12. Bookended by Two Wars

Types of Diaries

Grandad used a variety of diaries during this period. These included Letts, Collins, Boots, Harper (Cromwell series and Belgrave), Cartwright and Rattray (Seandar) and Cooke (Universal). His niece, Olive gave him his 1919 diary as a gift.

Peace Day

The fighting on the Western Front ended in November 1918. But, a comprehensive peace treaty was only signed in Versailles in June 1919. Grandad noted “peace signed at Versailles 3.12pm received here about 3.55pm”. To mark this, the government declared a Bank and Public Holiday for Saturday 19 July 1919. Grandad noted this “Peace Day”. Large crowds gathered in London. Nearly 15,000 troops took part in a victory parade. This ended with the unveiling, in Whitehall, of a temporary wood and plaster monument to those killed or wounded. On 2 August 1919, grandad noted a “parade and presentation of medals to the Comrades of the Great War”. Also, on 11 November 1919, he commented that “all the works etc stood for two minutes in commemoration of Armistice at 11am”.

Peace Day, July 1919 © Leonard Bentley and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Cyril Discharged

The end of the hostilities of the war affected grandad and his family in various ways. On 1 January 1919, his brother, Cyril started a 12 day holiday from the Army Pay Corps. On 5 February 1919, Cyril went to Nottingham to see about being discharged. That same month, on the 7th, he went to Clipstone for his discharge.

Dismantling of Clipstone

The following year, it seems the army started dismantling the camp at Clipstone. On 6 July 1920, grandad’s father bought two army huts from there. Grandad noted that his father and Arthur, his brother-in-law, started to “pitch douse” the huts on 12 July. He also recorded that his father bought a further army hut in August that year.


By the end of this period, in 1938, the likelihood of another major European war had greatly increased. On 26 September 1938, grandad noted that there was a “European war crisis”. This meant that they had started digging air raid trenches in Kirkby and distributing gas masks. Grandad noted that he and grandma had received their gas masks but that mum had been promised hers later.

However, on 30 September, grandad considered that war had been averted because Neville Chamberlain had met with Hitler in Munich. An agreement had been signed between Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy. Grandad noted that this allowed Germany to march into Czechoslovakia on 1 October 1938. Edith Searson noted the Munich Agreement in her book(let) “I Remember” (p52) although she referred to it as “that scrap of paper”.

Neville Chamberlain returning with the Munich Agreement in 1938 – Public domain photo provided by the national archive of Poland and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence