The Armistice: A Global Experience 100 Years On

06 November 2018

Empire and Globalism | History | War and Conflict

This Sunday will mark 100 years since the signing of the Armistice that ended the First World War, and acts of remembrance are planned across the world for communities to reflect on the sacrifices made by those who came before.

Documents in our forthcoming resource, The First World War: A Global Conflict, offer some real gems for those interested in how the Armistice was experienced globally in 1918. Here I have selected three items, created by people based in Japan, France and Constantinople.

Allied Victory Celebration at Yokohama is a particularly engaging item. A photo album from the Imperial War Museums collections, it documents Allied victory celebrations in Yokohama, Japan. The Photographs, dated November 1918, include national floats for Australia, Belgium, Britain, Czechoslovakia, France, India, Italy, Japan, Portugal, Russia, Serbia and the USA.

An article from the Tokyo Times on the day of the parade declared “Today the citizens of the capital of Japan rejoice with the Allies, of whom Japan has been so important a member, and celebrate the triumph of their common cause.

The city will be decorated with a flood of flags by day and illuminations at night and cheers of “banzai” over the glorious termination of the great war will be heard on every hand.”

Memorial Hall

The Red Cross




 Above images all  © Imperial War Museums.

The second document is from the Hoover Institution Library and Archives and captures a personal moment between an American man and wife. Frederick Ray Coyle was involved in the Young Men's Christian Association's war work on behalf of American soldiers in France. On the 11th November 1918 he wrote to his wife:

“Beloved – I hardly know what to say – in fact, I hardly know what I think – the armistice is signed, the war is over! First of all I am extremely thankful just to be alive – a weight has gone from my chest. There’s a feeling of glorious, wonderful relief. Then one thinks of the dead – we are alive because somebody else died in our place – so many of them! I don’t feel particularly exultant … tho, of course, the men are excited and happy.”

Images both © The Hoover Institution Library and Archives 


Finally, this letter, sent from the British Army post-office in Constantinople, describes the Armistice from the viewpoint of a Christian protected subject of the United States and the Netherlands.

 “We heard that an Armistice was signed between the Entente and Germany – this truly was a great event, but as far as we were personally concerned it was eclipsed on the 13/11/18 at 8am by the grand sight of the combined British-French-Italian and Greek naval squadrons slowly and majestically steaming into the Bosphorus, thus breaking (I trust forever) Turkish tyranny- men and women met and shook hands and could not speak,- the joyous excitement was immense among the Christian population,-and the Union Jack flag waved once more over the British Embassy in Pera.”

 The Guns of HMS Caesar 1919: Off Constantinople, looking towards the Golden Horn © Imperial War Museums

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