“On all hands could be witnessed the people’s gladness that at last the end had come to the long period of bloodshed.” #Armistice 1918

It was thought at the time to be the war to end all wars but as we approach November 11th and remember all those killed and maimed in wars then and since, The Orkney News looks at what the reaction was at the time when the cessation of fighting was declared..

The Orkney Herald, Wednesday 13th of November 1918

“With the defection of Austria, Germany, as from Monday last week stood alone, isolated and beaten…Now the great Austrian Empire is crumpled up, and what manner it will emerge from the chaos in which the criminal folly of the Hapsburgs has put it time alone can tell.’

The Orkney Herald Wednesday 13th November 1918

“On Thursday afternoon a report was circulated in Kirkwall and elsewhere to the effect that Reuter’s agency had it from a reliable source that the armistice had been signed at 2.30pm that afternoon.”

“The glad news came on Monday morning that the armistice had been signed by Germany, and that the great world struggle had finished with the smashing of German militarism and the securing by the Allies of the end for which they had been fighting.”

“The armistice terms which have been imposed upon Germany, and which that country had signed, are of a most drastic nature.”

The news of the Armistice being signed was marked in Kirkwall by the blowing of sirens from naval vessels at 9.30am on Monday morning. People came out into the street and the bells of St Magnus Cathedral rang out.

“On all hands could be witnessed the people’s gladness that at last the end had come to the long period of bloodshed. “

Flags and streamers appeared across the town and at midday the town crier came before the Mercat Cross to proclaim a half day holiday closing all businesses by the afternoon.

A thanksgiving service was held in St Magnus Cathedral attended by Orkney’s religious leaders.

The Secretary of State for Scotland announced the lifting of some lighting restrictions. Permission for bells to be rung and public clocks to strike was also announced.

Life would never be back to ‘normal’. Families and communities had lost a whole generation either dead or with life changing injuries. Across Europe millions of people were displaced and the terms of the Armistice meant that the world political situation was unstable. Another generation would again be involved in a world conflict even more devastating than 1914-1918.

A kilted soldier statue stands with head bowed atop a plinth at the Fort William war Memorial set in formal gardens
War Memorial Fort William

Fiona Grahame

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