Walcha History: Town celebrates news of WWI armistice

A group of Walcha’s WWI recruits led by the town band while marching up Derby Street to a send-off at the showground.
A group of Walcha’s WWI recruits led by the town band while marching up Derby Street to a send-off at the showground.

Armistice agreements were negotiated with several countries, including Bulgaria and Austria, before one was signed by Germany, with hostilities to cease at 11am on November 11, 1918. It was then possible to begin peace treaty negotiations, a process which took many months to complete.

The Tamworth Daily Observer of November 19, 1918, reported on Walcha’s response to reports of the signing of the armistice: “The good news did not reach Walcha until 9.30pm on Monday, November 11, but within a few minutes the church bells began to peal and people came from all directions. The tin can band soon got going and kept up a perfect din until well after midnight while the crowds roared and cheered in their joyfulness.

“At 10am on Tuesday, the local committee, headed by the mayor, met at the council chambers and arranged a program. All the businesses in the town were closed and at 2.30pm a procession, headed by the local band, marched throughout the town with a large following of the public together with motorcars and various displays. Prizes were given for the best representation of the Kaiser, the Crown Prince, Admiral Tirpitz, von Hindenberg, etc.

“After the procession the crowd assembled in the council chambers yard where a stage, with piano, had been erected and seats provided for the public. The terms of the armistice were read out and the crowd showed its appreciation by cheering. Addresses were given by the Mayor, Rev. Riley, Rev O’Connor, Ald. Lovett and Mr Townshend. The Wayback Girls entertained with songs and choruses.”

During his address the mayor appealed for assistance for Mr Frank Goman, who was on the sick list and who had lost one son in 1916 while another had been wounded and was still in hospital. The appeal resulted in £40 being raised.

Marching and singing continued on the Wednesday afternoon. During the proceedings Mr A.S. Gill conducted a sale of bags made by wounded soldiers and raised £14. Plans were also put in place for a monster celebratory picnic to be held as soon as possible.