The German peace delegation arrived at the railway siding in Compiegne Forest, near Paris on the 8 November 1918. The Allied delegation were awaiting them in the coach where the negotiations and signing would take place.
The Allied Supreme Commander Ferdinand Foch believed there was no need to discuss terms and that he expected the Germans to accept the terms and sign the Armistice without prolonged discussions.
The situation in Germany was such that the Government feared major social unrest caused by a chronic shortage of food and ordered their delegation to sign whatever the Allies place in front of them.
Therefore at 05.10 am on the 11 November 1918, the German delegation signed the 34 terms of the Armistice to come into force at 11.00 am that same day.
The actual terms included the cessation of hostilities, withdrawal of German forces to behind the Rhine, Allied occupation of the Rhineland, surrender of all aircraft, warships, submarines and military materiel, release of prisoners and eventually punitive financial reparations.
Whilst the troops were well aware of the forthcoming Armistice, fighting continued in many sectors right up to the very last minute. There were thousands of casualties on this last day of the War but an American soldier Henry Gunther is generally recognised as the last soldier killed in action in the Great War, shot dead in the actual last minute of the War.
The Great War was costly in human terms. It is estimated that some 10 million military personnel and 7 million civilians lost their lives with another 20 million deemed casualties. Of these totals, some 700,000 British soldiers died. These figures are, of course, appalling but were to be eclipsed by those of the Second World War.
Finally the Great War was over. The boys from St Wenn started to return home but it took some months before they all could resume their lives back in this wonderful parish. There would have been much celebration in November 1918 but it was a year later on Saturday 22 November 1919 that the parishioners of St Wenn were able to show their grateful thanks to the returning heroes and remembrance of those that made the ultimate sacrifice.
On the reverse of the invitation card, the Roll of Honour listing both the fallen and the returning soldiers of St Wenn
This invitation card was the influence for my research which I saw for the first time in John James’ book St Wenn and its People. Those soldiers that were killed in the War and listed on the War Memorial were researched and the information displayed for the commemoration of the start of the War back in 2014. Those soldiers that served in the War and returned, form the basis of the research for this Armistice Exhibition.
The invitation card states every man was given a small souvenir with his initials engraved on one side.
Whilst there would have been many joyful gatherings in all our local parishes, the following photographs are from Tregonetha’s celebration in 1919.
My thanks to Trevor Matthews, grandson of William Matthews for the Tregonetha photographs. The photographer was actually Frederick Martin, brother of William’s wife Hilda.
At this point I would like to thank John James, historian and author of the book St Wenn and its People. Without his knowledge and help, I would have been unable to carry out this research. John put me right on many occasions, gave me snippets of information and introduced me to many of the descendants. John, of course, knew many of these men in their later life.
I would like to thank those families and descendants of the soldiers that helped me. It is quite obvious when you read the research where I received their valuable help. My appreciation is expressed at the end of their ancestors details.
I would like to thank in general Hugo White and Deborah Vosper from the Cornwall’s Regimental Museum and the various websites like ancestry.com, findmypast.com and various Regimental websites.
I hope I have indentified the soldiers correctly but if I have made any mistakes, then I apologise profusely. I did try my very best.
I hope you enjoy reading about the heroes of St Wenn from the Great War, as much as I enjoyed researching them all!