The First World War ended in the second week of November 1918, just as Llandudno was preparing to host its ‘War Savings Week’. It was hoped that £100, 000 – approximately £ today – could be raised in National Savings to help pay for the war.
On the 11th, at noon, newspaper sellers on Mostyn Street confirmed the rumours that had been circulating all morning that the war was over; simultaneously a confirmation notice was posted outside the Post Office on Vaughan Street. With all doubts now dispelled, residents set to work decorating the town with bunting, flags and ribbons while peeling bells sounded from churches and chapels. Shortly after 3 pm an impromptu parade formed at the railway station led by local sailor George Edwards carrying a union jack. The procession included wounded officers from the local military hospitals, the band of the Inniskilling Fusiliers and soldiers hauling a 6 inch howitzer.
As the parade made its way up the promenade a Royal Navy warship, of the submarine chaser type, appeared in the bay firing several shots in the air while an airship passed overhead firing its Lewis gun forming a thrilling spectacle witnessed by thousands. That evening the military band gave a free concert at the town hall and beacons were lit on the Ormes and on the Vardre.
The joy at the armistice was tinged with great sadness. For every 100 Llandudno men who had enlisted in the military, 15 had not returned – even on November 11th 1918, Jean Bonnet of the Swiss Café, Lloyd Street, died when he fell from a lorry in Italy. On the Great Orme, Elizabeth Basford of Tyn-y-Coed mourned the loss of her husband and two brothers and further tragedy followed when a third brother, David, died. At the inquest the coroner concluded that his death was “attributed to the war”. The youngest of Llandudno’s victims was 17 year old Robert Eccles – son of the lighthouse keeper – killed when HMS Defence was sunk in the Battle of Jutland; the oldest, Grandfather John Jones – an army driver – died aged 60.
In 1920 the town council agreed to build a memorial on the promenade as a lasting tribute to the fallen and paid for by public subscription. It was unveiled in November 1922; attended by the weeping mothers and wives, fatherless children and sad faced fathers of the 212 Llandudno men who died as well as hundreds of veterans and thousands of members of the public. The service was conducted by the Rector of Llandudno who himself lost one son in the war while another was seriously wounded.
Many of the men who survived the war had significantly shortened lives; bronchial issues and breathing problems from gas poisoning, shrapnel wounds causing years of intolerable pain or the mental scars that never healed were all a legacy of the Great War and led to many a premature death. These men are not remembered on the town’s memorial, nor the hundreds of other townspeople who contributed – from the old men who patrolled the coastline keeping watch for enemy invaders, the nurses who tended and cared for the wounded to the housewives who knitted ‘comforts’ for the troops – Lest we Forget.