Our city rejoices as Great War ends
GEELONG knows how to mark an occasion and have a whole-of-city celebration.
Many still talk about the scenes when the Cats broke their decadeslong premiership drought in 2007.
But this tendency hasn’t just expressed itself in the modern era.
As we report from our files today, a century ago tomorrow the bells and chimes rang out in our city for peace as Geelong men and women thronged together to mark the end of the Great War.
And what a bittersweet occasion it must have been. So many young Australian men never returned from Turkey, the Middle East and the Western Front. Regional centres like ours, full of wide-eyed farm boys seeking adventure, paid over the odds in bloodshed.
It is those poor martyrs for empire that the Binyon poem remembers as those who, unlike the rest of us, shall not grow old, who will not be wearied by age nor condemned by the years.
On Tuesday, November 12, 1918, this newspaper marked the occasion: “The war is ended; the Kaisers of Germany and Austria have ceased to reign.”
The origins and purpose of World War I remain obscure and entangled, even from the vantage point of retrospect — much more so than humanity’s existential war with the Nazis that followed three short decades later.
But even as Australians argued among ourselves through the conscription debate over our relationship with England, we took steps toward independence through our superiority on the battlefield.
Following a litany of incompetent, butchering, imperious English generals, it was Victorian John Monash — a leader who cared for his men — who with Australian troops pushed the Germans out of France and ended the war.
Regardless of the merit of our involvement in the mass bloodshed, we exerted and found our identity as a fledgling nation on the world stage of that war.
And when a treaty was made and no more boys had to be sent away to die we celebrated the coming of peace as only we know how.
Armistice celebrations in Lt Malop St.