Penshurst RSL to hold a Remembrance Day service marking the Centenary of the signing of the WWI Armistice

Commemoration: Members of the Penshurst RSL Sub-branch John Hoban, Barry Stevenson, Graham Grant, Keith Pratt and Kevin Kelly at the memorial in Bridge Street, Penshurst where the Centenary Remembrance Day service will be held on Sunday, November 11. Picture: John Veage
Commemoration: Members of the Penshurst RSL Sub-branch John Hoban, Barry Stevenson, Graham Grant, Keith Pratt and Kevin Kelly at the memorial in Bridge Street, Penshurst where the Centenary Remembrance Day service will be held on Sunday, November 11. Picture: John Veage

Penshurst RSL Sub-branch will hold a commemorative service at the Memorial in Bridge Street on Sunday, November 11 to mark the Centenary of the signing of the Armistice ending World War I.

Armistice celebrations held at Mortdale on November 13, 1918. Picture: Georges River Council Libraries Local Studies

Armistice celebrations held at Mortdale on November 13, 1918. Picture: Georges River Council Libraries Local Studies

The service will be the only officially sanctioned RSL Armistice Day Service north of the Georges River.

It will also be the only service in the St George area open to participation by the general public, Chairman of the Penshurst RSL Sub-branch Centenary of Armistice Day sub-committee, Barry Stevenson said.

The service will commemorate the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in the year 1918 the war ended following the signing of the Armistice.

“Around 420,000 Australians from the country’s then population of 4.9 million joined up and 331,000 journeyed overseas to fight,” Mr Stevenson said.

“Our soldiers and sailors were all volunteers and represented 38.7 per cent of the male population,” Mr Stevenson said.

“62,000 were killed in action or died of wounds.

“Wounded, including gassing totalled 155,133. At 68.5 per cent, Australian casualty rates, proportionate to total embarkations, was the highest per capita of any country’s army in World War I.

“These men were sons, husbands, brothers, uncles and cousins and it is said their loss was felt by every family in Australia.

“As the soldiers’ last resting place was 12,000 miles away from home, Memorials dedicated to their memory sprung up in every town, suburb and village in Australia.

“With their names engraved on the Memorial it served to hour those lost family members, allowing relatives a closeness to their loved one whose grave overseas they would probably never see.

“The last year of the war, 1918 saw the ascendancy of the Australian soldiers in France and the Middle east to that of war winners.

Behind them was the tragedy of Gallipoli in 1915 and the loss of life on the Somme Offensive of 1916 and Passchendaele in 1917.

“Coming together for the very first time in 1918 the five Australian Divisions became the Australian Corps under General Sir John Monash and spearheaded Allied offensive operations against the German Army.

“From April 1918, the Australian Corps never lost a battle and were still in the front line when the Armistice was declared on November 11.

“It is not to glorify war by showing pride in what this all-volunteer Australian army, 12000 miles from their homeland accomplish so magnificently in that final year of WWI.”

Mr Stevenson said expected participants in the Penshurst RSL Sub-branch Commemorative Service will include veterans, local MPs, Georges River councillors and presidents of other RSL Sub-branches.

Music will be provided ty the Sing Australia St George choir and band music and the honour guard by the Riverwood Air League.

The cataflaque party will be provided by the Australian Army.

Members and the general public to gather at the memorial in Bridge Street, Penshurst from 10.15am.

Everyone attending the service will be invited back to the Penshurst RSL Club for refreshments and the opportunity to view the council’s display of historical photographs of the St George district’s WWI servicemen and women

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