Remembrance Day At The Eleventh Hour Of The Eleventh Day Of The Eleventh Month
November 11th 2012 05:49
The ‘War to end all wars’ began in 1914 and raged for four bloody years, costing the lives of almost 10 million men, including sixty thousand Australian soldiers. The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps first saw combat on the 25th of April 1915 when they stormed the beaches of what became known as Anzac Cove.
My Great grandfather Bill enlisted as a Corporal in the Australian Imperial Forces on 12 Dec 1914, having served in South Africa as a Private with the Australian Commonwealth Horse during the Boer War of 1899-1902. He was in the second wave of troops onto Anzac Cove.
After eight months of grueling fighting at Gallipoli the fruitless campaign was called off. Thousands of Australian, New Zealander, British and French troops were killed, along with thousands of Turks who were after all resisting invasion. The withdrawal was carried off over three nights without the loss of a single man.
The surviving Anzacs were then shipped to the Western Front where they distinguished themselves as crack troops at Bullecourt, Villers-Bretonneux, Le Hamel and ‘the bloodiest battle of the bloodiest war’, Passchendaele. These battles each cost more Australian lives than the eight thousand killed during the entire Gallipoli campaign.
Bill was discharged in February 1919, and was told he had just months to live due to the effects of mustard gas and being buried alive on the battlefield. He lived for another 46 years and had six children! It is profound to think of the people who might have been, had all those fallen diggers survived.
The eleventh of November was known as Armistice Day until the end of WWII when the name was changed to Remembrance Day, commemorating the fallen of all wars. It is for men like these, which never returned to raise a family that we will continue to mark Remembrance Day with a minute of silence.
They shall not grow old,
As we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them,
Nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun,
And in the morning,
We shall remember them.
Lest We Forget
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