Category Archives: Events

Carabiniers remembered at Kimberly Gate, Chelsea

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

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

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

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

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

© 2018 SA Legion UK & Europe All Rights Reserved


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

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

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

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

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

Picture by Lgr. Theo Fernandes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Picture by Lgr. Theo Fernandes

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

Picture by Lgr. Theo Fernandes

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

NOT FOR OURSELVES, BUT FOR OTHERS

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

Photo Gallery Lgr. Theo Fernandes:

Photo Gallery Lgr. Victor Ho:


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


Last Post Ceremony, Menin Gate, Ypres

Every evening at 20:00 sharp, ever since 1928, the solemn and stirringly beautiful Last Post ceremony has been performed under the Menin Gate at Ypres that commemorates the many thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers who were killed in the bloody battles of the Ypres Salient during First World War. On the walls of the memorial are inscribed the names of 54,395 soldiers – including South Africans – who died in the Salient but whose bodies have never been identified or found.

On 12 and 13 May, Ypres hosted the Kattenstoet (Cats Parade), a festive local carnival themed on cats, which was an extra attraction on this weekend.

South African Legion (Europe Branch) Chairman Lgr. Andrew Bergman arrived with his wife Johanna on Saturday evening and attended the Last Post Ceremony as a ‘dry run’ to recce the lay of the land. An advance email to the Last Post Association in anticipation of our visit yielded and invitation to lay a wreath, as well as the possibility (at the discretion of the Master of Ceremonies on the day) to deliver the Oration or Epitaph with an official delegation the following day.

Reinforcements arrive

On Sunday, Lgr. Dave Wiseman and Lgr. Clint Olivier crossed the Channel and arrived in Ypres in time for the Cats Parade. We then got together – dressed in our parade kit – at a café opposite the Menin gate, where we were treated like minor celebrities.

We then moved to the Menin Gate, where the Master of Ceremonies asked Lgr. Bergman to deliver the Oration during the ceremony. Then a pleasant surprise: MOTH Alex Cromarty happened to be in the area touring with his family, which swelled our ‘band of brothers’ to four.

Our wreath-laying party fell-in three-abreast under orders of the Master of Ceremonies. Behind us were schoolgirls from Scotland and England, students from East Anglia University, and ancestors of the fallen, all waiting to pay their floral respects.

Opposite us, the Rochdale Festival Chorus gathered to provide musical accompaniment.

By now there was no more room under the vast arch of the gate itself, and spectators were spilling out into the approaching road on both sides.

“They shall grow not old…”

The sizable crowd fell silent when the buglers of the Last Post Association took-up their positions at the eastern end of the gate. Then, at 19:58, the buglers sounded the Rouse. On a signal from the Master of Ceremonies, Lgr. Bergman marched to the centre of the hushed arch, turned to face the buglers, and recited the Oration: “They shall grow not old…”

A minutes’ silence followed, and then in perfect unison, the buglers sounded the mournful Last Post. There were not many dry eyes in the house.

First to lay wreaths were the Mayor of Ypres and the Mayor of Singen, a German city that is twinned with Ypres. Both had been formally introduced to the South African Legion delegation at the start of proceedings.

Forward march!

We were the next wreath-laying party, and while we haven’t done much marching together, we did ok – the pictures show that our dressing never wavered, we kept perfect step.

The buglers then sounded Reveille to signal the end of the ceremony.

 

After the ceremony was over, it was time for networking. Legionnaires spoke to a Colonel (in civvies and ‘off duty’) from the Belgian Special Forces, and we mingled a while with the other wreath-layers in the afterglow of the dignified and solemn ceremony we’d all shared.

So after a successful round of shoulder-rubbing with the Great and the Good of Ypres and beyond, three Legionnaires and Johanna – who had resolutely defended her plumb photographic position from several assaults on both flanks to produce a superb photographic and video record – followed the city walls southwards to have supper at Brasserie Kazematten, which is established in the ancient casemates within the fortifications of Ypres. Many of the original features are retained. The staff treated us like kings and it proved a fitting end to a memorable day of remembrance and fellowship.

© South African Legion (Europe Branch)
Text: Lgr. Andrew Bergman
Pictures and video: Johanna Bergman


SS Mendi Remembrance, Noordwijk, 21 February 2018

At 11 am on Wednesday February 21 2018, the South African Ambassador to The Hague, HE Vusi (Bruce) Koloane, His Worship The Mayor of Noordwijk, Alderman Jan Rypstra, under the guidance of programme director, Deputy-Mayor Gerben van Duin, joined with the ambassadors of several countries, and the military attachés of several more, and representatives of the South African Legion and other veterans, at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of the General Cemetery in Noordwijk in the Netherlands, on the 101st anniversary of the sinking of the SS Mendi*.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lgr. Andrew Bergman addresses the event on behalf of the South African Legion

The Dutch Armed Forces provided a Guard of Honour, a brass band, and several pipers to add colour to a dignified event. Rev. Andrew Gready led the service with hymns in the cemetery hall, before conducting the wreath-laying at the graveside. South African Deputy Military attaché, Lt Col Andrew Mafofololo orated the Act of Remembrance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South African Deputy Military attaché, Lt Col Andrew Mafofololo and the South African Ambassador to The Hague, HE Vusi (Bruce) Koloane lay a wreath on behalf of South Africa

In his speech, the South African Ambassador to The Hague, HE Vusi (Bruce) Koloane specifically acknowledged the contribution of the SA Legion to “keeping the flame of remembrance for the SS Mendi alive“. After the service, the South African Embassy hosted a delicious lunch of South African food and wine at the ultra-modern Noordwijk Sports Centre.

* On 21 February 1917, the SS Mendi, a troop ship out of Cape Town carrying 823 men of the 5th Battalion South African Native Labour Corps bound for Le Havre in France was rammed by the Daro in thick fog in the English Channel of the Isle of Wight.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South African Deputy Military attaché, Lt Col Andrew Mafofololo orates the Act of Remembrance

They were travelling to support the war effort, in particular Britain and her allies, who were running out of people and supplies.

The SS Mendi sank quickly with the loss of more than 600 South African servicemen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wreath laid on behalf of the South African Legion

In 2012, February 21 was proclaimed as the day to observe Armed Forces Day annually.

Since 2014, an annual remembrance and wreath-laying service has been held at the gravesides of Privates Sitebe Molife, Natal Kazimula, Abram Leboche, Arosi Zenzile, and Sikaniso Mtolo, who lie buried in the picturesque seaside town of Noordwijk in the Netherlands. They all perished when the SS Mendi sank, and their bodies were washed-up on the (neutral) Dutch coast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For South African Legion Europe Branch
Text: Lgr. Andrew Bergman (Chairman SA Legion Europe Branch)
Pictures: Johanna Bergman-Badings


SA Legion Medal Parade follows RHC Carabiniers Memorial

Category : Articles , Events , News , Newsletter

A small group of Legionnaires and Moths attended the Observance at the Carabiniers Memorial, Chelsea, on the first Sunday in December, hosted by the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards Association (RSDGA).

The day continued with a service in the prestigious chapel at the nearby Royal Hospital, Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners, followed by an excellent curry lunch.

 

A highlight following the service, was a medal parade held in Statue Court within the hallowed precincts of the Royal Hospital, where SA Legion England branch Chair, Lgr Claudio Chistè, presented long overdue medals to two recipients.

Moth Jessie Bostock received his General Service Medal and Legionnaire Barrie Gooden received his General Service Medal and Unitas Medal.

In addition to Claudio and the recipients, SA Legion England branch Vice-Chair, Russel Mattuschek, Legionnaires Tony Povey, Dave Wiseman and Theo Fernandez, Moth Mark Samson, Old Bill General Browning shellhole, Tony Grey, RSDGA and two Chelsea pensioners, Sergeant Fred Bolwell, ex-Coldstream Guards and Corporal Tony Hunter, ex-Royal Tank Regiment also attended the parade.

It was an honour to hold the parade on such august ground which was sure to make the occasion all the more memorable for medal recipients and attendees alike.

The day ended with an opportunity to meet members of the RSDGA, Chelsea pensioners, and some Pearly Kings and Queens in the bar over a beer or two.

Moth Mark Samson, Old Bill General Browning shellhole: Lgr Claudio Chiste, SA Legion England Chair: Tony Hunter ex-Coldstream Guards: Lgr Barrie Gooden: Moth Jessie Bostock: Lgr Russel Mattuschek, SA Legion England Vice Chair: Fred Bolwell, ex-Royal Tank Regiment: Lgr Dave Wiseman: Lgr Tony Povey: Tony Grey, RSDGA

Attendance at the Observance is a privilege afforded to the SA Legion because of their South African connection. The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers and Greys) (Scots DG) amalgamated with the 6th Regiment of Dragoon Guards (Carabiniers), who from 1899 – 1902 fought in the Second Boer War and were present at the relief of Kimberley. The RSDG are affiliated to the Natal Carbineers and through this look forward to ‘Saffa’ participation in their annual event.’

Text: Lgr. Tony Povey

Pictures: Lgr. Theo Fernandes


SA Legion UK & Europe Inaugural Ball and Awards Dinner – 16 September 2017

Category : Articles , Events , News , Newsletter

The inaugural SA Legion UK & Europe Annual Ball & Awards dinner took place on 16 September at Cole Court, Twickenham. On arrival, we were welcomed with a glass of sherry and a chance to catch up with friends, old and new.

Entering the hall we took our places at the beautifully laid-out tables. We were welcomed by SA Legion UK and Europe Regional Chair, Lgr Cameron Kinnear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Master of Ceremonies, Lgr.Dirk Benneyworth then took control of the evening’s events, doing a fine job of keeping the attendees on their toes.

Following the excellent three-course dinner, awards were presented to those who had distinguished themselves in serving the Legion during the year.

Lgr. Theo Fernandes receives the Chairmen’s Award 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chairmen’s award: Lgr. Theo Fernandes

For the legionnaire whose conduct and action epitomise the Ethos and Credo of the SA Legion, “Not for ourselves, but for Others”.

England Chair Lgr. Claudio Chisté receives the 2017 Highest Contribution Award from Regional Chair Lgr. Cameron Kinnear.

Highest contribution award: Lgr. Claudio Chiste

Also called the “Not for ourselves but for Others” Award. For the legionnaire who made the greatest economic/fundraising contribution over the course of the year.

Home Fires award: Karen Dickens

This is for a wife who had to put up with people working all hours to get things done, a wife who has shown dedication above and beyond the call of duty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard bearer award: Lgr. Peter Gillat

Wooden spoon award: Lgr. Steve Moritz

For the legionnaire who is always joking, causing “strond” or just a character.

Shooting award: Lgr. Graeme Scott

This award goes to the SA Legion Member who was the best shot in 2016/17.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Certificates of appreciation: Lgr. Craig Esterhuizen, Lgr. Tony Povey, Lgr. Tino de Freitas, Lgr. Jose Lopes, Lgr. James Dow and Lgr. Andrew Bergman

As SA Legion Europe Chair Lgr Andrew Bergman was unable to attend, his acceptance speech was read in abstentia:

“Ladies, Gentlemen, Legionnaires, Friends – all protocols observed.

“On 21 February 1917, the SS Mendi sank after she was rammed by the SS Darro in mist off the Isle of Wight. It claimed the lives of more than 600 South African servicemen. Tonight, that same misty, icy stretch of water alas precludes me from joining you. However, it is a great honour to receive this certificate, and I must do so with special thanks to those Legionnaires and wives who over the years have supported our SS Mendi parades and events, both in the UK an in the Netherlands.

“A word of acknowledgement too for the sterling effort and cooperation of local authorities such as the Municipality of Noordwijk, who have opened their arms and their hearts to our fallen servicemen who now rest in their soil.

“And finally, the ongoing support of the SA Embassy and Department of Defence personnel in the UK and Europe with whom collective remembrance of the SS Mendi has served to build such valuable and lasting bridges with the SA Legion over the years.”

The raffle followed, with an array of prizes worth over £3,500, and an auction of special items, all of these having been raised by the efforts of SA Legion UK & Europe Branch Vice-Chair, Lgr Russel Mattuschek. The proceeds raised funds towards veterans in need after a great job by Cameron as auctioneer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was time for great South African flavoured band, M27s, to perform a selection of SA songs (suikerbossie etc) giving some members a chance to show off their langarm moves.

This event, organised by the sterling efforts of Legionnaires Russel Mattuschek, James Dow and Cameron Kinnear, has firmly established the Annual Ball as the social highlight of the SA Legion UK & Europe year and will be eagerly looked forward to next year.

Events personnel for the evening were:

MC – Dirk Benneyworth

PMC – Russel Mattuschek

Vice-PMC – Tony Povey

Sgt at Arms (Marshall) – Tino de Freitas

Standard Bearer – Jose Lopes

Text: Lgr. Tony Povey

Pictures: Lgr. Theo Fernandes


Raising Funds for Veterans in Need – Marching for Others: Three-Point Challenge

The Event link is here.

The recent storm and floods that hit Durban on October 10 caused extensive damage, not least to the SA Legion flats at BESL Court in Umbilo, which suffered the loss of their roof and water damage to the flats and contents below. BESL Court is home to some of our less fortunate brother veterans who now need help to put their lives back together. The South African Legion UK & Europe is on standby to play its part in contributing to the relief efforts. Building on a successful individual effort, Marching For Others march earlier this year, the Legion will this time embark on a group route march with this ‘vasbyt’ raising funds for fellow veterans in need.

Military veterans are invited to join us on Sunday November 25 to take part in the Marching For Others: Three-Point Challenge as we march from South Africa House, Trafalgar Square, via Parliament Square to the SA Cenotaph at East Sheen cemetery. We are aiming to raise £1,000, with all participants encouraged to obtain sponsorship from family and friends to reach a minimum donation of £50,00 each.  The good news is you don’t have to participate to donate, anyone may make a donation to the Marching For Others: Three Point Challenge crowdfunding site via the link below.

The distance to be covered will be 8 miles and the target is to achieve this in less than three hours’ walking time, excluding a few stops along the way to imbibe some liquid fuel. Along the route, three historically significant South African landmarks will be covered. Point 1: South African High Commission, Trafalgar Square; Point 2: Statues of Mandela, Smuts, and Gandhi at Parliament Square; Point 3: South African War Memorial (Richmond Cenotaph).

Refreshment stops will be included along the way. There will be a braai at the end to recharge the inner man and swap ‘war stories’, evoking the ‘GV’ feelings within us.

Dress is to be Legion beret, black polo/T-shirt, brown military trousers and brown boots or suitable military walking shoes (see photo). For those who would like them, black SA Legion polo shirts embroidered with the SA Legion logo, are available at £30.00 each. A portion of this cost will go towards our target (further details to be provided once participation is confirmed).  Should we exceed our fundraising target, surplus funds will go towards SA Legion UK & Europe projects.

This is an opportunity to enjoy a healthy day out and have some fun while assisting our brother veterans in need by giving life to our motto: Not for Ourselves, but for Others.

SA Legion England Chair Claudio Chistè (left), wearing the appropriate marching kit, standing beside Army paratroopers.

Join Us!

To sign up and confirm your participation, please email Tony Povey: poveymail@gmail.com


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


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Feb 23 @ 09:30 – 12:00
Three Ships Parade @ Richmond Cenotaph | England | United Kingdom
Purpose: We remember all South African navy and maritime losses through the ages, starting from chronological order: WW1: SS Mendi, which lead to 616 South Africans and 30 crew who lost their lives at sea, in South
12:00 England Branch Q1 Committee Meet... @ RBL Club Teddington
England Branch Q1 Committee Meet... @ RBL Club Teddington
Feb 23 @ 12:00 – 17:00
England Branch Q1 Committee Meeting and Social @ RBL Club Teddington | England | United Kingdom
Meeting and Social – 135 High St, Teddington TW11 8HH Purpose: All Branch members are invited to contribute in providing suggestions/feedback, or just listen to the quarterly update. Final event planning will also take place for
Mar
11
Mon
2019
10:00 Commonwealth Day Parade @ Commonwealth Gates Memorial
Commonwealth Day Parade @ Commonwealth Gates Memorial
Mar 11 @ 10:00 – 12:30
Commonwealth Day Parade @ Commonwealth Gates Memorial | England | United Kingdom
Purpose: The annual celebration day for the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting of 52 member states, of which South Africa is a member.
Apr
13
Sat
2019
12:00 England Branch Q2 Committee Meet... @ RBL Club Teddington
England Branch Q2 Committee Meet... @ RBL Club Teddington
Apr 13 @ 12:00 – 16:30
England Branch Q2 Committee Meeting and Social @ RBL Club Teddington
Purpose (of committee meeting): All Branch members are invited to contribute in providing suggestions/feedback, or just listen to the quarterly update. Final event planning will also take place for one of our upcoming flagship events –

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