Armistice Day in Basingstoke 1918

Crowds gathered in Basingstoke to hear news that armistice had been agreed, marking the end of fighting in World War I

Crowds gathered in Basingstoke to hear news that armistice had been agreed, marking the end of fighting in World War I - Credit: Hampshire Cultural Trust

As we remember those who sacrificed their lives this month, Hampshire Cultural Trust looks back at how the town of Basingstoke reacted to the end of World War I

On November 11, 1918, armistice was agreed between the Allies and Germany, marking an end to fighting in World War I. In Basingstoke, crowds packed into the Market Place, hanging out of every window and scaling the roofs of nearby buildings to hear the announcement from the balcony of the Town Hall.

As with all towns and cities across Britain, the war had taken its toll. Over 230 servicemen from Basingstoke died in the four years of fighting. This photograph captures the palpable relief and joy from this momentous day.

Vehicle manufacturer Thornycroft was a major employer in the town and organised a huge parade on November 16 to celebrate the armistice. The parade was led by the company band, regaled in fancy dress, carrying flags and bunting. Behind the band was a procession of more than 60 floats, which stretched for approximately one mile.

Many of the floats were decorated by Thornycroft employees, who took the opportunity to show what they had achieved during the war years, including manufacturing munitions and the Thornycroft Motorboat, developed at the request of the Admiralty.

Service men and women also had floats in the parade, with soldiers, nurses and doctors taking centre stage. After the parade, thousands of people joined a torchlight procession through Basingstoke to the common, where a fireworks display was held and effigies of the Kaiser and Hindenburg were burned on a fire. 

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