“Ouma” Smuts

This is arguably the nations’s darling for many years in South Africa, especially amongst the military personnel, but also to the public at large – South Africa’s First Lady, none other than the much loved – Ilsie Smuts, affectionately just known to just about everyone as “Ouma” Smuts.
The South African Gifts and Comforts Fund was a benevolent fund that sought to give comfort and messages of motivation and support from the public in South Africa for all the tens of thousands of South African volunteers who went off to war during World War 2. It was created by Field Marshal Smuts, and administered by his wife “Ouma” Smuts and her “Band” of Voluntary Workers in co-operation with the Quartermaster-general.
Gifts to the servicemen and women during the war reminded them of home comforts and reinforced the moral support they were getting from home in their fight against European tyranny, Especially over times like Christmas when family and “home” became a yearning for anyone enduring the hardships of war. Known as “Glory Bags” at the time, these parcels contained all sorts of reminders from home, Christmas Cake etc and collectable items such as Christmas anniversary cigarette tins, which became highly popular – stamped with an image of both Jan Smuts and Ouma Smuts and giving good Christmas wishes.
You can even find some sold as collectables today. The concept would evolve later in the form of “Dankie Tannie” (Thank you Aunty) panels received from the Southern Cross fund for South African servicemen in the Border War. Any veteran today can attest how important receiving small gifts of support go a very long way to maintaining troop moral, and long may the tradition of volunteerism and support from home continue. To this day parcels of support from South Africa are sent to SANDF troops on Peacekeeping missions in Africa over Christmas.
Not much is remembered of Ouma Smuts in modern South Africa, but this was a true woman who stood by her husband’s side as an equal in solid conviction with the “good fight” in the “war for freedom” (as it was called then) and her contribution to the war effort makes her one of South Africa’s most predominant women.
Although her legacy is fading somewhat, over-shadowed by greater political events when the Smuts legacy came under such unrelenting attack after the ascent of the National Party in 1948. She however remains, to those who remember her and her contribution, a true daughter of South Africa.
This rare photograph of Ouma Smuts is courtesy (and copyright) to Philip Weyers, a direct descendent of Jan Smuts and part of the personal collection of the Smuts family.
Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens.

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Nov
10
Sat
2018
09:30 South African Veterans’ Armistic... @ Richmond Cenotaph
South African Veterans’ Armistic... @ Richmond Cenotaph
Nov 10 @ 09:30 – 13:30
South African Veterans' Armistice Day Parade @ Richmond Cenotaph
11 November 2018 will mark 100 years since end of the First World War. On Saturday 10 November 2018, at 09h30 for 10ho0, members of the South African Legion UK & Europe as well as
12:00 SA Legion AGM @ Richmond
SA Legion AGM @ Richmond
Nov 10 @ 12:00 – 13:00
SA Legion AGM @ Richmond
SA Legion United Kingdom and Europe Annual General Meeting   This will be held in Richmond after the SA Cenotaph Parade.
Nov
11
Sun
2018
08:30 Cenotaph Parade 2018 @ Cenotaph, Whitehall
Cenotaph Parade 2018 @ Cenotaph, Whitehall
Nov 11 @ 08:30 – 13:30
Cenotaph Parade 2018 @ Cenotaph, Whitehall
  Purpose: This parade is held annually as a day “to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts”. NOTE: Current 2018 Members
Nov
18
Sun
2018
10:00 Ajex Parade 2018 @ Whitehall Cen...
Ajex Parade 2018 @ Whitehall Cen...
Nov 18 @ 10:00 – 14:00
Ajex Parade 2018 @ Whitehall Cenotaph
Purpose: We pay tribute to the Jewish servicemen. There is a deep-rooted history of Jewish servicemen contributing to South African military history, with heroic acts scattered from the time of the Boer war – where they