Armistice Day

“Well, finis la guerre!” my great grandfather wrote to his wife from the front lines, a day after Armistice. He was an officer serving with the American Red Cross, a 48-year-old physician from Montana. He described the sudden shift from war to peace, danger to jubilation on the 11th day of the 11th month, 1918. 

Dearest Mabel:

Well, finis la guerre!

Yesterday morning early the wireless told us that the Boche was going to sign but we fired till the last minute and, funny to relate, I had the closest call of the war just 6 minutes before they ceased firing. C battery commander, L——, went out with a 2nd Lt. named Luke Sunday afternoon looking for advance —— positions and never came back so yesterday morning —— and I went up in the car to the advance ambulance stations to see if we could weed out anything about there. We pulled out of Thiaucourt at 10:46 and just as we got to Xammes we went into a bunch of 77 bursts and how we got out I don’t know as they fell all round us. We got behind a house at 10:56. It seemed every —— on both sides of the front was firing as fast as it could and stones were flying in all directions when suddenly – 11 o’clock! Silence! And we drove home through the villages and the bands were getting out and the roads were —— with cheery troops. We found out today that they had been taken prisoners. Hard luck, last day of the war.

Last night had a big dinner at Ades, the colonel & some other ——. Lots of champagne and toasts for the best battalion of the best Artillery Regiment on the front. (Suppose every other Regiment doing the same thing.) The sky was full of German fireworks. They say the Boche is tickled to death that peace has come. Rumor has it that we are going to Metz for garrison duty, but I think I have done my bit and will apply to be put on the inactive list and come home as soon as the chance offers. See stocks going up. Did you get out of —. P. Ry? Have not heard from Lawrence [his eldest son] for several days but have an impression that he was not sent back. You asked a question about whether we are division troops. No. We are what is called Army Artillery. JKB can explain. We go in to support division movements or hold difficult sectors that the ordinary divisional artillery cannot alone and unsupported take care of.

Lawrence’s duties were mostly administrative and the action of carrying orders from the front line to the battalion echelon. Well, Georgie boy, Daddy will be home soon.

Best love, dear ——