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Silent Soldiers – Peace Day July 2019

The Council has been asked by residents as to when the Silent Soldiers around the parish are to be removed. The answer is that they will stay in place until at least 20th July 2019.

The reason for this is that the Parish Council will be celebrating Peace Day at the 2019 Ash peace Day Celebration and Fete. Peace Day was to celebrate and mark the end of World War I and was held on 19th July 1919 when a Bank Holiday was declared by a committee chaired by the then Foreign Secretary Lord Curzon.

Although November 1918 marked the end of the fighting on the Western Front, negotiations continued at the Paris Peace Treaty until 1920.

On the morning of the 19th July 1919, thousands gathered in London, having arrived overnight. It was a spectacle never seen before, with nearly 15,000 troops taking part in the victory parade, led by Allied Commanders Pershing (head of the US Expeditionary Force), Foch (Allied supreme commander) and Haig (British commander in chief), who saluted fallen comrades. Bands played, and the central parks of London hosted performances and entertained the crowds.

That morning, King George V issued a message: ‘To these, the sick and wounded who cannot take part in the festival of victory, I send out greetings and bid them good cheer, assuring them that the wounds and scars so honourable in themselves, inspire in the hearts of their fellow countrymen the warmest feelings of gratitude and respect.’

A monument to those killed and wounded was unveiled in Whitehall, to mark the end point of the victory parade, soon to be decorated with flower wreaths. Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned by Lloyd George at the start of the month to design the monument, and had just 2 weeks to create a piece befitting of the memory of the fallen. Though it was a temporary wood and plaster construction, another made from Portland stone was to replace it in 1920, which still stands today.

Though the main spectacle was in London, other celebrations organised by local authorities (including the Parish of Ash) and communities took place in cities, towns and villages across the country.