19th Jul 1919: Victory Parade through London

Victory parade 19th July 1919To celebrate and mark the end of the Great War, a Bank Holiday was declared in Britain with the focal point a Victory or Peace Parade (click on link for film) by 15,000 victorious Allied troops from twelve nations through the streets of London. It was reported that as many as 5 million people turned out for the parade along a seven mile route from Knightsbridge through Westminster and onto Buckingham Palace. Though the prevailing mood was in the main triumphant, the day of celebration and victory parade attracted some criticism from those who felt that the money would be better spent supporting returning servicemen who faced physical and mental injuries, and who needed work and a place to live.

Cenotaph (photograph above) monument to those killed and wounded was unveiled in Whitehall by King George V, to mark the end point of the victory parade. Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned by Lloyd George at the start of the month to design the monument, and had just 2 weeks to create a piece befitting of the memory of the fallen. Though it was a temporary wood and plaster construction, the Cenotaph was soon decorated with flower wreaths and the decision was quickly made to create a more permanent structure made from Portland stone and in the same design. Unveiled by the King on 11th November 1920 with the arrival of the Unknown Warrior en-route to Westminster Abbey, the Cenotaph remains the main focal point of remembrance in the UK.

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