Monday, November 11, 2013

Thames (NZ): Armistice Day 2013

The town's fire siren has just given a short blast to mark the 11th hour of the 11th month.  Younger generations may wonder why and not even have heard of ARMISTICE DAY.

After four terrible years, the First World War finally came to a close with the signing of an armistice between Germany and the Allied Powers on 11 November 1918. On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the guns famously fell silent. New Zealanders celebrated enthusiastically, despite having recently celebrated the surrenders of the three other Central Powers – Bulgaria, Turkey and Austria-Hungary - and the premature news of an armistice with Germany.
The celebrations for the various armistices had similarities with each other, with those held overseas, and with other celebrations in the past or near future. Bells rang, bunting went up, songs were sung and speeches made. More organised celebrations came later in the day or over the following days. Most people anticipated the armistice with Germany and made plans in advance.
Variations in the celebrations reflected the perceived importance of the various surrenders, the depth and spread of the influenza pandemic, and the forethought given to the preparations. The limited amount of advance warning and the disruption caused by the influenza pandemic contributed to the enthusiasm with which New Zealand’s official peace celebrations in July 1919 were embraced.


The first commemoration in 1919 must have been a very touching moment for people all around New Zealand and Thames people all stopped and remembered. The people of the wider Hauraki region had lost approximated 550 young men, with hundreds more injured or ill with war related illnesses. It was a period that families would not forget.
Thames Star 11/11/1919

 ' Sir George Grey Special Collections, Auckland Libraries, AWNS-19140924-45-2
Above are seven Thames boys who joined the NZEF in 1914, they were members of the 6th Hauraki Company
Back left to right: Sgt Johnson, Troopers Shand, Trotter, Gibson
Front left to right: Troopers Bennett, Wells, Stewart