“We will remember them.”
Whatever you’re doing this Sunday, the 11th day of the 11th month, make sure you pause at the 11th hour and give thanks to all those who sacrificed their todays for our tomorrows.
This year marks the centenary of the Armistice that ended the First World War. On November 11, 1918, terms were signed in the French town of Compiègne, marking the formal end to the Great War which had been raging for more than four years.
It’s a bittersweet anniversary as we celebrate the peace of November 2018, but reflect on the enormous price paid for that peace. While you’re taking time to remember our fallen diggers and the incredible sacrifice they made for us, here are seven things to reflect on about Australia’s involvement in World War 1…
1. In 1914, when Australia’s then-Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, pledged support to British forces, the Australian population was just 4.9 million people.
2. From this population of fewer than five million, around 420,000 Australians enlisted for service. According to the Australian War Memorial, this represented 38.7 per cent of the male population aged between 18 and 44.
3. At the end of the war, more than 60,000 of these people had been killed and 156,000 wounded, gassed, or taken prisoner.
4. More than 8,700 Australians and 2,779 New Zealanders were killed in Gallipoli, while 19,000 Australians and 5,000 New Zealanders were wounded.
5. It’s estimated that more than eight million animals were killed during the Great War.
6. Waler horses were used during the war and sent from all parts of Australia. They would usually drink 30 litres per day, but during the war would often go more than three days without drinking.
7. The significance of the red poppy comes from the 1915 poem, “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae. The secretary of the American YMCA thought it was so moving that she decided to wear a red poppy in commemoration, which has since become a tradition.
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.