The Two Minutes of Silence on 11 November at the 11th hour was the idea of Sir James Percy FITZPATRICK. He was born in King William's Town in 1862 and died in Uitenhage in 1931, eldest son of James Coleman FITZPATRICK, Judge of the Supreme Court of the Cape Colony, and his wife Jenny, both from Ireland.
On his father's death in 1880, he left college in order to support his mother and family. In 1884, he went to the Eastern Transvaal goldfields where he worked as store man, prospector's hand and journalist, and as transport-rider. In Barberton, he became editor of the Gold Fields News.
As a transport rider on ox-wagons he worked on a supply route through the Lowveld, along the Old Delagoa Road, which was used between May and September (the dry disease-free winter months) by transport riders from the Lydenburg Goldfields (Spitzkop, Macmac, Pilgrim's Rest and Lydenburg) to Lourenço Marques. This time of his life, when he was pioneering in the Lowveld, are vividly described in his book Jock of the Bushveld, and served as the setting for many of his Jock's (a Staffordshire Bull Terrier) adventures. It was Rudyard Kipling, a family friend, who persuaded Percy to write the book. A London artist, Edmund CALDWELL, was brought to South Africa to visit the Lowveld and draw the book's illustrations. Percy later became a government official and politician, which led to his involvement in military topics and eventually the Two Minutes Silence on 11 November.
The silent pause tradition has its roots in Cape Town, and in part with the Noonday Gun on Signal Hill.
Our own Tannie Mossie (Joan ABRAHAMS of Bloemfontein) wrote a well-researched book in the 1990s about this - "Time from Africa - A two minute silent pause to remember - 11:00 on the 11th of the 11th month." The book also shows the correct silence - one minute for the dead and one minute for the survivors (on 11 November) and one minute for one person or two minutes for more than one person (for other remembrance ceremonies).
Sir Harry HANDS K.B.E. was the Mayor of Cape Town in 1912 - 1918. He was also the first accountant at Old Mutual. In February 1918 the War Recruiting Committees of the Union of South Africa conference took place at Cape Town's City Hall. As a result, a recruiting drive was begun on 08 April 1918. The drive was inaugurated by church services throughout the city, with the official service held at St George’s Cathedral and attended by Mayor HANDS and the city's councillors.
Shorty thereafter, Mayor HANDS received a telegram notifying him that his eldest son, Captain Reginald Harry Myburgh HANDS, had died on the Western Front. At the outbreak of the war he joined the Imperial Light Horse and was sent to German South West Africa. He transferred to the South African Heavy Artillery and was posted to the Western Front, where he was seconded to the Royal Garrison Artillery. He was promoted to Captain and became second-in-command of his Battery. During the Germans' final large offensive, begun on 21 March 1918, he was gassed, and died of gas poisoning on 20 April 1918.
The Mayor was sitting in his office at City Hall with his friend, Councillor Robert BRYDON, when they heard the 11:00 hour stroke of the clock in the Clock Tower. Still in the office, an hour later they heard the Noonday Gun, fired from Signal Hill. Mr. BRYDON then suggested a silent street pause similar to the Angelus prayer tradition observed daily at noon at many churches. The Noonday Gun was suggested as the signal to start the silence.
On Monday, 13 May 1918 the following was published in the Cape Times newspaper:
"Pause for three minutes.
In some places in the Union it has been the practice during the past few weeks to call halt at midday in order to direct the minds of the people to the tremendous issues which are being fought out on the Western Front, and to afford a minute or two for silent prayer for the forces of the Allies engaged there.
This seems to be an excellent example to copy. And I now appeal to all citizens to observe the same practice in Cape Town as from tomorrow (Tuesday). Upon the sound of the midday gun all tramway cars will become stationary for three minutes and other trams should halt wherever it may be, for the same period.
Pedestrians are asked to remain standing wherever they may be when the gun sounds and everyone, however engaged, to desist from their occupations and observe silence for this short spell. Employers can greatly assist by advising their staff to this effect. I cannot conceive anything more calculated to bring home to us the critical time through which we are passing and it’s responsibilities for all of us and I hope most fervently that all our citizens will help to make the recognition of the solemnity of the occasion as real as possible.
(Signed) H. Hands
Mayor of Cape Town"
During the first observance, Mayor HANDS stood on Cartwright’s Balcony. Afterwards he decided that 3 minutes was too long, and the following was published in the Cape Argus newspaper on 14 May 1918:
"His Worship decided that the pause will retain its hold on the people if it is altered to two minutes instead of three, and that this change will not in any way diminish the power of its appeal. Consequently the pause will be two minutes tomorrow, when Bugler BICCARD will again sound ‘The Post’."
This pause was seen by the Reuter’s correspondent in Cape Town, who cabled a report to London. This was distributed all over Great Britain and re-cabled to the other Dominions. Within a few weeks Reuter’s agency in Cape Town received press cables from London stating that the ceremony had been adopted in two English towns and later by others, including towns in Canada and Australia. The observance of the daily midday Two Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance in Cape Town continued until 14 May 1919. Mayor HANDS retired from office at the end of his term in September 1918. On 02 August 1919, he again stood on the balcony of Cartwright’s next to the bugler for the Last Post ceremony during the Peace Celebration.
|Sir James Percy Fitzpatrick|
Sir James Percy FITZPATRICK, author of the classic South African story, Jock of the Bushveld, attended a church service in Cape Town in 1916 where a moment of silence was held for dead soldiers. Mr John Albert EAGAR, a Cape Town businessman, had suggested that the congregation observe a silent pause to remember South Africans lost in battle.
Sir Percy's son, Percy Nugent George, was a Major in the Union Defence Force. He was killed in France in 1917.
Major P.N.G. Fitzpatrick
South African Heavy Artillery, 71st Siege Battery
Died 14 Dec 1917, age 28
Born in Johannesburg.
Volunteered on 04 Aug 1914 and served in the Rand Rebellion and German South
West Africa with the Imperial Light Horse.
Buried at Red Cross Corner Cemetery, Beugny
A two minute silence was held in Cape Town on 14 December 1918, a year after Percy Nugent's death.
When Sir Percy heard that 11 November 1918 was going to be observed as Armistice Day in London, he asked for a two minute silence throughout the British Empire as a tribute to dead soldiers. WWI ended on 11 November 1918 with the guns stopped on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month.
Sir Percy proposed this observance to Lord Northcliffe but was disappointed by his reaction. He therefore approached Lord Milner, who forwarded the proposal to King George V’s private secretary, Lord Stamfordham. On 7 November 1919, The Times of London carried this message from the King:
"Tuesday next November 11, is the first anniversary of the Armistice, which stayed the world carnage of the four preceding years…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 all our normal activities. During that time, except in the rare cases where this may be impracticable, all work, all sound and all locomotion should cease, so that, in perfect silence, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the Glorious Dead".
Sir Percy was in California on business to look at their citrus industry when he read on 12 November 1919 that the first Two Minutes Silence had been observed in England the previous day. The Times newspaper reported:
"Throughout the British Empire, from the jungles of India to the snows of Alaska, on trains, on ships at sea, in every part of the globe where a few British were gathered together, the Two Minute Pause was observed".
On 30 January 1920, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick received a letter signed by Lord Stamfordham, the King’s Private Secretary:
"Dear Sir Percy, The King, who learns that you are shortly to leave for South Africa, desires me to assure you that he ever gratefully remembers that 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”. Signed Stamfordham."
Sir Percy Fitzpatrick was also the prime mover of the project to purchase land from France on which the Delville Wood Memorial was built. He was also chairman of the committee in South Africa which raised funds to build the memorial. One of his first tasks was the replanting of the actual forest, which was accomplished with acorns collected from a tree at Franschhoek, grown from one of six acorns brought from France by a French Huguenot when he fled from France in 1688.
On 10 October 1926 Sir Harry HANDS attended the special service held in Cape Town, which was timed to synchronise with the ceremony at the unveiling of the Delville Wood Memorial in France. The service was held at the Noonday Guns of the Lion Battery on Signal Hill and was arranged by the South African Heavy Artillery Association.
The Two Minutes Silence began to be applied to other events too. When Alexander Graham BELL died in 1922, the whole USA phone network observed a two minute silence. In 1995, as part of the 50th anniversary of VE Day, a two-minute silence was held in many Allied countries. The Two Minutes Silence is has been used to mark major disasters, such as September 11. In 2005, a three minute silence was held to pay tribute to the 150 000 people that died in the Asian tsunami.
THE RED POPPY
The poppy story goes back to 1915 when a Canadian soldier from Guelph, Ontario, Major John Alexander McCRAE, was serving in France as a doctor during WWI. He initially served at a First Aid Station between Poperinghe and Ypres, where he wrote his now-famous poem.
The 22-year-old Lieutenant Alexis HELMER took a direct hit from a German shell at Ypres on the Western Front one May morning in 1915. He was buried at sunset. The officer who spoke over his grave as the battle raged around them was his close friend Major John McCRAE. The next day, 03 May, after a night of tending to chlorine gas victims, he looked out from his first-aid post onto a sea of wooden crosses — his friend’s the latest, mingling with the wild red corn poppies that grew there. Then he tore a page from his dispatch book and began to write. In 20 minutes, it was done:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
It was first published on 08 December 1915 in the British magazine, Punch. John McCRAE's words were a lament for the sorrow and loss of war, not a glorification of it. They honoured not slaughter but sacrifice, our humanity not inhumanity.
Later he was appointed as Commanding Officer at the 3rd McGill Canadian General Hospital in Boulogne. He died there of pneumonia and meningitis on 28 January 1918. To honour him, comrades searched fields for poppies to lay on his grave but, in the dead of winter, found none. So they ordered artificial poppies to be made in Paris and woven into a wreath.
|Lt. Col. John A McCrae|
In 1916 artificial poppies were distributed in England for charity at some venues, such as St. Michael’s War Work Party, in South Shields, in August. The Sleights Red Cross Hospital held a Poppy Day in Whitby to raise funds for their hospital’s war effort. Also in August, there was a Poppy Day in Nottingham to benefit orphans.
On 09 November 1918, Moina Belle MICHAEL, a professor at the University of Georgia in the USA, was working in the YMCA Overseas War Secretaries’ headquarters during its training conference at Columbia University in New York City. In the Ladies Home Journal magazine that day, she came across McCrae’s poem and was so moved that she vowed to always wear a red poppy in remembrance. That same month she wrote an answering poem in reply, We Shall Keep the Faith:
Oh! you who sleep in Flanders Fields,
Sleep sweet - to rise anew!
We caught the torch you threw
And holding high, we keep the Faith
With All who died.
We cherish, too, the poppy red
That grows on fields where valor led;
It seems to signal to the skies
That blood of heroes never dies,
But lends a lustre to the red
Of the flower that blooms above the dead
In Flanders Fields.
And now the Torch and Poppy Red
We wear in honor of our dead.
Fear not that ye have died for naught;
We'll teach the lesson that ye wrought
In Flanders Fields.
She was given $10 by the conference delegates as thanks for her work, and this she spent during her lunch break buying 25 red silk poppies at Wanamaker’s department store. She pinned one to her coat and distributed the rest amongst the delegates, asking them to wear them as a tribute to fallen American soldiers. After returning to the University of Georgia in 1920, she taught a class of disabled veterans. Realising how much support they needed, she thought of selling artificial poppies to raise funds for America’s disabled veterans. She was born in Good Hope, Georgia in 1869, retired in 1938 and lived in Athens, USA, until her death in 1944. By then poppy sales in the USA had raised more than $200-million for the rehabilitation of war veterans. Her autobiography is titled The Miracle Flower: The Story of the Flanders Fields Memorial Poppy (1941).
By 1918, the poppy's symbolism had increased. Men serving in France and Flanders had been sending picked poppies back to loved ones in their letters. In April 1918 American women gave out poppies in New York after accepting war effort donations.
In September 1920, the American Legion held it's annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. Present was a French woman, Anna E GUERIN, representing the American and French Children’s League.
|Anna Guérin, in the 12 June 1918 issue of the Wichita Daily Eagle, Kansas.|
Anna Alix BOULEE was born in 1878 in Vallon, Ardèche, France. She married Paul RABANIT in November 897 in Vallon. He was born in Santiago de Cuba, Cuba in 1871. After his mother's death in 1887 in Cuba, his father took the two sons to New York in May 1879. Soon after the marriage, Paul and Anna sailed to the French colony, Madagascar, where they settled in Tamatave. There Anna opened a school in 1899 and ran it until she returned to France in 1909. The couple had two daughters there, Raymonde in 1900 and Renée in 1901. They couple divorced in 1907.
In October 1910, Anna married Constant Charles Eugène GUERIN in Paris. He was a Judge, and working in Kayes, French Sudan. They had met in Madagascar. After the marriage he returned to Sudan. Anna and her daughters moved to England, where Anna worked as a lecturer for the Alliance Française organisation, lecturing all over the UK.
In October 1914, Anna left Liverpool for the USA, onboard the Lusitania, arriving in New York. Her daughters remained at boarding school in England with her mother. Her husband was then in Lyon as a French attaché at the World Fair. When WWI broke out, the World Fair was closed down and become part of an official mission to the Congo, after which he enlisted in the French military, until he was sent back to Africa in 1916 on behalf of the French government.
Anna initially went to the USA as an Alliance Française lecturer. Once there she lectured all over the country at many First World War patriotic drives before the USA entered the war, and became a fundraiser, during and after the war, for the war effort and for France. She lectured in the USA from October 1914 until May 1915, after which she returned to France. By September 1915, she was at the Waldorf Astoria with her daughter Raymonde, when her daughter Renée arrived in the city from Bordeaux. Anna left the USA with her daughters some time after March 1916, as she returned to the Waldorf Astoria in September 1916 from Bordeaux with daughter Raymonde. She returned to France after April 1917 with daughter Raymonde. She was back in the USA in October 1917, joining her sister, Juliette, at the Washington Hotel in New York. Anna continued criss-crossing the USA giving talks at patriotic lectures and raising funds, as can be seen from numerous newspaper reports in the USA. She started selling floral boutonnières in September 1918, raising funds this way for French orphans. She returned to France in November 1918, when her tours were cut short by the Spanish Flu outbreak.
In France, Anna founded the "La Ligue des enfants de France et d’Amérique" in December 1918, officially setting it up in Paris. It was affiliated to the French government and the poppy was used as its emblem. Through her foundation she organised French women, children and war veterans to make artificial poppies out of cloth. She saw that artificial poppies could be sold as a way of raising money to help the French people, especially orphaned children, who were suffering as a result of the war. She became known as the Poppy Lady of France. In the USA, Anna set up her foundation as the "American and French Children's League" in 1919, having returned to the USA in March 1919. She gave her last residential address in France as Vendeuvre, Calvados. Her husband Eugéne was still working in Sudan, and her daughters were in Vallon with her mother. Her sister Juliette was living in Lincoln, Nebraska. Anna spent the year speaking and fundraising across the USA for the US Victory Loan and French orphans.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin on 06 June 1919, a homecoming celebration was arranged for the US 32nd
Division. A few women volunteers set up a stand selling doughnuts and coffee. One of the volunteers, the widow Mary HANECY, decorated the stand with poppies but the poppies were taken by Americans who left a donation on the counter. The volunteers used that money to help disabled veterans. Mary saw the potential for a fundraiser for the Milwaukee American Legion, and suggested they hold a Poppy Day for Memorial Day. In 1920 on the Saturday before Memorial Day, the American Legion distributed 50 000 poppies. Donations totalling $5000 were received and used for veterans’ rehabilitation. Mary was given a Certificate of Appreciation by the American Legion in 1932.
Mary Ann CALDWELL was born in 1861 in Milwaukee to Irish parents. She married John Joseph HENNESSEY, a fire-fighter. He died in January 1910 while fighting a fire. The surname gradually changed to HANECY. Mary died on 11 September 1948.
WWI ended on 28 June 1919 when the Treaty of Versailles was signed. Anna continued fundraising tours to raise money for the widows and orphans. In the last four years of the war, she had given more than 500 talks in 30 states, and crossed the Atlantic Ocean nine times. In 1919 she was awarded a U.S. Victory Liberty Loan Medal for her service during the US Liberty Loan campaigns.
In September 1920, the American Legion held it's annual conference in Cleveland, Ohio. It was here that it became the first of the WWI allied veterans’ groups to adopt the poppy as a remembrance emblem, after Anna was invited to speak about her "Inter-Allied Poppy Day' idea at the conference. For the first US National Poppy Day in 1921, it was agreed all distribution proceeds would go to Anna's foundation work in France.
After the American Legion officially adopted the poppy, veteran groups of the British Empire nations soon did the same. Anna decided to introduce the poppy to other nations who had been allies of France during WWI. During 1921 she visited or sent representatives to Australia, Britain, Canada and New Zealand.
|Field Marshal Haig (left), Field Marshal Smuts (centre) and General Lukin (right) in Cape Town, 1921|
Members of veterans organisations in Great Britain, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand came together to form the British Empire Services League in Cape Town on 21 February 1921. Three prominent soldiers, Field Marshall Douglas HAIG, Field Marshal Jan SMUTS and General Henry LUKIN headed this inaugural meeting in the Cape Town City Hall. Field Marshal HAIG went on from this meeting to start what is now known as the Royal British Legion, and Field Marshal SMUTS and General LUKIN went on to start what is now known as the South African Legion. At this conference the Haig Poppy (named after the Field Marshall) was adopted as the official remembrance symbol.
Anna travelled to Canada, where she met with representatives of the Great War Veterans Association of Canada. This organisation later became the Royal Canadian Legion. The Great War Veterans Association adopted the poppy as its national flower of remembrance on 05 July 1921.
She visited Field Marshall Douglas HAIG, president of the British Legion, and persuaded him to adopt the poppy as the Legion's emblem in 1921. It was also Anna who suggested that the Legion sell artificial poppies to raise money. The Legion signed on and 1.5 million poppies were ordered for 11 November 1921. The first Poppy Appeal made £106,000. Initially the poppies were made by the French women and orphans, and later a poppy factory was set up in South London. By the end of the 20th century, the British Legion was selling over 32 million poppies per annum.
Australia adopted the poppy as from 11 November 1921. Anna's foundation sent a million artificial poppies to Australia for the 1921 Armistice Day commemoration. The Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League sold the poppies for one shilling each. Of this, five pennies were donated to Anna's French orphans, six pennies were donated to the Returned Soldiers and Sailors Imperial League and one penny was received by the government.
In September 1921 Anna sent a representative to the New Zealand Returned Soldiers' Association (NZRSA).They placed an order for 350 000 small and 16 000 large French-made poppies. Unfortunately the delivery did not arrive in time to for 11 November and the Association decided to hold the first Poppy Day on 24 April 1922, the day before ANZAC Day. The first Poppy Day in New Zealand raised more than £13 000. A proportion of this was sent to Anna's French orphans, and the remainder was used by the Association for support and welfare of returned soldiers.
In 1922 the American and French Childrens' League was disbanded. Anna left the USA in early 1922 for England and France, continuing her work with poppy campaigns. She was in charge of the 1922 Poppy Day arrangements in Canada, for that November’s commemoration. Most of those poppies was made by unemployed ex-service men in Canada, with the small balance coming from Anna's French widows and orphans. For the 1922 US Poppy Day, Anna asked the American Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) to help her with the distribution of her French-made poppies. In March 1923, 2 million French-made poppies were sent to the USA, ordered by the American Legion, for their 1923 Memorial Day poppy drives. Anna was also involved in arranging poppy supplies for Australia and New Zealand until 1927 and 1929 respectively.
Following the distribution of the French-made poppies in 1922, the VFW agreed in 1923 that American veterans could also benefit from making and selling poppies. From 1924 disabled ex-servicemen started making poppies at the Buddy Poppy factory in Pittsburgh. Buddy Poppy was registered as a U.S. Patent in February 1924. The Buddy Poppy programme has continued to raise money for the welfare and support of veterans and their dependants. There are now 11 locations where the Buddy Poppies are made by disabled and needy veterans. More than 14 million Buddy Poppies are distributed each year in the United States.
From 1924 until WWII started, Anna travelled to New York about twice a year from France. In February 1925, Anna was with Juliette in New York when her husband Eugéne arrived on St. Valentine’s Day for a two week holiday. She listed him as her next of kin whilst travelling until November 1935, and in December 1938 she listed her daughter Raymonde as next of kin. It is not known whether Eugéne died or they separated. Anna then opened a French antique business in New York. Her sister Juliette and friend Blanche managed it at least until April 1940, when they are listed in the 1940 US Census at an antiques business at 200 E 60th Street, New York. Anna was in France at the time the US 1940 census was taken, and is travelling from Nazaire on the ship Champlain in 19 May 1940 to New York. She most likely spent the WWII years in the USA. After the war, she left the USA in July 1945 and returned in November 1945 from Le Havre. She did these trips about twice a year. From 1946 to 1956, Anna flew into New York from Paris, instead of sailing, with her address given as 957 3rd
Avenue, New York.
Anna died on 16 April 1961 at le Square Charles Dickens 5, Paris, where her daughter Renée lived in one of the apartments above the Musée du Vin. She was 83 years old. History has not always been kind in remembering that it was Anna GUERIN who started the national Poppy Days in the USA and the Allied countries - let us remember her as such, it was her life's work.
In early 1941 Anna wrote about her work regarding her idea for an "Inter-Allied Poppy Day". This writing about the history of the National Poppy Days was sent to Moina MICHAEL. It is today in the Moina Michael papers held at the State of Georgia Archives. In her writing, Anna mentioned that she had organised Poppy Day in Canada with two ladies, her sister Juliette Virginie BOULLE and Anna’s friend Blanche BERNERON, the widow of Eugène BERNERON. Anna then left them in Canada and travelled to England, Belgium and Italy. She mentioned that she "was sending Colonel MOFFAT to South Africa (Natal), Australia and New Zealand" to organise there. As far as is known, this is the only reference connecting Anna to South Africa. Colonel MOFFAT's ship "Aeneas" stopped in Durban (Port Natal), and later at Cape Town enroute from Melbourne to Liverpool.
In South Africa, the South African Legion
still holds a few collections in malls to raise funds to assist in the welfare work among military veterans. They do not sell the poppies but accept donations in return. When you buy a poppy for Remembrance Day, you pay tribute to those who died, and you are helping those who survived and bear the scars of war.
HOW AND WHEN TO WEAR A POPPY
The poppy campaigns usually start two weekends prior to Remembrance Day, 11 November. The poppy can also been worn at the funeral of a veteran or a special occasion connected to veterans.
The most common place to wear a poppy is on the left, over the heart or on the left lapel of one’s jacket.
The leaf of the poppy, if there is one, should be positioned at the orientation of 11 o’clock, to symbolise the 11th hour of the 11 day of the 11th month - the time that World War I formally ended. The red represents the blood of all those who gave their lives, the black represents the mourning of those who lost their loved, and the green leaf represents the grass and crops growing and future prosperity after the war destroyed so much.
The poppy is not for sale, they're distributed and donations of any amount are encouraged in exchange.
If you don't keep your poppy, you can leave it on a veteran's gravestone or on a cenotaph as a sign of respect and honour.