Mexborough and Swinton Times December 28, 1918
While the battle raged on the Western Front, the people in the South Yorkshire district were doing their ample part in bringing it to pass. They gave men, money, labour, sympathy, hell, fortitude, courage – whatever was required in the cause of freedom. The new call for manpower, involving the last residue of the young and vigourous manner of the mines and factories, and also – a more serious extraction that the mobilisation of middle-aged family men, was met cheerfully and promptly. Something of the spirit of 1914 was recaptured. Men of all ages volunteered for service, in addition to those mobilised under the new Military Service Act.
This district made a very important contribution to the Forces in the last year of the war. The women, too„ made another supreme effort. They joined the auxiliary forces to large numbers. They took up the task of the men withdrawn from civil life. The men who were found unfit for military service were swiftly mobilized for national service of all kinds. The civilian population realized the need for increased home production of food, and worked with feverish energy on farms and allotments. The civilian front was as sound and courageous as the military front, in its way.
All this feverish industry made for prosperity of a kind. Wages continued to rise, working hours continued to lengthen. Women showed astonishing endurance, and produced a remarkable rate of output.
Figures of the output achieved by the shell forgers at the Kilnhurst Steel Works were recently given, and the astonishing industry shown there was typical of the war workers as a whole. Practically at no previous period of our history the stimulus of pitches and found such remarkable expression.
Munitions of almost every kind were produced in this district – shells, guns, bombs, rifles, grenades and antisubmarine devices of various descriptions. The district, to steadily support of the great financial effort of the nation, with subscriptions great and small.
Tiny villages raised remarkable sons; the larger towns gave their scores and hundreds of thousands. Side by side with all this were innumerable efforts, in almost every parish, to provide comforts for the men in the trenches, for the wounded, and for their unfortunate comrades in the cruel hands of’ the Germans. Then came the day of Victory—Armistice Day.
For the first time during the war the people let themselves go. Not in, the mafficking spirit. They hailed the victory with feigned gladness and beflagged their towns and villages, but their rejoicing was tempered with the recollection of the terrible price in blood and suffering and sacrifice and bereavement that, had been paid, for it, and their demonstrations of thankfulness and joy were sober and discreet.
After Armistice Day came the return of the British prisoners from Germany. Then began the demobilization, of the civilian war workers, many of them thankful to lay down their strenuous task. There followed the gradual relaxation of the stern restriction upon public and private liberties which have been necessary for the successful prosecution of the war. There followed an immediate and substantial improvement in the food situation. There followed the – a matter of special interest to this district—the demobilization of miners from the Army, a hundred thousand of them, who are now returning to the pits where their labour is so urgently needed to remedy a coal shortage unexampled in our history. There begins the general demobilization of the Forces, a long and very gradual process, conditioned by the military situation, and by the prospect of a satisfactory peace settlement. The year has been wound up with a General Election, the result of which will not be certainly known until to-clay (Saturday), though it is anticipated that Mr. Lloyd George’s Administration, which has had so important a share in the great and victorious effort of Britain in the war, will be emphatically returned to power.
We have come to the end of a super-year. A year packed with experiences altogether unprecedented in the history of the world. A year so big with events that in passing them in review one feels how difficult it is to retain any sense of proportion.
It has been the crowning year of history. One feels proud and thankful to have lived through it. and to be able to cherish its memory as part of one’s actual experience. It has been a year of death and disaster, of sorrow and grief, of heroism and endurance, of faith and steadfastness, of effort and determination, of comfort and hope, of triumph-and victory, of renewed confidence in God and man, and of reborn idealism.
Truly, a year to the “had in remembrance.”