Sunday 11th November 2018 – 100 years on from the Armistice signed at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.
The First World War brought to an end.
The ‘Great War’ over as the guns fell silent.
World peace achieved between the Allies and the Central Powers surrendered.
Scenes of jubilation across Britain and Western Europe with the Prime Minister David Lloyd George speaking in the House of Commons: “I hope we may say that thus, this fateful morning, came an end to all wars”.
While victory was achieved, triumph and celebration certainly papered over the cracks of a devastating war.
Over 9 million soldiers both men and women were killed on both sides, with the Allies suffering more casualties than the Central Powers including Germany, Austria-Hungary, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.
Ordinary civilians also suffered, with German Zeppelin raids being one example of the British people’s fight against the war.
What began in 1914 ended in so much horror for those that fought and for families and communities. Europe was left bankrupt, Britain’s once mighty empire left crippled and Germany severely punished.
The horrors of World War One can sometimes be indescribable, generations of people killed, with some soldiers left with no known grave.
For the whole world this is a poignant point in our history, the 100th anniversary of the end of ‘the war to end all wars’. But to this day, how important is it to remember those that have fallen?
The bells toll to mark the end of World War One with a 2 minutes silence at the 11th hour marked by everyone, not just in Britain but across the world.
For most the scale of the war is something worth remembering, from the trenches of the Western Front, the Eastern Front offensive between Germany and Russia, the war in Africa and the war at sea.
It was a hideous war.
Hundreds, thousands, millions of men and women gave their lives and that’s the most important thing when reflecting upon those that fought for our freedom.
Upon the battlefields of the Somme, who knew that Trenches and gaining a few metres to push the opposition back would cause so much death and destruction.
Across northern France and Belgium events will take place to mark the centenary of the Armistice and an important aspect to remember is the many memorials and cemeteries that remind us of the scars of conflict.
On the 18th November 1916, the Battle of the Somme came to an end – one of the bloodiest battles in human history.
The first day alone saw 60,000 British casualties engaged in trench warfare to try and push the opposition back.
At the French village of Thiepval stands the Memorial to the Missing, designed by the English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens, the largest Commonwealth War Graves monument.
72,085 soldiers names are inscribed on the monument with no known grave – bodies still being discovered on the former battlefield. It’s an emotional reflection upon tragedy and innocent lives being taken.
Western Europe turned into a mudscape, towns and villages destroyed with the trenches an unbearable horror that cannot be put into words.
In Belgium, the town of Ypres was at the forefront of the fighting and today the Menen Gate stands as a gateway to the beautiful Flemish town, where the names of 54,616 soldiers with no grave are inscribed.
Less than a few miles from the town stands Tyne Cot Cemetery, the largest on the Western Front with 11,593 burials.
Passchendaele was deadly for all involved and in the fields of Flanders the poppies grew.
By August 1918, the Hundred Days Offensive and the Battle of Amiens saw an advance in the war, with the British and French armies backed by American, Australian and Canadian troops pushing the German Empire back. This was a point where the victory on the Western Front was
starting to be achieved.
22,000 British soldiers were killed at Amiens and at the cemetery of Douchy-lès-Ayette lies 491 identified casualties. It may be small but the impact it has upon each and every one of us is huge.
It’s tragic to think that some soldiers killed in 1918 had come so close to surviving the war.
Private Royal Fusilier William James Luker was one soldier who on the 25th August 1918 was killed in action.
At Douchy-lès-Ayette he lies at peace – he was 19.
November 11th 2018 is a special date and across the world we will remember them 100 years on.
Soon it will be November 12th 2018 and the 100 year centenary over.
The First World War will never be forgotten and its horrors should always remain in our thoughts.
Beyond Remembrance Sunday and the next week and the next month and the future years to come, the sacrifice of the ‘Great War’ will never be forgotten.