Leicester 1918-1939

The First World War finished in 1918. However, while there was officially a ceasefire declared on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, a formal state of war persisted for another seven months until the signing of the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on 28th June 1919. Even then, legal states of war between various countries continued into the 1920s.

It took some time for men to return from the forces. Many soldiers were unhappy with having to stay in the army longer than they felt was necessary and feelings sometimes ran high. It was said that, ‘In the event of rioting, for the first time in history the rioters will be better trained than the police’.

12,000 or more Leicestershire soldiers died during, or just after, the war. In Leicester, as in many other towns and cities, a tradition developed during the war of making street shrines recording the names of all those who had gone out from the street to serve the country, as well as being a memorial for those who were killed. A temporary war memorial was erected in Town Hall Square during the war and, more formally, on 4th July 1925, the Lutyens war memorial in Victoria Park was unveiled.

The story of Leicester during World War One has been told on the EMOHA website exhibition, 'Oral histories of the home front in Leicestershire and Rutland during World War One'.

This exhibition looks at different aspects of life in Leicester from 1918-1939. This period saw changes to almost every aspect of life in the town (as it was in 1918), and the city (as it was by 1939). The audio clips are taken from memories that were, mostly, recorded in the 1980s and 1990s. Many of the full length recordings can be found on Special Collections Online.

It has been compiled by volunteers and staff at the East Midlands Oral History Archive, particularly those who have volunteered for the Sounds for the Future project, which has been funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund.


East Midlands Oral History Archive. This exhibition was produced as part of the Sounds for the Future project with support from the Heritage Fund. Thanks to National Lottery Players.