21 September 2018 to 31 March 2019
At 11am on 11 November 1918, an Armistice was declared and the First World War came to an end.
The ceasefire marked a pivotal moment for an entire generation, but people experienced and reacted to it in many different ways. In this immersive sound installation, 32 people who fought and lived through the First World War share their personal stories of the Armistice.
Ernest Argall, who served as a Royal Engineers signaller on the Western Front in 1918. He was 19 and living in Cornwall when Armistice was declared.
“Now when the war was over, they gave me two medals. I was so disgusted with the loss of human life, and the way in which human life was chucked about, that I threw my medals in the sea, I wouldn’t have them.”
Using recordings from the IWM Sound Archive that have never been exhibited before, this is a chance to explore the moment that marks the boundary between war and peace and its immediate aftermath. It brings together personal testimonies from people who in 1918 were soldiers, civilians or children, who all had different reactions to the end of the First World War. From the solemn to the celebratory – and discover how this moment was imprinted on the lives of an entire generation.
Dolly Shepherd, who was 31 when Armistice was declared.
“Well do you know, strangely enough, we wept, because the silence was so awful. You see we’d been used to the noise of guns, all day long, all day long, all day long…it was so strange, to have silence.”
I Was There: Room of Voices is part of Making a New World, a season of innovative exhibitions, installations and immersive experiences at IWM London and IWM North which explore how the First World War has shaped the society we live in today.
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