England Branch Committee Meeting

Purpose: All Branch members are invited to contribute in providing suggestions/feedback, or just listen to the quarterly update. Final event planning will also take place for our upcoming flagship events

Following the committee meeting, our fun quarterly social will commence.

  • We would like to invite all legionnaires to our next quarterly SA Legion Social to join us!
  • An opportunity for fellow legionnaires to catch up with old friends, connect & forge bonds with new friends… also a chance to direct any questions or suggestions to Committee Members over a nice relaxing beer!

NOTE: This meeting precedes the Regional Conference at the same venue


Carpane – 75th Anniversary of the Grappa Massacres

The two small wooden crosses next to the Legion Wreath were laid on behalf of the Kinnear Family.

Operation Piave

In the period of the 20th to the 29th September 1944 a number of massacres and reprisals (Operation Piave) took place in the Grappa region of Italy when the Axis forces attempted to quell the partisan activity.

Although the total number has never been ascertained, it is calculated that over 300 people were murdered and an unknown number deported.

In the town of Carpane a court of sorts convened and passed judgement on captured partisans.

On the 21st September an unknown young Italian was shot.

On the 23rd September Giuseppe Mocellin and Luigi Ferraris were shot.

On the 24th Virgilio Versa, Filippo Bianchin, Pietro Boaria, Federico Fiorese, Matteo Gheno, Alfredo Tosin and Antonio Bellò, and two allied prisoners were shot.

On the same day, David Baillie, J.L.S. Fourie and Gear Munsiff Dar are shot in Campo Solagna (Monte Grappa).

On Tuesday 26th September in the (now) Avenue of Martyrs in the town of Bassano del Grappa 31 partisans were hanged from trees and left for the inhabitants to see.

26th September 1944
4th October 2019

In the afternoon of the same day another group of partisans were shot in Carpane. These men were second-lieutenant Angelo Alberto Bosio, second-lieutenant Angelo Valle and 14 Allied soldiers, one of who remains unidentified.

Roll of Honour – Allied Soldiers

These names are listed on the roadside memorial in Carpane.

CHAMBERS, A. G.

BUSH, F

MIRAMAT, S

SMITH, A. M.

DUNNE, W. G.

KINNEAR, R S
Rank:Gunner
Service No:53513
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:27
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery
Grave Reference I. A. 8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William J. and Susan Kinnear; husband of Adelaide R. H. Kinnear, of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

KINNEAR, W J 
Rank: Private
Service No:27529
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:29
Regiment/Service:Transvaal Scottish, S.A. Forces 2nd Bn.
Grave Reference I. A. 10.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William J. and Francina S. Kinnear; husband of Maria E. Kinnear, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa.

BUYS, S
Rank:Signaller
Service No:117010
Date of Death:Between 26/09/1944 and 27/09/1944
Regiment/Service:South African Corps of Signals
Grave Reference I. B. 2.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

KING, C N
Rank:Lance Corporal
Service No:12225
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Regiment/Service:Die Middelandse Regiment, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference I. A. 14.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

CHAMBERS, F E
Rank:Private
Service No:93978
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:24
Regiment/Service:Natal Mounted Rifles, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Arthur W. and Cornelia M. Chambers, of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

CRONJE, L N
Rank:Lance Bombardier
Service No:105306
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:21
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Cronje, of Ficksburg, Orange Free State. South Africa.

FLACK, B R
Rank:Gunner
Service No:144020V
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:32
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery 2 Field Regt.
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Brian V. H. and Maude E. Flack, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa.

HORNE, C. H.

WHEELWRIGHT, D D
Rank: Corporal
Service No:11607
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:41
Regiment/Service:Kaffrarian Rifles, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference I. A. 9.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Guy and Lilian Wheelwright; husband of Viola Wheelwright, of Lusikisiki, Cape Province, South Africa.


BOTES, A
Rank: Private
Service No:28077
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Regiment/Service: Rand Light Infantry, S.A.
Grave Reference I. B. 1.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

AN UNIDENTIFIED ALLIED SOLDIER

Gianna Giglioli, the wife of Angelo Vale refused to be sent to work in Germany and demanded she share her husband’s fate.

The Axis obliged and shot her too. 

Angelo Vale and his wife, Gianna Giglioli and child.

When her body was examined she was found to be four months pregnant.


Every year the inhabitants of the region hold a memorial service to commemorate this event.

It was only in 2008 that an Italian researcher, Sonia Residori, managed to uncover the identities of the Allied soldiers.

During research into the Italian Campaign the Regional Chair of the SAL, Cameron Kinnear, noted that two of these soldiers were named Kinnear, and he started corresponding with Sonia Residori.

As a result an invitation was extended to Lgr Kinnear and his wife to attend the 75th Anniversary of the massacres, to be held on the 5th October 2019.

It must be noted that the Kinnears were very warmly welcomed and treated exceptionally well during their stay in the region.

After a church service led by a senior church official from the region, short ceremonies were held at the main memorial and at the spots were the shootings took place. The entire town and the main road through the area was stopped, and the attendees progressed to the various spots in a sombre yet fraternal mood.

At the spot where the Allied soldiers were shot Lgr Kinnear laid not only a wreath from the SAL, but also small crosses were laid for the two Kinnears.

After the wreath laying services were completed, a local hall was filled to overflowing to hear the speeches presented by Mayor Ferazzoli, the Researcher Sonia Residori and Cameron Kinnear, Regional Chair of the SAL England and Europe.

All of the surrounding towns were represented by their Mayors in support of the Mayor of Valbretta / Carpane, Luca Ferazzoli.

The parade was led by Ottorino Bombieri, Chair of the National Partisans Association (ANPI) with support from the Chair of the National Association of Combatants and Veterans of Valbretta, Ermanno Bombieri and the President of the ANPI of Bassano, Gianandrea Borsato. Representatives of the Services were also present.

Lgr Kinnear was ably assisted by Prof Paola Fachinello who kindly provided translations.

Link to Carpane Roll of Honour

Media


This article includes information obtained from the Research and Articles compiled by Sonia Residori.

She has not only compiled detailed records of these events, pursued and enabled the identification of the South African soldiers, but was also involved in the tracking down of the German Officer in charge of the Bassano del Grappa “Avenue of Martyrs” executions, Karl Franz Tausch.

Sonia Residori – Tireless Researcher.
“I am very proud to carry on the values of resistance and anti-fascism. My cousin was killed by the Germans in Marostica, near Bassano del Grappa. He was a partisan. An uncle – for me as father – was a military man and was deported and spent two years in a concentration camp in Germany and suffered hunger and beatings. For me it is a duty to remember all those men who have been killed because I was born free! Your presence today was important: you reaffirmed the fraternity, today as yesterday.”


Armistice Day

Cenotaph London Parade



SA Legion UK and Europe AGM

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Annual General Meeting for South African Legion Members



Warsaw Airlift, Battle of Square Hill commemorated in Richmond

RICHMOND UPON THAMES – On Saturday 15 September, Legionnaires from the South African Legion of Military Veterans (UK and Europe), the Royal British Legion (SA Branch), were joined by delegations from the Polish Embassy, the Polish Airmen’s Association UK, and M.O.T.H. (Gazala Shellhole), to commemorate the 75th anniversary and honour the memories and sacrifice of the Allied airmen who participated in the Warsaw Airlift, where from 4 August to early September 1944, 205 Group RAF at Foggia, Italy, under the command of Maj Gen James (Jimmy) Thom Durrant, flew 196 11-hour night sorties from Brindisi and Foggia in Italy with B-24 Liberators, to drop supplies to the Polish Uprising in Warsaw.

An RAF B-24 Liberator (Picture: SAAF Museum)

The occasion further served to remember the Battle of Square Hill*, fought in Palestine from September 19 to 21, 1918, when Cape Corps troops engaged with Ottoman Turkish forces in what were to be the final months of the First World War.

The service took place in the chapel at Richmond’s East Sheen cemetery, and the opportunity was also taken to dedicate a new Standard for the SA Legion Europe Branch. Standards of the South African Legion (UK), the Royal British Legion (SA Branch), and the Polish Airmen’s Association UK, all formed part of the standard party.

Service

The service was conducted by SA Legion Chaplain, Lgr Craig Esterhuizen. He emphasised from the beginning of his address that the Warsaw Airlift was a humanitarian mission, not a strategic one. The pilots knew they were not going to change the course of the war for the Allies, but they were acting to prevent starvation and the annihilation of Warsaw’s population and the Polish Home Army.

Indeed, these brave pilots were denied flyover rights over Russian-held territory and were fired upon by their Russian allies if they strayed into their airspace. The 2,600-km round trip from their Italian bases at Celone and Brindisi was fraught with danger and at least 360 airmen and 41 British, Polish, South African, and US-crewed aircraft were lost. As Padre Esterhuizen said, it was indeed an act of love and sacrifice to participate in such a mission.

After the Padre’s address, a poem which honours the Cape Coloured soldiers who fought so bravely at Square Hill was read by Anja De Vries **.

A dark and haunting poem honouring the wartime sacrifices made by Poland *** was read, followed by the singing of the South African, British and Polish national anthems. The singing effort was greatly helped by the choir.

Parade

After the service, the legionnaires and standard bearers, led by a piper marched to the South African Cenotaph for a wreath-laying ceremony.

As the piper played the poignant Flowers of the Forest lament, wreaths were laid by Col Norbert Czerniak, Polish Deputy Defence, Military, Naval, and Air Attaché to the UK, Arthur Bildziuk, Chairman of the Polish Airmen’s Association UK, and SA Legion Chaplain, Lgr Craig Esterhuizen for the South African Legion UK & EU.

Col Norbert Czerniak, Polish Deputy Defence, Military, Naval, and Air Attaché
lays a wreath on behalf of the Polish Embassy
Arthur Bildziuk, Chairman of the Polish Airmen’s Association UK lays a wreath

A medal parade was then held to present the Pro Patria Medal (PPM), Southern Africa Medal (SAM), and General Service Medal (GSM) for service during and after the Border War to two Legionnaires.

Polish Deputy Defence Attaché, Col Czerniak, was then invited to join Lgr Cameron Kinnear to take the salute as the standards and legionnaires marched past the cenotaph.

Social

After the formalities ended, a social was held at the Royal British Legion Club in Teddington, where Lgr Lee Greed ensured no one went thirsty and Lgr Johan De Vries provided his superb boerewors rolls.

Nou gaan ons BRAAI!

* Battle of Square Hill
This year marks the milestone centenary of a historic battle which is not yet at the forefront of general consciousness in the United Kingdom. The legion playing its part to raise general awareness.

During the Battle of Square Hill in 1918, Cape Corps soldiers were able to shine in their first battle with Turkish soldiers in Palestine during the final months of the First World War.

The Turks were a mighty foe…

The nightmare that affronted Gen Allenby came in the form of Gen Mustapha Kemal or Ataturk as he was later known (founder of modern Turkey) and Gen Liman von Sanders seconded by the German High Command to their Turkish allies. This Turkish/German Army was the same one that had defeated the Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian (ANZAC) forces at Gallipoli, and thereafter marched triumphantly down Asia, conquered Damascus, and overran Syria until they reached the Holy Land.

Gen Allenby, with his Staff Officers mused over his problem and formulated their battle plans.

Strategy

The significance of this battle was General Allenby’s military strategy to connect with Arab allies to the east of the Dead Sea, a mission that was thwarted by the enemy’s control of the Jordan crossing at Jisr ed Damieh. Captain Ivor D Difford, quartermaster of the Cape Corps wrote that Gen Allenby was “determined to strike a blow west of the Jordan, where the whole Turkish army in that area was enclosed”. To this end, the plan was to “break through the enemy’s defensive positions and create a gap for the cavalry to pass through”.

During the night of 18 September 1918 the 1st Cape Corps themselves had taken 181 prisoners. Having come under “fairly persistent counter-attack” they were said to have battled with bayonets in the “strictest silence” and that they carried out orders implicitly.

Notable names mentioned in this battle were Lt. Samuelson, Sgt February and L/Cpl Thimm. The 1st Cape Corps capturing of the enemy field gun which was noted as “the first gun captured on the Palestine front during Allenby’s great push” – resulted in Lance-Corporal Thimm being promoted to Corporal.

Monument

Following the war, a monument was built in Kimberley. The gun captured at Square Hill stands there still… but of similar monuments in Johannesburg and Cape Town, nothing but promises materialised. The annual Armistice Day/Remembrance Sunday parade at the Johannesburg cenotaph drew a large crowd of Cape Corps veterans and descendants for decades and was widely known as the Square Hill parade, but even that memory has now faded.

The battle on that night claimed the lives of L/Cpl S Visagie and Pte S Gobey. Further casualties the next day were Pte J Jonkers, Pte G Groep and Pte D Hahman.

As legionnaires we carry the flame of remembrance…


** Once upon a time, a battle was fought in a Biblical land.

With its cloud of skirmishers in advance,
With now the sound of a single shot snapping like a whip, and now an irregular volley,
The swarming ranks press on and on, the dense brigades press on,
Glittering dimly, toiling under the sun—the dust-cover’d men,
In columns rise and fall to the undulations of the ground,
With artillery interspers’d—the wheels rumble, the horses sweat,
The army corps advances.

A great victory was won and their general was proud.

Remember the splendid South African victory at “Square Hill”

A Cape Corps helped break through to Damascus


*** By Józef Szczepański – 1944

We are waiting for you, red plague

you will be salvation welcomed with revulsion

we are waiting for you, our eternal enemy

bloody murderer of so many of our brethren

Your red, victorious army has been lying at the bright feet

 of burning Warsaw and is feeding its soul with bloody pain

of a handful of madmen who are dying in the ruins.


Background of Richmond South African Cenotaph:

Following the outbreak of the First World War, South Africa, as a British Dominion, formed and mobilised the South African Overseas Expeditionary Force, as its contribution to the war effort. This force consisted of: The SA Infantry Brigade, SA Mounted Brigade, SA heavy Artillery Brigade, SA Field Artillery Regiment, SA Native Labour Corps, SA Field Ambulance unit, SA Corps of Engineers, SA Signals Company, and the SA Medical Corps – a total force of about 232 000, each one of them volunteers.

Many of our grandfathers were among them.

The SA Medical Corps provided the staff for both the South African Military Hospital in Richmond Park London, and the No 1 South African General Hospital established in France. Injured or ill soldiers from all theatres of war were transferred to Richmond for treatment and for recuperation.

Altogether 39 of the South Africans who died in the SA Richmond Park Hospital were buried in the Richmond Cemetery. At the end of the First World War, the SA Hospital and the Comforts Fund Committee decided to erect a memorial to these men and to all those South Africans who had died in the war.

Sir Edwin Lutyens who designed the Whitehall Cenotaph – where thousands of ex-service personnel, including a substantial contingent of South African Legionnaires, march on Remembrance Sunday – designed this memorial and it was unveiled by General Jan Smuts in June 1921. It became a pilgrimage focus in the 1920s and 1930s.

It now has Grade II listed status and it is recorded as a building of special architectural and historic interest.


Article: Report by Lgr Justin Bosanquet / background information SA Legion
Photography: Lgr Victor Ho and Karen Parry

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SAMVOA award for one of SA Legion’s best

TEDDINGTON – At a superb ‘meet and greet’ between the South African Legion UK & Europe Branch and representatives of SAMVOA (Western Australia) at the The Royal British Legion Teddington, the Legion was honoured and privileged to accept a SAMVOA Distinguished Service Award from our Australian visitors on behalf of Lgr Theo Fernandes  in appreciation for his services in organising delivery of SADF medals to 54 veterans in Australia and New Zealand.

The SAMVOA members stopped in London on Friday, 13 September, en route to the Netherland to participate in the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden at Arnhem.

Accepting the award on behalf of Theo, SA Legion UK & EU spokesperson Lgr Andrew Bergman highlighted that the award is well deserved, as Theo (aka The Porra’) consistently embodies the motto of the Legion: ‘Not for Ourselves but for Others’.

The award will be handed-over to Theo (with due ceremony) after he returns from a tough assignment reconnoitring holiday facilities and gastronomy in Madeira.


© 2019 South African Legion of Military Veterans (UK & EU)

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Battle of Delville Wood remembered in Richmond

RICHMOND-ON-THAMES – The South African Legion gathered again at the South African Cenotaph in East Sheen cemetery in Richmond, London, to commemorate the Battle of Delville Wood in humble remembrance of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice during this critical part of the battle of the Somme in the summer of 1916.

Our friends from the General Browning and Gazala Shellholes joined us again this year as well as members of the Countess of Mountbatten’s Own Frontiersmen.

Also rendering support were two standard bearers from the Teddington Branch of the Royal British Legion.

Padre Lgr Chris Esterhuizen welcomed us all to the service and the Standards, including the South African and British flags were piped in by a piper of the London Scottish Regiment.

The column is piped towards the South African Cenotaph (Picture: Karen Parry)

We were also extremely fortunate to have the help of the choir of the New Apostolic Church of Camberley in attendance and their voices lifted the singing to wonderful heights.

Standards followed by veterans (Picture: Karen Parry)

After a very moving service from the Padre, two poems written shortly after the battle were read out and the service was concluded.

The veterans then fell-in and were piped from the chapel to the South African Cenotaph, where there was a wreath laying ceremony. Bugler Robbie Crick, ex of the Royal Artillery played Last Post.

SA Legion England Branch Chair Lgr. Russel Mattushek (Picture: Karen Parry)

The salute for the march past was taken by SA Legion Regional Chair Lgr Cameron Kinnear.

We then decamped to the clubhouse of the Teddington branch of the RBL for a well-earned beer or two.

SA Legion England Branch Vice-Chair and event convenor
Lgr Stuart Robertson (Picture: Karen Parry)

We were as always generously hosted by Lee Greed of the RBL Teddington. Braai master Johann DeVries ably helped by Legionnaire Theo Fernandes ensured that none went hungry.

We were also able to raise money for the SA Legion via a raffle.

A wonderful and moving parade in all, and we look forward to welcoming more guests and friends in the years ahead to help raise awareness and remembrance of the fallen of South Africa.

Text by Lgr Stuart Robertson
Photography by Karen Parry


Dutch National Remembrance Day – SA Legion shows solidarity with Noordwijk

NOORDWIJK, THE NETHERLANDS  –  Every year on 4 May, the Kingdom of the Netherlands marks its national Dodenherdenking (remembrance day), to commemorate civilians and soldiers who were executed or fell in WWII and subsequent conflicts.

The date is a moment to pause and reflect on the civil liberties that the Dutch enjoy today – freedom that they realise and respect was hard-won and should never be taken for granted.

Across the country, local school children place flowers on the many war graves scattered far and wide, in local cemeteries as well as those of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. These include many South Africans, especially airmen, as it was necessary for the RAF bombers to overfly the Netherlands on their way to and from raids on Germany. Especially on their return routes, many bombers succumbed to FLAK and fighter damage, and crashed into the Dutch polders.

National remembrance

In addition to a central nationally televised event on Dam Square in Amsterdam, attended by the royal family and heads of government, simultaneous events are held in towns and cities across the country, where two minutes’ silence is observed at 20h00.

Though neutral during the First World War, the Netherlands was not spared from hosting the casualties of a war that was fought within earshot.

Six casualties of the SS Medi (troop ship sank off Isle of Wight on 21 Feb 1917 with the loss of 616 souls) lie in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of the General Cemetery of Noordwijk, just north of The Hague in the Netherlands, among ranks of mainly Royal Navy personnel whose bodies, like those of the SS Mendi casualties, were washed-up on the Dutch coast.

Noordwijk

Over the past six years, the municipality and Aldermen of Noordwijk have been of constant support to the SA Legion and the South African Embassy in The Hague with regard to our annual SS Mendi remembrance service and parade now held each 21 February at the Noordwijk cemetery. A strong bond has developed between South Africa, and this picturesque town on the Dutch coast that has so loyally nurtured the graves of Private Abraham Leboche, Private Arosi Zendile, Private Sitebe Molide, Private Natal Kazimula, and Private Sikaniso Mtolo, for more than 100 years.

It is therefore only fitting that the South African Legion Europe Branch shows its solidarity with Noordwijk as the town remembers those who fought and died for its freedom.

This year, the South African contingent was significant, first at a remembrance service in the Maria Ter Zee church, followed by a dignified silent march, past the war graves in the general cemetery, to the Noordwijk war memorial nearby.

There, the South African Ambassador to The Netherlands, H. E. Mr. Bruce Koloane, and Lgr. Andrew Bergman, Chairman of the SA Legion Europe Branch, joined local dignitaries and veterans in laying wreaths after two minutes’ silence was observed.

Liberation

The following day, 5 May, is observed across the Netherlands as Bevrijdingsdag, marking the liberation of the Netherlands from the German occupation as WWII drew to a close.

It’s a day celebrated with much gusto (and Heineken and Grolsch), but not before having first acknowledged and paused to reflect that the freedom the country enjoys was achieved at the cost of many brave lives.

At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,

We will remember them…

Caption of featured photo above: These are four of the SS Mendi graves in Noordwijk. The town’s school children placed flowers at every one of the WWI and WWII Resistance, Allied and Commonwealth war graves, as they do each year.

Text and picture by Lgr Andrew Bergman