The End of the War

The Armistice ending World War I was signed on November 11, 1918 at 11:11 AM. More than 10 million people were killed in the war, including about 115,000 Americans. President Wilson tried to convince the French and English to agree to a non-punitive peace. However, the terms of the Versailles Treaty imposed by France and Great Britain primarily on Germany were so vengeful that Field Marshall Foch, commander of the French forces, said, “This is not peace. It is an armistice for twenty years.” (Jennings, p. 97.) Foch turned out to be prophetic; WWI was not “The war to end all wars.”

“My Dream of the Big Parade, sung by The Peerless Quartet, was written by Jimmy McHugh and Al Dubin in 1926 and reflects the post-war disillusionment and regret that infected the populations of the warring countries. (

Last night I was dreaming of days that are gone,
Of days that you might recall,
And just like a photoplay upon my wall,
Once more I saw it all.
It was just a dream you see,
But how real it seemed to be,

I saw buddies true, marching two by two,
In my dream of the Big Parade,
I saw angels fair with the Red Cross there,
In my dream of the Big Parade.
I saw Gold Star Mothers, sisters and brothers,
What a sacrifice they made;
I saw one-legged pals coming home to their gals,
In my dream of the Big Parade.

I saw Chateur Thierry all filled with marines,
I strolled by the river Seine,
I saw all the villages ‘mid fields of green,
In old Alsace Lorraine;
And the mem’ry lingers yet,
They were scenes I can’t forget.



Millions of soldiers, — millions of men
All going over, — I see them again;
Oceans of water, submarines too,
Millions of sailors helping them through.
Millions of doughboys landing in Brest,
Marching and marching, — never a rest;
Millions of bullets thundering past,
Millions of buddies wounded and gassed.
Valleys of ruins, mountains of mud,
Beautiful rivers, and rivers of blood;
Aeroplanes flying, — bombs coming down,
Millions of cooties crawling around.
Pieces of shrapnel, — pieces of shell,
Many a cross where somebody fell.
Fighting and fighting, — a horrible war,
And God knows what you’re fighting it for.

Then came November, — that Armistice Day
Out of a trench into a café,
Paddy and Abie and Jimmy and Jack
Over their bottles of wine and cognac
Telling their love tales to Jean and Georgette,
Little French girls they had to forget.
And then came the journey over the foam,
But all that went over, didn’t come home.


I saw Gold Star Mothers, sisters and brothers,
What a sacrifice they made;
I saw one legged pals coming home to their gals,
In my dream of the Big Parade.

Horses still played big role in combat during WWI. Australia shipped about 53, 000 horses overseas to serve in the various theatres of the war. When the war ended none of them were allowed to return to Australia because of quarantine restrictions. Rather than leave the horses, which were treated more as friends than just animals, to probable mistreatment by local populations, the soldiers shot them. Even after decades, those soldiers were heartbroken by the situation. A fitting song to memorialize this situation is “As If He Knows, written and sung by Eric Bogle (2002). (

It’s as if he knows,
he’s standing close to me
His breath warm on my sleeve,
his head hung low
It’s as if he knows,
what the dawn will bring
The end of everything,
for my old banjo
And all along the picket lines beneath the desert sky
The Light Horsemen move amongst their mates to say one last goodbye
And the horses stand so quietly,
row on silent row
It’s as if they know

Time after time
we rode through shot and shell
We rode in and out of Hell
on their strong backs
Time after time
they brought us safely through
By their swift sure hooves
and their brave hearts
Tomorrow we will form up ranks and march down to the quay
And sail back to our loved ones in that dear land across the sea
While our loyal and true companions
who asked so little and gave so much will lie dead in the dust.

For the orders came
no horses to return
We were to abandon them
to be slaves
After all we’d shared
and all that we’d been through
A nation’s gratitude
was a dusty grave
For we can’t leave them to the people here, we’d rather see them dead
So each man will take his best mate’s horse with a bullet through the head
for the people here are like their land
wild and cruel and hard
So banjo, here’s your reward.

It’s as if he knows, he standing close to me,
His breath warm on my sleeve, his head hung low.
As he if he knew.

And, although not a song per se, the poem “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae paints a vivid picture of the futility of the war. It was composed at the battlefront on May 3, 1915 during the second battle of Ypres, Belgium. (

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 ye break faith with us who die,
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields