November sees the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War. This month we’re looking at how the inhabitants of Suffolk observed the conclusion of ‘the war to end all wars’.
It had been a total conflict, affecting those on the Home Front as well as the combatants, leaving the country exhausted by the war effort and broken by grief for the loss of those who would not return.
Although the Armistice marked the end of the fighting on 11th November 1918, the Peace treaty was not signed until 28th June 1919. The British government had planned a four-day Peace celebration for August 1919. However, the events were brought forward and scaled down to a one-day event on 19th July 1919. The first Armistice Day was held on 11th November 1919. It was to be a commemoration of the end of hostilities the previous year and an opportunity to remember those who had not returned.
In Ipswich, taxi driver Olive Turney recalled in her diary on 12th November 1918:
“Tremendous rejoicings in London, & everywhere. The King & Queen had a tremendous reception. Thanksgiving services in St. Paul’s. Began work again here, but the works closed again until Thursday morning. Church bells & clocks striking again at night.”
Most towns and villages have a War Memorial commemorating those men and women who gave their lives during this conflict. Suffolk honoured those who served and died in a variety of ways including the erection of war memorials, village halls, tablets, windows etc. The county had two ‘thankful villages’ - settlements in England and Wales from which all their members of the armed forces survived World War I – Culpho and South Elmham St Michael. The latter is doubly thankful in that they also lost no service personnel during World War II.
Ipswich Record Office holds some papers relating to the competition for the design of the memorial in Christchurch Park to commemorate those from the County Borough of Ipswich who died.
The county of Suffolk recorded the names of the fallen from the county outside the Borough, over 10,600 in the Suffolk Roll of Honour which is on display in Suffolk County Council’s Endeavour House. We have recently digitised the roll and the digital images, searchable by name, will be available to view online at www.suffolkarchives.co.uk.
Following a public subscription appeal the memorial to the fallen from the Administrative County of East Suffolk was the building of a new wing attached to the East Suffolk and Ipswich Hospital in Anglesea Road, Ipswich. The building opened on 28 July 1924.
There is a small display of items relating to peace celebrations across the county, including the papers about the Ipswich War Memorial at the Ipswich branch of the Suffolk Record Office throughout November and December.
Suffolk Record Office would like to collect photographs, programmes and other papers that illustrate Suffolk’s commemorations of the end of the First World War in November 2018. If the items are in digital format they can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. Hard copies can be sent or brought in to any of the three Record Office branches.