Author Archives: Andrew Bergman

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

Contact us for further information


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)

Contact us for further information


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


Commonwealth Memorial Parade 2019

COMMONWEALTH MEMORIAL GATES, LONDON – The 2019 Commonwealth Memorial Parade on Monday 11 March was particularly well attended by the South African Legion UK & Europe Branch.

Several Legionnaires, some with partners, mustered at Hyde Park Corner, to rub shoulders with military attachés, representatives of armed forces from across the Commonwealth, serving and retired members of the British Armed Forces of Commonwealth origin and ancestry, as well as delegations from the High Commissions of a multitude of Commonwealth member states.

The South African Legion delegation met in bright sunshine at 10:00 ahead of the parade (Spring has certainly sprung, but don’t stow your greatcoat quite yet). Logistics dispatches should note that all South Africans were uncharacteristically on time! This might have had something to do with the fact that some Legionnaires were under ‘spousal supervision’, which clearly ensured strict discipline.

We were soon introduced to the new Military Attaché to the South African High Commission in London, Brig Gen E Ramabu, with whom the South African Legion is already building a strong relationship of mutual cooperation.

Those Legionnaires who have attended regularly over the past few years were able to renew old stalwart acquaintances.

‘They shall grow not old’

A dignified service followed. Gurkha bugler sounded Last Post, followed by two minutes’ silence. After the bugle ‘Short Reveille’ or ‘Rouse’, a Ghurkha piper played the lament, and Guests of Honour were called by name to lay wreaths.

South African Military Attaché , Brig Gen E Ramabu, lays a wreath on behalf of the South African High Commission


Lgr Jose Lopes lays a wreath on behalf of the South African Legion

Jai Hind!

After the parade, guests adjourned to a nearby marquee for super refreshments and delicious snacks, provided as always by London’s Indian community.

Gesondheid!

Several of the South African Legion contingent subsequently repaired to a nearby pub to appropriately consider a successful day, and an appropriate ‘flying of the flag’ for both South Africa and the Legion.

 

Text by Lgr Andrew Bergman

Photography:

Lgr Theo Fernandes

Lgr Victor Ho


SS Mendi Remembrance, Noordwijk, The Netherlands

Tags :

Category : Articles , News , Newsletter , WW1

NOORDWIJK, ZUID-HOLLAND – In a dignified ceremony in Noodwijk in the Netherlands today, the fallen South African servicemen of the SS Mendi (at least five of whom lie buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of  Noordwijk General Cemetery) were fittingly commemorated.

In the annals of South Africa’s military history, 21 February 1917 is a dark day. It marks the sinking of the troopship SS Mendi after it collided with the SS Daro off the Isle of Wight, with the loss of 616 South African servicemen, 607 of them members of the South African Native Labour Corps: Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Swazi, and Tswana. The names on the SS Mendi Roll of Honour are still reflected in Southern African society.

H. E. the South African Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Vusi Koloane

Today, the anniversary of the SS Mendi disaster is aptly the day on which South Africa remembers all her fallen soldiers and in particular this tragic event. Across the country, parades and ceremonies will be held to commemorate those South Africans who paid the ultimate price in wars across the globe.

SA Legion Europe Branch Chairman Lgr Andrew Bergman

SA Deputy Military Attache Lt Col Andrew Mafololo and H. E. the South African Ambassador to the Netherlands, Mr Vusi Koloane lay a wreath of proteas on behalf of the Republic of South Africa

Lest we forget!

Text by Lgr Andrew Bergman
Photography by Johanna Bergman Badings 

 


Carabiniers remembered at Kimberly Gate, Chelsea

LONDON – On Sunday 2 December the South African Legion England Branch once again joined the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Association for an Observance at the Carabiniers Memorial, Chelsea.

The memorial remembers the fallen of the 6th Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers) who gave their lives during the South African War 1899 – 1902 (Second Anglo-Boer War). The Carabiniers were part of the cavalry division under Major-General Sir JDP French which led the charge through Boer General Piet Cronje’s lines to relieve the siege of Kimberley on 15 February 1900.

It is because of this connection that the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Association welcome the presence of the South African Legion at their annual Observance. Following a short service, wreaths were laid by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys), the South African Legion and the Moths of Gazala Shellhole.

We then adjourned to the Royal Hospital, Chelsea, for a service in the magnificent Wren Chapel followed by drinks and a traditional curry lunch in the Chelsea Pensioners Club. The sense of history was palpable inside this famous home of the Chelsea Pensioners which has cared for British Army veterans since 1692. It was an honour to rub shoulders with these grand old men and women in their distinctive red frock coats and a day to remember for all.

Text by Lgr Tony Povey
Photography by Lgr Theo Fernandes (full picture gallery below)

© 2018 SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved


SA Legionnaires join parade at London Cenotaph to mark 100 years since Armistice

WHITEHALL, LONDON – Around 40 Legionnaires from around the UK and Europe joined 9,000 veterans and 10,000 civilians at the Cenotaph in London for the Remembrance Parade to mark 100 years since the armistice to end the First World War was signed.

Many who travelled to Waterloo Station used the excellent free Poppy Cab service to reach the muster point at St James’s Park. Tickets were distributed and members quickly passed through the busy but efficient Royal British Legion ticket checking process to form-up as part of Column D on Horse Guards Parade.

Muster

That this year’ s parade was of a different scale in terms of attendance became evident after the column had marched through the arch onto Whitehall. The normal position is almost directly opposite but this year the group was marched almost to Trafalgar Square to accommodate all those attending.

 

Once everyone was formed up in the road, a bit closer to the memorial, the service began. Large TV screens, showing the service, were provided in the road, as they have been in previous years, but unfortunately the one in front of the Legion column was not working. There was however no mistaking the moment when the two minutes’ silence began, as the cannon of the King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery boomed out from Horse Guards.

Remembrance

Wreaths were then laid, beginning with Prince Charles on behalf of HM The Queen and followed by military leaders, politicians and High Commissioners of the Commonwealth. Once the formalities were over the mood in the column became more relaxed. Hip flasks where passed around and fellow veterans groups cheered as they began marching off, the Royal Military Police Association party receiving the time-honoured but well-intentioned boos.

 

The South African Legion party was expertly drilled by Lgr Brian Parry. When the time came for the march-past came, the wreath was laid by Royal British Legion South Africa Branch Chairman Lgr Peter Dickens. After performing the customary eyes left past the Cenotaph, the column wound through the roads back to Horse Guards where Princess Anne, the Princess Royal took the salute.

AGM

Back on the parade ground it was time for group photos and jokes with fellow veterans before everyone began making their way to the pub for the RBL SA Branch AGM. To emphasise the size of the Centenary event, the last of the civilian column had yet to set off by the time the veterans had marched through and were leaving the area.

Legionnaires and their families gathered at The Kings Arms in Mayfair for some well-earned refreshment and the AGM. The formal minutes are recorded elsewhere, but in his speech, Lgr Peter Dickens reminded the members that attendance at such special events is largely down to the close relationship forged with the Royal British Legion who run these events in the UK.

Text by Lgr Justin Bosanquet
Photography by Lgr Theo Fernandes and Karen Parry (please scroll down for full picture galleries)

Picture Gallery by Karen Parry:

Picture Gallery by Lgr Theo Fernandes: 

© 2018 SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved

 


South African Veterans’ Armistice Day Parade

The Richmond Armistice Day service was held on 10 November at 10:30 at East Sheen Cemetery in London, and was attended by more than 50 people, including the South African Legion (UK & EU Branch), representatives of the MOTH, the Royal British Legion, and South Africa Lodge.

After the entrance of the banners and flags under direction of Ceremonial Officer Lgr Brian Parry, Chaplain Craig Esterhuizen opened the service with a verse from Matthew 5:9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called children of God”.

After the hymn Be Still My Soul led by the choir of the New Apostolic Church who added their superb voices to the occasion, the lesson continued and centred around the meaningfulness of Armistice Day, being that it was 100 years ago that the accord was signed; but that peace was still a commodity in short supply in the world. The story of the reconciliation between Esau and Jacob was referred to, and an exhortation that we all fight as hard for peace, as we would for our freedom.

 

The service was ably supported by the choir who delivered renditions of poignant hymns such as Only Remembered, He in Whose Heart Peace Abideth and The Lord is my Light. Poems were read by Lgr Andrew Bergman, Lgr Russel Mattushek and Lgr Paul Gladwin. At the conclusion, the choir received a standing ovation from the Legionnaires in attendance.

 

To mark 100 years since the end of WWI, Cameron Kinnear, SA Legion UK & EU Regional Chair then unveiled a SA Legion Shield, for which the custodians of East Sheen Cemetery Chapel kindly gave permission, as well as pride of place at the apex of an arch. Its presence further cements the warm relationship that the SA Legion enjoys with Richmond Cemetery, thanks in a large part to the efforts of Lgr Stuart Robertson.

 

A short tea was enjoyed after the service, complete with home-made muffins provided by Gail Esterhuizen.

 

Wreaths were then laid at the cenotaph and a march-past with salute, received by Lgr Cameron Kinnear. A social then continued at the Mitre Pub where a typically carnivorous braai was provided by Du Toit Verster and Johan De Vries.

 

Text by Lgr Craig Esterhuizen and Lgr Andrew Bergman
Photography by Lgr Theo Fernandes and Karen Parry (please scroll down for full picture galleries)

Picture Gallery by Lgr Theo Fernandes:

Picture Gallery by Karen Parry:

© 2018 SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved


SA Legion UK & EU Formal Mess Ball and Annual Awards Dinner 2018

SOUTHGATE, LONDON – The second Formal Mess Ball of the South African Legion UK & Europe Branch was held on Saturday 22nd September 2018 at the Southgate Masonic Centre in London.

The purpose of the ball was primarily to entertain and treat our partners, who don’t always participate in the Legion events during the year. It was also a super opportunity for veterans and a like-minded crowd to get together, have a few laughs, a good old natter, and have fun.

It was especially good to welcome some friends who we haven’t seen for a while, as well as guests from South Africa and other veterans’ organisations including the Royal British Legion South Africa Branch.

Guests were greeted with a glass of bubbly, and rubbed-shoulders in the Centre’s cosy pub before dinner.

Picture by Lgr. Theo Fernandes

SA Legion England Branch Vice-Chair Lgr. Stuart Roberson acted as PMC for the evening, and the standards were paraded-in under direction of ceremonial officer Lgr. Brian Parry.

After the formal opening, the ceremonial officer pointed out to the PMC that the Chairmen of the Regions various Branches were ‘improperly dressed’. The PMC then presented the Chairmen with their respective Collars of Office with their distinctive ribbons reflecting the colours of the South African Flag.

Lgr. Dirk Benneyworth then took the floor as Master of Ceremonies in what was to be a fun night for all. The refectory of the Centre provided excellent cuisine and service. Live music with a distinctly South African flavour made the evening extra special.

After dinner following the formal toasts, it was a fitting occasion for the presentation of our annual awards and certificates of appreciation. The sheer number of recipients this year reflects an encouraging degree of engagement and support throughout the spectrum of SA Legion activities.

The highlight of the evening was the raffle. The table groaned with even more prizes than there were guests, and everyone went home with something. The grand prize of a flat-screen TV was scooped-up by a lucky guest from the Royal British Legion.

Most importantly, the raffle raised essential funds which will be used for the support of South African veterans.

Picture by Lgr. Theo Fernandes

Following the success of last year’s event, the Mess Ball promises to be an annual highlight of SA Legion activity, so be sure to watch this space for announcements. The 2019 edition is already being discussed!

Picture by Lgr. Theo Fernandes

Bravo Zulu to SA Legion England Branch Chair, Lgr. Russel Mattushek and his team for the superb organisation.

NOT FOR OURSELVES, BUT FOR OTHERS

Text by Lgr Andrew Bergman
Photography by Lgr. Theo Fernandes and Lgr. Victor Ho (scroll down for full picture galleries)
© 2018 SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved

Photo Gallery Lgr. Theo Fernandes:

Photo Gallery Lgr. Victor Ho: