Moments of peace

November 11th, 2011 by

We think of the Armistice as being a moment of flags, of applause, of music in the silent air. But, for many, it was just a quiet morning; millions of men, sitting in the dust and the frost, looking around them and wondering what to do next. An eyewitness:

November 11th.—There had been so much talk of an armistice that a Brigade message in the morning telling us of its having been signed at 8 o’clock, and that hostilities were to cease at 11, fell somewhat flat. The event was anticlimax relieved by some spasmodic cheering when the news got about, by a general atmosphere of ‘slacking off for the day’, and by the notes of a lively band in the late afternoon. The men betook themselves to their own devices. There was a voluntary Service of Thanksgiving in the cinema which the Germans had built; the spacious building was quite full. […] ‘To me the most remarkable feature of that day and night was the uncanny silence that prevailed. No rumbling of guns, no staccato of machine-guns, nor did the roar of exploding dumps break into the night as it had so often done. The War was over.

November 12th.—Baths were a first concern.

— The War The Infantry Knew, 1914-1919, ed. Capt. J.C. Dunn.

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