South African Veterans Armistice Day Memorial


Battle of Square Hill Service and Memorial Parade

We remember the contribution of the South African Cape Corps battalion which helped the Allies, lead by General Allenby – break through to Damascus and knock the Ottoman Empire out of World War One.


SA Legionnaires join parade at London Cenotaph to mark 100 years since Armistice

WHITEHALL, LONDON – Around 40 Legionnaires from around the UK and Europe joined 9,000 veterans and 10,000 civilians at the Cenotaph in London for the Remembrance Parade to mark 100 years since the armistice to end the First World War was signed.

Many who travelled to Waterloo Station used the excellent free Poppy Cab service to reach the muster point at St James’s Park. Tickets were distributed and members quickly passed through the busy but efficient Royal British Legion ticket checking process to form-up as part of Column D on Horse Guards Parade.

Muster

That this year’ s parade was of a different scale in terms of attendance became evident after the column had marched through the arch onto Whitehall. The normal position is almost directly opposite but this year the group was marched almost to Trafalgar Square to accommodate all those attending.

 

Once everyone was formed up in the road, a bit closer to the memorial, the service began. Large TV screens, showing the service, were provided in the road, as they have been in previous years, but unfortunately the one in front of the Legion column was not working. There was however no mistaking the moment when the two minutes’ silence began, as the cannon of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery boomed out from Horse Guards.

Remembrance

Wreaths were then laid, beginning with Prince Charles on behalf of HM The Queen and followed by military leaders, politicians and High Commissioners of the Commonwealth. Once the formalities were over the mood in the column became more relaxed. Hip flasks where passed around and fellow veterans groups cheered as they began marching off, the Royal Military Police Association party receiving the time-honoured but well-intentioned boos.

 

The South African Legion party was expertly drilled by Lgr Brian Parry. When the time came for the march-past came, the wreath was laid by Royal British Legion South Africa Branch Chairman Lgr Peter Dickens. After performing the customary eyes left past the Cenotaph, the column wound through the roads back to Horse Guards where Princess Anne, the Princess Royal took the salute.

AGM

Back on the parade ground it was time for group photos and jokes with fellow veterans before everyone began making their way to the pub for the RBL SA Branch AGM. To emphasise the size of the Centenary event, the last of the civilian column had yet to set off by the time the veterans had marched through and were leaving the area.

Legionnaires and their families gathered at The Kings Arms in Mayfair for some well-earned refreshment and the AGM. The formal minutes are recorded elsewhere, but in his speech, Lgr Peter Dickens reminded the members that attendance at such special events is largely down to the close relationship forged with the Royal British Legion who run these events in the UK.

Text by Lgr Justin Bosanquet
Photography by Lgr Theo Fernandes and Karen Parry (please scroll down for full picture galleries)

Picture Gallery by Karen Parry:

Picture Gallery by Lgr Theo Fernandes: 

© 2018 SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved

 


The Two Minute Silence

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Origins of the Two Minute Silence.

 

Throughout the Great War, whenever South African Troops suffered losses a period of silence was observed at noon in Cape Town.

 

 In May 1919 Australian journalist Edward Honey suggested a five minute silence.

 

In a minute dated 4th November 1919 and submitted to Lord Milner by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, former British High Commissioner to the Dominion of South Africa, and whose son was lost in France in 1917, was the following:

 

‘In the hearts of our people there is a real desire to find some lasting expression of their feeling for those who gave their lives in the war.

 

They want something done now while the memories of sacrifice are in the minds of all; for there is the dread – too well grounded in experience – that those who have gone will not always be first in the thoughts of all, and that when the fruits of their sacrifice become our daily bread, there will be few occasions to remind us of what we realise so clearly today.

 

During the War, we in South Africa observed what we called the “Three minutes’ pause “

 

At noon each day, all work, all talk and all movement were suspended for three minutes that we might concentrate as one in thinking of those – the living and the dead – who had pledged and given themselves for all that we believe in…


Silence, complete and arresting, closed upon the city – the moving, awe-inspiring silence of a great Cathedral where the smallest sound must seem a sacrilege… Only those who have felt it can understand the overmastering effect in action and reaction of a multitude moved suddenly to one thought and one purpose.’

 

The proposal was discussed by the War Cabinet and a ‘Service of Silence’ was approved for Armistice Day, but they amended the duration of the silence to one minute. The proposal was taken to the King who after deliberation amended the period to two minutes.

 

On 7th November 1919 the following appeared in the newspapers:

 

‘Tuesday next, November 11, is the first anniversary of the Armistice, which stayed the world wide carnage of the four preceding years and marked the victory of Right and Freedom.

 

I believe that my people in every part of the Empire fervently wish to perpetuate the memory of the Great Deliverance, and of those who have laid down their lives to achieve it.

 

To afford an opportunity for the universal expression of this feeling, it is my desire and hope that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of our normal activities.

 

No elaborate organisation appears to be required.

 

At a given signal, which can easily be arranged to suit the circumstances of the locality, I believe that we shall gladly interrupt our business and pleasure, whatever it may be and unite in this simple service of Silence and Remembrance’.

 

 

This Royal British Legion film was produced for use over the Remembrance period, and features The Last Post, followed by two minutes of silence while a selection of images are shown, and closes with The Reveille.

 

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