Heidi Costello

Lest we forget

They shall grow not 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 will remember them.

On November 10, 1918, thousands of Australians, men of the First and Fourth Divisions, First Australian Imperial Force, were plodding wearily along the roads near Le Cateau, France.

They were to relieve the British 32nd and 66th Divisions in the front line.

Two months previously, these same Australians had fought their way across the Somme in some of the most fierce battles of the war.

They did not, however, go into action again.

At 11.00 am on 11 November 1918 the guns fell silent as hostilities ceased on the Western Front, ending four years of death and destruction.

Earlier that day, at 5.00 am, the Germans signed an armistice in a railway carriage at Compiègne. In the following year the Treaty of Versailles made the cease-fire permanent.

People celebrated across the world. Others reflected with great sadness the extraordinary losses and suffering from many nations.

More than 60,000 Australians had been killed. More than 45,000 died on the Western Front in France and Belgium and over 8,000 on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey. Over 416,000 Australians volunteered for service in World War I, of which 324,000 served overseas.

In Australia and in those countries with whom Australia was allied between 1914 and 1918, November 11 subsequently became known as Armistice Day. It was a day on which to remember those who died in the Great War.

After the end of World War II, the Australian and British governments changed the name to Remembrance Day. Armistice Day was no longer an appropriate title for a day which would commemorate all war dead.

In October 1997, the Governor-General issued a proclamation declaring November 11 as Remembrance Day and urging Australians to observe one minute's silence at 11.00 am on Remembrance Day each year to remember the sacrifice of those who died or otherwise suffered in Australia's cause in wars and war-like conflicts.

The proclamation reinforced the importance the Government places on Remembrance Day and encouraged all Australians to renew their observation of the event.

Today Australians will pause to remember men and women who have died in all wars, conflicts and peace operations. Wear a poppy in support.

Observation of silence at 11 am

As a mark of respect to those who have died and suffered, Australians are encouraged to pause at 11 am to observe one minute's silence and reflect on the loss and suffering caused by war.

The idea of one minute's silence was first suggested in a letter published in the London Evening News of 8 May 1919 by Edward George Honey, an Australian journalist working in London, who proposed "five silent minutes of
national remembrance" as a tribute to the war dead.

King George V tested the practicality of five minutes' silence, and issued a proclamation on 7 November 1919
which called for two minutes' silence.

At 11 am on 11 November 1919, Australians paused for the first time in silent tribute to the members of the 1st Australian Imperial Force (AIAI F) who had died in the First World War. In 1997, the Governor-General issued
a proclamation urging all Australians to observe the one minute silence on Remembrance Day.


Traditionally poppies are worn on Remembrance Day. The tradition has its origins in a poem written in 1915 by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae, who was inspired by the thousands of red poppies that grew across the battlefields of the Western Front.

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.

VOTE NOW: Put forward your public memorial suggestion

Premium Content VOTE NOW: Put forward your public memorial suggestion

Should the women of Bundaberg be immortalised with public memorials? If so, who?...

Replay: Final day of U16 cricket champs - Flares vs Embers

Premium Content Replay: Final day of U16 cricket champs - Flares vs Embers

Queensland’s best under 16 cricketers finish with a thriller

Why Sea Shepherd is relaunching Hervey Bay chapter

Premium Content Why Sea Shepherd is relaunching Hervey Bay chapter

Sea Shepherd is hosting a special event in Queensland’s whale capital. Here’s how...