Category Archives: Automated

BSAP memorial Service, National Memorial Arboretum

On Sunday 22 July 2018, in bright sunshine reminiscent of its African heritage, the British South Africa Police Regimental Association, UK branch, held a Memorial Service at the National Memorial Arboretum in memory of those members of the BSAP who gave their lives during the 84 years of its existence.

Formed in 1889 as the British South Africa Company Police, the force became known as the British South Africa Police (BSAP) in 1896 and developed as a light cavalry regiment. Participating in the Matabele War (1893), the Jameson Raid (1895) and the Matabele and Mashona Rebellions (1896 – 1897). They also played an active role in the Boer War and during WW1 in campaigns in German East Africa and South West Africa. After being at the forefront throughout the Rhodesian Bush War (1964 – 1979) during which 403 members gave their lives, the BSAP ceased to exist in name in August 1980 with the final lowering of the Rhodesian National flag and the formation of Zimbabwe.

Members of the SA Legion England Branch who attended the parade were Lgrs Russel Mattushek, Brian Parry, Tony Povey, Jose Lopes and Dave Wiseman. The SA Legion Banner was paraded by Lgr Brian Parry and a wreath was laid by Lgr Tony Povey, who served with the BSAP during the Rhodesian Bush War.

The service was followed by lunch and then a stroll through part of the 150-acre NMA grounds, home to over 350 memorials, to pay our respects to those who gave their lives for their country. Over 400 members of the BSAP made the ultimate sacrifice during the Rhodesian Bush War. We Will Remember Them.

BZ to Lgr Jose Lopes for organising the SA Legion participation and Jessica Lopes and Karen Parry for the photos.

© South African Legion (UK & Europe Branch) 2018

Text: Lgr Tony Povey

Photography: Karen Parry, Jessica Lopes


Delville Wood Remembrance Service and Parade 14 July 2018, East Sheen Cemetery, Richmond, London

RICHMOND-UPON-THAMES – On the morning of Saturday 14 July 2018, the South African Legion (UK & Europe Branch) in association with MOTH (Gazala Shellhole) hosted the very well-attended Delville Wood Remembrance Parade at East Sheen Cemetery in Richmond, London.

The Legion and MOTH contingents were swelled by members and standard bearers of the Royal British Legion (South Africa Branch and Teddington Branch), MOTH (General Browning Shellhole) as well as the Master and several Freemasons from the London-based South Africa Lodge No. 6742 (UGLE), supported by several family and friends.

We gathered at the cemetery chapel to remember the 229,000 South Africans who volunteered for World War 1, paying tribute to 2,500 who perished in the Battle of Delville Wood (15 July – 3 September 1916), the single biggest South African military loss on the battlefield.

The Standards were paraded into the chapel and Lgr. Craig Esterhuizen led a dignified remembrance service of prayer, reflection, and hymns, with poems and contributions read and recited by representatives of all organisations present.

Video footage of the service by Lgr. Theo Fernandes:

 

Pictures by Lgr. Theo Fernandes, Karin Parry, and Johanna Bergman:

Parade
Under the expert direction of Ceremonial Officer Lgr. Brian Parry, veterans fell-in behind the gathered Standards and a piper from the London Scottish Regiment (aka the ‘Cockney Jocks’) and marched in quick time to the nearby South African Cenotaph in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of the vast civilian and military cemetery.

Standards were dipped in salute as the bugler sounded Last Post following the Act of Remembrance.

As the piper sounded a poignant lament, wreaths were laid by the SA Legion England, Scotland, and Europe Branches, MOTH Gazala Shellhole, and South Africa Lodge.

SA Legion Scotland Branch Chair Lgr. Cary Hendricks, resplendent in full Murray of Atholl Highland kit then took the salute on behalf of the Regional Exco.

Pictures by Lgr. Theo Fernandes, Karin Parry, and Johanna Bergman:

Social
We then proceeded to the The Mitre in Richmond for several cold pints, and super braai in the beer garden catered by Lgr. Theo Fernandes, Lgr. Dutoit Verster, and Lgr. Johan de Vries. Legionnaires, MOTHs, and Masons mingled and seemed to have imported South African summer weather to Richmond.

Pictures by Lgr. Theo Fernandes and Karin Parry

Bravo Zulu to all involved (far too numerous to name).

© South African Legion (UK & Europe Branch) 2018
Text: Lgr. Andrew Bergman
Video: Lgr. Theo Fernandes
Photography: Lgr. Theo Fernandes, Karen Parry, Johanna Bergman


Battle of Square Hill fallen honoured by South African Legion

RICHMOND UPON THAMES – The England Branch of the South African Legion hosted the inaugural Battle of Square Hill Parade at the South African cenotaph at London’s Richmond Cemetery on Saturday, September 23.

The inaugural parade was preceded by a dignified ceremony presided over by the Rev John McCabe in the cemetery chapel to dedicate the new flags of the SA Legion England Branch. South African Legionnaires were then joined in the parade and Act of Remembrance by representatives of the Royal British Legion (SA Branch), Royal British Legion (Gloucester), and M.O.T.H. (Gazala Shellhole).

The ceremony in the cemetery chapel presided over by the Rev John McCabe to dedicate the new flags of the SA Legion England Branch. © Theo Fernandes / SA Legion UK & Europe

Guest of Honour was Councillor Margaret Buter, who represented the Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Councillor Buter told the SA Legion of a personal affinity with the memorial: She originally hails from Zambia where her grandfather served with the King’s African Rifles.

South African Legion England Branch Chairman, Lgr Claudio Chistè, said he was delighted at the success of this first parade, which has been a precursor to the Centenary of the Battle of Square Hill in 2018. “Today’s inaugural parade has already served to promote awareness of this important event in South African military history,” he said.

“It was an honour to be able to welcome Councillor Margaret Buter of the Borough of Richmond upon Thames, as well as so many representatives of other veterans’ organisations. As next year marks the centenary of the battle, we are already preparing to grow this annual event into one with full diplomatic and military representation. We also hope to reach out to descendants of those who fought and fell at the Battle of Square Hill, so watch this space.”

Councillor Margaret Buter, who represented the Borough of Richmond upon Thames, addresses the parade © Theo Fernandes / SA Legion UK & Europe

Wreath
Following the Act of Remembrance, a wreath was laid at the SA Cenotaph on behalf of the SA Legion by Lgr Iain Dunn, and a floral tribute was then laid by Shaun Kennedy of M.O.T.H. Gazala Shellhole at the grave of Natalie Opperman (1904-1988), Chairman of St. Dunstan’s (South Africa), and Knight in the Order of the the Star of South Africa (Civil) in acknowledgement for her life-long devotion to those blinded in the two World Wars. It is the highest civilian award in South Africa.

Grave in Richmond Cemetery of Natalie Opperman (1904-1988) © Theo Fernandes / SA Legion UK & Europe

Battle of Square Hill
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.

‘They shall grow not old…’ A wreath is laid at the SA Cenotaph on behalf of the SA Legion by Lgr Iain Dunn © Theo Fernandes / SA Legion UK & Europe

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

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.

© Theo Fernandes / SA Legion UK & Europe

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…

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.

Grave of L/Cpl Thomas Fitchett in Richmond Cemetery. © Theo Fernandes / SA Legion UK & Europe

L/Cpl Thomas Fitchett
The horrors of the Great War are difficult for us to grasp in the modern era, an example of this is one of the men who lies in Richmond (see picture above).

L/Cpl Thomas Fitchett was wounded twice in 1916, again in 1917 and each time on being declared fit, he was returned to the front line. Then, sadly in 1918 he was severely wounded and he died from these wounds in the hospital a month later at the age of 23.

Lest we forget…

NOT FOR OURSELVES, BUT FOR OTHERS

By Lgr Claudio Chistè and Lgr Andrew Bergman (including research by Lgr Tom Mason) © SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved

Links to external coverage: SABC, DEFENCEWEB


SS Mendi and Armed Forces Day, Noordwijk 2017

The centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, as well as Armed Forces Day was commemorated at Noordwijk in the Netherlands on 21 February 2017.

The ceremony began with a moving chapel service led by Rev. Andrew Gready. Short speeches were delivered by the Mayor of Noordwijk Jan Rijpstra, South African Ambassador Vusi Koloane, Lesotho Ambassador Ms Mpeo Mahase-Moiloa, historian Mark Sijlmans, and myself on behalf of the South African Legion.

The service was followed by a wreath-laying ceremony at the gravesides of five named, and one unnamed SS Mendi casualties, whose bodies were washed-up on the Dutch coast, and now rest in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of the Noordwijk General Cemetery.

The now-annual event was hosted by the South African Embassy in partnership with the Municipality of Noordwijk – who have been of amazing support in the way they have embraced ‘their’ SS Mendi casualties – and the South African Legion (EU branch).

South African dignitaries included the Ambassador, as well as Defence attaché Brig. Gen. Mac Letsholo, Chargé d’Affaires Mrs. Namhla Gigaba, and a fine delegation of embassy and consular staff.

In addition to Lesotho, the Ambassadors of Cameroon, Egypt, Kenya, Senegal and Zambia were also in attendance.

The Defence Attachés of the USA, Great Britain, Canada, Japan, Romania and Uganda also attended.

The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces sent several high-ranking officers from various branches. They also supplied a Guard of Honour of Dutch soldiers to perform ceremonial duties such as raising and lowering the flags. They also supplied a very competent trumpeter who played Last Post, and a piper who added much decorum to the proceedings.

Afterwards, the SA Ambassador invited guests to an informal dinner of South African food and wine in Noordwijk’s superb new sports complex.

After dinner, I was given the opportunity to say a few words. As a token of our appreciation for their continued support, I presented SA Legion Shields to the Mayor of Noordwijk, Ambassador Koloane, and Brig. Gen. Letsholo.

I also presented the Ambassador, the General, and Chargé d’Affaires Namhla Gigaba with first editions of Fred Khumalo’s just-published novel ‘Dancing the Death Drill’, that includes the sinking of the SS Mendi in its plot. I presented a further two copies to the Mayor of Noordwijk for the city’s public library.

Dominoes

It is incredibly heartening to see how an event that was started by the South African Legion EU Branch just three years ago has grown from a modest ceremony with a few dozen attendees to an annual remembrance embraced by the SA Embassy as well as the international diplomatic community, and attended by well over 80 people. It was just a pity it fell on a work day, which prevented more of the UK Legionnaires from attending.

It was humbling for the SA Legion to receive special mention in Ambassador Koloane’s speech, in which he thanked us ‘for keeping the memory alive’.

 

Andrew Bergman, Branch Chair SA Legion Europe gave the following speech:

Locoburgemeester Van Duin, your Excellency Ambassador Koloane, Brig. General Letsholo, Madame Gigaba, ladies and gentlemen, dames en heren, maNena nomaNenakhazi

In his iconic 1914 poem entitled ‘The Soldier’ English First World War poet Rupert Brooke says:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’ some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.

These words by an Englishman, so loving of England, could just as easily have been penned in isiXhosa, isiZulu, Sesotho, or any of the other languages that make up South Africa’s inimitable multicultural tapestry today, by a member of the South African Native Labour Corps:

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’ some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever eKoloni, kwaZulu, Mpumalanga, Lesotho, mZanzi Afrika.

Many of the men who were lost off the Isle of Wight that dark February night 100 years ago had never seen the sea before they gathered at the Green Point Track near to Cape Town harbour to board the SS Mendi. So as the sea engulfed the ship, they had little chance in the frigid waters.

The remains of those pitiful few SS Mendi casualties that the cruel sea surrendered might lie in foreign fields, but still, today, after 100 hundred years, their sacrifice does South Africa credit. Their names join those of thousands of soldiers who paid the ultimate sacrifice – for better or for worse – for King, Commonwealth and Country.

Nederland koos voor neutraliteit in de Eerste Wereldoorlog, maar toch waren Nederlanders niet gespaard van de vele nare neveneffecten van een oorlog dat op hoor afstand werd gevochten. Vanuit Nederland hoeft men vandaag maar een dag-ritje Ieper of een weekeindje naar Parijs te maken om de relatief – en certainement na Zuid Afrikaanse begrippen – zeer kleine geografische afstanden waarin de industriële oorlogsellende waarna te SS Mendi stoomde zich afspeelde.

Zo werd zelfs de stoffelijke resten van de Zuid Afrikaanse soldaten, gedragen door zeestromingen en aangespoeld op de Nederlandse kust. En hier in Noordwijk werd onze kameraden, geboren in de droge uitgestrekte vlaktes van Zuidelijk Afrika, of in de heuvels en bergen van KwaZulu or Umtata of Lesotho, of Botswana, uiteindelijk met respect en liefde te rusten gelegd.

Maar uit het bloed-doorweekte as van de oorlog rijzen vaak ook positieve dingen. Vandaag krijgen de leden van de South African Native Labour Corps het aandacht dat ze terecht verdienen, maar tot onlangs door ‘selectieve geschiedenis’ grotendeels ontnomen waren.

Dan, over de loop van drie jaar, tijdens het regelen van deze nu jaarlijkse herinneringsbijeenkomst, heb ik een bijzondere relatie zien bloeien tussen Gemeente Noordwijk, de Zuid Afrikaanse veteranen, en de Zuid Afrikaanse diplomatieke vertegenwoordiging. Ik ben zeer benieuwd om te zien wat daaruit ontwikkeld.

So today, on the occasion of the centenary of the sinking of the SS Mendi, and in celebration of South African Armed Forces Day, the Europe Branch of the South African Legion of Military Veterans embrace and salute our comrades-in-arms, past, present and future.

And we remember that there is one corner of this field in Noordwijk, where Privates Leboche, Zendile, Molide, Kazimula, and Mtolo now lie, that is forever mZanzi Afrika.

Report by Andrew Bergman, images by Johanna Bergman-Badings.


Chairman’s Speech, South African Legion – UK and Europe AGM

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Ladies and Gentlemen, for those that were unable to attend the South African Legion – UK and Europe AGM, here is the Chairman’s Speech

Ladies and Gentlemen thank you for assembling for our Annual General Meeting. What a benchmark year 2015 has been. A quick look back through the year is quite telling and the scope of work quite staggering for what is in essence a still a very young branch.

As “Wins” go – there were quite a few:

In February we initiated the very first SS Mendi parade in the Netherlands to remember the victims of the Mendi buried at Noordwijk. This was arranged by our PRO and Chairman in Europe Lgr Andrew Bergman, and a stunning first attempt it was too, soundly supported and executed on an exemplary level.

Andrew is working on the second SS Mendi parade for 2016 and I strongly urge all members to make the effort, take the ferry to join him, it’s an excellent weekend away.

We also led and conducted a parade in Portsmouth with the High Commissioner of the South African embassy, which although been challenged with a weekday and an awkward time, we still managed to put on a good show for Embassy VIP’s, Defence attaches and media.

In March, we were present again at The Commonwealth Day parade at the Memorial Gates, helping our relationship with the Soldiers Charity and the Commonwealth fraternity.

In May, we held the highly successful Standard Dedication ceremony and Italy Commemoration parade at the “Springbok” Cenotaph in Richmond. I cannot even begin to express my extreme thanks and pleasure at what we managed to do for this, by far the biggest event we have managed to put together. This list of participants and thanks far exceeds the time of this address – but suffice it to say “Bravo Zulu” too many Legionnaires would be an understatement. The outcome – a Beautiful and fully dedicated Standard and loads of goodwill from a number of organizations – we had – at last – as they say “come of age”.

Working closer with The Royal British Legion Riders in May, we had a strong presence at their Ace Café commemoration and were central to the attractions on offer – strategically placed next to the SADF Buffel. We helped with their Poppy Appeal raising funds as well as securing prizes for their raffle.

Armed Forces day in June further solidified our friendship with The Royal Naval Association and saw the RBL South African Branch standard on parade on the first time.

This was followed by a highly successful Legion pilgrimage to commemorate the Delville Wood battle in France – getting bigger and better we took a greater command and role in the veteran contingent on parade. We also earned substantial accolade from the dignitaries and organisers for taking care of their VIP invite – Rose McTavish – who’s Grandfather was the Colour Sergeant on the Mendi and is now commemorated at Delville Wood.

In the summer season we took a new twist on the Royal British Legion’s “summer picnics” but doing it South African Style and having a “Braai” instead – rigging up a presence for purposes of recruitment and awareness at The South Africa Day in Basingstoke and the Vetkoek and Vleis Day in Newbury.

Legionnaire’s depth of generosity was on show when Sean Renard secured Peter McAleese’s SADF “slangvel” smock and we as Legion arranged for it to be handed back to him at the book signing and announcement of his second book “beyond no mean soldier’. To see a priceless smock returned to a veteran lit up the room, a true treasure. The motto “Not for Ourselves, but for Others” in true flight.

Lgr Peter Gillatt and I had the privilege of attending the unveiling of the Rhodesian African Rifles memorial at the National Arboretum. Deeply proud of Peter as this event drew the SA Legion very closely to the Rhodesian veterans’ fraternity in the United Kingdom and this relationship is growing closer every day.

In the lead up to this parade, we managed to secure our first Youth organization as a branch thanks to the hard work of Lt Cassandra Shaw, and we are now proudly associated to the 133 Cadet Army Force. This milestone cannot be underestimated as it’s a significant first – both for the Royal British Legion National Branches and the South African Branch.

Another all-time first on the Royal British Legion South African Branch front – the branch was given it’s tickets for The Festival of Remembrance yesterday attended by Tom and Ellen Mason on behalf of the branch – but the true highlight was to see Peter Gillatt carry the Royal British Legion South African branch Standard into the auditorium for the first time – that indeed was historic.

Our relationship with the Royal Hospital continues to get healthier and by their invitation we were able to attend their famous Founders Day parade and The Opening of the Garden of Remembrance earlier this week.

Despite setbacks on the branch’s membership numbers in March, where a small number of our members were inappropriately and actively targeted and eventually wooed to join another veteran organization – the South African branch was quickly able to recover the loss. So much so we are even able to declare a positive membership growth at year end.

This growth and positive striving can easily be seen in today’s parade past the Cenotaph – we had more members on parade this year than we had last year, more participation by members’ families than last year and more enthusiasm, purpose and direction in the branch management.

So how does the way forward in 2016 look?

Happy to report that due to strong measures taken in the first quarter, our social media is now as robust as ever, it’s growing and we now have a very healthy and informative on-line community.

The ever changing beast that is on-line media and how we communicate and keep in touch with one another is quite something to stay on top of. Lgr Cameron Kinnear is working hard behind the scenes to deliver bigger and better things in the new year as the branch keeps apace – look out for a more consolidated Legion digital platform in the works.

As I said last year – our future in the UK does not lie in our ability to draft South Africans veterans off Facebook who have an axe to grind. Our future lies in the way we open ourselves up to the communities in which we operate – it lies in how we make ourselves attractive to those communities and stakeholders.

This is why we are been very successful in bringing members’ families into what we do. The Legion is not a “drinking club” – that image is about as far away from our vision and mission as you can get. We want our wives and children involved; we want youth programs, community programs and family activities.

Last year I spoke of the “nugget” feeling that all of the veterans taking part in the Cenotaph parade would feel, and those here today will know exactly what I mean. When I first came to the UK there no South African representation at the Cenotaph and there was substantial resistance to get us there. We have through careful management finally got there.

My sole mission was to get South Africans onto that parade to help them understand what pride in service actually means. When we march past the Cenotaph we are marching down a road our forefathers took into battle – tens of thousands of South Africans paved this specific road for us in their blood. We are the carriers of that torch – we as ex-servicemen carry that privilege – that is our honour – this is our “Pride”.

Our future lies in our on-going recognition and acceptance by the veteran and the armed forces communities in the UK. Being Legion in the UK gives us the passport to do this – let’s face it the Legion is the Big Daddy here – and what we do with that passport is critical.

Keep the eye on the prize, and actively seek out your local RBL branches and clubs – make your unique mark as South African veterans within those clubs. Not everything happens in London – we must “move out” to South African veterans all over the country and provide our service to them. We need to find RBL clubs in which to regularly meet others in our area and get stuck in raising money doing Poppy Appeal activities with the branches in question.

It’s this way that we will be accepted and it’s this way that we will attract South African veterans in the UK to join us – to impart the knowledge that they too – as veterans – can participate in community activities, whereas in the past they’ve stood aside wondering if they were entitled to join in. Well now they can.

We have to create the right bedrock for these future members to join too, not all South African expatriates in the UK are interested in re-living the past, many veterans have put the whole military thing way behind them. What will attract these people is the noble cause of been part of the Legion, of been part of a fun community of like-minded fellow South Africans with a positive outlook.

We also need to continue to bring in the South Africans who have served in the British Armed Forces into our branch. These men and women are the future, they are the people who will carry this branch forward, they will give us the right credibility to stand in the place so rightfully deserved for South Africans and ultimately we need to build this foundation. They are the future “beneficiaries” of the branch who can actually benefit financially from been part of the branch and The Royal British Legion. Let’s get these people “in”.

To wrap up, we’re looking good, we’re growing, we’re expanding and our reputation in the UK is going from strength to strength – we are now a fully-fledged part of the British Veteran Community– and there are a lot of eyes on us as the newcomers to the block. We’ve withstood the challenges to emerge fully ordained, and we’ll stand proud in our mission, proud in our identity and proud in our achievement.


Let us remember rugby’s War Dead

Category : Automated , media , WW1 , WW2

Today’s image celebrates a game of rugby played between South African and Australian military personnel in Beruit, Lebanon.


In less than a month the World will again watch as the top Rugby playing Nations battle it out for the William Web Ellis Trophy as the Rugby World Champions of 2015.


Maybe we should pause for a moment and remember the numerous rugby players from all nations that died during the two World Wars.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission has a special pamphlet “Rugby’s War Dead” that deals exclusively with the topic. Included in the pamphlet is one South African Jacky Morkel.


Jan Willem Hurter Morkel, better known as “Jacky” was born on 13 November 1890 in Somerset West where he attended the “Hottentots- Holland” school. He later made his debut for Western Province as Outside Centre.


At age 22 Jacky was selected for the 1912 – 1913 Springboks tour of the United Kingdom and France as Outside Centre and played in all five tests:
23 November 1912 against Scotland at Inverleith, Edinburgh. Springboks won 16 – 0.
30 November 1912 against Ireland Aviva Stadium (Lansdowne Road), Dublin. Springboks won 38 – 0. Jacky scored two tries.
14 December 1912 against Wales at Millenium Stadium (Cardiff Arms Park), Cardiff. Springboks won 3 – 0.
04 January 1913 against England at Twickenham, London. Springboks won 9 – 3. Jacky scored a try.
11 January 1913 against France at Le Bouscat, Bordeaux. Springboks won 38 – 5. Jacky scored 1 trya and two conversions.


The 1912 – 1913 Springbok side was the first Southern Hemisphere team to achieve a “Grand Slam” of five wins against the four Home Nations and France.


When the first World started in September 1914 Jacky, although employed in an industry deemed essential to the war effort, joined the South African Mounted Commando’s as a Private and served with the 1st Mounted Brigade. Van der Venter Scouts, Mounted Commandos, S.A. Forces in German East Africa.


“Men and women from all over the Commonwealth answered the “call to arms” during both wars. Many of them died fighting in remote regions or in smaller campaigns that were equally important to the overall war effort. No matter where or how they died, their graves, memorials and names are still cared for by the Commission.


Sickness and disease were a constant problem for troops fighting in this harsh environment and on the 15 May 1916 Jacky died of dysentery. He is buried in Dar Es Salaam War Cemetery in Tanzania. The entry for him in the International Roll of Honour shows how highly he was thought of: “He upheld in the worthiest possible manner the teachings of the rugby game….and his case will stand for all time as a shining example to his countrymen.”


Other International Rugby players killed during the World War and included in the pamphlet are:
Major Blair Inskip Swannell – Australia. Served with the Australia and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) during the Gallipoli Campaign during World War One.


Vice Admiral Norman Atherton Wodehouse – England. Served as Gunnery Officer on board HMS Revenge during the battle of Jutland with the Royal Navy during the First World War. During the Second World War he was recalled and in 1941 was commanding a convoy to South Africa when the convoy was attacked by German Submarines. He ordered the convoy to scatter and his ship was never seen again. He is commemorated on the Liverpool Naval Memorial.


Lieutenant Marcel Burgun – France. Saw service in Europe with the French Air Force during World War One.


Captain Robert Alexander – Ireland. Saw service with the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers in Europe during the Second World War.


Pilot Officer Donald Gordon, Cobden – New Zealand. Saw service with the Royal Air Force during World War Two.


Surgeon David Revell Bedell-Sivright – Scotland. Saw service with the Medical Unit of the Royal Naval Division during the Gallipoli Campaign of the First World War.


Lieutenant John Raymond Evans – Wales. Saw service with the Parachute Regiment in North Africa.


Please down load the pamphlet “Rugby’s War Dead” from the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s website.  It is a must read for every rugby lover.

Story for the South African Legion of Military Veterans by Lgr Charles Ross based on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s pamphlet “Rugby’s War Dead” and the “Springbok Rugby Hall of Fame”.


‘Battle of Cassinga’ on the 4th May 1978

Category : Automated , Bush War , News

 

Today we especially remember the fallen from the Angolan/SWA Border War and the ‘Battle of Cassinga’ on the 4th May 1978 – in this very emotional picture we remember Rifleman Edward James Backhouse from 3 Parachute Battalion as he comes home.

There is an unwritten law to all servicemen – you don’t leave your buddies behind in a fire fight. Eddie was Killed in Action during the Battle of Cassinga. He was 22.

Let’s remember this fallen Airborne Brother, and all the scarifies made at the Battle of Cassinga. 

As a mark of respect, especially due to the highly controversial circumstances that surrounded this action, lets remember the immense sacrifice and loss experienced by all who participated in this battle and not get into any political platforming, it will only serve to disrespect the fallen.

Thank you to Graham Du Toit for his on-going posts in digital social media to remember the fallen and for this image. Post for the SA Legion by Peter Dickens


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


Vergaan SS Mendi herdacht – Bo, de omroep van de Bollenstreek

Category : Automated

Noordwijk – Met een dienst in de kapel van de Algemene begraafplaats is zaterdag het zinken van de SS Mendi herdacht. 98 Jaar geleden, op 21 februari 1917, werd de Mendi in dichte mist in het Kanaal geramd door het oorlogsschip Darro. De Mendi zonk binnen 25 minuten. Daarbij verdronken 646 opvarende…
More info @ http://ift.tt/1DNqdYq
Automated post from South African Legion – http://ift.tt/1nMVGNW
February 24, 2015 at 09:37AM


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 @ http://ift.tt/1AAXCBM
Automated post from South African Legion – http://ift.tt/1nMVGNW
February 23, 2015 at 09:32AM


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