This black & white photograph is of a group of young people dressed in costume and military uniform, celebrating the end of the war. At the extreme left of the group is a figure in an 'Uncle Sam' costume, 'Britannia' sits in the centre complete with helmet and trident and clothed in a Union (Jack) flag. A young boy at the extreme right of the group is dressed as 'John Bull'. To persons seated at the front appear in the uniforms of the New Zealand and Australian armed forces. Text on the reverse reads, in pen: "K.L.C." (Keith Collinson); "Staff dressed for float in Victory (or Armistice) parade - probably Nov. 1918. Left to right top ? Davidson ? Centre ? White ?".
This photograph comes from the Collinson & Cunninghame department store in Palmerston North, opened in 1904 and sold to Farmers Trading Ltd. in 1983. It shows staff who participated in local Armistice Day celebrations at the end of World War One in November 1918. Many of the staff at the store had served in the war, fifteen of whom were killed.
News of the Armistice had been anticipated for several days, and the local Council had already organized a programme of events. When the war's end was finally confirmed in Palmerston North on the morning of the 12th November, the town came to a standstill. Businesses closed for the day, and people streamed into town, marching around the streets, waving flags and creating a cacophony of noise.
That afternoon there was a formal procession of bands, military and community groups, and decorated floats around the Square. On the following afternoon there was a sports meeting. The staff in this photograph may have been on one of the procession's decorated floats in the procession. The store also printed 'A Souvenir of Peace' cards which were handed out during the procession.
Staff are costumed to reflect the Allies - those countries which had fought on the British side during World War I. From left to right they are: Top row: U.S.A. (Uncle Sam); Ireland? ; Italy; Red Cross; Japan; Russia? Middle row: Belgium; Britain (Britannia); France; Scotland?; U.S.A.; Britain (John Bull) Front row: Australia; New Zealand