Awaiting demob

A new poppy installation called The Wave has been unveiled at Fort Nelson. Designer Tom Piper, left, and artist Paul Cummins.'Picture Ian Hargreaves  (180452-1)

‘It makes you think about the men who gave it all’

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On this day in 1919 more than 300 soldiers gathered on the steps of Portsmouth town hall and asked to see the mayor.

Throughout the country many men who had fought in the First World War were still awaiting demobilisation several months after the armistice. This led to unrest, confrontation and mutiny.

Two months earlier 5,000 troops had mutinied in Southampton after being told they were being demobilised only to be ordered to board troop ships for France.

Eight soldiers were invited to talk to the mayor, Councillor John Timpson.

They argued that they were former prisoners of war and should receive preferential treatment as they had already been incarcerated for a long period.

They also thought it unfair that some of them were to be drafted to look after German prisoners, having suffered at their hands.

The mayor praised the men’s ‘splendid service’ and said he would pass on their complaints if they marched back to barracks and ‘behaved as soldiers were expected to behave’ – from John Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.