Our history and heritage

Sydney’s joy at the end of World War I

More than 100 years ago, people erupted in celebration as 4 years of battle were finally declared over.

  • Monday, 11 November 1918 was a day of great celebration in Sydney.

    After days of rumours about an Armistice, the people of Sydney received the news they’d been waiting for. The Great War was over.

    News of the Armistice on 11 November reached Sydneysiders that evening. Thousands of people travelled to the inner city to celebrate. Confetti and flags filled the air and cheering crowds assembled in every neighbourhood. Church bells rang, and trains and ferries sounded their horns.

    Credit: National Library of Australia
  • Extra trams brought people into the city and were caught in a sea of celebration when they arrived.

    This picture shows a tram on Victoria Street overloaded with people celebrating the Armistice on 11 November 1918.

    The Sydney Morning Herald said: “Never in the history of Sydney did a greater flood of passengers flow over the evening service of trams, trains, and ferries.” By 9pm crowds in Martin Place, Pitt and George streets were so dense it was almost impossible to move.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Announcing news of the Armistice on 12 November at midday in Martin Place.

    Dignitaries joined the celebrations standing on a model of the 'Destroyer' ship, which was placed in Martin Place in September 1918 to promote war loans.

    The Daily Telegraph said the Lord Mayor led proceedings. “We have met here today,” he cried “to rejoice at a glorious victory and a lasting peace!”

    The governor, lord mayor, state premier, church leaders and police joined returned soldiers on the model 'Destroyer' deck leading the crowd in patriotic song.

    Two days of public holidays were declared.

    Credit: National Library of Australia
  • 'WE HAVE WON!’ The Daily Telegraph, 13 November 1918.

    The crowd paused as the last post echoed off city buildings.

    A news reporter describes how the historic moment of remembrance was first observed for those who fought, before the crowds erupted in celebration once again (‘WE HAVE WON!’, The Daily Telegraph, 13 November 1918.)

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Crowds in Martin Place celebrating Armistice

    Men, women and children celebrated throughout the day and into the night.

    The celebratory noise was described as deafening as people blew whistles and motor horns and beat kerosene tins.

    Credit: National Library of Australia
  • Sydney Morning Herald, 12 November 1918

    Showers of rain sent many people home, weary but relieved the war was finally over.

    This clipping from The Daily Telegraph on 13 November 1918 describes the mood of celebration the previous night.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives
  • Council minutes, 15 November 1918

    At a Council meeting a few days later, the Lord Mayor confirmed the end of the war and gave tribute to those who fought.

    Credit: City of Sydney Archives