Author Archives: Cameron Kinnear

Medal Ceremony Saturday 16 May 2015

The South African Legion’s National Head Quarters (NHQ) – held a Medal Ceremony on Saturday 16 May 2015 for veterans who did not receive medals due to them at the Ditsong Museum of Military History in Johannesburg. The full group of recipients and their loved ones attended the ceremony. 
The South African Legion assists in the applications for backdated medals which are due and never issued and arranges appropriate ceremonials the world over on behalf of the SANDF ceremonial office. Congratulations to all the veterans, wear them with pride and honour. The recipients at this ceremony where:

Fred Adams
Guy Beckett
Wayne Bisset
Spencer Blackbead
Mark Brand
Dolf de Bruin
Branko Dzomlija
Ivan Faught
Tom Fraser
Trevor Geldenhuis
Antonie Goosen
Richard Henry
Marcel Hugli
Zane Jacobsen
Shawn Jansen v Vuuren
Arno Kotzee
Geoff Lathy
Dennis Locker
Martin Mckeen
Barry MacCarthy
Rob Nilius
Hendrik Pelser
Andrew Pierce
Francois vd Merwe
Johan vd Westhuyzen
Pieter van Ellewee
Pieter van Tonder
Andre Vermaak
Glen Vermaak
Manie Waldick

Posted for the SA Legion by Demetri Friend


Savate Day 2015

Savate day was remembered by the 32 Battalion Veterans Association yesterday at a large ceremony was held at the 32 Battalion remembrance tree, which is now located the Voortrekker Monument outside Pretoria.

South African Legion representatives were at the ceremony to stand shoulder to shoulder with our brother veterans from 32 Battalion.

21 May is the only date marked by 32 Battalion as a general Remembrance Day for all those who had fallen while serving in the battalion. The name “Savate” is a reference to a major FAPLA base 75km (47 miles) inside Angola on the Cubango River. It was at this battle at Savate (operation Tiro A Tiro) where the battalion suffered the highest number of casualties.

Of the 150 men who died while fighting with 32 Battalion, 15 were killed in action during the Savate-attack in May 1980, the battalion’s heaviest casualties in a single engagement. Radio intercepts later indicated that FAPLA had 558 dead and wounded.

Long may the sacrifices of these men who have fought and died for South Africa be remembered – regardless of the politics of the time, then and now.

Images courtesy of the 32 Battalion Association and Demetri Friend. Posted for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens.


Battle of Gideon Namibia

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Commemorating the centenary of The Great War 1914 – 1918 and the South African campaign in what is now Namibia.
This week we remember the centenary of the Battle of Gibeon during the German South West African campaign.

This is the Gibeon Station Cemetery where the Allied and German casualties are buried and commemorated. The site is jointly maintained by the South African Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and the German Kriegsgraberfursorge in Namibia.

There are 33 Allied casualties buried in the cemetery:
20 members of the Natal Light Horse.
3 members of the 1st Mounted Rifles (Natal Carbineers).
3 members of the 5th Mounted Rifles (Imperial Light Horse).
1 member from each of the following Regiments/Units:
4th Infantry (1st eastern Rifles).
4th Mounted Rifles (Umvoti Mounted Rifles).
Military Magistrate.
South African Medical Corps.
South African Military Constabulary.
South African Mounted Rifles.
South African Service Corps.

A number of German casualties are also commemorated in the cemetery.

April 28th, 1915 – Battle of Gibeon, Defeat for Germans in South West Africa

By the standards of the Western Front, the battles that occurred between the South Africans and the Germans in German South West Africa were minuscule skirmishes. But these firefights, often between only a couple score of horsemen on each side, determined the fate of a vast area of Africa one and a half times larger than the entire mainland German Empire.

60,000 South African Union troops had invaded German South West Africa after a previous failed incursion, and a Boer rebellion at home, in 1914. The army was led by General Louis Botha, the current Prime Minister, and Jan Smuts, a future one. interestingly, both men were Afrikaaners and had led Boer commandos against the British during the Second Boer War. The two split their command, Botha leading his troops to the north while Smuts concentrated on the south. Botha concentrated his men for a push towards the German colonial capital of Windhuk.

All that faced this massive invasion was force of around 3,000 German colonial soldiers, bolstered by local colonist militia. The Germans depended on mobility and surprise to even the odds, using hit-and-run attacks and ambushes. 700, with two guns, stood in the way of Botha’s column, which consisted of 14,500 rapidly moving cavalry. A Captain Kleist commanded the Germans. He had been ordered to make a fighting retreat and hold back the South Africans wherever possible, and to escort fleeing columns of German farmers and their cattle. The South African 9th Cavalry Brigade caught up to the Germans in the village of Kabus, driving them out and capturing the farmers. The South African cavalry stayed planted in Kabus for the meanwhile.

Kleist decided to try and lure the South Africans into a trap. He dispatched 150 men back towards Kabus, to draw out the foes, while he and the rest of the force waited in ambush along the road to hit the pursuers. On the 23rd a group of German horsemen burst into the town, shooting their guns into the air wild-west style. The South Africans, rudely interrupted at breakfast, gave chase, but they gave up soon and the trap could not be sprung. Kleist decided to rest for a few days. He vastly underestimated the swiftness and experience of his enemies.

In the next couple of days the Union cavalry discovered an uncut German telephone line near the town. They hooked up their telephone and listened in to the Germans discussing the situation with the “Englanders”. The Germans planned to retreat by train in the village of Gibeon. The South Africans devised a scheme to blow the railroad tracks and capture the whole German force.

At night the South Africans rode towards Gibeon and blew up a stretch of the railroad tracks. Kleist’s men woke up to the noise and deployed around the train, in two drainage ditches that offered excellent cover. The Union cavalry that thundered in did not see the ditches, and when a German machine gun opened up it delivered withering fire. The Germans killed 24 South Africans, and wounded or captured about a hundred.

However, when dawn came, Kleist refused to abandon the train, even though it was useless without the rails. Over the night the South Africans had entirely encircled the position. Suddenly seeing the desperate situation, Kleist ordered a retreat. The Union horsemen galloped in. The Germans fell back hurriedly, turning occasionally to make a stand, but their resistance collapsed quickly in the face of overwhelming force. Sections of Kleists command did manage to escape, but they lost twelve dead, eleven wounded, and 180 taken prisoner. This represented a hefty part of the German forces in South West Africa. There would be no more resistance on the route to Windhoek.

Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans with photos by Charles Ross

Battle of Trekkopje

Yesterday marked the centenary of the Battle of Trekkopje, a railway station some 75 kilometres from Swakopmund in Namibia, between the German and Allied Forces. The Allied Forces comprised mainly of Union Defence Force troops.It was one of the most important battles of the German South West African campaign of the First World War as after the battle the German forces went on the defensive until the surrender on 09 July 1915 North of Otavi. A memorial just outside Otavi marks the spot where the German forces offered their surrender which was later accepted by General Lois Botha. The Allied Forces included the following units:
2nd Regiment Transvaal Scottish
Kimberly Regiment
Witwatersrand Rifle
1st Rhodesia Regiment
Number 1 Squadron RNAS Armoured Car Division
South African Telephone & Postal Corps.Nine members of the Union Defence Force are buried in the Trekkopje Cemetery:
Captain F. Harrison. 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).
Lieutenant W. M. Cameron. 8th Infantry (Transvaal Scottish).
Lieutenant F. Hollingsworth. Rhodesia Regiment.
Lance Corporal T. A Cameron. 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).
Lance Corporal D. A. Filer. 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).
Lance Corporal J. R. Wells. 7Th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).
Private W. E. Anderson. 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).
Private A. Lambie. 7th Infantry (Kimberley Regiment).
Private G. S. Reid. 8th Infantry (Transvaal Scottish).
There are also three German graves in the cemetery.

During a visit in January 2012 Alan Pateman-Jones, the then Director General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission labelled the cemetery the “most isolated cemetery in the Commission’s care”.

The Escarpment Shellhole of the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) planned a commemoration event over the weekend of 24 to 26 April 2015.

The South African Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission is in the process of erecting new road signs indicating the cemetery as well as a visitor’s information panel at the cemetery.

Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross with photos by Charles Ross, the South African War Graves Project, McGregor Museum Kimberley and Google – Christian Stowasser.

Image by Michael St Maur Sheil

Article here

Lancaster W4888

On a remote location in the Netherland’s the South African national flag permanently flutters proudly next to the Canadian, British and Dutch national flags – held high in grateful recognition of the sacrifice to liberate the country during World War 2 and to commemorate a special memorial and site.

Recently the South African Legion representative in Europe, Andrew Bergman, was invited to join the SANDF Attache’ to Belgium, Colonel Maryna Fondse, to remember a very special South African.

This is the re-dedication ceremony of the plaque for the memorial of Lancaster W4888 which was attacked by a German night fighter and crashed on 5 May 1943 on its return from a bombing raid on Dortmund with the loss of six of the seven crew.

The South African connection is the pilot, Nicholas James Stanford (RAF 80378) who was born in South Africa in 1915 and enlisted in 1941 in Salisbury, Rhodesia. After his training he arrived at 101 Squadron and flew several operations.

The re-dedication of the plaque, occurred in Workum (Vriesland) in the Netherlands today under the auspices of Workumer Verzetsmonument on the 16 April 2015.

A beautiful protea wreath was supplied by Colonel Fondse – and was laid in a joint ceremony with Andrew Bergman – it really did South Africa proud and it was an immeasurable honour for us to be able to participate in such a fitting and decorous ceremony.

It is also most heartening to see the way that the town of Workum has ‘embraced’ this sad episode in their history, and continue to honour our fallen airmen “who fought for freedom and justice”.

The clearly deep impression it all made on the men’s relatives – in the knowledge that the ultimate price paid by their ancestor is not forgotten – was pure gold!

This is just some of the fantastic work been by the SANDF Defence attache to Belgium/Brussels EU – and to Colonel Maryna Fondse and her team and our sincere thanks must go. On days like this it makes us all eternally proud to be Legionnaires.

Here’s the link

Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens with contributions from Andrew Bergman

Palmietkuil South War Cemetery and Memorial

This possible the closest cemetery in South Africa to the cemeteries found along the Western Front in France and Belgium. It is surrounded by trees and away from the everyday noise which makes the cemetery peaceful and quiet. A place to sit down and enjoy the tranquillity. Only time when this is disrupted is during planting and harvesting times.

The compounds of the gold mine on Palmietkuil Farm were taken over by the Union Defence Force at the outbreak of Second World War and used as the main training centre of the Native Military Corps. The centre was served by its own hospital. The headgear of the mine was recently demolished.

The cemetery contains 217 Commonwealth burials of the Second World War, all of the South African Army. Of the 217 burials in the cemetery 3 are from the Essential Services Protection Corps and the rest all from the Native Military Corps.

Within the cemetery is the Palmietkuil South War Cemetery Memorial, which commemorates 122 members of the South African Forces who died during the 1939-1945 War and who lie buried in different parts of South Africa in graves which could not be maintained. Of the 122 commemorated on the memorial 7 are from the Cape Corps, 7 from the Indian and Malay Corps, 4 from the Essential Services Protection Corps, 1 from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps while the rest are all members of the Native Military Corps.

The names are engraved on panels affixed to the Memorial Wall erected behind the Cross of Sacrifice in this cemetery. It bears the inscription, in English, Afrikaans, Zulu and Southern Sotho:


The cemetery is maintained by the South African Agency of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) who intends, now that the water problem seem to have been resolved, upgrading the cemetery to the normal CWGC standard.

Story compiled for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross with photos by Martin Blake of the South African Legion Motorcycle Club.

Three Ships Service 2015


Some more great work from the South African Legion – Port Elizabeth branch – annual Three Ships Service in PE, in recognition of the three ships lost in February with the loss of so many South Africans – The SS Mendi, the MHSAS Southern Floe and SAS President Kruger.


The Annual Three Ships Service was once again held at the St Paul’s Church, Tucker Street, Parson’s Hill PE on the 22 February 2015. The Service was conducted by the Reverend Marc Barth, the Rector of St Paul’s. The Rev Barth has graciously agreed to become the Chaplain for the Legion in Port Elizabeth, replacing the Rev Fr P F Vietri CO who has been transferred to Bloemfontein by his church.

Some 80 Legionnaires, MOTH, Sea Cadet,RAFA/SAAFA, Naval Officer Association, Royal Society, St John Ambulance members and other Friends of the Legion attended the service.

A further coincidence of note was that Mrs Lesley Moore, the granddaughter of CPO MacTavish, a member of the SS Mendi crew who went down with the ship, was among us to pay her respects on the day.

After the Processional Hymn and the welcome, Lgr Brian Klopper (Chairman) read the Legion Prayer – which incidentally he composed!

Thereafter followed the Lesson by Legionnaire Wolfaardt.

Lgr Declan Brennan gave an excellent address, his theme embraced 3 ships which has permeated our history from the time of Jan van Riebeek who arrived with 3 ships; the battle of Muizenberg in which three Royal Navy ships took part, and so on up to the three ships involved in the SAS President Kruger tragic sinking in 1982. The address was enjoyed by the congregation and informative to them as well.

At that point our visitor from the United Kingdom, Mr Nick Ward, rose to give a 10 minute address on his archaeological work on the SS Mendi. Mr Ward has taken a keen interest in the SS Mendi tragedy for some 7 years and flew from London to attend our service. He will shortly be publishing a book titles “SS Mendi – The Long Voyage Home” wherein he recounted not only the story of the sinking but also some of the unhappy decisions by both the UK and South African Governments of that time. We were grateful to him for his flying visit and we thank him for his input.

The Three Candles of Remembrance were lit by three senior SA Sea Cadets from the Port Elizabeth Training Ship Lanherne. The Memorium was performed by Lgr Tertia Morton after which the Service ended with the Recessional Hymn.

Much good harmony and camaraderie was enjoyed in the Church Hall courtesy of the Church Ladies, who put on their usual excellent spread – Thank you ladies and to all those involved with the planning and execution of this annual event.

Article for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross based on the article by Waldie Bartie.

The photos used in this article were taken by Mr Mike Rands of St Paul’s Church

Pretoria Medal Presentation Ceremony

PRETORIA MEDAL PRESENTATION CEREMONYSaturday 14 March 2015 the Pretoria Branch of the South African Legion of Military Veterans hosted the first Medal Presentation Ceremony in Pretoria. The ceremony took place at the GEM Village Irene in Centurion.

Following the opening and welcome address by the Chairman of the Pretoria Branch, Charles Ross, 10 Pro Patria Medals, 5 Southern Africa Medals, 10 General Service Medals, 1 Unitas Medal and 1 Good Service Medal was presented to 16 recipients by Lieutenant General (Ret) Raymond Holtzhausen, SSA, SD, SM, MMM. The General also presented an Air Force Cross Certificate, Pro Patria Certificate and a Troue Diens Medalje: 30 Jaar Certificate to recipients who had previously received their decorations and medals, but not the certificates.

This was followed by a very inspirational address by General Holtzhausen and refreshments prepared by the ladies of the GEM Village while a few beers were enjoyed and many stories recalled.

The photos show General Holtzhausen presenting Pro Patria, Southern African, General Service, Unitas and Good Service Medals.

Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Charles Ross

The tragic sinking of HMS Barham

Category : Automated

During the Second World War, South African Navy personnel – known at the time as the “South African Naval Forces” (SANF) were seconded to serve on ships in the Royal Navy. 

Nothing drives home the peril of serving on a fighting ship harder than this footage of the sinking of the HMS Barham, it is simply jaw dropping. Made even more poignant for us if you consider we are witnessing the loss of the following South African naval personnel in this tragedy.

BAKER, Dennis E W, Ordinary Seaman, 68617 (SANF)
GLENN, Paul V, Ordinary Seaman, 68906 (SANF)
HAYES, Richard T, Ordinary Seaman, 68499 (SANF)
MORRIS, Cyril D, Ordinary Seaman, 68932 (SANF)
UNSWORTH, Owen P (also known as R K Jevon), Ordinary Seaman, 69089 (SANF)
WHYMARK, Vivian G, Ordinary Seaman, 69024 (SANF)

It is our duty as South African veterans never to let selective history and the mist of time obscure the brave contributions of our countrymen during this war, it is our our duty as South African Legion to continually educate and keep this memory alive. 

HMS Barham was a Queen Elizabeth-class battleship of the Royal Navy She was sunk during the Second World War on 25 November 1941 by the German submarine U-331north of and off the coast of Sidi Barrani, Egypt.

Prior to this HMS Barham visited Durban, South Africa, in June 1941 for extensive repairs at the Victoria Graving Dock. The repairs where due to damage sustained in the Crete bombing. She sailed from Durban on the 31st July 1941.

Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens

SABC News – Mendi heroes remembered on two continents :Sunday 22 February 2015

Category : Automated

For the first time, a memorial service for the hundreds of South Africans who died when the SS Mendi sank in the English Channel 98 years ago, has been held in Noordwijk in the Netherlands.
More info @
Automated post from South African Legion –
February 23, 2015 at 09:32AM