Hertford on 11th November 1918

An eye-witness account

The page of the diary including 11th November, 1918
Hertfordshire Archives and Local Studies, D/EBUF1
Captain Bushby sketched by Lt. A.J.S. Scott-Gatty
Hertfordshire Archives and Local History, ref: D/EBUF1

Henry North Grant Bushby was a Captain in the Royal Defence Corps. from 1916. His home was the Manor House, Wormley and he was lucky enough to be stationed close by, at Hertford, from April 1917 to April 1919.  He was released from the Army on 1st May 1919 but retained his rank.

He was born on 6th September 1863 and died on 14th January 1926.

This is his diary entry for 11th November 1918.

Monday, 11th Nov.

To Hertford by 10.8 AM. train from Broxbourne. It arrived at Hertford about 10.30 AM. & the engine exploded 6 fog signals, the first intimation I had of the signing of the armistice. To Orderly Room & noticed many flags hanging out. At 11.10 AM. Q.H.S. Howard told us – Lt Evans & myself – that it was officially announced that the armistice was signed. Then the church bells were pealed. I finished the mornings’ work, gave the O.R. staff a peace offering, & on the way back saw Fore St already gay with flags. Most men were subdued, many women were weeping, a half company of soldiers marched by singing. There seemed little excitement. For some hours later guns were being fired in various quarters of the town – I wrote to F.B. whose wedding day it was in 1862.

After tea Mrs Ritson, Dolly Ferriday and I went out to see the crowd and buy newspapers. This we did with difficulty, but there was no fresh news. Fireworks were being let off and the Kaiser was burnt in a big bonfire somewhere near Old Cross. The town was still dark. The bells of All Saints were peeled for the 3rd or 4th time, and we went up into the belfry & watched the ringers. At 6.45 P.M. the Town Clock was made to strike again, & then the lamps were lit in Fore Street. Rockets continued at intervals & boys with squibs were a source of discomfort & danger. A horse was frightened & a child’s leg broken. At 7.30 Dollie Ferriday3 went out to practise with others the “Hallelujah Chorus” for next Sunday. A dull drizzling afternoon, but everyone gradually realised more & more what it all meant, and thrushes singing.

About 9 P.M. the Ferridays4, Mrs. Ritson & I had our little “festa” supper of beefsteak & onions, champagne & port with chrysanthemums on the table. And with the sound of singing from the streets, to bed about 11 P.M.

So has ended the strain & horror of many years at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month – for it was 11 A.M. that the cease fire sounded. On Friday the 8th I saw a searchlight – the last I shall see I hope. One can henceforth sleep without listening for the drone of aeroplanes & without fear of sudden death from bombs. One can show lights in one’s windows and not be prosecuted. One has still to carry on for a time and rattle one’s chains, but one knows that they will be loosened and that the great anxiety is past.

During the night D.F. had to be woken up by her mother, because she was singing loudly in her sleep.

(The armistice was signed at 5 A.M.)

Hertfordshire Mercury Report, 16th November, 1918

The following Saturday, HERTFORDSHIRE MERCURY contained the following article including a report on how the news was received in Hertford.  Whilst in many ways it is consistent with Bushby’s account there are some differences.







Wonderful scenes were witnessed throughout the county when the news was received of the signing of the armistice.  In the towns, works, offices, and many shops closed at noon, and the rest of the day was spent as a joyous holiday. The hundreds of soldiers at the Barracks5 at Hertford paraded through the town in small companies and their spirit of gaiety was infectious.  Flags and bunting appeared from the storage cupboards, and the town was immediately transformed into holiday garb.  The church bells rang merrily, and in the evening many windows blazed with unwanted splendour.  The darkened streets were relieved by a number of electric lights and the happy light-hearted crowd, which cheered again and again at the slightest cause, held a merry revel until late in the evening.  A number of rockets vied with the stars, and several explosions, presumably from revolvers, caused a temporary shock which was soon changed into merriment.  A number of tar-barrels took the place of the absent searchlights, and all ‘went merry as a marriage-bell’.  Everybody was on his best behaviour, and if there was here and there a little horse=play there was no wanton damage.  We append reports from our correspondents in the county as to the reception of the good news in the villages.


When the glorious news reached Hertford there were enthusiastic rejoicings.  From nine o’clock in the morning there had been rumours that the armistice had been signed, and here and there little flags crept out, only to be withdrawn again when confirmation was lacking.  At about eleven o’clock, however, a definite announcement on the subject was made by the Mayor from the Shire Hall, and instantly the town was bedecked from end to end with flags and banners.  The church bells were set ringing, the populace came out of houses shops, and factories into the streets, and the thousand soldiers at the School of Instruction were with wise discretion released for the day, and they marched through the town cheering and singing lustily.  It soon became apparent that there would be no business done for the rest of the day, and practically all the shops were closed at noon.  Fireworks were set off all day long in the streets, and bonfires were lighted wherever material could be obtained.  The people gave themselves up whole-heartedly to the day’s rejoicings, and although there were many lively scenes witnessed, perfectly good order prevailed. The police, in fact, had the easiest task that has ever fallen to their lot on occasions of public festivities, and one sergeant and one constable were sufficient to police the whole town, not even the specials being called upon for duty. At night bonfires and fireworks were again in evidence, and for the first time for over three years some of the street lamps were lighted.  The gas-lamps are all out of order, but most of the electric arc lamps in the centre of the Borough were found intact, and when they wore turned on the people cheered, and all the evening groups gathered  around them staring in amazement at the strange sight.  It is three years last month since the town was plunged into darkness, owing to air-raids, and we are now permitted for the first time to state that on October 13, 1915, Hertford suffered from a sad calamity from one of those nocturnal visitations.  It was at 10 o’clock on a Wednesday night, when the streets were full of people listening to the bombardment of London, that a Zeppelin passed over the town, which was ablaze with lights, and dropped 55 bombs.  Much damage was done to property, and nine people were killed, including the Borough Surveyor (Mr. Jevons),  the Organist of All saints Church (MR. J.L. Gregory), a well-known tradesman (Mr. Cartledge), and a cashier at one of the banks (Mr. E. T. Jolly). On the whole there was great calmness at Monday’s good news, and people were frequently heard to remark that the festivities  were nothing to be compared to the wild scenes in the town on the occasion when Mafeking6 was relieved. The reason for this calmness was that the occasion was too solemn for anything else. So many have suffered to such an extent from the war that the news that it was all over came as a great relief to them, and they were glad to just exclaim ‘Thank God!’ and then carry on as usual. Those who have husbands or sons fighting or prisoners will now be looking forward to a joyous reunion with their loved ones.

The Tabernacle7 was opened on Monday at noon-day, and again in the evening for thanksgiving in connection with the signing of the armistice. At the evening meeting a large company assembled, friends being present from most churches in the town, evidently glad that this provision had been made to return thanks to God. The Pastor, the Rev. H. R. Cripps, conducted the service, and gave a brief address in the evening. Many took part in intercession and praise, and the closing prayer was offered by Mr. Hudson Dixon.8

A special thanksgiving service was conducted by the Rev. J. T. Hodgson on Monday evening at the Wesleyan Church. A large congregation heartily joined in the service of prayers and thanksgiving. Miss Freda Lawrence feelingly rendered Elgar’s patriotic song ‘Land of hope and glory’.

There was a large congregation at All Saints Church on Thursday evening at the thanksgiving for the termination of the war. The Vicar (the Rev. T. Landulph Smith) conducted the service which commenced with a processional hymn and consisted of a shortened form of evensong, an address, the singing of the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’, the National Anthem, the ‘Te Deum’ and a recessional hymn. The offertory was in aid of the T.M.O.A.8 Hut Fund. A similar thanksgiving service was held at Bengeo Parish Church on Wednesday evening.

We understand that there are to be thanksgiving services in all the churches tomorrow. A special form of service has been arranged and a copy sent to each incumbent through the S.P.C.K.9 Owing to lack of time, it was not possible to circulate copies on a large scale. The form of service, however, is drawn up in such a way that members of the congregation can take full part in the service without necessarily having copies in their hands.

Bushby’s Obituary

The following obituary of Captain Bushby appeared in The Times newspaper of 20th January 1926.

A correspondent writes: –

Captain Henry North Grant Bushby, of Wormley Bury, Herts, who died on January 15, after a short illness, at the age of 62, was a man of exceptional gifts, which were turned to useful account in all sorts of county business. There was a remarkable tradition of Indian service in his family. His great-grandfather served under “John Company”; his grandfather was a Judge in Madras; and of his five great-uncles, three were civilians and two were officers in the Madras Army; and his father, Henry Jeffreys Bushby, long a Metropolitan Police magistrate, began his career in the Bengal Civil Service. Many Old Etonians will remember the tall sedate figure and close-curling hair of “Bushby ma.,” whom Warre Cornish regarded as intellectually his most promising pupil. From Eton he gained a scholarship to Trinity, Cambridge, and took a second class in the Moral Sciences Tripos in 1885, a year when no candidates obtained a first. He was called to the bar by the Inner Temple, but did not practise. Granted by Henry VIII, to Bushby’s maternal ancestor, Lord North, the small but beautiful estate and manor of Wormley came round to him again by inheritance from his father, together with mineral property in Wales and Irish land. The responsibilities of squire and landlord, the cares of parenthood, local administration, his commission in the Yeomanry1 and later in the Territorial Force2 – a hundred routine duties claimed his time, and they were never scamped. The model of an upright, conscientious man, he held the task nearest to his hand worthy of a scrupulous diligence which somewhat starved the exercise of his more brilliant faculties. But there was no failure. His wide grasp – especially of natural and moral sciences – was maintained and improved to the last. Captain Bushby married Annie Esther, daughter of Mr. T.D. Ford, of Sydney N.S.W. She survives him with two sons and one daughter.


1 Bushby was appointed Lieutenant, in Hertfordshire Yeomanry Cavalry on 23rd December 1885 (aged 22) serving until he resigned on 5th May 1894. (from A Biographical List of Officers of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, 1794 – 1920 compiled by Colonel J.D. Sainsbury, ISBN 0-948527-07-2)

2 Bushby served in Territorial Force Reserve 1914 – 1916. (from A Biographical List of Officers of the Hertfordshire Yeomanry, 1794 – 1920 compiled by Colonel J.D. Sainsbury, ISBN 0-948527-07-2)

3 Dolly Ferriday was presumably Edith Dorothy Ferriday 17 years old daughter of Arthur Leonard Ferriday.

4 The Ferridays were presumably  Arthur Leonard Ferriday, aged 55 and family.  In 1911 Arthur was a surveyor and land agents assistant.

5 The military barracks was in London Road where the fire station is now.

6 Mafeking in South Africa was besieged by the Boars and was relieved on May 16th/17th, 1900 following a seven-month siege,

7 Hertford Tabernacle housed the town mission which was run by Hudson Dixon.

8 Hudson Dixon. aged 67, was the Town Missionary And Provision Officer. he lived with his family at 29, Byde Street.

8 T.M.O.A. is the Trade Mark Owners Association (est. 1905)

9 SPCK is the country’s leading Christian publisher, and an Anglican Mission Agency that has been communicating the Christian Faith since 1698.

This page was added on 07/08/2011.

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