The End of the War
It so happens that our typing up of my Grandfather’s memoirs has brought together his memory of Armistice and our Remembrance Day.
He was a prisoner of war from 21 March 1918 until the end of the war. This is a picture of a tiny diary that he kept, marking off the days of his captivity. You can see that towards the end of October 1918, he stopped marking off the days, as impending freedom seemed ever more likely.
The 11th November and the following few days have an odd air about them. No one is sure what to do, where to go, who to fear and how to act. All of a sudden “the enemy” just become another group of men trying to get home.
Here’s a wee excerpt from the memoir:
11 November 1918
… The man came along and said to me, “Aren’t you going home yet?”
“What do you mean?” said I.
“Don’t you know that there has been an armistice signed, and that we are all free?”
“Is that so?” I cried.
“Sure it is! Our guards told us to get away home.”
I turned and ran as hard as I could to the office. The Germans sergeant major saw that I was excited and jumped up to ask what was the matter. I told him, and he said, “But we have had no official word of that! We can’t let you go until we get orders! Dear me! We are supposed to see you safely transported to Germany!” I ran off and told the others, and then went on and hid myself among the civilians till afternoon, when I ventured back to the office to see what was doing. I knew whenever I looked in that it was alright. The Sergeant Major said, “It is quite right. You are all free but we are supposed to take care of you till you can be handed over to your own people.” “Let us go!” said I, “We’ll find our way back alright!” – “But how? How can you know the way? Where would you make for?”…