They shall not grow old: The world remembers the fallen

They shall not grow old: The world remembers the fallen

- Today marks the 101st day since the guns fell silent over no-mans-land in France

- The world remembers the first Great War which shocked humanity with how technology made modern warfare lethally efficient

- Countries around the world contributed in various ways to the war and South Africa is amoung them

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A hundred years ago the guns fell silent. Four years of war had torn a scar through the heart of Europe and left aching wound across France called no-mans-land where the world's armies faced each other.

Sometimes the distance between the opposing trenches was measured in tens of meters, sometimes hundreds and it was a killing-field in all senses of the word.

Fathers, sons and brothers from around the world lost their lives in the Great War, a war which was called at the time, "A war to end all wars", how wrong they were.

The war had such a psychological impact on the world, the horror that was endured and the unimaginable loss of life that modern technology had made possible required more than a simple peace treaty.

Peace was restored to the world at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in the year 1918 - 101 years ago.

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The signing of the treaty was a significant event and has been remembered ever since. When the guns fell silent and nature could reclaim what was stolen with fire and blood, something remarkable happened.

The broken earth of no-mans-land was bejewelled with thousands of poppy flowers forever linking the red petalled flower with WW1. Since then poppy's have been worn as a symbol for remembering the fallen and on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the world pauses for a minute of silence to remember the fallen.

Over 40 million people died in World War 1 as either civilian or military casualties.

Tragically the SS Mendi sank after a collision in 1917 in the English channel taking 607 African soldiers down with her.

32 countries were caught up in World War 1, the main players were France, England, Russia and the United States (Allies) against the central powers Germany, the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Ottoman Empire and Bulgaria.

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The Allies and central powers enlisted the help from countries around the world who picked or were forced into choosing sides. As part of the commonwealth, the Union of South Africa sent material and personnel support to the front lines. Though the front lines in France was where most of the fighting took place there were proxy battles across the globe as support efforts were aided or thwarted by supporting nations.

South Africa mobilised its army to eject German forces from German South-West Africa (Namibia) and German East Africa (Tanzania) and fought with German forces in Mozambique until the end of the war.

South Africa sent men and supplies to Europe as well and helped keep the strategic sea lanes open from Australia and India.

In total 146,000 whites, 83,000 blacks and 2,500 people of mixed race from South Africa took part in the war according to wikipedia.org.

This weekend has also seen the 30th anniversary of fall of the Berlin wall which brought East and West Germany together and marked the beginning of the end of the Cold War and communist Russia.

Germany was split in half after World War 2 with the Russians occupying East Germany and the western allies (USA, France and Britain) occupying West Germany. The wall was built to stop East Germans from fleeing to West Germany, the wall was patrolled by armed guards and watchdogs. The guards on duty had orders to shoot to kill anyone trying to cross the wall.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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