Describing London immediatly after the Armistice
Huntingdon Gleaner, Huntingdon, Quebec published Thursday, December 05, 1918
Wednesday, November 13, 1918
Transcribed by: marc
Watson Sellar had gone on his annual leave shortly before the Armistice.
I must tell you of my leave to England. I went to Ireland, intending to return via Glasgow on Monday, but a touch of the flu decided me, so I returned straight to London. It was cold in Ireland and the flu has caused many thousands of death there, but the danger is on the way now. There is plenty of food -- ration cards now being unknown, and while there seems to be plenty of work going on there is a feeling of unrest, and beggars abound. I was disappointed with Dublin, but of course saw it at its worst.
Coming back, the news was spread at Kingstown that the armistice had been signed, but nothing definite was known on to until Wales came in sight, and we could see the flags flying everywhere. All along the way the houses were bedecked and the people were marching up and down the streets waving flags. Wales is a beautiful country, as in fact all England is. What excitement and celebrating we had noticed on the way was nothing to what we found in London. The lights were on, and in spite of the drizzling rain he streets were crowding up again after the afternoon celebration. I had trouble getting a room -- in fact I couldn't get one, but finally got a bed for 6d.in a Y.M.C.A. It was impossible to enter a restaurant so I made a meal on a half pound chocolates. When I got down towards Leicester Square the crowds had blocked the streets. Everywhere the roads and sidewalks were jammed with a happy flag-waving crowd. Busses could not get thru and taxis got along with the greatest difficulty, but let a hand organ appear and it was given the head and a parade half a mile long would form in a minute and away they would go to some square and dance to their hearts content. I was tired so went to a show and about 11 o'clock came down towards Nelson's monument again. Never had I seen such a sight. There must been 5000 people jammed in around the lions and up on top of each of them were soldiers and girls singing and cheering. I just arrived in time to see a dignified man in evening dress climb up the side and then dive into the fountain by way of celebration. Rockets, roman candles and lights were going up, horns were blowing and the dancers were adding their share to the racket, but over at all were the voices of the crowds singing the marching songs and music hall hits of the day. While there wasn't a policeman in sight -- in fact I saw only one the whole night -- I never saw crowds so easily handled. There seemed to be no jostling and I never heard or saw an accident, in spite of the fact that the fire engines tore their way thru on the way to a fire and ambulances were going to and from Charing Cross all night.
Next day was the same. The King drove through the streets and got a great welcome and at night the noise was even greater than ever; what it will be like tonight I don't know but the chances are that it will quiet down a little. Nobody need tell me now the English do not know how to celebrate.
During my training before going to France I got to like England, its people and its ways, and part with regret. Next to Canada I will always love it.
Your son, Watson