The First World War, commonly known as the Great War, began for the Belgians on August 4, 1914, when Germany invaded Eastern Belgium. This conflict will last exactly 1,560 days. Nearly 10 million people of all nationalities will die during this war.
On the night of November 10-11, 1918, at 5 am, Allies and German generals met with Marshal Ferdinand Foch in the forest of Compiègne, near Paris to sign the Armistice. For the ceasefire on the battlefield, it was necessary to wait 6 hours after the signature causing the death of 800 more soldiers.
The signing of the Armistice took place at 5 o'clock in car N°2419 D of the International Sleeper Car Company, also the headquarters of the French armed forces during the war.
During the second battle of Passendale, Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae was marked by the loss of his friend. He took care of his funeral and observed that the poppies were rapidly growing on the graves of the fallen soldiers on the battlefield.
The next day he composed the poem “In Flanders Fields”. It is thanks to this poem that the poppy became the symbol of remembrance of our fallen soldiers.
IN FLANDERS FIELDS
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If you break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
THE LAST FALLEN ENGLISH SOLDIER
Although the Armistice was established, the battle did not end definitively until 6 hours later, leaving 800 more soldiers to perish.
At 9:30 am, Private Georges Edwin (G.E.) of the 5th Royal Irish Lancers was killed while scouting on the outskirts of Mons where he had been stationed since 1914. A regular soldier before the war, he made his first trenches, first gas attacks and first tanks. He died at the age of 40, having a son who was then four years old.