets known as Maroons, as a signal that the German bombers were fast approaching. These Rockets would have been a terrifying sound that would have been associated with widespread panic, uncertainty and disaster for all of the British recipients since the War had started over 4 years earlier, on 28 July 1914.
London gave a humorous show of the British Dry sense of humour – as these same Maroon rockets were the chosen method used to signify the end of the War. Morse Code, Telegrams and Newspapers were at the height of communications at the time. The News of the ending of the conflict would have reached the masses much slower than any news on today’s internet channels. This did not stop the widespread Jubilation as people lined the streets to celebrate, documented accounts of pianos in the streets as a nation came together as one to sing and rejoice in victorious melodies. This collective spirit, this unity was also one of the leading factors in the result of the war.
Which Countries were involved in WW1?
The Allied Countries had all united Forces to defend their borders and eventually succeed in the defeat of the Central Powers. Below is a diagram showing which countries were involved in the war:
The Impact that the First World War had on Britain:
As well as the unity of the Allied forces highlighted above, there was also a togetherness closer to home. The men went away to fulfil their National obligations on the front line. Away from their loved ones with no communication channels, surviving in dirty living conditions, a breeding ground for diseases such as the black flu, which resulted in the deaths of many soldiers and 5% of the global population in 1918. These brave men would have also been battling their own, unimaginable fears. Those on the front line would have been surrounded by the stench of dead corpses, and the sight of numerous lost limbs, lost lives of those they would have referred to as brothers.
The total number of British casualties from World War 1 alone is estimated to be between 867,829 and 1,011,687. We use remembrance day to honour the fallen soldiers of war, which is regarded as the ultimate sacrifice – giving your life for your country. Whilst this holds true, it should also be a time to show gratitude for the survivors too. Nobody involved in the War escaped unharmed. The mental scars will have lived on with these Men and Women for the rest of their days.
Take a moment to consider the British Women involved in the War. The men were away at War so the women were left to fill the male voids left back home – as well as looking after the children. Traditionally male roles all needed to be filled; from farming to factories, from bus conductors to banking. Many of these patriotic wartime women just like the men, put their lives on the line for their Country. One notable group these heroes were known as “the Canaries”. The Canary Girls worked in the munitions factories, which at one point supplied 80% of all weapons and ammunition deployed by the British troops. These brave ladies handled the explosive compound TNT and worked with poisonous substances, in unsafe conditions with inadequate protective wears on a daily basis. Their skin was turned yellow due to this substance exposure, and this is why they became known as the same name as that of the yellow birds. It is thought that around 400 of these munitionettes lost their lives to TNT overexposure during the First World War.
As the news of Armistice filtered through on Sunday 11th November 1918, many of these women would have been buoyed by the expectation of their partner’s safety and imminent return home. There were instances where these spirits were dampened, as delayed telegrams continued to be received to inform the women that their men had in fact fallen. Over 4 years, suffering the pain and anguish of not knowing if your loved ones are dead or alive, everyday living in hope for the day of peace. The news of this peace is finally delivered accompanied by the overwhelming relief that their families will soon be reunited – only to have these expectations cruelly snatched away from them during the final throes.
What can I do on the 100 Year Anniversary of WW1?
Collective Unity is a common theme throughout this post. Our brothers and sisters involved in the War, endured the ultimate hardships and sacrifices so that we can enjoy our Freedom today. Over this post we’ve looked back on this generation of heroes with respect and gratitude for their achievements. They have undoubtedly left a lasting legacy.
We have no way of knowing how our Great Country will change over the next 100 years; what technology will look like and how social behaviours will change – but we can leave a statement and a footprint for our descendants.
All we need to do is take an hour out of our weekends this Sunday, 11th November 2018, wear our Poppies with Pride and attend our local Remembrance Services. Services will be held in Cities, Towns and Villages throughout the Country. The best way to find your local service locations and times is to contact your nearest British Legion Branch or your local Town Council. Once you find out the times of your local service perhaps you could then post them on your social media accounts to let others around you know – so they too can pay tribute to our war heroes. It would be something truly unprecedented for everyone of us to join in and contribute. If for any reason it’s not possible for you to attend a service, then why not at least visit your local cenotaph and place a poppy on it to go with all of the wreaths and other tributes.
In previous posts I’ve mentioned the need to do small things in life that make you proud of yourself and set an example to those around you. This is the perfect opportunity for you to do something this weekend that you can be proud of. Most of us have family and friends both past and present who have served in the British army so let’s all go out there and keep our National traditions going and create our own piece of British History.
How Should I wear my Poppy?
Most people have the leaf pointing in the 11 o’clock to represent the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month. I personally think that making the effort is the most important thing here. For those interested, the red of the Poppy signifies the blood shed, the black centre symbolises the mourning of those that never returned home and the green leaf embodies future prosperity.
Our British troops past and present have fought for us and given us our freedom, for that we should take the time to show our appreciation. This is a time for us to all unite by lining the streets, gathering round the cenotaphs, bowing our heads and remembering our heroes.
We Will Remember Them.
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Thankyou for reading!