Thursday, 11 November 2021

Armistice Day, November 1935

I recently discovered this piece, written by my grandad in November 1935. He was a factory worker and he wrote about the remembrance day service held at Rubery Owen in Darlaston, West Midlands. I think it gives an interesting insight into how things were and how much the effects of 'The Great War' were still being felt. Considering how close they were to World War II, the part about putting our trust in the people who will "...keep the world at peace for years to come..." seems doubly poignant.

Lest We Forget

Nov 11th 1935

Once more Armistice day was upon us, and at 10:45am the annual service of remembrance was about to begin. Anyone coming into our toolroom would have seen a sight strange to a nuts and bolts factory. Employees and employers were all gathered together for the purpose of joining in the thanksgiving to those who during the great war laid down their lives for King and country.

Eager faces were upon the Rev. B. Chadwick, the vicar of All Saints Church when he mounted the impressive platform to open the service with a short prayer, and at his first words “let us pray” every head was bowed and every tongue was stilled.

With well-chosen words he prayed for those who had passed on, and those whom they had left behind, he prayed for those men and women who were still suffering from the effects of the war, the maimed and the blind and those whose bodies were still pain-wracked from wounds they received in the great struggle for supremacy.

He asked that God’s blessing be upon everyone who had cause to remember that awful conflict and that extra power would be given to those in whom we placed our trust, to keep the world at peace in the years to come, and then all who were congregated there joined in the prayed that our Lord Jesus Christ taught. “Our father, who art in heaven…”

The vicar then stepped down and his place was taken by Councillor A G B Owen, one of the board of directors, who had so kindly come to give a short address, and everyone had a pleasant surprise, for instead of hearing a speech of intricate terms of phraseology that could not be understood, we had a delightful sermon in very plain words that came from the heart, and must have gone to the hearts of those who heard them.

His address was a message of love, happiness, helpfulness and Christianity, he told us that to be a good, honest, Christian, we must put our faith in Christ whom, to use Councillor Owen’s own words “Changes the whole surface of the world, when he gave so much for us on Calvary.”

Councillor Own then spoke of the tract that our Queen sent to all her friends on the occasion of their Majesties Silver Jubilee and of the message it contained.

He also spoke of our King, of how his majesty read a portion of the bible every day. What an inspiration for all who heard to place their trust in one to whom even our sovereign kneels to honour.

The dull roar of a maroon in the distance heralded the start of the two minutes silence, a silence so tense that it could almost be felt. It seemed as if the very pulsing of our hearts had stopped in reverence of the men who gave so much for us.

And then my mind wandered. I no longer stood n our toolroom, I was on the battlefields of France and what a panorama of destruction lay before me. Where once the golden grain or wild flowers of every description had lifted their heads towards the sun, there was now a stench of broken, uneven ground that looked as if the very fiends of hell had been turned upon it.

Instead of songbirds rising from their nests and sending out their full throated message of gladness to the world at large, heavy artillery, machine guns and rifles were sending their screaming, whining messages of death across that ground which was rightly named “No Man’s Land”

Miles of sandbagged trenches stretched before me along which I saw many weary tommies, slogging their way through a filth of slime which came up to their knees, seemingly trying to hold them back from going any further into this ghastly war.

I saw an officer give the signal and hundreds of men went over the top and went racing across no mans land in the face of an enemy barrage that was too terrible to behold. I saw their faces as they went on and one shouting madly to gain their objective, in their eyes showed that lust which urged them on to kill and destroy, a lust that seemed so slow that they had lost all prestige of decency and manhood.

Oh god! How my heart bled when I saw many of them fall and lie inert on that bloody sword, their lifeblood ebbing from them and staining the face of the earth a crimson hue.

And then I saw the ominous yellow mist being borne on the breeze right into the faces of the charging men. I saw them hastily fitting on gas masks and then I knew what the cloud was. Poison gas, the most terrible weapon of the war, a gas which ate the lungs out of any unfortunate who came into contact with it unprepared.

Then the scene changes. I was in a dressing station behind the lines. Here I saw women of every station of life in uniforms of red cross nurses dashing hither and thither, comforting tending and dressing the broken bodies of the men who were lying on stretchers, or propped up against the walls. I saw a nurse standing low over a youngster, barely out of his teens, tears were streaming down her face as she held her ear close to his mouth to catch the last words of a letter she was writing for him to his mother. I saw her steady his hand to write his name and then, with a smile of gratitude ad a softly uttered ‘thank you nurse, god bless you’ the youngster passed on to Him who said “Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Each year a Remembrance Day service is held on top og Great Gable. This blog explores the history behind that.


  1. Very poignant Beth Pipe ..... people at my work ignored the 2 minutes silence this morning ..... disgusting ....🙀😟

  2. A shame people can't manage just 2 minutes out of an entire year.

  3. I was fortunate enough to be in an establishment that tannoyed and upheld the 2 minutes silence.
    A truly poignant letter.
    So glad you shared that with us Beth.
    Thank you.