Armstice, 100 Years On

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the signing of the Armstice on the 11th November 1918 between the Allies and Germany, bringing the First World War to its end after four years of fighting and casualties numbering over 41 million worldwide.

Known as as the Armistice of Compiègne from the place where it was signed, it came into force at 11 a.m. Paris time (“the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month”) and marked a victory for the Allies and a complete defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender.

The actual terms, largely written by the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, Allied occupation of the Rhineland and bridgeheads further east, the preservation of infrastructure, the surrender of aircraft, warships, and military matériel, the release of Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, and eventual reparations. No release of German prisoners and no relaxation of the naval blockade of Germany was agreed to. This would serve as the basis for the final peace deal negotiated and concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28th June 1919.

Although the fighting officially ended with the signing of the armstice, most of the soldiers still stationed on the Western Front would remain there until early 1919, due to the sheer number of men to be demobilized. There was little in the way of celebration; much like today, the 11th November 1918 was largely given over to contemplation over 52 months of conflict and the scale of death and destruction it had left in its wake.

“They shall not grow old as we that are left shall grow old; age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn”

“At the going down of the sun, and in the morning…we will remember them”