The First World War had been grinding along at great human and financial cost for over four years and many expected it to continue well into 1919.
By early November, 1918, allied armies continued to push German forces back on the Western Front in France and Belgium.
The main German allies had collapsed; an armistice was signed by Bulgaria on September 29, Turkey on October 30, and Austria-Hungary on November 3.
Within Germany, there were food shortages, social unrest, mutinies in the military and revolution threatened.
This led to a peace delegation of high ranking German officials crossing the front line on November 7 then entraining to a railway siding in a forest at Compiegne, north east of Paris.
Negotiations over the next three days and the abdication of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm 11 on November 10, led to the delegation signing an armistice at 5.10am on November 11 but it was not until almost six hours later at 11am, on the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918, that the guns fell silent.
There had been 1567 days of continuous warfare and Australia had been involved from the beginning in August, 1914.
For Australia, some 416,000 enlisted, about 330,000 served overseas, 62,000 died and a further 156,000 wounded.
Many more died in the next ten years from war related issues while an unknown number suffered physically from wounds and from what is now known as PTSD for the rest of their lives.
At least 108 men with a connection to the Junee district died and many more of the other 300 were wounded.
In the years following Germany’s surrender, November 11 was known as Armistice Day and a two minute silence was observed at 11am.
As WWI memorials were erected throughout Australia including Junee and district, services have become more frequent at these memorials and the day is now known as Remembrance Day.
Junee’s Cenotaph, one of only three of its type in Australia, was built in 1926 after much discussion.
Amidst the horrors of war on the Western Front, the beauty of the red poppies which grew in profusion led to John McCrea’s famous poem In Flanders Fields.
Red poppies soon became a symbol of remembrance and are worn in honour of the fallen at Remembrance Day and now at Anzac Day services.
We should also remember those who freely gave their sons and daughters to serve Australia in war and peace, continuing today, in spite of WWI being known as the “war to end all wars”.