THE Great War claimed the lives of 61,512 Australians.
Remembrance Day, on November 11, serves to remind us of this shocking toll.
The “war to end all wars” began on July 28, 1914 and ended on November 11, 1918.
On November 11 millions of Australians, along with others from allied countries such as New Zealand and Britain, will wear a poppy as a mark of respect for those who fell In Flanders Fields, as well as on other battlefields.
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Some may also wear a sprig of rosemary, which was found growing wild on the Gallipoli peninsula.
While the guns fell silent on November 11 after the armistice was declared, it wasn’t until June, 1919 at the Paris Peace Conference that an accord was struck.
The Treaty of Versailles forced Germany to disarm, make substantial territorial concessions and pay reparations.
(Some would argue it was the onerous nature of these reparations that helped spark World War II, in 1939).
World War I claimed the lives of more than 16 million civilians and soldiers.
A skirmish in the German colony of New Guinea, Bitapaka, between Melanesian and German troops claimed the first Australian casualties. There, six soldiers died.
In 1915, the Anzac Cove campaign led to 26,000 Australian casualties, including 8000 killed in action or dying of wounds or disease.
The Battle of Fromelles in 1916 claimed 5533 Australian casualties in less than 24 hours. A further 76,836 Australian troops died on the Western Front in 1917, casualties from battles, such as Bullecourt (1 and 2), Messines, Menin Road, Broodseinde and the four-month campaign around Ypres, known as the battle of Passchendaele.
While peace was a relief, there was little to cheer.
Those who survived returned marked by their experiences, as recorded in subsequent novels, plays, annals and films. Lest we forget those who did not come home.
Remembrance Day, an annual tradition begun by King George V in 1919, is about reflecting on lives lost and consequences suffered.
It culminates with two minutes silence at 11am.
Buglers from the Defence Forces may be called upon to play The Last Post in strategic points, such as cenotaphs, in towns and cities, while others lay wreaths.
It gives us all an opportunity to stop and reflect and for a diminishing few to remember.
Lest We Forget.