Childhood recollections from Swavesey 1914 - 1918

By F.C.Wood B.A. Cantab

Part 4 - The Death of Kitchener and the Armistice

One schoolboy memory of the War was the news of Lord Kitchener's death. 1 don't know how long it took for the news to be released to the public, but I remember 1 was walking up High Street with my mother one evening (it was a beautiful sunset - that 1 recall very vividly) and old George Clarke the village Cryer and former lamplighter who lived in a house opposite the end of Taylor's Lane, formerly the "Little Rose" pub stopped us and asked my mother if she had heard that Lord Kitchener was dead. 1 didn't know who this man was except for the fact that there was a poster in the booking office at the station showing a fierce moustached military man's head and shoulders and a pointing finger with the caption "Your Country Needs You". As the news got round people stood about in the street looking very grave and apprehensive. 1 little knew then that by reason of the Lord Kitchener's National Memorial Fund, 1 should become a Kitchener Scholar.

Armistice Day was also a bit of a mystery to us. We were sent home from school after assembling round the flag flying from the flagpole in the playground. 1 remember the day was misty and unpleasant with intermittent drizzle, but the street was full of people standing around and talking. Somebody put the news around that if any of us school children went up to some old lady's house opposite the White Horse'' and sang "God Save the King" she would give you a piece of red, white and blue ribbon to tie in your buttonhole. (This house is the one next to the "Falcon" or Market House where Robert Hepher lived. (Walter Gleaves had it for a time for his grocers-cum-newsagents shop). We all marched up in turn and sang our piece and were indeed rewarded with the patriotic piece of ribbon.

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