Guns finally fall silent
Hindenberg, the German dictator Generals, resigned and the Kaiser fled to neutral Holland.
An armistice was arranged, but it would not be on the generous terms previously offered by Woodrow Wilson.
Without any choice, a German civilian government agreed.
At eleven o’clock on the morning of November 11, 1918, the guns fell silent.
The Great War was over after four years and four months of slaughter.
An armistice, not a peace, had been agreed between the warring parties.
The peace treaty would come later.
The armistice had been signed at 5 am that morning, but the French commander-in-chief Ferdinand Foch had refused to agree to an immediate ceasefire.
He preferred the symbolism of ‘‘eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month’’.
About 11 000 men became casualties in those six hours.
An American, Henry Gunther, was the last soldier killed in the Great War.
He was killed one minute before the armistice came into effect.
He was a member of the 313th US Infantry Regiment.
Although his commander knew an armistice was due to go into effect that morning, he ordered the Regiment into action to capture the village of Chaumontdevant-Damviller.
As Gunther approached a German roadblock comprising two machine guns, the Germans, aware of the impending armistice, waved him away.
Gunther kept coming and fired off a couple of shots.
A German machine gun fired and killed him instantly.
By November 11, all Australian infantry were out of the front lines.
The battles of the Hundred Days Offensive and the breaching of the strongly fortified Hindenberg Line had taken a dire toll on them.
The 60 Australian battalions were down to 152 to 200 men each.
The full strength of a battalion was 1000 soldiers.
Their last battle had been on October 5.
That day seven Australian battalions had attacked the village of Montbrehain and successfully breached the final Beaurevoir trench of the Hindenberg Line.
A small part of an Australian tunnelling company took part in the later battle of Landrecies on November 4.
Their only task was to build a bridge over a lock to widen the attack frontage for British and New Zealand troops.
In the Middle East, the final Australian involvement had been the capture of Damascus on October 1, 1918.
There the Australian Desert Mounted Corps, armed with sabres and acting as cavalry, had forced their way into the city against German and Ottoman resistance.
Three-hundred-andeighteen-thousand Australians served their country.
However, official Australian casualties are an underestimation.
According to these, 62 000 Australians died in the Great War and there were 155 000 woundings.
These figures take no account of crippling posttraumatic stress injuries suffered by an estimated one in five soldiers.
Uniquely, Australia also excluded war-related injury or illness from its casualty figures.
Deaths from gassing and wounds also continued to occur for years afterward.
However, they were not counted as war-related deaths if they occurred after Anzac Day 1922.
Considerably more than 1000 men in Benalla and district volunteered for military service.
This was almost every medically fit man of eligible age.
Two-hundred-and-four of these men died on active service.
The Great War changed Australia.
It certainly robbed Australia of a generation.
— John Barry, ANZAC Commemorative Working Party, Coo-ee — Honouring
our WWIheroes it made us a
The Benalla Cenotaph.