“On November 11, 1918, Armistice Day, the American Expeditionary Forces on the Western Front in France suffered more than thirty-five hundred casualties, although it had been known unofficially for two days that the fighting would end that day and known with absolute certainty as of 5 o’clock that morning that it would end at 11 a.m.” (Army Times 10 November 2017 here.)
“In particular, the Americans took heavy casualties on the last day of the war. This was because their commander, General John Pershing, believed that the Germans had to be severely defeated at a military level to effectively ‘teach them a lesson’. Pershing saw the terms of the Armistice as being soft on the Germans. Therefore, he supported those commanders who wanted to be pro-active in attacking German positions – even though he knew that an Armistice had been signed. In particular, the Americans suffered heavy casualties attempting to cross the River Meuse on the night of the 10th/11th with the US Marines taking over 1,100 casualties alone. However, if they had waited until 11.00, they could have crossed the river unhindered and with no casualties. The 89th US Division was ordered to attack and take the town of Stenay on the morning of November 11th. Stenay was the last town captured on the Western Front but at a cost of 300 casualties.” https://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/world-war-one/november-11th-1918/
“The Germans finally yielded and signed the armistice at 5:10 on the morning of the eleventh, backed up officially to 5 a.m. and to take effect within Foch’s deadline: the eleventh month, eleventh day, eleventh hour of 1918. Pershing’s postwar claim that he had had no official knowledge of the impending armistice before being informed by Foch’s headquarters at 6 a.m. was disingenuous. The moment when the fighting would cease had been clear from the time Foch handed Erzberger the deadline, information to which Pershing was privy. On the evening of November 10 and through that night, news of the impending end was repeatedly affirmed from radio transmissions received at Pershing’s AEF headquarters in Chaumont.”
[Editor’s note: This piece was first published by MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History] – Army Times 10 November 2017 here.
And they called it the war to end all wars.
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