Aucklanders gather to commemorate Armistice Day and end of World War I

STUFFNovember 11 is Armistice Day, 100 years from the end of WWI.

It was the 11th hour of November 11, 1918, when the guns finally fell silent on World War I, bringing relief to around 58,000 Kiwi troops serving overseas, following an armistice announced by the German government.

The announcement put an end to a war spanning over four years, which claimed the lives of almost 20 million people, including 18,200 Kiwis.

The Field of Remembrance opposite the Auckland War Memorial Museum has a cross for every soldier killed in World War I.
Suppied/New Zealand Defence ForceThe Field of Remembrance opposite the Auckland War Memorial Museum has a cross for every soldier killed in World War I.

New Zealand was the first country worldwide to mark Armistice Day, with major commemorative services held in Auckland and Wellington. 

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Despite rainy weather, more than 1500 people gathered at Auckland War Memorial Museum’s Cenotaph to pay their respects.

Fields of Remembrance Trust chairman David McGregor acknowledged the drizzly weather in his opening speech.

“They say when it rains during a ceremony like this that it is the tears of the relatives before us.”

Armistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum's Cenotaph.
1 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFArmistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum’s Cenotaph.
Stanley Richard Hollis' cross with pohutukawa and silver fern.
2 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFStanley Richard Hollis’ cross with pohutukawa and silver fern.
Roses are placed on the Auckland Cenotaph.
3 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFRoses are placed on the Auckland Cenotaph.
Rain arrived half way through the commemoration.
4 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFRain arrived half way through the commemoration.
Armistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum's Cenotaph.
5 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFArmistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum’s Cenotaph.
Armistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum's Cenotaph.
6 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFArmistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum’s Cenotaph.
Armistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum's Cenotaph.
7 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFArmistice Centenary commemorations at the Auckland War Museum’s Cenotaph.
Xavier Cimpoias, 2, before the commemoration commences. Xavier's great great great great uncle has a crossed marked at the cenotaph.
8 of 8ALDEN WILLIAMS/STUFFXavier Cimpoias, 2, before the commemoration commences. Xavier’s great great great great uncle has a crossed marked at the cenotaph.

To the crowd’s disappointment, unfavourable weather conditions meant a flyover of the New Zealand Warbirds, scheduled to commence the event, couldn’t go ahead.

Following two minutes’ silence, the crowds went into cacophony, including shrills, cheers, tamborines, bells and maracas.

On the Field of Remembrance opposite the museum’s cenotaph, a cross was placed for each of the 18,277 New Zealanders who perished in battle. Those attending the commemoration were encouraged to take time to walk through the crosses and reflect on the impact of their sacrifice.  

Denis Wood honoured his great uncle, William Rundle, who was killed in action in early 1918.
Alden WilliamsDenis Wood honoured his great uncle, William Rundle, who was killed in action in early 1918.

Denis Wood attended to honour his great uncle, William Rundle, who was killed in action in early 1918.

He was 42-years-old, and left behind his wife and a young child.

Wood has not been able to visit his great uncle’s burial site in Longchamps, France, but has seen his name on the register of those who died.

Rundle’s death and service is recognised at a tombstone at the Greymouth Cemetery.

“We knew we had to look for him [his cross at The Cenotaph]. It’s very important to recognise and remember.”

Karen Wilkie harvested a pōhutukawa blossom and silver fern from her garden to give her great uncle Stanley Richard Hollis' cross a personal tribute.
Caroline WilliamsKaren Wilkie harvested a pōhutukawa blossom and silver fern from her garden to give her great uncle Stanley Richard Hollis’ cross a personal tribute.

Karen Wilkie, neè Hollis, placed a pohutūkawa blossom and silver fern on her great uncle Stanley Richard Hollis’ cross.

“They were growing in my garden and it seemed very special and personal.”

Hollis was killed in France just before the end of the war, aged 21.

“He was the age my kids are now so he seems like less of an uncle and more of a son.”

ACT Party Leader David Seymour said the turnout for the event was “outstanding” and credited event organisers for running a precise schedule.

“It shows how tight our communities are.

“The people who went to World War I would be proud of this.”

Crowds gathered outside the Waverley Hotel and railway station in Queen Street, Auckland to celebrate the announcement of the ceasefire.
AUCKLAND WAR MEMORIAL MUSEUMCrowds gathered outside the Waverley Hotel and railway station in Queen Street, Auckland to celebrate the announcement of the ceasefire.

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