As 1917 turned into 1918, celebrating was far from the minds of British People. World War One had taken drastic toll on lives and loved ones were still away at the front facing some of the fiercest fighting yet. No end was in sight to a war now in its fourth year, that was supposed to only take “a few months.”
The New Year was ushered in throughout Blantyre in rather a quiet manner, the only indication that 1918 had arrived was the blowing of the colliery horns, the sound echoing all over the district.
The church bells and the other singing noises that were accustomed to in pre-war days were absent, and there did not seem to the usual hilarious or happy scenes on the streets. The police reported an “easy evening” and that scarcely any persons were about when the new year opened. To those that were out, the behaviour of the people was exemplary.
All the collieries in the district stopped work before Hogmanay, and both outgoing and incoming tram cars were packed and at times the tram service could not accommodate those wishing to travel. Work in the pits had supposed to resume on Thursday 3rd January, but in no instance did any of the collieries make a proper start. Heads were down, nothing much to celebrate.
For the first time in thirty years, Blantyre Silver Band did not make its usual New-Year’s morning walk round Blantyre, a spectacle that residents would normally look forward to. The reason? So many of the bandsman were away on active service and a few not ever going to come back.
The publications of that week said it all. As picture, WWI era 1918 New Year’s Baby illustrated by Joseph Christian Leyendecker for the end December 1917 cover of The Saturday Evening Post.