Armistice Day in Petone

The First World War came to a close with the signing of an armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers on 11 November 1918. Fighting famously ceased at the 11th hour.

The news was received in New Zealand on the morning of the 12th. However New Zealanders had been celebrating since Germany’s allies began surrendering a fortnight before.

The telegram that informed New Zealand’s Governor-General, Lord Liverpool, of the signing of the Armistice.

Germany’s surrender had initially been reported by New Zealand newspapers on the 8th of November. Celebrations proceeded despite the government announcing this a false alarm.

Just like everywhere else Petone residents were swept up in the excitement.

Dominion 5 November 1918
Dominion 9 November 1918

This planning and preparation meant that Petone was able to hold an official event on the 12th. An unnamed witness described it like this,

Armistice Day was a day to remember, the Hun had been beaten, Empire and country were safe. We all marched down Jackson Street with banners and flags, beating drums and blowing bagpipes and trumpets. At the Old Rec. it was a day of speeches. We had won. It was a tremendous feeling. (Kenneally, J.M. & B.M. (1983). Past days in Lower Hutt and Petone, p.83)

Armistice Day, Petone, provenance unknown. (Petone Settlers Museum Collection.)

Unfortunately the festivities were tempered by the influenza pandemic that was sweeping the country at the time. The pandemic caused over 8600 deaths in the last three months of 1918.

New Zealand Free Lance, 14 November 1918
Evening Post, 22 November 1918

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