Armistice and Remembrance,1918 to 2018: Part II

Friday 9 November 2018

This Sunday, the 11th of November 2018, marks the 100th anniversary of the armistice which ended the First World War in Western Europe. In the first part of this post we looked at some of the celebrations and personal reactions to the armistice of November 1918. In this post we look at the how Armistice Day and the end of World War I has been remembered since 1918.


In 1919 King George V sent out an invitation inviting people to celebrate Armistice Day as a day of remembrance. It was South African Sir Percy Fitzpatrick who first suggested to Lord Milner that the armistice should be commemorated by a two minute silence. The announcement was reported in the St Andrews Citizen (8 November 1919), calling for “a complete suspension of all our normal activities” so that “the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.” The bell of the Town Church started ringing at five to 11 and ceased on the hour, at which point all traffic in the town stopped.

Armistice Day continued as a day of remembrance through to the 1930s, marked by processions by the OTC (Officer Training Corps), church services attended by the Town Council and a two minute silence.

Armistice Day Parade, St Andrews, with the OTC pipe band marching out of the quadrangle, 11 November 1932 (DDH-ALB-2-15-2)
Provost laying a cross in the Garden of Remembrance at Holy Trinity Church after the Remembrance Day Service of 1935. The Citizen reported that a large number of crosses and poppies were deposited in the Garden (GMC-EA-18B)
The University of St Andrews Roll of Honour and Roll of Service 1914-1919 (StA LF1118.R7F20)

In the years following the end of the War, efforts were made to ensure that those lost were not forgotten. The University of St Andrews commissioned a Roll of Honour and Service for students and staff who had served in the War. As part of the re-opening of the University Chapel after restoration, a service was held on the 3 May 1922 which included a dedication of the new War Memorial in the Chapel. The service included a reading of the names of the fallen.

Image of the War Memorial in Ladybank, from the Valentine Collection (JV-A-515)
Unveiling of the St Andrews War Memorial by Field Marshall Earl Haig, 1922 (GMC-F-20)
Unveiling of the St Andrews War Memorial by Field Marshall Earl Haig, 1922 (GMC-F-19)

In Fife, several War Memorials were erected throughout the 1920s. The Library’s archive collections have a number of plans and documents relating to the memorials commissioned in various towns and villages. In St Andrews, a War Memorial designed by the architect Sir Robert Lorimer was erected in front of the Cathedral at the East end of North Street in 1922. The Memorial was unveiled by Field Marshal Earl Haig, commander of the British Expeditionary Force, former Rector (1916-1919) and University Chancellor (1922-1928), in a ceremony attended by the Town Provost.

Image of Queen Mary placing a wreath on the Cupar War Memorial, published in the St Andrews Citizen, 8 September 1923

In Cupar, a War Memorial described in the St Andrews Citizen as representing ‘a Heroic Female Figure’, designed by HS Gamley, was also unveiled in 1922 by Field Marshall Earl Haig. The unveiling took place on the 29th April and the ceremony, as reported, included a choir, pipe band, contingent of ex-service men and red cross nurses and local dignitaries and councilmen, including the Provost of Cupar. The following year (1923), Queen Mary when passing through Cupar, after her visit to Falkland Palace, made a stop to place a wreath on the Cupar War Memorial, attended by Provost Pagan and the designer of the Memorial.

Armistice Day and Remembrance Sunday continue to be commemorated in the United Kingdom, traditionally with a two-minute silence and with the wearing of the poppy. The tradition of wearing a red poppy started in 1921. The 1915 poem “In Flanders Field” by Canadian Lieutenant Tommy McCrae opens with the line:

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row

Notice in the St Andrews Citizen, 5 November 1921

The poppy was taken up as a symbol of remembrance in America first, and adopted by the Royal British Legion, founded in 1921 under the direction of Earl Haig. Silk poppies were sold on “Poppy Day” and the money raised was used for the aid of veterans of the war with employment and housing.

To meet the demand for poppies in Scotland, Lord Haig’s wife established the Lady Haig Poppy Factory in Edinburgh in 1926. In fact, Lady Dorothy Haig had corresponded with Sir David Russell, director of Tullis Russell and Company Ltd., Markinch, in 1925-1926 on the matter of sourcing British tissue paper for the poppies.

Letter from Lady Haig to Sir David Russell, 10 December 1925, with samples of crepe paper for poppies attached (ms38515/5/59/1)

I put in a small pattern which big poppy is made up of. I believe this is English made, but not such a good red. I believe there is some good stuff called Eureka which makes the paper stiffer and prevents the red running; is this true? The green is for leaves. I like the darker colour best. To put it in short, we are going to make two poppies – big one sent you and a small penny one, colours green and red as enclosed.

‘Big Poppy’ sample sent to David Russell by Lady Haig in 1925, now in a new box made by our conservator (ms38515/5/59/1)

Included in amongst the correspondence are paper samples and a sample of Lady Haig’s crepe paper poppies. The Lady Haig Poppy Factory is still in operation today, employing ex-service men to manufacture goods for the Scottish Poppy Appeal, including Scottish poppies (which have four petals and no leaf).

This year, the University will be taking part in the Scottish Poppy Appeal Light Up Red campaign. From the 9 to 11 November, St Salvator’s Quad, the Gateway and the Student Union will be lit up red, marking the centenary of the end of the First World War.

Also this year, as part of the 14-18-Now arts programme, St Andrews will feature in Danny Boyle’s Armistice Day memorial, Pages of the Sea. The public are invited to the West Sands beach to create silhouettes in the sand of individuals from the First World War and watch as they are washed away by the tide, in a collective goodbye.

Sarah Rodriguez
Principal Archives Assistant

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1 thoughts on "Armistice and Remembrance,1918 to 2018: Part II"

  • bobblesse
    Friday 9 November 2018, 6.22pm

    Thanks for this post. It is interesting to hear about remembrance in Scotland and the many memorials that were dedicated. I love that the poppy factory is still making poppies. I have my poppy sitting here in front of me and will wear it proudly on Sunday.


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