Remembrance Day – Centenary of the First World War Armistice
November 11 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm
First World War Armistice
Centenary of the First World War Armistice
At 5am 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.
The cease-fire was made permanent the following year when members of the Commonwealth and the League of Nations signed the Treaty of Versailles. People across the world celebrated the war’s end – celebrations tempered by thoughts of the enormous suffering and loss of life resulting from the War.
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.
The Proclamation reinforced the importance of Remembrance Day and encouraged all Australians to renew their observance of the event.
Observation of silence at 11 am
As a mark of respect to those who have died and suffered, people in Australia are encouraged to stop what they are doing at 11 am to observe one minute’s silence and reflect on the loss and suffering caused by war.
The idea of observing a period of silence was first proposed by Melbourne journalist Edward George Honey, who proposed a period of silence for national remembrance in a letter published in the London Evening News on 8 May 1919.
The suggestion came to the attention of King George V. After testing the practicality of five minutes’ silence – a trial was held with five Grenadier Guardsmen standing to attention for the silence – the King issued a proclamation on 7 November 1919 which called for a two-minute silence. His proclamation requested that “all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead”.
At 11 am on 11 November 1919, Australians, for the first time, paused and stood in silent tribute to the men and women of the 1st Australian Imperial Force who had died on battlefields in Gallipoli, Europe and in the Middle East.
In 1997, the Governor-General issued a proclamation urging all Australians to observe the one minute silence on Remembrance Day. It is also still appropriate for two minutes’ silence to be observed.