The End of the War – Hostilities Cease
About 7.30pm on Monday 11 Nov 1918, around the time the Bay steamers were returning from their day’s excursion, the news that Germany had signed the armistice reached the port. Suddenly a ‘powerful whistle on the Port Melbourne shore echoed across the Bay’1 and for the next half hour the Bayside resounded to the grand chorus of sirens and ship’s whistles. In anticipation of Germany’s surrender, many of the shipping companies had displayed bunting and pennants during the day.
By 8 o’clock, passengers arriving in Bay Street on the tram from the city were spreading the news that cable messages confirming the armistice had arrived in Melbourne.
Upstairs in the Mayor’s Room at the Town Hall, the mayor, Cr Richard H Gill, took the chair for the meeting of the Anzac Reception Committee. Addressing the 50 ladies and gentlemen assembled he said he was ‘pleased and proud … to hear that it is reported that an armistice had been signed by representatives of the Allies, and by envoys of the enemy’.2
Cr Gill had invited two representatives from each of the local Patriotic Committees, Friendly Societies, Lodges, Clubs and Associations to the meeting via a notice in the Saturday edition of the Standard newspaper. The purpose of the committee was to plan for the official welcome and entertainment of ‘Anzacs and Returned Soldiers residing in the Town.’3 A large contingent of soldiers was enroute to Melbourne as part of the special leave arranged by Prime Minister, Billy Hughes, for soldiers who had enlisted in 1914 and were still on active service. They were due to arrive in Port before the end of November.
After the mayor had led the assembly in the singing of the National Anthem, “God Save the King”, sounds of the ringing of handbells and the chorusing of youths marching along the streets could be heard.
The Bowling Club was also meeting that evening at their club house in Spring Street. At the urging of Mr W Watson, cheers were given by the members for the victory of the Allies and a toast was proposed to the King in the form of a stirring patriotic address. Mr J Hart asked the gathering to drink to the boys at the front and wish them a safe and speedy return. Cr William Howe proposed a toast to “The Empire and her Allies” before the joyous celebrations were interrupted when reverent respect was paid to the men who had given their lives for the fight for the freedom of the world. The National Anthem was then sung. And, as would be repeated on numerous occasions throughout the week in Port, the members sang patriotic songs.4
‘On Tuesday morning, before 8 o’clock, the 700 girls and 650 men and lads employed at … Swallow and Ariell assembled at the factory – but not to work’.5 They cheered the King, the Empire, the Allies, and Australia again and again. They then marched to the railway station, to await the arrival of their Managing Director Mr F T Derham , cheering and singing patriotic songs, waving flags and playing kettle drums improvised from biscuit tins as they went.6
Mr Derham was pleased to see his people in such a mood for rejoicing. He was received with ringing cheers after which he referred proudly to the large number of employees of the firm who had enlisted and to the war work of the other employees and the ‘bee’ especially. He paid a tribute of reverent respect to the memory of the employees who had made the supreme sacrifice. This was received in profound silence. The National Anthem was sung and cheers were given to Great Britain and the Allies.
Formally dismissed from work for the day by Mr Derham, the employees formed up in processional order and marched up and down the Bay Street singing patriotic songs, including ‘La Marseillaise’, and waving flags. The firm’s motor wagons were at the head of the column and the horse vans and wagons, with the horses decorated with colours, brought up the rear. [Read more…]
Swallows employees were not the only workers to get the day off. The Victorian Premier, Mr Harry Lawson, called a special meeting of parliament at 9 o’clock to proclaim a public holiday for the day.7
Back in Port, ‘flags were hoisted over all manufacturing establishments and trading houses in the town, as well as the banks. Every house was decked with flags. Ships in the Bay were lined with streamers of bunting’.8 At the police station, Sgt Vallance sent two young constables to borrow a flag. The navy lent them an ensign and with a staff secured from another source they raised the flag from the chimney of the barracks.9
The municipal electric foreman, Mr Frank Winwood, and his staff had decorated the Town Hall with horizontal bands of red, white and blue lights with lamps tracing the lines of the building from the base to the top of the tower where a large blue globe crowned the illuminations.10
Brother Austin, the Grand Chief Templar of Victoria, presided over the meeting of the Mutual Help Lodge held at the lodge room in Graham Street on the Tuesday evening.11 The meeting was opened with the singing of the National Anthem followed by the lodge’s version of “God Bless Our Splendid Men”. Brother C H Martin proposed a motion expressing unswerving loyalty to the British throne and Empire and calling for a letter of congratulations be forwarded to the Minister of Defence. The motion was carried enthusiastically. The meeting heard that all eligible members (over 60 men) had enlisted and at least ten had laid down their lives. Reference was also made to a quote from Lloyd George who had said early in the war, the Empire had three great foes to fight – Germany, Austria and drink. Good Templars had done their part in defeating Germany and Austria and would continue to carry on until the third and greatest foe – drink – had been defeated. [Read more…]
Also on Tuesday evening, Mr Coleman, led a jubilant possession of residents of all ages from Tribe Street as they formed themselves into an improvised band consisting of a great variety of loud-sounding implements and marched into Port and paraded along Bay Street.12
On Wednesday morning it was the turn of Nott Street State School to mark the end of the war. At 11.30 they paraded in the school grounds where they saluted the flag, sang the National Anthem and patriotic airs.13 The pupils were addressed by Mr Richards (headmaster), Cr J P Crichton (chairman of the school committee), Cr O Sinclair and Mr J L Murphy MLA. With members of the school committee, Crs Crichton and Sinclair and three boys carrying three flags forming the advance guard, the pupils marched to the Town Hall where the again sang the National Anthem, gave cheers for the Allies and were given a half day off by me Richards who was then given three rousing hurrahs. [Read more…]
Later at a social evening held by the Port Melbourne branch of National Federation Patriotic Committee, the president, Mr Arthur Hester, moved that the branch “expresses devoted loyalty to the throne and Empire, and desires to congratulate the Allies upon their splendid victory for the cause of liberty”. The motion was carried unanimously with a strong patriotic note not just in the motion but in the songs rendered during the evening.14
The celebrations showed no signs of waning on the Thursday evening when the Friendly Societies’ Dispensary committee of management met for their monthly meeting. The president, Mr S Spielvogel, put forward a motion of thankfulness to the Almighty, Britain and the Allies for the glorious victory and also of deepest sympathy to families of those who had lost their loved ones. He said the first half of his motion was with a spirit of felicity and the latter half with deep reverence to the memory of the fallen. The National Anthem was sung and at the call of Miss Adams, cheers were given for the victory of the Allies.15 [Read more…]
Not to be outdone, the Citizens’ Patriotic Committee under chairman Cr J P Crichton, formed into marching order at the Navy Office and marched along Bay Street.16
On the Friday evening, the mayor, Cr R H Gill organised a public meeting to acknowledge the end of the war. Some 900 citizens attended to carry a resolution of joy of the citizens for the victory achieved by the armies of Great Britain and her Allies. As the crowd assembled a young lady at the piano accompanied them in the singing of patriotic airs. They sang the National Anthem and listened to a patriotic address by Cr Gill. Mr J Matthews MHR also spoke proposing the motion previously mentioned and Mr J L Murphy MLA in seconding the motion paid homage to the mothers who had lost sons during the war. Mr G A Maxwell speaking in support of the motion concluded the speeches. The motion was carried with ringing cheers.17
Not everyone was happy with the choice of Friday evening as the day for the public meeting but the mayor, Cr Gill, explained that he did not want the week to pass without the citizens being able to record their congratulations upon the victory and Friday was the only day the Town Hall was available. Businessmen whose establishments were not closing until 9.00pm were disappointed at the arrangements but were somewhat assuaged when it was announced that the meeting would continue until 10.00pm allowing them to attend.18
The week concluded at the local churches where services of thanksgiving were offered to God for the victory of the Allies.19 [Read more…]
1 1918 ‘THE NEWS ON THE BAY.’, The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 – 1954), 12 November, p. 5. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article155241152
2 1918 ‘HOSTILITIES CEASE.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368401
3 1918 ‘Advertising’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 9 November, p. 2. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88369583
4 1918 ‘Bowling Club.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368392
5 1918 ‘Swallow’s Employees Rejoice.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368398
7 1918 ‘PUBLIC HOLIDAY TO-DAY.’, The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 – 1957), 12 November, p. 5. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1424932
8 1918 ‘General Holiday Proclaimed.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368396
9 1918 ‘Constabulary’s Felicities.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368393
10 1918 ‘General Holiday Proclaimed.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368396
11 1918 ‘Good Templars.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368390
12 1918 ‘Other Manifestations.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368424
13 1918 ‘Nott-street School.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368394
14 1918 ‘Other Manifestations.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368424
15 1918 ‘Friendly Societies’ Dispensary.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368391
16 1918 ‘Other Manifestations.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368424
17 1918 ‘CITIZENS’ JOY RECORDED.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 23 November, p. 2. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368562
18 1918 ‘ITEMS OF NEWS.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 2. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368395
19 1918 ‘Thanksgiving Services To-morrow.’, Port Melbourne Standard (Vic. : 1914 – 1920), 16 November, p. 3. , viewed 09 Nov 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article88368422