Armistice Day has SA connection

LEST WE FORGET: The 2017 Remembrance Day ceremony held at the East London War Memorial
Picture: MADELEINE CHAPUT

November 11 was Armistice Day, which commemorates the official signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany which ended World War 1.

When celebrating Armistice Day, it is customary to have a moment of silence in honour of all the lives lost, usually held in the day at 11am.

Did you know that this custom was a South African invention? It was none other than famous King William’s Town author Sir Percy Fitzpatrick of Jock of the Bushveld fame who inspired it.

Fitzpatrick’s oldest son, Major Percy Nugent Fitzpatrick, was one of the millions of soldiers who lost their lives during the war. He then wrote to King George V on October 27 1919 and asked the king to pay tribute to all the fallen on the anniversary of the armistice.

King George gladly agreed and declared 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.”

For his inspiring idea, Fitzpatrick was credited by the king for the Armistice Day celebration. Baron Stamfordham, the king’s private secretary, wrote back to Fitzpatrick saying the king “ever gratefully remembers that the idea of the two minute pause on Armistice Day was due to your initiation”.

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