How Birmingham heard of the Armistice

During World War I,  Official War News telegrams were despatched to the city of Birmingham each Saturday from 16 August 1914 to 15 November 1918. The telegrams summarised battle information for the previous week. Among our collections, we have a volume of these telegrams which states that once received, they were exhibited in the Birmingham Head Post Office.

Official War News Telegram
Official War News Telegram, 9 November 1918 (Ref: 440136/IIR 23)

 

Official War News Telegram, 9 November 1918 (Ref: 440136/IIR 23)

The above photograph shows a telegram dated 9th November 1918. After a report on the week’s troop and battle news, the final paragraph declares,

‘The German Chancellor announces that “the Kaiser and King has decided to renounce the Throne”.  No other news of importance to hand.’

The National Archives have recognised the 100th anniversary in December 2016 of the establishment of the Cabinet Office, that is the team of senior ministers chosen by the Prime Minister to lead on policy areas such as Foreign Affairs, Defence and Transport.  Here you can find a link to the Cabinet Office document which records the announcement of the armistice on 11 November 1918:-

cab23-14-305
National Archives Document CAB23/14/305

This document records the actions to be taken to recognise the signing of the armistice in France and the appropriate public announcements and celebrations!

armistice-evening-despatch-monday-11-november-1918

The news was duly communicated via the Press Bureau and the message passed on in Birmingham to the civic authorities. Too late for the morning papers the announcement and events of the day were reported in the later papers including the Evening Despatch (above).

It reported that following the raising of the Union Jack above the Council House, The Lord Mayor, Sir David Brooks, spoke to the jubilant crowd in Victoria Square. Many of them had been waiting expectantly for the news. He declared that the following day would be a General Holiday and made specific announcements about the schools including that they

“will assemble as usual but after singing songs of patriotism and thanksgiving and listening to addresses upon the end of the war and the victory they had achieved, they will be sent home again”

armistice-evening-despatch-monday-11-november-1918-snippet Volunteers are currently looking at a number of school log books to see how the schools reacted to various war time conditions and to events such as the Armistice.

 

Alison Smith and Liz Palmer

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