At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month – we will remember them.
On 11 November 1918 at 11 am, the First World War officially ended. Prime Minister David Lloyd George announced the Armistice to the House of Commons. He hoped “that thus, this fateful morning, came the end to all war”. Around six hours earlier, the Armistice had been signed in two train carriages at Rethondes, forty miles north of Paris. Representatives from the Allied forces and Germany had spent three days settling the proposals.
The Lincolnshire Echo reported:
The guns have ceased their work. The opposing forces on the long line of the Western Front rest. Hostilities are stopped. The armistice is signed. All the great factors of submission demanded from Germany have been conceded, and the triumph of the allies in the field and on the seas is complete. We must see to it now that the peace terms are just – just to our gallant dead, who have given their all for the cause of the right.
A year later, on 7 November 1919, King George V announced that on the anniversary of the Armistice ‘there may be, for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities…all work, all sound and all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead’.
The Remembrance Sunday service commemorates the British and Commonwealth war dead of both world wars and the dead of all other conflicts since 1945. The Cenotaph in Whitehall and the Tomb of the Unknown Warrior are national memorials to the war dead.
On Wednesday 10 November 1920, the Lincolnshire Echo described the internment of the Unknown Warrior at Westminster Abbey and the emotions felt by many:
Tomorrow morning for a period of two minutes, there will be silence and stillness throughout the land. Thoughts will be far away from Britain, and the fallen will be revered in the minds of all. Soldiers will fight their battles over again, and react in their minds the scenes when their comrades were smittein [sic] by their sides. Mothers whose children lie buried in foreign soil will hope that the body which is to go to rest with Britain’s greatest dead will be that of their son. Widows will think of their husbands who sacrificed all for country, and they will share the same glorious hope.
Almost twenty years later, in November 1939, decisions around whether Remembrance Sunday should be postponed in Lincolnshire were discussed. Mr J. C. Valentine of the Kirton branch of the British Legion proposed the following:
‘In spite of ‘Jerry’ I am of the opinion that we should carry on with our Armistice Sunday arrangements’.