14 May: The First Two Minute Silence

Rerun: The two minute silence can be traced back to 14th May, 1918, when it was first observed in Cape Town, South Africa. 

Repeated daily for a year, and initiated by the firing of the noon day gun on Signal Hill, the ‘Two Minute Silent Pause of Remembrance’, as it was known, was instituted by Cape Town Mayor Sir Harry Hands and councillor Robert Rutherford Brydone, both of whom had lost sons at the Front.

In this episode, The Retrospectors consider the optimum length for a silence (three minutes was, apparently, simply too long); explain how the tradition became adopted at the UK’s Armistice Day; and reveal the worst place to hold a two-minute silence for Ukraine…

 

Further Reading:

• ‘The Scot who began the two-minute silence’ (BBC News, 2018): https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-46124328

• ‘The two-minute silence: remembrance of the Glorious Dead’ (United Kingdom Government, 2015): https://www.gov.uk/government/news/the-two-minute-silence-remembrance-of-the-glorious-dead

• ‘Two Minutes’ Silence To Honour War Dead’ (Sky News, 2014): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahaB53lT2ak

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