Remembrance Day

What is Remembrance Day?

Remembrance Day – 11 November – is set aside as a day to remember the sacrifice of those who have died for Australia in wars and conflicts. It was originally known as Armistice Day.

Why is This Day So Special to Australians?

At 11 am on 11 November 1918 the guns of the Western Front fell silent after more than four years continuous warfare. The allied armies had driven the German invaders back, having inflicted heavy defeats upon them over the preceding four months. In November the Germans called for an armistice (suspension of fighting) in order to secure a peace settlement. They accepted the allied terms of unconditional surrender.

The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month attained a special significance in the post-war years. The moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front became universally associated with the remembrance of those who had died in the war. This first modern world conflict had brought about the mobilisation of over 70 million people and left between 9 and 13 million dead, perhaps as many as one-third of them with no known grave. The allied nations chose this day and time for the commemoration of their war dead.

On the first anniversary of the Armistice, 11 November 1919, the two minutes’ silence was instituted as part of the main commemorative ceremony at the new Cenotaph in London. The silence was proposed by an Australian journalist working in Fleet Street, Edward Honey. At about the same time, a South African statesman made a similar proposal to the British Cabinet, which endorsed it. King George V personally requested all the people of the British Empire to suspend normal activities for two minutes on the hour of the armistice “which stayed the world wide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom.” The two minutes’ silence was popularly adopted and it became a central feature of commemorations on Armistice Day.

Eternal FlameOn the second anniversary of the Srmistice, 11 November 1920, the commemoration was given added significance when it became a funeral, with the return of the remains of an unknown soldier from the battlefields of the Western Front. Unknown soldiers were interred with full military honours in Westminster Abbey in London and at the Arc de Triumph in Paris. The entombment in London attracted over one million people within a week to pay their respects at the unknown soldier’s tomb. Most other allied nations adopted the tradition of entombing unknown soldiers over the following decade.

After the end of World War II, the Australian and British governments changed the name to Remembrance Day. Armistice Day was no longer an appropriate title for a day which would commemorate all war dead.

In Australia on the 75th anniversary of the armistice, 11 November 1993, Remembrance Day ceremonies again became the focus of national attention. On that day the remains of an unknown Australian soldier, exhumed from a First World War military cemetery in France, were ceremonially entombed in the Australian War Memorial. Remembrance Day ceremonies were conducted simultaneously in towns and cities all over the country, culminating at the moment of burial at 11 am and coinciding with the traditional two minutes’ silence. This ceremony, which touched a chord across the Australian nation, re-established Remembrance Day as a significant day of commemoration.

The Last PostFour years later, in November 1997, the Governor-General, Sir William Deane, issued a proclamation formally declaring 11 November Remembrance Day and urging all Australians to observe one minute’s silence at 11 am on 11 November each year to remember those who died or suffered for Australia’s cause in all wars and armed conflicts.

The Remembrance Day Ceremony

Commemorative ceremonies such as ANZAC Day and Remembrance Day share many customs and traditions. The central element of Remembrance Day ceremonies is the minute’s silence. Here is more information about common features of a commemorative ceremony:

Last Post



Information sourced from the Australian War Memorial

Keith Robey – Air League Cadet #1

Keith Robey and his wife, Senya

A simple crude wooden model aeroplane given to him by his dad was the thing that first sparked young Keith Robey’s interest in aviation.

The year was 1929. The only experience the average Australian had of aeroplanes was seeing barnstorming ex-WWI pilots offering joy flights around the country at shows which regularly included a complimentary crash. The generally held view was that aviation was inherently unsafe, a view shared by Keith’s mum who did not encourage him at all. But a young man’s sense of invincibility easily overcame this perception and Keith saw aviation as the last frontier and his obsession continued to grow as he devoured every book on the subject and built hundreds of model aeroplanes.

During the First World War the war machines of Europe put the vast resources of industry to work designing and building aeroplanes. In the years before the Second World War the fledgling industry was struggling to convert some of this technological success into commercial viability. New airlines were struggling to get a foothold to compete against the railways. In Sydney they found a home on the flat swampy paddocks of Mascot.

Keith grew up in Balgowlah and rushed outside to watch every aeroplane that passed overhead towards Mascot. On his 10th birthday his dad took him to the aerodrome, where they encountered an Avro 10. Peering over the threshold of the cabin door Keith saw two leather-clad pilots discussing their trip down from Brisbane. Seeing the youngster they invited him in and showed him the office. Keith was absolutely enthralled by all the dials, levers and knobs. It was there and then that he decided to make flying his lifelong career.

As Keith grew into his teenage years, war with Japan became increasingly imminent and his dad, a decorated original Anzac, asked young Keith which of the he wished to join. Keith told him that wanted to be a pilot, but there didn’t appear to be an organisation available to teach him. Keith’s dad discovered his son was right, gave it some thought and discussed it with his returned servicemen mates. A couple of weeks later they announced their intention to form the Australian Air League. Keith was cadet number one of the first squadron (Manly).

Keith went on to win a small scholarship from the Air League and at 17 commenced flying training with the Royal Aero Club of NSW at Mascot. He achieved his Advanced A Licence on the day before war was declared. Keen to enlist in the RAAF as an instructor he was initially knocked back because of a constricted nostril. He promptly had surgery to correct it and nine months later was accepted under the Empire Air Scheme. He did his basic training at Temora and later Point Cook where he was selected for multi-engined aircraft training and went to Bairnsdale where he trained for maritime reconnaissance. His war service was wide and varied, flying mostly Avro Ansons in anti-submarine operations and escorting coastal shipping. Later he was posted to WA and flew bombing missions in Indonesia and PNG in B24 Liberators.

Demobbed in 1946, Keith found work as an instructor and charter pilot adding more types to his already impressive list of endorsements. He worked tirelessly for GA and formed the Association of Commercial Flying Organisations (later the General Aviation Association) and the Bankstown Airport Chamber of Commerce. Keith was President of both these organisations.

He was later the CFI for the Illawarra Flying School, a post he held for 18 years while he oversaw its development into the largest commercial flying school in Australia.

Today there are few people in the general aviation arena that can boast Keith Robey’s statistics. With over 31,000 hours in more than 110 types, he is one of the most experienced CFIs in Australia – if not the most! This man has clocked up the majority of this time in the right hand seat of single-engined aircraft in blocks of an hour or two at a time! That’s the equivalent of flying fours hours a day, every weekday for 31 years!

These days, in semi-retirement, Keith is the patriarch of the `Flying Robeys’ – which includes his wife Senya and son Chris, both of whom are also instructors at Sydney’s Hoxton Park airport. Senya and Chris, with 11,000 hours each, have, with Keith, over 100 years of flying experience. Keith and Senya were both admitted as Master Pilots to the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators; a first for a husband and wife team.

In 1967 Keith was named Australian Flying’s `Man of the Year’ and was awarded an MBE for services to general aviation in the 1970s.Flying training is a special kind of job – and it takes a special kind of person to do it well. That’s Keith Robey in a nutshell.

Australian FlyingAbout the Author

John Laherty is a contributor to the aviation magazine Australian Flying

This article originally appeared in the March/April issue of Australian Flying and is reprinted with the kind permisison of Yaffa Publishing

Work Experience – RAAF

Recently I had the opportunity to take part in the Australian Defence Forces Work Experience Program for 2002. I chose to go to RAAF Richmond because I hope to join the RAAF when I finish school and thought that doing work experience there might give me a better idea of what it would be like to work in the Australian Defence Force.I recommend anyone who is at all thinking about joining the Australian Defence Force to get in early and put your name down for Work Experience on a base!



The new C-130J Hercules of 37 Sqn RAAF
C-130H Hercules of 36 Sqn RAAF

C-130H Hercules of 36 Sqn RAAF

Some of the things that we go to do on base for the week included having a walk through the C-130 H and the new C-130 J Hercules. We were able to go up to the cockpit and have a look at the new HUD and MFD‘s on the C-130J. The MFD‘s (Multi-function Displays) are really cool and have a moving map display relative to where the plane is located.



We got to see some of the techo’s working in their various professions. It isn’t all just working on aircraft and components – one person was fixing a BBQ , another was making a shower!


One of the highlights of the week was the opportunity to fly in the C-130H simulator. Not many people in my group could land the Hercules – although I did! We also got to speak to the pilots who were on base about the requirements we needed from school, how we should apply and other tips.



 F-88 Steyr AUG

F-88 Steyr AUG

We also met the Airfield Defence Guards or “Adgies” as they are known on the base! Yes we even got to see their armoury, they’re armed to the teeth!! We went down to the rifle range and saw people going for their 1/2 yearly qualifications on the F-88 Steyr AUG or ‘Plastic Gun’.




Air Force firefighters

Air Force firefighters

There is a fire station on base for emergencies and we had the opportunity to see what the firefighters do all day – play Ping-pong in the garage of the fire station!



In the mechanical service areas we checked out many sorts of vehicles and saw most of them being stripped down to be repaired or maintained. We were treated to some spectacular landings from foreign planes such as a C-17 Globemaster landing daily throughout the week. They have come to know it as ‘Mighty Mouse’! Also there were some modified C-130 aircraft from the US and a Singaporean C-130 there as well.





There were visits to the SecPol which is the Military Police with the dog squad there as well. To the only Army squadron on the base which is the parachute wing of the army which packs and straps parachutes in pallets and themselves then chuck it out the back of a Herc! We got to see a couple of the parachute drops as well.



Overall the week was well beneficial and a great learning experience about life in the Royal Australian Air Force. It was a great learning experience for myself and the other five people that were in my group.


(If you are interested in doing work experience with the ADF, its best to get your name down early. Information packs are sent to all high school careers advisers so speak to your adviser early in the year, or call the ADF Recruiting (13 19 01) if they don’t have the information)

About the Author

Joel MortimerJoel Mortimer was a member of City of Blacktown Squadron, NSW Boys Group. Since writing this article he has joined the RAAF as an Officer Cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy and hopes to graduate as a pilot.

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