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Sunday, July 14, 2024

Honouring the fallen on Remembrance Day

HERMANUS – As is customary, the annual Remembrance Day service and parade was held on Sunday morning, 12 November 2023, in Hermanus where war veterans, serving personnel, friends and family gathered at the Cenotaph War Memorial at the Old Harbour to pay tribute to the members of our armed forces who have died in the line of duty.

The Cenotaph War Memorial was built in 1929 to commemorate the 11 volunteers from Hermanus who never returned after the 1st World War. It is of interest to note that Hermanus had the highest level of volunteering per size of population in the British Empire during World War I.

Almost without fail, the sounds of the bugles from the local Hawston based, T.S Birkenhead Sea Cadets, playing the Last Post, the Colours slowly being lowered to half mast, the two minute silence maintained in homage and the solemn laying of numerous wreaths, brought a tear to the eye of many an onlooker participating in this sacred ritual.

On addressing those present, Peter Dickens, Old Bill of the local M.O.T.H Seagull Shellhole and Honorary President of the South African Legion, UK and Europe Branch, said Remembrance Day, also known as Poppy Day, commemorates the armistice agreement that ended the First World War at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918 – 11 /11/11.

He explained that Remembrance Sunday is not just a British thing, but in fact very much a South African thing as many components of Remembrance Sunday were born in South Africa.

The two minutes of silence now observed worldwide at many events and occasions in remembrance, originated in Cape Town in 1918 when Sir Harry Hands, the Mayor of Cape Town, initiated a two minute pause of silence after the noon-gun was fired for reflection on the South African men serving on the war-front. One minute was to remember the fallen and one minute to reflect on those living men and women in uniform fighting in the trenches for the cause of freedom.

He explained further that Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, the famous author of Jock of the Bushveld, had lost a son and was so moved by the pause of silence that he suggested to King George V, the King of England that it be universally adopted at the 1st Armistice Day remembrance parade. Thanking Sir Percy for his suggestion, the King decreed that a two minute pause of silence will be observed after the Last Post is played, and would be observed globally on the 11th day of the 11th month at the 11th hour the world over – the day and time the 1st World War officially ended.

Not only did the 2 minutes’ silence originate in Cape Town. The tradition of wearing red poppies to commemorate armistice day started right here in the Western Cape when at an inaugural meeting in 1921 in Cape Town of what is now the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League, the Royal British Legion, the South African Legion, the Australian and New Zealand ex-services leagues and the Royal Canadian Legion all came together under a single banner. Started by Field Marshal Haig and the Royal British Legion, it was decided that the ‘Haig Fund’ red poppy would be adopted across all the military veteran associations associated with the commonwealth as its official symbol of remembrance and peace.

Having laid a wreath on behalf of the Overstrand community, Deputy Mayor Lindile Ntsabo said he is proud to honour the wartime sacrifices that veterans and uniformed serving personnel, including the emergency services, have made. He re-inforced the message that Remembrance Sunday stood for the military sacrifice of all South Africans of every race, colour and creed in all the wars they have ever fought in He gave the assurance that the Overstrand Municipality will continue its commitment to remember the fallen.


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