Article 133

“Commemorating the Centenary of the Two-Minute Silence”

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On Monday, 14 May 2018, the Noon Gun of Cape Town fired not just once, but twice, with a brief pause between the two thunderous booms. The reason for this unusual occurrence was that a special tradition was being commemorated that day: The Centenary of the Two-Minute Silence, which was first introduced right here in Cape Town on 14 May 1918.

In 1918, news of the terrible battles being fought on the Western Front in  France, and of the many soldiers killed and wounded, had been reaching their families in Cape Town. When lists of casualties were read out during church services, parishioners were asked to participate in brief moments of silence in honour of the fallen.

Cape Town Mayor Sir Harry Hands was grief-stricken on receiving the news of the death of his eldest son, Captain Reginald Harry Myburgh Hands. After days of continued fighting and being repeatedly exposed to mustard gas, Captain Hands had died during a poison-gas bombardment on 20 April 1918, while off-duty and seemingly safe behind Allied lines.

Published in the General Botha Old Boys’ Association Newsletter of August 2018.