Local History Society

 The 'Mercury' and the Home Front in WW1


In November and December 1918 there were single- column adverts stretching to a full page for the "Church and National Reconstruction", aiming to raise £5 million.

Armistice Day and After

The 'Mercury' hinted that the War was coming to an end in the weeks leading up to November 16th 1918, when it was finally able to report:

READING: The Armistice was announced at noon by the Mayor on the steps of Reading Town Hall. An evening Torchlight procession around the town included a party of Belgian refugees. An open air service took place on the Wednesday at noon in front of the Town Hall.


The prolonged blast of the hooter at the Saw Mills intimated to the neighbourhood that the Armistice had been signed. Flags appeared at windows immediately, and soon the town was ablaze with bunting, and streamers were hung across the streets. The trains as they passed kept up a ceaseless whistling, while from Reading and all around, hooters and whistles could be heard. People crowded the streets, children and others bearing flags and wearing the national colours.

The Mayor a little later announced the fact from the balcony of the Town Hall, and the news was posted on the doors. Thanksgiving services were held in all the churches. Albeit a dull day with drizzling rain, the crowds filled the streets.

A body of Canadian convalescent soldiers, with drums and bugles and flags, marched to St. Paul’s Church and joined in the thanksgiving service held there at 4 o’clock. Proceeding later into the town, they were greeted with much enthusiasm, and the Mayor addressed them from the balcony of the Town Hall. He expressed appreciation of their bravery and assistance in winning the war, and satisfaction at its happy conclusion.

Significant of the changed conditions was the fact that on Tuesday the borough workmen were replacing the shaded street lanterns with the ordinary kind of clear glass.

French and Belgian residents were especially delighted, and throughout the day at the Convent, Easthampstead Road, the "Marseillaise" was sung and cheering indulged in.


There were scenes of almost indescribable enthusiasm at the Bear Wood Canadian Camp throughout Monday, and the culminating point was reached at night when Mr. Frame’s Reading Concert party, together with a number of soldiers stationed there, provided one of the very best musical and harmonic programmes so far permitted.

Military and naval songs and airs were the order of the evening, and each vocalist and musician came in for his or her full mead of praise. Several toasts were submitted during the night, that of "The King", "The Army and Navy" and the "Boys at the Front" being vociferously cheered.


There were two further articles on November 23rd:


Victory and the cessation of hostilities were celebrated by the ringSt. Bartholomew's Churching of a peal of bells at mid-day, and by a largely attended service in the evening. One of the ringers was Private Stephen Emblen, who has served for the past three years in France and was home on leave.

On Sunday the men of the 54th Squadron of the A.S.C. attended the morning service, and again at the evening service, when there was a large and representative congregation of soldiers and civilians. Beautiful wreaths were placed in front of the lists of those who had served and had fallen during the war.

On No traffic to worry about at Arborfield Cross in the 1910'sFriday, the 15th, the men of the A.S.C. stationed at Arborfield, had a torchlight procession from the depot to Arborfield Cross, which was followed by a mock trial of the ex-Kaiser and ex-Crown Prince, as well as a display of fireworks and a large bonfire.





The first news of the signing of the armistice was received in the village by the sounding of the Reading and Wokingham hooters and the cheers of the soldiers of the Army Remount Depot.

The church bells sounded a gladsome peal and messengers were sent around the parish summoning the people to church, and at seven o’clock the church was crowded, in spite of the dark and wet night.

On Sunday thanksgiving services were held, and in the morning there was a large congregation, including the 61st Squadron of the Army Remount contingent. The form of service prescribed for the occasion was used, and a special hymn written by the Rector was sung to the tune composed by Sir Arthur Sullivan for one of the Jubilee hymns. The collections were given to King George’s Fund for Sailors.

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