Two-Minute Silence - Watsonian Contribution

Two-Minute Silence - Watsonian Contribution

Published on 8 November 2018

A two-minute silence has been observed on Armistice Day since the first anniversary of the end of the First World War.

While the tradition began in the UK in 1919 when King George V proclaimed "that at the hour when the Armistice came into force, the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, there may be for the brief space of two minutes a complete suspension of all our normal activities… so that in perfect stillness, the thoughts of everyone may be concentrated on reverent remembrance of the glorious dead", it is less well known that the idea had been introduced to King George by South African, Sir Percy Fitzpatrick who wrote to the King about the minute silence being held in Cape Town.

Robert Brydone
Robert Brydone

Former pupil Robert Rutherford Brydone, was one of the instigators of the Two-Minute Silence observed in Cape Town.

Born and raised in Edinburgh, Robert started Watson's in 1870 and emigrated to Cape Colony, South Africa, in 1886. There he married Jane Huntly Gilray in 1889 and together they had one son (his son attended Wynberg Boys' High in Cape Town and an active exchange programme still exists between the two schools). In 1903 Robert was named the first president of the Watsonian Club of South Africa.

Robert was a city councillor and had been heavily involved in recruiting troops for World War One. In 1918, as the war was coming to a close, in recognition of the sacrifices of those troops, Robert worked together with Wartime Mayor, (Sir) Harry Hands, to make public the acknowledgement of those sacrifices and introduced what was initially a three-minute silence to be observed every day at 12 noon.

Plaque commemorating Robert Brydone's contribution to the Two-Minute SilenceIt was this commemoration that Sir Robert Fitzpatrick submitted to King George.

Principal Melvyn Roffe spoke recently to BBC Newsdrive about Robert's contribution to the Two-Minute Silence, and you can listen using this link www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m0000zz4 (from 2:19:06).

And you can read the BBC News article here www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-46124328

Further information on our school events to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War can be found here www.gwc.org.uk/news/watsons-remembers .