AT THE ELEVENTH HOUR


The Armistice was agreed at 5.10 –

in Foch’s personal railway carriage

– among the cigar and brandy fumes.

The Chancellories of Europe knew

thirty minutes later. Big Ben was rung

for the first time in four years and gas lamps

lit in Paris. There was dancing, and streamers.

 

Foch insisted the truce would not take effect

until 11.00  – ostensibly

so the news could be keyed and carried to

each trench and dugout on the Western Front.

 

Thousands of soldiers were killed that morning.

The last to die – at 10.59 –

was Private Henry Günther from Baltimore,

advancing with comrades in ignorance

through the wild woodland of the Argonne.

The division’s history records: ‘Almost

as he fell, the gunfire died away

and an appalling silence prevailed’.

 

 

 

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  1. #1 by Ashen Venema - November 25th, 2016 at 13:22

    lifting a poignant moment …

  2. #2 by Jenny - November 25th, 2016 at 17:00

    As night draws in…how sad. No one really wins.

  3. #3 by John Huddart - December 6th, 2016 at 08:57

    A list of these who died as the guns of peace begin to fire includes Owen – somehow these deaths are expected and inevitable, like those in Tragic Plays.

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