Scotsman 200: Time for national jubilation … and remembrance

A group of women celebrate by waving Union Jacks on Armistice Day. Picture: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.
A group of women celebrate by waving Union Jacks on Armistice Day. Picture: Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.
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To celebrate the 200th anniversary of The Scotsman, we are dipping into our archives to bring you a selection of some of the biggest stories of the last two centuries. This month we are showcasing the two world wars, reproducing The Scotsman’s original coverage of many of the wartime events which directly touched Scotland, such as the scuttling of the German fleet at Scapa Flow, the loss of the Iolaire, German air attacks on Scotland over the Forth, and the surprise arrival of Rudolf Hess at Eaglesham. Today we feature the 1918 armistice, as a declaration of peace sparks celebrations across Scotland.

Tuesday, November 12, 1918

Peace is declared

TERMS OF THE Armistice

The Great War is ended. The armistice was signed at five o’clock yesterday morning, and hostilities ceased on all fronts at 11 a.m.

The historic announcement of the signing of the armistice was made by the Prime Minister in a statement issued shortly after ten o’clock yesterday morning. Everywhere the news evoked rejoicings over the Allies’ magnificent victory and profound feelings of thankfulness that the long struggle was at last over. In all the cities and towns of the Empire and of the Allied countries memorable scenes were witnessed.

Mr Lloyd George had an enthusiastic reception when he rose to read the terms of the armistice in the House of Commons. After the Prime Minister’s speech the House immediately adjourned, on his motion, to proceed to St Margaret’s Church in order to give reverent thanks for the deliverance of the world from a great peril.

The terms of the armistice will be found in full below.

They include: –

Immediate evacuation of Belgium, Alsace-Lorraine, and Luxemburg.

Evacuation by the enemy of the Rhineland to be completed within 31 days.

The occupation of evacuated territory by Allied and United States troops will keep pace with the evacuation.

Allied garrisons to hold main crossings of the Rhine at Mainz, Coblentz, and Cologne, together with the bridgeheads and a 30-kilometre radius on the right bank.

A neutral zone is also to be set up on the right bank of the Rhine.

Military food stores and munitions not to be removed from evacuated territory.

Means of communication not to be impaired.

The surrender of 5000 locomotives and 5000 guns (2500 heavy and 2500 field), 20,000 machine guns, 2000 aeroplanes, bombers, and night bombing machines.

Railways of Alsace-Lorraine to be handed over.

Immediate repatriation (without repatriation of Germans) of all Allied and Unites States prisoners.

All German troops in Russia, Rumania, and elsewhere to be withdrawn.

Complete abandonment of the Treaties of Bukharest and Brest-Litovsk.

Immediate stoppage of all hostilities at sea.

The handing over to the Allies and the United States of all submarines.

The following are to be disarmed : – Six battle cruisers, 10 battleships, 8 light cruisers, and 50 destroyers of the most modern type.

All other surface-water ships to be concentrated in German naval bases to be designated by the Allies, and to be paid off and disarmed under the surveillance of the Allies.

The Allies reserve the right to occupy Heligoland in order to enforce the terms of the armistice.

Freedom of access to and from the Baltic to be given to the naval forces of the Allied Powers.

The existing blockade to Germany to remain unchanged.

All Black Sea ports to be evacuated by the Germans. All Russian warships seized by Germany in the Black Sea are to be handed over.

The immediate restitution of cash deposits of the National Bank of Belgium.

The restitution of Russian and Rumanian gold.

The duration of the armistice is to be 36 days. Canadian troops of the First Army captured Mons early yesterday morning. Belgian troops entered Ghent.

It is reported that the Kaiser, who has taken refuge in Holland, will be interned by the Dutch Government.

EDINBURGH: STIRRING SCENES

News of the conclusion of the armistice was received in Edinburgh a little before eleven o’clock. Special editions of the evening papers were immediately published, and by midday the glad tidings had spread generally over the city. There was no outburst of unbridled demonstration. The public took the news joyously and thankfully, but in the main quietly. The first public celebration took place in the Waverley Market, where a gathering of several hundreds had assembled for the opening of the Edinburgh War Loan Campaign. The ceremony was appropriately converted into a peace celebration, in which the Lord Provost expressed the sentiments evoked by a great occasion. The proceedings opened with the singing of “God Save the King.” Gradually as the day advanced the streets assumed an air of festivity. Flags were displayed on the prominent buildings. Smaller flags, as by magic, seemed to blossom forth in every direction. They were fluttered by numerous promenaders, especially by the younger people. Large bands of girls, freed from their munition work, passed along the streets singing and displaying red, white and blue colours in a variety of forms. Flags flew from the windows of dwelling-houses in all directions. The prolonged sounding of horns conveyed the news to the outskirts of the city, and syrens from vessels in the Forth also served to disseminate the news.

Occasionally there was a hint of tragedy amidst the rejoicings. Amongst those, for instance, who stood at one of the street corners and waved a white handkerchief to a joyous company of soldiers who had commandeered the top of a car was a young widow attired in black.

Family parties during the early part of the afternoon were conspicuous everywhere, and their participation in the celebrations clearly indicated the removal of a shadow which had been hanging over the home.

An appropriate celebration in mid-air was furnished by a covey of aeroplanes, which circled over Waverley Market at noon. The planes performed spectacular evolutions and dropped smoke balls, while three of them at one stage flew along Princes Street low down over the heads of the crowd.

Bands of young munition girls paraded with flags, singing popular songs, the old familiar song “Till the Boys Come Home,” being frequently heard. A company of naval men sealed the Wellington Monument at the Register House, and, by arranging flags on his person, forced the hero of Waterloo to participate in the celebrations.

All Edinburgh in the evening came out into the streets. The tramcar traffic was stopped at eight o’clock, and the thoroughfares were left to the promenaders. Princes Street became a channel along which, from one side to the other, flowed a broad stream of humanity.

Searchlights, no longer used as a defensive precaution, played on the clouds overhead. The outstanding feature of Princes Street was a searchlight on a motor waggon, whose brilliant shaft was directed on the crowd, to the Scott Monument, and up skywards by turns. Groups of young people sang popular choruses as they moved along, and the din was considerable. With the public-houses closed early in the evening, cases of intoxication were very rare. The early retiring habits acquired during the war period began to show their sedative influence by ten o’clock, after which the city quickly quietened down.

GLASGOW: ALL CLASSES CELEBRATE

Since the armistice negotiations commenced crowds of the public had gathered at the Post Office and the newspaper office nightly, anxious to learn the latest information, and on Saturday night and Sunday night – even till early on Monday morning – they had waited for the information that the Germans had accepted the terms which Marshal Foch had to communicate, and had gone home rather disappointed that the moment for celebration had been delayed. But that disappointment only reinforced the joy of actual accomplishment.

The news reached Glasgow shortly after ten o’clock, and spread throughout the city within a remarkably short time. Public places like the City Chambers and Exchanges received the tidings “across the wire” ; newspaper offices were inundated with telephone inquiries ; and from mouth to mouth the fact that the armistice had been signed passed, scepticism being abolished by the appearance of special editions of the newspapers. Gradually flags appeared, tardily at first, and then in ever-increasing number till the streets of the city were bedecked in colour. Business in shops and offices and warehouses became unsettled, and members of the staffs gave up the attempt to work calmly, and went outside.

There they found themselves joined by workers from the big industrial establishments, by students from the University, and children from the schools, by munition workers, and by staid citizens whose ordinary mode of life was influenced by immediate environment. Without organisation or pre-arrangement processions were formed in various parts of the city, and headed by isolated musicians – usually a piper – they marched to George Square, which was the point of convergence for most of the demonstrators.

There Lord Provost Stewart, mounting a lorry, announced the glorious news, but his speech was cut short by the full-throated cheering of the assembly, repeated again and again as the Union Jack was unfurled from the City Chambers and the Royal Standard displayed from the General Post Office.

It was frequently remarked by observers that there was no discordant note throughout the celebrations. The red flag effectively hid its diminished head, and the raucous Bolshevism which has disturbed public meetings so often of late was discreetly silent. Where public meetings took place reference was made to the event which had thrilled the nation, and the National Anthem was sung, while in many instances telegrams of congratulation were sent to the King, Admiral Beatty, and to Sir Douglas Haig. Bells were rung from the church steeples, guns were fired, and whistles resounded through the day and during the evening.

DUNDEE: CROWDS AT CITY CHAMBERS

In Dundee all classes of the community went on holiday, and from morning till night the streets were thronged with cheering crowds. In the forenoon sirens were sounded, and work was not resumed in the mills and factories, shipyards and engineering establishments after the breakfast hour. Great crowds gathered at the centre of the city.

At noon Lord Provost Sir William Don and the Magistrates assembled on an improvised platform in one of the arches at the City Chambers, and the Lord Provost addressed a huge crowd. He said they had received the announcement of the signing of the armistice with feelings of thankfulness to the Most High. On the call of the Lord Provost, the crowd sang the National Anthem with fervent goodwill, and amid a forest of flags, cheers were given for “Haig and the boys at the front.”

Subsequently many peals of bells were rung, and bands paraded the streets with cheering crowds in their wake.

The temper of the people was in every way admirable. Everywhere there was the note of thankfulness that the war had terminated, but there was also a deeper and stronger note that the British cause had triumphed. A great feature was the decking with bunting of all the vessels in the harbour.

ABERDEEN: STREET PROCESSIONS

In Aberdeen the first intimation was the ringing of the great bell Victoria, for the first time since Hogmanay 1914, and the hooting of the syrens of the vessels in the harbour. Great crowds gathered in the streets.

At the Town House, where the flags of the Allies were hoisted, Provost Sir James Taggart appeared on the balcony, and called for three cheers for “our glorious boys” and for the King, which were warmly given.

The Gordon Highlanders, with their pipe and brass bands, had an enthusiastic ovation.

The students from Marischal College paraded with flags and drums, and in the afternoon the Discharged Sailors and Soldiers’ Association had a procession with their bands. Flags were everywhere – on the cars and at all public buildings. Rosettes of red, white and blue were prominent. All the schools were closed for the afternoon and the most of the public works were also shut.

From the meeting of the Town Council telegrams of congratulation were sent to the King, the Prime Minister, Field-Marshal Haig, Admiral Beatty, and Marshal Foch. In several churches services were held at noon. The students had a torchlight procession in the evening.

The full text of this edited extract can be found at The Scotsman Digital Archive