The Great War and Sunday 11/11/11

. . . 1918, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice, or temporary cessation of hostilities, was declared between the Allied nations and Germany in World War I, then known as “the Great War.”

Military parades to war memorials and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Paris are organised annually. Public figures lay wreaths and flowers at every war memorial. Many people wear black or dark clothes. Armistice Day generally has a solemn mood.

On 11th November 1918, four long years of war were brought to an end when the Armistice was signed in a railway carriage at Rethondes near Compiègne. This historic date was made a public holiday in France and today marks an important occasion for locals all over the country to gather at their war memorials and cemeteries in remembrance of the fallen.

In a sombre ceremony at the base of the Arc de Triomphe, President Emmanuel Macron will inspect the troops and lay a red, white, and blue wreath near the eternal flame at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which honours all French troops who died in the war.

This year France will mark the 100 year anniversary of the end of World War I with a grand Armistice centenary attended by representatives from 80 countries. The French leader said it is inspired by the 1918 promise of ‘Never Again’, reflecting the desire for an end to war after WW1.

Visit World War I battlefields – These special small-group and private tours take you to visit the most famous World War I French battle sites, museums, and memorials:

Aisne, Marne and Belleau Wood – Explore sites of these important American battles, the Museum of the Great War in Meaux, and cemeteries

§  Somme – Visit the famous battleground, Deville Wood cemetery, war memorials, and the Great War Museum in Peronne

§  Verdun and Meuse-Argonne – Tour these famous battlefields as well as the Fort of Douaumont, Château-Thierry, the Romagne War Museum, the Trench of Bayonets, and cemeteries

Small ceremonies and remembrance parades are held in each town and village of the Somme on the 11th November. Visitors will be made most welcome if they wish to attend these commemorative events.

A ‘Paris Peace Forum’ will run from 11-13 November 2018. It aims to bring together a wide range of organisations, from governments and UN agencies, to non-governmental organisations and individual experts. Intended to be an annual event, the Forum is part of France’s commemorations marking the 100th anniversary of the Armistice.

NB the railway carriage was the site of French’s surrender to Axis powers in WW2. During that war the carriage was transported to Germany where towards the end of hostilities the SS team guarding the carriage set fire to it – so the carriage you see at Compiègne is in fact a very good replica . . .

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