Armistice of 11 November 1918

The Armistice of 11 November 1918 was the armistice that ended fighting on land, sea and air in World War I between the Allies and their opponent, Germany. Previous armistices had been agreed with Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Also known as the Armistice of Compiègne from the place where it was signed at 5:45 a.m. by the French Marshal Foch,[1] it came into force at 11:00 a.m. Paris time on 11 November 1918 and marked a victory for the Allies and a defeat for Germany, although not formally a surrender.

The actual terms, largely written by the Allied Supreme Commander, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, included the cessation of hostilities, the withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, Allied occupation of the Rhineland and bridgeheads further east, the preservation of infrastructure, the surrender of aircraft, warships, and military materiel, the release of Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, eventual reparations, no release of German prisoners and no relaxation of the naval blockade of Germany.

Although the armistice ended the fighting on the Western Front, it had to be prolonged three times until the Treaty of Versailles, which was signed on 28 June 1919, took effect on 10 January 1920.

Armistice 18 novembre 1918
Last page of the Armistice agreement
Armisticetrain (slight crop)
Photograph taken after reaching agreement for the armistice that ended World War I. This is Ferdinand Foch's own railway carriage and the location is the Forest of Compiègne. Foch is second from the right. Left of Foch in the photo (on Foch's own right) is the senior British representative, Sir Rosslyn Wemyss. On the right is Admiral George Hope.


October 1918 telegrams

Front page of The New York Times on 11 November 1918

On 29 September 1918 the German Supreme Army Command informed Kaiser Wilhelm II and the Imperial Chancellor, Count Georg von Hertling at Imperial Army Headquarters in Spa of occupied Belgium, that the military situation facing Germany was hopeless. Quartermaster General Erich Ludendorff, probably fearing a breakthrough, claimed that he could not guarantee that the front would hold for another two hours and demanded a request be given to the Entente for an immediate ceasefire. In addition, he recommended the acceptance of the main demands of US president Woodrow Wilson (the Fourteen Points) including putting the Imperial Government on a democratic footing, hoping for more favorable peace terms. This enabled him to save the face of the Imperial German Army and put the responsibility for the capitulation and its consequences squarely into the hands of the democratic parties and the parliament. He expressed his view to officers of his staff on 1 October: "They now must lie on the bed that they've made for us."[2]

On 3 October, the liberal Prince Maximilian of Baden was appointed Chancellor of Germany (prime minister), replacing Georg von Hertling in order to negotiate an armistice.[3] After long conversations with the Kaiser and evaluations of the political and military situations in the Reich, by 5 October 1918, the German government sent a message to President Wilson to negotiate terms on the basis of a recent speech of his and the earlier declared "Fourteen Points". In the subsequent two exchanges, Wilson's allusions "failed to convey the idea that the Kaiser's abdication was an essential condition for peace. The leading statesmen of the Reich were not yet ready to contemplate such a monstrous possibility."[4] As a precondition for negotiations, Wilson demanded the retreat of Germany from all occupied territories, the cessation of submarine activities and the Kaiser's abdication, writing on 23 October: "If the Government of the United States must deal with the military masters and the monarchical autocrats of Germany now, or if it is likely to have to deal with them later in regard to the international obligations of the German Empire, it must demand not peace negotiations but surrender."[5]

In late October, Ludendorff, in a sudden change of mind, declared the conditions of the Allies unacceptable. He now demanded to resume the war which he himself had declared lost only one month earlier. However the German soldiers were pressing to get home. It was scarcely possible to arouse their readiness for battle anew, and desertions were on the increase. The Imperial Government stayed on course and Ludendorff was replaced by Wilhelm Groener. On 5 November, the Allies agreed to take up negotiations for a truce, now also demanding reparation payments.[6]

The latest note from Wilson was received in Berlin on 6 November. That same day, the delegation led by Matthias Erzberger departed for France.[7]

A much bigger obstacle, which contributed to the five-week delay in the signing of the Armistice and to the resulting social deterioration in Europe, was the fact that the French, British and Italian governments had no desire to accept the "Fourteen Points" and President Wilson's subsequent promises. For example, they assumed that the de-militarization suggested by Wilson would be limited to the Central Powers. There were also contradictions with their post-War plans that did not include a consistent implementation of the ideal of national self-determination.[8] As Czernin points out:

The Allied statesmen were faced with a problem: so far they had considered the "fourteen commandments" as a piece of clever and effective American propaganda, designed primarily to undermine the fighting spirit of the Central Powers, and to bolster the morale of the lesser Allies. Now, suddenly, the whole peace structure was supposed to be built up on that set of "vague principles", most of which seemed to them thoroughly unrealistic, and some of which, if they were to be seriously applied, were simply unacceptable.[9]

German Revolution

The sailors' revolt which took place during the night of 29 to 30 October 1918 in the naval port of Wilhelmshaven spread across the whole country within days and led to the proclamation of a republic on 9 November 1918 and to the announcement of the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II.[a] However, in various areas soldiers challenged the authority of their officers and on occasion established Soldiers' Councils. Thus for example the Brussels Soldiers' Council was set up by revolutionary soldiers on 9 November 1918.

Also on 9 November, Max von Baden handed over the office of Chancellor to Friedrich Ebert, a Social Democrat. Ebert's SPD and Erzberger's Catholic Centre Party had enjoyed an uneasy relationship with the Imperial government since Bismarck's era in the 1870s and 1880s. They were well represented in the Imperial Reichstag, which had little power over the government, and had been calling for a negotiated peace since 1917. Their prominence in the peace negotiations would cause the new Weimar Republic to lack legitimacy in right-wing and militarist eyes.

Negotiation process

The Armistice was the result of a hurried and desperate process. The German delegation headed by Matthias Erzberger crossed the front line in five cars and was escorted for ten hours across the devastated war zone of Northern France, arriving on the morning of 8 November. They were then taken to the secret destination aboard Ferdinand Foch's private train parked in a railway siding in the Forest of Compiègne.[10]

Foch appeared only twice in the three days of negotiations: on the first day, to ask the German delegation what they wanted, and on the last day, to see to the signatures. The Germans were handed the list of Allied demands and given 72 hours to agree. The German delegation discussed the Allied terms not with Foch, but with other French and Allied officers. The Armistice amounted to complete German demilitarization (see list below), with few promises made by the Allies in return. The naval blockade of Germany was not completely lifted until complete peace terms could be agreed upon.[11][12]

There was no question of negotiation. The Germans were able to correct a few impossible demands (for example, the decommissioning of more submarines than their fleet possessed), extended the schedule for the withdrawal and registered their formal protest at the harshness of Allied terms. But they were in no position to refuse to sign. On Sunday 10 November, they were shown newspapers from Paris to inform them that the Kaiser had abdicated. That same day, Ebert instructed Erzberger to sign. The cabinet had earlier received a message from Hindenburg, requesting that the armistice be signed even if the Allied conditions could not be improved on.[13][14]

The Armistice was agreed upon at 5:00 a.m. on 11 November, to come into effect at 11:00 a.m. Paris time (noon German time),[15] for which reason the occasion is sometimes referred to as "the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month". Signatures were made between 5:12 a.m. and 5:20 a.m., Paris time.

Allied Rhineland occupation

The occupation of the Rhineland took place following the Armistice. The occupying armies consisted of American, Belgian, British, and French forces.


The Armistice was prolonged three times before peace was finally ratified. During this period it was also developed.

  • First Armistice (11 November 1918 – 13 December 1918)
  • First prolongation of the armistice (13 December 1918 – 16 January 1919)
  • Second prolongation of the armistice (16 January 1919 – 16 February 1919)
Trèves Agreement, 17 January 1919[16]
  • Third prolongation of the armistice (16 February 1919 – 10 January 1920)[17]
Brussels Agreement, 14 March 1919[16]

Peace was ratified at 4:15 p.m. on 10 January 1920.[18]

Key personnel

For the Allies, the personnel involved were all military. The two signatories were:[19]

Other members of the delegation included:

For Germany, the four signatories were:[19]

  • Matthias Erzberger, a civilian politician
  • Count Alfred von Oberndorff, from the Foreign Ministry
  • Major General Detlof von Winterfeldt, army
  • Captain Ernst Vanselow, navy


Among its 34 clauses, the armistice contained the following major points:[20]

A. Western Front

  • Termination of hostilities on the Western Front, on land and in the air, within six hours of signature.[19]
  • Immediate evacuation of France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Alsace-Lorraine within 15 days. Sick and wounded may be left for Allies to care for.[19]
  • Immediate repatriation of all inhabitants of those four territories in German hands.[19]
  • Surrender of matériel: 5,000 artillery pieces, 25,000 machine guns, 3,000 minenwerfers, 1,700 aircraft (including all night bombers), 5,000 railway locomotives, 150,000 railway carriages and 5,000 road trucks.[19]
  • Evacuation of territory on the west side of the Rhine plus 30 km (19 mi) radius bridgeheads of the east side of the Rhine at the cities of Mainz, Koblenz, and Cologne within 31 days.[19]
  • Vacated territory to be occupied by Allied troops, maintained at Germany's expense.[19]
  • No removal or destruction of civilian goods or inhabitants in evacuated territories and all military matériel and premises to be left intact.[19]
  • All minefields on land and sea to be identified.[19]
  • All means of communication (roads, railways, canals, bridges, telegraphs, telephones) to be left intact, as well as everything needed for agriculture and industry.[19]

B. Eastern and African Fronts

C. At sea

  • Immediate cessation of all hostilities at sea and surrender intact of all German submarines within 14 days.[19]
  • Listed German surface vessels to be interned within 7 days and the rest disarmed.[19]
  • Free access to German waters for Allied ships and for those of the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark and Sweden.[19]
  • The naval blockade of Germany to continue.[19]
  • Immediate evacuation of all Black Sea ports and handover of all captured Russian vessels.[19]

D. General

  • Immediate release of all Allied prisoners of war and interned civilians, without reciprocity.[21]
  • Pending a financial settlement, surrender of assets looted from Belgium, Romania and Russia.[19]


US 64th regiment celebrate the Armistice
American soldiers of the 64th Regiment, part of the 7th Division, celebrate the news of the Armistice.

The British public was notified of the armistice by a subjoined official communiqué issued from the Press Bureau at 10:20 a.m., when British Prime Minister David Lloyd George announced: "The armistice was signed at five o'clock this morning, and hostilities are to cease on all fronts at 11 a.m. to-day."[22] An official communique was published by the United States at 2:30 pm: "In accordance with the terms of the Armistice, hostilities on the fronts of the American armies were suspended at eleven o'clock this morning."[23]

News of the armistice being signed was officially announced towards 9 a.m. in Paris. One hour later, Foch, accompanied by a British admiral, presented himself at the Ministry of War, where he was immediately received by Georges Clemenceau, the Prime Minister of France. At 10:50 a.m., Foch issued this general order: "Hostilities will cease on the whole front as from November 11 at 11 o'clock French time The Allied troops will not, until further order, go beyond the line reached on that date and at that hour."[24] Five minutes later, Clemenceau, Foch and the British admiral went to the Élysée Palace. At the first shot fired from the Eiffel Tower, the Ministry of War and the Élysée Palace displayed flags, while bells around Paris rang. Five hundred students gathered in front of the Ministry and called upon Clemenceau, who appeared on the balcony. Clemenceau exclaimed "Vive la France!"—the crowd echoed him. At 11:00 a.m., the first peace-gunshot was fired from Fort Mont-Valérien, which told the population of Paris that the armistice was concluded, but the population were already aware of it from official circles and newspapers.[25]

Although the information about the imminent ceasefire had spread among the forces at the front in the hours before, fighting in many sections of the front continued right until the appointed hour. At 11 a.m. there was some spontaneous fraternization between the two sides. But in general, reactions were muted. A British corporal reported: "...the Germans came from their trenches, bowed to us and then went away. That was it. There was nothing with which we could celebrate, except cookies."[26] On the Allied side, euphoria and exultation were rare. There was some cheering and applause, but the dominant feeling was silence and emptiness after 52 exhausting months of war.[26]

The peace between the Allies and Germany was subsequently settled in 1919, by the Paris Peace Conference and the Treaty of Versailles that same year.

Last casualties

Gravestone of Henry N. Gunther in Baltimore

Many artillery units continued to fire on German targets to avoid having to haul away their spare ammunition. The Allies also wished to ensure that, should fighting restart, they would be in the most favourable position. Consequently, there were 10,944 casualties, of whom 2,738 men died, on the last day of the war.[27]

An example of the determination of the Allies to maintain pressure until the last minute, but also to adhere strictly to the Armistice terms, was Battery 4 of the US Navy's long-range 14-inch railway guns firing its last shot at 10:57:30 am from the Verdun area, timed to land far behind the German front line just before the scheduled Armistice.[28]

Augustin Trébuchon was the last Frenchman to die when he was shot on his way to tell fellow soldiers, who were attempting an assault across the Meuse river, that hot soup would be served after the ceasefire. He was killed at 10:45 a.m.

Earlier, the last soldier from the UK to die, George Edwin Ellison of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers, was killed that morning at around 9:30 a.m. while scouting on the outskirts of Mons, Belgium.

The final Canadian, and Commonwealth, soldier to die, Private George Lawrence Price, was shot and killed by a sniper while part of a force advancing into the Belgian town of Ville-sur-Haine just two minutes before the armistice to the north of Mons at 10:58 a.m., to be recognized as one of the last killed with a monument to his name.

Henry Gunther, an American, is generally recognized as the last soldier killed in action in World War I. He was killed 60 seconds before the armistice came into force while charging astonished German troops who were aware the Armistice was nearly upon them. He had been despondent over his recent reduction in rank and was apparently trying to redeem his reputation.[29][30]

News of the armistice only reached African forces, the King's African Rifles, still fighting with great success in today's Zambia about a fortnight later. The German and British commanders then had to agree on the protocols for their own armistice ceremony.[31]


World War I centenary
11th of November 2018 at Paris, in remembrance for the 100 years since the end of the war in the Western front[32]

Celebration of the Armistice became the centrepiece of memories of the war, along with salutes to the unknown soldier. Nations built monuments to the dead and the heroic soldiers, but seldom to the generals and admirals.[33] 11 November is commemorated annually in many countries under various names such as Armistice Day, Remembrance Day, Veterans Day, and in Poland it is Independence Day.

The end of the Second World War in China (end of the Second Sino-Japanese War) formally took place on 9 September 1945 at 9:00 (the ninth hour of the ninth day of the ninth month). The date was chosen in echo of the Armistice of 11 November 1918 (on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month); and because "nine" is homophone of the word for "long lasting" in Chinese (to suggest that the peace won would last forever[34]).

Stab-in-the-back myth

The myth that the German Army was stabbed in the back, by the Social Democratic government that was formed in November 1918, was created by reviews in the German press that grossly misrepresented British Major-General Frederick Maurice's book, The Last Four Months. "Ludendorff made use of the reviews to convince Hindenburg."[35]

In a hearing before the Committee on Inquiry of the National Assembly on November 18, 1919, a year after the war's end, Hindenburg declared, "As an English general has very truly said, the German Army was 'stabbed in the back'."[35]

See also


Informational notes

  1. ^ The announcement by Prince Maximilian of Baden had great effect, but the abdication document was not formally signed until 28 November.


  1. ^ "Armistice: The End of World War I,1918". EyeWitness to History. Archived from the original on 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  2. ^ Axelrod 2018, p. 260.
  3. ^ Czernin 1964.
  4. ^ Czernin 1964, p. 7.
  5. ^ Czernin 1964, p. 9.
  6. ^ Morrow, Jr. 2005, p. 278.
  7. ^ Leonhard 2014, p. 916.
  8. ^ Leonhard 2014, p. 884.
  9. ^ Czernin 1964, p. 23.
  10. ^ Rudin 1967, pp. 320–349.
  11. ^ Rudin 1967, p. 377.
  12. ^ Haffner 2002, p. 74.
  13. ^ Haffner 2002, p. 113.
  14. ^ Rudin 1967, p. 389.
  15. ^ Poulle, Yvonne (1999). "La France à l'heure allemande" (PDF). Bibliothèque de l'école des chartes (in French). 157 (2): 493–502. doi:10.3406/bec.1999.450989.
  16. ^ a b Salter, Arthur (1921). Allied shipping control : an experiment in international administration. Oxford: Oxford : Clarendon Press. Retrieved 15 September 2018.
  17. ^ Edmonds & Bayliss 1987, pp. 42–43.
  18. ^ Edmonds & Bayliss 1987, p. 189.
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t Convention (PDF), 11 November 1918, retrieved 17 November 2017
  20. ^ Rudin 1967, pp. 426–427.
  21. ^ Leonhard 2014, p. 917.
  22. ^ "Peace Day in London". The Poverty Bay Herald. Gisborne, New Zealand. 2 January 1919. p. 2. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  23. ^ "World Wars: Daily Mirror Headlines: Armistice, Published 12 November 1918". London: BBC. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  24. ^ "Reich Quit Last War Deep in French Forest". The Milwaukee Journal. Milwaukee. 7 May 1945. p. 10. Retrieved 7 September 2010.
  25. ^ "The News in Paris". The Daily Telegraph. 11 November 1918.
  26. ^ a b Leonhard 2014, p. 919.
  27. ^ Persico 2005.
  28. ^ Breck 1922, p. 14.
  29. ^ "The last soldiers to die in World War I". BBC News Magazine. 29 October 2008. Archived from the original on 7 November 2008. Retrieved 6 November 2008.
  30. ^ "Michael Palin: My guilt over my great-uncle who died in the First World War". The Daily Telegraph. 1 November 2008. Archived from the original on 4 November 2008. Retrieved 1 November 2008. We unearthed many heart-breaking stories, such as that of Augustin Trébuchon, the last Frenchman to die in the War. He was shot just before 11 a.m. on his way to tell his fellow soldiers that hot soup would be available after the ceasefire. The parents of the American Pte Henry Gunther had to live with news that their son had died just 60 seconds before it was all over. The last British soldier to die was Pte George Edwin Ellison.
  31. ^ "Where World War One finally ended". BBC News. Archived from the original on 26 November 2018. Retrieved 26 November 2018.
  32. ^ "Armistice Day: moving events mark 100 years since end of first world war - as it happened". The Guardian. 11 November 2018. Retrieved 13 January 2019.
  33. ^ Theodosiou 2010, pp. 185–198.
  34. ^ Hans Van De Ven, "A call to not lead humanity into another war", China Daily, 31 August 2015.
  35. ^ a b Shirer 1960, p. 31.


Further reading

External links

Coordinates: 49°25′39″N 2°54′23″E / 49.4275°N 2.906389°E

12th Division (United States)

The 12th Division was an infantry division of the United States Army, active in 1918-1919. Established at Camp Devens, Massachusetts, training was interrupted by the World War I Armistice and the division was quickly afterwards disestablished.

The division was organized on July 12, 1918. The Regular 36th Infantry and 42d Infantry were ordered to Camp Devens in the latter part of July to become part of the 12th Division. (The 42nd Infantry had been assigned to the division on 5 July 1918). A certain number of non-commissioned officers and privates was taken from each company of the two regiments and assigned to the 73rd Infantry and 74th, both war-raised National Army, as a nucleus. The 12th Field Artillery Brigade, which was to become the divisional artillery, was organized and trained at Camp McClellan, Ala. It never actually joined the division at Camp Devens. It consisted of the 34th, 35th, and 36th Field Artillery Regiments and a trench mortar battery. By 1 September 1918 the training of the division for overseas service was well under way. Only after the Armistice of 11 November 1918 did orders arrive for the demobilization of the division. By 31 January 1919, all non-Regular commissioned and enlisted personnel had been discharged.

Major-General Henry P. McCain commanded this division from the time of its organization until it was demobilized. McCain remained in command of Camp Devens after the division was disestablished.

64th (2nd Highland) Division

The 64th (2nd Highland) Division was an infantry division of the British Army, raised during the Great War. The division was formed in late 1914 as a second-line Territorial Force formation which served on home defence duties throughout the war.

The division was formed as a duplicate of the 51st (Highland) Division in 1914, composed primarily of soldiers from Highland regiments recruited in northern and central Scotland. By 1917-18, however, it had become a training unit composed of conscripts from throughout Britain. It remained on home defence and training duties in Scotland and England throughout the war, and disbanded in early 1919 following the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

Canada's Hundred Days

Canada's Hundred Days is the name given to the series of attacks made by the Canadian Corps between 8 August and 11 November 1918, during the Hundred Days Offensive of World War I. Reference to this period as Canada's Hundred Days is due to the substantial role that Canadian Corps played during the offensive.

During this time, forming part of the British First Army, the Canadian Corps fought in the Battle of Amiens, Second Battle of the Somme, Battle of the Scarpe, Battle of the Canal du Nord, Battle of Cambrai, Battle of the Selle, Battle of Valenciennes and finally at Mons, on the final day of combat before the Armistice of 11 November 1918. In terms of numbers, during those 96 days the Canadian Corps' four over-strength or "heavy" divisions totalling roughly 100,000 men, engaged and defeated or put to flight elements of 47 German divisions, which represented one quarter of the German forces faced by the Allied Powers fighting on the Western Front. However, their successes came at a heavy cost; Canadians suffered 20% of their battle-sustained casualties of the war during the same period. The Canadian Corps suffered 45,835 casualties during this offensive.

Fort Vaux

Fort Vaux, in Vaux-Devant-Damloup, Meuse, France was built from 1881–1884 for 1,500,000 Francs and housed a garrison of 150 men. Vaux was the second Fort to fall in the Battle of Verdun after Fort Douaumont which was captured by a small German raiding party in February 1916, in the confusion of the French retreat from the Woëvre plain. Vaux had been modernised before 1914 with reinforced concrete top protection like Fort Douaumont and was not destroyed by a German heavy artillery-fire, which had included shelling by 16-inch howitzers. The superstructure of the fort was badly damaged but the garrison, the deep interior corridors and stations remained intact, when the fort was attacked on 2 June by German assault troops.

The defence of Fort Vaux was marked by the heroism and endurance of the garrison, including Major Sylvain-Eugene Raynal. Under the command of Reynal, the besieged French garrison repulsed German assaults, including fighting underground from barricades inside the corridors, during the first big engagement inside a fort during the First World War. The last men of the French garrison gave up after running out of water (some of which was poisoned), ammunition, medical supplies and food. Raynal sent several messages by homing pigeon (including the famous Vaillant), requesting relief for his soldiers. During his last communications, Major Raynal wrote "This is my last pigeon".After the surrender of the garrison on 7 June, the German army group commander Crown Prince Wilhelm, presented Major Raynal with a French officer's sword as a sign of respect. Raynal and his soldiers remained in captivity in Germany until the Armistice of 11 November 1918. The fort was recaptured by French infantry on 2 November 1916 after an artillery bombardment involving two long-range 400 mm (16 in) railway guns. After its recapture, Fort Vaux was repaired and garrisoned. Several underground galleries to reach the far outside, one of them being 1 mi (1.6 km) long, were dug and equipped, the water reserve was quadrupled and light was provided by two electric generators. Some damage from the fighting on 2 June can still be seen. The underground installations of the fort are well-preserved and are open to the public for guided visits.

Glade of the Armistice

The Glade of the Armistice (French: Clairière de l'Armistice) is a French national and war memorial in the Forest of Compiègne in Picardy, France, near the city of Compiègne and approximately 60 kilometres (37 mi) north of Paris. It was built at the location where the Germans signed the Armistice of 11 November 1918 that ended World War I. During World War II, Adolf Hitler chose the same spot for the French and Germans to sign the Armistice of 22 June 1940 after Germany won the Battle of France. The site was destroyed by the Germans but rebuilt after the war.

Today, the Glade of the Armistice contains a statue of World War I French military leader and Allied supreme commander Marshal Ferdinand Foch, and the reconstructed Alsace-Lorraine Memorial, depicting a German Eagle impaled by a sword.

Hundred Days Offensive

The Hundred Days Offensive (8 August to 11 November 1918) was an Allied offensive which ended the First World War. Beginning with the Battle of Amiens (8–12 August) on the Western Front, the Allies pushed Central Powers back after their gains from the Spring Offensive. The Germans eventually retreated to the Hindenburg Line, culminating in the Armistice of 11 November 1918. The term "Hundred Days Offensive" does not refer to a battle or strategy, but rather the rapid series of Allied victories against which the German armies had no reply.

John Leak

John Leak, VC (1892 – 20 October 1972) was an Australian recipient of the Victoria Cross, the highest award for gallantry in battle that could be awarded at that time to a member of the Australian armed forces. Leak enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force in early 1915, and served with the 9th Battalion during the Gallipoli Campaign. Evacuated suffering from dysentery, Leak rejoined his battalion after it had been withdrawn to Egypt. Along with his unit, he transferred to the Western Front in France and Belgium, where he participated in the Battle of Pozières in July 1916. It was during this battle that he performed the actions that led to his award of the Victoria Cross. He was seriously wounded in the Battle of Mouquet Farm in August.

Leak was evacuated to the United Kingdom, and did not return to his unit until October 1917. Suffering from the effects of his service, Leak was convicted of desertion by a court-martial in November, but his sentence was ultimately suspended, and he returned to the 9th Battalion. In early March 1918 he was gassed, and did not return to his unit until the Armistice of 11 November 1918. He returned to Australia and was discharged in 1919.

After jobs in Queensland, New South Wales, South Australia and Western Australia over the next twenty years, Leak settled in South Australia in 1937. He was severely affected by his war experiences, and was very reticent to discuss his VC exploits. He did not talk about his service, even to his family, until very late in life. He died in October 1972 and is buried in Stirling, South Australia.

Lothar Witzke

Lothar Witzke (born May 15, 1895, died January 6, 1962) was a German naval officer who became a spy and saboteur on active service in the United States and Mexico during the First World War.

Arrested in 1918, he was sentenced to death, but his life was saved by the Armistice of 11 November 1918. In 1923 he was pardoned and released. During the Second World War he served in the Abwehr and after the war became a German Party member of the Hamburg Parliament.

Motor Launch

A motor launch (ML) is a small military vessel in Royal Navy service. It was designed for harbour defence and submarine chasing or for armed high-speed air-sea rescue. Some vessels for water police service are also known as motor launches.

Russian Expeditionary Force in France

The Russian Expeditionary Force (French: Corps Expéditionnaire Russe en France) was a World War I military force sent to France by the Russian Empire. In 1915 the French requested that Russian troops be sent to fight alongside their own army on the Western Front. Initially they asked for 300,000 men, an unrealistically high figure, probably based on assumptions about Russia's 'unlimited' reserves. General Mikhail Alekseev, the Imperial Chief of Staff, was opposed to sending any Russian troops, although Nicholas II finally agreed to send a unit of brigade strength. The First Russian Special Brigade finally landed at Marseille in April 1916. A Second Special Brigade was also sent to serve alongside other Allied formations on the Salonika Front in northern Greece. In France, the First Brigade participated in the Nivelle Offensive, however with news of the Russian Revolution of 1917 affecting the demoralisation within the French Army following the failure of that offensive, the 1st and 3rd Brigades participated in the wave of mutinies spreading across France. The First Brigade was finally disbanded before the end of the year. However, the Honorary Russian Legion (French: Légion d’Honneur Russe) of the 1st Moroccan Division continued to maintain a Russian presence in the west and, indeed in the First World War itself, until the Armistice of 11 November 1918.

Rüdiger von der Goltz

Gustav Adolf Joachim Rüdiger Graf von der Goltz (8 December 1865 – 4 November 1946) was a German army general during the First World War. He commanded the Baltic Sea Division, which successfully intervened in the Finnish Civil War in the spring of 1918. Goltz stayed with his troops in Finland until December 1918 representing German interests, and in practise ruled the country as a military dictator during this period. After the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Goltz commanded the army of the Baltic German-established Government of Latvia, which in 1919 was instrumental in the defeat of the Russian Bolsheviks and their local allies in Latvia, but suffered a defeat against Estonia and was eventually unsuccessful in retaining German control over the Baltic region after the War.


The SPAD S.XIII was a French biplane fighter aircraft of the First World War, developed by Société Pour L'Aviation et ses Dérivés (SPAD) from the earlier and highly successful SPAD S.VII.

During early 1917, the French designer Louis Béchereau, spurred by the approaching obsolescence of the S.VII, decided to develop two new fighter aircraft, the S.XII and the S.XIII, both utilizing a powerful new geared version of the successful Hispano-Suiza 8A engine. The cannon armament of the S.XII was unpopular with most pilots, but the S.XIII proved to be one of the most capable fighters of the war, as well as one of the most-produced, with 8,472 built and orders for around 10,000 more cancelled at the Armistice.By the end of the First World War, the S.XIII had equipped virtually every fighter squadron of the Aéronautique Militaire. In addition, the United States Army Air Service also procured the type in bulk during the conflict, and some replaced or supplemented S.VIIs in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), pending the arrival of Sopwith Dolphins. It proved popular with its pilots; numerous aces from various nations flew the S.XIII during their flying careers. Following the signing of the Armistice of 11 November 1918, which effectively marked the end of the First World War, surplus S.XIIIs were sold in great numbers to both civil and military operators throughout the world.

Siam in World War I

The Kingdom of Siam, now known as Thailand, is possibly one of the least well-known participants in World War I. Siam fought against the Central Powers by an active contribution, whatever the actual military value, to one of the most gruelling and critical campaigns of the war. It sent an Expeditionary Force dispatched to France, to serve on the Western Front.

Siam entered the war in July 1917 by declaring war on Germany and Austria-Hungary. Following acclimatisation, both military and meteorological, and specialist training, the Siamese contingent began operations on the Western Front in the middle of September 1918. The war ended soon afterwards, but following the Armistice of 11 November 1918, Siamese troops also contributed to the initial occupation of Rhineland, when they took over the town of Neustadt an der Haardt.

Sinn Féin Manifesto 1918

The Sinn Féin Manifesto 1918 was that party's election manifesto for the 1918 general election. After its reform in 1917, the Sinn Féin party campaigned against conscription in Ireland. Following the armistice of 11 November 1918 the British Government called a general election for 14 December, in which Sinn Féin won 73 out of 105 seats.

Tanganyika (territory)

Tanganyika was a territory administered by the United Kingdom from 1916 until 1961. The UK initially administered the territory as an occupying power with the Royal Navy and British Indian infantry seizing the territory from the Germans in 1916. From 20 July 1922, British administration was formalised by Tanganyika being created a British League of Nations mandate. From 1946, it was administered by the UK as a United Nations trust territory.

Before the end of World War I, the territory was part of the German colony of German East Africa (GEA). After the war started, the British invaded GEA but were unable to defeat the German army. The German leader in the African Great Lakes, Paul Emil von Lettow-Vorbeck, did not surrender until notified about the Armistice of 11 November 1918 that ended the war. After this, the League of Nations formalised the UK's control of the area, who renamed it "Tanganyika". The UK held Tanganyika as a League of Nations mandate until the end of World War II after which it was held as a United Nations trust territory. In 1961, Tanganyika gained its independence from the UK as Tanganyika. It became a republic a year later. Tanganyika now forms part of the modern-day sovereign state of Tanzania.

They Shall Not Grow Old

They Shall Not Grow Old is a 2018 documentary film directed and produced by Peter Jackson. The film was created using original footage of World War I from the Imperial War Museum's archives, most of it previously unseen, alongside audio from BBC and IWM interviews of British servicemen who fought in the conflict. Most of the footage has been colorized and transformed with modern production techniques, with the addition of sound effects and voice acting to be more evocative and feel closer to the soldiers' actual experiences.

It is Jackson's first documentary as director, although he directed the mockumentary Forgotten Silver in 1995 and produced the West Memphis Three documentary West of Memphis in 2012. Jackson, whose grandfather (to whom the film is dedicated) fought in the war, intended for the film to be an immersive experience of "what it was like to be a soldier" rather than a story or a recount of events. The crew reviewed 600 hours of interviews from 200 veterans and 100 hours of original film footage to make the film. The title was inspired by the line "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old" from the 1914 poem "For the Fallen" by Laurence Binyon, famous for being used in the Ode of Remembrance.

They Shall Not Grow Old premiered simultaneously at the BFI London Film Festival and in selected theaters in the UK on 16 October 2018, before airing on BBC Two on 11 November 2018 (the hundredth anniversary of the Armistice of 11 November 1918); it received a limited US release on 17 December. Following its box office success, the film received a wide theatrical release in February 2019. It was acclaimed by critics for its restoration work, immersive atmosphere and portrayal of war, and earned a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Documentary.

Treaty of Brest-Litovsk

The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk was a peace treaty signed on March 3, 1918 between the new Bolshevik government of Russia and the Central Powers (German Empire, Austria-Hungary, Bulgaria, and the Ottoman Empire), that ended Russia's participation in World War I. The treaty was signed at German-controlled Brest-Litovsk (Polish: Brześć Litewski; since 1945, Brest, nowadays in Belarus), after two months of negotiations. The treaty was agreed upon by the Russians to stop further invasion. According to the treaty, Soviet Russia defaulted on all of Imperial Russia's commitments to the Allies and eleven nations became independent in Eastern Europe and western Asia.

In the treaty, Russia ceded hegemony over the Baltic States to Germany; they were meant to become German vassal states under German princelings. Russia also ceded its province of Kars Oblast in the South Caucasus to the Ottoman Empire and recognized the independence of Ukraine. According to historian Spencer Tucker, "The German General Staff had formulated extraordinarily harsh terms that shocked even the German negotiator." Congress Poland was not mentioned in the treaty, as Germans refused to recognize the existence of any Polish representatives, which in turn led to Polish protests. When Germans later complained that the later Treaty of Versailles in the West of 1919 was too harsh on them, the Allied Powers responded that it was more benign than the terms imposed by Brest-Litovsk treaty.The treaty was annulled by the Armistice of 11 November 1918, when Germany surrendered to the western Allies. However, in the meantime it did provide some relief to the Bolsheviks, already fighting the Russian Civil War (1917–1922), following the Russian Revolutions of 1917 by the renunciation of Russia's claims on modern-day Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine and Lithuania.

USS Wakulla (ID-3147)

The first USS Wakulla (ID-3147) was a cargo ship that served in the United States Navy from 1918 to 1919.

SS Wakulla was a steel-hulled, single-screw cargo vessel built under a contract from the United States Shipping Board (USSB) at Los Angeles, California, by the Los Angeles Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. She was launched on 14 January 1918. Acquired by the United States Navy on 22 June 1918 for World War I service, she was given Identification Number (Id. No.) 3147 and commissioned as USS Wakulla on 26 June 1918 at San Francisco, California, with Lieutenant Commander Albert J. McAlman, USNRF, in command, named for Wakulla County, FL.

Wakulla loaded a capacity cargo of flour and departed for the United States East Coast on 21 July 1918. En route, she underwent repairs at Balboa, Panama, from 11 August 1918 to 18 August 1918. Making port at New York City on 27 August 1918, Wakulla bunkered, underwent further repairs, and sailed for Sydney, Nova Scotia, on 7 September 1918. On 13 September 1918, she joined a convoy bound for the British Isles and made arrival at Dublin, Ireland, on 29 September 1918.

After unloading her cargo there, Wakulla shifted to Liverpool, England, late in October 1918. Underway from Liverpool on 9 November 1918, Wakulla was en route to New York when the armistice of 11 November 1918 stilled the guns of World War I.

Loading a cargo of foodstuffs earmarked for the French government, Wakulla departed New York on 18 December 1918, only to turn back for repairs, arriving back at New York on 21 December 1918. She remained under repairs into 1919 before finally departing, sailing again for France on 28 January 1919. Arriving at Bordeaux on 19 February 1919, Wakulla discharged her cargo, loaded 1,000 tons of United States Army ordnance materiel, and departed France on 29 March 1919, bound for the United States. After arriving at New York on 13 April 1919, she was decommissioned at Hoboken, New Jersey, on 18 April 1919 and simultaneously struck from the Navy List.

Returned to the United States Shipping Board and once again becoming SS Wakulla, she operated actively out of Los Angeles, California, until 1923, when she was laid up, in reserve. She remained in this status until the first half of 1931 when, due to age and deterioration, she was scrapped at Baltimore, Maryland.

Vickers Vimy

The Vickers Vimy was a British heavy bomber aircraft developed and manufactured by Vickers Limited. Developed during the latter stages of the First World War to equip the Royal Flying Corps (RFC), the Vimy was designed by Reginald Kirshaw "Rex" Pierson, Vickers' chief designer.

Only a handful of aircraft had entered service by the time the Armistice of 11 November 1918 came into effect, so the type was not used in active combat operations during the war, but the Vimy became the core of the RAF's heavy bomber force throughout the 1920s. The Vimy achieved success as both a military and civil aircraft, the latter using the Vimy Commercial variant. A dedicated transport derivative of the Vimy, the Vickers Vernon, became the first troop transport aircraft operated by the RAF.

During the interwar period, the Vimy set several records for long-distance flights, the most celebrated and significant of these being the first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic Ocean, performed by John Alcock and Arthur Brown in June 1919. Other record-breaking flights were made from the United Kingdom to destinations such as South Africa and Australia. The Vimy continued to be operated until the 1930s in both military and civil capacities.


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