The Great War Armistice Celebrations


On the 10th of November 2018 a celebration of the Armistice and the end of Great War was held in Goldhanger Village Hall organised by the local History Group using information recorded in the newspapers and Parish Magazine of the day. These were mainly written by the Rector, the Revd Gardner whose son Cyril was killed and who was responsible for building the War Memorial at the front of St Peters Church. Every year we remember those local men who lost the lives, but this occasion provided an opportunity to look back at those who returned from the war and those who were left behind, who then “celebrated” the end of a war, the “the war to end all wars”. During the evening the Jubilee Choir performed several moving patriotic song... for PCs

   but not on Ipads,etc.


Much of the material presented here about the original Armistice celebrations was assembled as part of that Village Hall event.


select image to enlarge

There are more photos of the 2018 event on the Village Hall website at...







During the original celebrations there was much triumphalism, patriotism, flag-waving and bellringing which was tinged with great sadness for those who had lost their lives; those who were wounded; and those who were disabled for life. The 2018 “celebration” in the Village Hall tried to reflect all of these aspects and the evening began with a short playlet that envisioned the scene at Goldhanger on 11th November 1918...

An Airman from Gardeners Farm Flight Station, rushed in to the Chequers and declared:

The war has just ended!      We won!      The Kaiser has been defeated!       Boche napoo!  

Our troops are coming home!            [ this was accompanied by much cheering from the audience ]

A man at the bar responded:

Let’s celebrate!      Get out the flags!      Have a party?      A bonfire in the Square?

A lady customer said:

But my son is never coming home.    We have lost many other young lives.     I will not be celebrating!

A second lady says:

And where is my son?     Many of our boys have been wounded, shell shocked and traumatised.

Now is no time to celebrate!                                      (some photos of the playlet are on the Village Hall website)

This dilemma has existed ever since and remains with us today. But in time Goldhanger did celebrate. They welcomed home and celebrated the return of their young men and winning a "war to end all wars". As part of the 2018 celebration of this 100th anniversary, Goldhanger looked back at the local and national celebrations that took place at that time. The evening's celebration started with a meal, as they did on two occasions in the School Room 100yrs ago. Then, the meat was supplied by Mr Bunting, in 2018 it was supplied by Jenny and Eric, and the village school bell was available to attract attention. Sweets called Peace Babies were provided on the tables which were produced for the original Armistice celebrations. They were renamed Jelly Babies at the beginning of WW-2.

Material prepared for the 2018 event is presented here in chronological order...






The armistice agreement was signed in a railway carriage at Compiegne and the fighting ended...



There were many impromptu celebrations around the world...





December 1918

From the Parish Magazine in December 1918...

German Field Gun in front of the Church Tower

In the face of the splendid record of Goldhanger in the War, the Rector has applied for a German Field Gun to be placed in front of the Memorial to be erected in front of the Church Tower. It may then be possible to have new wide gates and path from the road to the Tower, and to place the Memorial in the centre of the path, and with the Gun in the foreground. If granted it would be a noble completion.

There are no signs that a captured field gun was ever acquired by the Rector

January 1919

From the Parish Magazine in January 1919...

Five of our Prisoners of War have returned alive and well, with one exception, Frederick Lewis is being detained in a London Hospital. How they have lived through their privations and suffering only the One above can answer. We are all thankful they have returned and enjoying a return to their full health and strength.

13 June 1919

From the Chelmsford Chronicle of 13th June 1919

Goldhanger held a very successful Welcome Home on Whit Monday for the discharged service men of the parish. A good dinner was provided in the Schoolroom which had been decorated for the occasion for about forty three guests. After dinner a service of thanksgiving was held in the Parish Church.

In the evening a smoking concert was held, followed by refreshments, and a dance finished the evening. A very large number of friends were present and thoroughly enjoyed the re-union. Mr Field (the Curate) extended a hearty welcome to the men, and Mr John Buckingham (the Rector’s manservant & Tower Captain) thanked the ladies who had contributed songs, and all the helpers. Before and after the service the bells were rung by the ringers who included six returning soldiers.

listen to the Goldhanger bells here...

or go to the..  YouTube full size version




29 June 1919


The Treaty of Versailles was signed,

officially and finally ending the war.

19 July 1919

  “Peace Day” was declared as a National Holiday and events were organised all around the UK






Perhaps the biggest event in Essex between 17th and 23rd July 1919 was at Southend which hosted a royal fleet review attended King George V....



There is a 10 minute silent “news-reel” video of the review on YouTube at...

25 July 1919

From the Chelmsford Chronicle of 25th July 1919 (reporting on Peace Day)

Goldhanger - The village was gay with flags, the bells of the church rang joyful peels, there were sports for children and adults in the Rectory grounds, and the returned soldiers were entertained to a capital dinner.

Mr. G. Bunting kindly gave the meat, and the vegetables were provided by other friends. The old and young had a substantial tea, after which the Revd. Gardner gave a hearty welcome to all, especially the soldiers. He referred in sympathetic terms to those who had made the supreme sacrifice.

The sports included a costume bicycle race, hitting the hock of bacon by women blindfolded, and a tug-of-war: the army and navy versus civilians; The Services winning. At 10.15 two huge bonfires were lit and a display of fireworks brought the day's festivities to a close.

July 1919

The Rector wrote in the Parish Magazine...

A sum is required in order to commemorate, either by means of a tablet in the Church, or in some other way, the names of all those who went forth from this parish in order to defend their country in her hour of peril.  Their names should never be forgotten.

Although many towns and villages did create such Rolls-of-Honour, one has never been found for Goldhanger. So in 2014 one was created by the History Group from parish magazines and newspaper articles and it has updated several times since. Here is the latest version...     (select image to enlarge)

25 July 1920

From the Parish Magazine...

Dedication of Goldhanger War Memorial

Friday, 25th July, will be a day never to be forgotten in the annals of Goldhanger. It was the day set apart for the Dedication of the magnificent War Memorial erected in the Churchyard to the memory of the brave men and boys of this Parish, who nobly sacrificed their lives in the Great War.

The Lord Bishop of the diocese preached an eloquent and impressive sermon after which he dedicated the stained glass window placed in the south wall of the Church to the memory of John Wakelin, who was killed in action. Then the Choir, followed by the Clergy walked in procession to the Memorial. A number of our soldiers, under the command of Chief Coastguard H. Hover, acted as a guard of honour on three sides of the Memorial.

The hymn “When I survey the wondrous Cross,” was sung with much feeling, and the Memorial was dedicated by the Bishop, after which the hymn, “Abide with me” was sung.

     (select image to enlarge)

artists impression of the unveiling of the Goldhanger War Memorial


We know that in this period Guy Fawkes night celebrations were frequently merges with Armistice celebrations, as the dates for the two events were just six day apart. The illegal Goldhanger tradition of having a bonfire in The Square was recorded in several newspaper reports of court cases early in the century, including a 1921 report that refers to Jack Johnson who could have been the Jon Johnson listed on the Roll of Honour and brother of Henry/Harry Johnson who was killed in action...

     (select image to enlarge)

artists impression of celebrations in The Square




With new material appearing all the time on the internet, the 100th anniversary of Great War Armistice, created an opportunity to look back at the events of 1914-18 and consider the scale of the impact that the war had locally; Not only on those who went to war, but on those who were left behind. Today we probably know more about the impact that the war had locally than has been know for many generations.

Consider the impact on those who signed up...


throughout the UK:

     6 million went to war  (25% of the men)

     ¾ million died  = 12% of those who went

    1¾ million wounded or disabled  = 30%

at Goldhanger:

      59 went to war  (30% of the men)

      17 lost their lives  =  29% of those who went

      16 known wounded or “sick”  =  27%


So only one third of the Goldhanger men returned fit. (see the details on the... Roll of Honour )

Many were wounded, gassed, shell shocked & traumatised. It is possible that the reason why more local young men signed up than the national average is because they had seen the Zeppelins travelling up the Estuary towards London and early in the war they couldn’t do anything other than sign up for military service.

We can also now identify those volunteers and groups at home who gave so much local support:

VAD nurses from Goldhanger (see... Tolleshunt Darcy Guisnes Court VAD hospital )

Local Defence Volunteers – the “Home Guard” (see... Documents - 1917 Emergency Committee )

Food parcel organisers  (see... Great War Parish magazine articles )

Garment makers and “sewers” (see... Great War Parish magazine articles )

Local fund raisers (see... Great War Parish magazine articles )

Finally there were the bereaved widows & parents of those lost their lives:


two young widows were created:

   Lavinia  - wife of Sydney Brewer

   Lily - wife of William Hummerstone

and some parents suffered particularly badly...

 The Brewer family - 4 sons signed up: 2 were killed

 The Everett family - 3 sons signed up: 1 killed, 1 wounded

 The Lewis   family - 2 sons signed up: 1 killed, 1 PoW




Flags and decorations used in the 2018 Village Hall Armistice Celebration...

           (select image to enlarge)

Peace Babies     Table decor        School bell


During the original celebrations there was much triumphalism, patriotism and flag-waving in the UK and around the world. That atmosphere was captured in the the 2018 Village Hall celebrations by displaying posters and magazine images around the hall and on a screen.   Many of those can be seen here...

(select to view all images)

local flag replicas displayed in the Village Hall for the celebration...   (select image to enlarge)

Goldhanger Royal British Legion                          HMS Osea                           Goldhanger RFC Flight Station


There are many more photos of the event on the Village Hall website at...


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