The Armistice agreement that brought an end to World War One was signed in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiegne at 6am on 11th November 1918. It was to come into force at 11am. The principal signatories were Marshall Ferdinand Foch the Allied Commander-in-Chief and Matthias Erzberger the German representative.
World War One, also known as the Great War, had begun in August 1914. The four years of war was the most bloody ever fought and saw the deaths of more than 9 million soldiers. It saw the development of ‘modern’ weapons including the tank, gas, and fighter aeroplanes. The war also led to the downfall of the Russian, German and Austro-Hungarian monarchies.
Remembrance Day, often referred to as Poppy Day commemorates the sacrifice made by servicemen in times of war. In the United Kingdom the day was first commemorated in 1919, when it was known as Armistice Day, with two minutes silence at 11am on 11th November. Its name was changed to Remembrance Day after World War Two. The day is also observed by other commonwealth countries.
The poppy is used to symbolise to symbolise remembrance and in the United Kingdom the Royal British Legion sell poppies in the weeks prior to 11th November to raise money for servicemen and their families.
During World War One some of the most intense fighting took place in Flanders (west Belgium). Buildings, roads, fields, bushes and trees were destroyed. However, despite the devastation each spring poppies flowered. Poppy seeds that had been buried for years were brought to the surface by the churned up mud and germinated.
John McCrae a Canadian fighting in the trenches in Flanders wrote a poem called ‘In Flanders Fields’. The poem was published and the poppy was adopted as a symbol for those who had lost their lives in battle.