On Monday, Cape Town lost legendary Signal Hill noon gunner and retired Chief Petty Officer Dudley Malgas, who was previously in charge of reminding Capetonians and tourists alike when it was midday.
According to Eyewitness News, Malgas died of COVID-19.
Cape Talk states that Malgas had spent 39 years of his life in the Navy, while Cape Town Etc notes that he entered the Navy at the age of 19.
“My responsibility is to basically be responsible for the oldest living tradition in Cape Town, the firing of the Noon Day Gun everyday except for Sundays and public holidays,” said Malgas to Eyewitness News in an interview last year.
The Chief Petty Officer – who hailed from Mossel Bay – also explained the tradition to the publication. “The tradition basically started during the very early days when people didn’t have the correct time. People [were] wondering what the time was… when they landed in Table Bay because of bad weather.
“It was the British that started the tradition, to indicate to the sailors ‘Now you can set your watch to 12 o’clock.'”
For those that wondered where the “ball” of the gun landed, Malgas explained that only gunpowder was used and was the cause of the “big bang!”
Malgas retired last year after serving 22 years as a noon gunner and fired his last gun on 31 August, says Cape Town Etc.
The publication reports that Malgas and his family lived in Signal Hill where he was able to oversee the premises of the noon gun.
“While being a part of the Navy, I learned about discipline, time and the importance of doing things correctly the first time. These lessons I have carried with me throughout my life and also passed it on to others,” Malgas told the Cape Argus last year.
According to Cape Talk, Malgas told the publication that after his retirement, he planned to start his own local tourism business.