Armistice Day 1918 in the Western District

Today is the centenary of the signing of the Armistice which brought an end to the fighting of WW1.  News arrived in the Western District between 8.30pm and 9.30pm on Monday 11 November 1918 while for other towns, it was the following morning.  Everyone knew it was coming, the question was when. Hopes were high after the surrender of Austria and Turkey but there was still uncertainty and an unwillingness to celebrate until the official word came through.

“AUSTRIA’S SURRENDER.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 5 November 1918: 4. Web. 8 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119508007

Most towns had put in some preparation organising bands and ensuring bunting was at hand ready to decorate the streets.  Early on 8 November, rumours spread around Hamilton, Coleraine and other Western District towns that the signing had taken place.  But they were just rumours.

“PEACE RUMOURS.” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 9 November 1918: 4. Web. 8 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119508174

 

“PREMATURE EXCITEMENT” Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic. : 1902; 1914 – 1918) 11 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119615782

Let’s do a fly around the Western District and see how each town reacted.  In most cases, the reaction was like nothing seen before.

In Ararat, official news came through at 8.30pm on 11 November.  Bells started to ring and the two local brass bands swung into action.

Celebrations continued on into the morning of Tuesday 12 November.

“TO-DAY’S RE[?]OICINGS.” Ararat Chronicle and Willaura and Lake Bolac Districts Recorder (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154297182

Then into Tuesday evening with an open-air concert at Alexandra Park.

“PEACE CELEBRATIONS.” Ararat Chronicle and Willaura and Lake Bolac Districts Recorder (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 15 November 1918: 2. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154298902

In Penshurst, church bells rang and the Penshurst Brass Band played.

“ARMISTICE SIGNED” Penshurst Free Press (Vic. : 1901 – 1918) 16 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119565333

Just before 9pm, the Hamilton Spectator received a cable and immediately told those waiting in front of the offices in Gray Street. Bells rang, the bands played and people flooded into the streets.  The Hamilton Brass Band was taken by motor car to Tarrington to tell residents there.

“JUBILATION IN HAMILTON” Hamilton Spectator (Vic. : 1870 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 6. Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119508265

After a false start to celebrations, Coleraine took no time took to get in the spirit.  On 12 November the children marched along the streets of the town.

“OUTDOOR DEMONSTRATION.” Coleraine Albion and Western Advertiser (Vic. : 1902; 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119615803

At Casterton, the townsfolk were “delirious with joy”.  There was fireworks, bands and dancing.

“Peace! Glorious Peace!” Casterton Free Press and Glenelg Shire Advertiser (Vic. : 1915 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article152657300

Tuesday 12 November was a holiday in Casterton as it was in most places.

“Peace Celebrations.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3 (Bi-Weekly.). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74222633

Some towns like Sandford and Merino waited until official word was received the following morning. At Sandford, in a prearranged manoeuvre, the sight of the flag going up the pole of the Post Office signalled the end of the war.

“Sandford Celebrations.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3 (Bi-Weekly.). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74222628

At Merino, bells rang and guns fired.

“Merino Celebrations.” The Casterton News and the Merino and Sandford Record (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3 (Bi-Weekly.). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74222625

Heywood held off with celebrations until official word came after 9am on Tuesday 12 November. Preparations were then quickly underway for a large demonstration at 3pm

“Heywood.” Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88196524

At Portland, the Observer received an urgent wire from Reuters around 9.30pm on 11 November with the news and the celebrations began.  People got out of the beds and rushed into the streets.

“LOCAL CELEBRATIONS.” Portland Observer and Normanby Advertiser (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88196546

At Orford, a public picnic was planned for the following Friday.

“CELEBRATIONS AT ORFORD.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987686

At Port Fairy, there were a couple of hiccups but that did suppress the euphoria.

“ORDERLY CELEBRATIONS.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987660

The official message arrived about 9pm on 11 November and the news spread around the town like wildfire.

“Advertising” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/page/8499675

Tuesday was a holiday and just as well because no one would have turned up for work anyway. Port Fairy’s celebrations continued all Tuesday and into Wednesday.

“TUESDAY MORNING.” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: 2 (EVENING). http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987687

“AFTERNOON DEMONSTRATION” Port Fairy Gazette (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article91987687

At Koroit the shops and school closed Tuesday and Wednesday.  A large bonfire was built and on Tuesday night after a parade, it was lit.

“CELEBRATION AT KOROIT” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039937

In Warrnambool, people waited outside the Standard office for the news on the evening of 11 November.  Fire bells started ringing as soon as the news was read out.

“PEACE AT LAST!” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 3 (DAILY.). Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039813

A torchlight parade was organised for Tuesday night with a massed tin-can band.

“STATEMENT BY MR. WATT.” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 3 (DAILY.). Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039792

Buildings and streets across Warrnambool were decorated with flags and bunting.

“THE CELEBRATIONS IN WARRNAMBOOL.” Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039829

Camperdown residents rushed into Manifold Street.

“General Rejoicing.” Camperdown Chronicle (Vic. : 1877 – 1954) 12 November 1918: 2. Web. 10 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article32180700

Cobden celebrated too.

“PEACE AT LAST.” Cobden Times (Vic. : 1918) 13 November 1918 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article119543664

In Colac, they went “wild”.

“Local Rejoicings” Colac Reformer (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 12 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154137089

 

“PEACE CELEBRATION.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 13 November 1918: 3. Web. 5 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74474856

A torchlight parade took place on Tuesday night.

“COLAC AT NIGHT.” The Colac Herald (Vic. : 1875 – 1918) 13 November 1918: 3. Web. 7 Nov 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74474852

A TIN CAN BAND READY FOR COLAC’S TORCHLIGHT PARADE ON 12 NOVEMBER 1918. Image courtesy of the Museums Victoria Collections https://collections.museumvictoria.com.au/items/771371

 

“CELEBRATIONS IN COLAC” Colac Reformer (Vic. : 1914 – 1918) 14 November 1918: http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154135561

.Despite all the celebrations, the underlying feeling was summed up by the Warrnambool Standard.

 

BIRDS OF PEACE! (1918, November 14). Warrnambool Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1918), p. 3 (DAILY.). Retrieved November 7, 2018, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article74039924