On this day in 1918 the Armistice of Compiègne came into effect at 11am Paris time. The armistice brought a ceasefire in the conflict between the Allies and Germany, it however did not end the war. However it put in place an agreement to stop fighting on the Western Front, allowing discussions for permanent peace. It took more than six months of negotiations for the Treaty of Versailles to be agreed, which was signed on 28th June 1919, and finally bringing the war to its end.
In 1918 the western front had moved back and forth, first, the Germans Spring Offensive had gained them territory though with exhausted supplies and reinforcements the Allies had great success in the '100 Days' campaign.
For four years the Germans had experienced hardship at home and with the Allies success, social unrest and revolutions caused the Kaiser to abdicate. In their weak position, the Germans had to sign the Armistice. The terms were mainly written by the Allied Supreme Commander Marshal Ferdinared Foch, on who's railway carriage in the forest of Compiègne the signing took place, included the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine and occupation of the Rhineland by the Allies.
The Armistice of Compiègne The Armistice was signed on a railway cartridge at Compiegne. Behind the table, from right: The French General Maxime Weygand and Marshal Ferdinand Foch (standing), British naval officers Rosslyn Wemyss, George Hope and Jack Marriott. In front of it stands the German State Secretary Matthias Erzberger, Major General Detlof von Winterfeldt, Alfred von Oberndorff of the Foreign Office and Captain Ernst Vanselow. Based on this image: Unterzeichnung des Waffenstillstandsabkommens
A year after the Armistice of Compiegne the people of Britain observed a minutes silence on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. This was followed the next year by the wearing of poppies. In London, the Cenotaph in Whitehall was erected, initially as a temporary structure which was then replaced as a permanent replica made from Portland stone. It quickly became a popular place for people to gather and lay wreaths at. It is now the central venue for Remembrance Day in the UK.
The cost of the war had been huge. It is estimated that the total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was about 40 million: estimates range from 15 to 19 million deaths and about 23 million wounded military personnel, ranking it among the deadliest conflicts in human history.
Last year we remembered the battle of Passchendaele, where it is possible that our builder James Pegrum's ancestor, Wilfred Pegrum, suffered fatal injuries. We took Wilfred's story and used it to explore the chain of evacuation, which took wounded soldiers from the front line to be treated in relative safety. During research, James came across the death of another relative, Thomas Pegrum, who died at the Battle of Jutland 31 May – 1 June 1916. James was struck by the youth of Thomas, who when he died was around the same age as his nephew, also named Thomas, both younger than 20 years. While neither James or his family ever knew Wilfred or Thomas, they remembered them today at their local memorial in Newton Abbot.
Wilfred and Thomas are unknown beyond there names and place on a family tree, they will be remembered this Sunday.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left 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.
For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon
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