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On 11 November 1918, an armistice between the Allied Powers and Germany was signed, ending the fighting on the western front during the First World War. The armistice was signed at 5am in a French railway carriage in Compiègne, and the guns stopped firing six hours later, at 11am. Under the terms of the armistice, Germany was to relinquish all the territory it had conquered since 1914, as well as Alsace-Lorraine. The Rhineland would be demilitarised, and the German fleet was to be interned in harbours of neutral countries or handed to the British. Announcing the terms in the House of Commons, the British Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, expressed relief at the “end[ing of] the cruellest and most terrible war that has ever scourged mankind”.

The centenary of the signing of the armistice will be marked on 11 November 2018 by a series of events. The traditional national service of remembrance at the Cenotaph will take place, as well as the Royal British Legion’s veteran dispersal and march past the Cenotaph. The veterans’ parade will then be followed by a ‘people’s procession’ made up of 10,000 members of the public. During the day, church and other bells will ring out as they did in 1918 to mark the end of the war. The Government is supporting the Central Council of Church Bell Ringers to recruit 1,400 bell ringers (the number of bell ringers that were lost during the war). They will ring on armistice day alongside existing bell ringers across the country. The commemorations will conclude in the evening with a national service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey in London. Similar services will also take place in Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.

In addition to the national events, other commemorative projects are continuing in 2018, such as the Victoria Cross paving stones programme, where commemorative stones are being laid for those who were awarded the Victoria Cross during the First World War.

This briefing provides an overview of the events leading up to the signing of the armistice, and a summary of the terms agreed. It then provides a brief description of some of the commemorative events taking place in the UK to mark the centenary of the signing of the armistice.

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