thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.
Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal,
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation,
And a glory that shines upon her tears.
They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the daytime;
They sleep beyond England's foam.
But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known,
As the stars are known to the night.
As the stars
will be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain;
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.
English poet Laurence Binyon, overwhelmed by the carnage and loss of
life by British and Allied forces in World War 1, penned one of the
most moving tributes the world has known to our war dead.
Titled; For the Fallen, the ode first appeared in The Times of
London on September 21, 1914. It has now become known in Australia
as the Ode of Remembrance, and the verse in bold above is read at
dawn services and other ANZAC tributes.
At Returned Sevicemens' Clubs throughout Australia, members observe
one minute's silence each night at 6:PM. The verse in bold is
recited in memory of those who died. It is followed by the response,
"Lest we forget".
Note: Every single man of the 331,781 who went overseas during World
War 1, was a volunteer. From the landing on Gallipoli onwards, the
Australian troops were used as the spearhead of every attack carried
out by the various British armies in which they served. For this
honour, they paid a terrible price: 59,258 were killed, 166,815
suffered wounds; 4,084 became prisoners of war.
The Encyclopedia Britannica states that the total casualties
suffered by troops of the British Empire during the First World War
amounted to 35.8 per cent of the forces mobilised for war service.
The total Australian casualties however, amounted to 68.5 per cent
of their armed forces, one of the highest percentages of any nation
engaged in that war.
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