From the summer of 1918, the five divisions of the Australian Corps had been at the forefront of the allied advance to victory. From their success at the battle of Hamel in July 1918, they helped to turn the tide of the war at Amiens in August 1918, followed by the capture of Mont St Quentin and Pèronne, and the breaching of German defences at the Hindenburg Line in September 1918.
With their armies retreating and close to collapse, German leaders requested an Armistice, as this was seen as the fastest way to bring the misery and carnage to an end. The Germans agreed to pull their troops out of France, Belgium and Luxembourg within 15 days, or risk becoming prisoners of the Allies. The Allies insisted that the German Army turn over their arsenal, including 5,000 artillery pieces, 25,000 machine guns and 1,700 airplanes, to ensure that they were not strong enough to start up the war again anytime soon. In the early hours of the morning of 11 November 1918, the Armistice was signed, agreeing that at 1100h on 11 November 1918, the guns of the Western Front would fall silent after four years of continuous warfare. It is no surprise that 11 November – the day the carnage stopped – became a date of enduring significance. Armistice Day, as it was known, became the day to commemorate the sacrifice of the war.
A common misconception is that this is the day that World War I ended; however, the peace treaty that officially ended the war was not signed until 28 June 1919. The Treaty of Versailles codified the peace terms between the victorious Allies and Germany. The Treaty of Versailles held Germany responsible for starting the war and imposed harsh penalties in terms of loss of territory, massive reparations payments and demilitarisation.
Through World War I Australians had achieved a fighting reputation out of proportion to their numbers, but victory had come at a heavy cost. More than 60,000 Australians were killed, including 45,000 who died on the Western Front in France and Belgium and more than 8,000 who died on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.
On the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month, a minute's silence is observed and dedicated to those soldiers who died fighting to protect our nation. At the end of World War II, the United Kingdom proposed renaming Armistice Day to Remembrance Day to remember those who were killed in both World War I and World War II. Now, we remember the loss of Australian lives from all wars and conflicts.
Since World War I, we have been called on to serve in wars, conflicts, peacekeeping and humanitarian operations at home and around the world. According the the Australian War Memorial, 102,949 Australians have died serving their nation, while many more have answered the call. Remembrance Day is a time for Australians to unite in solemn respect and remembrance for all those who have served and died.
This Remembrance Day, RSL is asking all Australians to, 'Remember to Remember' – to commit to pausing for just one minute to remember those who gave their lives in service to their country, those who returned home injured or ill, and those who bravely serve our country today.
Each year the RSL runs the Poppy Appeal - Your donation allows the RSL to tailor specialist services to the needs of our current and former service men and women, and their families.
There are many ways you can honour our veterans on Remembrance Day. With Australia starting to open up, you may be able to attend a service at work, at your local cenotaph or at one of the RSL Sub-Branches around Australia. You may simply choose to spend a quiet moment in remembrance at home, or donate to help a veteran in need. Regardless of what you choose to do, it would be a nice gesture to make contact with an old mate who you know has served.
You do not have to be limited to Remembrance Day to make an effort to remember the fallen. Each day the story of one of the fallen servicemen or women listed on the Roll of Honour is told at the Last Post Ceremony. Tickets to attend the Last Post Ceremony at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) in Canberra can be found via the following link www.awm.gov.au/visit. Alternatively it is broadcast live via webcam on the AWM's YouTube channel and Facebook page. This year, our very own SO3 - Captain Jody Nicoll was fortunate enough to participate and share the story of Flight Sergeant Gordon Maxwell Crouch. Her reflection of the event can be found here. If you are a Defence member and interested in participating in this deeply significant and meaningful activity, you can contact the WO COORD - AHQ at firstname.lastname@example.org. Further information can be found on the DPN at this link.
The Cove Team would like to thank the men, women and their families that serve in the Australian Defence Force. We are proud to support you and are grateful for your service. Why not reach out to a veteran this Remembrance Day and thank them for their service.