IT WAS a momentous occasion for Basingstoke when news of the end of the First World War broke, but by the time the Hants and Berks Gazette was published five days later, the news was somewhat old.

The Armistice is not mentioned in the November 16 edition until page three, with the headline END OF THE WAR Rejoicings and Thanksgiving.

It reported: “The good news that the armistice with Germany has been signed early on Monday morning and that hostilities were to cease at 11am reached Basingstoke through various channels, and at noon the hoisting of the Union Jack on the Town Hall seemed to signalise official confirmation of the glad tidings.”

The article reported that the Mayor appeared at the top of the Town Hall to announce the official news, declaring: “So now, thank God, we have peace”.

The newspaper reported: “His words were received with hearty cheers. A verse of the National Anthem was sung and three cheers were given for the King. The bells of St Michael’s began to pearl out the glorious message of Peace, and later the belfry of All Saints took up the thrilling strain.

“In the afternoon the Market Place was thronged with joyous folk, among whom wounded soldiers and men in khaki were conspicuous in demonstrating their sense of the splendid triumph which our arms combined with those of our Allies had achieved.”

In the evening, the street lamps were lit again and the Town Hall clock illuminated, following years of “gloomy obscurity”, and “squibs and crackers were exploded”.

The Hants and Berks Gazette reported: “The Salvation Army band played to a great crowd in the Market Square, the bugle band of the K.R.R (Cadets) paraded the streets, and companies of merry youths marched to and fro shouting forth their glee.”

The Hants and Berks Gazette also published a War Supplement during the First World War, featuring stories from the frontline, keeping those back home informed of what was happening.

Ahead of the Armistice it told a story of an ‘extraordinary escape’, of a British stoker petty officer who escaped from a British submarine which sank in home waters through an accident.

The article read: “Alone, in almost complete darkness, with the gradually rising water, receiving electric shocks, and towards the end suffering from chlorine gas and a badly-crushed hand, he worked for nearly two hours, keeping his head to the last, and at the seventh attempt to open the hatch succeeded in escaping.”