After the Armistice – a Soldier’s View

Franklin Lushington

Title: Franklin Lushington
Description: by-nc

At 11am on November 11 1918 the Armistice between France, Britain, and Germany came into effect.

After four years of fighting the war on the Western Front was brought to a halt. Away from the Western Front fighting continued while peace negotiations got under way and it took many more years to finally end the Great War. The Armistice was prolonged three times between 1918 and 1920 although the 1919 Treaty of Versailles was the most important of the peace treaties that finally brought the Great War to an end. The Treaty ended the state of war between Germany and the Allied Powers. The Treaty of Lausanne was signed in Palais de Rumine, Lausanne, Switzerland, on 24 July 1923; this Treaty officially settled the conflict that had originally existed between the Ottoman Empire and the Allied French Republic, British Empire, Kingdom of Italy, Empire of Japan, Kingdom of Greece, and the Kingdom of Romania since the onset of the Great War.

The signing of the 1918 Armistice was greeted with varied responses. In many Allied towns and cities – especially those freed from enemy occupation – there were scenes of happiness. Big Ben rang out in London for the first time since 1914. However, the celebratory mood was tempered by the grief of the many thousands who mourned for the war dead.

For the troops remaining on the Western Front the situation had suddenly changed, from living in daily fear of death to peace and potential boredom following the Armistice. British officers struggled to maintain a sense of order and discipline amongst the men in their command, many of whom wanted to get home as quickly as possible.

One officer wrote home to a relative a few weeks after the Armistice and described the situation:

“I am afraid there is not much to tell you about Peace celebrations out here. We had a most mouldy time. In fact I’ve seldom spent a more depressing day than November 11th, and everybody I’ve met from other units says the same.”

“I don’t think the people at home realise that this period between peace and demobilisation is going to be much the most trying one for the soldier, more trying than any battle.”

Click on the images below to see and read Franklin Lushington’s original letter (SHC ref: 7854/4/7/4/26)

Click here to read a transcript of the letter(pdf PDF).

Susan and Vanessa Stephen in gardens at 36 Kensington Square (SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p2)

Susan and Vanessa Stephen in gardens at 36 Kensington Square (SHC ref: 7854/4/47/3/8 p2)

The author of the letter was Franklin Lushington (1892-1964), son of Sydney George Lushington. He was educated at Eton College, Windsor, Berkshire, England and served as a Second Lieutenant and later Captain with the Royal Garrison Artillery and served with the poet Edward Thomas. He was a novelist and wrote The Gambardier: giving some account of the heavy and siege artillery in France, 1914-1918 (written under the pen name Mark Severn, 1930) and Portrait of a Young Man (1940), both of which include descriptions of his service in World War I, and Cottage in Kyrenia (1952). He fought in the Second World War, where he was mentioned in despatches. He held the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel between 1939 and 1943 in the Royal Artillery. He died on 2 September 1964 at age 72, following a car crash.

Franklin was writing to Susan Lushington. During World War I and World War II Susan corresponded with a large number of servicemen who were based at the army camp at Bordon near her Kingsley home. They were invited into her home to share her musical interests, and later wrote back to her from the front line. Read more about Susan and her correspondence with soldiers. An archive of Susan’s correspondence is now held at Surrey History Centre, along with many other papers relating to the Lushington family. There is more about the Lushingtons on the Exploring Surrey’s Past website where it is possible to browse the collection of family papers.

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