In the United Kingdom and other countries within the Commonwealth, a two-minute silence is observed as part of Remembrance Day to remember those who lost their lives in conflict. Held each year at 11.00am on 11 November, the silence coincides with the time in 1918 at which the First World War came to an end with the cessation of hostilities, and is generally observed at war memorials and in public places throughout the UK and Commonwealth. A two-minute silence is also observed on Remembrance Sunday, also at 11.00am.
The United Kingdom, officially the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland but more commonly known as the UK or Britain, is a sovereign country lying off the north-western coast of the European mainland. The United Kingdom includes the island of Great Britain, the north-eastern part of the island of Ireland and many smaller islands. Northern Ireland is the only part of the United Kingdom that shares a land border with another sovereign state—the Republic of Ireland. Apart from this land border, the United Kingdom is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with the North Sea to the east, the English Channel to the south and the Celtic Sea to the south-west, giving it the 12th-longest coastline in the world. The Irish Sea lies between Great Britain and Ireland. With an area of 242,500 square kilometres (93,600 sq mi), the United Kingdom is the 78th-largest sovereign state in the world. It is also the 22nd-most populous country, with an estimated 66.0 million inhabitants in 2017.
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally known as the Commonwealth, is a unique political association of 53 member states, nearly all of them former territories of the British Empire. The chief institutions of the organisation are the Commonwealth Secretariat, which focuses on intergovernmental aspects, and the Commonwealth Foundation, which focuses on non-governmental relations between member states.
Remembrance Day is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth member states since the end of the First World War to remember the members of their armed forces who have died in the line of duty. Following a tradition inaugurated by King George V in 1919, the day is also marked by war remembrances in many non-Commonwealth countries. Remembrance Day is observed on 11 November in most countries to recall the end of hostilities of First World War on that date in 1918. Hostilities formally ended "at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month", in accordance with the armistice signed by representatives of Germany and the Entente between 5:12 and 5:20 that morning. The First World War officially ended with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles on 28 June 1919.
The practice of the Remembrance Day silence originates in Cape Town, South Africa, where there was a two-minute silence initiated by the daily firing of the noon day gun on Signal Hill for a full year from 14 May 1918 to 14 May 1919, known as the Two Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance.
Cape Town is the oldest city in South Africa, colloquially named the Mother City. It is the legislative capital of South Africa and primate city of the Western Cape province. It forms part of the City of Cape Town metropolitan municipality.
The Noon Gun has been a historic time signal in Cape Town, South Africa since 1806. It consists of a pair of black powder Dutch naval guns, fired alternatingly with one serving as a backup. The guns are situated on Signal Hill, close to the centre of the city.
Signal Hill/Lula Lula Mountain, or Lion's Rump, is a landmark flat-topped hill located in Cape Town, next to Lion's Head and Table Mountain.
This was instituted by the then Cape Town Mayor, Sir Harry Hands, at the suggestion of councillor Robert Rutherford Brydone,on 14 May 1918, after receiving the news of the death of his son Reginald Hands by gassing on 20 April, adopting into public observance a gesture that had been practised sporadically in city churches since 1916. The first trial observance endured for three minutes on 13 May, after which the Mayor decided that it was too long, and published a notice in the Cape Argus that it should be altered to two minutes instead of three.
Sir Harry Hands was a British colonial politician, who served from 1915 to 1918 as mayor of Cape Town, South Africa. He is credited with instituting the first practice in the world of an official two-minute silence to honour loss of life in conflict, following the death of his eldest son Reginald Hands in World War I, at the suggestion of councillor Robert Rutherford Brydone,.
Reginald Harry Myburgh Hands was a South African cricketer who played in one Test match in February 1914. He died in France as a result of injuries sustained on the Western Front during the First World War. His death was an indirect cause of the tradition of the two-minute silence, instigated by his father Sir Harry Hands when Mayor of Cape Town.
Signalled by the firing of the Noon Gun on Signal Hill, one minute was a time of thanksgiving for those who had returned alive, the second minute was to remember the fallen. Brydone and Hands organised an area where the traffic would be brought to a standstill and the first silence was observed at Cartwright's Corner in Adderley Street. As the city fell silent, a bugler on the balcony of the Fletcher and Cartwright's Building on the corner of Adderley and Darling Streets sounded the Last Post, and the Reveille was played at the end of the pause. It was repeated daily for a full year.Newspapers described how trams, taxis and private vehicles stopped, pedestrians came to a halt and most men bared their heads. People stopped what they were doing at their places of work and sat or stood silently.This short official ceremony was a world first.
Adderley Street is a street in Cape Town, South Africa. It is considered the main street of the central business district (downtown) of Cape Town. The Christmas lights, night markets, main train station and numerous shops and restaurants and office towers are on this thoroughfare.
The bugle is one of the simplest brass instruments, having no valves or other pitch-altering devices. All pitch control is done by varying the player's embouchure. Consequently, the bugle is limited to notes within the harmonic series. See bugle call for scores to standard bugle calls, all consisting of only five notes. These notes are known as the bugle scale.
The "Last Post" is either a B♭ bugle call, primarily within British infantry and Australian infantry regiments, or an E♭ cavalry trumpet call in British cavalry and Royal Regiment of Artillery, and is used at Commonwealth military funerals, and ceremonies commemorating those who have been killed in war. Its duration varies typically from a little over one minute to nearly three minutes. For ceremonial use, the Last Post is often followed by "The Rouse", or less usually the longer "Reveille".
A Reuters correspondent in Cape Town cabled a description of the event to London. Within a few weeks Reuter’s agency in Cape Town received press cables from London stating that the ceremony had been adopted in two English provincial towns and later by others, including in Canada and Australia.
Reuters is an international news organization. It is a division of Thomson Reuters and has nearly 200 locations around the world. Until 2008, the Reuters news agency formed part of an independent company, Reuters Group plc, which was also a provider of financial market data. Since the acquisition of Reuters Group by the Thomson Corporation in 2008, the Reuters news agency has been a part of Thomson Reuters, making up the media division. Reuters transmits news in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Urdu, Arabic, Japanese, Korean, and Chinese. It was established in 1851.
The midday pause continued daily in Cape Town and was last observed on 17 January 1919, but was revived in Cape Town during the Second World War.
Today, a plaque in front of the Standard Bank building in Adderley Street commemorates the Two Minute Silence. A ceremony commemorating the centenary of the Two Minute Silence was held on Signal Hill on 14 May 2018 at the firing of the Noon Gun.
Sir Percy Fitzpatrick was impressed by and had a personal interest in the daily observance of silence, his own son, Major Percy Nugent George Fitzpatrick, having been killed in action in France in December 1917.He had originally been introduced to the idea of a two-minute pause to honour the dead when his local church adopted the idea proposed by a local businessman, J.A. Eagar,when details of losses at the Battle of the Somme first came through to Cape Town in July 1916.
in 1919 he approached Lord Northcliffe (the founder of both the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail) with the intention of campaigning for it to be observed annually and Empire-wide. His idea was not taken up.Writing to Lord Milner, then Colonial Secretary in September or October 1919, he described the silence that fell on the city during this daily ritual, and proposed that this become an official part of the annual service on Armistice Day. He acknowledged that the idea came from Mr Brydone's Cape Town pause, saying that other towns followed its example but "nothing was as dramatic as the Cape Town observation simply because of the midday gun". The meaning behind his proposal was stated to be:
- It is due to the women, who have lost and suffered and borne so much, with whom the thought is ever present.
- It is due to the children that they know to whom they owe their dear fought freedom.
- It is due to the men, and from them, as men.
- But far and away, above all else, it is due to those who gave their all, sought no recompense, and with whom we can never re-pay - our Glorious and Immortal Dead.
Milner raised the idea with Lord Stamfordham, the King's Private Secretary, who informed the King, George V, in a note on 27 October 1919:
The King was enthusiastic and sought approval from the War Cabinet on 5 November. It was immediately approved, with only Lord Curzon dissenting. A press statement was released from the Palace on 7 November 1919, which was published in The Times:
To Fitzpatrick's his great delight he read:
"The whole World Stands to Attention." "Cables from every part of the world showing how the King's message had been accepted and interpreted, were printed. From the Indian jungles to Alaska, on the trains, on the ships at sea, in every part of the globe where a few British were gathered together, the Two-Minute pause was observed."
In his own words, Sir Percy stated:
I was so stunned by the news that I could not leave the hotel. An hour or two afterwards I received a cable from Lord Long of Wexhall: "Thank you. Walter Long." Only then did I know that my proposal had reached the King and had been accepted and that the Cabinet knew the source.
Sir Percy Fitzpatrick was thanked for his contribution by Lord Stamfordham:
Dear Sir Percy,
The King, who learns that you are shortly to leave for South Africa, desires me to assure you that he ever gratefully remembers that the idea of the Two Minute Pause on Armistice Day was due to your initiation, a suggestion readily adopted and carried out with heartfelt sympathy throughout the Empire.— Signed Stamfordham.
The Australian government recognises Edward George Honey as originator of the idea, but he only aired the suggestion (in a letter to a London newspaper) nearly a year after the custom had been initiated in Cape Town, and no convincing trail of evidence has been shown to suggest that his letter had any impact on either Fitzpatrick's or the King's motivation.
The British Legion recommends this order of observance:
The exhortation (excerpt from Ode of Remembrance): "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old, Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, We will remember them.
"Response: "We will remember them."
This order of proceedings is not followed in the UK National Service of Remembrance in London, but is often used in regional ceremonies and in other Commonwealth countries.
Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France at 5:45 am, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o'clock in the morning—the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. But, according to Thomas R. Gowenlock, an intelligence officer with the US First Division, shelling from both sides continued for the rest of the day, only ending at nightfall. The armistice initially expired after a period of 36 days and had to be extended several times. A formal peace agreement was only reached when the Treaty of Versailles was signed the following year.
Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday observed annually on November 11, honoring military veterans, that is, persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces. It coincides with other holidays including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day which are celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I. Major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. At the urging of major U.S. veteran organizations, Armistice Day was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
Remembrance Sunday is held in the United Kingdom as a day "to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts". It is held at 11 a.m. on the second Sunday in November.
A moment of silence is a period of silent contemplation, prayer, reflection, or meditation. Similar to flying a flag at half-mast, a moment of silence is often a gesture of respect, particularly in mourning for those who have died recently or as part of a tragic historical event.
Yom Hazikaron laShoah ve-laG'vurah, known colloquially in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day, is observed as Israel's day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its collaborators, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day. The first official commemorations took place in 1951, and the observance of the day was anchored in a law passed by the Knesset in 1959. It is held on the 27th of Nisan (April/May), unless the 27th would be adjacent to the Jewish Sabbath, in which case the date is shifted by a day.
The following lists events that happened during 1918 in South Africa.
The following lists events that happened during 1919 in South Africa.
Edward George Honey was an Australian journalist who suggested the idea of five minutes of silence in a letter to a London newspaper in May 1919, about 6 months before the first observance of the Two-minute silence in London.
Sir James Percy FitzPatrick, KCMG, known as Percy FitzPatrick, was a South African author, politician, mining financier and pioneer of the fruit industry. He authored the classic children's book, Jock of the Bushveld (1907). As a politician, he defended British Imperial interests before and during the Anglo-Boer War. FitzPatrick is responsible for the creation of the two minute silence observed on Armistice Day.
The Georgetown Cenotaph is a war memorial in Georgetown, Guyana, located at the junction of Main and Church Streets.
The FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology is a South African biological research and conservation institute based at the University of Cape Town. The mission statement of the Institute is “to promote and undertake scientific studies involving birds, and contribute to the practice affecting the maintenance of biological diversity and the sustained use of biological resources”.
The Delville Wood South African National Memorial is a World War I memorial, located in Delville Wood, near the commune of Longueval, in the Somme department of France. It is opposite the Delville Wood Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery, on the other side of the Longueval–Ginchy road.
The Silent Minute was an historic movement begun in the United Kingdom by Major Wellesley Tudor Pole O.B.E. in 1940. It continues today as a London-based charity following its revival by Dorothy Forster. During the Second World War people would unite in meditation, prayer or focus and consciously will for peace to prevail. This dedicated minute received the direct support of King George VI, Sir Winston Churchill and his Parliamentary Cabinet. It was also recognized by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and observed on land and at sea on the battlefields, in air raid shelters and in hospitals. With Churchill’s support, the BBC, on Sunday, November 10, 1940, began to play the bells of Big Ben on the radio as a signal for the Silent Minute to begin.
The Gibraltar Cross of Sacrifice is a war memorial in the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar. It is located west of North Front Cemetery, at the junction of Winston Churchill Avenue and Devil's Tower Road. The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield in 1917, and his monument is found in numerous Commonwealth War Graves Commission cemeteries. The cross in Gibraltar was erected by the Royal Engineers for the commission, and unveiled on Armistice Day 1922. The British Pathé film recorded at the dedication ceremony that day represents the first motion picture made in Gibraltar. The Gibraltar Cross of Sacrifice served as the focus of Remembrance Sunday ceremonies in Gibraltar until 2009, at which time the location was changed to the Gibraltar War Memorial.
The Cenotaph is a war memorial on Heerengracht Street in Cape Town. The city's annual Remembrance Day ceremonies are held there. It is classified as a public memorial and as such is subject to protection in terms of heritage legislation administered by Heritage Western Cape, the provincial heritage resources authority of the Western Cape province of South Africa.
The National Service of Remembrance is held annually on Remembrance Sunday at The Cenotaph on Whitehall, London. It commemorates "the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts". The service has its origins in the 1920s and has changed little in format since.
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