The First World War ended 92 years ago today. Back in August, I published some long excerpts from the war diaries of my grandfather, Harry Hickson.
Here’s his entry for Armistice Day 1918 and the days leading up to it. It seems that his war ended quietly, and he greeted it with his usual understated enthusiasm. Harry also had a talent for oxymoron, with his unfortunate medical condition almost carrying as much weight in his narrative as the momentous events he describes! Though the juxtaposition is almost comic, his medical problem was probably a symptom of the stress that he and millions of others suffered as the war dragged on to the bitter end. But at least he survived.
A fine sunny day for a change. The Major and Jones went off to Wassigny with the Battery Sergeant Major to get billets. I got the caterpillars down and the guns ready to leave hen marched the battery to Wassigny. The billets are quite comfortable, but it is a very cold night, I feel frozen!!!
Memo: We hear rumours that the Kaiser has abdicated, and the Crown Prince will not take the throne. Also that internal affairs in Germany are in a desperate state, all very good news indeed. The Bosche are given till Monday to decide whether they accept our armistice conditions. I have been having some awful boils lately.
A fine morning with a sharp frost, a lovely sunny day. I saw the Doctor this morning, and he lanced my boils and bound them up. I had a bad quarter of an hour! I feel sure my system was all out of order when I had all those headaches in Boheim. After lunch the Major and I walked over to our old position. Miller came in to tea, and I afterwards visited my old battery 185. I am in a cosy room now.
Monday. A lovely day. I saw the Doctor again this morning and he dressed my boils. We hear that the Armistice comes into force at 11 AM today, we can hardly believe it, it sounds too good to be true. After lunch our fellows played 185 at footer and the latter won 3-1, then we went on to 185 and played bridge. Later on we celebrated the Armistice – and only had rum to do it with! I simply can’t imagine no more shelling and bombing, and the feeling of safety is wonderful.