11 things to know about Armistice Day, November 11 in France – .

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11 things to know about Armistice Day, November 11 in France – .


November 11 (today) is a public holiday in France, with events taking place across the country in memory of the 1918 armistice and other war-related incidents.

Did you know?

1. The armistice was signed in France at 5:45 a.m. on November 11, to take effect at 11 a.m., thus ending the First World War.

2. The armistice was signed in a dining car of the train, which was parked in the clearing of Rethondes in the forest of Compiègne in the Oise.

3. Marshal Ferdinand Foch signed the document as Supreme Allied Commander, after several days of discussions with Admiral Wemyss of the United Kingdom and Matthias Erzberger of Germany.

4. The document was signed between Germany and the “Triple Entente” of France, the United Kingdom and the United States.

5. It was a ceasefire that was initially only to be provisional, as it did not officially mark Germany’s surrender. It was supposed to last 33 days, but was then renewed.

6. The date of November 11 was no accident, it was a “French choice” because the date is traditionally the feast of the patron saint of the Franks, Saint Martin.

7. It was only with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919 that the Great War officially ended.

8. France is not the only country to commemorate the date of the armistice; it is also recognized in countries such as UK, US, Canada, Australia, Italy and Portugal among others.

9. November 11, 1920 was the first year of commemoration, France having chosen to honor the “unknown soldier” with military honors. The remains of the unidentified soldier were buried under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and then placed near a memorial flame. The day was not declared a national holiday until 1922 after it was decided at the end of November 1921.

dix. The “Flame of Remembrance” was created on an idea from the Minister of War André Maginot. It is maintained by a “Committee of the Flame”, and has never been released since 1922, even during the Occupation.

11. In France, the symbol of remembrance is a cornflower, worn as a buttonhole. This is in reference to the new soldiers who during World War I wore blue uniforms and were nicknamed “blueberries (blueberries)’ Therefore

Read more: Le Bleuet de France – origins of the French cornflower tradition

Since 2012, the day has also been used to honor known and unknown soldiers who died in combat in all wars, not just World War I, as well as heroes who contributed in other ways.

For example, this year President Macron paid tribute to the late Hubert Germain, who was the last survivor to receive the Order of the Liberation from General de Gaulle, after a lifetime of service in France.

Read more: Last surviving French liberation fighter dies aged 101

Mr. Germain passed away on October 12, at the age of 101. His coffin will now cross Paris, from the Invalides to the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs-Élysées.

Many churches across France commemorate the day by ringing the bells at 11:00 a.m., and communities hold events at their war memorials. There are around 30,000 war memorials in France, and even some of the smallest villages and hamlets are likely to have one.

Nearly 10 million soldiers were killed or wounded during the First World War, including more than a million French soldiers. The war killed or injured around 40 million people in total (both military and civilian), with around 15-20 million dead.

Some stores may have different opening hours today and some workers may have taken a day off, many choosing to ‘bridge the gap’, connecting the day off today to another tomorrow, to have a four day weekend.

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Last surviving French liberation fighter dies aged 101

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