1st April 1921: The First Australian Imperial Force officially ceased to exist, though not forgotten. The commemoration of the sacrifice that the men of the AIF paid is gratefully remembered, the focus being the annual Anzac Day parades and services held on 25th April across Australia, and indeed the world.
26th Dec 1919: Lieut.-Gen. John Monash reached Melbourne and almost immediately went back into civilian life, building the great electricity undertaking in Victoria.
30th Sep 1919: By the end of September only approximately 10,000 Australian troops remained in England.
19th Jul 1919: To celebrate and mark the end of the Great War, a Bank Holiday was declared in Britain with the focal point a Victory or Peace Parade (click on link for film footage) by 15,000 victorious Allied troops from twelve nations, including members of the Australian Imperial Force through the streets of London. It was reported that as many as 5 million people turned out for the parade along a seven mile route from Knightsbridge through Westminster and onto Buckingham Palace.
A Cenotaph (photograph above) monument to those killed and wounded was unveiled in Whitehall by King George V. Architect Sir Edwin Lutyens was commissioned to design the monument, originally a temporary wood and plaster construction. However the Cenotaph was soon decorated with flower wreaths and the decision was quickly made to create a more permanent structure made from Portland stone and in the same design. Unveiled by the King on 11th November 1920 with the arrival of the Unknown Warrior en-route to Westminster Abbey, the Cenotaph remains the main focal point of remembrance in the UK.
14th May 1919: The remnants of the AIF still in Belgium attended the Corps Commanders parade at Chatelet on the outskirts of Charleroi. Lieutenant-General Hobbs on horseback addressed the troops saying “At this moment, before leaving for Australia, I fear many of you are sad, because you are thinking with regret that everything is finished for the moment, and also because you are leaving behind you a lot of people whom you have learned to love and appreciate and also for your courage you have shown throughout this terrible war.” Lieut- Gen Hobbs also said he had recently returned from headquarters who were discussing where to erect a monument in honour of the brave soldiers who were killed. On that monument there would be inscribed in letters of gold the splendid deeds of the heroic Australians. In conclusion he again wished them a pleasant voyage to their own country.
Complimentary speeches were made by the Mayor of Charleroi and other public officials (photograph above of the Mayor in conversation with Lieut-Gen. Hobbs). The Mayor said they regretted the approaching departure of the Australian troops. The Belgians would never forget the services rendered to the Allied cause by the Australian Army. It was largely due to them that they had won the victory.
3rd May 1919: The AIF took part in the Dominion Troops march through London (photograph right). The Canadians led the procession, then came Australian, New Zealand, South African and Newfoundland troops. Major-General Sir Henry Chauvel and Lieutenant-General Sir John Monash led the Australians. Chauvel joined the King on the dais, where seated opposite were several hundred wounded Dominion soldiers.
22nd February 1919: Prime Minister William Hughes inspected the three Brigades of the Australian 2nd Division in the square at Marcinelle. PM Hughes addressed the parade and spoke about what was being done about repatriation and his efforts in the Paris Peace Conference. He was accorded a great reception by the troops and was given a great cheer on his departure.
13th January 1919: The Repatriation and Demobilisation General Instructions were issued which had as its leading principle that for discipline, and the wishes of the Australian Government, that men should be returned by units as far as practicable.
1st January 1919: During the last weeks of 1918 the Australian Corps Headquarters was relocated to the Belgian town of Ham-sur-Heure (click on link for map) within the magnificent chateau (photograph right). Here the Prince of Wales stayed with the Australian Corps over Christmas and into the New Year. The 6th Australian Infantry Brigade had its headquarters in nearby Nalinnes with its constituent units located either in the town or adjacent villages (22nd Battalion at Gourdinne).