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Celebrating Armistice/Remembrance/Veterans Day

Posted by Sean Daly on Nov 10, 2022
Le trou Aid

A century after the end of World War I, November 11 remains a holiday to remember war veterans. Learn about resources that can help you research your ancestors, or their brothers who never returned from the front. There are tens of thousands of war cemetery photos uploaded by the Geneanet community!

In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns of the Great War fell silent and there was rejoicing at the cessation of hostilities which had caused the deaths of millions of people in France, Belgium, and elsewhere. Although the Kaiser had abdicated, this was not a surrender, just an armistice; Germany hoped to negotiate favorable terms. Less than a year later, the treaty of Versailles finally concluding the war was signed. The victorious Allies punished Germany under difficult terms, a contributing factor to World War II a generation later.

The railway car where the Armistice was signed in 1918 was also the site of the signing of the Second Armistice after France fell in 1940. Visit the Mémorial de l’Armistice museum site for more information.

For many years after “war to end all wars”, Armistice Day was celebrated by the Allied countries: France, Belgium, the United States… while in the United Kingdom with the nations of the British Empire and later the Commonwealth, it was called Remembrance Day (or Remembrance Sunday, when ceremonies are held with the traditional poppies). In the US, following World War II, Armistice Day became War Veterans Day and is known today as Veterans Day, honoring American soldiers from all conflicts.

For the centenary of the signing of the Armistice in 2018, French president Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel signed the visitor’s book in a ceremony in the railway carriage at the museum at Compiègne, from the same series as the original destroyed in WWII.

Geneanet volunteers participating in our Save our Graves project have photographed over 80,000 war graves, plaques, and monuments around the world; more than 65,000 of them are in France and Belgium. Start your search with the UK’s Commonwealth War Graves Commission or the American Battle Monuments Commission to learn about where and when your ancestor died in battle or in hospital and was buried. Then search Geneanet for your ancestor — a volunteer may have visited your ancestor’s grave and taken a photo!

Geneanet volunteers such as Jean-Rico Eudor who took this photo have photographed tens of thousands of Allied war graves in France and Belgium. Second Lieutenant Benjamin J. Ginsburg from Massachusetts is buried in Saint-Mihiel American Cemetery in eastern France.
Our photo database lets you link a photo to your ancestor in your tree, and our interactive map helps you locate the cemetery for your visit. Rifleman R.H. Harrison of the King’s Liverpool Regiment perished in France on September 17, 1916.

There are other sources available for military records from the English-speaking countries. Ancestry.com, Geneanet’s parent company, also owns military records site Fold3 and is offering free access through Sunday, November 13. Forces War Records in the UK is also a sister company to Geneanet and is offering 50% off on its membership plans through November 20 with the discount code 50FWR.

If your ancestor was French and fought in the Great War, we have a number of resources (in French) available, and you can tag a French ancestor in your tree as a veteran of the conflict; see this article for detailed information in the language of Molière!

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