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Friday, 4 October 2013

Garden of rememberance.

One thing I remember is armistice day, 11hour of the 11th day, of the 11th month.  This was the time date and month that the 1st World War ended, and on this day the ending of both Wars is commemorated in South Africa. Every year on this day the old soldiers gather at this monument. The numbers are dwindling fast and soon they will be no more.

My dad was there every year with his campaign ribbons, Ethiopia, North Africa, (Egypt to Libya), and the his Italian ribbon, and all his medals (gongs he used call them). A bugler would play the Last post, one of the towns minister (usually the Anglican priest for some reason), Would deliver an eulogy, say a prayer, the old soldiers would come to rickety attention, salute the monument and would be dismissed.
 
Click to enlarge.


I wonder how long their names will live?


All the names of the men who fell in Weenen county, which included Estcourt at that time. Weenen means place of weeping in Afrikaans and with very good reason too,

Many of theses surnames can still be found in the local telephone book. R.LI (Rhodesian light infantry), this guy obviously joined up in the then Rhodesia. 1st R.N.C, (Royal Natal Carbineers) S.A.A.F (South African Air Force) my dad was in the Air Force, 31st Heavy Bomber Sqn, that flew Liberator Bombers. S.A.E.C. (South African Engineering Corps). The Engineering Corps was renowned for there bridge building and bridge repair work. S.S.B, usually known as the One Special Service Battalion, (I did my first three months of  infantry "basic" with 1 S.S.B).

One S.S.B. was founded in the 1920's it's purpose was criminal rehabilitation, if the judge/magistrate found you guilty of a crime obviously not murder or rape, you were sent to One S.S.B.  During the war they always managed to let the enemy know that they were facing a bunch of hardened criminals, and they had a ferocious reputation as cold blooded killers among the enemy.  Great psychological warfare. When I did my basic training with S.S.B (!966) it was no longer a dumping place for criminals, but the instructors still treated us if we were .

South Africans of all languages, creeds and colours, were always willing to volunteer, in great numbers, (to help the "auld" country) although most of them had no real connection with England.

4 comments:

L. D. said...

This is a very interesting post. I appreciate hearing the history from Africa of the war. My father was a WWII vet assigned to the Battle of the Bulge.

Jo said...

Phil, I always remember how daddy and mommy would go to that memorial service with such pride. And those stories he'd tell the grandchildren about the war; they hung on every word he spoke, as they (like you and I) have never lived through a war. I hope you're feeling strong and well and looking forward to going back to school next week. We're off to Tz on Sunday. Blessings and love Jo xxx

Kay L. Davies said...

When I was very young, there was an Armistice Day parade. I'll never forget how thrilling it was to see tanks driven down the main street of town.
My father was in the Canadian Army, and served in Britain. He was often in danger of bombs, but he never fought, because he was a musician and a scenery painter in the Canadian Army Show, which entertained the troops and kept their morale up.
Once, they took all the musicians and entertainers and put them on the boat train for France, giving them weapons they didn't know how to handle. Before they reached the Channel, the mistake was realized. They would have been pretty poor soldiers although they were good Army members!
K

Pumice said...

When you say,

"The numbers are dwindling fast and soon they will be no more."

I wish I could believe that will take place because there were no more wars. Sadly it will probably be because people cease to care.

When I went through basic training we were also treated like animals. Too often people give animals a bad name.

Grace and peace.