Another historical first for Southampton – Bells of Peace Day remembered

The 100th Anniversary of the ringing of the Bells of Peace on the 11th hour of the 11th month in 1918 that ended World War I, the Great War, was an exciting celebration in Southampton in 2018.

Organized by Southampton Legion Branch 155 under then-President John Willetts, there was a week-long lead-up to the actual anniversary date.

With lectures, Community Band concert, poetry readings and as a local WOAA Sr. Men’s Hockey game sponsor, the Legion lead the community through a week of celebration.  

It was also the first time in history, that 100 soldiers marched down the main street in Southampton.  The 100 from the 4th Canadian Division Training Centre in Meaford marched down High Street lead by a Pipe Band and not only took part in the traditional November 11th Cenotaph ceremony but also participated in the special ‘Sunset’ ceremony at the flag at the base of High Street overlooking Lake Huron.

Hundreds of people lined the street applauding the soldiers and the local service personnel of Police and Fire in appreciation of all their service.

In 1914, in Southampton, many young men from all walks of life voluntarily signed up to go to war not expecting that some would never return.  A photo was also taken in 1916 on the steps of Southampton’s historic Town Hall of the young soldiers in their new uniforms and, thanks to the Meaford soldiers, the photo was replicated almost exactly 100 years later.

                                                        Photo of 1916


On Wednesday, June 12th, a copy of the 100-year-old photo and a copy of the recent replicated photo were presented to Lt. Colonel James L’Heureux, Meaford Commander (L) and Chief Warrant Officer, Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM), Anthony (Tony) Mayfield (R) by past-President John Willetts.

  Immediate past-President Southampton Legion (L) shows Lt. Col.         L’Heureux and CWO Antony Mayfield (R) the original 1916 photo

“The soldiers felt they were part of something very special and felt very connected to the community,” said Lt.Colonel L’Heureux. “It made them realize their career is meaningful and that Canadians appreciate the work that they do.  It also gave them a connection to those veterans who have gone before doing the same work.  It certainly was not lost on them how important the occasion was and they were grateful to have the opportunity to take part in a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Sgt. of Arms Charles Schmalz