Today, November 11, is Remembrance Day.
Today also marks the 101st anniversary of the signing of the Armistice to end the Great War, and the 100th anniversary of the first Armistice Day service which was held at the (then) new Cenotaph in London.
It is also 100 years since the last troop ship returned to Fremantle. While that was a happy occasion for many families the moment was bittersweet: thousands of families across Western Australia mourned the death of loved ones who would never return home.
Over a third of Western Australian men between 18 and 41 served in this conflict. 50 per cent of those were either killed or wounded. The deaths of 6000 young Western Australians literally decimated a generation.
Official estimates are that about 1,000 Indigenous Australians – out of an estimated population of 93,000 in 1901 – fought in the First World War, though the real number is probably higher.
It’s also often overlooked that 2,139 Australian nurses served overseas with the Australian Army Nursing Service and Britain’s Imperial Military Nursing Service, and 29 Australian nurses died from disease or injuries either on active service or from injuries or illness sustained during their service.
Over the decades, the day has had a number of names, and in Australia November 11 has for some decades been known as Remembrance Day.
Each year on this day Australians observe one minute’s silence at 11am, in memory of those who died or suffered in all wars and armed conflicts.
Across the globe, ceremonies will honour the memory of men and women who sacrificed their lives in the service of their countries.
A video will be screened at 11am, November 11 2019, at Yagan Square, the Northbridge superscreen, the Perth Cultural Centre and made available to schools across WA.
Services will be held at war memorials and schools across WA, at which the ‘Last Post’ will be played and the minute’s silence observed.
As stated by Veterans Issues Minister Peter Tinley:
“From an Australian population of fewer than 5 million, 416,809 men enlisted for the Great War, including 32,231 Western Australians.
“In total, more than 60,000 Australians were killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner, making the Great War the most devastating conflict for Australia in terms of deaths and casualties.
“In the 105 years since the outbreak of The Great War, there remains an enduring significance of their sacrifice in the hearts and minds of Australians.
“This spirit carried Australians through the Second World War, the Malayan Emergency, the Korean War, Borneo, Vietnam and more recently, Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Today, Australia’s servicemen and women are among the best in the world.
“They are highly trained, experienced professionals who have committed to serving something bigger than themselves.
“Each Remembrance Day we honour those service men and women who have defended our values and freedoms, in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.
“We also should remember those Australian service men and women who have lost their lives in training incidents – the price, it can be said, for maintaining the highest of standards.
“We acknowledge all current and former members of our defence forces – the men and women who serve our country on a daily basis.”