Armistice Day 100th Anniversary



“The Lamps are going out all over Europe . . . we shall not see them again in our lifetime,” wrote Sir Edward Grey, British foreign secretary on August 3, 1914.  

Grey’s statement proved more than prophetic, it was recognition that the world would never be the same once the armies of Triple Entente of Britain, France, and Russia confronted the armies of Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Italy on the battlefields.  What had happened on battlefields in previous wars would also be changed forever because of advances in technology, unleashing the deadly might of aircraft, armoured tanks, machine guns, chemistry, and submarines.  


British fund raising poster

What Grey and many others lamented in 1914 was that in the decades leading up to the Great War, Europe was experiencing the excitement of Belle Epoque, the Beautiful Era, of new music, literature, art, and culture that had brought peace and prosperity to the world.  The hopes and promises of Belle Epoque were extinguished when the first artillery shells exploded over France and Belgium in August 1914. 

For four years, the Great War roiled across western and eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Balkans, and Africa. The numbers were staggering. Casualties (killed, missing, prisoners of war) included 22 million:  Russia 9 million, Britain 3 million, France 6 million, America 300 K, and 1 million from allies in Japan, Romania, Serbia, Belgium, Greece, Portugal, and Montenegro. 


The Paths of Glory  

Triple Entente losses were 15 million: Germany 7 million, Austria-Hungary 7 million, 900 K Turkey, and 300 K Bulgaria.

By the time of the Armistice was signed on November 11, 1918,  the Russian Romanov monarchy had ended with the assassination of Tsar Nicholas and his family.  So had the empires of Austria – Hungary and the Ottomans. In their places Bolshevism rose in Russia, nazism in Germany, and fascism in Italy.  The world had forever changed.

The ravages of the Great War touched virtually everyone from aristocratic and privileged families, to the urban middle class and rural impoverished. 


The Gassed – John Singer Sargent


The Great War inspired artists, musicians, poets, writers to document the bloodshed and horrors of battlefields: John Singer Sargent’s painting “The Gassed,” Erich Maria Remarque’s novel, “All Quiet on the Western Front,” Rupert Brooke’s poem, “The Soldier”, and Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s history “August 1914.”   



Canteen at British ammunition factory

A century after the Armistice, authors are still writing books that draw upon the Great War: William Boyd’s “Waiting for Sunrise,” Neal Bascomb’s “The Escape Artists,” and Daniel Mason’s “The Winter Soldier.” 



German postcard celebrating the sinking of the Lusitania

It has been more than 100 years since the onset of the Great War.  But for those who heard grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, cousins, brothers and sisters talk about those times, a lasting memory may be a simple poem they learned in school. 

A poem about how quickly poppies grew around graves penned by Dr. John McCrea, a Canadian physician who officiated at the burial of a friend who had fallen in 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium. 

In Flanders fields the poppies grow

Between the crosses, row on row,

That mark our place; and in the sky

The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:

To you from failing hands we throw

The torch; be yours to hold it high.

If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow

In Flanders fields.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day on November 11 at 11 AM on the lawn at Colton Hall, Veterans for Peace Chapter 26 Monterey, will read the names of the Fallen from Monterey from the Great War, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Following the reading, there will be a presentation  “The Art of the Great War” at the Monterey Museum of Art. 

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In addition to this travel blog, I write international thrillers, mysteries, and suspense novels.

I’m currently writing a thriller series based in Milan featuring the anti-terrorism police, DIGOS, as they pursue domestic and international terrorists.  I travel to Milan every summer for research, to see my Italian and American friends, and to work with my researcher and translator.

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2 responses to “Armistice Day 100th Anniversary

  1. Thank you. Hope all is terrific. We’re moving to Tucson- if we ever surface from the ‘stuff’ of this house.

    Karen & Fred



  2. Did you know we go to Tucson often to see grandkids? We’re going for Thanksgiving on Sunday, will be there 10 days. Let us know when you
    relocate. We can connect there, easier than driving up to the peninsula. Didn’t Fred have a birthday recently?


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