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If ye break faith ---we will not sleep

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Armistice Day Address Robert Lusby AM

Concord Repatriation General Hospital, 11 November 2019

“If ye break faith with us-----we shall not sleep”

Words from the Western Front poem “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae

Chilling words from the dead that reflect the social contract between those who have served and the families and community that released them to serve.

Just as relevant today, when we reflect on the support of returned service men and women and their families and note the high Suicide rate indicative of their plight.

Since moving to the Hunter Valley I have been attending ANZAC memorial services in the small town of Branxton (founded in 1826). There is a rotunda where the band plays and people gather around in silence or singing well-known hymns fit for the occasion. The last post is played and reveille follows the minute's silence.

It is here that communities come to mourn the loss of men and women who have died in foreign fields and express gratitude for those who have returned.

The evocative playing of the last post at the end of Peter Sculthorpe’s composition “ Small Town” is a stark reminder of the impact of the Great world war on country Australia.

Some 40% of recruits came from these towns and when they failed to return it had a devastating effect on the small communities.

Branxton Rotunda

Communities all along the Hunter Valley from Newcastle to Murrinbindi, have memorials commemorating their sons who served and many died initially during the 1st world war and in subsequent conflicts. The same can be found all across Australia.

The names of men, often multiple from the same family, reflect the tragedy of the needless Great war.

In great Britain evidence of the shared heartbreak can be seen by the presence of a memorial cross in every village or monument in nearby towns.

Indeed in every Cathedral of France, there is a tablet bearing the inscription “To the greater Glory of God and in memory of the one million