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Author Topic: Sheerness Celebrates the Signing of The Treaty of Versailles, 1919  (Read 2311 times)

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Offline phoggy

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Re: Sheerness Celebrates the Signing of The Treaty of Versailles, 1919
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2016, 09:48:01 »
Came across this Griffiths postcard, which has been used and has a postmark date of July 24th 1919. This has got be people gathering around Sheerness clock tower hasn't it? I would welcome people's input. Having seen similar pictures attributed to the time and going by the postmark on the card would it be right to assume that this is the celebrations that marked the signing of the Treaty of Versailles?


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Sheerness Celebrates the Signing of The Treaty of Versailles, 1919
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2015, 17:59:15 »
The actual fighting ended on the 11th November 1918, but The Treaty of Versailles, ending the state of war between Germany, France and Great Britain, was not signed until the 28th of June 1919.

Acceptance of Peace Terms.

Spontaneous Demonstrations.

The main streets of Sheerness were distinctly "lively" on Monday night. (23 June) There was something of what has been described as "mafficking" since that word was "coined" to illustrate the enthusiastic demonstrations which took place in England on the occasion of the relief of the town (Mafeking) in South Africa on which the eyes of Great Britain were centred for so many anxious months. It was ten minutes to nine on Monday evening when the sounds emitted from the powerful dockyard hooter indicated that Germany had accepted the Allies' Peace Terms. There were some who remembered the shrill steam blasts in the times, happily past, when the notes warned them to take cover, as hostile aircraft were approaching, and these persons were perturbed for the moment at the unexpected signals, but they soon realised their portent on this occasion meant something different.

Sirens and steam whistles on vessels in the harbour soon followed suit, and later on the town hooter was also in action; indeed, for half-an-hour the air was rent with "cock-a-doodle-doos," and sounds of rejoicing. Residents turned into the main thoroughfares in large numbers and flags appeared. In the absence of a properly constituted band, the youngsters improvised with pails, pots, and pans and paraded the town. As the hours went on there was more "jazzing," and then a start was made with a bonfire. This took place on the Recreation Ground, only a few yards from the premises of Mr. F. H. Losel, the German photographer who was interned at the outbreak of war. Had not the police taken possession of the ruins of the studio-certainly the whole place is a disgrace to the town-there is a probability that further destruction would have been effected in order to find fuel for the flames. Boxes and pieces of wood came from "somewhere," and there was a decent bonfire at one stage.

The Coronation Clock was another centre of interest. Here some sailors indulged in the freak of climbing to the summit and placing a Union Jack on the top, and also rang the bell. We understand that at one time there was as many as four sailors on the tower. It is to be regretted that damage was done, and although the clock was not stopped, one of the dials was broken, and the lamps were damaged. The sailors must have interfered with the hands, as the next morning each of the four clock faces presented different times. Wild scenes were certainly witnessed, and the "hooray's" could be heard all over the town.

A window of the Britannia Hotel was broken. It was not until 2.30 a.m. that "Rule Britannia," followed by "The King," brought the "celebration" to a close, and the Crescent resumed its wonted quietness. On Wednesday at noon a party of about fifty juveniles-girls as well as boys-made another bonfire in the Recreation Ground, and to feed the flames further depredations were made on the premises of the interned German photographer. It is a pity that some official action is not possible to remove the ruins and thus prevent what is witnessed there from time to time-certainly such a place is not a credit to the town.

From The Guardian and East Kent Advertiser, Saturday 28 June 1919.

"The Day" at Sheerness.

Victory Salvoes of 101 Guns.

"The Main-Brace Spliced."

The celebrations at Sheerness on Saturday evening, (28 June) in common with other towns in Great Britain, were of a vastly different description from what the Germans anticipated when they plunged a considerable part of the world into bloodshed nearly five years ago. "The Day," which they had boasted of and toasted, and for which they had been so long preparing, had come at last, but not as they had endeavoured to contrive it-instead of signing a victorious peace which was to put Great Britain under the Teutonic heel, and give the German race world-domination, they had to admit their defeat by signing a treaty which imposed severe penalties upon them for the misery they have caused the wide world over. 

Although no preparations had been made in the town for any celebration of the official ending of the war with Germany, it would be idle to assume that there had not been an atmosphere of expectancy-at any rate after three o'clock, the hour at which the German Peace delegates had been summoned to Versailles to affix their signatures in the Hall of Mirrors, the ears of all were listening for the official notification. It was an open secret that the signing of the Treaty would be announced in Sheerness by victory salvoes of 101 guns, and it was exactly six p.m. when the first gun was heard, and this was soon followed by other sounds of rejoicing. Once more the hooters which had warned the residents so many times when hostile aircraft were on their way to the Thames and Medway  Estuary, sent forth their blasts, but this time their shrill and piercing notes toll of victory. The syrens on the trawlers took up the "music," and then the bell of Trinity Church joined the "harmony," and for some minutes there was a terrific din-five ships were each firing a salute of 101 guns and a similar salvo was in progress on one of the garrison batteries, whilst syrens galore were heralding the news, The occasion will not be readily forgotten.

It was peculiarly appropriate that the naval salute should be fired by ships which have all played their part in the great fight. The Inflexible, the flagship of Rear-Admiral H. L. Mawbey, assisted her sister battle-cruiser Invincible in the fight off the Falklands in which they sank Graf Von Spee's flagship Scharnhorst and her sister armoured cruiser Gneisenau, and then later she played an important part in the operations at the Dardanelles until she struck a mine, and was so damaged that nothing but splendid seamanship enabled her to reach Malta for repairs.
The Indomitable, sister cruiser to the Inflexible, played a part in the Dogger Bank fight, when the German armoured cruiser Blucher was sunk.
The Superb and the Bellerophon were in the Grand Fleet which kept watch and ward in the mists of the North, and later the Superb went to the Eastern Mediterranean and with the flag of Vice-Admiral the Hon. Sir S. A. Gough-Calthorpe flying at her masthead, led the Allied Fleet in that impressive voyage of triumph up the Dardanelles.
The Lord Nelson's guns had also been fired against Germany's ally in the Near East for the four years she had been in the war zone.
All these five ships had masthead flags flying whilst the salutes were being fired-five seconds elapsing between each boom-and their guards were paraded on the quarter decks and stood to attention. Other vessels in the harbour were also decorated with flags.

"Splicing the mainbrace" is only observed in the Royal Navy on important occasions-it is a celebration which has come down from times long since passed, and in common parlance means an extra "tot" of grog. This was served out on all ships and at the Naval Barracks after the firing of the salute.
Thus ended the official celebrations afloat, but ashore the unofficial functions may have been said to begun.

The salutes seemed to bring throngs of residents into the main thoroughfare and soon people were almost carried along by force of numbers in some parts of the High Street. The Crescent, Banks Town, was the favourite place for congregating, but the rough exuberance of Armistice night was fortunately conspicuous by its absence. The crowd was naturally jubilant, but was not rollicking, although thoroughly good humoured. To keep the boisterous element within bounds there was an early display of police force by Inspector F. J. Pattenden, who wisely distributed his men so as to ensure good order being observed. Very rarely indeed has a posse of constables been seen marching from Blue Town in two lines to take up their appointed stations-this was witnessed on Saturday evening under Sergt. F. Sands, whilst a "rearguard" under Sergt. J. T. Curling was not far behind.

Bunting quickly made its appearance in most parts of the town, and by way of example the General Post Office or its contractor set an early lead-the horse in the mail van being literally covered from head to feet with a large Union Jack and other patriotic emblems. "Bands" were improvised by the youngsters who strutted about with tin cans, trays, etc,-one of them in Blue Town was quite well organised and one of their number passed the "hat" round to passers-by and seemed to get a goodly number of coppers.

Red, white, and blue ribbons, streamers, feathers, switches, etc, were soon on sale, and found ready purchasers. Indeed, it seemed marvellous where so many obtained their patriotic paraphernalia from at such short notice. About half-past eight a real band marched though the town-the South Wales Borderers heading home the young people who had been celebrating the centenary of the formation of the Economical Society.

Notwithstanding the crowds in the main thoroughfares, the places of entertainment were well patronised, and the dance in the Hippodrome Assembly Rooms proved very popular. Indeed, at nine o'clock it was found necessary to close the doors against further incomers in order to enable those already in possession of the dancing floor to trip in comfort. The tea and supper rooms at the Hippodrome were in great request-from 4 p.m. until 11 p.m. there was a busy stream of patronisers.

The rejoicings were carried on until midnight. Here and there were to be seen small groups dancing or singing in the streets, but the Coronation Clock was the centre of attraction, and gathered around it was a huge crowd singing the strains of popular music which had come into vogue during the war. "The Boys of the Old Brigade" seemed to be a great favourite. As the night wore on the crowds became thinner, but in the early hours of the morning small parties might occasionally be heard giving vent to the exuberance as they wended their way homewards.
There was no attempt to climb the Clock and no bonfire, and it is satisfactory to record that no one gave any cause for police complaint.
Exuberance can be forgiven on such occasion-after the tension of the long period of war in a war zone such as the residents of Sheerness have lived in it was only natural enthusiasm should find a harmless vent.

The Guardian and East Kent Advertiser, Saturday 5 July 1919.

Eight photos @
Hometown Blues Syd Arthur


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