Today, at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, will mark exactly one hundred years since the end of one of the greatest conflicts that the world has ever seen.
The First World War was an horrific war that saw the deaths of approximately 40 million military personnel and civilians. That included between nine and eleven million soldiers.
That’s hard to imagine for us nowadays.
Credit: Imperial War Museum
However, the true reality of what it must have been like to be there when the war ended a century ago has now been brought into stark contrast by an audio recording released by the Imperial War Museum.
Using a collection of recordings from their archive, they have gathered together an eerie collection of recordings from the American front that show the moments that the Great War actually ceased.
Recorded near the River Moselle, which flows through Germany, France, and Luxembourg, the activity on the recording illustrates the sound of guns one minute before, and then one minute after the Armistice was declared.
The amazing recording shows that until the moment the ceasefire was enacted, the guns kept firing. The brutality of the war then suddenly abated and was replaced by a chilling silence.
One minute after the hour, the heavy artillery guns stopped firing. The war was over, and those who were left to remember it had escaped with their lives.
At the end of the recording, the birds can be heard chirping once again, marking the end to the killing and the return of life to those blood-stained fields.
It seems so short a duration of time, but the difference between 10:58am and 11:00 must have felt like a lifetime to those under the fire of the guns. Once 11am arrived they could begin their lives again after spending years under the horrific conditions of trench warfare.
The museum teamed up with sound designers Coda to Coda to create this important historical artefact and visitors will be able to listen to it for themselves at a display at the museum in London.
The exhibit was created using a process called ‘sound ranging’ which was used by military forces to work out where the enemy guns were by committing sounds to photographic paper.
Will Worsley, from Coda to Coda, said: “This document from IWM’s collections gives us a great insight into how intense and chaotic the barrage of gunfire must have been for those fighting on the western front,
“We hope that our audio interpretation of sound ranging techniques through bone conduction enables visitors to project themselves into that moment in history and gain an understanding of what the end of the First World War may have sounded like.”
If you find a second today, have a listen and try to comprehend what it must have been like for those men.
Featured Image Credit: PA