At 11:00 on Monday 11th November 1918, the Armistice in Europe was signed and a thirty-six-day cessation of hostilities commenced. The fighting could begin again at any time, so there was no immediate returning home for the men on the front line. The armistice would need to be extended several more times before the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June 1919. In the intervening period, allied prisoners of war were repatriated, an army of occupation entered Germany to hold an unsteady peace and demobilisation began.
The men from the village did not start returning home from overseas until January 1919. The first to return had been serving in Salonika, where the Armistice was signed on 30th September 1918. In February, the first group of men from France returned and soon took up their positions with their former employers, many of whom had agreed to keep the men’s posts open to them on their return. In the meantime, colleagues that did not serve during the war, or who had been discharged early, had been promoted to more senior roles in the business. When the demobilised soldier took up his post once more, he would find himself at the bottom of the tree, even though they may have been a Non-Commissioned Officer in charge of a platoon or company of men.
In the middle of March 1919, after a number of servicemen had returned to Melton, a “welcome home” dinner was held at the Coach and Horses. It was reported in the local paper as follows:
Welcome to Meltonians
On Wednesday evening 19th March, a dinner was given at the Coach and Horses Melton, in celebration of the home coming of the Meltonian soldiers and sailors who have served in the war, the opportunity being taken now so that many could attend, as at any future time such a number could not possibly rally together, as there must necessarily be several absent. Over 70 were present and did full justice to an excellent repast, which maintained the deservedly high reputation of Mr and Mrs Green as host and hostess. Capt Bateman Hope presided and was supported by several local civilian gentlemen.
After dinner the remainder of the evening was spent in toast and song, all the usual and appropriate toasts being given. The humorous part of the programme was sustained by Mr Towser Smith amidst roars of laughter; he is a comedian of no mean ability. Miss Jessie Bilby and Miss Ethel Green rendered excellent songs, and Lieut Lansdale and Lieut Gaffney gave some funny stories, and were well appreciated. Mr R B Tile made a most efficient accompanist and a most successful and enjoyable evening was spent.
Great credit and thanks are expressed to those who voluntarily rendered their services, thus making the evening one ever to be remembered, also thanks to the donors.
There remains a balance of £2 4s 6d in hand which the Committee will be pleased to place towards the suggested memorial.