News of the armistice was greeted with joy by people all over Britain on the morning of November 11th 1918. The Fleet based in the Forth were given the news early in the morning and it is likely that people in Queensferry heard the news before people in London! There are three eyewitness accounts of the celebrations that took place in the Forth, off Queensferry, later in the day.
The first one comes from Lieutenant Commander Ralph Seymour, Admiral Beatty’s Flag Lieutenant aboard HMS Queen Elizabeth. In a letter to his mother dated November 19th 1918 he wrote:-
We had a wonderful day of gladness on that day. We got the news early in the morning and sent it out in a signal to the Fleet that fighting would cease everywhere at 11 a.m. At that time ships sent up fireworks and hoisted flags spontaneously, but everything was fairly quiet.
The men were told to “make and mend clothes,” which means a holiday, and at 7 p.m. to “splice the mainbrace.”
At 7 p.m. some ship switched on a searchlight and another blew her syren, and spontaneously everybody followed.
Christina (Sandercombe) Jacobs was a resident of South Queensferry and she wrote to her husband in the Royal Navy hospital at Haslar:-
What a noise was here on Monday night, I think all the ships blew their sirens at once for over an hour. I think they were trying to see who could make the most noise. The prisoners over at Inverkeithing would here it allright. Mrs Marsden and I went out and saw the searchlights and the rockets they were magnificent such a lovely sight and the ships all lit up with the different colours. Port Edgar was a mass of lights all the destroyers lit up.
The Linlithgow Gazette of 15th November 1918 carried the following report:-
For several hours on Monday evening the rejoicings over the victory for the Allies consisted of a deafening din of sirens, hooters, and other ear-splitting instruments which completely overpowered the sound of the church bell. Scores of searchlights swung their rays hither and thither on the water and in the air, while rockets of various colours rose continually. The Navymen and young people did a little to augment the din. After the signing of the armistice became known in the forenoon, many flags were displayed from windows.