Throughout the English speaking world, the 11th November is observed as a Remembrance Day to solemnly recall the end of hostilities of World War One at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In time, it has come to be observed as a Memorial Day for all who died in both World Wars and in other subsequent conflicts.
Remember the Fallen
The two minute silence to remember all who paid the supreme sacrifice began in Cape Town, South Africa. When the first casualty list recording the horrific loss of life in the Battle of Delville Wood, 1916, was announced in Cape Town, Mr J.A. Eagar, a Cape Town business man, suggested that his congregation observe a special time of silence to remember those in the South African Infantry casualty list. Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, the famous South African author of Jock of the Bushveld, was also a member of that congregation.
A Time of Intercession
In May 1918, Mr R.R. Brydon, a city councillor, suggested to the Mayor of Cape Town, Sir Harry Hands, that a period of silence to remember those engaged in the Battlefields of Europe on the Western Front be initiated formerly at the firing of the noon day gun from Signal Hill. In May 1918, Sir Harry Hands, as Mayor, announced that 14 May 1918 at the sound of the noon day gun there would be a three minute pause. At the corner of Adderley and Darling streets, a trumpeter would sound the Last Post to reverberate throughout the city during which time all were to stop what they were doing, stand still and bow their heads in silent prayer, praying for those engaged in the conflict, remembering those who had died and thanking God for those who had survived.
Mr Brydon's son, Major Walter Brydon had been wounded three times and gassed once. He was killed in action on the Western Front, 12 April 1918. A few days later, Captain Richard Hands, the son of the Mayor of Cape Town, Sir Harry Hands, a member of Brydon's battery, was mortally wounded in the same battle in which Major Brydon had been killed. The daily midday prayer time initiated by the noon day gun was last observed on 17 January 1919.
An Empire Wide Time of Prayer and Remembrance
Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, Member of Parliament, wrote to King George V, to propose a two minute silence throughout the Empire on 11 November 1919, to mark the first anniversary of the Armistice which ended The Great War. On 7 November 1919, King George V proclaimed: "That at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be, for the brief space of two minutes, a complete suspension of all our normal activities… so that in perfect stillness the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverend remembrance of the glorious dead." The king instructed his secretary to communicate to Sir Percy Fitzpatrick: "The King, who learns that you are shortly to return to South Africa, desires me to assure you that he ever gratefully remembers 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."
The Noon Day Gun – a Call to Prayer
The noonday gun has been an historic time signal in Cape Town since 1806. The guns were originally used to announce the arrival of a ship. The original guns - 18 pounder smooth ball muzzle loaders - are still in use today. These are the oldest guns still in daily use in the world. The guns are maintained by the South African Navy.
"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13
11 November is International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted. Visit www.idop-africa.org for resources to mobilise prayer and action on behalf of those suffering for Christ.
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Invitation to Join the Largest Prayer Movement for the Persecuted
Praying for Justice