'Portsmouth people let themselves go' as city celebrated the real end to the First World War
Although we had many events last November to mark the end of the First World War it was only the signing of the Armistice that was being commemorated. The official end of the Great War did not come until 100 years ago today with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles.
On June 28, 1919, Germany and the Allied nations, including Britain, France, Italy and Russia signed the treaty.
Towards the end of the conflict, the cost to Britain alone was £7m – a day. The total number of casualties of all combatants exceeded 36,000,000 of which 11,000,000 were killed. And all for what?
Of the day of the signing Portsmouth historian WG Gates wrote: ‘Portsmouth people let themselves go. Almost without exception, the populace rejoiced in their own peculiar fashion while the navy celebrated the happy event with a salute of 101 guns. On the following day 40,000 persons attended a religious thanksgiving service in the Town Hall Square.’
The photo shows the British cover of the treaty cover signed by the Big Three – Britain, France and America, and Germany of course.
• The caption on the postcard on the facing page claims it was taken in Boulton Road, Southsea, in June 1935 as children celebrated King George V’s Silver Jubilee.
This may be an error as the jubilee was on May 6, 1935. However, the King might have been visiting the city, hence the reason for June.
A white rope keeps the children back for some reason but the lad in the front centre is having none of it. He is obviously the street’s top dog and is thinking: ‘No one stops me from where I want to be.’
Many of the girls are wearing large white bonnets with a ribbon around them. What was that all about?.
As ever, a young lad in full naval uniform is at the front. No doubt his father was a sailor.
There do not appear to be any tables laid out for a street party but perhaps they are behind the camera and that might be why the white rope is keeping the children back.
• At Christmas 1984 children from the Victoria Swimming Club, Portsmouth, held a carol sing-in and raised £100 for the Renal Research Fund at St Mary’s Hospital, Milton. In the photograph Wendy Holmes and Jeremy Finch are presenting a cheque to Dr Venkat-Raman watched by club members.
• The word ‘frock’ was one my mother used to describe a dress and is rarely used today. Here’s a frock on sale at the LDB store in Commercial Road, Portsmouth, in 1947. Even today it seems a bargain at £2 but clothing coupons, seven of them, were also needed to buy this dress. Perhaps someone could tell me how many coupons people were allowed.