NOWADAYS remembrance events bring the nation together in a solemn, reflective atmosphere and this year will be no different.

Yet 100 years ago the people of Malvern and across the country met the news that fighting had at last finished with tremendous relief and jubilation.

The war would indeed be 'over by Christmas', albeit four long years after that hope had first been expressed.

The Armistice was signed on November 11 in a railway carriage just north of Paris.

Reports of the German surrender reached the Malvern News room in a telephone call from the Worcester Daily Times’ head office.

The news was posted outside the building and communicated to the Priory Church which immediately hoisted a Union Jack on the tower and began ringing the bells.

West Malvern was notified at 11am and within a minute the postmistress ‘was seen running to the Vicarage and at two minutes past 11, the church bells rang out a peal that told the neighbourhood the joyful tidings.’

A service was hastily arranged at St James church just after midday. Among the congregation were ‘workmen with tools, soldiers on leave, land girls, Girl Guides, maid servants in caps and aprons, and even washerwomen with their baskets’.

After the service, the congregation processed to St James School where 'God Save the King' was sung, followed by cheers for the Navy, the Army, the Allies, The Worcesters and The Old Contemptibles. The girls from the school sang 'the Marseillaise' and then most poignantly 'It’s a long way to Tipperary'.

In Great Malvern shops closed for the afternoon, but not before some had taken advantage of the event and, like Thompson’s Library in Church Street, did a roaring trade in their stock of Union Jacks, bunting and other patriotic merchandise. Hooters were sounded at Link Gas Works and Morgan Motor Works.

Another commentator described the mood of the people gathering everywhere, 'with sunshine in their hearts'. There was plenty of colour - flags and bunting flew everywhere and pedestrians wore red, white and blue on their clothing. Numerous soldiers from the various convalescent hospitals processed along the streets behind local bands. In the evening the Scouts held a torchlight procession and a bonfire was lit outside the Public Gardens.

For the first time in many years, the lamp in front of the police station was lit. It cast a shadow which many thought bore a striking resemblance to the late Sir William Gladstone.

Malvern Priory held a well-attended evening service on Armistice Day. Another public service took place on Belle Vue Terrace at noon the next day for those soldiers and sailors in local hospitals who could not attend the Priory event.

The clergy remembered the men who had fought in the war, especially those who had been wounded, and then the national anthem was sung. The choir, supported by uniformed servicemen, sang 'Praise my soul, the King of Heaven' and 'O God, our help in ages past'.

Malvern's shops closed on Thursday and under clear skies the town and surrounding villages were entertained by all manner of celebrations.

More impromptu processions took place with wounded soldiers in fancy dress, richly decorated horses and music from drums and even combs. At 5.30pm, a torchlight procession made its way from Barnards Green to Belle Vue Terrace.

Taking part were the bands of the Scouts and the Church Lads' Brigade, accompanied by Girl Guides, wounded servicemen, Britannia in a chariot, and people transporting the effigies of the German Kaiser in a wicker chair and the Crown Prince in a trek cart.

The crowd marched along Worcester Road to Link Top, and returned to Barnards Green via Graham Road.

The two effigies were placed on a bonfire at Poolbrook. It was lit by the Lansdowne Scout Troop and Wolf Cub Pack. Ladies from Poolbrook made the Kaiser effigy and female staff from Kendall's department store created the Crown Prince. The evening ended with dancing around the bonfire, fireworks and renditions of the National Anthem, Rule Britannia and Auld Lang Syne. A similar procession took place in North Malvern, again with effigies, organised by members of Holy Trinity.

See pages 45-50 for a special report on the 100th anniversary of the end of the Great War