Luton's first Remembrance Day

Remembrance poppy

[Beds & Herts Tuesday Telegraph: November 11th, 1919]

Punctually at 11 o'clock this morning the busy world of Luton, taking the signal from the many sirens in the town, ceased its activity, and a solemn silence fell upon the district. And a community feeling, sad and thankful, went out to the glorious dead who fell by sea and land in the country's service.

At ten minutes to 11 the sun shone as it has not shone these many days past, and in street and factory, home and school, work and business were at their height. Many people were in the streets as on any other morning, but a strange not of hymn-singing and prayer broke upon the air in George Street near the library. The Salvation Army were marking the occasion appropriately.

Presently a distant siren cried out shrilly; others followed, and at once a strange hush, as of a city of the dead, fell upon everything. Trams, carts and motorcars ceased running, and people stopped walking as if a sudden paralysis had struck the common life.

Gentlemen removed their hats, many heads were bowed, and for two wonderful, impressive minutes the sacrifice and cost of the triumph of right, whose struggle ended just a year ago, were remembered -sadly for what that triumph meant in loss, and gladly for what it meant in rescue from a terrible menace.

In works, likewise, all activity ceased, and in the schools the children were assembled to mark the silence of remembrance.

The sound of the siren broke the tense quiet. Then pedestrians moved again, motors and trams were started, and life in the twinkling of an eye resumed all its old movement.

It was an experience never to be erased from memory.