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Armistice – war is over, peace at last!
The scenes outside Buckingham Palace the day the armistice was announced Photo: Illustrated London News [London, England], 16 Nov 1918. Full collection available at the National Library of Ireland

Armistice – war is over, peace at last!

Paris, 11 November 1918 - More than four years after it began, the most devastating war the world has known has come to an end.

Yesterday morning, at 5am French time, German plenipotentiaries signed an armistice with the Allies, and at 11 am on 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, hostilities ceased. The war is over and, according to this morning’s Irish Independent editorial, ‘A world from which the black shadow of death is lifted can rejoice its fill today’.

Scenes from Paris, London and New York on Armistice Day 1918. Courtesy of British Pathé

The terms and conditions of the armistice impose heavy obligations on the defeated powers.

On the western front, operations by land and sea and air were to cease six hours after the signature of the armistice. The evacuation of the invaded territories of Belgium, France, Alsace-Lorraine and Luxembourg, is to be completed within 14 days, by which time the repatriation of all inhabitants of all those countries is to be completed.

The German army is pledged to surrender weaponry and to evacuate the areas on the left bank of the Rhine.

Scenes from Armistice Day: Left - An American sailor, an American Red Cross Nurse and two British soldiers celebrating the signing of the Armistice near the Paris Gate at Vincennes in Paris. Right - A group of girls in an American car in London on the day the Armistice was signed. (Images: Imperial War Museum)

Messages of congratulations
The King has sent messages of congratulation to the British navy, army and air force.

To the army, he noted that the ‘soldiers of the British empire’ have won ‘the admiration alike of friend and foe’:

‘Defeat has more than once stared you in the face. Your ranks have been thinned again and again by wounds, sickness, and death, but your faith has never faltered, your courage has never failed, your hearts have never known defeat.’

The Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Field-Marshal Sir John French, has also written messages to the allied military leaders. To Marshal Foch, he wrote: ‘In this hour of victory I cannot find words to express the joy which I feel in congratulating you my old friend and comrade in the field.’ He also issued Foch an issued an invitation to visit Ireland.

Similar messages were sent by the Viscount French to Sir Douglas Haig and to Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly.

Thanksgiving
On learning of the news, the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland, issued a letter to all the clergy in his diocese.

The ‘glorious news’ that had reached them constituted, he wrote, a ‘complete victory for the cause of honour and truth’ and filled their hearts with gratitude and he called for a special thanksgiving service in all churches the following Sunday morning.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.