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   xoxoxoBruce  Monday Nov 12 04:46 PM

Nov 12th, 2018: 11 AM, 11 November, 1918 - The Great War Ends

Pictured - Eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour.
German delegates signed the armistice at five in the morning, with fighting to cease at eleven. The war continued up til then. General Bernard Freyburg received orders to attack a bridge at 9:30. He reached it just before eleven and charged across on horseback, getting in return a bullet in his saddle, 100 prisoners, and a bar to his Distinguished Service Order. Nearby a Canadian named George Price was killed by a sniper at 10:58. Harry Truman’s artillerymen fired off their last round at 10:45. In many batteries, all the gunners pulled the lanyard, so that everyone could say they had fired the last shot of the war.

Across from a South African brigade, a German Maxim-gunner rattled off his last belt of ammunition. When he finished, he was “seen to stand up beside his weapon, take off his helmet, bow, and then walk slowly to to the rear.”

Then, at 11 A.M., the guns stopped firing.
“There came a second of expectant silence,” wrote Scottish soldier John Buchan, “and then a curious rippling sound, which observers far behind the front likened to the noise of a light wind. It was the sound of men cheering from the Vosges to the sea.”

A wave of emotion descended on the Western Front, even if not everyone felt the same. In Eddie Rickenbacker’s aerodrome, fighter pilots partied. “I’ve lived through the war!” shouted one. “We won’t be shot at any more!” In the trenches a British sergeant was heard to tell his company that “It’s all over, an armistice has been signed.” “What’s an armistice mate?” asked one man. “Time to bury the dead,” replied another. Leading a column of soldiers into the town of Mons, Lieutenant J.W. Muirhead saw three dead British soldiers who had been killed that morning, “each wearing the medal ribbon of the 1914 Mons Star.” In town they found many more dead Germans, “also killed that day… Boys were kicking them in the gutter.”

News spread rapidly throughout the world. Londoners filled Trafalgar Square, Parisians the Champs-Élysées. Factories let out their workers and the pubs stayed open all night, usually with the entire crowd singing “God Save the King,” “La Marseillaise,” and “The Star-Spangled Banner,” no matter what country they were in. Yet even victory day had sombre touch to it. “These hours were brief,” recollected Winston Churchill, “their memory fleeting; they passed as suddenly as they had began. Too much blood had been split.”

Robert Graves spent the day “walking alone along the dykes above the marshes of Rhuddlan… cursing and sobbing and thinking of the dead.” In Rochester, a mother named Lucy Storrs thanked God that each of her four sons had survived the war. Then the phone rang. It was a friend calling to say that her second son Francis had died the previous evening.

Everyone who participated in the war hoped that, in some form, their sacrifices would lead to a better world. The final tragedy of the War to End All Wars was that it completely failed to do so. The cannons ceased on the Western Front on November 11, but they opened up elsewhere. In northern Russia, Allied troops were in action against the Red Army that day.

Europe’s new states squabbled as soon as they were born; Romania declared war on Hungary on November 12. The Great War had unleashed hatreds onto the earth which could not be easily reburied. In human terms it had killed maybe as many as ten million people. It damaged millions more in body and soul.

blueboy56  Monday Nov 12 10:15 PM

One item that needs to be remembered is the effect the influenza pandemic had upon all sides in the war. It is now generally recognized that world wide somewhere between 50 and 100 million people died from the infection. There were so many soldiers rendered unable to perform their duties that all combatants could not continue fighting.

xoxoxoBruce  Monday Nov 12 11:50 PM

Yes, the Spanish Flu infected about 500 million around the world, even on the remotest islands of the South Pacific, killing 50 to 100 million.
But that wasn't the fault of the warring parties, besides half the soldiers who were in sick bay for the flu had really been in close contact with those European trollops.

Diaphone Jim  Tuesday Nov 13 12:50 PM

The end of World War One is treated as ancient history. There is one American veteran still alive.
I left Vietnam 51 years ago, over half way back to Armistice Day.

xoxoxoBruce  Tuesday Nov 13 01:23 PM

Yes indeed, when I was a kid there were several WW I vets in a town of 2000, and a ton of WW II vets. When my father died in 1999 his 82nd Airborne uniform was still hanging in the closet after half a dozen moves.

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