'Earnslaw' tooting her horn to echo Armistice event

TSS Earnslaw skipper Laurie Stanton will sound the steamship's horn 11 times at 11am on Sunday to...
TSS Earnslaw skipper Laurie Stanton will sound the steamship's horn 11 times at 11am on Sunday to mark the anniversary of Armistice Day. PHOTO: GUY WILLIAMS
Queenstown's TSS Earnslaw will sound her horn 11 times on Sunday to recreate an event from a century earlier.

The historic steamship's predecessor on Lake Wakatipu, the SS Ben Lomond, helped spread the news of the Armistice on November 11, 1918.

In a letter published in the Otago Witness a few days later, a Kinloch girl described how she heard about the signing of the agreement that ended hostilities in World War 1.

"The steamer Ben Lomond began to whistle coming up the lake when the news of peace came through. Mum got the cowbell and I got the school bell, and we made a great noise with them."

The scene will be recreated on Sunday during the Earnslaw's return trip to Queenstown from Walter Peak Station. On board will be 30 guests from the Queenstown and Arrowtown Returned Services Associations.

During the crossing, the steamship will sound its horn 11 times at 11am, then stop to observe a two-minute silence.

It will then break the silence with more tooting as part of the Roaring Chorus, a national event organised by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

People attending commemoration events are being encouraged to make a cacophony of noise with the likes of car horns, drums, cheers, hooters and church bells.

Pulling the lever to sound the Earnslaw's horn will be her skipper, Laurie Stanton.

Mr Stanton said the Earnslaw had "seen it all" during her 106 years.

"She took all those young men who volunteered, and who came from the farms and stations around the lake.

"She took them off to war and brought those who survived back again."

In other commemoration events, St Peter's Anglican Church in central Queenstown is holding an Armistice service from 10.50am. After a two-minute silence at 11am, a bugler will play outside the church, accompanied by the ringing of the church's bell.

The Arrowtown Returned and Services' Association is hosting a service and wreath-laying ceremony at the township's Soldiers Hill cenotaph, also beginning at 11am. A free community picnic and concert at the Library Green starts at 2.30pm.

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