45: On Armistice Night 1918, the streets of Britain were filled with cheering crowds, but behind the celebrations lay a harsh reality. Many families had lost fathers, sons and brothers on the battlefields of Europe and most of the men who returned to ‘a land fit for heroes’ found themselves unemployed and often homeless. It was impossible to resettle four million ex-servicemen when money that should have been spent on industry and commerce had been swallowed up by the war. People in Loftus can still recall the ex-servicemen who knocked on doors selling haberdashery, cleaning materials and trinkets from a suitcase in order to make a living. Others drew sketches in indian ink and sold them in public houses or drew people’s portraits and sold them at fairs. Some disabled men were reduced to begging. Life after the war certainly did not live up to the promises made by the politicians.
From “Loftus in old picture postcards” by Jean Wiggins. Reproduced by permission.