SUNDAY, 11 November marks the centenary of the end of World War 1, also known as the Great War – or, as it was hoped, ‘the war to end all wars’.
Most people are well aware of the inception of the Armistice which took place at 11am on the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, however not many know the Armistice was officially signed at 6am on 11 November 1918.
In commemoration of this historical event, the South African Legion will undertake the following activities on the centenary weekend in Durban on 10 and 11 November.
Saturday, 10 November will be the SA Legion’s annual poppy day collection in aid of veterans in distress and animal shelters. The public is encouraged to show its support by wearing a poppy with pride in remembrance of family members who fought in the war, or to just show gratitude for the brave men and women who answered the call and stepped up to make a difference. This remembrance also extends to the horses, mules and dogs that died serving with them. Legionnaires and friends of the SA Legion will be stationed in shopping centres and public places to accept donations and supply poppies to those who support the campaign
The SA Legion is founded on:
- Remembrance of those who have fallen since 1914 in all conflicts within or outside the borders of South Africa.
- Recognition of those currently serving in the armed forces.
- Service to those less fortunate than ourselves.
The SA Legion appeals for volunteers to offer up an hour or so of their time to serve as collectors on its behalf in various shopping malls across the greater Durban area. Anyone wanting to support this initiative can email [email protected]
On Sunday, 11 November, the SA Legion together with KZN Piping will herald the day at 6am at the Durban Cenotaph, Farewell Square, Dorothy Nyembe (ex-Gardiner) Street. Pipers will play ‘The Battle Is Over’ as part of a global piping event which will take place at the same time at various international destinations together with drummers and soldiers (past and serving), honouring the signing of the Armistice.
After the last notes of ‘The Battle Is Over’ are played, the ceremony moves down to the local Maritime Museum where a service will be conducted and wreaths laid for soldiers who lost their lives in South Africa’s worst maritime disaster – the sinking of the SS Mendi, which took place on 21 February 1917. Tragically, 660 lives were lost.
Activities continue at 10am with a gathering at Durban Cenotaph, for the city’s annual Civic Service of Remembrance where wreaths will be laid by foreign consuls, military and veteran organisations. As a particular mark of respect, the SANDF will provide a ceremonial company which will include a military band on parade while the guns of Natal Field Artillery fire a salute to the fallen during the parade.
An open invitation is extended to all churches with bells in greater Durban to contact them on [email protected] and pledge their willingness to participate in this momentous event by ringing their bells at 11am.
Citizens of Durban are invited to attend the service and lay a wreath or flowers in memory of a loved one. Thereafter, refreshments will be served in City Hall for all invited guests.
Commemorations will resume at 6pm, when members of the local veteran community in a sunset parade, which will end at the Durban Cenotaph in Farewell Square, where a Flame of Remembrance and Hope will be lit to honour all fallen comrades who have paid the ultimate price since 1914.