Vol 64

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Armistice Day.


A lot of these pics have been crunched to allow the page to open quicker,

click each to get the HD version.



They say the Melbourne Cup stops the nation – and so it does, but so now does ANZAC Day and Armistice Day. Over the years these two days have metamorphed from days commemorated by a few to “sacred” days revered by the Nation.


Sunday 11th November, 2018 marked the 100th anniversary of the Armistice which ended the First World war (1914 – 1918). 100 years ago, at 11.00am on the 11th November 1918, the guns of the “Western Front” fell silent after 4 years of continuous warfare. The number of people who lost their lives during that horrendous period is estimated to be about 40 million, that number includes both civilian and military personnel.


Australia, which had a population of only 5 million back in 1914, sent 330,000 of its fit young men to that terrible war and a total of (about) 60,000 of those never came home. A number of them remain in Commonwealth War Graves like this one at Tyne Cot in Belgium.


This had a huge effect on the social make-up of the Australian population, with nearly 2.5% of its able-bodied men either lost or severely wounded.


In 1918, the allied armies had driven the Germans back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding months. In November, the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement after which they accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender. The 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month attained a special significance in the post-war years and became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war.


On the first anniversary of the armistice in 1919, two minutes’ silence, which was proposed by Australian journalist Edward Honey, was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony at the new cenotaph in London.


King George V personally requested all the people of the British Empire to suspend normal activities for two minutes on the hour of the Armistice which stayed the worldwide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom'. The two minutes' silence was popularly adopted and it became a central feature of commemorations of Armistice Day.


On the second anniversary of the Armistice on 11 November 1920, the commemoration was given added significance when it became a funeral, with the return of the remains of an unknown soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front.


Unknown soldiers were interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triumph in Paris. The entombment in London attracted over one million people within a week to pay their respects at the unknown soldier's tomb. Most other allied nations adopted the tradition of entombing unknown soldiers over the following decade.


In Australia on the 75th anniversary of the armistice in 1993, ceremonies again became the focus of national attention. The remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a First World War military cemetery in France, were ceremonially entombed in the Australian War Memorial's Hall of Memory. Ceremonies were conducted simultaneously in towns and cities all over the country, culminating at the moment of burial at 11.00am and coinciding with the traditional two minutes' silence.


In 1997, the then Governor-General, Sir William Deane, issued a proclamation formally declaring the 11th November to be known as Remembrance Day and urging all Australians to observe one minute’s silence at 11.00am on 11 November each year, to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.


As usual, this year the Kedron Wavell RSL Sub-Branch held a commemorative service at the Kedron Wavell Services Club. People gathered in the foreground of the Club’s grounds from about 10.00am for the solemn event.


2018 is the 100th year anniversary since the guns on the Western Front fell silent and we reflect on the significance of that event. We also pause to remember all of the men and women of the Australian Defence Force who have made the ultimate sacrifice.



We will remember them. Lest we forget.





MC for the day was the Sub-Branch’s Ceremonial Committee member, Barry Kyrwood.




The Catafalque Party marched on with period 303 rifles.



Followed by the Flag Bearers.





The young ladies, and one young bloke, from Wavell State High formed the choir.




Lieutenant Sam Hall was the guest speaker.



Wreaths were placed at the tri-Service memorial by (among others):


Peter Cairnes – Senior Vice-President of the Sub-Branch.



Anthony Lynham, the Qld State Gov’t Member for Chermside.



Andrea Millard and Ian Burchill, Kedron Wavell RSL Sub-Branch.



Merv Clarke MBE, whose father was killed in WW1. Merv served in the Army during WW2 as a “Radtech”.


He turned 100 in Feb 2017 and is still an active member of the Sub-Branch.      A wonderful achievement.



Andrew Hall piped the Lament during the laying of wreaths.



The Sub-Branch’s treasurer, David Izatt, read the Ode.



A young Zac Shurard, from Wavell State High played the Last Post and the Rouse.



Padre Dan Kemp CSM led all in prayer for the fallen.



Rod and Deb Single and “Sambo” spotted in the large crowd.



With the ceremony concluded, the Catafalque Party and the Flag Bearers marched off.





Everyone was invited into the Club’s Kittyhawk Room for refreshments.




Age is the high price to pay for maturity





Gabrielle Alina Petit.  A brave young Woman.


R.I.P. Gabrielle Alina Eugenia Maria Petit, 20th February,1893-1st April,1916.



Some people get no breaks in life. Sometimes, they have to die before getting the recognition they deserve. Take the case of the Belgian heroine no one had heard of until she was dead.


Gabrielle Alina Eugenia Maria Petit was born on the 20th February 1893, in Tournai, Belgium to a very poor family. When her mother died, when she was nine years old, she was sent to an orphanage because her father could not afford to raise her. Petit had wanted to become a teacher, but given her poverty, it simply was not possible.


Upon leaving the orphanage, she worked at several jobs, as a nanny, laundry supervisor, waitress, etc. Estranged from her family, she shunted from one rented bed space to another until Marie Collet (a neighbour) took her in. Everything changed for her then.


In early 1914, Petit fell in love. His name was Maurice Gobert, a career officer in the Belgian Army with ambition. Gobert promised her not just a future, but a better life. They were engaged, but sadly, on the 28th July, 1914, WWI broke out and Petit joined the Red Cross. Gobert went with his regiment to Antwerp. Despite being protected by Belgian, British, and French forces, the city was besieged by the Germans on the 28th September. By early October, the Allies had retreated while the Germans marched deeper into the rest of Belgium.


The injured Gobert went into hiding to heal from his war wounds. In May 1915, he made his way to Brussels where Petit hid and cared for him as best she could.


So that Gobert could reunite with his regiment they made their way into neutral Netherlands, not an easy task. The Germans had sealed off the Dutch border with the Wire of Death, a lethal electric fence to prevent saboteurs from entering Belgium and keep a valuable workforce (the Belgians) from leaving.


Petit passed on information about the German Army to the British who asked her to return to Belgium and spy for them. She was reluctant at first but she was patriotic and she hated Germany. After a few weeks of training in London, she made her way back to Belgium sometime in mid-August. Her duties were simple, observe the border between the Belgian Hainaut region and northern France where the German 6th Army was based.


Becoming bolder, she extended her surveillance work to Brussels. To relay information on troop movements, strength, and weapons back to her superiors in the Netherlands, she depended on reliable couriers, some of whom worked with the Red Cross. She got so good at it the British considered her to be among their most reliable agents in Belgium.


The “Le Patriote” (The Patriot) was a French newspaper founded in 1884 and was fiercely anti-occupation. The Germans had banned it. In 1915, the paper changed its name to La Libre Belgique (The Free Belgium) and continued publishing in secret. Petit helped to distribute copies of the illegal publication. Deprived of vital information the Belgians relied on the Mot du Soldat (Word of the Soldier). It was an underground mail service connecting families with Belgium soldiers who fought for the Allies. Petit assisted them and she also helped several other soldiers escape to the Netherlands.


In February 1916 she was betrayed and arrested, together with another female agent. Despite interrogation, she refused to break. According to eyewitness accounts, she took every opportunity to tell the Germans just how much she hated them. Petit’s trial began in March and ended the following day with a death sentence, however, her execution was delayed because of another woman.


Edith Louisa Cavell was a British Red Cross nurse who was caught helping Allied servicemen escape German-occupied Belgium. Her execution in October 1915 had caused an international outcry and boosted the number of British men who enlisted in the military. The German government had qualms about executing Petit.


Petit’s monument in Place Saint-Jean

In Brussels.


She was offered amnesty if she would reveal agent’s names, but Petit consistently refused. On the 1st April, 1916, she was marched to the Tir National execution field in Schaerbeek. Refusing to take the hand of a soldier who tried to steady her or to accept a blindfold, she famously said, “I do not need your assistance. You are going to see that a young Belgian woman knows how to die.”


At age 23 (think about that!!)  she died for her country but there was no outcry, this time. The Belgians knew nothing about her until May 1919 when the royal family held a state funeral for her and officially declared Petit a national heroine. In her hometown of Tournai, they named a square after her – a permanent home for an unwanted half-orphan.




Nature always has a reason.  Women over sixty don’t have babies because they would put them down and then forget where they had left them.



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