Everyone knew the ceasefire was coming but apparently the guns kept on shooting until the very last second. Pity to waste all those lovely shells.
In Richard Attenborough's film version of Oh What a Lovely War, the VIPs in their frock coats and braided uniforms are poised to sign the papers when the last shot of the War rings out and the ghost of the last man to be killed drifts through the Hall of Mirrors. They look up, see nothing, carry on...
Among the last to be killed was the poet Wilfred Owen- that highly untypical man who has come to embody all that was typical of his generation. He was engaged in getting his men across a canal under machine gun fire. He may have been on the bank or he may have been on a boat but either way he stopped a bullet and fell in the water- like a character from the Goon Show. People in the Goon Show were always falling in the water or being exploded or otherwise coming to horrible ends from which they immediately bounced back. Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Harry Secombe, Michael Bentine; they were all old soldiers.
The Great War was such a stupid thing. But perhaps we had to do it before we could realise how stupid it was. It didn't put an end to war but it gave war a bad name. War has never really recovered from this- and I don't think it ever will.
One hundred years ago tomorrow. There's no-one still alive who went through all that shite.
Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.