• -

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


  • -

SS Mendi – The Untold Stories

The story of the Mendi is rightfully being told after years of silence, but the full story is not yet in the public domain.

On 9 March 1917, the South African House of Assembly rose as a symbol of respect for the fallen troops in the SS Mendi, which sank on the 21st February 1917 with the loss of 616 South African lives.

Prime Minister Louis Botha addressed the house and relayed the details of the ship’s sinking. The Minister went on to announce the names of the White men who had lost their lives or survived. For the Black men that had passed away, the Minister outlined the arrangements that were to be made to contact their families and inform them of the tragedy. His statement to the House read as follows:

“It has never happened in the history of South Africa, Mr Speaker, that in one moment, by one fell swoop, such a lot of people have perished, and, Mr Speaker, I think that where people have died in the way that they have done, it is our duty to remember that where people have come forward of their own accord, of their own free will… and what they have done will rebound to their everlasting credit.”

The House carried forth an unopposed motion to make a sincere expression of sympathy to the relatives of the deceased officers, non-commissioned officers and natives in their mourning.

References:

Clothier, N. Black Valour. Pietermaritzburg: University of Natal Press, 1987. 

World War 1”, South African History Online

While 616 South African Servicemen died in the incident, a further 30 lives were lost when the crew, who by all accounts were heroic in their attempts to save the ship and the passengers, also succumbed to drowning or being entombed in the ship.

The Memorial at Holly Brook in Southampton and the graves at Milton in Portsmouth are well known, and thanks to the SA Legion’s European Branch and Andrew Bergman, those interred at Noordwijk Cemetery are also accorded recognition and honours.

Less well known is the grave of Thomas Monamatunyu at Wimereux Cemetery in France, or the communal grave of Simon Linganiso, Jim Mbombiya and Smith Segule. Equally forgotten by most is the grave of Jabez Nguza in Hastings Cemetery, or the grave of Willie Tshabana in East Dean.

On the 18th of February, the anniversary of the SAS President Kruger sinking, I commemorated the day and honoured those lost. However, I also decided it would be fitting to visit the lonely graves of those in the far flung cemeteries, so my family gathered the wreaths and set off.

The grave of Jabez Nquza, Hasting Cemetery.

What first struck us was that the grave of Jabez Nguza is not forgotten. A fresh posey of flowers was placed at the foot of the grave, and the site itself is stunning. The Commonwealth Graves Commission’s work in remembering the Fallen is outstanding.

We then placed a wreath at the cenotaph in honour of the SAS President Kruger and her crew, and acknowledged HMSAS Southern Floe.

We set off for the village of East Dean, and found in a typical English Country churchyard a grave, slightly at an odd angle, alone on one side of the graveyard, but certainly not forgotten. Flowers, two wooden crosses and a South African Flag were evidence that his grave was not forgotten. If you read many current accounts of the Mendi dead, you will probably not see this grave mentioned.

We paid our respects, chatted to a local who promised he was in their thoughts, and she thanked us for being there.

We then arrived at the village of Littlehampton, the site of the common grave of Simon Linganiso, Jim Mbombiya and Smith Segule. Once again we found signs that they were not forgotten, and we left Littlehampton infused with the knowledge that these men are appreciated and acknowledged by the communities they now find themselves. I also found flowers and tokens at other South African graves in those cemeteries.

We also visited the church at Newtimber, where a memorial to “Chief Henry Bokleni Ndamase” is to be found. The origin of this plaque is a story for another day, as I have been invited to the church to hear the story.

On the 24th February the SA Legion UK & Europe will gather at the Richmond Cenotaph with Legionnaires, friends, family and other veterans to commemorate the Three Ships at a formal service and parade. The SS Mendi is representative of the Naval dead of World War 1, and we commemorate HMSAS Southern Floe as representative of the naval dead of World War Two, as well as the SAS President Kruger, as the post-war representative.

Report for the SA Legion United Kingdom & Europe, by Lgr Cameron Kinnear. Images by Brody Kinnear


  • -

Capt Dean Sprouting

On Thursday 8 February, the Repatriation of Captain Dean Sprouting of Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland took place.

The aircraft carrying his remains landed at RAF Brize Norton from where the cortege set off for Oxford, pausing at the Repatriation Memorial Garden in Carterton, where an act of remembrance took place.

Among the standards on parade were those of the Royal British Legion – South African Branch carried by Lgr Graeme McArdle and the SA Legion UK & Europe carried by Lgr Tony Povey.

Article by Tony Povey for the SA Legion UK & Europe


  • -

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


  • -

Legionnaires complete Marching for Others Three-Point Challenge

Tags :

Category : Articles , News

LONDON – Members of the SA Legion UK & Europe successfully completed a Three-Point Challenge march through the streets of London on November 25 in support of the SA Legion veterans who were victims of the recent storm and floods that hit Durban on October 10. Particularly hard hit were the SA Legion flats at BESL Court in Umbilo, which lost its roof and suffered water damage to the flats and contents below.

Tribute paid to Nelson Mandela in Parliament Square (Picture: Lgr. Victor Ho)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This Marching for Others team effort, organised by SA Legion England Chair Lgr. Claudio Chiste, Lgr. Craig Esterhuizen, and Lgr. Tony Povey, builds on a successful individual effort. This ‘vasbyt’ has raised £1,000 funds for fellow veterans in need, and there is still time if you wish to make a further donation here:

Tribute paid to Jan Smuts in Parliament Square (Picture: Lgr. Theo Fernandes)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

South African military veterans started the Three-Point Challenge by mustering at South Africa House on Trafalgar Square. They then moved on to the second point at Parliament Square, then to the third and final point at the SA Cenotaph at Richmond cemetery.

The distance covered was 19.3km and the target was to achieve this in less than three hours, excluding a few refreshment stops along the way.
In addition to military marching kit, there was also a weighted kettlebell passed around to promote teamwork and the GV feeling.

That kettlebell (Picture: Lgr. Theo Fernandes)

SA Legion UK & Europe Regional Chair, Lgr Cameron Kirk Kinnear: “The motto ‘Not for Ourselves but for Others’ has a deep resonance for veterans who offered themselves as trained and motivated servicemen and women. Members of the SA Legion, UK & Europe have once again shown that they pay homage to that motto by embarking on another Marching for Others event to raise awareness and much needed funds for veterans in need.

“The team embarked on a 19.3km march to raise £1,000 for much needed repairs to BESL Court, in Durban. At the successful conclusion of the march, Richmond Councillor Margaret Buter presented the team with certificates and badges for successfully completing the challenge.

Paying our respects at the graves of our SA fallen with the SA Cenotaph behind (Picture: Lgr. Victor Ho)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“An example once again for other veterans. Next year will see the SA Legion UK & Europe embark on more events to raise awareness and funds for fellow veterans.”
SA Legion Durban Chair, Lgr Rick Andries said the venture is “an excellent idea, and a wonderful experience for those who took part, to raise funds… and for us (well you know what I mean). Wow, £1,000, that translates into about R18,000… Truly amazing! It will be put to very good use. On behalf of the residents of BESL Court I thank you so very much, those affected by the recent storm will be truly grateful.”

Certificates and badges were awarded for successfully completing the Three-Point Challenge. On hand to present this award was our Guest of Honour, Margaret Buter, Councillor for Richmond. (Picture: Lgr. Victor Ho)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Text: Lgr. Tony Povey for SA Legion England Branch


  • -

Website article submission guidelines:

Category : Articles

Website article submission guidelines:

Please submit any proposed articles to the editors.

General:
Editorial: The South African Legion (UK & Europe) reserves the right to approve, edit, abridge, and/or amend any submissions before and/or after publication.
Copyright: All text, image and video content submitted needs to be your own work, or submitted under express authorisation of the author/photographer.
Privacy: NB! It is necessary to get the approval of any person featured in a picture before publication. It is best practice to ask people before taking pictures. Any request by anyone NOT to be featured in pictures must be rigorously adhered to.
Credit: Please clearly credit the authors of texts as well as photographers. If pictures by more than one photographer are submitted, each picture should be individually credited.

Text:
• Text to be supplied digitally via email as a MS Word Document, or TXT file, or by plain text email with no embedded pictures, macros, formatting, or layout of any kind. NO PDF documents please!
• Please set your spelling checker to English UK and use ‘ise’ endings to utilise, organise.
• Check your article for correct spelling of names, and the correct designation of organisations.
• Use abbreviations and/or ‘in-jargon’ sparingly. For example: On first usage, South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and after that just SANDF.
• For spelling defer to the Oxford English Dictionary.
• For more general style guidelines and practise, defer to The Economist Style Guide.

Pictures:
• A maximum of five or six images per submission please  – DO NOT send us a link to an album of 250 pictures to choose from.
• Set your camera to the highest resolution possible.
• Please submit original JPG files via email or cloud server (e.g. Dropbox) in their original size. Note that third-party APPs (WhatsApp, Facebook) automatically shrink pictures for transmission so such apps should be avoided along the transmission chain. Pictures or graphics should be a minimum of 1200X630px at 72dpi.
• Captions for pictures where appropriate to include full (check spelling) names (listed left to right) of people featured.
Not acceptable: Web-rip (copy paste) pictures, resized pictures, ‘postage stamps’.

Video:
• Set your camera to ‘High Definition’ (HD).
• Please submit original MP4/AVI/MOV/WMV/MKV files via email or cloud server in their original size. Note that third-party APPs (WhatsApp, Facebook) automatically shrink videos for transmission so such apps should be avoided along the transmission chain.
• YouTube links to an established, reliable account are also acceptable
• Not acceptable: YouTube or APP-ripped videos.

Conclusion: You will be sent a link to your piece after publication. Please check it and report any errors that might have crept in during the editorial process (they can and do) to the editor/webmaster immediately.


  • -

SA Legionnaires, MOTHs, Masons gather to honour SA Fallen on 11 November 2017

Category : Articles , News

RICHMOND – 11h00 on 11 November 1918 marked the end of hostilities as the guns fell silent in terms of the armistice that ended the First World War. The cream of the world’s young men, and many women, lay buried under, wounded by, or just scattered over battlefields across the globe in what was truly the First World War.

Ever since, Two Minutes’ Silence has been observed across Britain and her Commonwealth at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month; a tradition with its roots in South Africa.

On Saturday 11 November 2017, at 10h30, members of the South African Legion UK & Europe and representatives of other South African veterans’ organisations including the MOTHs (Gazala Shellhole), as well as representatives of South Africa Lodge No 6742 (Metropolitan Grand Lodge) gathered with friends and supporters at the South African Memorial Cenotaph at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission section of Richmond Cemetery in London to mark 99 years since the cessation of hostilities, and to honour the South African fallen.

The morning started with a characteristic London drizzle, which obligingly cleared for the ceremony. By chance, a senior veteran of the Royal Marines, bound for another remembrance ceremony he couldn’t find, homed-in on the green SA Legion berets and joined us.

As civilian guests gathered around the Cenotaph, a Guard of Honour of veterans formed-up and just before 11h00, marched past South African war graves from both World Wars to halt, pay respects, and lay wreaths at the South African Cenotaph.

Lgr. Craig Esterhuizen led all present in a moment of solemn contemplation and poignant prayer. Following the observance of Two Minutes’ Silence, the first wreath was laid on behalf of Gazala Shellhole by MOTH Shaun Kennedy.

The next wreath was laid by veteran, MOTH and Brother Neil Purdon, on behalf of the contingent from South Africa Lodge.

Finally, a wreath was laid by Lgr. Neil Taylor on behalf of the South African Legion (UK and Europe Branch).

The wreaths joined those laid on September 23 to commemorate the Battle of Square Hill.

Following the ceremony, participants moved to the ancient White Cross pub on the banks of the Thames.

There we raised a glass ‘to the fallen’.

Lest we forget.

South African Cenotaph

Wreath laid by SA Legion UK & EU

Wreath laid by MOTH Gazala Shellhole

Wreath laid by SA Lodge

Text: Lgr. Andrew Bergman for SA Legion UK & Europe Branch
Pictures: Johanna Bergman


  • -

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


Search this Site

Next Event

Feb
24
Sat
2018
10:30 Three Ships Commemoration @ South African Cenotaph
Three Ships Commemoration @ South African Cenotaph
Feb 24 @ 10:30 – 11:30
Three Ships Commemoration @ South African Cenotaph | England | United Kingdom
The Three Ships Parade commemorates the loss of lives at sea, and pays homage to the SS Mendi, HMSAS Southern Floe and the SAS President Kruger, thereby recognising three significant periods in our history.
Mar
12
Mon
2018
10:00 Commonwealth Day Parade @ Common...
Commonwealth Day Parade @ Common...
Mar 12 @ 10:00 – 12:30
Commonwealth Day Parade @ Commonwealth Gates Memorial
Purpose: The annual celebration day for the Commonwealth of Nations, consisting of 52 member states, of which South Africa is a member.                      
Apr
7
Sat
2018
13:30 England Branch Q2 Social & Legio...
England Branch Q2 Social & Legio...
Apr 7 @ 13:30 – 18:00
England Branch Q2 Social & Legion Committee Meeting@ TBC
Purpose (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 – scheduled
Apr
28
Sat
2018
11:00 Nation-building Tribute (aka Fre...
Nation-building Tribute (aka Fre...
Apr 28 @ 11:00 – 13:00
Nation-building Tribute (aka Freedom Day Parade)@Parliament Square
Purpose: In celebrating Freedom Day in South Africa, the South African Legion – England Branch, in association with the Royal British Legion – South African branch, gives tribute to three statesmen whose nation building vision and deeds shaped modern South

Shopping Cart

Loading...