On the morning of November 11, 1918, at 1:55 A.M., the telephone rang at the offices of the Chicago Tribune. An Associated Press operator delivered a news flash with the short message, “Armistice Signed,” and then hung up. Fifty minutes later, the U.S. State Department released the official announcement: Effective this morning at 6:00 A.M. ET, the world war officially ends. An Armistice signed by Germany in the 11th month, on the 11th day, and in the 11th hour of 1918 brought an end to the fighting in WWI.
In France, thousands of American heavy guns fired parting shots at that exact moment. WWI, also known as the Great War, resulted in more than 37 million military casualties and 8.5 million deaths worldwide. American Expeditionary Force (AEF) casualties numbered 323 thousand with nearly 117 thousand deaths.
As the news broke, a sleepy nation woke to celebrate! In Chicago, US Navy men (nicknamed Jackies) poured into the streets cheering. News reached the West coast just before midnight. Fireworks summoned residents in Oakland, California, to a party downtown!
With the fighting over, transporting troops home became the next big logistical challenge. Most soldiers made it home within a year, but a few thousand didn’t return until 1920. Every available ship, and a few seized German ships, helped to “bring the boys home!”
All over the country, communities held celebrations. In Allentown, Pennsylvania, 50,000 citizens greeted returning soldiers with a confetti parade.
Not all the boys were coming home whole. The physical and emotional trauma suffered by the sick and wounded was astonishing. Legislation like the Adjusted Compensation Act; the Soldier Rehabilitation Act of 1918 (that provided prostheses for those who lost limbs); and the organization of the American Legion sought to help returning soldiers.
Among the many injured were Pvt. Anthony Kulig, 24, who spent 19 months at Walter Reed Hospital recovering from an amputated arm, a knee injury, and 52 wounds on his body. First Lt. John W. McManigal chronicled his injuries and others he observed during his time as a POW in a dramatic five-part series printed in the Kansas Democrat in 1919. He recalled one soldier in a POW hospital having both legs amputated without any anesthetic.
The development of an improved veteran healthcare system is just one of the legacies left to future military generations by WWI veterans. Do you have an interest in military history or have ancestors that fought in WWI? How did your hometown celebrate the Armistice? Tell us about it and search our archives at Newspapers.com!
31 thoughts on “World War I Ends: November 11, 1918”
My grandfather received a small pension because he had been gassed during the war. Although it seems to have been a light case, and he lived into his 70s, when he died, it was because of pneumonia, which may have been aggravated by reduced lung function.
One thing no one in the family knew until we took a family vacation was that the camp where he recuperated was on the French Riviera, a memory triggered by a serving of French Toast at a cafeteria.
My grandfather arrived at Ellis Island in 1913. He enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 and was sent to the trenches in France. He also suffered injury during a poison gas attack and after his discharge he got a small pension for it. During WWII he enlisted again, working in food service at the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
My deceased husband’s father drove an ammunition wagon pulled by mules. It is a wonder he made it through. He served in the last year of the war in France.
Obviously Kyle was gassed when a group of flea infested left wing maggots moved into his mother’s basement and farted. Where he sits in his underwear typing nonsense.
Hopefully one day he will overcome his mental handicap and grow up. Until then we should all just ignore the stammering foolish child named Kyle, and laugh at him.
These comments should be about the war and the people who served, not about griping.
Both of my grandfathers signed their draft cards declaring they weren’t able to serve because they had wives and children. Both of them were exempted anyway because of their jobs. One was a mechanic on the Maine Central Railroad and the other was a machinist at a paper mill.
In memory of my great uncle, Private W R Spicer, 2nd Canadian Mounted Rifles. Killed in Action Aug 8, 1918. The Battle of Amiens. I will be in France next week to visit his grave, and Canada’s National Memorial at Vimy Ridge. Rembering the fallen from all countries.
Please thank all the ones there that didn’t make it back.I said thanks with all my heart.
My great grandfather, Richard Feeney, seved in L company of the 58th Infantry as a runner (delivering messages from front line). He was gassed during the war and was never able to fully recover. He lived long enough to see his only child, my grandmother, reach 6 months old. No Purple Heart or other honors – but without a doubt, he gave his life for this country. Died in January 1922.
I am grateful to all who served during the Great War (WWI) – soldiers, pilots, nurses, doctors, etc. May their sacrifices and their courage be honored now, in 2018, and in the future. Rest in peace.
I am in Canada – my grandfather learned his only brother was killed at Hill 70 in France weeks after being sent to a London hospital to be treated for a severe infection caused by shrapnel wounds in his face, shoulder and right arm. When he first met my grandmother, her family was grieving the death her brother, killed on the Somme. WWI cut down so many of their generation. We owe them more than we can say.
My Grandfather Roy C. Hathaway joined the AEF at age 17. Sent to France in the 102 Machinegun Battalion. The air and water cooled machineguns he claimed became red hot and glowed after constant use. Gassed he was saved by a plug of tobacco, which he swallowed when shelled, and he vomited up most of the gas. He was given a year to live. He died at the age of 95. A tough old Midwest farmer.
Wow! What a great story and thanks for sharing. It brings it to life. I wish I had those sorts of stories from my ancestors, but I will content myself with old photos and records of service.
I am sure there are many state-side memories too. My grandfather, owner of a hardware store in western Ohio, was named William Kaiser. In German School where he went as a kid, was known as Wilhelm Kaiser.
In some ways he was lucky that he died of a heart attack at age 50 in January 1917. A few months later the country was at war, fighting against a vilified enemy called Kaiser Wilhelm. My grandfather’s life had he lived would not have been pleasant.
I also have a vintage button, blue lettering on a pink background : “To Hell with the Kaiser!”
Thanks so much for your work on this post it:) I am researching the life of my great grandmother and her four children for my relatives. I’ll share this post with them so they can imagine the elation their ancestors must have experienced 100 years ago. Minnie’s eldest, my grandfather, Joe Dailey, rejoined the Navy at 21, after serving from age 16 to 20. He served on a Destroyer, USS Walke and was honorably discharged as an Engineman 1st Class. His younger brother Bill served in the Army with the Fighting 69nth-Rainbow Division on Argonne forest and was stationed in Kemagen Germany in 1918. His younger sister Ruth married a wealthy man (Charles E Cabell, who turned out to be something of a cad) who spent the war years selling leather in Australia. His youngest sister Isabelle Anna was a young girl during the war, but she later married Dr Romeo Auerbach whose parents were immigrants from Austria and who spent WWI serving as a Navy Lieutenant MC surgeon on the Madawaska and the Algonquin until May 1919.
I love learning about the sacrifices of so many from the past, so that we could have a better future.
My Grandfather and his older brother were in WWI,
Pop was lucky enough to return home, where as his brother Thomas, was killed in action.
Knowing and remembering our Ancestors, is a wonderful thing.. Learning from the past and trying to make better decisions today, is something l try to pass on to my children. For us to know of our Forebears and to keep their memories alive is exciting.. Family is the best!
My grandmother’s cousin, Sargent Parks Morris of McDowell Co, NC, was shot in the head by a sniper just moments before the war ended. A man in his unit wrote about it in the Marion newspaper. He is buried at Bethel Baptist Church in McDowell, NC. I hope someone puts flowers on his grave on Nov 11, 2018.
My grandfather also served in The Great War. I have a pillow embroidered with the initials A.E.F., which he solemnly swore meant Ass End First. I also have two white silk hankies with crossed American and French flags. My girls aren’t interested, so I have no idea what will become of them.
My grandfather’s appetite was the stuff of legends. He said he’d run to be first in the mess tent, eat, and then run around to get back in the end of the line. It was the only way he could get enough to eat. He was on one of the first troop ships back to the States, and we always joked that France couldn’t afford to rebuild AND feed LeRoy Porstmann.
Best thing to do with Mr. Kyle is to ignore and not respond. He must be immature and looking for attention.
My maternal grandfather was exempted because he was missing an index finger. My paternal grandfather was inducted into the U.S. Army and was with a machine gunners infantry group. Just before being shipped out with his unit he developed double pneumonia (Spanish influenza?). By the time he recovered, the war ended. My dad was born on November 28th a few weeks later. A great home coming present!
Freedom is never free. Too many made the ultimate sacrifice so we sleep free at night. Today their grandchildren guard our freedom.
Say thank you when you see a veteran!
One of the most horrifying aspects of the Great War was that the killing continued to 10:59am on 11/11/1918. Whether for revenge, sport, a need to kill one more time, battle position or who knows what at least 1,000 soldiers on both sides were killed that morning even though everyone knew the the war would end. Worse yet, the armistice agreement raked Germany over the coals (not to imply Germany did not deserve to be punished) , and the German people felt betrayed by their leaders, all of which laid the seeds for another war 30 years later.
My Grandfather, David M. Hagan, served in the signal corp, Co. B 322 FSBm. at St. Mihiel, Chateau Thierry, and Toul. They used carrier pigeons for communications. He suffered a leg injury that never really healed.
My father was an infantryman in WW1. He was wounded twice in the Battle of the Marne. He received the Silver Star, the esteemed French Cross of War (Croix de Guerre), Purple Heart and several other medals. He lived to be 87. He seldom spoke of the War, like so many other soldiers.
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