LOOKING BACK - November 22, 2018 edition

Armistice celebrations in Rugby

Sunday, 25th November 2018, 7:32 am
Updated Tuesday, 8th January 2019, 3:53 pm
The Armistice Rugby's Celebration 1918 - Councillors,Guardians & Masters of Rugby School

This incredible scene from a gathering at the end World War I, 100 years ago, was sent in by Allan Allcott.

He says it is captioned: ‘The Armistice Rugby’s Celebration 1918. Councillors,Guardians & Masters of Rugby School’. He found it when he was looking through his mother’s photographs and thought readers might enjoy seeing it too.

His mother, Elma Allcott, is now 92 and her father and uncles served in the military during the conflict although Allan doesn’t think any of them are depicted in the photograph.


The pre-arranged intimation of the armistice was conveyed by four blasts on the BTH blower. The signal was sounded just about noon (on November 11, 1918) and was taken up by engine men on the railway, who used their whistled vigorously.

The employees poured out of the various works and joined those who had already left the smaller workshops and business establishments in the town. The streets were quickly filled with people joyously exchanging congratulations, and manifesting their feelings of relief and gratification in a variety of ways, while frequently could be heard the emotional exclamation from delighted wives and mothers: “Thank God, I shall soon have my boy home again.”

Groups of soldiers on leave, wounded soldiers, young men who were just approaching military age and munition workers carrying miniature flags or national colours paraded the streets singing patriotic songs and making any noise that they thought would indicate the extent of their jubilation.

Flags were run out at almost every window and all the streets in the town were beflagged in an incredibly short space of time. Motorcars decked with flags, driving hither and thither, added to the excitement and gaiety of the scenes.

Joyous peels were also rung on the bells in both towers of the Parish Church and St Marie’s and neighbouring village churches. Most of the shops in the town closed for the remainder of the day.

In expectation of a favourable outcome of the armistice negotiations, a special meeting of the Urban District Council was held on Sunday [November 10] afternoon to consider what form the celebrations should take and it was decided to hold a united thanksgiving service in the Recreation Ground.

Held on Monday at 3pm it was attended by several thousand people. Just before the start a squadron of aeroplanes at low altitude came into view through the misty atmosphere of a typical November afternoon and as they passed over the Recreation Ground the vast crowd gave vent to their appreciation of what the RAF has done towards securing the victory by enthusiastic cheering and waving of countless flags and bunting.

As Monday advanced the spirits of the people became more exuberant and it is some years since the streets of Rugby presented such an animated appearance, thronged with merry-makers of both sexes and all classes and until a late hour the joyful sounds were continued and occasionally fireworks were discharged.

A patriotic concert was given by the Salvation Army Band in the Market Place and listened to with appreciation by a large crowd.