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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Nobody bothered to tell them the war was over


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I'm reading the "History of the Civil Service Rifles" and have come across this amazing account of the armistice.

The 1st Battalion had orders to go to Brussels, which the troops were "eagerly anticipating". But at 2.30 am on 11 November these orders were cancelled.

"No explanation was given, and a rumour that the war was over was strengthened by an order received later in the morning for the Battalion to march back to Tournai.

"The rumour was discredited when the Battalion got on the main road to Tournai and met a whole Division going in the opposite direction, but when a low-flying aeroplane appeared, gaily decorated with coloured ribbones and making a terrible noise with its Klaxon horn, there could be little doubt that the Armistice terms had been signed. This was confirmed by a passing officer in his motor car, and the news was conveyed to the troops by the Regimental Band." (They played the song "When this ruddy war is over")

The officer who wrote this account, Capt P Davenport MC, was clearly more than a bit miffed about this. :angry: He commented:

"It should be placed on record that this was the only intimation of the armistice which reached the Battalion beyond announcements in the press.

"So the Civil Service Rifles saw the end of the Great War, and a tamer finish it is impossible to imagine. There were many whose amibition it had been to be in the front line on the last day of the war, and many were the conjectures as to what it would be like, but none ever guessed that it would fizzle out in such a miserable and uninteresting fashion. To be left to read of it in the newspapers was about the feeblest finish that could have happened, and while there were jubilations in London and elsewhere on Armistice night, there was absolutely nothing in the area occupied by the 140th Infantry Brigade in the nature of a celebration of so great a victory. The district was very gloomy and its name, La Tombe, appeared a very appropriate one."



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Guest Jeff Floyd

There will always be the 10% who don't get the word. That's a little easier to solve with computerized communications, but it still just takes one person in the chain to mis-file a message or deliver it to the wrong address and the results can be far out of proportion.

I'm surprised that it was only part of one brigade.

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