Marking the final centenary year of the First World War, Tradition of London is proud to present
‘The Signing of the Armistice’.
Depicting the momentous event that took place in the Forest of Compiègne on the 11th November 1918, the set includes all six signatories of the famous armistice that ushered in a ceasefire at the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month.
A worthy climax to any collection of First World War figures, the set comes complete with printed scenic backdrop to place the participants in their historic context.
Originally built in 1914 as a dining car for Compagnie Internationale Des Wagons-Lits (operators of the prestigious Orient Express), carriage No. 2419D was withdrawn from service in August 1918 and converted into a mobile office for the Allied Commander-in-Chief, Marshall Foch. Used by him from October 1918 to September 1919, it was later donated to the Musée de l'Armée as a monument to the Allied victory.
Painstakingly sculpted by the English artist, Andrew Stadden, the set’s figures are derived from a contemporary French print depicting the two delegations. Though giving the appearance of a colorised photograph, the original image is thought to be painting attributed to the French artist and decorator, Maurice Pillard Verneuil. (A small signature ‘Pillard’ is visible in the bottom left corner). The names of participants are correctly printed in French along the border, but the artist has incorrectly shown bentwood Thonet-style chairs, confirming it was not taken from an actual photograph.
In reality, the office refit included the bolt-to-the-floor furniture, and metal-studded leather and wood chairs that can be seen, both in other period sources, and in the reconstructed carriage itself, that still forms the centrepiece of the museum in the Clairière de l'Armistice, (The Glade of the Armistice).
Having acted as the stage set to conclude one world war, the original ‘Compiègne Wagon’ would see service in a second, being deliberately selected for the signing of the armistice marking the French surrender in June 1940. Turning the tables on the former victors, Adolf Hitler pointedly took his place in the very seat once occupied by Marshall Foch. Having savoured this symbolic act, the German authorities removed the carriage to Germany and destroyed the museum site, leaving only a statue of Foch to gaze over a wasteland.
The original carriage was subsequently destroyed in 1945 by its SS guard unit, to prevent it falling into the hands of the advancing Allies. Fortunately, an identical carriage from the same batch was found, allowing the French to reconstruct Foch’s famous office in every detail. Carriage No. 2439, was officially renumbered as No. 2419D, then rededicated as a national monument at the original forest site on Remembrance Day, 1950.
Now collectors can also recreate this moment in history in miniature, with the four German and two Allied signatories, complete with their respective aides. When correctly arranged around Foch’s impressive meeting table the figures depict,
1). Captain Ernst Vanselow - Imperial German Navy
(The likely reason for Vanselow’s selection for the delegation was his expertise as a legal scholar, who collaborated with the Swiss university lecturer, Eduard Otto von Waldkirch on the ‘Handbook of International Law’, published by G.A. Waltz).
2). Count Alfred Graf von Oberndorff - German Foreign Ministry
(Oberndorff held a Doctorate in Law, and had been in the diplomatic service since 1900 as both embassy secretary and ambassor).
3). Major General Sigismund Detlof von Winterfeldt – Imperial German Army
(Military representative to the German Chancellor in Berlin since 1917. He would later resign in protest at the harsh treaty conditions being imposed, and retired from the army in 1919).
4). Captain Jack P. R. Marriott – Royal Navy
(Then an Acting Captain – Only confirmed as full Captain the following month. Marriott had been Naval Assistant to the First Sea Lord, Rosslyn Wemyss, since 1915).
5). Matthias Erzberger – German Secretary of State without portfolio
(Head of the German Delegation, Erzberger had been a prominent campaigner for a negotiated peace since 1917. He was assassinated in 1921 by German right wing ultra-nationalists who regarded him as a traitor).
6). Rear Admiral Sir George P. W. Hope – Royal Navy
(At one time the commander of the dreadnought HMS Queen Elizabeth, Hope was appointed Deputy First Sea Lord in 1918, and promoted to Vice-Admiral in 1920.)
7). Vice Admiral Sir Ross Wemyss – Royal Navy
(Then the First Sea Lord, and the British signatory of the armistice. Promoted full Admiral in February 1919, then Admiral of the Fleet in November 1919, has was also raised to the peerage as Baron Wester Wemyss).
8). Marshal Ferdinand J. M. Foch – French Army
(Marshal of France & Commander-in-Chief of Allied Forces, and the French signatory to the armistice. Dissatisfied with what he saw as the lenient terms of the Treaty of Versailles that followed, Foch prophetically declared: ‘This is not a peace. It is an armistice for twenty years’.)
9). General Maxime Weygand – French Army
(Foch’s Chief-of-Staff. It was Weygand who read out the terms of the armistice to the German delegation – Foch was present only briefly at the start of negotiations and for the actual signing. In 1940, in his role as Supreme Commander of French Forces, it would be Weygand who demanded that an armistice be sought with Germany).
Around 1964 Tradition began publishing a groundbreaking, prestigious magazine on military uniforms
which went under the title Tradition and following the success of the magazine
the model soldier range and their shop were similarly named.
Many leading military authors and artists, past and present, were at the time contributors to
Tradition magazine which ceased publication in 1974.
Fortunately, a number of past issues of this famous magazine are still available.
We are now reproducing the Tradition Magazine no longer in stock.
Each issue contains many articles on military uniforms and related subjects
fully illustrated in black and white and colour