World War I Armistice Photo

Today’s observance of the World War I Armistice centenary makes me think of my paternal great-uncle, John Loe.

Uncle John served on transport troop ships during World War I. On November 11, 1918, he was serving on the USS Louisville. At the moment the Armistice was signed, he took the photograph (featured above) from the mainmast of the USS Louisville. His caption on the back of the photo reads “Laying in at Brest[,] Signing of the Peace Treaty.”

World War I Armistice

351st Field Artillery troops on the deck of the Louisville, 17 Feb 1919 (courtesy NARA)

Originally the private passenger liner St. Louis, the ship was delivered to New York to be operated by the Navy as a troop transport. She was renamed USS Louisville (SP-1644), as a cruiser named St. Louis was already in service in the Navy. Louisville was commissioned on 24 April 1918. Her maiden voyage as a troop ship began 12 October, bound for England. From her return on 7 January 1919 to 19 August, USS Louisville made six voyages from New York to Liverpool or to Brest, France, to return American soldiers home from the Great War.

Thanks, Uncle John, for your photo of the World War I Armistice at “the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.”

About the Author:

Nancy Loe has an MA in American History and an MLS in Library Science and Archives. She has appeared on PBS’s American Experience, at Rootstech, SCGS Jamboree, and state and regional genealogy conferences. Her website was featured in Family Tree Magazine's “Social Media Mavericks: 40 to Follow.”


  1. Jane 8 December 2018 at 9:01 AM - Reply

    What a great photo- I also have a great uncle that served in WWI. I have two photos of him in uniform, one from Macon, GA where he trained and one of him and 2 other men that was taken in France.

    • Nancy Loe 8 December 2018 at 11:46 AM - Reply

      How wonderful that you have those photos. I have nothing of this particular uncle, so I wish he’d done the 1918 equivalent of a selfie!

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