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[ GLORY DAYS ]
“Crowds remained about the streets until late at night.
“While the sirens were sounding yesterday morning,
crews of ships and tugs brought out all their fags
from their lockers, and by the time the frst joy-riders
in the home-made peace procession were skirting the
dockside for variety in their celebrations, the ships
looked gay and their fags gave an answering wave to
gesticulating fgures beyond the railway gates.
“Newcastle people heard the news in different ways,
and differently they responded to it. Few thought of
anything but the wonderful news . . .”
It was actually Newcastle’s second celebration of
the “end” of World War II, the frst for V-Day (victory
in Europe) and the second for VP-Day (victory in the
V-Day was a muted affair compared with VP-Day,
when residents of the Hunter really let their hair down.
It was late at night, around 11pm on May 8, when news
that the war in Europe was over broke in Newcastle,
amidst noise from ships, trains and cars and the ringing
bells of Christ Church Cathedral.
By midnight about 500 people had gathered outside
Newcastle Post Offce and began an impromptu dance,
using their singing to keep the dance beat.
There were more celebrations the next day, and men
charged with drunkenness all gave the same excuse:
“Was celebrating V-Day”, and all were discharged with
the same verdict: “Admonished and discharged.”
Shortly after eight o’clock at night on Monday, November 11, 1918, the bulletin board outside the offces
of the Newcastle Herald and Miners’ Advocate in Bolton St displayed a cable message announcing an
armistice had been signed – World War I had ended.
The next day The Herald told of how “the news was quickly telephoned to all the places of amusement and
to various suburbs, and as it spread steam whistles, hooters and bells announced that the period of tension
was over and that the terms of the Allies had been accepted.”
“An enormous crowd quickly gathered in front of The Herald offce, and the singing ofGod Save the King
was the frst united thanksgiving of the citizens of Newcastle for the victory in the winning of which so
many district men have fought and laid down their lives,” the report said.
At the Strand Theatre patrons, on hearing the news, rose and sang all the patriotic songs they could think
of. At the Victoria Theatre, the company and orchestra assembled in front of the theatre and began to
entertain the crowd.
In accordance with church tradition a peace bell rang at Christ Church Cathedral for an hour.
The celebrations continued until the early morning and began again as people went to work, surprisingly
the frst band appearing on the streets to lead the growing and excited crowd was the Newcastle Chinese
band, which gathered at the Ocean Baths and marched into the city.
Men, women and children seized anything that would make a noise. Impromptu processions formed, one
made up of girls who, with the aid of tin cans, trumpets and whistles, produced what was said to be “an
indescribable medley of sound”.
Tram whistles screeched on all the routes into the city and railway workers from Honeysuckle marched in
a body to the memorial statue in front of Newcastle Post Offce. Workers from the Walsh Island dockyard
formed a similar procession while Hustler’s employees formed their own procession, marching up and back
along Hunter St, where a bulldog draped in an Australian fag and the Union Jack wandered.
At Newcastle Court, a handful of drunks who celebrated too much the previous evening were all told to
leave the court and rejoin the celebrations.
Various organisations – councils, church groups, unions, schools and so on – put together an offcial
procession and church services.
A procession along Hunter St included many of the organisations that had done so much during the
war years, including Stockton Junior Red Cross Sunbeam Circle, Stockton Hearts of Oak, Dinkum Girls,
Broadmeadow Coo-ee Girls, Cardiff Busy Bees, Merewether Voluntary Workers, Carrington Southern Cross
League, Waratah Patriotic League, New Lambton Girls’ Patriotic League and many others.
Great War ends
Confetti rains down from The Newcastle Herald offce
in Bolton St celebrating war’s end, left, A war bonds march
in Hunter St during the war, above, and a parade in Hunter
St on Armistice Day, 1918.
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