Listen to the story of Armistice Centenary Bear
We were taking a rest in a French town behind the trenches when we first heard the news. I was having a nap when one of my mates shook me awake and told me that the war was finally over. At first I didn’t believe him. For a while we had heard rumours that the fighting may soon be over, but after four years of war none of us knew what to expect.
But it was true. On 11 November 1918, the Allied and German armies signed an armistice agreement. An Armistice meant that the fighting would stop so that a peace treaty could be negotiated to end the war for good. All the countries involved in the First World War finally signed a peace treaty on 28 June 1919 at Versailles, in France.
I was happy to leave the war behind, but also sad to say goodbye to the mates I served with since 1914. We stood by each other through thick and thin. They were like brothers to me. Luckily, we still get together on 25 April each year – Anzac Day – to salute each other, talk about our experiences and remember our friends who didn’t make it back to Australia.
King George V gave me three medals for my service during the Great War. The 1914-15 Star was awarded to us diggers who volunteered at the beginning of the war and landed at Gallipoli. The other two medals are called the British War Medal and the Victory Medal. The ribbon of the Victory Medal shows all the colours of the rainbow, representing all the Allied nations that fought together to win the war and restore peace.
The red poppy shows that I honour and remember the soldiers who fell in battle during the Great War. Many of these little red flowers grow in the fields of Flanders in Belgium, where a lot of fighting happened during the war. I make sure I always have a poppy to wear on 11 November, which is Remembrance Day.
The Centenary of Armistice marks 100 years since the fighting of the First World War ended. A total of 416,809 Australians volunteered for service during the Great War. Every year on Anzac Day and Remembrance Day we honour those who served.