Longford to mark centenary of Armistice Day

Peter Keenan Branch Organisation of National Ex Service Personnel

Hugh Farrell

Reporter:

Hugh Farrell

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newsroom@longfordleader.ie

Longford to mark centenary of Armistice Day

A photo from the 1950s of Veterans of Two World Wars. Included from left, John Barry, Noel Strange with bugle, -, Jack McCormack, - , Paddy Lenihan, Charlie Sheehan, Billy Muldoon, -, Alec Dowd - - -

Members of the Peter Keenan Branch of Organisation of National Ex Service Personnel will take part in the remembrance ceremony to mark the centenary of the ending of the 1914-1918 war next Sunday, November 1.

At 5am on November 11, 1918, in a railway carriage at the forest of Compiegne outside Paris, an armistice was signed between the Allied forces and Germany. The Great War was over.

To mark the armistice, bells were rung in many parts of the UK and throughout many parts of the world.

In Ireland, as elsewhere, the news was greeted with profound relief.

The feelings that had been pent up for some years were suddenly let loose and the whole city of Dublin and other parts of this country celebrated.

After four years of fighting, the war on the Western Front was brought to a halt. Away from the Western Front however fighting continued while peace negotiations got under way and it took two more years to finally end the Great War.

For the soldiers it was business as usual, those who had signed up for the duration of the war would have expected to be returned to their homes and families. This did not happen, any soldiers fit enough were transferred to Class Z.

Class Z Reserve was authorised by an Army Order of December 3, 1918.
There were fears that Germany would not accept the terms of any peace treaty and therefore the British Government decided it would be wise to be able to quickly recall trained men in the eventuality of the resumption of hostilities.

Soldiers who were being demobilised, particularly those who had agreed to serve “for the duration”, were at first posted to Class Z. Some returned to civilian life but with an obligation to return if called upon.

Many of the Irish soldiers were called on to serve as peacekeepers in India, Germany and a host of other countries in the Middle East during this waiting period.

Although technically the war was over soldiers were still dying up to and after armistice day, and beyond.

Lieutenant George Rufane Talbot Mayne, from Ballymacormack died of wounds on November 10, he had been awarded the Military Cross for gallantry.

Cornelius McVenea a sergeant from Little Water Street, Longford died of wounds on November 11, 1918 and he is buried in Ballymacormack Cemetery.

Pte John Joseph Murray, of Granard, 2nd Bn., Royal Irish Regiment, also died of wounds on November 11, 1918, and he is interred in Nouvelles Communal Cemetery, Belgium.

Many others from this area died in the period 1918 to 1920, Alexander Moorhead from the Demesne in Longford town died on June 14, 1920.

Soldiers who made a career out of army life would have carried on as normal. The Z Reserve was abolished on March 31, 1920, releasing all soldiers on the short-term contract.

This November as we celebrate the centenary of armistice day, we also remember all of those who died in the war, all that were maimed or changed mentally and physically fighting for a cause they believed in.

The Irishmen and women that took part and returned to tell the tale were at best ignored, at worse, vilified and abused for their stand.

Today, thankfully in Longford we can honour all those whose sacrifice a century ago on the battlefields of Europe and beyond shaped the world we live in today. We will remember them.

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