The 100th anniversary of the Armistice – Behind the News

AMELIA MOSELEY: On 11 November 1918, the First World War
was brought to a close. Now, 100 years on,
we’re taking a special look back at this momentous event
and how it changed Australia forever. Hi. My name’s Amelia Moseley. Thanks for joining me
for this very special episode marking the 100th anniversary
of the Armistice that brought an end to World War I. Throughout today’s show, we’ll find out
how peace was actually negotiated, see the reaction to the news
both here and overseas, and we’ll discover
what kids are doing to commemorate the date today. You’ll see all that and more soon. But first let’s go back to find out what caused World War I
in the first place. MATT HOLBROOK: It was a war
that changed the world forever. But it may never have started
had it not been for this guy – Gavrilo Princip. On June 28, 1914, he assassinated
Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, and it started
a massive chain reaction. Austria declared war on Serbia, and countries supporting both sides
came to help. Suddenly, a small war
became a big one. On one side
were the Allies, including countries
like France, Britain and Russia. On the other were
the Central Powers – Germany, Austria-Hungary, and the Ottoman Empire,
which is now Turkey. At the time, Australia was still
a member of the British Empire, so they were part of the Allies. NEWSREEL REPORTER:
No time was wasted in ’14. Up and away to war. The word went out for volunteers, and more than 400,000
young men enlisted. Some young teenagers
also wanted to fight, so they lied about their age
to get in. On April 25, 1915,
Australian and New Zealand soldiers, by then known as the ANZACs,
landed at Gallipoli. More than 50,000 Australians fought
in the eighth-month-long campaign. It’s remembered as
the first real battle we took part in as a nation, but most of the fighting
didn’t happen here. It happened on the Western Front
in France. From 1914 until the end of the war, both sides dug and fought from
large trench and dugout systems. Trenches helped protect soldiers
from guns and artillery, but life could be tough. A big threat was disease. The trenches weren’t clean,
there wasn’t much medical help, and at times, it got really cold. Many soldiers died because of
the conditions they lived in and the spread of disease. As the war went on, more technology
was designed to break the deadlock. The first fighter planes
battled over the trenches, while bombers made raids
behind enemy lines. The first-ever tanks
hit the front lines to combat trench warfare. There was now
fighting on the ground, in the air, and at sea. In April 1917,
America entered the war, assisting the Allies. Hundreds of thousands of troops
flooded the front lines. By early 1918, Germany and its allies had defeated Russia
on the Eastern Front and made a big push in France, but Germany’s attack failed. The Allies mounted
their own offensive, retaking territory from Germany. The tide was turning. OK, now, throughout today’s show, we’ll also be testing your knowledge
about World War I with a quiz. There will be 15 questions, all-up. I’ll give you the answers
after each one. Here’s the first five. OK, question one: The answer is four years. Question two: Was it here in Europe
or here in Africa? The answer is Europe. Question three: Yes, they were, even though
they hadn’t been long invented. Here’s a look at some of
the models used. Now to question four: They were: And question five: The answer is 3,000 nurses. Now, after four years of fighting, an armistice was finally declared
on 11 November 1918. But how was such a tricky agreement
negotiated? Here’s the full story. NIC MAHER: It wasn’t a fighter plane,
a tank or a battleship that spelled the end
of the First World War but a signature in a train carriage
made on November 11, 1918. By the second half of 1918,
Germany was in big trouble. It had defeated Russia,
but it was losing in France. German forces were being pushed back, and its leaders no longer believed
they could win the war. Defeat was coming. One by one, Germany’s allies,
including Bulgaria, the Ottoman Empire
and Austria-Hungary pulled out of the fighting and signed formal agreements
to stop the conflict. That’s called an armistice, and Germany was ready
to sign one too. The Allies,
led by Marshal Ferdinand Foch, came up with the agreement. It called for fighting to end,
for Germany to evacuate, hand over all of its weapons
and return its prisoners. Germany signed it
on 11 November 1918, in General Foch’s railway carriage, with the Armistice
officially coming into effect on: It would be the end of fighting,
for a while at least. In the coming years, Germany would
be forced to sign more treaties, including the Treaty of Versailles, which officially blames Germany
for the war and forced it to make big repayments
to the Allies. Many historians think
those terms played a big part in the rise of Hitler’s Germany
and the start of World War II, just 20 years later. But at the time, everyone was ready
for the Great War to end. (CHEERING AND APPLAUSE) News spread that the war was over. MAN: “Queensland
Government Gazette.” “Germany has signed the Armistice
with the Allies, “and that consequently the war
that has devastated the world “for more than four years
is at an end.” (ALL CHEER) The guns fell silent,
and on the front lines, troops cheered and danced. In London, in Paris, in New York,
people celebrated too. After more than four years
of conflict, war was finally over. Do you have more questions
about the Armistice? Ask me live on Friday
during Ask a Reporter. Head to our website for the details. Now, as you’ve seen, World War I
had a massive impact on Australia, even though it was fought
on the other side of the world. So, how did such a young nation
recover from the loss of so many? Take a look. GIRL: This is the Victory Medal. Polly, Maya and McKenzie have been learning about
their great-great, sometimes even
great-great-great-relatives, who fought in the Great War. My great-great-grandpa, his name was Douglas Guthrie. Um, he was a private in World War I. Um, he enlisted when he was 21. He got captured
as a prisoner of war. When I first saw this photo,
I thought he looked really brave. For Maya,
it was her great-great-great uncle, who she discovered
was Indigenous Australian. GIRL: His name was Edward Heath,
and he was 30 when he enlisted. I think he felt really,
um, brave going to war ’cause he was probably
trying to prove that Aboriginals can do
what white people can do, and that they shouldn’t be treated
any differently just ’cause
they’re a different colour. These are his dog tags that he wore. And for McKenzie,
it was her great-great-grandpa, but he was actually British
fighting alongside Australians. My great-great-grandpa
was George Thomas Brigendon. He joined
the Royal Garrison Artillery as a gunner, um, in 1914. He was 30 when World War I started, and he said that
his scariest experience was, um… ..running new telephone wires
to the front trenches after the old ones
had been blown up. Polly and Maya’s relatives are two of the more than
400,000 Australian men who enlisted in World War I. By the time the war ended,
around 60,000 of those men had died, and about 170,000 of them
were left wounded or ill. It wasn’t actually until 1919 – months and months
after the war ended – that troops finally started
coming home. But it wasn’t easy
for many soldiers and nurses to forget what they’d lived through. It would be hard to just get back
from the war and go on with normal life. ‘Cause you’ve got the memories
and the wounds and… ..all the injuries and stuff. While Polly’s great-great-grandpa
made it home to New South Wales after being taken prisoner
in Germany, he was left permanently injured. It was before the war that this was taken because after the war, he had
those three fingers amputated off. Australia had to work out some ways
to help the survivors, the wounded, the war widows
and their families to recover. So, the Government decided to offer
free medical care, pensions and places to live
to permanently injured or sick service people. And carnivals and parades
were held to raise money for them. Whole organisations were even created
to defend war veterans’ rights and help them get back
to normal life. You’ve probably heard of
the Returned and Services League, or RSL, that still exists today. There were other struggles
the country had to face too. Many Australian industries
weren’t doing so well, people didn’t have as much money
and jobs were way harder to find. So, programs were created to help
returned soldiers learn new skills, like construction,
mechanics or even haircutting. And farming too. In fact, state governments offered
some soldiers a small piece of land to farm if they wanted to. The war touched so many lives
in so many different ways but while it wasn’t easy, many of
them were able to get through it. My great-great-grandfather, he used to live behind a shop
when he was a child, so they went back there
and they started it as a shop and then they had
four children, all boys. And the youngest one
was my great-grandfather. After the war, he would’ve gone back
to England and had a family and then his grandson,
my grandfather, was the first person in our family to come to Australia. GIRL: I think it’s important
to remember them because they did so much
for our country. And lots of people fought and didn’t survive very long. And they’ve helped us go on
to have what we have today. Time for the quiz again now. Question six: The answer is: Question seven: An armistice is an agreement
to end fighting. Question eight: The answer is: Question nine now: It’s played on the bugle. And question 10: The answer is 14 years
and nine months old. His name was James Martin. Alright, these days, we all know
11 November is Remembrance Day. But it hasn’t always been called that and the way it’s commemorated
has also changed over the years. Let’s find out how. BEN NIELSEN: The community of
Bridgewater in the Adelaide Hills has never had
a proper war memorial. So, these kids and others
from a local school decided to design
and build a new one. After five long years of work, it’s now nearly finished. Can you tell me what is left to do? Well, there’s going to be
a boomerang with the rising sun, just up the back, and then a sign
with ‘remember’ on it down at the front. And some fences and some pavers. But that’s about it, really. The boomerang with the rising sun,
what does that mean? That symbolises that all Australians
were part of the war. Memorials and monuments like this one are a common feature of
Remembrance Day commemorations right around the world. At 11am, on the 11th day,
of the 11th month, people gather at places like the Shrine of Remembrance
in Melbourne or the Australian War Memorial
in Canberra. They stand still and silent and then listen to a bugler
playing The Last Post. (PLAYS THE LAST POST) People have been marking
Remembrance Day like this since 1919. But back then, it was actually called
Armistice Day because it marked the anniversary
of the day the armistice was signed and the First World War
finally ended. NEWSREEL REPORTER:
November 11, Armistice Day. At the time, hundreds of people
gathered in London to celebrate the end of the conflict
and to remember those who died. People did the same here
in Australia. The tradition of silence
on Remembrance Day was actually suggested by an Aussie
journalist called Edward Honey. He thought it’d be a sacred gesture to acknowledge those who died
fighting for peace. Britain’s king at the time,
King George V, liked the idea and declared two minutes’ silence
across the British Empire. Since the first Armistice ceremony, people have added new traditions
to the commemorations, like wearing red poppies. That was inspired by a poem
called In Flanders Fields, which describes the poppies that sprung up on abandoned
battlefields in France and Belgium. Later on, in 1945,
when World War II ended, the Australian
and British governments changed the name of Armistice Day
to Remembrance Day instead, so the people who served in all wars
could be remembered together. The Last Post, poetry, poppies and a bunch of other traditions
are still important parts of the memorials
that happen today… ..along with places like this
in the Adelaide Hills, that will proudly form the centrepiece of these kids’
commemorations for years to come. Well, I did have a great grandad,
my mum did, and he fought in World War I. And I’ve never actually thought
of him as a soldier before, as my relative, and now
that there’s a place here, I just find that it’s easier. It makes me feel happy because
it’s a great place to meet up and…’s in a good spot. It’s special to me because
it’s a place not just to remember, but it’s a place for… ..everyone. It’s not just for one subject. It’s sort of a place where
you can do anything, really. AMELIA: And back to the quiz now.
Question 11: They’re Roman numerals. Alright, question 12: If you picked pigeon, you’ve got it. Question 13: It was… Question 14: Was it independent reporters,
cameras, or both? The answer is
both were banned. And finally, question 15: The Australian War Memorial is
in Canberra. Finally today, as you saw there, poppies are an important part
of Remembrance Day commemorations, so we thought we’d visit a school
that’s spent the past few months colouring in thousands
of paper poppies. Check it out. EMMA DAVIS: This classroom is
chock-full of poppies, but this isn’t an art lesson. So, can you tell me what
you’re doing right now, please? I’m colouring in these poppies
for Remembrance Day. So, do you mind if I join you?
Yeah. Great. So, why… Do you know the whole poppy story?
How it all started? Well, there was a man who went
to Flanders fields after the war and saw the only living thing there
was red poppies. And so, he wrote a poem
about Flanders Fields. That man’s name was
Colonel John McCrae. He was a Canadian medical officer and he was stationed in the area of Flanders, which is in Belgium. Near the end of 1914, one of
Colonel McCrae’s friends was killed. When they buried him
on the battlefield, Colonel McCrae noticed that poppies
had already started to bloom between the graves, and that marked the beginning
of a poem he later wrote. It wasn’t long before that poem
was world-famous, and it inspired many people to use
the poppy as a symbol of support for the Allied forces. They were used to fundraise
for war veterans, their families and even restoration projects to help fix areas in France
that were destroyed during the war. These days, you still see them, often on people’s clothing or at sites of remembrance,
like war memorials. This class will use these poppies
for something different, though. Amelia Rose, why are you
colouring in poppies today? Well, we’re colouring poppies
because at 11 o’clock on 11 November, a plane will be
dropping 58,000 poppies onto… of the roads in the city…
Mm-hm. ..and we’re making them… The poppies represent
the 58,000 soldiers, the ANZAC soldiers, that died. To add to their meaning, these girls have written messages
on the back of each one. Some are about remembering the past, while other messages are
the names of people who fought in the First World War. What are you writing on your poppy? So, I’ve written a quote
by the Queen, which is, “Grief is the price
we pay for love.” So, what kind of messages are you
writing on the back of the poppies? Well, I’m writing,
“Lest we forget,” or “Hope,” or the names of people
I know who went to war. OK. So, do you know…?
What kind of names? Are they people
that you’ve researched? Well, my great grandad Bill,
he fought in the war. And his name is William Setchell,
so I put that on a couple. Why do you guys think it’s important that we commemorate Remembrance Day
and think about it every year? It’s important to remember
Remembrance Day, remember all the people who died and
all the families who lost people, because it’s really important
to understand how that affected so many people. Well, I think it’s important because
if they didn’t fight in the war, or if they didn’t do
what they did at that time, we might be living differently
to how we are right now, and it could affect our lives. I’ve got mine on. And you can wear yours
on the 11th, too. Well, that brings us to the end
of today’s Armistice Special. Thanks for joining me
and I’ll see you next time. Captions by Red Bee Media Copyright Australian
Broadcasting Corporation

About the author


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *