Heritage Centre puts the call out for Peace Medal memories

A group of Cobar children in 1919 who were among those likely to have been issued the special Peace Medals. ▪ Photos contributed

The Great Cobar Heritage Centre is looking for any locals who might have a Peace Medal that was issued to one of their relatives 100 years ago.

Local historian Kay Stingemore said the Peace Medals were issued to children in Cobar on July 19, 1919 to celebrate peace at the end of World War I.

This Friday is the 100th anniversary of Peace Day, and although fighting had stopped with the Armistice the year before, it took many months of negotiation before a treaty was finalised.

“Known as the Treaty of Versailles, it was signed by the different parties on July 28.

“With the signing imminent, it was decided to mark the day on July 19, 1919, an echo of the importance of the11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918 that saw the guns fall silent,” Mrs Stingemore said.

She said historical records show that Cobar celebrated the occasion.

“The Great Cobar Copper Mine had closed in March that year, just four months before the great day.

“With many people thrown out of work, it was important to raise the people’s spirits and look to the future,” she said.

“So, on the suggestion of the Mayor, Alderman Duffy, a ‘Monster Picnic’ was held, an occasion for everyone, but especially for the children of Cobar and Wrightville.

“A day of games and sports was organised with sandwiches and cakes to be given out.”

Over 800 children attended the day, taking advantage of the free merry-go-round rides and that evening, 500 were at the free picture show put on for them.

“All school age children were entitled to a Peace Medal—they just had to give their names to their teacher and the medal would be issued,” Mrs Stingemore said.

“Children beyond the compulsory age of 14 for schooling could make a special request.

“It isn’t known how many Cobar children asked for and received the medal.”

Mrs Stingemore wonders if there any Peace Medals still out there.

“Have they all been pushed to the back of a drawer or, worse still, thrown out as rubbish?

“To celebrate this amazing centenary, it would be wonderful if one of these medals could be found.”

Mrs Stingemore is keen to hear from any locals who may have one of these 100 year old Peace Medals in their possession.