Date: 12 November 2021
Photography: Warrnambool RSL; The Shrine of Remembrance and James McPherson Photography
At 11am, whether at home, work or school, or at a service in their local community, Australians paused to reflect and remember those who served and died for the country.
More than 300,000 Australians have served overseas and over 60,000 lost their lives.
This Remembrance Day marks the 103rd anniversary of the Armistice, which ended the First World War.
Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee says Remembrance Day is one of the most significant days of the year for Australians.
"We must never forget the courage, valour and sacrifice of all those men and women who have served this nation in war, conflicts and peacekeeping operations."
Bentleigh Cheltenham RSL conducted low-key services this Remembrance Day, without a band or Cadets present.
The Sub Branch President, Warrick McDonald says it’s a time for uniting people.
“I believe they are coming together with the same needs and wants to remember what they went through and what their friends went through and for others to respect what people went through for them.”
"It’s about that caring, that giving, the comradeship, that you bring people together, it’s an excuse to come together. At least they’ve got something to share together again."
Warrick says in between the formalities and his duties as the Sub Branch President, it’s a time for his own personal reflection.
“It gets quite emotional for me…”
97 year old, WW2 Veteran Harold Ristrom proudly wears his own medals and those of his uncle.
“He served in the First World War in the 13th Battalion in France. It must’ve been a pretty horrific experience.”
“He was such a good man, but he had such terrible mental health problems that beset him at nighttime from his service in France.”
Harold also has a special place in his heart for his best mate that he met in the Navy – a friendship that spanned more than 70 years.
Vietnam Veteran, Ray Fryer served in the Royal Australian Navy.
"I always remember my mates. My mates who are no longer with us. Of the 82 I was in with we’ve lost 12 or 13."
Wayne Holmes served in the Royal Australian Air Force from 1968 until 1974. He is a dedicated volunteer at the Bentleigh RSL.
“During my course of volunteering I go around and I see veterans, my oldest veteran I visit is 100 this year, and to see the way they are today, the sacrifices they have made, from the Boer War right through. It is an honour to remember them.”
Remembrance Day also strikes a personal chord for Wayne.
"I remember my grandfather who was in the Second World War and also my father-in-law who served in the Second World War in the British Forces."
Regional Victoria hosted several Remembrance Day services, including at the Warrnambool RSL.
The service began with a traditional Welcome to Country delivered in the local Peekwhuurong language, followed by the lighting of the ceremonial bowl, which was installed shortly before ANZAC day this year.
Warrnambool RSL President, Michael Bellamy says it was a delight to see a crowd gather this year.
In attendance were current and past serving men and women, families, ex-service organisations, the young and the old.
"What it does for me…it just builds the pride in our community and the support that is there for our veterans."
In his first Remembrance Day address as President, Michael particularly acknowledged those who served in Afghanistan.
"Their dedication made over 20 years to protect the people of that country, shall not be diminished by recent events or time."
Those gathered had the honour of listening to guest speaker, Steven Lamborn, who provided a reflection of his service in Afghanistan.
Michael says it was a taste of the vast work that was undertaken.
“It was about saying we hear the great things you did over there, and we want the veterans that have been there and live that to know that we care for them.”
With a grandfather and father who served, as well as uncles and aunties, and having served in the Army Reserves himself, the day is personal to Michael.
“It reminds me of the sacrifice of those who went before us, like my grandfather, like many of my family. It’s just a time to reflect on those sacrifices and we’ve got to live the ideals they provided us.”