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Armistice – memories of the end of the First World War in the military and at home.
While there was officially a ceasefire declared on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, a formal state of war persisted for another seven months until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on 28th June 1919. Even then, legal states of war between various countries continued into the 1920s.
Politics – memories of having political opinions in the military, Ramsey McDonald in Leicester, a dislike of Lloyd George.
In the 1918 election the city returned three MPs, one Coalition Liberal, one Coalition Conservative, and one Coalition National Democratic and Labour Party. Nationally, it was a Conservative landslide. The last Liberal MP for Leicester lost his seat in 1935 and after then it was either Labour or Conservative, ending a tradition of Liberal voting going back to the reform act of 1832. Women were granted the vote for the first time in 1918 but about 25% of women (those under 30) were excluded on grounds of age until 1928, when women were able to vote on the same terms as men.
Demobilisation – memories of trying to get home and not stay in the army.
Once the war was over many soldiers were unhappy with having to stay in the army longer than they felt was necessary. It was said that, ‘In the event of rioting, for the first time in history the rioters will be better trained than the police’.
Back to Work – memories of starting to work again, not having served an apprenticeship, there being little work available, poverty.
Influenza – memories of the outbreak of flu and large numbers of dead at the end of the First World War.
Between June 1918 and March 1919 it’s estimated that 1,600 adults and children died of influenza and its associated illnesses during three outbreaks in Leicester. Globally, it is estimated that 50,000,000 people died.
Counting the Cost – reflecting on the cost of the First World War to families, individuals, and communities. Poverty.
In Leicester, as in many other towns and cities, a tradition developed during the war of making street shrines recording the names of all those who had gone out from the street to serve the country, as well as being a memorial for those who were killed. There were several in the streets around Belgrave. They usually consisted of religious images and a list of men from the street, with a shelf below for flowers and candles. More formally, on 4th July 1925, the Lutyens war memorial in Victoria Park was unveiled. It was to honour the 12,000 or more Leicestershire soldiers who died during, or just after, the war.
BBC WW1 at Home 'Loughborough Carillon, Leicestershire: Honouring the Dead' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p022x6wm
BBC WW1 at Home 'Teigh, Leicestershire: Thankful Villages' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p022y8nq
BBC WW1 at Home 'University of Leicester, Leicester: Field Hospital Turns Memorial' - http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01sl8yg
Liberals, Labour and Leicester - The 1913 By-Election in Local and National Perspective by John Pasiecznik - http://www.le.ac.uk/lahs/publications/vol61_70.html
The University of Leicester during WW1 - http://www2.le.ac.uk/institution/ww1 & https://soundcloud.com/university-of-leicester/colin-hyde
The Aftermath of the War (National Archives website) - http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/aftermath/just_peace.htm
The Influenza Outbreak of 1918 - http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/influenza-epidemic/