Radnor Fire Company, WWI, 1918 Armistice Day parade, Wayne Men’s Club

To the comprehensive story told in “The Suburban” last week, of the 50 years of service rendered to this community by the Radnor Fire Company, this column would add still another chapter this week. It is not one of fire, accident, disaster, but is the story of this community’s celebration of Armistice Day of 1918, that never-to-be-forgotten November 11 when World War I ended. It was a celebration of which Radnor township was proud in 1918, an event planned for the community by the Radnor Fire Company.

Only five days elapsed between the Armistice on Monday, November 11 and Saturday, November 16, the day on which Wayne celebrated with a parade, in which some 1,500 of Radnor township’s citizens, including its men, women and children, participated. The parade was watched by many thousands more along the line of march, all of whom shared the feeling of happiness and relief that the war was over, and the sense of sadness and loss for those young men of the community who had lost their lives “over there.”

When the parade was over and the last weary marcher and the last almost-as-weary onlooker had gone home, Charles C. Shoemaker, then president of the Wayne Men’s Club said, “We must hand it to our neighbors of the Radnor Fire Company. They organized the finest parade ever seen in this town, and they handled it in a way that no other organization could rival. Our hats are off to the firemen!”

When compared to memories of other Wayne parades of a later date, this one of almost 38 years ago is to many people still that of “the finest ever seen in this town.” Fortunately, a full and colorful account of it has been preserved in the records of “The Suburban.”

The long procession, which started from in front of the firehouse shortly after 3 o’clock was headed by Chief Marshal Charles E. Clark, whose picture appeared in last week’s special anniversary issue for the Radnor Fire Company. Following him were four of Radnor’s “finest mounted,” including Township Commissioner John Kent Kane, “looking every inch a cop”; Sergeant Wilmer N. Clemence (later Captain) and Officers Burke and Harry Hatch. After them came a detachment of Marines from League Island, under the command of Lieutenant Fegley, and a group of “grizzled Civil War veterans and some Spanish-American veterans not so grizzled,” headed by the Bryn Mawr Band of 20 pieces, under the leadership of Herman Giersch.

Wayne’s own Company “B” of 60 men came next, headed by Captain Winfield L. Margerum and Lieutenants Norman Coudert and Herbert Plimpton. Of this group “The Suburban” writes, “The members of Company ‘B’ never made a better appearance on parade.” Company “B” was followed by the “Red Cross phalanx” comprised of about 100 members of the Wayne Branch, all dressed in their “garbs of mercy.” Next was the local Girl Scout Troop with their leader, Miss Nancy Hallowell. They passed by “in perfect columns of fours, looking very natty in their uniforms of brown.” Grouped with them was a troop of Boy Scouts, led by Scoutmaster Arthur E. Post, nearly 100 strong and led by the color guard and bugle corps of five pieces.

Among the several groups from local schools the first in line was a squad of Radnor High School boys, led by Dr. Albert L. Rowland, then superintendent of schools. who wore the uniform of an officer of the Home Defense Corps. Following them was a group of some 125 pupils of the Radnor grade schools, headed by J. Kenneth Satchell, principal of the high school.

Other school groups included pupils from the Mt. Pleasant School, headed by John Hobson, rural mail carrier, marching to the strains of a small band from Philadelphia. And last among the school celebrants was the one with the hugest number of participants, St. Katharine’s group of about 200 pupils, all wearing the patriotic red, white and blue. Led by Monsignor Charles F. Kavanaugh and marshalled by Peter Dunne, they were “received with hearty applause all along the line of march.”

(To be continued)