<– Part 225 – November 10, 1918 | Part 226 – November 17, 1918 | Epilogue 1 –>

“At the eleventh hour on the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent.”

New York Times November 11, 1918

The Armistice of Compiègne, agreed upon at 5am (Paris time), signed between 5:12 and 5:20, and finalized at 5:45, declared the end of fighting at 11am. Within the railcar headquarters of French Marshall Foch, the final belligerent facing the Entente, the German Empire, agreed to the occupation of the Rheinland by the four Allied powers – U.S., Belgium, Britain, and France; the annulling of the Brest-Litovsk treaty that took advantage of weakened Russia; and other concessions regarding militaries, navies, and more. The armistice will hold until December 13, with extensions as necessary.

Entente artillery kept firing until the last moments to avoid having to carry away the ammunition, as well as to be ready in case negotiations broke down. There were 11,000 casualties in the last 11 hours of the war. A major offensive led by the Belgian army was interrupted, as the armistice surprised them; one-third of all Belgian casualties were in the last month.

The final soldiers from each of the Entente nations to die:

  • Britain: George Edwin Ellison at 9:30am, while scouting
  • France: Augustin Trebuchon, a messenger, was telling French forces storming the Meuse that soup would be served when the fighting ended. Killed at 10:45.
  • Canada (and final Commonwealth casualty): George Lawrence Price, sniped while advancing on the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine, at 10:58.
  • United States (and final casualty of the war): Henry Gunther. Recently demoted and attempting to redeem himself, he charged “astonished” German gunners who attempted to wave him off but were forced to fire. Killed in the final seconds of the war.

Soldiers from the U.S. 64th Regiment celebrate

The collapse of the German and Austro-Hungarian empires continues. Poland declared its independence as the Second Polish Republic, its first time as an independent nation in 123 years. In Germany, the chaos continues with the near-complete collapse of the Imperial Government following Wilhelm II’s abdication; two distinct ruling councils are vying for control, though power seems to be coalescing around Friederich Ebert, head of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which is attracting conservative and nationalist groups to its cause.

On November 12, Austria was declared a republic by its National Assembly. The rump state, now the “Republic of German-Austria,” so-named due to its primary German populace in remaining lands, as well as a recognition of its probable need to be annexed by the German republic. This difficulty in maintaining independence is magnified by the other independent remnants of the empire refusing to trade necessities with it, such as grain and coal. In Austria too the Social Democrats were given power by the Assembly in an effort to stave off left-wing revolution.

On November 13, the undefeated German General Lettow-Vorbeck, unaware of his nation’s surrender, took undefended Kasama from the British in East Africa. The next day, at 7:30m, he was informed of the surrender and promptly signed a ceasefire, before marching his troops to a formal surrender at Abercom, per British instructions.

Czechoslovakia declared indepenmdence November 14, with Tomáš Masaryk named president and a temporary constitution adopted.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *