Author Archives: Cameron Kinnear

Marching For Others

Nijmegen, Netherlands Vierdaagse
The largest and most important walking/marching event on Earth.

~Walk 30 miles a day for 4 days, the last Tuesday in July, since 1909

Starting as a military event in 1909, the 4 Day Nijmegen March expanded annually and included civilians to the point they outnumbered the military 8:1 and to the extent that a limit on the maximum number of marchers (45,000) needed to be imposed since the event was at full capacity. The Nijmegen march is very popular worldwide and citizens of 60 countries attend to march individually each year with over a dozen militaries represented in marching teams.

Previous march in action: The American hero of 2009, Major Green… independent marcher recovered from leg wounds in Iraq. Here he is cheered on by 2 Dutch soldiers right behind me. This is the only march of its kind where uniformed personnel can do something together like this in a supportive, festive environment. All focused on the same goal… crossing the finishing line… not easy in boots! Source:http://nijmegenmarchhowto.weebly.com/military.html
In a previous march: US 173rd Airborne Marching Team taking a break​.
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On 18th July 2017, Legionnaire Claudio Chistè, Chairman of the South African Legion England Branch, will embark on the first leg of a 4-day 200km march as one of 47,000 participants in the International Four Days March in Nijmegen, The Netherlands.

During the march Claudio Chistè will be wearing the coveted SA Legion green beret

The motto of the SA Legion of Military Veterans is ‘Not for Ourselves, but for Others’. This is epitomised by Claudio in undertaking this march to raise funds for two causes close to his heart – supporting those affected by the dreadful Knysna Fires and contributing to a fund so that the SA Legion can assist SA Military Veterans in UK who have fallen on hard times. To raise awareness of these causes, Claudio will represent all South African Veterans on the march by wearing his distinctive green SA Legion beret and displaying an SA flag on his back pack.

The fires wreaked havoc Source: BBC (Sphiwe Hobasi/@mrcow_man

Funds are desperately required to assist the 8,000 to 10,000 residents of the greater Knysna area who were displaced by the devastating fires which raged for several days, many of those losing everything as the wind driven fires destroyed over 1,000 homes and damaged a further 385.

Informal settlements and suburbs were affected alike

The runaway fires destroyed homes and possessions indiscriminately, regardless of whether they were humble or grand, with everyone being affected. Those from the poorest areas will not have had the benefit of insurance to help them start again and are desperately in need of assistance. Claudio’s aim is to raise £2,000.00 with 50% of this sum going equally towards each need (any surplus funds would go to the SA Legion).

To support these worthy causes and make a difference, go to the following link https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/knysnafireandsouthafricanlegionuk


Founders Day 2017 – The Royal Hospital Chelsea

Founders Day – The Royal Hospital Chelsea

After his defeat at the Battle of Worcester in 1651 which ended his attempt to regain the English Crown following the execution of his father, Charles II was hidden from the searching Roundheads of Oliver Cromwell in an oak tree in the grounds of Boscobel House by Colonel William Careless. This day is remembered in English Tradition as Oak Apple Day and the Royal Oak is a popular pub name to this day. After the Restoration in 1660, Charles II made Colonel Careless a Gentleman of the Privy Council and granted him the new name of Carlos which is Spanish for Charles. A gilded statue of Charles II, by Grinling Gibbons in 1676, stands in the centre of Figure Court at the Royal Hospital. It is engraved in honour of Colonel William Carlos with the words, ‘Soldier in the Civil War, protector of King Charles II at Boscobel after the Battle of Worcester in 1651. God, by the overshadowing of an oak, did preserve our Royal founder from the hands of his enemies’.

In 1681, Charles II issued a Royal Warrant authorising the building of the Royal Hospital Chelsea to ‘care for those broken by age or war’. This was modelled on the ‘Hotel des Invalids’ in Paris and was finished and opened after his death in 1692 with 476 inmates. Today with modernised accommodation it is able to house 327 Chelsea In-Pensioners and is currently home to just under 300 of these Military Veterans, the oldest being 102 and the youngest 67. To be admitted, the requirements are to be a former NCO or soldier in the British Army with either an Army Service or War Disability Pension which must be surrendered to the hospital, or to be the recipient of the Victoria Cross or George Cross. Applicants must have no dependents and be able to self-care and live in one of the Long wards. Officers are eligible provided they have served at least 12 years in the ranks before being commissioned. There is an Infirmary for In-Pensioners who become unable to look after themselves. The value of surrendered pensions is insufficient to cover the cost per pensioner so the hospital is supported by ‘Grant-in-Aid’ from the Ministry of Defence. The In-Pensioners’ familiar and iconic red tunics are worn inside the hospital and on ceremonial occasions, while a blue tunic is worn when the pensioners are outside the hospital precincts. They also now admit female soldiers as In-Pensioners.

Every year, Founders Day at the Royal Hospital is celebrated with all Chelsea Pensioners who are able to do so, on parade. The day gives them the opportunity to invite family and friends to an open day. Through the good offices of John Rochester, Heritage Manager at the Royal Hospital, SA Legion were offered tickets and Legionnaires Claudio Chistè and Tony Povey joined the 3500 invited guests at the parade and review by the His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex.

 

The day started with the band of the Irish Guards playing in Figure Court at the heart of the Royal Hospital followed by the parade of the In-Pensioners. The Parade Sergeant Major handed over the Parade to the Parade Commander and the Sovereign’s Mace was marched onto Parade. The Mace was presented to the Hospital in 2002 as, prior to this, it had no colours. The bowl of the Mace is decorated with acorns to reflect the events of Oak Apple Day.

The Pensioners were formed up into four Guards with those less mobile seated behind them. They were then inspected by His Royal Highness the Duke of Wessex, Honorary Colonel in ‘A’ (London Scottish) Company of the London Regiment, who took the time to address many of the Veterans on Parade. After this the In-Pensioners marched past by Guards and reformed opposite the Saluting Point.

His Royal Highness addressed the Parade with a  response by the Governor, General Sir Redmond Watt, who then called for three cheers for ‘Our pious Founder’, three cheers for Her Majesty the Queen and finally three cheers for His Royal Highness The Earl of Wessex. A Fanfare was sounded by the members of the Band of the Irish Guards who were positioned along the roof of the colonnade and following the National Anthem, the Saluting Party departed and the Pensioners were dismissed.

We managed to arrange a photo op with a Lance Bombardier and a Trooper of Kings Troop, Royal Horse Artillery, who are the Queen’s ceremonial Saluting Battery before retiring to the marquee for some well-earned refreshment and a chance to buy Quartermaster Sergeant John Rochester a welcome beer.

A perfect example of pomp and circumstance as only the British can do it and a privilege to attend.

 

Lgr Tony Povey


South African Nation-Building Commemoration

South African Nation-Building Commemoration: a tribute to three great statesmen.

To celebrate Freedom Day in South Africa, the South African Legion – England Branch, in association with the Royal British Legion – South African Branch and 133 Army Cadet Force, organised the inaugural Nation-Building Commemoration to pay tribute to three statesmen whose vision and deeds shaped modern South Africa: Nelson Mandela, Jan Smuts, and Mahatma Gandhi – whose statues all stand on Parliament Square in London – as great visionaries of not only South Africa, but also Great Britain and the Commonwealth of Nations.

 

The South African Legion led contingent gathered on Parliament Square, which is considered to be the Holy of Holies by the British people, by virtue of its location opposite the Palace of Westminster, an icon to democracy. Obtaining permission to parade at Westminster on Parliament Square was a major milestone for the South African veterans in England; a big first and a huge honour. Additionally, being at Westminster, there was the added duty and privilege to pay appropriate respects to PC Keith Palmer who was murdered at Westminster in the terror attack on 22 March 2017.

 

Nelson Mandela, Jan Smuts, and Mahatma Gandhi all played a crucial role in leading South Africa to the democratic country we know today. The contribution of Mandela to the world we live in is at the forefront of our consciousness and we honour that. Perhaps less widely celebrated are the monumental roles played by Smuts and Gandhi. We have a duty to honour our heroes and to ensure their contribution to mankind is remembered.

The pieces of the puzzle leading to our democratic South Africa

In the historical timeline leading to the democratic South Africa we know today, one piece of history which might perhaps not be common knowledge, is that Smuts was instrumental in placing the ‘first piece of the puzzle’ leading to modern day South Africa, by leading the reconciliation effort between to former bitter enemies, the British and the Boers (where he served as a General), to create the Union of South Africa in 1910.

Following this landmark reconciliation, he would go on to command the British Army in East Africa during WW1, also serving in the British War Cabinet (where he played an instrumental role in founding the Royal Air Force as a distinct service). Later, in WWII, he was promoted to Field Marshall (the only South African to achieve this wartime rank), serving in the War Cabinet under Winston Churchill. He made history by being the only man to have signed both peace treaties ending WWI and WWII.

Lgr Claudio Chiste, Chairman of the England Branch of the SA Legion, summed-up the leadership trait of leading by example, coupled with the gift of forgiveness, espoused by these three statesmen. Who does not admire warmth and forgiveness of Mandela (affectionately known in South Africa by his clan-name Madiba) after serving 27 of the best years of his life in prison? Who does not admire Gandhi’s subtle power in his stance of passive resistance in the face of the world’s most feared military? Who does not admire Smuts for having personally suffered at the hands of the British (he lost two of his own children during that period, while his wife Isabella (Isie) was taken prisoner in a concentration camp) yet he forgave the British and was elevated within their circle of trust? In the case of the latter, it may not be common knowledge, but so much was this trust built-up between these two former foes that UK Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who was himself was captured by the Boers at one point during the Boer War, was quoted as saying ‘my faith in Smuts is unbreakable’.

One of his last acts by Smuts as Prime Minister of South Africa was the establishment of the United Nations. His lifelong dedication to fighting for what he believed in, at a huge personal sacrifice and uniting mankind perhaps served as divine inspiration when he wrote the preamble to the UN Charter with the opening verse:

‘To save succeeding generations from the scourge of war which, twice in our lifetime, brought untold sorrow to mankind…

Many may not be aware… but Mohandas (Mahatma) Ghandi lived in South Africa for 21 years, which for all intents and purposes would very much make him a ‘naturalised’ South African, which we could proudly claim as ‘one of our own’. As Gandhi himself said, South Africa was essential to his personal development and achievement. It was during these 21 years that this timid man who had just passed the bar exam would become the man who was to lead India to independence. On a personal level, he taught us no matter how tough life gets, there is always a positive. Each time he was imprisoned, he would say it was an ‘enrichening experience’. On a group level, he showed us that as a collective force people can be very powerful… unstoppable.

Similarly, Nelson Mandela, our first democratically elected president, took the positive from every experience and is arguably the most well-known great reconciliator of the 20th Century; certainly the most fresh in our minds. In his autobiography, part of which was written secretly in prison, he stated:

‘I was born free… free in every way that I could know. Free to run in the fields near my mother’s hut. Free to swim in the clean stream that runs through my village. Free to roast mealies under the stars and ride the broad backs of the slow moving bulls. It was only when I learned that my childhood freedom was an illusion… that I began to hunger for it’.

Legionnaires – all military veterans for that matter – know all too well that our freedom has been hard won. By paying homage to those before us, we remember their sacrifices and honour their achievements.

 

Wreaths laid for three statesmen who brought about change with forgiveness in their hearts

In his religious service message, Minister Lgr John McCabe drew a pertinent parallel between these three great statesmen on being agents for change, and practicing forgiveness of their former foes. He quoted Mahatma Gandhi’s famous: ‘You must be the change you wish to see in the world. The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.’

General Jan Smuts said ‘History writes the word Reconciliation over all her quarrels.’

There are many definitions for leadership, but one that is favoured is that leader is influence. These men had a formidable international impact, not only while they were alive but still to this day.

For the first time, wreaths were then laid ceremoniously at the base of each statue, with the standard bearers forming a guard of honour, led from statue to statue by England President of the SA Legion Peter Dickens who acted as Parade Sargent Major. Regional Chair for UK & Europe Lgr Cameron Kinnear lead the ceremony by placing a wreath at the Mandela statue, followed by Lgr Sean Daye for Smuts, Lgr Neil Douglas for Gandhi, and Lgr Paul Konrad for PC Keith Palmer.

Mandela captured the essence of their collective legacy, as well as the ethos of the South African Legion when he said: ‘What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others.’ As we say in the Legion, ‘Not for ourselves, but for others’.

Wreaths laid:

Master of Ceremonies: Lgr Claudio Chiste

Parade Sergeant Major: Lgr Peter Dickens

Lgr Cameron Kirk Kinnear, Regional Chairman UK & Europe – Mandela

Lgr Neil Douglas – Ghandi

Lgr Sean Daye – Smuts

Lgr Paul Konrad – PC Keith Palmer

Standard bearers: Graham Scott (IC), Lgr Craig Esterhuisen, Lgr Tony Povey, Lgr Cassandra Shaw, of MOTHs General Browning Shell hole standard bearer Leslie Shield. Special thanks to the 133 Army Cadet Force, their Officer Commanding Joe Drohan and the trumpeter Bobby Crick.

Also in attendance were Lgr Richard Poate and Lgr Robert Ansell.

 

Article for the SA Legion United Kingdom & Europe by Claudio Chiste`

 


SA Legion presents shield to RBL Clapham Club at Q2 2017 meeting

Category : Articles

Another quarterly committee meeting (11th/03), another productive session with new plans in the pipeline, the most imminent being the upcoming inaugural Nation-building Commemoration, to coincide with Freedom Day.

The now traditional quarterly social, followed the committee meeting held at the Royal British Legion (RBL) Clapham Club. This was the first time we held our quarterly meeting at this venue, with the RBL Clapham club chairman expressing his gratitude at being presented with the SA Legion shield and told us that it would find a home on their wall to hang proudly.

Lgr Peter Dickens (second from right) with the rest of the Branch committee and members present RBL Clapham Club Chairman Lenny Deadman (centre) with an SA Legion shield in attendance

 

Informal team huddle with the Social well underway


Interview with National President Lgr. Godfrey Giles

2015 Interview with Legionnaire Godfrey Giles.

Quite a nice outline and easy introduction on what the South African Legion is all about, who we are and what it is we do.

See the video on Facebook by clicking this link.

October 15, 2016 at 04:47PM


Your SADF Insurance Buddy

Category : Articles , Bush War

 

Remembering the days during South African National Service “ inklaar “, when if you arrived without having a bank account for your princely SADF pay, moenie worry nie….these good bankers from “Volkskas” (amalgamated with ABSA now) were right on hand to help you, with table and tannies (aunties) to sign you right on … and there’s more:-

At the same time you were also sold life insurance policies and asked to write a last will and testament. Can you imagine that in today’s youth – 18 or 19 years old and you operated a current account, had life insurance and a current will.

It also says a lot for the veterans today, whether they wanted to or not (National service was not voluntary), they signed their lives away to serve their country for the princely sum of R0.00 (zero), that’s quite a concept for someone whose never served to get their heads around today.

Other banks, insurance companies and building societies – like Sanlam and Allied Building Society (now also part of ABSA) also assisted with National Service banking and insurance requirements, this was a very different time when National Service was part of the social and cultural fabric for white South Africans.

You can argue that banks like Volkskas Bank operated a “cradle to grave” marketing philosophy and this was a “get them in when they are young” and keep them to retirement (selling appropriate banking along he way throughout ones life) ploy – a common marketing tactic for financial institutions world over.

However they did perform a vital service – as pay had to be paid in somewhere – meagre as it was. Pay by way of incentive was also increased when servicing on the Border as “danger pay,” as well as “short service” options for National Servicemen to stay on a little longer at the end of their two years national service – and many a returning serviceman where able to use the savings to buy their first cars or motorbikes.

Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens


Joe Slovo, Signaller, WW2

Tags :

Category : Articles , WW2

 

This “rooigevaar” (Red Danger) communist was also a South African Army world war 2 veteran – Joe Slovo (left of picture). Serving as a Signaler in combat operations for the South African forces in North Africa and Italy. His story reflects some amazing twists and turns in South African military history, much of it very unknown.

Slovo was born in Obeliai, Lithuania to a Jewish family which emigrated to the Union of South Africa escaping Jewish persecution in Europe when he was eight.

Slovo first encountered socialism in South Africa through his school-leaving job as a clerk for a pharmaceutical wholesaler. He joined the National Union of Distributive Workers and had soon worked his way up to the position of shop steward, where he was responsible for organizing at least one mass action.

The Communist Party in South Africa has an interesting start and it’s not the “Black revolutionary” movement most people perceive it to be now, originally it was started by white South Africans – and in fact it initially concerned itself only with “whites only” workers rights.

The Communist Party of South Africa was founded in 1921 under the leadership of William H Andrews, a Briton who came to Johannesburg to work on the mines. The SA Communist Party first came to prominence during the armed insurrection by white mineworkers in 1922, so brutally suppressed by Jan Smuts’ government.

The large mining concerns, facing labour shortages and wage pressures, had announced their intention of liberalising the rigid colour bar within the mines and elevate some blacks to minor supervisory positions. (The vast majority of white miners mainly held supervisory positions over the labouring black miners.)

Despite having opposed racialism from its inception, the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) supported the white miners in their call to preserve wages and the colour bar with the slogan “Workers of the world, unite and fight for a white South Africa!”.

With the failure of the rising, in part due to black workers failing to strike, the Communist Party was forced to adopt the “Native Republic” thesis which stipulated that South Africa was a country belonging to the Blacks. The Party thus reoriented itself at its 1924 Party Congress towards organising black workers and “Africanising” the party. Not quite the vision William Andrews, the CPSA founder, had in mind as white worker party and he promptly resigned as the party’s National Secretary.

During World War 2, the attitude to Communism by moderate white South Africans was a little different. Communist Russia was an ally of South Africa during the war and all over the country South Africans rallied to the support of Russia’s war effort against Nazi Germany by donating food, medicine and blood in very successful national “Aid for Russia” collection programs.

Joe Slovo joined the Communist Party of South Africa in 1942 and served on its central committee from 1953 (the same year its name was changed to the South African Communist Party, SACP). He avidly watched the news of the Allied fronts, especially the way in which Britain was working with Russia to aid her war effort against Hitler, so Joe Slovo volunteered for active duty, and served with South African forces in Egypt and Italy.

After the war he joined the Springbok Legion, a multiracial radical ex-servicemen’s organization which was essentially run by a group white war veterans who embraced Communist values. The Springbok Legion should not be confused with the South African Legion, it was a separate and very politically motivated veterans association – whereas the South African Legion was an apolitical veterans charity.

Being politically driven The Springbok Legion became one of key driving forces behind Sailor Malan’s “Torch Commando”, which was the first mass protest movement against Apartheid legislation and made up to a smaller degree by this political veterans association and to a far bigger degree of many members of the apolitical war veterans associations – ironically all mainly “white” South Africans (the franchise of been the country’s first mass protest movement against Apartheid does not belong to the ANC).

However it was the smallest of the war veterans associations – The “Springbok Legion” that took a direct “political” role – the Springbok Legion was founded in part by a senior South African Legion member – General van der Spuy (a pioneer of the South African Air Force), and its role took over from what he referred to as the South African Legion’s “painfully correct whisper of polite protest” and became a “shout” of protest instead.

The history of the Springbok Legion as a political entity is fascinating – initially formed in 1941 by members of the 9th Recce Battalion of the South African Tank Corps, along with the Soldiers Interests Committee formed by members of the First South African Brigade in Addis Ababa, and the Union of Soldiers formed by the same brigade in Egypt.

The aims and objectives of the Springbok Legion were enunciated in its ‘Soldiers Manifesto’. The Springbok Legion was open to all servicemen regardless of race or gender and was avowedly anti-fascist and anti-racist.

In collaborating with Sailor Malan’s Torch Commando (and by default Jan Smuts’ old United Party with which the Torch Commando was linked), The Springbok Legion had by now become a fully blown political entity, and the inevitable happened, as with any political party, The Springbok Legion gradually became politically radicalized. This was spearheaded by veterans who where also members of the Communist Party of South Africa (CPSA) and who joined The Springbok Legion and served in its upper and lower structures.

The targeting of the Springbok Legion by the Communist Party was the result of the South African Communist Party believing that it could use the veterans to re-order “white” political thinking in South Africa along communist lines.

This eventually resulted in the fracturing of the Springbok Legion as a whole as moderate “white” members, who made up the majority of its supporters became disenchanted with its increasingly militant leftist rhetoric.

Notable SACP communist party veterans to join the Springbok Legion in a leading capacity where none other than ex-servicemen such as Joe Slovo, but also Lionel Bernstein, Wolfie Kodesh, Jock Isacowitz, Jack Hodgson and Fred Carneso.

Aside from the Communists, Key members included future political and anti-apartheid leaders, such as Peter Kaya Selepe, an organiser of the African National Congress (ANC) in Orlando (he also served in WW2). Harry Heinz Schwarz, also a WW2 veteran eventually became a statesman and long-time political opposition leader against apartheid in South Africa and served as the South African ambassador to the United States during South Africa’s “transition” in the 90’s.

The National Party – which even as part of it’s pre-war make up had a fierce anti-communist stance was becoming increasingly alarmed by the rise of “white” war veterans against their policies – Sailor Malan’s Torch Commando at its peak attracted 250 000 followers – so they began seeking was of suppressing it. One of the mechanisms was to pass the Suppression of Communism Act.

The combined effect of the Act, and the broadening and deepening of the Communist rhetoric and politics was alienating the majority of Springbok Legion members rang a death knell for the Springbok Legion and the inevitable happened, the organisation folded as thousands of its “moderate” members left, returning to the either the apolitical MOTH (Memorable Order of Tin Hats) combat vets only order or the broader South African Legion which accommodated all veterans (or both).

The Communist Party members of The Springbok Legion who had played a pivot in its rise and its demise i.e. Joe Slovo, Lionel Bernstein, Wolfie Kodesh, Jack Hodgson and Fred Carneso were now banned and left with little other option they all then joined the African National Congress (ANC) and, given their experience as combat veterans, they also all joined its military wing Umkhonto we Sizwe under the command of Nelson Mandela.

The story of Joe Slovo – as the National Party’s arch communist enemy, and the story of the East/West divide over communism and the resultant Cold War, of which the South African Border War along Angola and internal armed insurrection (the “struggle”) all qualify – is well known.

That Joe Slovo was eventually identified as military target, alongside his wife Ruth Slovo (a daughter of well known Communist supporter prior to the war, Joe had met Ruth at Wits University), and again the assignation of Ruth Slovo is also well known.

The irony for the National Party, is that is was this “public enemy number one”, “Rooigevaar” (as the National Party labeled communists and liberals) Communist that extended the olive branch to the National Party – it was Joe Slovo, who in 1992 proposed the breakthrough in the negotiations to end apartheid in South Africa with the “sunset clause”. Slovo’s “sunset clause” allowed for a coalition government for the five years following a democratic election, including guarantees and concessions to all sides.

After the elections of 1994 Slovo became Minister for housing in this coalition government he proposed, serving alongside the National Party as they saw out their “sunset” until his death in 1995. His funeral was attended by Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki.

In a further twist of history, by 2005 the National Party closed shop and merged with the ANC, and by default they also joined the party which still remains in alliance with the ANC as a political dependent, none other than …. The South African Communist Party. Such is the cycle of history, go figure!

Story by Peter Dickens

Joe Slovo (left) is seen in his South African Army uniform (and Signaler insignia) in the feature image with fellow South African soldiers Mike Feldman and Barney Fehler (image courtesy of Mike Feldman)

References Lazerson, Whites in the Struggle Against Apartheid. Neil Roos. Ordinary Springboks: White Servicemen and Social Justice in South Africa, 1939-1961. Wikipedia and “Not for ourselves” – a history of the South African Legion by Arthur Blake


Major Arthur Walker HCG and Bar SM

 

It is with deep regret that we announce the passing this morning of a true South African military hero – the highest decorated South African Defence Force member and the legend that was Major Arthur Walker HCG and bar SM. You will be missed by many in the veterans circles and beyond, may your family be embraced by the love and tender care of your heavenly father.

Major Arthur Walker HC and Bar SM was a South African military hero of which there will never be an equal, he was South African Air Force helicopter pilot who was awarded the Honoris Crux Gold decoration, not once – but twice, during the South African Border War.

The Honoris Crux Gold was the highest military award for bravery awarded to members of the South African Defence Force at that time – so his feat of obtaining two of them can never be repeated again.

Born 10 February 1953 in Johannesburg he matriculated from King Edward VII School in Johannesburg and went to the Army in 1971.

He obtained his pilot’s wings in 1977 and flew for 7 Squadron, Rhodesian Air Force, before re-joining the South African Air Force in 1980.

While flying Alouette III helicopters based at AFB Ondangwa in 1981 he was awarded the Honoris Crux Gold for risking his life during a night operation in Angola, by turning on the lights of his helicopter to draw enemy fire away from another helicopter.
The citation for the Honoris Crux Gold reads:

“During January 1981, two Alouettes, with Lieutenant Walker as flight leader, carried out close air support operations resulting in the Alouettes coming under intense enemy artillery and anti-aircraft fire. He only withdrew when ordered to do so. Later Lieutenant Walker returned to the contact area to provide top cover for a Puma helicopter assigned to casualty evacuation. Again he was subject to heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire. During the withdrawal the second helicopter developed difficulties and called for assistance. Yet again Captain Walker returned to provide top cover, drawing virtually all the anti-aircraft fire to his Alouette. His courageous act prevented the loss of an Alouette and crew.

Lieutenant Walker’s actions were not only an outstanding display of professionalism, devotion to duty and courage, but also constitutes exceptional deeds of bravery under enemy fire and makes him a worthy recipient of the Honoris Crux Gold”

In December 1981 he was cited for landing in enemy territory to search for and rescue the crew of a helicopter that had been shot down.
An Alouette III of the SAAF

The citation for the Bar to his Honoris Crux Gold reads:

“During December 1981 Captain Walker was again requested to provide top cover for the evacuation of a seriously wounded soldier. On take-off with the evacuee his number two helicopter was hit and crash-landed. Without hesitation and with total disregard for his personal safety, Captain Walker landed near the wrecked helicopter and immediately searched for the crew. Eventually the situation became suicidal, compelling Captain Walker and his crew to withdraw. When he was airborne he spotted the missing crew and yet again, without hesitation and despite the fact that virtually all enemy fire was now [aimed] in his direction, he landed and lifted the crew to safety.

Through this courageous deed he prevented the loss of two men. His distinguished actions, devotion to duty and courage make him a credit to the South African Defence Force in general, the South African Air Force in particular and makes him a worthy recipient of the Bar to the Honoris Crux Gold”

Posted for The South African Legion by Peter Dickens – with sincere thanks to Arthur for sending us a full colour image of himself in uniform only just a month ago – Rest in Peace Arthur, the world is a poorer place without you, and the South African Legion salutes you sir.

Our most sincerest condolences to his family and friends in this very difficult time.

At the going down of the sun …we will remember him.


The Williams brothers from South Africa

Tags :

Category : Articles , WW1

 

Amazing when recruitment posters such as this one, among other reasons can motivate whole families to join the war effort in South Africa.

The Williams brothers from South Africa all served in the First World War in different roles, from the army, to the air force and the Merchant Navy. Their parents Classina Cornelia and Charles Danvers Williams lived in Papendorp and then Cape Town, South Africa.

They served as: British Army, Royal Engineers, Service #520018 Sapper William Harris Williams, Air Force (RAF/RFC), Service #308006 Clarence Louis Williams, South African Services, South African Infantry , Service #2526, Private Thomas Ralph Williams – killed in action at Ypes. Merchant Navy, Danvers Nicholas Williams.

Quite extraordinary (but not uncommon) to have four brothers from the same family volunteer to go and participate in World war 1.

This is part of an Imperial War Museum initiative to capture the personal history of all the men who fought in the war, visit “Lives of the First World War”

Posted for the SA Legion by Peter Dickens


“Ouma” Smuts

Category : Articles , WW2

This is arguably the nations’s darling for many years in South Africa, especially amongst the military personnel, but also to the public at large – South Africa’s First Lady, none other than the much loved – Ilsie Smuts, affectionately just known to just about everyone as “Ouma” Smuts.
The South African Gifts and Comforts Fund was a benevolent fund that sought to give comfort and messages of motivation and support from the public in South Africa for all the tens of thousands of South African volunteers who went off to war during World War 2. It was created by Field Marshal Smuts, and administered by his wife “Ouma” Smuts and her “Band” of Voluntary Workers in co-operation with the Quartermaster-general.
Gifts to the servicemen and women during the war reminded them of home comforts and reinforced the moral support they were getting from home in their fight against European tyranny, Especially over times like Christmas when family and “home” became a yearning for anyone enduring the hardships of war. Known as “Glory Bags” at the time, these parcels contained all sorts of reminders from home, Christmas Cake etc and collectable items such as Christmas anniversary cigarette tins, which became highly popular – stamped with an image of both Jan Smuts and Ouma Smuts and giving good Christmas wishes.
You can even find some sold as collectables today. The concept would evolve later in the form of “Dankie Tannie” (Thank you Aunty) panels received from the Southern Cross fund for South African servicemen in the Border War. Any veteran today can attest how important receiving small gifts of support go a very long way to maintaining troop moral, and long may the tradition of volunteerism and support from home continue. To this day parcels of support from South Africa are sent to SANDF troops on Peacekeeping missions in Africa over Christmas.
Not much is remembered of Ouma Smuts in modern South Africa, but this was a true woman who stood by her husband’s side as an equal in solid conviction with the “good fight” in the “war for freedom” (as it was called then) and her contribution to the war effort makes her one of South Africa’s most predominant women.
Although her legacy is fading somewhat, over-shadowed by greater political events when the Smuts legacy came under such unrelenting attack after the ascent of the National Party in 1948. She however remains, to those who remember her and her contribution, a true daughter of South Africa.
This rare photograph of Ouma Smuts is courtesy (and copyright) to Philip Weyers, a direct descendent of Jan Smuts and part of the personal collection of the Smuts family.
Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens.