An eye for detail
SIX hours before the guns fell silent on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918, the Armistice was signed after three days of negotiations, in a railway carriage in the Forest of Compiègne. Capt Jack Marriott was one of four British delegates on the scene and he recorded the events with extraordinary detail.
‘Fat and bloated-looking, double chin, scrubby moustache, wears pincenez’ is how Marriott described Matthias Erzberger, the first member of six Germans present, and Admiral Ernst Vanselow he said ‘does not look at all like a sailor, more like a pork butcher’.
The British naval officer went on to describe how a whole day was lost when the German party realised they’d forgotten a code with which they could send a telegram of the terms to their HQ; papers had to cross the Front Line by car, taking an extra 36 hours.
He describes the sad scene when a German representative took the terms back to his government with ‘a bottle of beer in each pocket and crying his eyes out’ and says, when he telephoned Buckingham Palace to inform George V of the proceedings, ‘the line was dreadful and I must have been cut off about 30 times’.
Marriott’s accounts of those fateful days, together with letters and the blotting paper on which the agreement was signed, will be sold on December 12 at Christie’s, SW1 (£10,000–£15,000).
The Armistice delegates in the Forest of Compiègne, including Capt Jack Marriott RN (far right)