Unconditional Surrender

Lady Mary’s diary: Tues October 15th 1918

In much agitation as to what President Wilson would say in reply to Germany.

I hear now (Tues 5pm) a telegram has come in that his reply is “unconditional surrender. We know now where we are. The Bosh thought they were going to get “armistice before evacuation”.


Our precious Prisoners

Lady Mary’s diary: Monday Oct 13th 1918

What may this week bring! It is almost paralysing to read the Spectator and the Observer to take in that we have won the war: the wicked cruel enemy asking for peace (see vulgar poem) I must take it slowly. No more thought of invasion, no more air-raids and I hope very soon, no more U-boats. Every morning I hope to mark on my map the rapid retreats and hear of immense masses of prisoners guns and material captured. The most immediate anxiety is of our precious prisoners Godfrey Phillimore Jack Mellon.

[According to the IWM Lt Godfrey Phillimore (above) went missing presumed dead on the Western Front on April 5th 1916. (https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205387095 …) Godfrey, 2nd Baron Phillimore, served with the Highland Light Infantry, was captured in 1916 and spent the rest of the war in a prison camp. He wrote a book about his time in captivity entitled Recollections of a prisoner of war (Arnold 1930)]


Generals dictate terms

Weds Oct 16th 1918

The President’s words are in the paper. Generals in the field Foch, Haig and Allenby are to dictate the terms. The outrages to stop at once. Arbitrary power to cease, the Kaiser and Junkers to go. This before the thought of armistice will be even for a moment considered. Of course the Kaiser will go on fighting as long as he can get his army to fight.[adds later] No, he ran away.

From Times “Nothing is more singular that the utter incapacity of the ordinary German mind to understand the situation. They express indignant surprise that President Wilson should venture to require from Germany any guarantees at all.” They must awaken before long.


A Wonderful week

Saturday Oct 19th 1918

The most wonderful week of our lives. It is clear the Bosch will fight on to the last. Will settle himself on the line of the Meuse

Monday October 21st 1918 President Wilson refuses Armistice in Austria, he stands quite firm

Tuesday 22nd October The German reply makes curiously little impression upon one. For so great an occasion it seems so slight. It denies its outrages says the U-boats are told to leave passenger boats, and is supported by the German “people”. We cannot stop fighting for this.


Go under with honour

Lady Mary’s diary Thurs 24th October

Prince Max of Baden the German Chancellor makes use of the words “..go under with honour” Terrible words for Germany to hear. Balfour says the Huns shall not have their colonies restored to them in East and West Africa and New Brunswick near Australia

Saturday 26th October I went to see Mrs Beament today, her worthy, excellent husband cabinet maker and carpenter died last week.She said I had been a great consolation.I put this down to encourage myself. My own little doings obliterated in the great world movement.


Across a World...


Wonderful days

Lady Mary’s diary 27.10.18

The news is too immense for private life. Service 11 Good sermon from Mr Davies: we are to forgive the Germans where they repent and make full reparation (so there is no hurry)

November 1st 1918

These wonderful days. Almost dazed with the news that pours in upon us. Turkey’s unconditional surrender. Immense Italian victory from the Trentino to the sea.

Returned home after three days with Mrs Godden at Compton House. Most thankful to have dear little house. Know and like Mrs Godden all the better.

She regrets having missed the clever people I have been privileged to meet and know. En revanche, I love her beautiful country home. Influenza is upon us.


Mrs H Ward

Lady Mary’s diary 4.11.1918

The startling news is that Austria is out of the war. I was able to be busy about small things all day, altho’ quite alone. Reading Mrs H Ward’s memoirs with great enjoyment. I knew or have seen nearly all the people she speaks of.

[Mary Augusta Ward CBE was a British novelist who wrote under her married name of Mrs Humphry Ward. She worked to improve education for the poor and became the founding President of the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League.]


Conditions of Armistice

Wednesday November 6th

I read every item of the “terms” to Austria and gloat over each one. If Germany “wants terms she may apply to Marshall Foch”. The gusto with which old Clemenceau aged 77 must have said this in the chamber. My God, if Germany was giving us terms what would they have been

Thursday November 7th: What a day. Was sitting quietly when at about 11of the clock in walked Bertie Graham. He went to Salonika two years ago. He look very well tho’ tired still quite the civilian dressed in khaki. Must return tomorrow in spite of these constant rumours that the fighting is over

Friday November 8th: The four Germans received Foch’s conditions of armistice and a courier has taken them (post haste) to Spa where Hindenburg seems to be. A reply is to arrive in 72 hours ie by 11 of on Monday. They will be hard terms. The German Navy seems to be in revolt: Hostilities not to cease: now is the moment for our fleet to attack.


Upside down flag!

Lady Mary’s diary - Saturday November 9th, 1918

The German delegates are to meet Foch near Guise and he will dictate terms. They are to reply by 11of on the 11th November. Poor Devils - 72 hours. They are astonished at the severity of the terms. We don’t yet know what those terms are.

Sunday November 10th:
On returning from 8of celebration I opened the rotten little socialist paper The People and see “Kaiser and Crown Prince abdicate” We sing God Save with extraordinary fervour and when we came out of church saw the German flag flying at half mast upside down. It is all very overwhelming. I bear it as quietly as I can. Dear Dor had lunch with me and we had a delightful hour playing Schumann. I went over there to tea taking a cake so I had not to be alone with my emotions


My Armistice Diary



Lady Mary's diary 11.11.18

We began the day with an airship sailing round and round, close over us. We all rushed out and cheered and waved. About 11 the band played God Save in the Market place whither we all repaired, the flag was hoisted on the church tower and the bells rung. We don’t yet know that the Germans have yet signed. Wonderful scenes in town.

Effect upon me. I am stunned. Great service 7.30, church crammed. Non com minister read lesson in broad Scotch. Foch’s terms of peace most severe. Lloyd George said “Germany ruined within and without” They intended to ruin us.



The airship sailing close over Lady Mary in Beaminster on Armistice day was from the Royal Naval Air Station at nearby Toller Porcorum.

SSZ 45 was one of 2 based there to patrol the waters of Lyme Bay for U-boats. On June 10 she watched an airship pass close over Chideock along with seaplanes and a “great firing” from the planes and a destroyer attacking a U-boat.


Armistice at Skipness

Monday November 11th - Armistice at Skipness in Scotland

My sister Emily and Willy Ramsay walked down to the pier in the pm. Seeing a Johnny Motor boat about half mile away, and noting that the sea was calm, Sandy Thompson who was standing by her (at the end of the pier) shouted to them “What’s the warr news” Across the water the four fishermen with united voice replied “Peace is made and the Ka.sir’s awa’ t’ Ho-land”


Pages of the Sea


Terms of Armistice

Lady Mary’s diary 13th Nov 1918

I read the 34 terms of Armistice with great enjoyment. They are indeed terrible as the wretched envoys said but as Germany is starving we intend to feed them. They meant to starve us. Beautiful acct of the joy in town and the Houses of Parliament service at St Margarets.


Now we feed Germany

Lady Mary’s diary November 14th 1918

President Wilson’s fine address to the Senate: “Hunger does not breed reform, it breeds madness.” Our Lord has said: “If thine enemy hungers - feed him.” Having beaten him, we are going to feed him. Endeavouring to calm down and get steady


Lady Mary's Armistice


My Armistice dress

Lady Mary’s diary 17.11.18

Dear old Aunt Cecie to lunch here. To Woodlands, tea in drawing room to save fires. Wore my “Armistice” dress. Dark grey cloth, gold braid off old uniform. Flemish point lace. Smart. Read them Cynthia’s letter of the v. Italian rejoicings at Florence and Porto S. Giorgio


Surrender of the Hun fleet

Lady Mary’s diary - Monday November 18th 1918

Surrender of the Hun Fleet to Admiral Beatty. Most thrilling. Grand speech by Lloyd George on reconstruction after he war. Thanksgiving services everywhere. I am still quite stunned


The Prices of Victory

Lady Mary’s diary - Monday November 19th 1918

King George meets both Lords and Commons for Victory speech. Germans’ behaviour under defeat very poor. The price of Victory 3,049,991 casualties. Deaths: Officers 38,000 other ranks 621,000. Germans 4,000,000 casualties


U-boats at Harwich

Lady Mary’s diary - 20.11.1918

Most thrilling account of the arrival at Harwich of the first 20 U-boats. Lovely day walked to Mapperton.

Pleasant talk with Mrs Compton. Photos of her lovely daughters Phyllis, Lady Chichester [National Portrait Gallery x123406], Mrs Green


I never weep

Lady Mary’s diary Saturday November 23rd 1918

Read again the Great Surrender.

Having borne four years adversity, I can make the shift to endure Victory.

It is impossible to say the emotions we have been thro’ this week. Floods of tears might relieve me but I never weep


Would Love to have known you


Letter from Ambrose Pinney

Wonderful letter from Capt Ambrose Pinney to Lady Mary - life in France and Belgium, the comedy of smuggling prisoners taken after 11am, the Belgians greeting British with bouquets and Germans with bricks

Namur, November 1918

My Dear Lady Monkswell, How very nice of you to write to me. It was a great moment when the Hun finally caved in, and since then the situation has not been without a humour of its own.


A Memorial Book

Letter I have received from the Commons about setting up a Memorial Book to remember those members of both houses, their sons and grandsons, who have died in the conflict


Books of Remembrance

The House of Commons and House of Lords books of remembrance are on display and available to view digitally from the Parliamentary archive http://digitalarchive.parliament.uk/book/view?bookName=HL%20Remembrance%20Book%20WW1&catRef=PIC%2fD%2f3%2f4&mfstId=e7fb9953-de2b-42a8-bfbb-0e3c2e755bb8#page/n10/mode/2up


Signing the Armistice

Lady Mary’s diary 27.11.1918

Wonderful acct of signing Armistice in the Compiègne Forest, the delegate evidently in considerable terror, Foch “a severe calm man”.. “not a human word”..”obliged to sign..with its inhuman conditions”


Cosmo Gordon

Friday 29th November 1918

Lady Monkswell: In dog cart to Mrs Pinney’s, she most cheerful: walked back. German Admiral asks to fly his dishonoured flag. Not so, says Admiral Beatty. Letter from Cosmo Gordon from Russian Hospital in S. Audley Street where I had written to him, dear fellow.


Old Blockade

Old Blockade - by a boy at Dartmouth

Observe how doth the British Navy

Baulk the Bavarian of his gravy

While the fat Boche from Köln to Munick

Cannot expand to fill his tunic.


Foch’s sayings

Lady Mary’s diary: Monday 2nd Dec 1918

Everyday, news so interesting and good we hardly know ourselves. From Clemenceau’s speech at the Fr Embassy. At a critical stage Foch said: “I can’t hold can I, then I’ll attack.”

Another famous saying: [by Foch] “I shall fight in front of Amiens, I shall fight in Amiens, I shall fight behind Amiens.”


US ships in Weymouth

Lady Mary’s diary, Weds 4th Dec 1918

Margaret [my sister in law] took me to Maiden Newton to see Robert [my son] at Weymouth 1-5.30pm. Met us at station, my emotion. Looking just the same but head still shattered. Has given his health for his country - may he be blessed.

Very nice walk along sea walk. All manner of ships going in and out of the mist. Portland, the S. Coast. Much intimate talk. Dear Little Lorna more lovely than ever, those dark eyes. Was kind to me and pleased with my doll. Pleasant tea.

picture: Weymouth Seafront 1918, courtesy Dorset History Centre


Presidential escort

Lady Mary’s diary, Weds 4th Dec 1918

American officer tumbled into our 1st class as we started back. We at once entered into conversation. US big ships had arrived that pm. Pale, strong American face, blue uniform. Had just come from Rosyth could hardly find words to express his contempt of Hun fleet and mortification at not having been able to fight. Says fleet was in filthy state and bad repair.

Admiration of Ad. Beatty. Displeased at President W coming over to Paris; is to meet him, escort at Brest on Monday. This young man brought home to me America’s presence.


On Sale Now


Christmas card

A Christmas card from Ambrose Pinney - “With Heartiest Greetings for Christmas and the coming Year”


The Coward slinks to death

Lady Mary’s diary December 10th 1918 The Huns bearing defeat badly. Rumours of Kaiser’s suicide. “When all the blandishments of life are gone the coward slinks to death, the brave lives on.” - Warren Vernon’s memoirs, delightful book.

[Lady Mary refers to Dante scholar Warren Vernon's book "Recollections of Seventy-two Years," recording his life and travel in Italy, with reminiscences of the kingdom of Naples in the days of King Bomba, pub 1917.]


Sir Robert’s letter

Weds Dec 11th 1918

Nice letter from Sir Robert Williams in reply to my congratulations: unopposed election, W Dorset.


Lloyd George

Lady Mary’s diary 12.12.1918

Rather seedy. How seldom am I kept indoors, thank God. Lloyd George’s excellent Election speeches. The net is closing round the Kaiser (at Amerongen, Holland)

Germany quite unrepentent. Frances [niece] has been nearly distracted but remains sane. Cosmo [her husband] can get abt on crutches in hospital South Audley St.

Friday 13th December 1918 I paid my last subs to the Belgian refugees. We have had them here since Jan 25 1915. No one loves the Belgians. Arranged Christmas cards, presents etc.

Sat 14th December 1918 General Election - I hope Lloyd George and his coalition will get a large majority. Sir Rt Williams returned unopposed in W Dorset so whether I may vote (being Peeress) I have not discovered.


Ladies voting

17th December 1918

Letter from my sister Emily in Scotland, how she went and voted for Parliament for the first time in history with six other Skipness ladies, all crammed on the car.

To Grammar School prize giving in the hall by Colonel Colfox. Sat next to Mrs C (her broken heart, son died) Mr Kitson in Chair. 100 girls and boys gave a performance after the speeches. (Dr Skinner good, Col C pretty good.) “La Belle au bois dormant” Sleeping Beauty in amazing French.

Almost a miracle; also a lovely dance with tulle veils. Mary Andress very pretty and graceful. Her parents immediately behind me, bursting with pride. Very nice show. The whole village there.


Christmas Day 1918

Celebration service 11 of the clock, some 200 faithful present. “Oh thou that bringest good tidings” my overpowering emotion, actually pouring tears.

I had invited Mr Earle of Mapperton, he is just returned from France (Chaplain).

Gave us a wonderful account of what he saw. He arrived out there precisely at the turn of the tide and followed the retreating Germans the whole time. The number of machine guns they threw away - incalculable. The destruction of everything. The Australians, desperate fighters but absolute savages and disobedient. His services were crowded and enthusiastic. He slept in a cellar while his tent - Church - was destroyed by a direct hit. He used to sit and watch our airmen bringing down enemy aircraft. What a show. He comes back a different man.

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Explore by day, month or person here on the blog or on our five Twitter feeds: @Voicesfrom1918 @LadyMonkswell @MarieStopes1918 @JamesSansom230 and @OliveHarcourt.

Voices from 1918 has been developed by artists Sharon Hayden and Alastair Nisbet in partnership with Wimborne Community Theatre, Dorset History Centre and the Priest’s House Museum, Wimborne with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Thanks to all who have helped us with this project: Maria Gayton and staff at Dorset History Centre where we found Lady Mary Monkswell’s diaries; Joan Cocozza, ward of nursing auxiliary Olive Harcourt; Portland Museum where we found James Sansom’s diaries; the British Library and Wellcome Libraries; Priest’s House Museum in Wimborne and Gill Horitz from Wimborne Community Theatre.

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