Author Archives: Cameron Kinnear

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SAL UK and Europe Formal Ball 2017

Tags :

Category : Events

   The South African Legion

United Kingdom and Europe

requests the pleasure of you and your partner

at their first

Formal Mess Ball

on Saturday the 16th of September 2017,
at 18h30 which is to be held at
Cole Court, 150 London Road
Twickenham, Middlesex,
TW1 1HD.

 

This will be the first formal black tie event of this type held by the South African Legion –  United Kingdom and Europe since its inception.

It is time for you to get out your Mess Dress or Black-Tie evening wear for this superb occasion.

                          

The event will be full of pleasant surprises, a few twists and a great atmosphere, especially for our partners and families that normally do not participate in our events during the year.

An ideal opportunity for everyone to meet up and have an enjoyable evening with a great three course meal, drinks, fun and dance.

This event will also present itself with new annual awards, and over £2,000.00 worth of prizes and items to raffle.  This means that everyone should leave with something to remember the evening by.

This ball is NOT limited to SA Legion Members only, so feel free to bring a guest or two!

September 16th, 2017 6:30 PM   to   11:59 PM
Advice and Guides

Formal Ball Dress Guide

Formal Ball Etiquette Guide

    

 

Purchase your tickets here at £60 per person.

Online ticket sales for this event are closed.


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HMS Sheffield – Sunk 4th May 1982, Falklands War

HMS Sheffield (D80) was a 4100 ton Type 42 destroyer, launched on 10th June 1971 and commissioned on 16th February 1975. She was the second Royal navy ship to bear this name.

An explosion during construction killed two workers, and the damaged section of hull was replaced with another section from an identical design, but in a twist of fate this ship (Hercules) was being built for the Argentine Navy.

HMS Sheffield was part of task Force 317 sent to the Falklands during the Falklands War. On the 4th May 1982 she was struck by an Exocet air-launched missile fired from an Argentinian Navy Super Etendard aircraft. She sank on the 10th May 1982.

On the morning of the 4th may HMS Sheffield was at defence readiness, and one of 3 Type 42 Destroyers operating as a Anti-Submarine Patrol for the Task Force. The other two Type 42 destroyers were Glasgow and Coventry. The Argentinian type 209 Submarine, which was the model originally slated to replace the South African Navy Daphne class submarines, was deemed to be a serious threat.

HMS Glasgow (D88), one of the other Type 42 destroyers, detected two Argentinian Super-Etendard aircraft over 70km away and issued the warning code word “Handbrake” to all ships in the Task Force. In another twist of fate, HMS SHeffield had previously assessed the Exocet threat as over-rated, and assessed this new threat as another false alarm.

As a result HMS Sheffield did not go to Action Stations, launch chaff or conduct any other readiness actions. Captain James Salt was not informed of the reported threat.

Communications with HMS Sheffield were suddenly interrupted. The Exocet missile fired from a ‘point-blank’ range of 6 miles by Captain Augusto Bedacarratz hit HMS Sheffield amidships, creating a 15ft by 4ft hole in the ship’s starboard side. The crew had less than 20 seconds warning. A second missile missed the target. In yet a third twist of fate, it was later concluded by a Board of Enquiry that the warhead did not detonate. This is disputed by members of the crew, and a subsequent re-evaluation in 2015 concluded that the warhead had indeed detonated by using advanced analysis tools which were not available in 1982.

HMS Sheffield was now ablaze, and certain ship systems had been knocked offline, and one of the systems affected was the ventilation. The water main was also damaged, resulting in the fire mechanisms from operating at their full capability, thus effectively sealing the fate of the ship.

Captain Salt ordered that the ship be abandoned due to concern over the fires reaching the Sea Dart magazine. As the crew prepared to leave the ship, they sang Life of Brian “Always look on the Bright Side.”

For the next six days not only were systems evaluated for salvage, but damage control attempted to shore the hull breach. HMS Yarmouth, a Rothsay Class Frigate similar in design to the SA Navy’s President Class took the ship in tow.

However the sea state during the tow caused further flooding and HMS Sheffield finally sank on the 10th May 1982.

As a result of the attack, 20 members of her complement of 281 were lost, most of them asphyxiated. A further 26 were injured.

Discussion points about the the superstructure and the aluminum content having a lower melting point than steel were incorrect, as her superstructure was entirely steel. There was also a shift in the Royal Navy away from nylon and synthetic fabrics that melted onto the skin, causing more severe burns.

SAS President Kruger survivor Cameron Kirk Kinnear with HMS Sheffield survivor Chris Purcell

Chris Purcell’s account of the incident.

Further reading:

The Narrative of the Attack

Official MOD Report

(First posted on the SAS President Kruger website)

 

 

 

 


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World War 2 Medals

Category : WW2

Understanding your Grandfather’s (or Fathers’) World War 2 medals.

This is the standard set received by many South Africans who fought in both the North/East African theatre of operations and the Italian campaign. These are in the correct order of precedence and from left to right they are:

1. The 1939 – 1945 Star – campaign medal awarded to all British and Commonwealth personnel who fought in any theatre of operations during WW2. The ribbon shows arms of service – Navy (dark blue), Army (red) and Air Force (light blue).

2. The Africa Star – campaign medal awarded to all British and Commonwealth personnel who fought in African theatre of operations. The ribbon is distinguished by the “Sahara” sand colour).

3. The Italy Star – campaign medal awarded to all British and Commonwealth combatants who fought in the Italy theatre of operations (distinguished by ribbon in the colours of the Italian flag).

4. The Defence Medal – campaign medal awarded for both Operational and non-Operational service during WW2 to British and Commonwealth service personnel (and civilians involved in Service to armed forces). The ribbon is symbolic of the air attacks on green land of UK and the Black out is shown by the two thin black lines.

5. The War Medal 1939-1945 – campaign medal for British and Commonwealth personnel who had served full-time in the Armed Forces or the Merchant Navy for at least 28 days between 3 September 1939 and 2 September 1945. The medal ribbon is distinguished by the colours of the British Union Flag/Jack.

6. The Africa Service Medal – a South African campaign medal for service during the Second World War, which was awarded to members of the South African Union Defence Forces, the South African Police and the South African Railways Police who served during WW2. The ribbon represents the Two Oaths taken (red tab for Africa Service Oath and the later General Service Oath) and the green and gold colours of South Africa.

Have a look at your Grandfather’s or Dad’s medals (or your Mum/ Grandmother’s) and see if they are in the right order and which of these six medals you now recognise.

Note: This is a very complex field and the intention is to show the basic outline, each of the medals has rather extensive qualifying criteria.

Posted for the SA Legion by Peter Dickens


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SS Mendi – England Centenary Commemoration 2017

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Category : Articles , WW1

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The centenary parade to mark the loss of the SS Mendi was held at Southampton’s Hollybrook Cemetery on the 20st of February. The site memorialises 2000 soldiers who died at sea and have no grave – that includes 600 of  the 616 casualties from the Mendi – fittingly honoured near the memorial to the great British WW1 soldier Field Marshal Horatio Kitchener.

Respect was also shown in the dignitaries from the host nation who attended -Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe was joined by the HRH Princess Royal, Princess Anne and her husband Vice-Admiral Sir Timothy Lawrence; the Chief of the South African Navy Vice-Admiral Mosiwa Hlongwane; and the Minister for the Middle East and Africa, Tobias Ellwood.

Ceremonial duties were performed by a guard of honour and band of the South African Navy while all four arms of service stood guard around the memorial cross.

In paying tribute Mr Radebe drew on the words of the South Africa poet SEK Mqhayi: “Somebody has to die, so that something can be built, somebody has to serve so that others can live.” The profound meaning in these words did not go unnoticed, touching an emotional chord amongst the entourage of descendents of the Mendi crew who were in attendance, amongst which was Siboniso Makaye, whose grandfather was one of the crew members, Private Ndabana Makaye. Siboniso’s own father died when he was only four, he had grown up hearing about his grandfather’s fate from his grandmother who had raised him.

 

“Africa is saying it is well with our souls for these heroes. Today Africa is here” are the words  of Navy chaplain Captain (Rev) Lulamile Ngesi, who paraphrased the words of a prominent American lawyer who lost four of his children when their ship sank.

 

Perhaps the most poignant moment came when the piper from the South African Medical Services played the lament -a haunting version of the old hymn Abide With Me

Tribute to our heroes of the past, bond with the current

After paying tribute to heroes of ‘forgotten valour’, veterans enjoyed the chance to meet current serving members of the SANDF, who undertook the ceremonial duties during the centenary. To conclude this momentous day the opportunity granted to meet the Officer Commanding of the South African frigate, SAS AMATOLA, Captain Roux on board the ship in Portsmouth harbour.   Plaques were exchanged and stories swapped – a fitting end to an historic day of remembrance for those lost at sea.
Legion role in Centenary build-up

It was encouraging to see the culmination of everyone’s effort in this auspicious moment, with the SA Legion playing a significant role in the build-up to this year’s centenary (since SA Legion initiated this memorial service at Hollybrook five years ago). This year, although not run by the Legion, the following Legionnaires contributed: Wreaths were laid by Mr Cameron Kirk Kinnear, Regional Chairman of the SA Legion UK & Europe at Hollybrook (with England Branch Chairman, Mr Claudio Chiste laying a wreath at Milton cemetery on the Friday). It is perhaps fitting that both are naval veterans and Cameron is a survivor of the sinking of the SAS PRESIDENT KRUGER (affectionately known as the “PK”).

Also in attendance were Legionnaires Justin Bosanquet, Graeme Scott, Theo Fernandes, Tony Povey, Jose Lopes, Tino de Freitas, Craig Esterhuizen and Grant Harrison.

 

Article written by Lgr Claudio Chiste and Lgr Justin Bosanquet with images by Lgr Theo Fernandes, CWGC and final image by Lgr Claudio Chiste.


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Commonwealth Day Parade 2017

 

LONDON, 13 March 2017 –Mother Nature clearly smiles on the Commonwealth. On Monday, for (about) the fourth year in a row, the remembrance and wreath-laying ceremony at the Commonwealth Memorial Gates in Green Park, was blessed with (uncharacteristic for London) a mild sunny spring day.

Lr. Theo Fernandes and I met-up at the venue, well ahead of time. He was armed with his customary camera, which he would only surrender (temporarily) later, in order to perform some (even) more important duties.

The Senior Guest of Honour this year was the Ooni of Ife (Nigeria), His Imperial Majesty Ooni Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II, who arrived with his entourage in imperial style with heralds and pages.

The organiser told me proudly that this year, the South African Government would be represented by H. E. Ms Baleka Mbete, Speaker of the SA National Assembly. Mrs Mbete arrived shortly after His Majesty, resplendent in traditional Zulu costume (she originally hails from Durban). Theo and I were introduced to her briefly beforehand, as we were the only South African veterans present, and we were treated to a proper meet-and-greet afterwards.

After a short opening address, a Gurkha bugler sounded Last Post, followed by two minutes’ silence. After the ‘Rouse’, a Ghurkha piper played the lament, and Guests of Honour were called by name to lay wreaths.

The first wreath was laid on behalf of HRH the Prince of Wales. Next, out of deference to his 98 years, the representative of the Burma Star Association, followed by the Ooni of Ife, and then Mrs Mbete on behalf of South Africa.

When the turn came for the South African Legion (UK & Europe Branch), the wreath of poppies was laid by Lr. Theo Fernandes (aka The Porra) – a committee decision in acknowledgement of Theo’s loyal attendance of the event (6+ years), and his unfailing support for the Branch and his fellow Legionnaires.

Afterwards, guests retired to a marquee where the London Indian community had provided a light curry lunch. We were interviewed by a Sikh documentary-maker and the Sikh TV Channel.

When Mrs Mbete left a short while later, we accompanied her to her car, and enjoyed speaking to her as she waited for the diplomatic Mercedes. She was clearly pleased and surprised to encounter fellow South Africans at such an auspicious event.

Theo and I also met with the Lord Lieutenant of London, leading representatives of the Sikh regiments and community, the Rear-Admiral representing HM Armed Forces and Defence Attaches from Canada and New Zealand.

An interesting meeting was one with the President of the West Indian Association of Service Personnel. His Association are putting-up a memorial to RAF Bomber Command air and ground crew, and want to include the South African names. So watch this space.

Article for the South African Legion by Andrew Bergman

Pictures by Theo Fernandes and (very occasionally) Andrew Bergman


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SS Mendi and Armed Forces Day, Noordwijk 2017

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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.


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SA Legion Presents the RBL Putney Club with Shield at Q1 Social

 

Following the productive quarterly committee meeting – with much ground covered on ramping up our SA Legion membership benefits (soon to be announced!) – some committee members proceeded to the quarterly social thereafter. During the social the SAL Chair & Vice Chair presented the Royal British Legion Putney Club with the SA Legion shield, which were told will be hanging proudly on their wall the next time we visit!

From left to right: Russel Mattushek (England SAL Vice-Chair), Suzanne Harris (of the RBL Putney Club), Claudio Chiste (England SAL Chair)

Note: The venue for this social was the RBL Putney Club (first time we have had an event here). Going forward, after every quarterly committee meeting a social will be planned, with each social being unique… whether it be a new venue or some sort of exciting activity planned (raffle, sporting match- Springboks, Proteas etc or even a short course in first aid or unarmed combat, followed by drinks!). Remember to monitor the SAL events page to stay up to date with all the exciting events we have lined up for the next year.

(Article for the SA Legion UK & Europe by Claudio Chiste’)

 


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Sunderland Flying Boats of Lake Umsingazi

 

THE SUNDERLAND FLYING BOATS OF LAKE UMSINGAZI

By Jeff Gaisford
Jeff Gaisford has a deep interest in the flying boats which operated in Zululand and this led to the writing of this article. It first appeared in World Air News and is reprinted here with kind permission.

262 Squadron RAF used Catalina Bay at the southern end of Lake St Lucia as a forward operational base in 1943 and ‘44.  Initially they flew the sturdy Catalina flying boats, but these were gradually replaced by much larger four engined Short Sunderland Mark 5 flying boats. These drew over five foot of water and St Lucia was too shallow for them. This forced the Squadron to look for an alternative landing site with deeper water. They chose Lake Umsingazi at Richards Bay, and the squadron relocated there lock stock and barrel in the course of 1944.  In 1945, there being so many South Africans on strength in 262 Squadron, it was decided to transfer the whole operation to the South African Air Force. This was duly done and 35 Squadron SAAF came into being. The squadron base was at Congella in Durban and this required the big flying boats to land in the harbour. They were forbidden to land there at night, however, due to various after dark hazards that included the large number of small “fishing”craft, and the flying boats had to land at Lake Umsingazi.

A 35 Sqn SAAF Sunderland with the registration letters RB-N crashed and sank there on the night of 1 November 1956 in bad weather after a navigation exercise to Europa Island in the Mozambique Channel.

A young crewman, 18 year-old Henry van Reenen, survived the crash and, now a respectable businessman in Gauteng, recently told me his tale:
“Three Sunderlands flew on the navigation exercise from Durban to Europa Island – their serial numbers were RB-D and RB-N which was the aircraft I flew in. I cannot recall the registration of the third one. En route our radar set failed. Great waterspouts were rising all around us, forcing us to dodge backwards and forwards and it wasn’t long before our navigators had no idea where we were. Without radar we were almost blind.

The other two Sunderlands completed the exercise, turned for home and landed safely at Lake Umsingazi. We eventually packed it in in the late afternoon and headed back towards the South African coast. A thunderstorm had come up, waterspouts kept forcing us to change course, so we headed towards Durban and then turned up-coast in order to find our landing area on Lake Umsingazi.  Late that night we sighted the lights of the flarepath on Lake Umsingazi and came down on our final approach. The thunderstorm was still raging with high winds, very heavy rain, hail and great flashes of lightning that lit the sky around us.

The Sunderland was about 60 feet off the water when for no apparent reason we dropped onto the surface, hitting very hard. We bounced, then hit the water again. I fly privately now but in those days wind-shear was a little- understood factor.  Our pilot, Capt Naude, rammed the throttles open to abort the landing and go around once more, but at about 100 feet the Sunderland stalled under full power and crashed into the lake. The nose was partially broken off, the co-pilot Lt Col Thys Uys was flung bodily through the cockpit canopy and landed almost 200 yards away. Capt Naude’s harness snapped and he was flung back-first against the instrument panel, injuring his back. I was seated in the wardroom below the flight deck with three other crewmen and was catapulted against the bulkhead ahead of us and knocked unconscious. Two of these crewmen were the only fatalities. I came to a few minutes later underwater and in pitch darkness. I found some air trapped above me and, after taking a deep breath, swam back through the wardroom into the galley – there I opened a hatch that led to the flight deck, but this was also under water. There was a small perspex dome used by the navigator just aft the main canopy. I found some air trapped there and this gave me a few more gulps.
Acting more on instinct I swam along a passageway to the weapons deck intending to exit the Sunderland through one of two machine-gun hatches situated on either side of the fuselage just aft of the wing trailing edges. Some flame floats in this compartment had ignited and the interior of the compartment was aflame so I swam underneath the flames to get to the left hand hatch. The rest of the crew were sitting on the left hand wing and Jan Knoll, a Dutch radio officer, heard me yelling. He had been in the wardroom with us and had swum out through the galley and through the viciously sharp tangle of wreckage where the nose had been. He jumped into the water and helped me out, swimming with me to the wing where my friends pulled me up and out of the water. They battled to pull me up because a hook on my Mae West buoyancy jacket had caught on the wing trailing edge. All their pulling was pretty painful! I passed out from the pain of my injuries – I had broken both ankles – and only came to briefly on the boat taking us to shore.

We were given first aid and bundled into the back of 1947 Ford ambulance that bounced its way across a terribly rough track to the Empangeni Hospital. Both my feet were dangling off the end of the stretcher and were being mercilessly bounced up and down. One of the medics realised that I was in agony and they shifted me up a bit. At the hospital they cut off our flying suits and gave us another thorough wash! We were later flown to Durban and spent a few weeks recovering in Addington Hospital before being flown to Cape Town in another Sunderland,” he told me.

Richards Bay in those days was still very wild and the bodies of the two men who died in the crash were only recovered some days later because crocodiles were nosing around the wreck and keeping the divers away. Thys Uys was a bit of a legend in his own right having being involved in the attempted rescue of the survivors of a wrecked ship, the Dunedin Star, on the Namibian coast in 1939 flying a Ventura.
As a boy I saw the stripped  hull of the Sunderland being winched out of the Lake Msingazi in about 1958. Only recently have I found out that full salvage was not possible and the hull was let slip back into the lake.  A local man salvaged the right hand wing float at that time and converted it into a catamaran ski-boat powered by an old flathead Ford V8 engine and with one of those domed Perspex cake covers usually found in a Greek tearoom as a canopy. This contraption, looking like something from Startrek, actually went out to sea and must still be in the area somewhere!
The natural beauty of Lake St Lucia and Umsingazi has hidden this story for many years.
To the average visitor today the thought of those beautiful lakes being the scene of such amazing military aviation activity would be strange – but these events are a part of the fascinating history of Zululand and definitely part of the aviation history of South Africa.

This article first appeared in World Air News, and then the SAAF Museum website and is reprinted here with kind permission.


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DHL and The South African Legion step up to the mark to deliver prosthetic limbs to veterans in need

 

DHL and The South African Legion step up to the mark to deliver prosthetic limbs to veterans in need.

Pete Hall with his new prosthetic leg.

 

In 2015, as part of the Project Gemini exchange programme blind veterans from South Africa and the USA joined their peers in the United Kingdom for a week of socialising, learning and camaraderie.  Little did they know that a real opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of two military veterans would arise from it.

 

Colin Williamson, a blind veteran himself from Blind Veterans UK said, “This year, at our Brighton centre we had two South African blinded veterans who were both right leg below knee amputees as well as having sight loss. Their prosthetics were World War 2 era and literally dropping to bits.”

 

Peter Hall and Renier Heyns, the two South Africans in question, are members of St Dunstans Association for South African War Blinded Veterans, and they were both injured in the “South West African/Angolan Border War” as serving members of the South African military.
Following the event in Brighton, Mr Mark Cornell, Past President of the US based Blinded Veterans Association acquired two sets of prosthetics donated to Peter Hall and Renier Heyns by an American hospital.  Problem was, the prosthetics were a long way away at Mark’s home in San Antonia, Texas, and they where needed by St Dunstans in South Africa.

 

To get these much needed prosthetics to South Africa; Colin Williamson sent an email to Cameron Kinnear of the South African Legion of Military Veterans (UK branch) looking for advice on how he could obtain some assistance in covering the rather significant cost of shipping prosthetics from the USA.

 

Cameron quickly kicked into action obtaining much needed shipping information and briefed his peers in South African Legion, some shipping quotes were obtained, but it was immediately apparent that this would be unaffordable to the charities and veteran associations concerned, and would take many months to raise the monies.

 

Peter Gillatt took the reigns as Project Coordinator on behalf of the South African Legion to make contact with the donor parties and act as liaison. Peter also put out a message to the members of the Legion calling for skills and assistance and Wayne Stockton, (a military veteran himself), quickly responded.

 

As it turns out Wayne works at East Midlands Airport, and made an appointment to see Peter Bardens, Operations Director of DHL. It became immediately clear that DHL were very capable and very enthusiastic to assist.  DHL then very generously agreed to sponsor the delivery much to the appreciation of all concerned.

 

Scheduling and logistics planning kicked off immediately with Peter Gillatt and Wayne Stockton coordinating the activities between the various parties, ensuring the correct documentation was in place and keeping everyone appraised of the progress that was being made.

 

Due to the Christmas closure of the recipient organisation, St Dunstans in South Africa, it was decided to postpone the delivery until after the holidays.  So, on the 4th of January the DHL collected the parcel of prosthetics from Mark Cornell in Texas, USA and delivered it safely to Andrea Burton at St Dunstans in South Africa on the 8th of January 2016.

 

A job very well done all round, now all that remains to be done is the process of modifying the prosthetic legs to fit two very appreciative veterans.

 

This very successful operation was a wonderful demonstration of the kindness of the human spirit and the will to overcome challenges for the greater good. Charity is not just about just donating money, it’s about engaging all sorts of resources and skill sets to actually deliver aid and support to people in need.
The South African Legion would like to extend a huge mention of appreciation to DHL for the magnificent and generous assistance they provided in making the start of 2016 a very special occasion for two old Veterans.

Mark Cornell handing over the package to the DHL driver in Texas, USA

Unpacking in South Africa


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SA Legion Christmas Social Raises Funds

 

The SA Legionnaires and members of the 61 Mech Veteran Association held a joint Christmas party social in London. The “skouerskuur” was held at the Windsor Castle Pub (a period Victorian Pub) in Chelsea, London.

The evening was a resounding success with over £200 being raised by way of a raffle towards Royal Hospital Chelsea. The first prize was a South African food goodies basket

 

Additional prizes included a bottle of 10 year old whisky, movie tickets and books by the legendary WW2 South African Air Force (SAAF) fighter pilot Steve Stevens DFC*.

*He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his courageous flying in the Balkans. Later he flew many transport flights, ferrying military staff from Cairo to South Africa.

 

Article for the SA Legion by Claudio Chiste’


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Inaugural Battle of Square Hill Parade Purpose: We remember the contribution of the South African Cape Corps battalion which helped the Allies – lead by General Allenby – break through to Damascus and knock the
Nov
11
Sat
2017
10:00 Armistice Day 2017 @ Richmond Cenotaph
Armistice Day 2017 @ Richmond Cenotaph
Nov 11 @ 10:00 – 15:00
Armistice Day 2017 @ Richmond Cenotaph | England | United Kingdom
Purpose: Each year at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, we observe a Two Minute Silence. Armistice Day on 11 November marks the end of the First World War and

SA Legion Formal Ball

The Big DaySeptember 16th, 2017
The big day is here.