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Remembrance Day

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Remembering the Fallen on the 11th Hour of the 11th Day of the 11th Month
Remembrance Day at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

Remembrance Day at the Australian War Memorial, Canberra

© Australian Capital Tourism

At 11 o'clock in the morning of November 11, 1918, the guns of World War I fell silent and hositlities ceased.

The war which was centred mainly in Europe and parts of Asia began in July 1914 after the assassination a month earlier of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria. The war started with the invasion of Serbia by Austro-Hungarian forces, followed by the invasion of Belgium, Luxembourg and France by Germany, and an attack on Germany by Russia.

The war escalated with more countries, including England and Australia, becoming involved in a war between two major global alliances: the Allies which included the United Kingdom, France and Russia; and the Central Powers which included Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy. The United States later entered the war as part of the Allies.

It took until November 11, 1918, for hostilities to cease. The official end to World War I came with the signing of the Versailles Treaty in 1919.

Australian involvement

Australia's involvement in World War I came as a result of Britain's participation in the global conflict. Australia and New Zealand sent troops to Europe as the Australian New Zealand Army Corps, the Anzacs.

The Anzac landing at Gallipoli in 1915 in the Dardanelles region of what is now Turkey is commemorated yearly in Australia on April 25 as Anzac Day, a public holiday.

Australian fatalities

More than 8700 diggers, as the Aussie Anzacs were known, and between 2400 and 2721 New Zealand soldiers were reported to have been killed in World War I.

The Australian soldiers who died, and those who later lost their lives in other conflicts, are remembered and honored on Australia's Remembrance Day on November 11 each year with ceremonies and parades at various war memorials in the country.

The day was dedicated in November 1919 by King George V of England as a day of remembrance for members of the armed forces killed during World War I.

Australia's Remembrance Day

While Australia had already been observing Remembrance Day, also known as Armistice Day, it was only officially proclaimed in November 1997 by then Governor General Sir William Deane who urged all Australians to observe each year one minute's silence at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month to remember those who had died or suffered for Australia's cause in all wars and armed conflicts.

Unlike the better-known Anzac Day, Remembrance Day has not been declared a public holiday.

Canberra commemoration

At the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, focal point of national Remembrance Day commemorations, a formal wreathlaying by Australian dignitaries and foreign diplomats takes place in the morning, together with a military parade. Military personnel from the three services stand guard at the Tomb of the Unknownn Soldier.

Standing room attendance is available for the public who are nonetheless allowed to bring chairs or rugs.

Members of the public may lay a single red poppy, which has become a Remembrance Day symbol, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The poem In Flanders Field by Canadian poet John McCrae, who joined a World War I fighting unit as gunner and medical officer, speaks of the fields of the fallen where the "poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row..."

Getting to Canberra

Canberra is just over 290 kilometres by road from Sydney and should take between three and four hours to travel.

Take the Hume Highway from Sydney and exit into the Federal Highway after the city of Goulburn. The Federal Highway should take you straight into the city through Northbourne Ave.

Road travel from Melbourne to Canberra is a much longer trip and may take the better part of a day.

If flying, check out available flights from Sydney or Melbourne and from other areas of Australia.

If planning on rail travel, Countrylink trains have a direct service between Sydney and Canberra. There is no direct train service from Melbourne to Canberra.

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