Some events around Peace Day 19 July 1919, as reported in the Melbourne press over one week
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The Victory March
SCENES ALONG THE ROUTE
Clang of bells, cheering voices and the tramp of many feet heralded the approach of the first section of the procession as it moved off from Princes-bridge and came into view thousands of spectators grouped on the station steps.
Down Swanston-street came the first cars bearing the wounded men from the hospitals. The volume of cheering rang out and echoed through the city. The cars flashed out of sight.
Then came the white-capped army nurses, and in memory of the magnificent work they had performed in all the theatres of war, in Egypt, and Salonica and France, the spectators again paid tribute. Afterwards followed the old naval veterans of the Chinese war, and then the men of the Royal Australian Navy - the silent fighters who had kept the watches through the grey mists of the North Sea.
The public remembered.
And then followed the men for whom the people had been waiting. Down the roadway came the Australian Light Horse and the other corps which fought so stubbornly and valiantly in Egypt and Mesopotamia. Along the barriers the volume of applause was caught up, repeated and strengthened by many voices. As the battalions swung past the air was filled with a weird resonance of sound - the bells, the cheers and the echoing coo-ees. The deep roar of the men and the shrill cries of hysterical women cheered the members of the gallant battalions on.
From vantage points on the verandahs, through the shop windows and on the roofs of buildings, the volley of applause floated down. Up above the staccato stroke from the engines of several aeroplanes came down in a metallic chorus as the machines wheeled and flew above the city...
As the war trophies - wicked little machine guns, which had spat death to the ranks of the captors barely a year ago, and the grey formidable field guns - were carried by on the infantry waggons the spectators applauded, although they were not jubilant. But the feelings of the crowd changed suddenly as the tank came into view. The grotesque war engine lurched and lumbered along the roadway - a grim terrifying machine.
A trooper’s horse, which had stoically withstood the waving of a hundred flags, made a dash for the other side of the road. Many spectators felt inclined to do the same thing...
Eleven a.m. and the dramatic moment of the procession came with startling suddenness. The Last Post was sounded. The silvery call of the bugles echoed through the silent streets, lingered and died away.
Soldiers stood at attention. Men bared their heads. A few seconds later and the soldiers marched on.
The tension was broken.
AFFRAY AT VICTORIA BARRACKS.
As the result of a serious disturbance in front of Victoria Barracks last night ten arrests were made by the police, and a man named James O’Connor, of Madeline-street, Carlton, was shot below the heart. He was first treated at the base hospital, and then conveyed to Caulfield military hospital, where he was operated on last night. His condition is extremely serious...
Late last night it was ascertained that no civil charges had been laid against any of the alleged offenders in the disturbance, who were all handed over to the custody of the military authorities.
A large contingent of returned soldiers of the fourth division disembarked from the transport Beltana at the new pier, Port Melbourne, on Saturday afternoon. After being welcomed by the State Commandant, Brigadier-General Brand, the men were driven in motor cars through the city, where they were accorded a most enthusiastic reception by the large crowds participating in the Peace celebrations.
The Victorians, numbering 375, were examined at the “finalisation” depot in record time and the remainder - 1000 for New South Wales - and 250 for Queensland - left by train for Sydney. On Friday night 390 Victorian soldiers from the transport Rio Pardo arrived in Melbourne by train from Adelaide.
The Age Tuesday 22 July 1919
Serious riots, which were disgraceful to the perpetrators and menacing to the well-being of the community as a whole, occurred in Melbourne yesterday. The disturbances were a sequel to those that took place on Saturday night and Sunday night, and they were indistinguishably a concerted attempt on the part of returned soldiers to take their revenge upon the police, and upon one officer in particular, for the antagonism that, it was alleged, had previously been shown to returned soldiers and women and children in the streets.
The instigators were about 300 or 400 members of the Victorian branch of the Returned Sailors and Soldier’s Imperial League, who assembled at a meeting in the morning to give vent to their indignation against the police, and to decide upon a course of action.
As the day wore on their numbers increased and their ill-temper alike increased, and they only dispersed after they had raided the Government offices, assaulted and wounded the Premier, injured several policemen and committed numerous acts of wanton destruction to Government property.
One policeman was treated at the Melbourne Hospital for a wound on his head, caused by a heavy stone which broke through his helmet. Another received a severe bruise on his shoulder from a piece of iron, and several others sustained minor injuries.
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