115 Year Boer War Service held in Kings Park, Perth
Today the Boer War Memorial Society of Western Australia held the Boer War Service in Kings Park, Perth. It signifies 115 years since the signing of the Vereeniging Peace Treaty in 1902. Once again, we were blessed with a beautiful warm and sunny day. It is always a very special Service, not only because it is part of our South African Heritage, but special effort is made by all to dress in period costume.
The Boer War Memorial Association had the guard of Honour dressed in traditional uniforms, and a wreath was laid by a cavalryman with his horse. Our own Ron Fouche was dressed in traditional Boer outfit, along with his Mauser and bandolier.
Dr Charl Crous (APM) gave the Commemorative Address. Veteran Ian Higley laid the wreath on behalf of Samvoa.
Veteran Garth Pienaar gave the Reconciliation Speech, specifically about the efforts of Emily Hobhouse. The singing of Sarie Marais ended what was a moving Service.
A beautiful sunny Autumn day in Perth was welcomed for our inaugural Service.
The Service was held, firstly to remember our fallen soldiers from the many wars that South Africa has been involved in but more specifically from the Border War (1966 to 1989). And secondly, to pay homage to Australia, our new home where we have been accepted with open arms.
Today is the Sunday closest to the ‘old Republic Day’ traditionally celebrated on the 31st May and felt that we needed to balance the spiritual aspects as well. I have vivid memories of my time in the SADF where every day was started with a bible reading and a prayer. I have also been privileged to be invited to the British Airborne Forces Service for the last few years, to commemorate the Battle of Arnhem, and had the opportunity to introduce some aspects of their Service.
We reached out to the Trinity Uniting Church where an Afrikaans service is held on the last Sunday of each month, which some of our members attend. Trinity, built in 1865, is a beautiful traditional brick church right in the heart of the City. Reverend Dr Herman Nienaber is South African and this afforded us the opportunity to build a bridge to his congregation. We are also lucky to have our own Reverend John Maddocks (ex-44 Parachute Brigade), who is a recently ordained priest in the Anglican Church.
We planned the Service to be bilingual and have both of them share, in what turned out to be quite a moving ‘military-themed’ service. We also invited our friends from the Rhodesian Services Association to attend.
Veterans dressed in their Samvoa No 1’s did not disappoint with all of them looking extremely ‘paraat’. Standing outside the church at 10:25, one could hear the strains of the bagpipes being played from inside the church by Captain Doug Gillespie and his son, Cadet L/Corporal Jack Gillespie dressed in their full Scottish regalia. Doug is a Scotsman and did his service in the British Parachute Regiment.
The Samvoa and Rhodesian standard bearers (Ian Higley and Doug Riddle respectively) carried the standards at a slow march while the pipers played Amazing Grace. Rev John Maddocks did the dedication of the Standards.
It turned out to be a moving Service, with a personal story conveyed by Rev Nienaber about the effects of the Second World War on a member of his own family, as well as the impact of Mkonto We Sizwe’s Amanzimtoti bombing in 1985.
The key message is that “one day there will be No More War”, but although the effects of war are terrible, what would the world look like today if there was no resistance, for example the German onslaught in 1939 or the Soviets during the cold war. We needed soldiers that were prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice so that people could sleep peacefully at night.
The main reading was from The Gospel of St John, chapter 15:13 – “Greater love has no-one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.
The readings from the scripture were done by Veterans Garth Pienaar and Ben Opperman.
Veteran Dave Stevenson recited The Ode followed by Cadet L/Corporal Jack Gillespie playing The Last Post on the bugle, and a minute’s silence and then the playing of The Reveille.
The standard bearers then collected the banners from Rev John Maddocks before marching out of the church, again to the strains of the bagpipes.
The formal Service ended with a stirring solo by “Keep the Home Fires Burning”.
The veterans then formed up outside the Church, standing to attention to pay respects to the victims of the recent Manchester Bombing, and the victims of the Coptic Church massacre in Egypt (April 2017) – followed by The Last Post.
The event was concluded by the bagpipes and followed by an informal get together in the Church Hall for refreshments laid on by the team of volunteers from the Church.
Reverend Nienaber has asked us to make this an annual event, and we will take him up on the offer!
Thank you to all that made this such a successful event.
The ANZAC 2017 march was well attended by members of Samvoa-WA, and the weather played along when the march took place in St.Georges Terrace, the mainstreet of Perth. Die 2017 Anzac mars deur St. Georges Terrace, die hoofstraat van Perth, was goed bygewoon deur lede van Samvoa-WA
With the ever increasing number of ‘informal’ so-called Veterans bodies, comes the risk of opportunistic chancers seeking to benefit by taking unscrupulous and illegal advantage of Veterans.
The below two gents have also tried and lost.
Please be warned and advise others to only deal with legitimate CMVO aligned bodies.
SMVOA Western Australia’s 5th Annual Mess Dinner Saturday, 15 October 2016 RSL Club Belmont, Perth
Tickets to this year’s Formal mess Dinner sold out in record time, reflecting the high regard for this years Guests of Honour, former SADF Sergeant Major of the Army,
WO1 Koos Moorcroft and his wife Isobelle, affectionately known as “Issie.”
This was SAMVOA WA’s 5th Formal Mess Dinner and by all accounts, our most successful.
We thank those veterans who travelled from the Eastern States to be with us and the WA Veterans and their wives for attending.
Former S/Major Moorcroft provided us with a most interesting and enlightening speech covering some instances of his illustrious military career and current day anti-poaching efforts in Namibia.
We thank all those involved in making this evening a most memorable occasion and look forward to next year’s Formal Mess Dinner. We wish S/Major Moorcroft and Issie a safe trip back to South Africa and thank them for making the effort to visit us here in Perth.
SAMVOA does not purport to be a provider of medical or psychological services. Neither SAMVOA, nor any of its office-bearers, bears any responsibility for the medical or psychological treatment of members. While SAMVOA and its office-bearers may endeavour to identify appropriate treatment resources on behalf of its members, and make these resources known to its members through various internal media, it remains the sole responsibility of the individual member to choose relevant treatment in conjunction with a qualified medical professional.
Where SAMVOA members are qualified medical professionals, and may enter a therapeutic arrangement with fellow members, they do so as independent medical professionals, and not under the auspices of SAMVOA.
On Wednesday, 20 July 2016, exactly 100 years to the day that the remnants of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade left the Wood after 6 day and 5 nights of hell, the Veterans of SAMVOA Western Australia held a Battle of Delville Wood Commemorative Service at the Flame of Remembrance in Kings Park, Perth.
Distinguished Guests included Her Excellency, the Governor of Western Australia Kerry Sanderson AC, the Vice President of the RSL WA, Mr Denis Connelly, The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly Michael Sutherland MLA, various other Members of Parliament , the Lord Mayor of Perth Lisa-M Scaffidi, the Honorary Consuls of Britain, France and South Africa, representatives of the Australian Army, Navy and Royal Air Force, as well as from the WA Police Service and others.
This was in honour and memory of the men who fought at the Battle of Delville Wood, one of the bloodiest battles of World War One and a battle where the fighting qualities and tenacity of the South African soldier was born.
The battle formed part of the Battle of the Somme, and commenced on 15TH JULY 1916, when the 1st South African Brigade, comprising 4 Regiments,
1st South African Infantry (made up of volunteers from the Cape Province),
2nd South African Infantry (volunteers from Natal & the Orange Free State provinces)
3rd South African Infantry (volunteers from the Transvaal & Rhodesia) and the
4th South African Infantry (an amalgamation of the South African Scottish Regiments)
under the command of Brigadier General H.T. Lukin were ordered to: “Attack, Occupy and hold the Wood at all costs.”
The casualties sustained by this Brigade were of catastrophic proportions, yet they managed to hold the Wood as ordered. This feat has been described as “…the bloodiest battle hell of 1916.” – [Source: Liddell-Hart, Basil, H. (1970). History of the First World War p. 324
An extract from the official history reads as follows:
‘The six days and five nights during which the South African Brigade held the most difficult post on the British front – a corner of death on which the enemy fire was concentrated at all hours from three sides, and into which fresh German troops, vastly superior in number to the defence, made periodic incursions only to be driven back – constitute an epoch of terror and glory scarcely equalled in the campaign. There were positions as difficult, but they were not held so long; there were cases of as protracted a defence; but the assault was not so violent and continuous.. The high value the enemy set upon Delville Wood is proved by the fact that he used his best troops against it … The South Africans measured their strength against the flower of the German army, and did not draw back from the challenge.”
As a feat of human daring and fortitude the fight is worthy of eternal remembrance by South Africa and Britain.
At midnight on 14 July, when General Lukin received his orders, the Brigade numbered 121 officers and 3 032 men. When Lt Col Thackeray marched out on the 20th, he had a remnant of 143, and the total ultimately assembled was about 750.’
To place their actions in perspective. At the time any brigade that lost 30% of their strength would be considered as unable to continue to fight. The South African brigade lost up to 80 % of their numbers and they continued fighting.
Australians and South Africans have much in common –their ancestors having come from Europe, all having Christian values, all exceptional horsemen, sharp shooters and independently minded. All loved the veld and the outback and had made new life’s in distant lands, with their own unique character, which they called home.
They are all extremely competitive by nature and play to win.
These are probably some of the reasons why South Africans assimilate so easily into the “Australian way of life” and why Australia is now a country that former South African soldiers now also proudly call home.
“Gewond, maar nie oorwonne nie. Wounded, but not conquered.”