“A huge concourse gathered in the precincts of the Town Hall, cars, traps decorated vehicles and lorries lining up in Morrow street and backing even into Peter Street. Never before in the history of Wagga had been seen such a huge and spectacular carnival in the embryo. As the hour of starting drew near the atmosphere came tense with excitement. Motors tooted and shrieked, horse vehicles rattled to their respective places in the coming procession, and lorries rumbled under their freight of singing celebrators, their flags and bunting set like schooners in full sail. Eager pedestrians ran to and fro with no particular objective in view except moving about and making a noise.”

THIS was The Daily Advertiser’s description on November 13, 1918, of the start of celebrations in Wagga Wagga after the signing of the Armistice two days earlier that ended World War I, the worst military conflict in the history of the world.

Wagga Wagga, and indeed Australia, paid a high price for its involvement in the four-year war, so the unprecedented outpouring of joy at news of the Armistice simply reflected relief the bloodshed was over and anticipation our surviving loved ones were coming home at last.

From a national population of less than five million, 416,819 men enlisted, of whom more than 60,000 were killed and 156,000 were wounded, gassed or taken prisoner.

Recent estimates put the number of killed at 62,000.

The Battle of Polygon Wood alone claimed 5700 casualties, and in eight weeks of fighting between September and October, 1918, the Australian Imperial Force suffered some 38,000 casualties.

The Nationals’ Member for Riverina, Michael McCormack, today announced $50,000 was available to the people of the Riverina and Central West through the Armistice Centenary Grants Program to mark the centenary of the Armistice.

The Liberals and Nationals’ Government has allocated $7.5 million nationally for the program.

The minimum grant available is $3000.

“The Armistice Centenary Grants Program will support projects or activities that commemorate the end of World War I,” Mr McCormack said.

“I encourage groups in the Riverina and Central West to apply for funding to mark this important milestone in Australia’s history.

“I will soon form a consultation committee whose role will be to seek the community’s view on how best to commemorate the Centenary of Armistice.”

The Riverina and Central West over the past three years have a wonderful record of marking the major milestones of World War I, including the April 25, 1915, landings at Gallipoli and the start of the Kangaroo March in Wagga Wagga in December, 1915.

“I hope activities and projects to mark the centenary of the Armistice are as enthusiastic as these recent events in order to perpetuate our gratitude to the men and women whose sacrifices 100 years ago preserved our freedom and way of life,” Mr McCormack said.

Expressions of interest in the grants should be lodged with Mr McCormack’s office before November 11.

The consultative committee will then consider the expressions of interest and invite applications to be lodged after that date.

Projects that can be considered include public commemoration of the Centenary of Armistice Day, new war memorials, new honour boards/rolls or plaques, restoration of memorials and honour boards, flagpoles, publication of wartime histories and display cabinets.

Incorporated associations (if seeking funding of $10,000 or more), ex-service organisations, not-for-profit community organisations, educational institutions, museum or cultural institutions, historical associations and councils are eligible to lodge expressions of interest.

The expected end date for all grant activities is November 11, 2018, the centenary of Armistice Day.

Further details are available by contacting Mr McCormack’s office on 02 6921 4600 or by visiting or calling 1800 555 254.


Ken Grimson