Men from the 4th Battalion, AIF, walking across ‘duck boards’ at Chateau Wood, Ypres, France, in 1917. Over 40,000 Australian soldiers were killed on the Western Front in France and Belgium during World War I.
Men from the 4th Battalion, AIF, walking across ‘duck boards’ at Chateau Wood, Ypres, France, in 1917. Over 40,000 Australian soldiers were killed on the Western Front in France and Belgium during World War I. Contributed

Remembrance Day a day to reflect on The Great War

REMEMBRANCE Day celebrates the end of what was called The Great War, in 1918 after four years of heavy fighting throughout Europe and many other parts of the world.

Knowing what we know now, it is hard to believe Australians greeted the outbreak of war with considerable enthusiasm at the time.

Even before Britain declared war on Germany on 4 August 1914, the nation pledged its support alongside other states of the British Empire and almost immediately began preparations to send forces overseas to participate in the conflict.

Men from throughout the country, particularly from rural areas, flocked to recruiting stations almost immediately and most said it was because they didn't want to miss any of the action. It was commonly believed the war would be over in months, not years.

Women too volunteered, particularly as nurses, and they too were soon on their way overseas to support the men.

The first campaign Australians were involved in was in German New Guinea after a hastily raised force known as the Australian Naval and Military Expeditionary Force was dispatched from Australia to seize German possessions in the Pacific in September 1914.

At the same time another expeditionary force, initially consisting of 20,000 men and known as the First Australian Imperial Force (AIF), was raised for service overseas.

The AIF departed Australia in November 1914 and, after several delays due to the presence of German naval vessels in the Indian Ocean, arrived in Egypt, where they were initially used to defend the Suez Canal.

In early 1915, however, it was decided to carry out an amphibious landing on the Gallipoli peninsula with the goal of opening up a second front and securing the passage of the Dardanelles.

The Australians and New Zealanders, grouped together as the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC), went ashore on 25 April 1915 and for the next eight months the Anzacs, alongside their British, French and other allies, fought a costly and ultimately unsuccessful campaign against the Turks.

The force was evacuated from the peninsula in December 1915 and returned to Egypt.

In early 1916 it was decided that the infantry divisions would be sent to France, where they took part in many of the major battles fought on the Western Front.

Most but not all of the light horse units remained in the Middle East until the end of the war, carrying out further operations against the Turks in Egypt and Palestine.

Small numbers of Australians served in other theatres of war.

While the main focus of the Australian military's effort was the ground war, air and naval forces were also committed.

Squadrons of the Australian Flying Corps served in the Middle East and on the Western Front, while elements of the Royal Australian Navy carried out operations in the Atlantic, North Sea, Adriatic and Black Sea, as well as the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

By the end of the war, Australians were far more circumspect.

The nation's involvement cost more than 60,000 Australians their lives and many more were left unable to work as a result of injuries.

The impact of the war was felt in many other areas also.

Financially it was very costly, while the effect on the social and political landscape was considerable and threatened to cause serious divides in the nation's social fabric.

Conscription was possibly the most contentious issue and ultimately, despite having conscription for home service, Australia was one of only two combatants not to use conscripts in the fighting.

Nevertheless, for many Australians the nation's involvement in World War I and the Gallipoli campaign was seen as a symbol of its emergence as an international actor, while many of the notions of the Australian character and nationhood which exist today have their origins in the war and Anzac Day is celebrated as a national holiday.

A service to commemorate the end of The Great War, which has been recognised as World War I since World War II, will be held at the Warwick Cenotaph next Monday, November 11, starting at 10.40am with wreaths to be laid at 11am to coincide with the end of the war at 11am on 11.11.1918.

Guest speaker at the service will be Scots-PGC principal Michael Harding who travelled to Europe and the Western Front earlier this year with members of the College Pipes and Drums and members of the College choir where they took part in several memorial services ending on ANZAC Day at the Villers-Bretonneux War Memorial in France.

Don't miss Saturday's Daily News with special coverage of Remembrance Day.


What: Remembrance Day

When: Monday, November 11 at 10.40am

Where: Warwick Cenotaph

Two men left with ‘serious’ injuries in alleged stabbing

Premium Content Two men left with ‘serious’ injuries in alleged stabbing

Stanthorpe police have declared two crime scenes and taken a man into custody.

Red tape blamed for ‘rapid’ SES member decline

Premium Content Red tape blamed for ‘rapid’ SES member decline

The ranks of Queensland’s SES volunteers is the thinnest in recent history, with...

Man fronts court over two-year string of burglary, DV

Premium Content Man fronts court over two-year string of burglary, DV

The man claimed he was going to use the stolen goods worth more than $5K to fuel...