Whilst it may seem premature in the life of this blog to talk about Armistice Day, one of my WAVE colleagues has drawn my attention to an interesting item we hold in the archives. This is a letter, written by a lady called Joyce, to her Aunt Ada in Wolverhampton. It is dated 11 November 1918, and is written following the Armistice Day celebrations in London.
It is a four-page letter, and after nearly 100 years, it is remarkably well-preserved. It is produced in its entirety below, but some of the highlights include Joyce’s description of the scene outside Buckingham Palace, as “the most stirring thing I’ve ever seen”. Soldiers were sitting on top of the Queen Victoria statue outside the Palace, chanting for King George. When the King, Queen and Princess Mary appeared on the balcony,
a roar greeted them, the roar of a people satisfied. Nothing was ever heard like it. The whole assembly swayed with one great emotion.”
The bands played, and there was singing, “while the Queen beat time with a minute Union Jack”. The whole scene is incredibly evocative, of a moment when “Kg [King] + Qn [Queen] + people were absolutely at one.” There is an optimism and thrill and excitement in the air, even Joyce when writing her letter states that:
I am so excited to-night I don’t know how to keep still. London is a mass of happiness + life + noise.”
The letter is still tinged with sadness, however. While Joyce is relieved that “Harold, Fred, Vic + Jack” are safe, she also remembers “Poor Mrs Willcock, how she’ll feel it when the other boys come home.”