At 11 am on 11 November 1918, the guns on the Western Front fell silent after more than four years of continuous warfare. In November, the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender.
The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month has attained a special significance in the post-war years and became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.
The Unknown Soldier
On the second anniversary of the Armistice on 11 November 1920, the commemoration was given added significance when it became a funeral, with the return of the remains of an unknown soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front.
Unknown soldiers were interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triumph in Paris. The entombment in London attracted over one million people within a week to pay their respects at the unknown soldier’s tomb. Most other allied nations adopted the tradition of entombing unknown soldiers over the following decade.
In Australia on the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993, Remembrance Day ceremonies again became the focus of national attention. The remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a First World War military cemetery in France, were ceremonially entombed in the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Memory.
Remembrance Day ceremonies were conducted simultaneously in towns and cities all over the country, culminating at the moment of burial at 11.00am and coinciding with the traditional two minutes’ silence.
Today at 11.00am, I encourage everyone to pause and reflect on the meaning of the day and remember all of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
To all of our Knox LAC families that have served and to those that continue to serve, we thank you for your service.
We will remember them. Lest we forget.