This month marks the centenary of the signing of the Armistice that ended the First World War on 11 November 1918. It is a chance for us to remember those who lost their lives in that terrible war and the families they left behind. It is also an opportunity to commemorate those who perished, lost loved ones, or have otherwise been deeply affected through conflict during the hundred years since then.

Churchill Archives Centre’s latest display, titled ‘Remembering Armistice’, brings together documents from our most famous collections as well as some of our lesser known ones. This exhibition draws on a range of perspectives including commentaries from soldiers on the Western Front, the newspapers at home, and the diary of Admiral Rosslyn Wemyss – which gives us a first hand account of the negotiations and signing of the Armistice itself.

Handwritten letter from Sir Rosslyn Wemyss (transcribed below)

Letter from Sir Rosslyn Wemyss on his departure to the “unknown destination” where the armistice negotiations were due to take place. (Wemyss Papers, WMYS 7/11/4)

“Darling – You won’t hear from me for a day or two – I am off this afternoon for an unknown destination to carry out my job.  Everything goes well – I don’t forget all yr good advice – God bless you & the Kitten.

Yr loving & devoted

Tom Cat

The documents on display describe a variety of attitudes and reactions to the conclusion of the war. Letters written to loved ones from soldiers like Capt. Jack Oughtred, who served on the front line, are alive with emotion and jubilation; Lord Fisher, on the other hand, decried the armistice, suspicious of German duplicity and called on Britain to “Keep Fighting!”, “Stop Talking!

Letter from Brigadier Bernard Freyberg to Churchill which begins "A line to tell you that I had the most wonderful finish to my war."

Letter from Brigadier Bernard Freyberg to Churchill describing events on Armistice Day on the Western Front. (Churchill Papers, CHAR 1/129/24-25)

These collections portray the lives, experiences, and actions of those involved and are particularly valuable for our understanding of the last days of The First World War. Take a look in the display cases outside the main dining hall to find out more.

— Tom Davies, Archives Assistant

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