In an article in the June 28 edition we briefly considered the Peace Treaties which finally ended the first world war and the consequent decision to hold a National Day of Celebration on July 19, 1919.

We now take a look at the Peace Celebrations on that day:

One hundred years ago, on the morning of Saturday, July 19 thousands gathered in London to celebrate Peace Day. Despite the inclement weather the Victory Parade was a spectacle never seen before.

Nearly 15,000 troops took part, led by Allied commanders Pershing (head of the US Expeditionary Force), Foch (Allied supreme commander) and Haig (British commander-in-chief), who saluted fallen comrades. Bands played, and the central parks of London hosted performances and entertained the crowds.

In South Bucks, like elsewhere in Great Britain, the idea of a day of celebration was not universally popular.

There were three reasons for this. Firstly, the general announcement by the Government of the date of the Peace Celebrations was only made at the beginning of July, leaving little time for arrangements to be made.

The columnist in the Bucks Free Press edition of July 4 wrote that “on July 19 there will be big doings in London, in other places the character of the festivities is left to local authorities or committees”.

Secondly there was considerable opposition to spending money on a celebration.

Understandably there was a view that this should be spent on servicemen disabled in the war, and the widows and families of those who had lost their lives.

The country was still a long way from offering ex-servicemen the promised “Land Fit for Heroes”.

Finally the prevailing mood in High Wycombe was not helped by that fact that at that time there was trouble in the paper-making mills around the district.

This was part of a nation-wide clash between the National Union of Printers and Paper Workers, and the Employers’s Federation of Papermakers.

Nevertheless the Peace Day celebrations went ahead in the town. Helped by an exhortation from the Mayor Cllr Owen Haines inhabitants decorated the exterior of their houses with flags and bunting.

The main celebration commenced at 2.00pm on the Rye, although a six a side football tournament had started at 10.30am. All sorts of Sports and Races were planned, together with in the evening a “Grand al Fresco Concert, a variety of other amusements, and stalls and Light Refreshments”.

The proceedings concluded with “fireworks and flares on Keep Hill late at night”.

The National Federation of Discharged and Demobilised Sailors and Soldiers (NFDDSS) had announced that they were opposed to the celebrations, on the grounds that men were still fighting in different parts of the world. On the day before Peace Day the local branch reminded members that “no Federationist must take part in tomorrow’s Celebrations”.

Therefore on the day the majority of the ex-soldiers in the district, some 500 in total, “assembled at the Frogmoor fountain in Frogmoor Gardens, at two o’clock and then took part in a counter-demonstration on the Rye”.

The report continued “Although the weather was decidedly uncomfortable on account of the rain, a big crowd of the townsfolk congregated, and afterwards accompanied the demonstrators to their meeting place on a different part of the Rye Mead from that selected by the Peace Celebration Committee for their sports and other events of their programme”.

The Bucks Free Press (BFP) gave a balanced report of the proceedings in the edition of July 25 “Although the arrangements made in Wycombe for the celebration of Peace were not on an elaborate scale, owing entirely to the inadequacy of the funds subscribed by the general public, Saturday’s rejoicings passed off happily, if not altogether satisfactorily.”

In accord with the general mood in the town, the celebrations were not however confined to July 19.

An Old People’s Peace Dinner was held at the Town Hall on July 23, which was attended by nearly 200 guests. This was organised by a committee under the chairmanship of Mr H J Cox, a prominent resident and benefactor in the town.

Then on August 1, two weeks after the Peace Day, the BFP reported “At last we are getting a move-on in Wycombe.

Last the week the local branch of the NFDDSS gave out that it was their intention to entertain the widows and children of the men who had fallen, and to provide each child with a pair of boots before the coming winter”.

The entertainment was provided on August 16, again on the Rye.

The villages around the district seem to have entered into the spirit of a Peace Day on July 19 more wholeheartedly than the town itself.

The village of Downley provides a typical example of how the day was organised, “Although the village had less than a fortnight to put things in order, a public meeting set a committee of gentlemen to work, and ladies volunteered to collect the “possibles”, and these, with other small committees, with a will “went at it”, and only one thing seemed to be wanted, and that was a finer day, to show how Downley gets things done”.

Flackwell Heath was another village where the day was highly successful, despite the fact that there were “only 5 days from the first committee meeting to Peace Day”.

Over £32 was collected for the festivities, which commenced at 3.30 with tea for the children.

At 5pm high tea was provided for the soldiers and sailors. The Flackwell Heath Silver Band played throughout the proceedings.

There seem to be very few photographs of the proceedings on Peace Day 1919 and subsequently. If any reader has some in their possession and would be prepared for them to be made available on the SWOP website,, please contact Mike Dewey on 01494 755070 or email