Cenotaph Parade – London, England 2015

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More Images can be seen here.

A full contingent of South African Legion Legionnaires laid a wreath in the world renowned Cenotaph Parade held in Whitehall, London on Remembrance Sunday – 8th November 2015.

The parade has 20 000 veterans and personnel from participating public service organisations taking part in it, however the South African Legionnaires stood out in conformity as proud South African veterans.As is customary the parade begins at 11:00am with a two minute silence, the start of which is announced with an artillery salvo – heard across the city.

Queen Elizabeth II has the honour of laying the first wreath at the Cenotaph – this year she was accompanied by the King of the Netherlands. Following the Queen, serving members of Royal family lay their respective wreaths.

Once the Royal party has concluded wreath laying, members of the Cabinet, Opposition Party leaders, former Prime Ministers, the Mayor of London, other Ministers, Representatives of the Armed Forces, Faith Communities and High Commissioners of Commonwealth countries all lay wreaths.

The march past starts with the Royal British Legion’s wreath. Thereafter the numerous regiment associations, veterans associations and public service bodies march past the Cenotaph with an eyes left and present their respective wreaths.

The Legionnaires presented the South African Legion wreath – Stuart Robertson was given the honour. On the march the Legion took the salute of Prince William with an eyes right, before entering horse guards to conclude the march and dismiss.

The wreath for the Royal British Legion South African branch was handed over by the branch’s youth members in the civilian columns.

Post parade refreshments and wrap up was held at the Kings Head in Shepard’s Lane. Peter Dickens – the branch Chairman – thanked all the Legionnaires and branch members – over 30 members where on parade, exceeding last years numbers and this is indicative of the highly positive culture in he branch which is growing from strength to strength.

Notable thanks were given to Peter Gillatt, Theo Fernandes, Karen Dickens, Stuart Robertson, Russell Mattushek, Paul Gladwin, Andrew Bergman, Cameron Kinnear, Cary Hendricks and Simon Mcllwaine for the success of the parades in London and Glasgow and significant contributions to the branch over the year.

The social was concluded with the anointment of the Branch’s Ceremonial Officer’s swagger stick – kindly donated by Russell Mattushek.


At approximately 05:00 on Monday, 11 November 1918, the Armistice was signed in a railway carriage of Marshall Foch’s special train at Rethondes, just outside Paris in the forest of Compiege on the Western Front. At 11:00 that day, the roar of guns ceased and peace and silence finally descended on the Western Front, ending the First World War.

November 11th became the Day of Remembrance internationally for all wars. The Red Poppy of Flanders was taken as the symbol of Remembrance from 1920.

Perhaps, the mere fact that throughout the international community and most definitely in the British Commonwealth, this Act of Homage is recognised annually on the second Sunday in November and at the symbolic eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (November). This invests the act of remembering with greater significance.

Annually, we are reminded of those who gave their lives for their country or cause…

“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”.

Remembrance Sunday is set in November on the Sunday closest to the 11th of November.  In South Africa Remembrance Day is commemorated in all the main centres as well as in many towns. The South African Legion even participates in Remembrance Sunday ceremonies overseas in Glasgow and London at the respective “Cenotaph”parades.


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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.

 

[youtube_video id=”5YNOiYWIDKA”]

 


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