Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Wednesday, November 11, 1998 Published at 16:13 GMT


World

The World remembers

Commemorating war dead at the Sydney cenotaph

World War 1:Special Section
The Armistice which ended the First World War, 80 years ago, is being commemorated in many parts of the world.

Altogether more than eight million soldiers were killed during the four years of conflict.

Australia: Hardest hit

Remembrance ceremonies were held at cenotaphs and monuments throughout Australia, from where more than 330,000 men served overseas during the 1914-18 war.

Over 61,000 of them never returned, leaving Australia with the highest per-capita death toll of any country involved in WWI.


[ image: President Clinton lays a wreath at Washington's Arlington cemetery to commemorate the 116,000 US dead]
President Clinton lays a wreath at Washington's Arlington cemetery to commemorate the 116,000 US dead
Some 46,000 of the Australian dead fell in France and Belgium.

In a commemorative address in Canberra, France's ambassador to Australia, Dominique Girard, listed many of the northern French towns synonymous with Australian bravery, such as Bullecourt, Poziers and Fromelles.

"France will never forget the sacrifices of all the Australians. France will keep the spirit alive," he said.


[ image: A veteran shakes hands with Canada's Veterans Affairs Minister Fred Mifflin]
A veteran shakes hands with Canada's Veterans Affairs Minister Fred Mifflin
Prime Minister John Howard announced that Australia's WWI veterans - just over 60 are still alive - would receive a new medal, the 80th Anniversary Armistice Remembrance Medal, to express Australia's pride at their contribution.

"The deeds of that generation of young Australians have become a legend and continue to inspire us all," he said.

Armistice Day is also being commemorated in some of the former African colonies of the Allied powers whose soldiers served in the First World War.

A large number of soldiers from former French African colonies served in the French army during the World War I, and commemorations were also held in Africa on Armistice Day.

Africa: The last veteran

Armistice Day is also being commemorated in some of the former African colonies of the Allied powers whose soldiers served in World War I.


[ image: Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic shakes hands with WWI veteran Predrag Sekulic, 98]
Serbia's President Slobodan Milosevic shakes hands with WWI veteran Predrag Sekulic, 98
The African soldiers who served in the French army were all known as "Senegalese infantrymen", after the colony with which France had its closest ties. But they were, in fact, drawn from various African states, and a total of 180,000 of them served either on European battlefields or elsewhere.

Some 25,000 of them are believed to have died during the war, and the last surviving African known to have fought for France has also died. He passed away at the age of 104, on the eve of Armistice Day, just hours before he was due to receive a French commemorative medal.

Germany: Low key

While the German media were giving much coverage to armistice commemorations elsewhere, there were no large ceremonies in Germany itself.


[ image: Chancellor Schröder - hectic first days in power prevented him from attending]
Chancellor Schröder - hectic first days in power prevented him from attending
France and Germany will mark the armistice jointly at a ceremony near Versailles on 15 November, when Germany will be represented by its ambassador to France.

Germany's Chancellor, Gerhard Schröder was absent from ceremonies in France on Armistice Day itself, but his spokesman Uwe-Karsten Heye said the chancellor's hectic schedule since taking over from Helmut Kohl last month had prevented him from being involved.

French officials said no invitation had in fact gone out to either Mr Schröder or Mr Kohl, and that they were not treating Mr Schröder's absence as a snub. Officials of Kohl's former government said he had not planned to attend either.

Ireland: A symbol of reconciliation

In Ireland, until recently, Remembrance Day was regarded as a tradition of the pro-British Unionist majority in the North.


[ image: Two boys wave British and Irish flags at Messines Ridge]
Two boys wave British and Irish flags at Messines Ridge
But Catholics and Protestants fought and died side by side as comrades at the Messines Ridge in Belgium. It was there that the 6th Ulster Division from Northern Ireland and the 16th Irish Division from the south fought together in June, 1917.

For this year's Armistice Day, a "peace tower" has been erected nearby, in memory of soldiers from all over Ireland, and also as a symbol of reconciliation between Catholics and Protestants of Ireland following the Northern Ireland peace process.

The memorial has echoes of an ancient burial mound near Dublin. A slit in the tower is aligned so that the sun only illuminates the interior on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month - the anniversary of the signing of the armistice.





Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©




Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia


Internet Links


Department of Veterans' Affairs, Australia


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.




In this section

From Business
Microsoft trial mediator appointed

Violence greets Clinton visit

From Entertainment
Taxman scoops a million

Safety chief deplores crash speculation

Bush calls for 'American internationalism'

Hurricane Lenny abates

EU fraud: a billion dollar bill

Russian forces pound Grozny

Senate passes US budget

Boy held after US school shooting

Cardinal may face loan-shark charges

Sudan power struggle denied

Sharif: I'm innocent

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

India's malnutrition 'crisis'

Next steps for peace

Homeless suffer as quake toll rises

Dam builders charged in bribery scandal

Burundi camps 'too dire' to help

DiCaprio film trial begins

Memorial for bonfire dead

Spy allegations bug South Africa

Senate leader's dismissal 'a good omen'

Tamil rebels consolidate gains

New constitution for Venezuela

Hurricane pounds Caribbean

Millennium sect heads for the hills

South African gays take centre stage

Lockerbie trial judges named