James Alexander, Jr. (Class of 1917) is one of the first Americans to hear of the signing of the Armistice.
“Hostilities will cease on the entire front on November 11th at 11:00 am. French time” (Marshal Foch)
The Armistice details were worked on and signed by the German delegates at 5:00 a.m. James S. Alexander, Jr. (Class of 1917), a staff member of Marshal Foch’s headquarters and the American Mission, was wakened at 5:45 a.m. and spent the entire day and evening “translating for General Pershing the annexes to the armistice agreement.” Alexander wrote to his mother following the cessation of hostilities of WWI telling of the celebrations along with descriptions of his encounters with the great damage done by the war: “To see whole villages pounded to powder is appalling.” James first arrived in France with 13 other men from Williams and many others from American schools who had volunteered for ambulance service. He subsequently joined the A.E.F. and was a Headquarters secretary and a liaison officer. It was in this position that he became one of the first Americans to hear of the signing of the Armistice. His first hand account and observations (drawings, maps, conversations) of his enlistment, training and service in the War are among the collections of the Williams College Archives.