Re­mem­brance Day Ser­vices

Mansfield Courier - - FRONT PAGE -

LAST Sat­ur­day, Novem­ber 11, peo­ple around Mans­field, Aus­tralia and the world paused for one minute to re­mem­ber the fallen of World War One, and all wars since.

Why Novem­ber 11 and why 11am on that day?

His­to­ri­ans de­scribe that time as ‘when the guns fell si­lent on the Western front’, sig­nalling the end of World War One.

The cease­fire went into ef­fect at 11am Paris time on Novem­ber 11, 1918 (‘the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’), and marked vic­tory for the Al­lies.

The doc­u­ment was signed in one of the car­riages of the pri­vate train of Mar­shall Fer­di­nand Foch, the Al­lied Supreme Com­man­der, on his pri­vate es­tate in Com­piègne For­est.

There the car­riage re­mained, a mon­u­ment to the de­feat of the Kaiser’s Ger­many, un­til June 22, 1940, when swastika-be­decked Ger­man staff cars bear­ing Adolf Hitler and other lead- ing Nazis, swept into the for­est and, in that same car­riage, de­manded and re­ceived the sur­ren­der from France.

Of course, the sign­ing of the ar­mistice did not mean that all fight­ing ceased, and there are many tragic sto­ries of sol­diers who died af­ter the war had of­fi­cially ended.

Many ar­tillery units con­tin­ued to fire on Ger­man tar­gets to avoid hav­ing to haul away their spare am­mu­ni­tion.

The Al­lies also wished to en­sure that, should fight­ing restart, they would be in the most favourable po­si­tion.

Con­se­quently, there were 10,944 ca­su­al­ties in­clud­ing 2738 deaths on the last day of the war.

Au­gustin Trébu­chon was the last French­man to die when he was shot on his way to tell fel­low sol­diers, who were at­tempt­ing an as­sault across the Meuse River, that hot soup would be served af­ter the cease­fire.

The fi­nal Cana­dian, and Com­mon­wealth, sol­dier to die, Pri­vate George Lawrence Price, was shot and killed by a sniper while part of a force ad­vanc­ing into the town of Ville-sur-Haine, just two min­utes be­fore the ar­mistice.

Fi­nally, Amer­i­can Henry Gun­ther is gen­er­ally recog­nised as the last sol­dier killed in ac­tion in World War I.

He was killed 60 sec­onds be­fore the ar­mistice came into force, while charg­ing as­ton­ished Ger­man troops who were aware the Ar­mistice was nearly upon them.

Though the war was over, men con­tin­ued to die in large num­bers as a re­sult of in­juries, in­clud­ing at least four from Mans­field.

Pri­vate W.P.H. Black of the Fourth Bat­tal­ion died of in­juries on De­cem­ber 4, 1918.

Sergeant John A. Cameron died in Fe­bru­ary, 1920 as did Sergeant S. Kennedy, both from wounds re­ceived in the war.

Also from Mans­field, Lieu­tenant John H. Pike died in April 1920 from his in­juries.

Apart from the sig­nif­i­cance of the 11am mo­ment of re­flec­tion, the other sym­bol of Re­mem­brance Day is the red poppy.

The story goes that in the spring of 1915, shortly af­ter los­ing a friend in Ypres, Cana­dian doc­tor Lieu­tenant Colonel John McCrae wrote a poem en­ti­tled ‘In Flan­ders Fields’.

The poem was in­spired by the sight of vivid red pop­pies grow­ing in the bat­tle-scarred French fields.

Af­ter the First World War, the poppy was adopted as a sym­bol of re­mem­brance.

Lest We For­get.

ST MARY’S RE­MEM­BERS: St Mary’s Pri­mary School con­gre­gated in the Mercy Cen­tre for prayers, the Ode of Re­mem­brance, the Last Post and a singing of the na­tional an­them dur­ing the school’s an­nual Re­mem­brance Day ser­vice last Fri­day.

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS: (From left) San­dra O’Brien, Tara Mur­ray (read­ing), Will Hot­ton and Char­lotte Ather­ton ad­dress the whole school.

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