With 2018 now upon us, it is hard to believe that we are about to commemorate another significant anniversary: the centenary of the end of the First World War on 11th November.
It seems like only yesterday that we entered the Decade of Centenary period, with events to commemorate the start of the First World War, Gallipoli, The Battle of Jutland, the Somme and Messines to name a few.
This year, like previous centenary years, brings with it some important anniversaries from a military and social perspective.
The 1918 Representation of
the People Act on the 6 th February is significant in this year that has been designated to commemorate ‘Womenswork100’.
Women had joined the workforce to help with the war effort and had taken on many diverse and challenging roles against a backdrop of the campaign for women’s suffrage.
The Act of 1918 gave some women the vote for the first time, if they were over 30 and met the property qualification yet a large majority of women still did not have a say.
It also extended the vote to men over 21 but it must be remembered many of the thousands of soldiers returning from the horrors of the war still did not qualify to vote either as they did not own their own home.
Some of the other key events that will be commemorated in 2018 will be the Battle of St Quentin in March which saw the 36 th (Ulster) Division and 16 th (Irish) Division in action and the Battle of Amiens, that was the opening phase of the Allied offensive in August 1918.
Then on the 11 th November we will see many Nations remember the day, Armistice Day, that saw the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.
The Armistice was signed by the Allied Powers and Germany in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne, France.
The forest had been chosen because it was a remote and discreet location.
Agreed a few hours earlier that it would take effect on the 11th hour (French time) of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Bells rang out all over the country and this year to commemorate the centenary, church and other bells will ring out as they did at the end of the war, 100 years ago.
Services will be held in London, Glasgow, Belfast and Cardiff to give thanks for peace and to remember the fallen along with all those who returned home.
A programme of events is planned at the Somme Museum as we continue to honour and commemorate all those who served, died or were affected by the First World War at home and aboard.
• For further details visit our website www.sommeassociation.com or follow us on Facebook The Somme Association
• Mrs Carol Walker, MBE is director of the Somme Association, based at the Somme Museum, Bangor Road, Newtownards