Greg Warren MP, Shadow Minister for Veterans and State Member for Campbelltown reflects on the significance of Remembrance Day tomorrow.
In August, 1914, the German Imperial Army and the Belgian Army clashed in what would become to be known as the Battle and Siege of Liege.
The battle between the two European nations would ultimately be the catalyst for a conflict that would claim the lives of tens of thousands of Australians – and wound many, many more.
The Battle and Siege of Liege was the first of many bloody and catastrophic battles fought on the Western Front during WWI.
It wasn’t until 1916 that the Australian Imperial Force joined the fighting on the Western Front after transferring from Egypt.
The statistics regarding the number of casualties and wounded are simply horrifying. Of the 295,000 Australians who served on the Western Front, around 46,000 were killed and more than another 100,000 wounded.
Essentially, one in every two Australians that served on the Western front were killed or wounded.
Given the scale of the fighting one can only imagine how eery it was when on the 11th hour of the 11th of November, 1918, after four years of constant gun fire, silence reigned throughout the Western Front.
The Germans, after being driven back by the Allied Forces, had accepted the terms for an unconditional surrender.
104 years on, the significance of the events on that day have certainly not been lost on our nation.
Tomorrow, on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, we will again pause for a minute’s silence to remember those brave men and women who paid the ultimate sacrifice whilst serving our nation.
Whilst Remembrance Day is largely regarded as an occasion to remember those who died in WWI, it also provides an opportunity for our nation to come together and acknowledge the sacrifices made by all those brave men and women who have served in the Australian Defence Forces.
During WWI, about 62,000 Australians in total were killed whilst about another 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.
During WWII, almost 40,000 Australians died whilst serving our nation, more than 66,000 were wounded and more than 30,000 were taken prisoner.
Of course there have been a number of other wars and conflicts that have claimed the lives of ADF personnel as well.
In total, since 1885, more than 103,000 Australians have died serving our nation. To put that in perspective that is more than two capacity crowds at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
Remembrance Day also provides an opportunity for us to acknowledge those ADF personnel who have been wounded – both physically and mentally – as well as the countless family and friends who have lost loved ones.
We will remember them.
Lest we forget.
Photo below: Greg Warren with war widows during the inaugural War Widows Day in October