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November 11: Lest We Forget

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November 11: Lest We Forget


At the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, World War One, also known as the Great War, ended.

On this morning in a railroad car north of Paris, Germany, short on manpower and supplies, signed an armistice agreement with the Allied Powers, including Great Britain, France, Russia and Italy.

On July 28, 1914, Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia, causing relations between Europe’s great powers to collapse. With Austro-Hungarian forces shelling Belgrade, Russia, Serbia’s ally, ordered a troop mobilisation against the Empire. France, allied with Russia, began to ready itself and on August 3, France and Germany declared war on each other.

After traversing neutral Luxembourg, the German army invaded Belgium on the night of August 3. This prompted Great Britain, Belgium’s ally, to declare war against Germany. Canada, Australia and New Zealand and other Commonwealth countries pledged support to Britain and joined in the fight. The United States entered WW1 in April 1917.

More than 9 million soldiers and 7 million civilians died as a result of WW1. Germany, Russia, Austria-Hungary, France and Great Britain each lost nearly a million or more. Many civilians died from disease, starvation or exposure to poor elements. Close to 61,000 Canadians were killed during the war, and another 172,000 were wounded. Sixty thousand Australians lost their lives.

The term “First World War” was first used in September 1914 by German philosopher Ernst Haeckel, who claimed that “there is no doubt that the course and character of the feared ‘European War’ … will become the first world war in the full sense of the word.”

Pictured: Canadian National Vimy Memorial. Four divisions of the Canadian Corps attacked the ridge in Northern France over four days in April, 1917 and succeeded in capturing it from the German army. More than 10,500 Canadians were killed and wounded in the assault.

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