How Leamington marked the end of First World War in 1918

No Caption ABCDE NNL-180211-155635005
No Caption ABCDE NNL-180211-155635005

To mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day, we dug out the Leamington Courier from 1918 to see how the historic event was celebrated.

The end of the First World War is certainly mentioned in the Leamington Courier back in 1918 - but you have to look to find it.

While you would expect such news to be on the front page, newspapers 100 years ago usually featured advertisements on the front, with a news round-up inside.

The first mention comes in a report titled ‘Thanksgiving Week. It states: “The first day of Thanksgiving Week in Leamington will never be forgotten; it will ever be remembered as Armistice Day. The glorious news infected one and all, and in the Royal Borough and in every town throughout the country the populace gave expression to their joy that a tyrant had fallen and that England and her grand Allies had triumphed.”

In a lecture, the Earl of Denbigh talked about the dangers of how the war started in the first place, before launching Leamington’s appeal during War Savings Week.

The report states: “Leamington, having been asked to raise £135,000, began her happy task on Monday.”

Stratford-upon-Avon had already collected £303,000 and hoped to make that up to £305,000, leading the Mayor (Councillor G. Chasmore) to state: “I beg of Leamington not to be behind Stratford.”

The report went on to say: “At this moment the news that the armistice had been signed was announced to the meeting, the momentous report being heralded with a wild outburst of cheering and the singing of the National Anthem.

“Speaking of work in the ‘piping times of peace’, Lord Denbigh said he hoped the party politics slate would be wiped clean. The conditions of the general public would have to be improved. There are great foreign trading nations dependent upon us to a large extent, so the people of this country must realise their great responsibilities. The speaker concluded with the significant word: “There are some dangerous times ahead.”

The following day, large crowds gathered outside the town hall as speeches were made by the Mayor, General Sir John Keir and Mr WJP Whitsed (chairman of the local organising committee).

The Mayor said that every citizen must now work together for the country. He said: “It would be a disgrace to Leamington if the sum asked for (£135,000) was not raised in the week.”. He hoped it would be trebled.

The crowds gathering outside the town hall were treated to a daring aerial display to celebrate the end of the First World War.

The Courier described the dramatic scenes: “Round and round, backwards and forwards, circled the machine...the drone touched a higher key as the nose of the machine fell, to rise again with increased speed in a graceful loop as, obedient to the pilot’s touch, the propellor, helicopter-like, bit vertically into the atmosphere. But the coup of the display was yet to come, and the aeroplane shot hither and thither like a huge and noisy hawk before the roar of the engine ceased as the pilot ‘switched off’.

A cry went up from the onlookers, partly from fear, partly from admiration, as the machine flashed round, in perhaps 
the most nerve-racking of all the ‘stunt-artist’s’ tricks - a ‘roll’. Two complete lateral revolutions were made before the machine again assumed a level keel to rise into the air, and, as a final salutation, fall flashing earthwards, almost skimming the housetops, before it finally whirled off to its distant hangar.”