Some events around Peace Day 19 July 1919, as reported in the Melbourne press over one week
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OUR RETURNED SOLDIERS. TROOPS LAND TO-DAY
The Age, Thursday 17 July 1919
With a contingent of 600 men on board the troopship
ARRANGEMENTS FOR TOMORROW
PUBLIC HOLIDAY PROCLAIMED
ALL HOTELS TO CLOSE - All licensed premises in the Commonwealth are to be compulsorily closed on Saturday (Peace Celebration Day). The Federal Government decided on this step yesterday, and a special “Gazette” was issued last night containing a regulation under the War Precautions Act, providing that the holder of any licence granted under any State Act, or any ordinance for the sale of intoxicating liquor.
RETURNED SOLDIERS’ LEAGUE - In connection with the peace celebrations a decision was reached at last night’s meeting of the Committee of the Victorian branch of the Returned Soldiers’ League that £20 be given to a ladies’ committee which was undertaking the decoration of the Swanston Street building, and that an additional £20 be also placed at the disposal of the keeper of the buffet, in order to provide meals for a large number of soldiers who were stated to be out of work, some of whom were in vital need.
PEACE CELEBRATION DAY - There will be no publication of the Age tomorrow, Saturday 19th instant.
PEACE DAY - No mails despatched tomorrow, Peace Day. Queensland and Broken Hill mails will be despatched today (Friday) owing to tomorrow (Saturday) being a holiday.
CAFES AND RESTAURANTS will be Closed To-morrow.
PRIVILEGES FOR SOLDIERS - Returned men in uniform will not lack amusement when the march is over, and they are free for the afternoon. The Victorian Amateur Turf Club will admit them to a meeting at Caulfield, and the League and Association extend them a cordial welcome to attend the football matches. At the Military Hostel, Watson’s Place, city, tomorrow, the Salvation Army will supply meals free to returned soldiers.
LOCAL CELEBRATIONS. PROGRAMME of EVENTS
PEACE CLEMENCY - Remission of Sentences - As an act of clemency on the occasion of the Peace celebrations that are to take place tomorrow, the Federal Government has decided to release members of the Australian military forces undergoing terms of imprisonment in Australia for military offences.
THE VICTORY MARCH - Arrangements for To-morrow - Tomorrow will be celebrated throughout the Commonwealth, a public holiday has been proclaimed for the occasion. The chief event in Melbourne will be the great victory march of naval and military units, which is timed to leave Princes bridge at 10.15 a.m.
The route of the march will be as follows:-
The head of the column should pass Federal Parliament House at 11 a.m., and the whole procession is expected to take at least an hour in passing any one point on the route. In the March returned sailors and soldiers of the navy and the A.I.F., representative of every branch of the fighting forces, will take part, the parade being under the command of the State Commandant, Brigadier General Brand...
The men will assemble at 10am. Officers, N.C.O’s and men of the Imperial Forces may take part in the procession. They should report at the rendezvous of the unit to which they belong, when their places in the line will be allocated to them. A number of guns and war trophies captured by the Australians in France will be included in the procession, being distributed along the lines, and eighteen military bands will take their place in the column.
The Age, Monday 21 July 1919
Many people have good cause to remember the Peace celebrations of Saturday night. Scores bear wounds in the shape of cut heads and contusions, while hundreds experienced narrow escapes from being struck down by policemen’s batons or being trampled upon by the horses of charging troopers.
In the early portion of the evening everything promised well. The crowd indulged in considerable jostling, of course. All manner of pleasantries were in evidence. Sailors, soldiers and young bloods openly embraced young women who, truth to tell, were unprotesting.
On the Town Hall balcony a military band discoursed tuneful music, and a space having been cleared a score of youths and maidens danced on the wood paving of Collins-street. Good humour was the predominant note, and until well after 9 o’clock, the evening’s proceedings were reminiscent of never-to-be-forgotten Mafeking night. Then came a change for the worse. A number of men in naval and military uniform, some of whom it is said were masqueraders, and not sailors or soldiers at all, exceeded the limits that are admissible, even on such occasions, and the police deemed it necessary to arrest two of them.
The offenders were lodged within the police depot at the Town Hall, and before long a crowd was hammering at the door. Led by soldiers, they demanded the release of their comrades. An attempt was made to force open the door, and at that moment of high tension someone in the crowd discharged a revolver.
At first the police endeavoured to induce the crowd to disperse by the use of tactful persuasion. The response was a shower of stones and broken bottles. Peace had given way to war. Tried beyond endurance, the troopers charged the crowd and used their batons unsparingly, their blows falling alike on the just and the unjust. Naturally the excitement grew intense. In the effort to escape the horses’ hooves and the policemen’s batons people rushed in all directions but it was a difficult matter to gain a haven of safety.
The crush on the footpaths became terrific, and at the street corners the pressure was so intense that something had to go. The crashing of windows at the Leviathan Store, corner of Bourke and Swanston streets, was the first of several similar incidentals of these rushes, and lent added excitement to some of the most exciting scenes ever witnessed in the streets of Melbourne.
For hours, with placid intervals, these scenes were repeated. Immediately the troops stopped patrolling Swanston-street the whole area would become congested; the acts of some intoxicated or foolhardy persons would necessitate police interference. This invariably brought forth considerable hooting, and once more the troopers would charge. The shrieks of womenfolk, the cries of injured men and the yells of those whose delight seemed to be the hurling of imprecations at the police, all helped to create pandemonium.
Shortly before midnight the crowd, which had become reinforced by the theatre patrons, began to dissolve, and when the last train had left for the suburbs the danger of more serious rioting was over... Arrests were made.
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