Hor­ror turns to joy with news of Ar­mistice

Pilbara News - - News -

THE scene in Perth, 95 years ago, on Mon­day, Novem­ber 11, 1918, when news of the Ar­mistice came through, was one of over­whelm­ing joy.

Four years of car­nage that had so hor­ri­fied the na­tion – with WA’s 32,000 AIF vol­un­teers suf­fer­ing its pro­por­tion of killed, wounded and maimed on bat­tle­fields in New Guinea, Turkey, the Mid­dle East and West­ern Europe – had fi­nally come to an end.

In the city, large crowds gath­ered spon­ta­neously, in­clud­ing in front of News­pa­per House in St Ge­orge’s Ter­race, head­quar­ters of The West Aus­tralian and the af­ter­noon news­pa­per, The Daily News. A huge as­sem­bly also gath­ered on The Es­planade.

“One con­tin­u­ous cheer best de­scribes the great im­promptu meet­ing held … on the posit­ing of the of­fi­cial mes­sage,” The West

Aus­tralian re­ported. The tu­mult lasted for about an hour and a half and “few of those who had con­trib­uted to the tri­umph of the Al­lied armies were not re­mem­bered.

“Nat­u­rally the ter­race, as the head­quar­ters of the news­pa­pers, was the quar­ter to which the peo­ple were at­tracted when the work of the day was done.” The pa­per re­ported that there had never been a pub­lic gath­er­ing like it be­fore in Perth.

Cheer­ing and pa­tri­otic singing welled along the city’s ma­jor thor­ough­fare as the mayor, Mr (later Sir) Wil­liam Lath­lain, tried to ad­dress the throng. “Speeches were es­sayed by the mayor and those who joined him later but it was a for­lorn hope to make one­self heard against cheers, sup­ported by an obli­gato from ev­ery noise-mak­ing de­vice imag­in­able. Be­fore long the mayor had com­pletely ex­hausted his vo­cal pow­ers, and the peo­ple, giv­ing vent to pent-up ex­cite­ment, cheered and sang in­ces­santly.”

The West’s re­port noted that the range of sub­jects worth cheer­ing seemed in­ex­haustible. “There were cheers for the Em­pire, cheers for all her Al­lies, cheers for the var­i­ous arms of the fight­ing forces, cheers for the great men of the war, cheers for the sol­diers of Aus­tralia and of her sis­ter do­min­ions, cheers for those who had gone from West­ern Aus­tralia, cheers for those among them who had gained the VC, cheers for the sick and wounded, cheers for the re­turned, and cheers, too, for the glo­ri­ous dead.”

Songs echoed through the CBD, in­clud­ing the na­tional an­them and pa­tri­otic num­bers from the his­tory of the British Em­pire. And a lot of the crowd ap­par­ently knew a ditty called We’ll Hang the Kaiser from a Sour Ap­ple Tree.

The brother of WA Gal­lipoli hero, and fa­tal ca­su­alty, Davic Sim­cock – a red-headed fruit­seller around Perth af­fec­tion­ately dubbed Pink Top – was given a rous­ing re­cep­tion, too.

The gath­er­ing slowly dis­persed, with ev­ery­one hoarse or com­pletely voice­less. “The mayor bade his hear­ers look for the an­nounce­ment of fur­ther cel­e­bra­tions in the morn­ing’s pa­per, and the first of the war cel­e­bra­tions was over,” The West Aus­tralian re­ported.

Sub­se­quently, there was a large gath­er­ing at Fre­man­tle Oval. In Perth, there were big pro­ces­sions through the city’s streets, or­gan­ised by the Friendly Union of Sol­diers’ Wives, among other groups. Women and chil­dren wore sashes across their chests em­bla­zoned with the sin­gle golden word — Peace. Oth­ers car­ried plac­ards read­ing

War is a De­stroyer and Peace Means Pros­per­ity. Even the small­est ru­ral Wheat­belt ham­let and coastal towns held their own cel­e­bra­tions in their streets.

Women and chil­dren wore sashes across their chests em­bla­zoned with the sin­gle golden word – “Peace”.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.