Fighting on the Western Front is continuing in an almost surreal atmosphere now that news of Germany’s armistice request has reached the soldiers. Officers try to prevent talk of the war’s imminent end, but many of the men are wondering why they should risk their lives in a war whose outcome now seems pre-ordained. On the German side, troops moving to the front are often denounced as scabs by those retreating, who see continued resistance as serving no purpose but to prolong the war and end more lives for nothing.
The Allies meanwhile are continuing to press the Germans. The Americans are plodding away in the Argonne, fighting the kind of attritional battle Pershing had thought his men’s pluck would have allowed him to avoid. Further to the north the fighting is more mobile, and today Canadian troops finally take the city of Cambrai, long a target of Allied intentions. Victory celebrations are muted by the ruinous state of the city, which appears to have been deliberately set ablaze by the retreating Germans (though perhaps Allied artillery bombardments may share some of the blame).
Meanwhile in Berlin the Germans receive a reply from Wilson to their armistice request. The US President’s response is cordial, but he seeks assurances that the German government is truly representative of their country and that it accepts his Fourteen Points. He also makes clear that any armistice will involve Germany’s complete evacuation of all Allied territory it has occupied. Prince Max, the German Chancellor, is reassured by the tone and cautiously optimistic that an armistice can be concluded.
Canadian troops liberate Cambrai (Cambrai Area Tourist Office: Liberation of Cambrai)