Town falls silent to mark the Ar­mistice

Waihi Leader - - News - By CARMEN HALL [email protected]­hileader.co.nz

Grown men wiped away tears on Sun­day as Waihi re­mem­bered the fallen.

The town stopped at 11am as the sirens wailed to mark Ar­mistice Day and the end of World War I.

The large crowd in­side the Waihi RSA stood in si­lence as the bell rang to honour all the sol­diers and oth­ers who lost their lives and the brave men and women who fought for the coun­try.

Peo­ple stood shoul­der to shoul­der as they were re­minded of the great sac­ri­fices, en­durance and brav­ery.

Flight Lieu­tenant Craig McIn­tyre told the au­di­ence “to­day words are the most in­ad­e­quate in­stru­ments to de­scribe what New Zealan­ders went through from 1914 to 1918”.

The war was “mon­strous and a dread­ful con­flict” that claimed the lives of 18 mil­lion hu­man be­ings and 18,000 New Zealan­ders, he said.

And al­though we are for­tu­nate to live in peace­ful times it was im­por­tant not to for­get the past, he said.

The Gal­lipoli, Pass­chen­daele and Somme bat­tles were al­ready etched in his­tory and when news reached New Zealand, Ar­mistice Day was tem­pered by the ter­ri­ble toll the war had taken.

Some could sim­ply not re­joice he said. They were un­der a dark cloud of sor­row with many sol­diers who sim­ply wanted to go home.

But there was a strong be­lief among those on the front­line and New Zealan­ders that it had been worth it.

“Al­though the price of vic­tory was ap­palling high it was seen as a tri­umph for val­ues like the pro­tec­tion of hu­man rights.”

It was hoped the Ar­mistice would mark a new era of peace but that was bru­tally dashed 20 years later, he said.

And as the bu­gler played the Last Post, backs straight­ened and pride swelled. Five wreaths were also laid while the Nga¯ti Wai­hinui group per­formed and Ben Matau­tia per­formed a peace haka.

Mean­while Ann Clark spent count­less hours hand­knit­ting 300 pop­pies for the Remembrance Day 11.11. 1918 sign that hung in the RSA.

The RSA Women’s sec­re­tary and trea­surer also paid trib­ute to the horses that per­ished and said she en­joyed be­ing able to con­trib­ute to the com­mem­o­ra­tions.

She says the RSA was “thrilled to bits with the turnout” as they were not ex­pect­ing so many peo­ple.

Moe Stevens from the Waihi Fire Bri­gade said 100 years ago the bri­gade re­layed the mes­sage to the peo­ple the war was over.

It had two fire en­gines and about 10 men at the morn­ing ser­vice.

“And we rang it in this morn­ing.” Rod Rat­taray drove his 1928 Austin to the War Memo­rial Hall and joined vin­tage cars. His grand­fa­ther fought at Pass­chen­daele so he wanted to pay his re­spects.

PHOTO/CARMEN HALL

Ann Clark hand­knit­ted more than 300 pop­pies for the Waihi RSA Ar­mistice ban­ner that paid trib­ute to the sol­diers and horses in the war.

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