Flags Marking End of First World War Rediscovered 100 Years on
6 November 2018
Five flags flown in York to mark the end of the First World War have been rediscovered 100 years after the end of the conflict.
David Harding’s Great Grandfather and Grandfather displayed a series of flags outside their family drapery shop, G.W Harding, on High Ousegate and Coppergate in the city on November 11 1918.
Earlier this month Mr Harding found five of the flags representing countries of the allied forces neatly folded in a drawer at his late mother’s house in York.
He then kindly donated them to York Castle Museum, where they will be on display to mark the centenary of the end of the conflict.
Mr Harding said: “The family is delighted that these flags turned up just in time for the Castle Museum to display them on the centenary of the Armistice, and that the Museum will then preserve them for the future. Fate surely meant it to happen like this.”
Rachael Bowers, assistant curator of social history at York Castle Museum, said: “We are delighted that Mr Harding has donated the series of flags to York Castle Museum. It is poignant that they have been rediscovered so close to the centenary and, together with the information Mr Harding has passed on to us, they offer a glimpse of how businesses in the city marked the end of the conflict 100 years ago.”
The flags, which measure about three foot by six foot, will now go on display in the museum’s First World War exhibition, 1914: When the World Changed Forever.
They represent the countries of Belgium, Serbia, Portugal, Ulster and the Royal Navy’s White Ensign. Originally Mr Harding said there were flags of other allied forces too including France, Japan and the USA.
He said they were all flown again to mark the end of the Second World War, with Mr Harding adding: “My grandfather dug them out and flew them again in 1945 – until a policeman came in and said “You’d better take the Japanese flag down before you get a brick through the window – they were on the other side this time!””.
Mr Harding said he remembers finding the flags in the basement of the shop in the 1960s and asking his father, named George William Harding like his father and grandfather, if he could keep them.
They were then kept at his family home and only rediscovered earlier this month when Mr Harding was sorting through the possessions of his late mother.
The family business ran in York in the premises now occupied by Urban Outfitters until 1974. At the time of its closure many of the older items were donated to York Castle Museum and for some years there was a Harding’s Linen shop in the former Edwardian Street.