Australia and NZ were amongst the first states to mark the centenary of the Armistice that ended World War I this weekend.
PM Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Bill Shorten attended a ceremony at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, crowds gathered in Hyde Park in Sydney, and a plane dropped thousands of red poppies over Adelaide in some of the events held nationwide.
NZ saw a 100-gun salute ring out from the Wellington Waterfront, followed by two minutes of silence. The quiet was broken by church bells, carillons, car and ferry horns, and emergency service sirens in an echo of the celebrations that broke out a century before.
ADF men and women took the opportunity to pay their respects on bases in Australia and operational areas overseas.
Military personnel were also invited to represent Defence at the national commemorative service for the Centenary of the First World War Armistice at the Australian National Memorial in Villers-Bretonneux, France.
Regional towns also held events across Australia. Gordon Jamieson, 97, laid a wreath at his home in Mudgeeraba, Queensland.
Jamieson served in the Army during World War II and fought in the Malayan campaign. Following Japan’s capture of Singapore in February 1942, he was a prisoner of war for three-and-a-half years as a worker on the Thai-Burma railway.
“We became captives of the Imperial Japanese Army six months after arriving in Malaya and following a ten-week battle. It was quite eerie when the din of gunfire and high explosives ceased, to be followed by the cheering of the enemy soldiers at close proximity,” Jamieson said.
“We became slaves and thus began, unexpectedly, a 42-month phase of my life, a period of tragic events the memories of which will remain for all time.”
More than 2,800 Australians were among the 12,500 Allied POWs and 75,000 Asian labourers who died while working on the railway. Only five of Jamieson’s small platoon of 16 soldiers survived the war.
“My wartime experiences convinced me of the futility of war. The memories of my war are not those of victorious battles or ignominious defeat, but of the human spirit of our Australian soldiers,” Jamieson said.
Chief of the Defence Force General Angus Campbell said the Centenary of the Armistice to end the First World War was an important milestone in Australia’s military history.
“Today we do not only remember those killed in the First World War, but all ADF personnel who have served since and continue to serve on operations, protecting Australia’s national interests at home and in many countries around the world,” General Campbell said.
“We honour by remembering, and we have remembered for 100 years.”