WWI Legacy...

The legal arrangements of ceasefire did not occur as a single act, but of many that culminated in a single final act. It is worth remembering this as, without such insight, it is hard to understand the changes and transformation of Europe to what it is today. The last century saw crucially important changes and that is one of the true legacies of this world war.

The first Armistice was Bulgaria and was the Saloniki on 29th September 1918.

The Ottoman Empire Armistice was the Moudros on the 30th October 1918.

These were instrumental as the Italians pressed home the defeat of the Austria-Hungary Empire at the Battle of Vittorio Veneto. Soon after 24th October 1918, Declarations of Independence occurred in Prague, Budapest and Zagreb, as, with the army defeated, the Austria-Hungary Empire was falling apart rapidly. With little left, the Austria-Hungary Armistice was agreed first by telegraph and then Austria and Hungary signed separate Armistices at the Villa Giusti, near Padua on the 3rd November 1918.

On 11th Novemeber 1918 at 05:00 hrs Germany signed an armistice in Compiègne [in a railway carriage!]. Some six hours later - at 11:00 hrs a ceasefire came in to effect [the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month].

The formal end of the War, technically, was not until the Treaty of Versailles with Germany on 28th June 1919; although no fighting existed in these seven months. Some historians persist in using this treaty date as the end of the First World War.

Even more complex is under the Termination of the Present War (Definition) Act 1918 the United Kingdom and the British Empire didn't consider the war to have ended until the following dates; Germany on 10 January 1920; Austria on 16 July 1920; Bulgaria on 9 August 1920; Hungary on 26 July 1921 and Turkey on 6 August 1924.

Critically the Treaty of Lausanne on 23rd August 1923 divested Constantinople and that created the Map of Europe below that would ultimately become that which we know in the 21st Century. This marked the final legal end to hostilities of WW1.

Some war memorials use the Treaty of Versailles as the end of the war along with some historians. The majority of war graves and memorials now, as do most historians use the Compiègne Armistice date with Germany as the end of WW1.

The human cost to assure peace and security across Europe was enormous. In fact it is the largest ever loss of life in a single war.

To provide you with the figures of those whom we shall remember, honour and never forget, it is best we use the 1914 view of Europe and its territories and borders:

ALLIES: The United Kingdom and British Empire lost 1,118,760 comprising of 888,246 from the United Kingdom, 74,191 from India, 64,990 from Canada, 62,081 from Australia, 18,166 from New Zealand, 9,516 from South Africa and 1,570 from Newfoundland.

ALLIES: Russian Empire lost 2,254,369, France lost 1,397,800, Italy lost 651,000, Serbia lost 365,164, Romania lost 335,706, United States of America lost 116,708, Belgium lost 58,637, Greece lost 26,000, Montenegro lost 13,325, Portugal lost 7,222 and Japan 4,661.

ALLIES TOTAL Lost were 6,349,352. The total military wounded, missing and killed in action for the Allies was 22,477,500.

CENTRAL: German Empire lost 2,037,000, Austria-Hungary a further 1,494,200, The Ottoman Empire lost 771,844 and Bulgaria a further 87,500 lost.

CENTRAL POWERS TOTAL Lost were 4,390,544. The total military wounded, missing and killed in action for the central powers was 16,403,000.

The figures are sombre and hard to imagine. The stability though was problematic and the German pride was hard for the League of Nations to keep peace and cohesion. Just prior to the Armistice in Compiègne ceasefire at 11:00 hrs, the last combatant to fall was just 60 seconds before the ceasefire - The American Sergeant Henry Gunther who charged the Germans. All sides knew about the Armistice and ceasefire. As was the penultimate loss of Canadian Private George Price who was shot by a German Sniper at 10:58 and died 10:59 hrs. Earlier was the last British soldier to die which was Private George Ellison.

The rise in Fascism and bitterness through seeing the end of WW1 as a humiliating defeate of Germany ultimately caused the League to fail and resulted in WW2.

It is also worth noting that the Treaty of Versailles was not signed by the British Empire as a single signatory, but as a consequence of the War each country saw it as their own losses - the 'Baptism of Fire' for those Empire countries [Battle of Gallipoli], along with the Battle of Vimy Ridge saw these identities being 'Forged from Fire'. The result of this was the Empire counties and the United Kigdom all independently signed the Treaty of Versailles.

Financially the cost of WW1 was very significant and The US spent something in the region of $17B and the UK similarly in the region of $21B in USD as in 1913. Estimates of the total cost are somewhat difficult to discern and one estimate puts the Total Allies costs of WW1 to be in the region of $58B [incl the US $17B and UK $21B] and the Central Powers some $25B [Germany spending the lion's share of this at something like $20B].

Pitching total populations was some 806.1m Allies strength [of which 379.1m was the UK and British Empire] against the Central Powers total populations of some 143.1m people. Putting this another way, by virtue of populations at war this represented at the time nearly one in three people of the planet was technically at war [between a quarter and a third by population numbers].

The Central Powers had total populations of; Germany 64.9m, Austria-Hungary 51.4m, Ottoman Empire 21.3m and Bulgaria 5.5m - Hence Total Strength of populations were 143.1m.

The Allies on the other hand had considerably more total populations of: UK 45.4m, India 315.1m, Canada 7.2m, Australia 4.5m, New Zealand 1.1m, South Africa 6.0m and Newfoundland 0.2m [UK and British Empire total population 379.5m], Russia 175.1m, France 39.6m Italy 35.6m, Serbia 4.5m, Romania 7.5m, USA 92.0m, Belgium 7.4m, Greece 4.8m, Montenegro 0.5m, Portugal 6.0m and Japan 53.6m - Hence Total Strength of populations was 806.1m

......... o O o .........

We have added a number of further pages and Picture Galleries to our website for you of The National Memorial Arboretum, the Ypres Salient, Flanders & The Menin Gate, Nord Pas de Calais, Somme, Vimy Ridge, Verdun and:

Map of Europe created under the Treaty of Lausanne 1923

AREA17:  So that we may all remember those that served, those injured and those that fell for the peace and security of all...