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Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day Service

The City is privileged to partner with the Nedlands RSL in hosting a Remembrance Day Service.

Read Doug Arrowsmith's speech from the Remembrance Day service 2015


Our Special Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen

World War 1ended with the signing of the Armistice at 11.00 a.m. on the 11th November 1919.

Each year after that, the 11th November was called Armistice Day to remember the soldiers who had been killed during World War 1. Because of the name, I believe it was recognised more as a Celebration of the signing of the Armistice. In May, 1919 a Melbourne Journalist suggested a period of silence be observed and King George V issued a proclamation that all locomotion should cease so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone be concentrated in reverent remembrance of the glorious dead.  Our Governor General at the time proclaimed the Day as Remembrance Day.

In World War 1 416,000 Australians volunteered with 60,000 losing their lives . Almost 1million Austral ian men and women served in World War II with 27,000 being killed and 30,000 Prisoners. So, on this Day we remember those of World War 1 and, because it is more of our time we especially remember World War II. Those who were Seamen in the battle of the Atlantic and the conveys through the freezing waters of the Baltic Sea to Russia, where life ceased after 7 minutes in the water. Also in the desert of North Africa, the jungle of Malaysia and the cruel prison camps along the Burma Railway and the death march in Borneo. In Korea with its mountains and extreme cold,in Vietnam and its Vietcong tunnels and the barren Mountains of Afghanistan and the deserts of the Middle East.

I served on Bomber Command where the survival rate in the early years was very,very low. It improved a lot by 1944. None of us would have changed places with those who served in those other areas - we had some benefits.
We had bacon and real eggs before a bombing raid and an offer of a tot of rum at debriefing upon return. After one harrying operation Ihad my tot plus the tots of the two gunners.  Another benefit -  we retired to bed with clean sheets.
Over 100,000 Austral ian Seamen, soldiers and airmen from the two World Wars remain where they died on every continent and in every ocean.

Their names are on the Memorial in Canberra.  Some are also on the Memorial at Runnymede,England,where there are over 20,000 names of airmen who have no known graves. They gained for us the friendship of peace loving people around the world.
Each of the fallen had a family and friends whose lives were enriched by their love and diminished by their loss.  It is has been said, time heals all wounds. The wounds remain. In time the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.

In 1918.Lt. Col. Mccrae, a Canadian,who was seriously wounded and who later died of further wounds, wrote a poem. "In Flanders Fields the poppies blow, Between the crosses row on row...."
These poppies bloomed across some of the worst battlefields of Flanders in World War 1;their brilliant red colour became a symbol for the blood spilled in the war.
Madame Guerin,the French Secretary of the YMCA ,conceived the idea of selling silk poppies to help the needy, This practice began in England in 1921 with the RSL doing the same, so why wear a poppy - just three versus of a poem tells us why,

"Please wear a poppy, " the lady said
And held one forth, but I shook my head.
Then I stopped and watched as she offered them there
And her face was old and lined with care,
But beneath the scars the years had made
There remained a smile that refused to fade.
A  boy came whistling down the street,
Bouncing along on carefree feet
His smile was full of joy and fun
"Lady," he said."May I have one?"
When she pinned it on he turned to say, "Why do we wear a poppy today?
The lady smiled in her wistful way
And answered, "This is Remembrance Day.
And a poppy there, is a symbol for
The gallant men who died in war,
And because they did, you and I are free
That's why we wear a poppy see"

The poppy symbolises both the great loss in war and the hope for those left behind.

I was fortunate to attend the Dedication of the Bomber Command Memorial in London in 2012. At the end of the Ceremony a Lancaster bomber was flown over the gathering and thousands of paper poppies were released. The veterans from Australia, England, New Zealand,Canada and other Countries found this to be a very emotional experience.

For the past two years, volunteer crochet enthusiasts have been creating poppies for the 5,000 Poppy Project  -  a community tribute of respect and remembrance to honour Australia's servicemen and women who fought in all wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations.

At the time the project started, the target of 5,000 seemed like a big feat to conquer, yet with unexpected popularity that has reached all corners of Australia as well as knitters overseas, the poppy count has reached over 250,000.
This is testament to the deep commitment ordinary Australians have to acknowledge and respect the ANZAC tradition.

The RSL sells poppies today with the proceeds being used for the welfare of all ex-service people and families.

The Department of Veteran Affairs says 1,713 veterans of recent conflicts are sufferingfrom Post-traumatic stress disorder and of those 955 are veterans of either the Afghanistan or Iraq conflicts. We as a community must do what we can to help our returning servicemen and women as they readjust to civilian life. There are two monuments common to the Cemeteries -  one has a large cross of Sacrifice bearing a bronze sword and in larger Cemeteries there is a Stone of Remembrance upon which is carved, "Their Name Liveth For Evermore" The Headstones are uniform and there is no distinction made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.

The Australian War Graves Commission maintains 21,325 graves and 4,101 Commemoratives on Memorials to the missing men and women who gave their lives in the two World Wars. Equal commemoration is provided for those whose post war deaths have been accepted as due to war service. This number at present stands at 192,500.

 On this Remembrance Day,it is our privilege and our duty to ensure that the ultimate sacrifice made by those many Australians in defence of our Country continues to be remembered and honoured.

 Lest we forget.