ALTHOUGH R.L. BINYON AND J. McCrae are not Aussies, we have included their poems For the Fallen and In Flanders Fields because they have become part of our tradition. In most ceremonies on Remembrance Day and Anzac Day an appropriate poem is read. Both these poems are traditionally recited.
At RSL Clubs throughout Australia, the Remembrance Silence is a solemn ritual that takes place every night. All lights except a Memorial Flame or an Illuminated Cross are dimmed. Everyone present stands in silence facing the Flame or Cross and the Ode from For the Fallen is recited (usually from a recording).
Originally this ritual took place at 9pm and it’s still listed that way on the government’s Defence website. However, some RSL Clubs now have it as early as 5 pm (Miranda RSL). No one knows for sure why it was at 9pm. It may be a coincidence, but the BBC went silent at 9pm during WWII to allow radio listeners to hear the chiming of the bells of Big Ben in London. It was said that the BBC did this as a symbol to free men in the captive nations of the world.
Another possible reason for the 9pm time might be because the original Armistice Day commemoration (later renamed Remembrance Day) was the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” signifying the start time for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front in World War I. In Europe 11am would have been 9pm in Australia and possibly why the 9pm time was originally used here.
Note: RSL Clubs (Returned and Services League of Australia) are social clubs for returned service personnel. People mistakenly refer to all Service Clubs and Memorial Clubs as RSL Clubs. Only those clubs associated with the RSL should be called RSL Clubs.