Armistice Cushion Cover; 1918; 2002.15

From

Port Macquarie Museum

Name/Title

Armistice Cushion Cover

About this object

This simple Cushion Cover features a silk panel with the full text of the “Terms of Armistice with Germany, signed November 11th 1918” printed in black in a format similar to that used on a newspaper page. The silk panel has been sewn into a slightly heavier fabric that forms a border on three sides of the panel, and a pocket so a cushion can be inserted.

The origin of the Cushion Cover is unknown but after the Armistice had been signed, the Ordinance Department in England had on hand about 22,000,000 yards of cartridge cloth. Cartridge cloth was made of silk and was used during the War to make bags to be filled with the smokeless powder used as the propelling charges for guns of the larger calibres. Most of this quantity was set aside as a war reserve and the rest was offered for sale, so it is possible that the silk panel was printed in England on some of this surplus fabric.

During the Second World War, silk scarves printed with the Japanese Surrender were given away freely to anyone who bought a paper copy of the newspaper, so perhaps this was also the practice during the First World War and the silk panels were mass produced and given away freely.

A number of newspapers have printed articles on silk in the past, in order to commemorate special events. A silk presentation copy of The Upper Hunter Courier was presented to Lord Belmore when he opened a section of the railway in Scone NSW in 1871, and the State Library of Western Australia has a collection of newspapers that are printed on silk, as it was a common newspaper practice in the early days of the 20th century in Western Australia to print of a few copies of the first edition of each newspaper on cloth, in addition to the paper copies.

The signing of the Armistice was a special event and the news of its signing was greeted with much joy and celebration by both soldiers serving overseas and relieved families at home. Bombardier O.H. McIntyre from Telegraph Point wrote from France on 9th December 1918:

“After four years of constant hammering day and night, without an interval of five minutes’ rest, the Allies have at last triumphed, the Armistice being signed. Right on the tick of 12 o’clock noon the last shot was fired, the hostilities ceased along hundreds of miles of front. Can you imagine the feeling that went through the soldiers that hour? I don’t think so - it was beyond the imagination.”

In Port Macquarie the news had reached the town at 9.30pm on the Monday evening 11 November and “the information conveyed to the swiftly swelling throng was such the like of which this generation will never receive again….kerosene and benzine tins appeared as if by magic, and then the motor cars with their lights flashing. A procession was quickly formed and led off with motor cars first followed by the joyous revellers….. the procession traversed the square, the participants therein, armed with every conceivable thing capable of producing or emitting a noise, gave vent to their feelings in no uncertain manner. The noise thus created interspersed with the tooting of whistles and the ringing of bells was indescribable…. The marching and tin band continued most of the night…on Tuesday the rejoicing continued with unabated enthusiasm…school children were dismissed for the day….all business was suspended and the town made merry…Wednesday further celebrations and another holiday”.

This silk panel commemorating the end of the First World War has been respectfully made into an article that was probably displayed in the home of a thankful family for many years. It provides a visual link to the life-changing events of 1918, which is perhaps the greatest function of all war time souvenirs.

Margaret Blight
5 April 2015

Date Made

1918

Medium and Materials

Silk, cotton, dye

Measurements

490mm L, 465 cms W
Printed silk panel 420mm square

Subject and Association Keywords

Wars

Object Type

Cushion covers

Object number

2002.15

Copyright Licence  

All rights reserved

 

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