On the 11th of November 1918, after four years of the greatest tragedy ever visited upon humanity, the sound of guns ceased.
Many had predicted or hoped that the Great War would be ‘the war to end all wars’.
It was not to be the case.
For just over two decades later, the sound of guns resumed even louder.
The horrors of a new world war were to be visited upon a new generation.
And, just like their forebears, they answered the call to serve and shoulder arms.
Ralph Graham Davidson was one such man; one such great Australian.
He was born in the small Queensland agricultural town of Warwick – about 160 kilometres south-west of Brisbane.
Ralph attended the nearby state school in Karara.
The studious young Ralph won a scholarship to attend Warwick’s Scots College.
And no sooner had he passed his public examination than the 16-year-old found himself working as a clerk at the local Commonwealth Bank.
His manager, Mr Thomas, described Ralph as ‘a lad of splendid character’.
Splendid he was indeed.
For only five years later in 1940, as war engulfed the world, Ralph enlisted in the Australian Imperial Force.
Corporal Davidson saw action in Syria in 1941.
And in 1942, he found himself in Papua as part of a crucial Allied campaign.
The Imperial Japanese forces had been defeated during the Battle of the Coral Sea and denied the opportunity to take Port Moresby via a naval assault.
And so, they turned their attention to taking the city via land across the Owen Stanley Range.
Standing in their way were the dogged Australian forces who knew that if Port Moresby fell, it would be a strategic base from which the Imperial Japanese forces could isolate, or indeed attack Australia.
From July to November of 1942, the two sides engaged in jungle battles along and around the Kokoda Trail.
Corporal Davidson and his band of brothers from the 2/25th Australian Infantry Battalion joined the fray in September.
The intense close-quarter fighting was vicious with frequent hand-to-hand combat.
The Official Histories noted that ‘bush warfare in difficult mountains demanded physical endurance and courage of the highest order.’
Despite exhaustion, the Anzacs didn’t just delay the Imperial Japanese advance, they put their enemy on the back foot.
Come November, the Australians moved on the Japanese defensive positions, in and around the village of Gorari.
The battle raged for seven days as the Australians endeavoured to outflank the tenacious Japanese.
Bayonet thrusts, volleys of bullets and exploding grenades turned forest clearings into ‘grim killing grounds’.
But the Australians prevailed. And the Battle of Gorari became the last major engagement on the Kokoda Trail.
Thanks to those who fought and died in Papua, the Imperial Japanese forces were again denied the prize of Port Moresby.
Indeed, in Papua, Australians helped turn the tide of the war.
Corporal Ralph Davidson was one such Australian.
But the 23-year-old man was not to return home.
Among 132 other Australians, he was killed during the Battle of Gorari.
He fell on the 11th day of the 11th month.
He fell on Remembrance Day.
In the Warwick Daily News, Ralph’s family said that he would be ‘Imperishably enshrined in the hearts of those who loved him.’
On Remembrance Day, may the weight of the collective deeds of all Australians who have served in wars, conflicts and peacekeeping operations throughout our history be imperishably enshrined in our hearts.
May the sacrifice of so many in war forever reside in our national consciousness so we never become cavalier about our duty to preserve peace.
Lest we forget.