Eerie Recording Captures Moment The Guns Fell Silent At The End Of WW1

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100 years ago today, on the eleventh hour, of the eleventh day, of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent as World War One ended.

The armistice brought to an end four years of crippling war which left 16 million people dead and Europe in tatters.

To mark the centenary of the armistice, the Imperial War Museum has released an audio recording which documents the moment the guns were put down and the fighting on land, sea and air ceased.

To find out why we wear the poppy, you can watch the video below:

Working with sound designers Coda to Coda to patch together various recordings from the museum’s collections, the audio exhibit demonstrates the stark contrast between war and peace illustrating the moment the guns fell silent on the American front near the River Moselle.

The eerie audio is only two minutes long with the first half being filled with artillery activity which goes quiet one minute in, replaced by birds chirping.

Equally emotional, poignant and chilling, the recording is very effective in helping us imagine what it was like for those who heard it in real life.

You can give it a listen here:

The recording is a part of the Imperial War Museum’s ‘Making A New World’ exhibition which commemorates the centenary of the armistice.

If you visit the museum in London, you will be able to listen to it through headphones at a display.

The unique piece, which has been titled End of War, was created through the use of a sound ranging unit which military forces used to work out where the enemy guns were located by committing sounds to photographic paper.

end of warCoda to Coda

In a blog post on Coda to Coda’s website, the team explain how they turned a record of sound pressure impulses into the audio piece.

They admit they had to learn a lot about the guns used in the war to create the interpretation saying:

How effective sound ranging was in locating enemy guns in World War 1 is not known, however, the document above does give us a great insight into how intense and chaotic the barrage of gunfire must have been to those fighting.

The missing section that has been edited out of the film in the middle of the image also begs the question ‘what would those 2 minutes have sounded like?’

In order to go about creating a reconstruction, we had do a bit of ‘forensic’ work, corroborating historical information about the type of artillery that would have been in use by the US, German and French armies at this point in the war, with what the visual information from the sound ranging film tells us about the size, distance and frequency of blasts and finally, interpreting the kind of reverberation you would have expected to hear by looking at landscape photographs from the front.

The team concluded they hope the result ‘enables visitors to experience something of the intense barrage of sound at the front in WW1 as if they themselves were the ‘sound ranging’ equipment, a symmetry which also hopefully helps project them into that moment in history’.

While I certainly think they succeeded, what do you think of the recording?

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