WA History

Peace! Peace! Peace!

An extract from The Daily News (12 November 1918; Page 6) describing the scenes in Perth as the armistice and the end of the war was announced to an awaiting crowd.

In the City

Throughout the day the people had waited for its coming; waited with ever-growing expectancy. A few minutes after 6 p.m. the first message, received from Washington, via Montreal, was posted in front of “The Daily News” office. It was not official; but the crowd quickly began to gather, though the flood gates of joy were not then thrown ajar. A second message came an hour or more later – official from Vancouver. Still the crowd, now quickly swelling, refused to let go. But they were ready for any lead. A Salvation Army officer gave it. Climbing aloft, he called, “Are we downhearted?” The thunderous roar of the answering “No, No, No,” was followed by the cry, “Then sing ‘God Save the King.’” How it was sung!

Following this came the official messages. This was shortly after 9 o’clock. By arrangement with Mr Curlewis, of the Observatory, the gun was then invoked to send the great tidings resounding over the city and suburbs. The first dull boom on the night air, reaching out to the distant suburbs, was followed almost immediately by a mighty chorus of noises.

In front of “The Daily News” office a great throng had now assembled, and when the official messages were posted the scene was indescribable. The air was rent with mighty cheers, and the singing of the national and patriotic songs. Then the Mayor (Mr. W. F. Lathlain) climbed up on the ledge of the front window. For over an hour he led the crowd, always increasing in number, in a wild but fervent jubilation. When the third boom of the Observatory gun had sounded, people knew that Rumor had made her exit and Fact had entered. Then, in every home, humble cottage alike with splendid mansion, broke forth the music of the heart. Streets quickly began to fill with people, there was a rush citywards, trams carrying such crowds as had never been carried before, and leaving thousands by the wayside.

The chorus of noises went on incessantly. Trams and trains, with overflowing loads of cheering humanity emptied into the city, the streets of which soon became densely packed.

From the balcony, and beneath the strong lights in front of this office, the scene was unforgettable. Joy unspeakable was written large on every upturned countenance. Men were carried away in the paroxysm, and so far cared for nought that they embraced each other and danced for very joy. Down many faces tears – tears of joy and tears springing out of sacred and imperishable memories – slowly coursed, but all united in the great celebration.

Reinforced by the Terrace crowd, Hay-street at 11 o’clock was impassable. From end to end, Barrack to William streets, it was a seething mass of people celebrating the news with wildest enthusiasm. Kerosene buckets and a variety of tins were forthcoming in surprising quantities in these days of tin scarcity, and bands of youths and maidens, drumming upon these, struggled through the masses of people, singing and cheering. Far into the morning these scenes were still being enacted, until utter weariness and loss of voice compelled brief rest before the celebrations of to-day again let loose the feelings of the people.


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