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


 

This was written after the South Africans held their position at Deville Woods on the Western Front at a loss of 2536 of their men in WWI.
This poem written by 2nd Lt. Thomas A. Clark Snr which typifies the South African soldier at the time.
This poem written by 2nd Lt. Thomas A. Clark Snr.
The New Zealanders’ Farewell to The South Africans.

 

Tis to bid farewell to you, Springbok boys,
That we gather here to-night,
For we leave you soon in the homes you
left to join the Empire’s fight.
You did your share in German West when
the Kaiser cast the die,
And we are sorry now to leave you, but war
is all “goodbye”
And we envy those rows of ribbons that
some of your veterans wear,
and their faces brown from the lands they’ve
seen and their smile so devil-may-care.
We met you first twelve months ago when we
chased the Sennussi gang.
And you proved you were true Colonials then,
and your name thro the Empire rang.
Then with us again you came to France, and
were put to the shell-fire test,
and the word went round, “Springboks on our left”
And old Fritz got no rest,
for you worried the Huns the whole day long,
you strafed him day and night,
and the Crown Prince found to his Army’s cost
that the Springbok boys could fight.
And you did the job at Delville Wood, and
you made it a living hell:
Twas the first tough job you were sent to do,
and you did it, and did it well,
with a Glorious rush that frightened Fritz,
you were one of the Germans ten
and when Fritz attacked you drove him off
with a handful of your men,
and you beat us once in the Rugby field
tho’ we thought we knew the game,
but you showed us you could play it too,
and played it like gentleman.
But when sports meet sports in the playing field,
defeat is no disgrace,
and the Springbok now with the Fern Leaf
on the Black Flag take it’s place,
then here’s good luck to your fighting men,
for we know you will see it through,
when the bloody sword shall clash no more
We’ll play rugby again with you.
But we hope this peace will do away
with all War and War’s alarms
but if the Empire calls may our children meet
and like us the brother in arms.


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