November 11, 2009
I guess I’m doing remembrances this week, so today I’ll remember November 11th, 1918.
Negotiations to end the first World War began on November 7th, 1918, and at that time, both sides pretty much knew that their negotiations would end in an official armistice. According to this website, the German delegate wanted to declare an immediate end to the fighting, knowing that within a few days the war would officially be over. I haven’t been able to find any support for this claim from German sources, so I don’t stand by their quote.
What is sure is this: on November 11th, at 5:10 am, the armistice was signed, but that didn’t stop the fighting, either. The American marines suffered 1100 casualties on the morning of November 11th, prior to the official end time of 11 am.
Apparently, an advance across the Meuse river had been planned for several days prior to the signing of the armistice. On the 11th, the generals received a message informing them that an armistice had been signed, and that the war would be over at 11 that morning. The message gave no instructions as to whether the planned advance would still happen or not.
Acting on their own discretion, some generals decided that the attack should proceed. And that’s how 1100 American were killed or wounded on the last day of World War I.