22 TRINITY TODAY ARMISTICE DAY BY DR BENJAMIN THOMAS As the guns fell silent across the Western Front in France on 11 November 1918, communities across Australia were taking stock of the enormous toll on human life the previous four years of conflict had wrought. Nowhere was this more visible or keenly felt than in the close-knit communities of educational institutions where, only a few short years earlier, many of the young men and women had been students, alumni and staff. ‘There is no place of education in Australia with a finer record of war service than Trinity College, Melbourne; nor is there any institution which has felt more severely the strain of war-time conditions,’ wrote the Argus newspaper a week after the signing of the armistice, referencing the more than 280 serving College members and 42 fatalities. When war had been declared, Trinity students and alumni alike had been quick to respond, much to the delight of the College council, which could barely contain its happiness and pride due to the splendid response of past and present members of the College to the ‘Empire’s call to arms’.1 However, one Trinitarian who had survived the horrors soberly reflected on his naivety in the October 1921 edition of the Fleur de Lys. ‘Many years ago, when I was a youth with a great imagination, I used to dream of the time when I would go to war to fight for my nation’s honour; of the time when I would distinguish myself; and of the glorious and victorious homecoming …,’ he wrote in a passage titled Disillusionment. Champion athlete Herbert Hunter (TC 1903) who, before the war, had played for Essendon in the Victorian Football League (VFL), believed enlistment was an extension of his athleticism. ‘My action in volunteering my services to the Empire is, I consider, the culminating point of my athletic career,’ he told the Bendigo Football League upon his departure. Other alumni looked upon military service more directly as a duty towards the British Empire. Serving with the 2nd Royal Irish Fusiliers, Osborne O’Hara (TC 1904) wrote to his parents from Quetta, India, where the regiment was stationed at the outbreak of the war, frustrated at the fact he was ‘not able to leave immediately for the front’. O’Hara would become the College’s first loss when, shortly after arriving in France, he was killed on 13 February 1915, just six months into the war. On 27 April 1915, Warden Dr Alexander Leeper held a special chapel service to commemorate the 10 collegians involved in the Gallipoli landings, which had taken place two days earlier. Among those was Lieutenant-Colonel Richard Courtney (TC 1888), who – as Leeper delivered his sermon – led the 14th Battalion AIF up the scrubby slopes to secure and hold a critical position above Anzac Cove. How many of his fellow Trinitarians who served on the Peninsula during the failed eight- month campaign would recognise the strategic position along the ridge- line owed its name to one of their own – ‘Courtney’s Post’? These places, in their own way, have become lasting memorials. While the College men would serve in combat roles, several alumni of the Trinity College Women’s Hostel played an active part in the war, often in roles no less dangerous. Helen Sexton (TC 1887), one of the first female medical graduates in LEST WE FORGET To commemorate the armistice of World War I, we remember the Trinitarians who served and fell.