Flak Shellhole, Jeffreys Bay, South Africa
Article provided by Veteran Tiaan Jacobs & compiled by Pottie Potgieter. (Histotian & genealogist)
(Humansdorp Museum (HM) - Nov 22 - Jeffreys Bay Genealogy Group (JGG)
On Sun 13 Nov 2022 it was an honour and a pleasure to have attended an extremely good organized and well attended event in Da Gama Road, Jeffreys Bay at the M.O.T.H. Garden of Remembrance.
A huge feather in the caps to all involved such as the local units from the M.O.T.H. & South African Defence Force Association (SADFA) & South African Military Veterans Organisation (SAMVOZA) and Dogs of War, Veterans Association to make it a memorable event.
A special mention to all involved with the arrangements to make it happen. The entire procession was conducted with military precision and was an emotional, yet humbling experience. I salute you all ……. !!!
Remembrance Day, or “Poppy Day” as it is sometimes known, is observed every year on 11 Nov, or on the nearest Sunday to that date.
Over the years, many South Africans have lost sight of the significance of the term “remembrance” in the military sense. South Africa as a country made significant contributions to the Allied causes in both World Wars (1914 - 1918 and 1939 - 1945), the Korean War (1950 - 1953) and other wars and conflicts thereafter.
In the First World War 246,000 South Africans of all races volunteered for military service. During the Second World War 343,000 South African men and women of every race came forward. In the Korean War, 830men saw service with the South African Air Force while some officers of the South African Armoured Corps served with the British Army.
In 1918, at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, the guns fell silent to end the First World War (1914 - 1918).This was the largest global manmade catastrophe known until that time. The “war to end all wars” cost the lives of millions of soldiers and civilians. Twenty years later, the Second World War (1939 - 1945) saw the loss of millions “combatants” lives. In addition to these statistics, millions of civilians died during both conflicts.
Ideas of silent remembrance for those who died for their country emerged around the world at the time of the First World War. The horrendous slaughter of that war and the grieving it caused sent shockwaves around the world. When the war took a turn for the worse in 1918, many areas in South Africa called for a halt of activity at midday to “direct the minds of the people to the tremendous issues which are being fought out on the Western Front”.
The Mayor of Cape Town, Sir Harry Hands, declared this policy official on 14 May 1918 and on 14 Dec 1918, following the signing of the armistice in Nov, an impressive public display of remembrance was observed in Cape Town.
At the firing of the midday gun, traffic came to a halt, all hats were raised, and the public stood in silence as the Last Post and Reveille sounded through the streets.
The implementation of the “Two Minute Silence”, traditionally held throughout the British Empire (now Commonwealth of Nations), has its roots in South Africa. There were various people around the world who felt that an official period of silent remembrance would be appropriate.
It was the proposal by Sir Percy Fitzpatrick, well-known South African philanthropist, author, and politician, which was acted upon. Fitzpatrick had been deeply affected by the loss of his son, Nugent, in France in Dec 1917. In commemoration of the Armistice, he appealed to King George V for a 2-minute pause to be observed annually throughout the Empire at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month: One minute in remembrance of the fallen in war and One minute in gratitude for those who survived. Fitzpatrick had access to the King, who was moved by the idea and 2 months later, it was approved.
After the end of the Second World War in 1945, the observance of Remembrance Day has also embraced silent remembrance of all those who have died in conflict since the First World War. As South Africans unite as one nation, we should use 11 Nov to remember the 13,000 South African casualties suffered in the First World War, the 39,000 casualties suffered in the Second World War, and the 40 pilots killed in the Korean War.
Many war graves of South Africans lie far from home, in Namibia, France, Belgium, Tanzania, Ethiopia, the Middle East, Italy, Korea and elsewhere. Closer to home, we should remember the many South Africans who died in the conflicts on our borders with the Bush War and in many other conflicts since the 1960’s.
There are no reliable figures for these casualties, but what is important is that they all contributed to building our country as we know it today. The observance of 11 Nov is not about celebrating any victory, nor about boasting about our achievements in conflict.
It is about showing respect for those who were willing to serve their country and, if necessary, to make the ultimate sacrifice so that we who are here now can have the life that we know.
In conclusion, quote from the Remembrance Prayer:
They shall not grow old
As we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them
Nor the years condemn them
At the going down of the sun
And in the morning
WE SHALL REMEMBER THEM
The absolute best way to describe the emotions and the atmosphere of the Remembrance Day Parade and event is through a photo collection……
SAMVOZA Veteran Tiaan Jacobs and Pottie Porgieter.
f.l.t.r Middle row: Tiaan far left. Pottie 3rd from left (white shirt & brown hat)
SAMVO wreath, far right in middle row
· Abrahams J.C., A Debt of Honour (Printed as a token of gratitude to the fallen by the South African National Defence Force, copyright 1997)
· Blake A., Not For Ourselves (History of the South African Legion, 2004)