In 1919, London hosted a Victory Parade that marked a unique moment of national rejoicing, mourning and catharsis. The Parade, also known as the London Peace Parade, saw returning troops march through packed streets in the capital. The city’s iconic monuments were momentarily joined by a series of temporary structures erected to mark the march.
One of these, a plain but elegant wood and plaster cenotaph erected on Whitehall, would strike such a chord with the people that a permanent version would be built in its place. The stone-carved Cenotaph was unveiled the following year, and remains the focal point of national remembrance.
On 19 July 1919, London played host to 15,000 troops from across the British Empire. Their procession was led by Field Marshal Douglas Haig and other senior military leaders. The capital was festooned with flags and bunting, the drab wartime caterpillar bursting into the vivid and victorious colour of an imperial butterfly.
The Union flag was proudly displayed alongside flags of the home nations, the dominions, the services and the banners of her allies. Whilst the Stars and Stripes and French Tricolour were popular, the defiant black, yellow and red of Belgium was a particularly poignant reminder of the start of the conflict.