Remembrance Day

Students at Hastings Secondary College have paid their respects at a special Remembrance Day service today. The moment in time where the nation remember those who fought for Australia. Brodie Knott, Year 11 student at Port Macquarie Campus delivered the commemorative address. This was followed by the wreath laying by our Student Leadership Team from both campuses. Our principals proudly stood with our student campus representatives honouring our soldiers.

Brodie Knott's Commemorative Speech

What does the red poppy mean?

Many people know that its linked with Remembrance Day, but what does it actually mean? The poppy was chosen as the symbol to acknowledge those who did not make the journey home from the battlefields of Flanders and Northern France because its resilience meant it was one of the first blooms to appear on ground ravaged and churned by fighting and artillery fire. It is meant to be a symbol of remembrance for those who lost their lives during war, first spoken about in Colonel John McCrae's poem 'Flanders Fields'.

The colours of the poppy have their own meanings too. The red represents the blood spilt and those fallen in battle, the black
represents the mourning and those left behind, and the green represents new growth and resurgence.

We wear the poppy for the same reason our parents and grandparents before us did all those years back, to remember. To remember the sacrifices that they made, remember the hardship they faced, and the lives that were lost in the process.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the Treaty of Versailles. Signed on June 28, 1919 at the Palace of Versailles in France, it brought a formal end to WW1.

The Treaty of Versailles had three main points:

Military: The German army was significantly limited and disarmed. The navy was also reduced, and the treaty limited the size and number of ships they could have. Germany's Air Force was all but destroyed and the treaty disallowed any production of aircraft.

Land: Germany lost several important portions of its territory to Belgium, France, Poland and Czechoslovakia as spoils of war for these countries.

Money: Germany had to pay an incredible amount of reparations to the winners of WWI estimated about $33 billion (roughly $402 billion today).

This year also is the 75th anniversary of The Great Escape, a daring escape from a German PoW camp Stalag Luft 3. Unlike the movie that glorified American actors, the real great escape was done by British, Australian and Polish PoWs. Included in the Prisoners was Australian Warrant Officer Albert Hake, who with his team produced over 250 compasses fashioned from melted down scrap metal that they found in the camp to assist those escaping.

The simultaneous digging of the tunnels -named Tom, Dick and Harry - began in mid 1943. The brains behind the escape was Squadron Leader Roger Bushell, a captive RAF officer known as Big X, who was aiming to get more than 200 PoW's out, all wearing civilian clothes and holding a range of forged papers and escape equipment.

The difficult sandy subsoil in the tunnels was held up with pieces of wood collected from all over the camp. The main sources were the camp's beds, tables and chairs.

Tunnel Harry was finally ready in March 1944. Of the 600 or so PoWs who had worked on the tunnels, only 200 could be included in the plan and finally, on Friday 24 March 1944, the escape attempt began.76 men crawled through the tunnel to initial freedom. Finally, at 4:55am on 25 March, the 77th man was seen emerging from the tunnel by one of the guards in a sentry tower surrounding the camp.

Of 76 escapees, 73 were recaptured. Hitler initially wanted the escapees to be shot as an example to other prisoners. Fifty were executed singly or in pairs, a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions. RAAF Squadron leader John Williams and Flight Lieutenant Reg Keirath were also executed. They are remembered by Australian, British and Polish Air Force representatives who attend a commemorative service on the 24th of March in Poznan, Poland every year. The 23 prisoners that weren't killed, were sent back to different PoW camps. The only three successful escapees made their way back to the safety of the United Kingdom.

Today we stand here thanks to the sacrifice the brave men and women gave for their families, their friends and their country. Remembrance Day is celebrated all around the world, many countries gather to remember and pay their respects to the people who gave up so much. No matter who you are or where you're from, today we honour the day the guns fell silent. Let us honour those who have shed blood in the battlefield, those who serve today in the armed forces and let us make sure we never take for granted the sacrifices made by those before us.

Lest we Forget