How Victory Was Celebrated throughout the World
[The Independent, November 23, 1918]
SINGING AT THE FRONT
WITH THE AMERICAN ARMIES IN FRANCE, Nov. 11 (2:10 p.m.)—Motorcycle couriers tore along the roads today shouting: "It's all over, boys!"
Marching columns, tired and mud spattered were galvanized into new life. They shouted, laughed and sang.
The correspondent saw several doughboys under full packs fox trotting in the middle of the road. The cheers rang from column to column. In the race "back to 'the nearest cable office the correspondent passed many detachments who had not heard of the armistice. It was easy to tell by their appearance who had heard the news and who had not.
Two words—"It's over"—changed the grim men into laughing boys.
Shortly before 11 o'clock the American gunners stood with watch in hand as the seconds ticked away. They fired right up to the last, saving the shell cases of the final rounds as souvenirs.
Several fourteen-inch naval guns sent their final shells hurling far into the German lines. Little is now available regarding events at the extreme front lines, where the men are dug in in little "fox holes."
The correspondent sat in a dugout northeast of Verdun when Marshal Foch's order arrived at 10:40 o'clock.
A captain began telephoning feverishly to all the batteries in his sector.
Immediately the fire began to quicken until the fog was pierced by a veritable sheet of flame, the gun flashes melting into one.
As the captain finished reading the order to each battery, faint cheers came over the wire.
Within one minute after the firing had ceased, the bells in war-shattered Verdun began pealing.
Only a few minutes before 11 the Boches fired a few big shells into Verdun. As silence again settled on the streets, after the explosions, laughing and shouting doughboys, poured out of the buildings.
American flags were flung from the windows of the ruined buildings. Locomotive whistles screeched, a real American celebration was going strong.
The news spread for miles into the back areas like wildfire. Villages were a-flutter with flags.
PARIS BREATHES AGAIN
PARIS, Nov. 11—France is bearing the good news with the same equable temperament with which she bore the vicissitudes of the last four years. Quiet joy is visible on every countenance, but there is little outward expression of the happiness at the close of the tragedy which has cost two and one-half millions of the flower of her sons.
The French public is turning its attention to the extraordinary events in. Germany. While a few bands played in the streets and there was much singing of the "Marseillaise," the great crowds in the boulevards paid most attention to the newspaper bulletin boards. Many Parisians remained up until far into the night discussing the news in the cafés.
The authorities had ordered the blueing cleaned from the street lamps and the carre's were lit from the arc lamps outside.
For the first time in years the boulevards last night presented an appearance of animation and gayety.
The Latin Quarter of Paris came to life with a bang after four years of churchyard quiet. Students paraded, shouting, singing, waving flags. The war hit the Quarter harder than it hit any other section of Paris, rendering it silent and empty. Today it is as gay as ever, blossoming into new merriment, gaily bedecked in bunting.
The roof of the Bourse almost lifted when the brokers boomed "The Marseillaise."
Every taxi and every other available vehicle was covered with the flags of the allied nations, and went cruising about the streets packed with merrymakers.
The youth of Paris paraded in groups, carrying banners and shouting songs of victory.
The only sad note was inside the homes where womenfolk were weeping when told the war was over, because almost all have at least one whom peace will not fetch home.
ALSACE DARES TO CHEER
ZURICH, Nov. 11—Enthusiastic demonstrations were held in Strassburg on Saturday night. France was cheered, notwithstanding the intervention of the mounted police.
Great processions filed thru the streets far into the night, carrying banners on which were inscribed:
"We Want to Be Reattached to France, Our Mother Country."
Alsatian soldiers on leave joined in the demonstration. The Mayor and the German military commander appealed to the people to keep calm.
LIGHTS IN LONDON
LONDON, Nov. 11—London celebrated the conclusion of hostilities with a glad heart in cheers that resounded on every side. Shrill notes of girls and children predominated for sweethearts and brothers and fathers would go over the top no more.
Waving flags and cheering, an enormous crowd prest into Downing Street before noon today, shouting "Lloyd George! Lloyd George!"' and sang, "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow."
The War Office was blazoned with flags, the roadway was thick with slow- moving vehicles, all loaded with human freight, packed like sardines, but waving flags and cheering whole-heartedly despite their discomfort.
Toward Buckingham Palace, along The Mall, and down Constitution Hill a great crowd began to converge as soon as the news became known. It comprized all classes and ages, generals in staff uniforms, nurses with babies in carriages, American and Colonial soldiers, girls from Government offices, and taxicabs crammed to overflowing with children seated, motor lorries packed with laughing nurses, munition girls, and soldiers, all waving flags, drove up and stopped.
Over the Queen Victoria Memorial the crowd flowed, Small boys perched themselves sacrilegiously on the lap of the Queen herself, a New Zealand infantry man balanced himself on the wings of the great Victory. It was a case of anything or anywhere to get a sight of the Palace forecourt on this day of triumph for the empire.
They cheered, they sang the national anthem, "The Marseillaise," and other songs till the King in naval uniform, the Queen bareheaded, the Princess Mary, and the Duke of Connaught stepped quietly out on the balcony. Cheer after cheer rent the air, flags and handkerchiefs were waved, and the Queen Victoria Memorial became a pyramid of fluttering color as the spectators gave vent to their enthusiasm.
Down below in the forecourt the massed bands of the guards struck up "God Save the King," and the King and Duke came stiffly to salute as 20,000 voices picked up the hymn. It ceased and the crowd cheered again.
There was a moment of pause before the crowd took up "Tipperary," which was sung with a lilt and dash quite different from the weary longing of four years ago, and the solemn strains of "Old Hundred."
But the Allies had to be remembered, too, and once more the King and Duke came to attention as the stirring strains of "The Star Spangled Banner" broke out. This was followed by the French, Belgian and Italian anthems and the hymn, "Now, Thank We Our God." Then with "Auld Lang Syne' the notable gathering came to an end and the King and Queen withdrew with the cheers of the people ringing in their ears.
NEW YORK GOES GLORIOUSLY MAD
NEW YORK, Nov. 11—Fifth Avenue saw the wildest spectacle of its history yesterday. Officially, it was a victory parade of the city officials. Practically, it was thirty or forty parades, led by Mr. Average Citizen, with a red, white and blue horn at his lips, a feather duster in his coat, and a hat band which flaunted the words: "I'm going to the Kaiser's funeral."
Like an avalanche which moves slowly over the country, gathering up every small object which lies along its pathway, so the central parade of the afternoon picked up a conglomerate of men and women of all nations and all moods. French sailors, swinging along arm-in-arm with girls with red, white and blue paper caps were wedged in between sedate rows of aldermen.
American soldiers and sailors threw the dignity of their uniform into the melting pot of hilarity, and exchanged hats and coats, with each other and with their feminine companions.
Many, of the women who marched in the triumphant, aimless parade were weeping unashamed. Men of supposedly sedate years gave the lie to gray hair and imposing girth and capered like youngsters.
Caught in the great human tide that ebbed and flowed up Fifth Avenue and Broadway, were scores of cars and trucks. Over the latter men and women swarmed, waving flags, shouting and singing. Many of the automobiles added to the din by series of loud explosions caused by "flooding the mufflers" and then allowing the engines to race.
From windows of office buildings came showers of impromptu confetti, newspapers, magazines, waste paper and even books torn into bits and flung to the breeze. Cascades of ticker tape poured down from window sills. Rolls of paper towels were unreeled and swam down the avenue on the breeze, long white ribbons, carried by the wind for blocks.
And the people themselves! Buffeted to and fro by the surgings of the crowd, deafened by the fusillade of popping mufflers, hoarse from cheering, eyes glittering with tears they could not quell, they wandered up and down the streets quite drunk with joy. For the first time in four years New York was utterly happy.
© J. Fred MacDonald, 2013
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THE HEADLONG FURY
A Novel of World War One
By J. Fred MacDonald