Armistice Day 1918

“We have shared the incommunicable experience of war, we have felt, we still feel, the passion of life to its top. In our youth our hearts were touched with fire.” Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

On 11 November 1918, three German government representatives accepted the Armistice terms presented to them by an allied commander, General Foch of the French Army.

The demands of the Armistice included the withdrawal of German forces to the east bank of the Rhine within 30 days; immediate cessation of warfare; and surrender of the German fleet and all heavy guns with no further negotiations until the signing of the peace treaty.

The armistice became effective at 11am the same day, and as the guns fell silent on the Western Front in France and Belgium, four years of hostilities ended.

World War I began in 1914 and lasted for four years.  57 705 Queenslanders enlisted for service.  More than 60 000 Australians were killed, including 45 000 who died on the Western Front in France and Belgium and more than 8 000 who died on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey.  As well as Australian soldiers, many nurses in the Australian Army Nursing Service served on the Western Front.  These nurses worked in overcrowded hospitals for up to 16 hours a day, looking after soldiers with shocking injuries and burns. Those who worked in hospitals close to the fighting were also in danger of being shelled by the enemy.

In Australia and other allied countries, including New Zealand, Canada and the United States, 11 November became known as Armistice Day - a day to remember those who died in World War I.  The day continues to be commemorated in Allied countries.

After World War II the Australian Government agreed to the United Kingdom's proposal that Armistice Day be renamed Remembrance Day to commemorate those who were killed in both World Wars.  Today the loss of Australian lives from all wars and conflicts is commemorated on Remembrance Day.

In October 1997 the then Governor-General issued a Proclamation declaring 11 November as Remembrance Day - a day to remember the sacrifice of those who have died for Australia in wars and conflicts.

Simon Farley - Librarian, State Library of Queensland

 

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