Cape Town – Men and women who fought in World War I were remembered yesterday during Armistice Day commemorations at the Civic Centre in which the City honoured the South Africans who sacrificed their lives in the conflict.
Armistice Day is usually commemorated at the 11th hour on the 11th day of the 11th month and has been since the Armistice of November 1918 was signed, bringing an end to World War I, and memorial day activities take place around the world.
On Sunday, hundreds of people, including members of the army, navy and air force, together with dignitaries and diplomats, came together at the Civic Centre to honour those fallen heroes.
The event was supposed to be held at the Cenotaph on Heerengracht Street, the city’s main war memorial for the 25 000 soldiers who died, but was moved to the Civic Centre because of weather conditions.
Deputy mayor Ian Neilson said: “This has been a year of momentous changes, changes that affect every aspect of our lives. This ceremony, one that has been repeated every year for more than 100 years, has also had to adapt to these strange new times.”
Yet, Neilson said, some things remained unchanged: “Our commitment to commemorating the bravery of those who fought, lived through, and died during the world wars, and all other wars; our commitment to ensure that the values they embodied live on, and the enduring force of the human spirit.”
He said it was perhaps especially appropriate this year to remember those medical personnel who were at the front lines during wars and risked all to save as many lives as they could.
The commemoration was preceded by a procession and later a wreath-laying ceremony that included 95-year-old trooper Walter Brewis.
Brewis, who was with his family, told of how he became a soldier at 19 years old, and how he made friends during the hardships of World War II.
“Although it was sad, it was a wonderful experience,” he said.
Brewis described the war as “tough”. However, he survived it “through Jesus’ mercies”.