Seán Ó Séaghdha

“Peace” Night in

extraordinary scenes.

over 120 persons injured.

Melbourne, July 20.

Many people, particularly those with cracked heads and beaten and bruised limbs, will long remember the celebration of peace in Melbourne. The law and the strike had conspired to cast the city into the inertia of a Sabbath morning, but the thousands who walked into the city and through it during the day, and moved about till after dark, had naturally become excitable at 9 o’clock. Trouble developed in the early part of the evening. Everything promised well. A huge crowd gathered in Swanston-street before the Town Hall. Soldiers and sailors openly embraced and kissed women, who appeared nothing loth. A band played on the Town Hall balcony for hours, and space was cleared on the paved street on which hundreds danced.

Just after 9 the occasion was reminiscent of Mafeking night. The excitement grew intense. A number of men in naval and military uniforms exceeded the limits that are admissible even on such occasions, and the police deemed it necessary to arrest two offenders. They were lodged at the police depot in the Town Hall, and before long a crowd was hammering at the door. Soldiers demanded the release of their comrades. An attempt was made to force open the door, and for a moment there was high tension. Someone in the crowd discharged a revolver. Into the big crowd rode a body of mounted troopers. Many persons were kicked by the horses. The police tried to induce the crowd to disperse, it is said, but whatever was done there followed a shower of stones and bottles at the troopers. The troopers swung over their horses’ bodies, and cracked left and right with their batons. People rushed in all directions from the horses’ flying feet, and the descending weapons. All was pandemonium now. Shop windows were caved in, and men, women, and children were trampled on and screams went up. About twenty persons were arrested, and as many treated for injuries, mostly minor, at the hospital, and over 100 were treated at the Town Hall.

During the afternoon soldiers entered the few cafes that were open, and demanded holidays for the workers and closed the places. The few trains that were run were uncoupled and pushed off their tracks, consequently no cars entered the city proper.

The official celebration of Peace was more orderly. For an hour 3,000 people were accommodated in front of the Federal Parliament House, where the Deputy Governor-General (Sir. Arthur Stanley) took the salute and watched a procession of 7,300 soldiers and sailors and Turkish war trophies. In other streets these troops passed countless thousands. Overhead live modern aeroplanes hovered against a head wind or swept with abandon through the air. Once for many seconds thousands gasped and looked up in terror as a machine came spinning down 2,000 ft. like a feather. Then it “flattened” and chased its four companions into the distance. It was a spiral dive.




(By Telegraph.)

Melbourne, July 21

Since Saturday night, when hundreds were injured in the collision between the police and the crowds in the streets, Melbourne has been in a state of uproar, conflicts between the crowds and the police being frequent. A large meeting of returned soldiers passed a resolution demanding the dismissal of the police, who they stated, batoned unoffending citizens indiscriminately, and the troopers who were charging and riding down men, women, and children. The deputation sought an interview with the Premier (Mr. Lawson) at the Treasury Office. The crowd of several thousand in the street below became impatient, and then followed the breaking of windows, and the building was rushed. The Premier found himself imprisoned in the Treasury room, with an ungovernable mob about him. Soldiers mounted the horseshoe table, tore up books, rifled drawers, and destroyed some papers and pocketed others. They removed everything in the room that was movable, and destroyed everything that was destructable. Somebody brought a heavy ink pot down on the head of the Premier, and left a wound two inches long. He staggered and appealed to some of the men. Mr. Lawson was helped out and escorted to the refuge of the Cabinet room. Plundering proceeded in different parts of the building. Word came of the approach of the troopers, and several soldiers called for revolvers and guns, but there were no arms handy.

Then out to the street went the mob equipped with pokers, fenders, and bits of furniture. To-night the streets were thronged, and "two-up" was being played under the nose of the police force till a late hour.

James O’Connor who was shot at Victoria Barracks last night, died this morning.

At a late hour 5,000 people congregated outside the City Watchhouse in Russell-street, and were addressed by several men from the steps. The speakers advised them to remain calm, because conferences were being held with the authorities. They also warned that if the police interfered with them they should stand their ground and not scuttle away as they had done on Saturday night. Immediately after this a body of troopers appeared riding on the outskirts of the crowd, and at tempted to disperse it. Their interference produced a belligerent effect on the people. Stones were torn, from the road and hurled at the troopers, and Saturday night’s mellee was repeated. Finally, under severe batoning, the assemblage dispersed.

To-day David Alexander Perkins (17) who was arrested in connection with the Victoria Barracks disturbance, was remanded on bail on a charge of having attempted to shoot James Bennett with intent to murder.

The Border Watch, Saturday Tuesday 22 July 1919, page 2 .

NB: The Treaty of Versailles, formally ending World War I, was only signed on 28 June 1919. Caroline, Square Mile and Yahl celebrated the event without rioting.