2. “Demobilisation – Lost Voices” – Solo Horn



After the Armistice was declared, men started to prepare for their transition back to civilian life. However, returning the troops home was a logistical challenge that extended across the Empire. Soldiers complained about the slow and unfair processes for demobilisation and created disturbances at their army camps. The majority were finally demobbed by the end of 1919 and faced a different society on their return. Their ‘heroes welcome’ was short lived and promises of homes and employment weren’t met. Many of the heroes were out of work and had few prospects, so met on street corners to pass the time. Ad hoc bands were formed at these gatherings by musicians who had lost their bands and fellow bandsmen – they used basic instruments such as kazoos and harmonicas. Having been promised so much, many felt a real sense of injustice.

Have you forgotten yet?…
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,

Aftermath (Excerpt) – Siegfried Sassoon, 1919

And no-one talked heroics now, and we
Must just go back and start again once more.
‘You threw four years into the melting-pot –
Did you indeed!’ these others cry. ‘Oh well,
The more fool you!’
And we’re beginning to agree with them.

The Lament of the Demobilised (Excerpt) – Vera Brittain, 1920