"The truce was signed this morning at five o'clock and hostilities are due to end on all fronts at 11 o'clock in the morning."
Prime Minister David Lloyd George in a statement to the British public on November 11, 1918.
"If you stood at a street corner at 9 in the morning and saw the ghosts of the British dead marching side by side at four, the column would be 97 miles long and would last 20 hours (or until five in the morning). The French dead would take another 51 hours and the Germans another 59 hours. Considering all the dead on the Western Front, this parade would last from 9:00 am Monday to 4:00 pm Saturday and be 386 miles long, roughly the distance from Paris halfway through Switzerland or from New York to Cleveland. "
– Joseph E. Persico, "Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day 1918".
Sunday marks the centenary of the ceasefire that ended all the battles in the First World War. The ceasefire on 11 November (officially known as the Compiègne ceasefire) ended the hostilities between the Allies and Germany. The war was for Bulgaria (30 September 1918, truce of Thessalonica), the Ottoman Empire (armistice of Mudros on 31 October 1918) and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (truce of Villa Giusti, Nov. 3, 1918).
Since the beginning of the war in 1914, 65 million soldiers had been mobilized for both the Allies and the Central Powers. By 1918, 8.5 million soldiers had been killed; 21 million injured; 7.75 million prisoners or reported missing, for a total of 37.25 million dead or 57.5% of the mobilized armed forces. Civilians were also spared, with an estimated 13 million deaths from hunger, exposure, disease (including influenza), military clashes and massacres.
It is difficult for us today to understand how completely the war was destructive. Cities were destroyed; Villages were wiped out; The economy was in ruins; the environment is damaged The world has changed; Russia underwent a transformation revolution, Germany became a republic, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire was dismantled. The Middle East has been restructured, as has most of Europe, and it can be argued that World War II and other issues we are still dealing with have paved the way.
On a very personal level, people knew that the war had affected consciousness. All these dramatic changes and the horrors of war destroyed the safe, orderly life of Edwardian England, which made people feel that life would never be stable again.
But all that was yet to come – with the announcement on November 11, 1918, people were relieved to learn that the war was finally over.
Information about the forthcoming ceasefire was known at the front; However, the armed forces continued to fight until the last hour. At 11 o'clock in the morning, both sides stopped shooting, and there were spontaneous fraternities between the two sides, but the reactions were mute (and who could blame them after four years of horror).
A British corporal reported that "the Germans came out of the trenches, bowed to us and then left. That was it's. There was nothing to celebrate but cookies. "
People were happy on the home front. A false ceasefire report was sent by United Press on 7 November. The news spread like crazy – it even reached the Porcupine, where, according to Porcupine Advance, "on Thursday night (8 November) an enthusiastic spontaneous celebration took place, which was reported during the day that a ceasefire had been signed with the police Huns The bell and the pipes of fire went on, the fire team came out, cars, oil rigs and men, women and children drove the streets. The Italian band directed the music and everyone made a happy sound. All flags in the city were sold out. After four years of stress, all people seemed to rave about the triumphal procession. After the demonstration, part of the audience went to the Empire Theater, where Sgt. George Smith, who served abroad at the Highlanders, took over the meeting. Short addresses were given by Coun. Held. Charles Pierce, Pte. Gilbert and others. It was a great night! "
After an official word was received on November 11, the city came again to the honking and roaring. The cable was received at 6 o'clock in the morning, and the party started a few moments later and lasted until the early hours of the next morning. Bells, whistles and horns were too much noise; Flags were brought out again, and children stole the pots and pans of their mothers to get worse.
The showcase of Marshall Ecclestone displayed a wooden portrait of the Emperor (made by the Zimmermann staff of the Hollinger Mine). The crowds gathered in the city center to celebrate more. The Italian band made another show and delivered patriotic music for the rest of the afternoon.
In the evening a big parade was formed; The Undertaker Easton took the emperor's image in the hearse, pulled by his horse Black Maria, and made his way to the sports fields (for a bit of macabre, the band played the funeral march). Some of the recently returned soldiers took over the event when they reached the field. Two of the men shot the "Emperor" and hit him over the head. The image was then set ablaze and the burning limbs were uncovered and used as torches for the parade, which lasted for hours (sounds a bit like a medieval uprising). The many, many days, months and years full of worries, stress and despair were finally over.
Together with the rest of the British Commonwealth, Canadians first watched the "Armistice Day" in 1919. From 1921
The Armistice Day was held on Monday of the week in which November 11 fell; This tradition lasted until 1931, when Alan Neill, Member of Parliament of Comox-Alberni, presented a Law on the Remembrance Day on November 11th.
Karen Bachmann is the director / curator of the Timmins Museum and author of local history.