Tuesday, 11 November 2008

11 November 1919: The First Armistice Day

The annual remembrance of those who died in the War began on Tuesday 11th November 1919. The order for a two minutes’ silence was given by King George V the previous Friday, 7th November. Reeve wrote: “The first Anniversary of the signing of the provisional Armistice and the cessation of hostilities has been commemorated today. The somewhat frantic order was given for the solemn observance of two minutes at 11 o’clock on the 11th day of the 11th month, at which time last year the signatories affixed their names to the important documents. During those two minutes the police were instructed to “hold up” traffic in the streets, the railway-trains everywhere came to a standstill, soldiers in the barracks stood to attention; his Majesty’s ships shut off steam: factories and mines held their breath, and the population generally was invited to “remember in silence the glorious dead”. The signal was given in London by the firing of maroons, and in country places by the chiming of the hour by the Church clock duly regulated to Greenwich time, or by the ceasing of the church bell, tolled for five minutes previously. In Stondon the people watched for the bell’s signal which I myself gave, and the children at School and adults outside joined in giving thanks for the great Victory”.
Armistice Day has been commemorated unbroken since 1919. From 1956 the day observed changed to the second Sunday in November.

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