Tag Archives: Armistice 100

A logo with the words "Ringing for Peace - Armistice 100" and a swinging church bell

11:00, 11/11/1918: Armistice

At about 05:20 on the morning of 11 November 1918, in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne, the final signature went on to the papers detailing the terms of the Armistice with Germany. To allow time to ensure the details could be communicated to all troops, it was agreed that the Armistice would take effect at 11am. This was the last of a series of Armistices that largely brought active hostilities to an end. However, it was not a formal peace (treaties would only be signed in 1919), and British troops continued to fight in Russia (where an intervention force had been sent to support the anti-Bolshevik “White Russian” forces), and would be drawn into more colonial conflicts on the Northwestern frontier of India (in what’s now Pakistan) and Afghanistan.

Surrey ringers would be drawn in to both those theatres, with some of the Territorials sent to India on garrison duty shortly after the outbreak of war drawn into the fighting there, while Frederick Coleman of Epsom would come home from service with the Royal Army Medical Corps to find that his marriage had broken down. It was presumably as a result of that that he re-enlisted in the Military Foot Police and served with the British force based around the Black Sea.

Curiously, some war diaries for units on the Western Front barely mention the Armistice, but at home there was rejoicing, with bell ringing prominent. As mentioned before on the blog that will also be the case this year. The Ringing Remembers campaign which aimed to recruit 1400 new ringers to “replace” those lost in the war has in fact had over 2,600 registrations.

A logo with the words "Ringing for Peace - Armistice 100" and a swinging church bell

Ringing for peace – Armistice 100

Today and tomorrow bells around the country will ring, as they have done for almost a century, to mark Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday. Ringing is usually (as in the name of this blog) halfmuffled, reflecting the mourning feel of the day. However, 99 years ago, on that first Armistice Day the ringing was (largely) joyful.

Just announced is the initial news of the request for ringing for Armistice100 next year, coincidentally 11 November 2018 will be a Sunday so Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday will actually be a single day. The request is that ringing in the morning should be as usual, but if that is halfmuffled the bells should be rung open later in the day, reflecting more of that original mood.

That mood was of course not universal, many accounts of Wilfred Owen’s life mention that the bells of Oswestry were ringing to mark the Armistice when his mother received the news of his death. I’ve recently tracked down the Ringing World report of the quarter peal of Grandsire Triples rung there that day:

Oswestry, Salop. At the Parish Church, on Monday, November 11th a Quarter-peal of Grandsire Triples (1260 changes): G. Thompson 1, R T Evans 2, J Hughes 3, R Martin 4, R Edwards 5, G Williams 6, E Jones (conductor) 7, G Beaton 8.

Presumed to be the ringing that was taking place in Oswestry when the news of Wilfred Owen’s death was received by his mother in 1918. From The Ringing World, 13 December 1918, page 397 (or page 189 of this online PDF containing the issues from the second half of 1918)

In addition, part of the plan is to recruit 1400 new ringers over the next year to symbolically “replace” the 1400 ringers killed in the First World War and as far as possible to have them ringing on the day. The official launch was in yesterday’s Ringing World and has now been announced on the website of the Central Council for Church Bell Ringing where details of the plans can be found.

Tomorrow should also see media coverage with Alan Regin, Steward of the Rolls of Honour, talking on BBC Breakfast about some of the individual ringers killed, and pieces in some of the newspapers. Again, details are on the CCCBR website.

1918’s Ringing World shows several other stories that could easily be taken up today, for example the youngest ringer in 1918 appears to have been F C Daniels of Immanuel, Streatham (younger brother of Henry Vernon Daniels), while the oldest was 95-year-old John Heathorn of Guildford.