JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

How the nation will commemorate WWI

Date

Tim Barlass

World War I centenary: Water carriers take a break at Anzac Cove.

World War I centenary: Water carriers take a break at Anzac Cove. Photo: P Schuler

For full coverage of the WWI commemoration go to smh.com.au/ww1

It is a letter that must be repeated hundreds of times within the military records of the Australian War Memorial. In neat handwriting dated April 4, 1921, a mourning mother asks the Defence Department for a memorial scroll for her son who died from his injuries in World War I.

Emma Henderson from Cowra lost her eldest son, Edward George Henderson, a blacksmith aged 21, when he signed up in the battle of Passchendaele on the Western Front. He sustained injuries to his left thigh and was brought home in April 1918 but died a year later at Randwick Hospital.

She enclosed a newspaper cutting in which she learnt that the next of kin of the 60,000 dead could apply for the scrolls commemorating those who "at the call of King and Country, left all that was dear to them, endured hardship, faced danger and finally passed out of the sight of men".

On Monday, the centenary of the outbreak of World War I, the nephew of Edward, Rod Henderson, will lay a symbolic wreath on his uncle's grave in Cowra as diplomats of some 18 nations gather in the town to the ring Australia's World Peace Bell at 4pm. Representatives from Serbia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, the US and Japan will each ring one peal of the bell.

The next day the town will also mark the 70th anniversary of the Cowra breakout, in World War II, when at least 1104 Japanese prisoners of war attempted to escape from a camp.

The German consul-general in Sydney, Hans-Dieter Steinbach, said it was important to remember the past but to also strive for peace.

"My foreign minister recently said that the starting of the First World War was a kind of failure of diplomacy and that's how I see it as well," he said.

"It is important to remember and learn the lessons. Germany has a a couple of commemorations this year. This is 100 years of the First World War, 70 years of the [Cowra] breakout of the Second World War and 25 years of the falling of the wall in Berlin, so for us it is a very important year. 

"I think it is a very solemn situation and for a diplomat it is extremely important to use all ways to maintain peace."

The director of the NSW Office for Veterans Affairs, Darren Mitchell, said  the recent event in Ukraine demonstrated there was always the need to look for ways to work together rather than fight.

"We look back on this history regrettably, but we seek to offer international understanding and reconciliation at every opportunity," he said. "This is a way of expressing that symbolically."

On Monday there will be  various events across Australia, including a Last Post Ceremony, which is expected to be attended by Prime Minister Tony Abbott, at the Australian War Memorial at 4.45pm.

Premier Mike Baird and Opposition Leader John Robertson will attend a wreath laying ceremony at the Anzac Memorial at 11am.

At 4pm the University of Sydney War Memorial Carillon, which commemorates the 197 undergraduates, graduates and staff who died in the war and comprises 54 bells, will play Chopin's Funeral March and national anthems. It will conclude with a tolling of the Australian Imperial Force bell 197 times, representing the number of names on the memorial in the cloisters.

  

Featured advertisers

Special offers

Credit card, savings and loan rates by Mozo