Armistice Day in Adelaide: 100 Years Ago

After four long, horrific and heartbreaking years of war, Monday 11 November 1918 was a day that changed history. It’s the day known as the day “the war ended”, although technically it continued for some time afterwards.

It’s the day when the Armistice agreement was signed.

And when news of the signing of the Armistice came, it was celebrated around the world, including in my home city of Adelaide, South Australia. The newspapers reported it, and photographs were taken, so through these we get a small sense of the overwhelming relief and joy.

From the Eyre’s Peninsula Tribune, Friday 22 November 1918, comes the following article:

The Armistice Celebrations.
Tuesday and Thursday will be ever memorable in Australia’s history. On Monday night the signing of the armistice by Germany was announced, and it was not long before the streets were thronged with delighted crowds. Everywhere the people gave themselves over to orderly thanksgiving for the Allied deliverance of civilisation from the hands of the unspeakable Hun. Festivities were indulged in up to a late hour, few being more enthusiastic in heaping maledictions on the enemy than many thousands of men and youths who “went to war” by not going to it. On Tuesday the solemn official celebration drew the biggest concourse the city has ever known. North Terrace was packed, with sightseers anxious to express their joyful feelings at the successful termination of the conflict. Parliament met in the afternoon and surpassed itself with orations that really adorn the pages of “Hansard.”
On Wednesday the celebrations continued to a lesser extent, to be revived on Thursday, when the refusal of the tramway employes to man the cars marred the whole of the proceedings.
It is hoped – nothing of a similar, nature will occur when Peace Day is celebrated — an event that is expected to happen in the near future.

Armistice Day celebrations, King William Street, Adelaide, 12 November 1918
[State Library of South Australia, B 5513]

Armistice Day celebrations on North Terrace, Adelaide, 12 November 1918
[State Library of SA, B 8830]

And to bring the celebrations even closer to home, the newspapers reported what went on in my hometown of Gumeracha. The following was in the Chronicle, 16 November 1918, p.20.

Gumeracha, November 12.
There was great rejoicing when it was known that Germany has signed the armistice. All of the places of business were closed and a general holiday was observed. In the evening a public meeting was held in the town hall. The chairman of the district council (Mr. D. Hanna) presided over a large gathering. Mr E. H. Hannaford moved a loyal resolution, which was carried enthusiastically. Choruses were given by the children of the public school. The Drum and Fife Band played, and songs were given my the Misses Hartlett and Northworthy. Speeches were delivered by Messrs. E. H. Hannaford, Revs. A. Talbot and Hartlett, and the chairman.

So while it’s exciting to see the excitement and jubilation of Armistice Day, we still can’t forget that what started with one bullet on 28 June 1914, ended years over four later with approx 16-20 million people dead, and another approx. 20 million wounded.

To say the world was changed  forever would be an understatement. People were changed, families were changed, and entire communities were too.

While current generations for the most part, are not personally familiar with the atrocities of war and all that it brings, it doesn’t mean that we don’t remember and commemorate those who fought and those who died for their country.

Armistice 1918-2018 

Lest We Forget


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