When the World War I finally ended in 1918, more than 18,000 New Zealanders were dead and an estimated 41,000 had been wounded.

The signing of the Armistice between the Allied Forces and Germany at Compiegne, France, at 11am ("the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month") finally ended the four-year war.

The people of Whanganui no doubt greeted the news with great jubilation, as the Wellington crowds did.

At Armistice Centenary commemorations nationwide on Sunday, thousands are expected to make jubilant noise with vintage car horns, cannons, waiata, cheers, whistles, hooters and even pots and pans.

SHARE THIS QUOTE:

"There were songs and cheers, miscellaneous pipings and blastings, and tootings and rattlings—a roaring chorus of gladsome sounds," reported the Evening Post on November 12, 1918.

Advertisement

At Armistice Centenary commemorations nationwide on Sunday, thousands are expected to make jubilant noise with vintage car horns, cannons, waiata, cheers, whistles, hooters and even pots and pans.

Councillor Hadleigh Reid will be representing Whanganui at the Pukeahu National War Memorial in Wellington, while mayor Hamish McDouall will be at the Whanganui ceremony at Queens Park.

"My grandfather, who was also named Gerald McDouall like my father, served in World War I and he was in the vicinity of Le Quesnoy when it was liberated," said McDouall.

"I don't know if he was one of the New Zealand soldiers who participated in the battle but he bought himself a souvenir plaque on his birthday a few days later and I have inherited it."

McDouall says the New Zealand World War I commemorations of the past five years have been fantastic.

There are more than 520 white crosses at the Whanganui Cenotaph with the names of young men from the region who never returned from the war.

Past Wanganui RSA president Ted Morris researched the names on the crosses in 2014 and says it was "quite an undertaking".

"I researched three separate databases and a book to compile the list of names for the crosses.

"We are now offering the crosses to descendants of the soldiers or anyone who would like to care for them and they can be collected after the Armistice."

Councillor David Bennett will be joining the service at Westmere Presbyterian Memorial Church and he says it will be a special one.

"The church was built as a memorial to the seven men from the area who died in World War I," he says.

"We will be ringing the bells with gusto after the service."

The stained glass windows with Anzac poppies are a special feature of the brick church with bell tower completed in 1924.

The stained glass windows at Westmere Presbyterian Church are a tribute to local men who never returned.
The stained glass windows at Westmere Presbyterian Church are a tribute to local men who never returned.

The World War I roll of honour inside lists the names of the Westmere men who fell in battle and of 23 men from the Brunswick, Nukumaru and Maxwell, Kai-iwi and Rapanui congregations who also served.

The memorial rose garden at St Mary's historic church at Upokongaro has commemorative plaques dedicated to Upokangaro residents and their descendants will place flowers there before the Armistice service on Sunday.

"We will meet for a cup of tea at Upokongaro School at 10am and a piper will lead us across to the church," said organiser John Dalziel.

"There will be a special planting of a wedding cake tree and Archdeacon Stuart Gooding will conduct a blessing."

The service will include readings, songs and the Upokongaro School Choir will sing their rendition of Beautiful Soldier.

Dalziel says everyone is welcome to attend and there will be a light lunch at the Avoca Hotel after the service.

Whanganui World War I nurses are remembered with the Home Away From Home exhibition now showing at WH Milbank Gallery in Bell St.

Artist Rebecca Holden has paid tribute to the brave women who worked at the Aotea convalescent home in Egypt.

War historian Professor Glyn Harper of Massey University has spent about 18 years researching and writing about World War I.

He has written many books, including children's books, on the topic.

Reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the war's end, he said the significance of the event cannot be diminished.

"It shaped New Zealand as we know it and left a destructive legacy. Whole families were damaged or destroyed through grief and suffering. It was the most serious health challenge New Zealand faced. Several generations of New Zealanders have been affected and we need to be aware of this."

An end to deadly conflict

When World War I finally ended in 1918, more than 18,000 New Zealanders were dead and an estimated 41,000 had been wounded.

The signing of the Armistice between the Allied Forces and Germany at Compiegne, France, at 11am on November 11 ("the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month") finally ended the war 100 years ago.

"There were songs and cheers, miscellaneous pipings and blastings, and tootings and rattlings — a roaring chorus of gladsome sounds," reported the Wellington Evening Post on November 12, 1918.

War historian Professor Glyn Harper of Massey University has spent about 18 years researching and writing about World War I.

Reflecting on the 100th anniversary of the war's end, he said the significance of the event could not be diminished.

"It shaped New Zealand as we know it and left a destructive legacy. Whole families were damaged or destroyed through grief and suffering."