Anton L. Badamo, a former Quincy taxi driver, was wounded on the very last day of World War I, November 11, 1918. His parents, Mr. & Mrs. Joseph Badamo of 811 State Street, were notified by telegram from the war department in early December. Tony had entered service on May 27 and two months later went to France serving with the 109th Infantry headquarters company of the 28th Division. He suffered a leg wound from machine gun fire early the morning of November 11th and was taken to a base hospital. He and his company had walked miles to the front where they entered the fight at 6:30 a.m. The war didn’t officially end until 11 a.m. with fighting continuing up to that exact time.
Another Quincy man, Lieutenant George F. Cunnane wrote his parents on November 12 that his company, “… (was) just in the middle of a real fight when the armistice took effect.” He had led his company into the fight at 5 a.m. but luckily none were wounded. He wrote,” The boys had a big celebration after it was all over. At five minutes to 11 they were fighting as hard as they could and at five minutes after 11 they were shaking hands with the Germans and exchanging souvenirs.”
Captain Walter D. Stevenson was serving in a base hospital in France when the armistice was declared. He wrote in a letter to a Quincy friend, “… the news of the armistice was received just like the announcement of a circus… [I] was amazed at the way the flags and bunting, electric lights and crowds appeared from everywhere.”
Private John Eyman, stationed with an artillery regiment of the 33rd Division also wrote to his friends at home:
“I would have liked to have been in Quincy the day the news was received of the signing of the armistice. We boys will surely make up for lost time when we get back. The evening of the signing of the armistice was surely some night at the front. There had been no lights except the flame of the rockets and the flash of the big guns, but the day of all days, when the news was received, camp fires were burning everywhere and the sky was ablaze with sky rockets, all outfits celebrating the best they could.”
One Quincy soldier, Walter J. Feld, arrived in Liverpool only to be turned around to sail back to the United States. He wrote his family while on board the Canopic, arriving in Boston harbor on December 10th. He said, “We are anchored near the shore and the people on the beach are giving us the reception of our lives. We are the first returned soldiers to arrive at this port and so get the first cheering. Cigarettes are flying through the air from shore to boat… The people are simply wild for us!”
In his letters home, Ray Schmitt of the 50th Balloon Company wondered if he would ever leave the country now that the war had ended. He was in Camp Morrison, an embarkation camp in Virginia, which was under quarantine due to the influenza epidemic of 1918.
Quincy and the rest of the country had been anticipating the end of the war for some time even as the fighting continued and casualties mounted. Germany wanted terms of surrender but the Allies would only agree on unconditional surrender.
On November 8th, the Quincy Chamber of Commerce established a Victory Committee to plan celebrations as soon as the end of the war was announced and when the soldiers returned home. The group expected several celebrations to be held over several months. The consensus was that they could not plan a spontaneous celebration when the news was received but rather decided to announce the end of the war with factory whistles, church bells, fire chimes, locomotive whistles and so on. A more formal celebration was to follow with a parade and speeches. They expected the soldiers to return in small groups and wanted to plan receptions for each group.
By November 10th signs were posted and announcements were made to request that citizens “gather in the business district and show your joy by making as much noise as you like.” The churches in Quincy requested the people to come to the churches one hour after the noise makers announced the end of the war for prayer and brief services of thanks.
The actual announcement came to Quincy over the Associated Press wires at 1:46 a.m. on Monday, November 11, 1918. “Flash—Armistice Signed” was the message. The message was sent less than two minutes after the announcement at the State Department in Washington D. C. As soon as the Quincy Daily Whig heard the news they signaled the fire department to ring the bells. Next heard was the whistle at Dick’s Brewery, then the railroad roundhouse whistles, followed by others.
According to the Quincy Daily Whig, “Every street in Quincy became an artery that poured its tide of automobiles, men, women and children into the turbulent tide of humanity that surged into the down town streets. The masses of cars and people paraded around Washington Square while lights were turned on across the city… A gleam of light and torches of Jubilee stabbed Fifth and Oak and in other cross streets the flames flared, the bon fires burned and yelling, screaming gesticulating revelers danced hand in hand about the fires.”
The Quincy Daily Whig reported that this first celebration went on for 24 hours. People remained in the streets eager to read the news bulletins that kept coming all day. Celebratory stories like these were repeated in many of the small towns surrounding Quincy. Liberty burned the Kaiser in effigy and set off fireworks during their celebration. The large crowd then went into the opera house for a United War Work fund meeting. Payson’s victory celebration sounded a bit more sedate with church bells announcing the end of the war. Their official celebration was not held until later in the evening.
“Associated Press Lightening Service.” Quincy Daily Herald, November 11, 1918, 8.
“Call is issued for the People to Celebrate.” Quincy Daily Whig, November 10, 1918, 3.
“Capt. Stevenson Tells of Circus.” Quincy Daily Herald, December 13, 1918, 5.
“Circus Day.” Quincy Daily Whig, December 13, 1918, 3.
“From Over the Ocean.” Quincy Daily Herald, December 14, 1918, 8.
“Lieutenant Cunnane.” Quincy Daily Herald, December 12, 1918, 5.
“Liberty Celebrates End of World War.” Quincy Daily Herald, November 13, 1918, 9.
“On Day of Armistice.” Quincy Daily Whig, December 10, 1918, 9.
“Payson Celebrates the Tidings Monday.” Quincy Daily Whig, November 17, 1918, 8.
“Plans Made for Celebration of Victory and Peace in City by Committee Organization.” Quincy Daily Whig, November 9, 1918, 3.
“Quincy Wild With Joy as War Comes to an end.” Quincy Daily Whig, November 12, 1918, 3.
“Tony Badamo Writes Sister of Injury.” Quincy Daily Whig, December 14, 1918, 2.
“With Thirty-Third in the Argonne.” Quincy Daily Herald, December 27, 1918, 4.