Why is this day important to Australians?
After four years of continuous warfare, the guns finally fell silent in WWI on the Western Front at 11am on 11 November 1918. After the Allies had inflicted heavy defeats upon the enemy during the preceding four months, the Germans called for an armistice to secure a peace settlement in November.
The moment hostilities ceased on the Western Front has become universally associated with remembrance of the fallen. More than 70 million people were mobilised during this conflict, with between 9 and 13 million losing their lives and as many as one third buried in unknown graves.
Many families saw loved ones off to two World Wars, like the Westaway family. Perce Westaway in WWI and his son Len in WWII.
Letters to home filled the lonely and uncertain hours waiting to be sent to the front or in the mud-filled trenches in the heat of the battle.
Jack Scargill served with the 15th Battalion in WWI and was wounded at Gallipoli. He spent a long period in hospital and returned to Australia on the hospital ship “Grantully Castle”. The bullet which shot him was still in his body and it wasn’t until 13 years later a delicate operation was performed to remove it.
Jack sent cushion covers from Egypt to his love Bella Luke, embroidered with the words “J Scargill to Bella Luke. Remember me till we meet again”
F Rosenskjar was a prolific letter writer. Here are two letters to Nurse Emily Luke from England in 1917 while he was awaiting posting to France.
As we reflect and remember on this day, the importance of the tenuous links to home, by letters, postcards, images and objects, gave our brave men and women solace during the dark days of war.
We remember all the men and women who fought in all theatres of war over the years and especially those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the freedoms we enjoy today.
Thanks to Sunshine Coast Council’s Heritage Library Officers for the words and Picture Sunshine Coast for the images.