Call to remember brave soldiers as ‘nightmare’ ends 100 years ago
- Credit: Archant
Three days before the guns fell silent signalling the end of the First World War, more than 40 soldiers from north London were listed as dead.
It was a casualty list this paper, then known as the Willesden Chronicle, printed regularly demonstrating not just sacrifice and loss, but heartbreak for families all over Brent.
When armistice came on November 11, 1918, the Chronicle welcomed it with the headline, “All Clear!”
War, “Hun” domination, organised brutality, death, devastation and military tyrannies that would have made slaves of free peoples had come “toppling down”, the editor commented.
“So we threw off the nightmare that had so long afflicted us, and forgot the pessimist and the pacifist”, the Chronicle told its readers.
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The paper thanked King George V, Lloyd George, army, navy and airforce chiefs for bringing victory.
“And above all we thank God… We mourn the loss of many a brave man today, but we shall ever hold their memory in love and honour”, the paper’s editor commented.
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The paper kept up its sombre note, not mentioning the joy and celebrations reported elsewhere.
In remarks full of irony for modern readers aware the country would be at war 20 years later, the editor wrote: “Let us trust [our war heroes] have prevented a recurrence of such a war”.
Just over a week later services of thanksgiving were held including one at St Andrew’s Church, High Road, Willesden Green.
The vicar, Rev. E. A. Morgan, called on the congregation to offer tribute of “heart, mind and soul” to the soldier, sailor and airmen who had won victory.
“In their country’s heart they would be for ever enshrined, those splendid fighting men,” he said.
Thoughts also turned to the scores of refugees welcomed into the borough from Belgium, the scene of some of the war’s fiercest and most bloody battles, who were preparing to return home.
The West Willesden Belgian Refugees Committee, run by a group of “benevolent ladies”, had provided “constant care” for “the unfortunate people who had to fly from their devastated homes”.
“‘Unfortunate’ only until they arrived in Harlesden”, a proud Chronicle reporter noted.