LESSONS OF WAR

100 YEARS SINCE THE GUNS FELL SILENT IN THE GLOBAL CON­FLICT THAT SHAPED OUR NA­TION

Herald Sun - - SATURDAY - PAUL WIL­LIAMS

AUS­TRALIANS don’t have to wan­der too far from their homes to wit­ness the en­dur­ing legacy of their fore­bears’ sac­ri­fices in Eu­rope, Africa and the Mid­dle East dur­ing the Great War of 1914-18.

The fact we see the names of far-flung bat­tle­fields in the streets and parks of vir­tu­ally ev­ery Aus­tralian city and town is tes­ta­ment to how Aus­tralians have long since rec­on­ciled grief with pride while al­ways re­mem­ber­ing the ter­ri­ble lessons of war.

Where mon­u­ments stand tall and the dead are quiet, those names were then — and are still — spo­ken in the hushed and griev­ing tones only a young and naive na­tion could know. That en­durance of name and com­mem­o­ra­tion prob­a­bly says more about the hor­ror, courage and sac­ri­fices young men and women made dur­ing World War I than a dozen dusty text­books.

Pass­chen­daele, Ypres, Fromelles, The Somme, Pozieres, Villers-Bre­ton­neux, Pales­tine, Egypt and, of course, Gal­lipoli (An­zac Cove, Lone Pine and The Nek) have be­come, over the past 100 years, hal­lowed names and places. To bor­row poet Ru­pert Brooke’s im­mor­tal lines, they are also “some cor­ner of a for­eign field that is for­ever Aus­tralia”.

To­mor­row marks ex­actly 100 years since the guns fell silent in Eu­rope af­ter more than four years of bloody con­flict that claimed 17 mil­lion lives (in­clud­ing 7 mil­lion civil­ians) and brought down four em­pires: the Ot­toman, Haps­burg, Ro­manov and Aus­tri­aHun­gar­ian.

While the war didn’t of­fi­cially end un­til the sign­ing of the Treaty of Ver­sailles on June 28, 1919, the Ar­mistice at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month has since stood as a steely re­minder of man’s in­hu­man­ity to man.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.