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Remembered Today:

After the final hour....?


MoonMonkey
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Has anyone got any accounts of, or knows, what it was like at the front in the immediate hours after 11am on 11th Nov, and the following few days?

Did troops leave the trenches very quickly? Was their contact (trouble and/or cooperation) between the sides?

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I have read one account by an RAF pilot who said that when flights were ordered to check that the German's were observing the cease fire there was considerable reluctance to fly on the grounds that it would be silly to be killed in a flying accident after having survived the war.

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Yes, but poor old George was 2 minutes before 11am.

Does anyone know what happened in those next few hours and days?

Sorry to keep asking seemingly pointless questions! But it will help with a project I am working on.

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I was only thinking about that yesterday, I did hear a story that the only sound for a while was the sound of birds ?

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i was not thinking so much about George, more the effect his death would have had upon his fellow soldiers which, incidentally would have been in the moments after the armistice.

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i was not thinking so much about George, more the effect his death would have had upon his fellow soldiers which, incidentally would have been in the moments after the armistice.

Oh I see what you mean. Yes, the Christmas 1914 spirit must have been harder to recreate after all that had happened.

Thanks for the book link.

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The next few hours and days would have been spent anxiously wondering if the Germans were going to observe the Armistice or launch a sneak attack.

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Nothing much changed. The only differance was that the shooting had stopped. Trenches were manned and reliefs went on as usual. The 9th Sherwood Foresters were relieved at 0700 on the morning of 11th. They continued to be on standby for weeks and months to come. Once it was obvious that hostilities had ended they set about 'normal' army duties until the Battalion left France in June 1919.

Some of the men did get picked for the victory parade through Mons a few days later. No contact was made with the Germans who had by this time marched back to Germany.

steve m

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I recently read a book about this - can't remember the title, it was called something like '11th November 1918'. It dealt mostly with the last few months of the war leading up to the armistice - frustratingly, it ended with the ceasefire and had nothing about what came afterwards!

There were a few interesting snippets though. One quote was from a British officer who said after the ceasefire one German machine gunner kept firing so they had to kill him. They wondered whether his watch was slow, and speculated that he must have been one of the last German casualties of the war.

Another concerned a German machine gunner who kept firing up until 11am, then stood up, bowed, and walked off! He was lucky not to have been picked off I think...

The book said that on the frontline if there were any celebrations they were very muted. It must have seemed like a big anti-climax on top of all the victories of the last few weeks, to suddenly stop while still fighting in occupied territory and let the enemy walk away. I suppose many soldiers imagined that the war would end with them marching triumphantly through Germany. The book wondered whether many of the soldiers sensed that due to this it would remain unfinished business, and would merely serve as the precursor to an even worse war 20 years later.

I guess many soldiers wondered what they were going to do once the war was over. As Mr Coppard said in 'With a machine gun to cambrai', he finished the war as a professional machine gunner but wasn't fit for anything else.

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I think that there were strict orders to prevent fraternising with the enemy. Under the Armistice terms the German army was to withdraw behind the Rhine, and I believe appx 2 days were kept between the retreating Germans and the following Allies. The withdrawal was more or less immediate, and there were no serious incidents between the combatants after the cease-fire.

My Grandfather's division (9th Scottish) marched out towards Cologne on 14th November, three days after cease-fire.

In the meantime I also understand that prompt action was taken to recover the dead from No-Man's-Land, with organised searches arranged.

All from memory rather than supporting text to hand!

Ian

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I was only thinking about that yesterday, I did hear a story that the only sound for a while was the sound of birds ?

As a countryman, I cannot believe that there were many/any birds within five miles of the front line. With bombardments, swarms of men and activity and lack of greenery/trees birds would naturally move away to quieter places. Or am I wrong? Come on you ornithologists, tell me.

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To put things into perspective (and using Geoffs CWGC search engine) some 527 souls died on the 12th alone. Mostly I guess from wounds or illness. But there was plenty of misery about. Also the war did not end at that date only the German part. They were still at it in Russia for example for another 2 years, whether this is part of the Great war or not is open Im sure to discussion.

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Guest geoff501
To put things into perspective (and using Geoffs CWGC search engine) some 527 souls died on the 12th alone.

That is the UK figure. There are another 194 (from Australia, Canada, India, South African, New Zealand)

geoff

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and when did the fighting, and dying, cease in East Africa? With the inability of von Lettow Vorbeck know what had happened in Europe, when were the last shots fired there?

Bruce

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As a countryman, I cannot believe that there were many/any birds within five miles of the front line. With bombardments, swarms of men and activity and lack of greenery/trees birds would naturally move away to quieter places. Or am I wrong? Come on you ornithologists, tell me.

See here, Jim:

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/i...mp;hl=wild+life

This is a fascinating thread about how bird and animla life DID continue much as usual on the Front.

Marina

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The book, "A Stillness Heard Around The World,[/i]The end of the Great War. November 1918", by Stanley Weintraub, gives a lot of information about the lead up to, and aftermath of the armistice.

It has been a few years since I last read it, so I can't give too many details, (I am going to reread it soon). The book isn't a 'classic', sometimes moving, sometimes irritating and sometimes just plain boring (my opinion anyway, which may change after I reread it)

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Whitley

Thank you Ive been trying to think of the name of this book all weekend, as it has a large section on what happened at 11.00am but cant seem to find my copy. I agree with you it was as I remember good in parts. Will go back to rummaging in the book shelves for it.

Tim B

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