musings while allatsea

Musings of a curious individual

Tag: Casualty

Armistice Day 11/11/2016

Shortly after October ends we enter the period where we remember “The Fallen”. That encompasses mostly those who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars, as well as conflicts that may have affected your own country or yourself. In the case of South Africa it is mostly “The Border War” and to a lesser extent the Korean Conflict. But often we forget those that get caught up in these conflicts, and who suffer the results of the madness that we get caught up in.

Millions of civilians have lost their lives in the last century through bombing, occupation by the enemy, being used as hostages, deliberate extermination and all manner of other things that are too horrible to contemplate. That continues to be true even as I peck away at this keyboard. Civilians are really the pawns stuck in the middle.

And then there are those who lost siblings or parents, or friends or neighbours. Those stories of suffering never really came out, and sadly in many cases the families never really came to terms with their losses. Just as many of the combatants came home with horrific wounds or PTSD.

War does not only touch soldiers, but almost everybody around them. The only group that is seemingly unaffected by war seems to be those who send the troops off in the first place, the politicians and their governments very rarely see the front line unless it is to inspect rows of smartly turned out squaddies who were really canon fodder for the puppet masters.

The recent election in the United States is going to have interesting consequences for the world as it totters once again on the edge of a potential World War Three. Will we step back from the brink? will the troops be sent home leaving the battlefield that is Syria and the Middle East simmering and imploding after so much meddling by “superpowers”? I cannot answer that. 

If/when peace breaks out will the people of Syria remember their dead? will anybody mourn their innocents? Mothers probably will, but the powers that be? probably not. 

Cross of Sacrifice: Arnos Vale Cemetery, Bristol.

This year I will wear my poppy with pride and remember those who I can relate to. My Grandfather, my Father, my Uncle, the boys from Bravo Company, the boy from Echo Company, the crews of merchant ships, the men of the navy, the soldiers and airmen, the nurses and VAD’s, the civilians, the animals, the children, 6 million Jews, the Men of the Mendi, the conscience objector, the policemen, the mothers, daughter and sisters, and so many more that I could be here till next year and never cover them all. However, we must always be mindful to remember: 

‘When You Go Home, Tell Them Of Us And Say,
For Your Tomorrow, We Gave Our Today.’

 

I do not however remember the politicians and dictators who create this horror, they are not worth remembering. 

©  DRW 2016-2017. Created 11/11/2016

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 19:56

Merchant Navy Day 3 September 2016

When I was young I wanted to go to sea in the Merchant Navy, however. South Africa did not have much of a merchant navy or otherwise to go to sea with so I never did. I regret that even so many years down the line. However, given my poor eyesight and lousy maths the odds are I would not have been able to join up anyway, albeit it in the deck department. As a result the I have always considered the Merchant Navy to be a very special breed of people: “They that go down to the sea in ships….” 

Because of the peculiarity of living in South Africa I really relate more to the British Merchant Navy than the South African one, and as a result this is partly why I am posting this today on Merchant Navy Day, and flying “the Red Duster” 

The Merchant Navy suffered appalling losses during both World Wars, often going to sea in coffin ships which could only plod along at the slowest speed conceivable; floating targets for an enemy strike and crewed by men who returned back to their ships time and time again, in a service that was largely forgotten by the civilian population and that was vitally important to the survival of Britain and her allies.

The thousands of casualties are commemorated at Tower Hill Merchant Navy Memorial in London, and the statistics for the casualties are frightening. By the end of World War One, 3,305 merchant ships had been lost with a total of 17,000 lives. In the Second World War, reached a peak in 1942. In all, 4,786 merchant ships were lost during the war with a total of 32,000 lives. More than one quarter of this total were lost in home waters.   

Seafaring today is nothing like that of the past, crews are smaller, ships are larger and more efficient (although do not look as good),  the coffin ship owners and their accountants still exist though, squeezing every drop of sweat from those manning ships that often fly flags of convenience and with a mixed crew that often has no common language. The one thing about a ship is that once it is out of sight of land it is really a world of it’s own, and like those who sailed on voyages during wartime there is one common enemy that all seafarers face, that can snuff out their small ship with impunity and leave no trace behind. The sea is a fickle medium, it can kill and be kind, but is always to be respected. 

Merchant Navy
A war, a convoy, a letter through the door,
A wife that is a wife no more
Her children are called away from school
To be broken the news so terribly cruel
“Your father has sailed to a distant land
And can not be reached by human hand
No more shall we meet him upon the quay
He can not come back to you or to me”
Some days later, when tears have passed
Her children asleep and quiet at last
She sits down to wish of one more goodbye
And to ponder and puzzle and ask merely why?
The warships guard the convoys tight,
Prepared to stand, prepared to fight.
But they are not who the foe will attack.
They hunt the ones that cannot fight back.
“My husband has sailed to a distant land,
Following orders of higher command,
He sails his ship on a distant sea
Never again to dock on an Australian quay”
Who will remember the warships and crew?
The soldiers in trenches, the men who flew?
All will remember the forces of men,
Who left, never to return again.
But who will remember the brave men of sea
Whose ships were unarmed and could only flee?
Who shouldered the burden of feeding their land,
In ships with conditions fit for the damned
I will remember, with poppy and voice
To tell of the merchant ships and of their choice.
The tankers, the trawlers, the fishing boats too
I remember their sacrifice and say Thank You
Kerry Dainty (aged 17)

We have a large debt to pay to the Merchant Navy of the two world wars, and this day is theirs alone.

© DRW 2016-2017. Created 03/09/2016. The poem “Merchant Navy” was found on the Forces Poetry and Stories Forum. I am currently attempting to contact the poet to obtain her permisison to publsih this work.  It is also worth going to http://www.merchant-navy.net/forum/poetry-and-ballads/4449-merchant-navy.html

Updated: 14/12/2016 — 20:03

Remember the Somme

The Battle of the Somme; a name to remember with sorrow because of the huge cost in human life. The campaign has long been picked part by historians and soldiers, and as always there are those who criticise the plan, the generals, the artillery, the weather, the Germans, the French and everything in between. Who is to blame? it is not my task to apportion blame, I am only here to remember those who never returned.

As with my Battle of Jutland post, I am using the Somme 100 toolkit provided by the Royal British Legion. I am afraid I could never explain the battle myself because I do not have the ability to describe such a monumental slaughter. Remember, I only photograph the graves. The Toolkit uses “The Battle of the Somme” From an original work for The Royal British Legion by Professor Sir Hew Strachan FRSE FRHistS. I am only going to reproduce excerpts from it.

The British folk memory of the Battle of the Somme is dominated by one moment: 7.30am on 01 July 1916. It was a bright summer’s day, the sun well up, and falling from the east on the backs of the German defenders and into the faces of the British. Officers sounded their whistles, and their men scrambled up ladders to get out of the trenches and into No Man’s Land. Sergeant R.H. Tawney, with the 22nd Battalion, the Manchester Regiment near Fricourt, recalled that:

“[We] lay down, waiting for the line to form up on each side of us. When it was ready, we went forward, not doubling, but at a walk. For we had 900 yards of rough ground to the trench, which was our first objective.”

By the day’s end 19,240 British soldiers had been killed and nearly twice that number wounded: the total of 57,470 casualties was and remains the highest suffered by the British Army in a single day. This single fact ensures that for most Britons the Battle of the Somme defines what they mean when they talk of the ‘tragedy’, the ‘waste’ and ‘futility’ of the First World War. Apart from the war’s opening and closing dates (for Britain 04 August 1914 and 11 November 1918), 01 July 1916 was the first day picked out for national observance when plans for the commemoration of the centenary were being drawn up.

On 01 July 2016, it will be 100 years since the beginning of the Battle of the Somme. This was one of the largest battles of the First World War fought by the British and the French against Germany. It took place on both banks of the River Somme in France, and is remembered as one of the most tragic episodes in human history. 

  • The Battle of the Somme is synonymous with the United Kingdom’s Remembrance of the First World War and the futility of trench warfare.
  • Fighting at the Battle of the Somme began on 1 July 1916 and lasted four and a half months.
  • In total, 60 nations from across the British Empire and Europe were involved in the fighting across a 25 kilometre front.
  • There were almost sixty thousand British and Imperial casualties on the first day of the battle, of which nearly twenty thousand were killed.
  • At the start of the battle, most of the British Army had been an inexperienced mass of volunteers.
  • Going over the top at the Somme was the first taste of battle for many men, as a large number were part of “Kitchener’s Volunteer Army” which was formed by Pals battalions, mainly recruited from the North of England. The Pals battalions were made up of groups of friends, team mates in sports clubs and colleagues, who had joined together expecting to fight together. The heavy losses in one battalion had a profound effect on Britain and were felt locally and nationally.
  • Of the approaching half a million British and Imperial casualties suffered in the 141 day-long battle, a third died. When the offensive finally came to a halt on 18 November 1916, the Battle of the Somme had claimed a million casualties; 430,000 from Commonwealth countries, with a third of this number killed. 
  • On 15 July the South African Brigade took Delville Wood, a thick tangle of trees, and held it against successive counter-attacks and under shellfire that shattered the forest. Of their original strength of 3,153, just 143 left the wood five days later.
  • 19,240 British soldiers had been killed by the end of the first day. It was and remains the highest suffered by the British Army in a single day. In comparison, the French Army had around 1,600 casualties and the German had 10,000–12,000 casualties.
  • The Battle of the Somme lasted 141 days (from 01 July – 18 November 1916).
  • 1,700,000 shells were fired on to the German lines by 1,600 pieces of British artillery during the eight-day preliminary bombardment.(est)
  • The first tank to engage in battle was designated D1, a British Mark I Male, during the Battle of the Somme on 15 September 1916. 49 tanks of the Heavy Branch of the Machine Gun Corps of the British Army were sourced and were to reach Somme by September 1916. However, due to mechanical and other failures, only 36 of them participated at the Battle of the Somme.
  • 5 Miles was the furthest advance of any allied force during the whole battle.
  • During the Battle of the Somme, 51 Victoria Crosses were awarded – 17 of them were awarded posthumously.

The Battle of the Somme did not produce a ‘decisive victory’ of the sort that was alleged to have characterised earlier wars, but the Somme could be seen as a waypoint on the route to winning the war in 1918. Certainly the Somme redefined modern industrialised warfare, and was fought as a battle of attrition. Within the ‘battle’ of the Somme were scores of other battles – the battle of Albert, the battle of Flers-Courcelette, the battle of Ancre; by the standards of the previous century, the Somme was a war within a war.

“As day breaks through wind and rain we form a line on rough terrain, to face a foe we’ll never know, we will fall and die where poppies now grow. Remember us the chosen ones, the lads the dads and someone’s sons. Be not sad, just be glad, knowing we gave all we had. As you walk on our fields of doom, places where our bodies were strewn, we will gaze on you through heaven’s door and hope our words stay for evermore. When you leave save a tear, for here we stay year on year, the lads the dads and someone’s sons, the boys who fell before German guns.”

Dave Callaghan. Taken from the wall of remembrance at www.somme-battlefields.com

 

 
© DRW 2016-2017. Created 30/06/2016. Period images are sourced from the Somme 100 Toolkit of the Royal British Legion, and they originate from the Imperial War Museum.  Most of the text in this post is copied from that toolkit and Remembrance pack. Some images are from my own collection.
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 07:10

I wear a Poppy To Remember….

 

my Father: a signalman; who was captured in North Africa during World War 2

my Grandfather, a rifleman, who was wounded in Delville Wood

 

my Uncle: an air mechanic, who died in Egypt during World War 2, and who is the reason for my war grave photography

 

I remember the soldiers that I served with and who never completed their national service in South Africa.

Lionel Van Rooyen, Johann Potgieter, Peter Hall,  Hennie Van Der Colf

I remember those men of the South African Native Labour Corps who lost their lives in the sinking of the Mendi

 

I remember all of those other African and South African soldiers who have been largely unrecognised for their service

 

I remember the dedicated  nurses, VAD’s and other women who served in medical disciplines during and after the wars, many never returned and were victims of the conflict.

 

 

I remember the merchant seamen who faced not only a determined enemy, but the sea in all its fury, often in coffin ships that were only one screw turn away from the breakers yard. 

 

I remember those who have no grave, and who are just names on a memorial

I remember the soldiers, sailors, airmen, civilians, children and animals who lost their lives in the folly we call total war

 
 
I remember the 6 million Jews who were exterminated
 
 
And the millions of other casualties who were caught up in the madness
 
 
I remember those who were left behind

 

and those who will die tomorrow, or next week, or next year, defending their country, their comrades, and their families; often for a cause they do not understand.

 

I remember them all because it is important to never forget them and to never drag the world down into the horror of total war  
 
and I curse those who sit in positions of power and who create the conflagration but who never die in it, for they are a curse upon mankind. May they have to answer for the monsters that they unleash and may their punishment be eternal.
 

 

When you go home
Tell them of us and say
For your tomorrow
We gave our today

 

Postscript.

Words do not adequately describe the feelings that I have around about this time of the year,  I served as a national serviceman in 1980/81, and when I first went in I did not think that at the end of 1981 I would have 4 names in my memory that would be with me until I die. My grandfather was a soldier, my father was a soldier, as was my brother, and so was I, my father and grandfather were volunteers, my brother and I were conscripts. 
 
It is difficult to quantify all of those who I have omitted, I could probably fill reams of paper with groups of people who were affected by warfare, and of course who continue to be affected by warfare. The images on this page are my own with the exception of the image of the grave of my late uncle Robert Turner who is really the reason I photograph war graves. I never knew him, but my mother did, and she still mourns him to this day. 

 

Updated: 06/05/2016 — 19:19

The National Memorial Arboretum

This morning, while on our way to the Tramway Museum we paused briefly at the National Memorial Arboretum in Alrewas, near Lichfield. It was more of a reconnaissance as opposed to a dedicated visit, and I was forced to use my phone as my camera is now sans its full compliment of batteries (which I lost somewhere). 
 
It is a mighty space, housing a large number of memorials, and places to remember those who never came home. We only really explored what is known as the Armed Forces Memorial. 
 
It is probably the first place people gravitate too, and it is also the place that “….honours those members of the Armed Forces (Regular and Reserve) who were killed on duty while performing functions attributable to the special circumstances and requirements of the Armed Forces, or as a result of terrorist action, and those who died while deployed on designated operations“.

It is a large open space, with a circular wall full of the names.

 It is also a stark and powerful place, and tragically there is space for even more names.

Two statue groupings are found on either side of the central laurel wreath. These were created by Ian Rank-Broadley.

The grouping on the left features four men holding a stretcher aloft with a figure on it while on either side others seem to question and mourn the tableau.

The other sculpture has 5 figures in it, a male and female seemingly moving a nude male figure, with a male figure chiseling words on the wall in front of him. Another figure indicates an opening in the wall, which is inscribed “Through this space a shaft of sunlight falls at the eleventh hour, on the eleventh day of eleventh month”.

 

 

The sculptures represent Loss and Sacrifice, but each figure on its own could be interpreted differently depending on how they are viewed, I found them very powerful, and the one image that really struck me was the woman with the child. The images are graphic and strong, and somebody had left a red flower in the hand of the nude figure. The redness of the flower contrasting sharply with the stark bronze that held it, and the grey clouds overhead.

 

And with the Falklands Conflict anniversary at the moment, it is fitting to remember the many casualties that are inscribed on this wall. I wonder if there is something similar in Argentina?

Admittedly I was sceptical about the Arboretum, but having seen just this single memorial I now understand it better, but I am afraid that by its nature it is a solemn and sad place.

There are over 50000 trees here, on a 150 acre sight, with over 300 memorials, there is probably something for everybody here, and for families of  servicemen and women, it is a place of remembrance and healing.

My session only explored a small part of the whole, I am hoping to go back one day, although hopefully in better weather and armed with a full compliment of battery power.

Auxiliary Territorial Service Statue 1938-1949

Auxiliary Territorial Service Statue 1938-1949

Women’s Land Army, & Women’s Timber Corps

That brought my visit to an end, but I did not come away empty handed, these images are something to work at, to try to understand the emotions involved in those  bronzes, and to ponder the names on the walls.
 
I did return to the NMA and it was quite an experience. Read all about it here. 
© DRW 2015-2017. Created 03/05/2015, images migrated 29/04/2016.
Updated: 15/12/2016 — 19:36

Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red

This morning I headed into London with the express purpose of viewing the “Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation at the Tower of London. Time is drawing near when the weather will close up, the rail tickets will become expensive, and the 11th of November is upon us. Of course this was only one of three destinations that I had in mind for my day out, but more about those later.
 
The moat of the Tower is currently being filled with 888246 ceramic poppies, each representing a British Military fatality during World War 1.  That is a lot of poppies, and seeing the real thing is overwhelming.
 
I realised that there were a lot of people there when our queue to get off the underground platform at Tower Hill ground to a halt. There were people everywhere, and I suspect that many, like myself, were really shocked at the sheer size of the red patch that is seemingly flowing out from an opening in the battlements into the moat. 
 
  
But once you step back and look along the length of the moat you suddenly get a sense of scale of the size of the project, and the numbers of casualties that are being commemorated. 
Each poppy is hand placed, and the installation is scheduled to be completed by November 11, I do not know how many have been placed already, but there are still two months to go and the moat is a very large area. Looking at the numbers, they have to place over 9000 poppies a day which means there are roughly 100000 in place already. 
 

 
It is really breathtaking to see,  as numbers lost in warfare goes 800000 is not a lot, but when you see all of these poppies you need to consider that for every poppy there was a mother and father, possibly siblings, wives, children and loved ones. Each poppy connected a family to a person, and those family members are sometimes unaware that they have somebody in their past that is represented by one of these ceramic flowers. 
 
The work is the brainchild of Paul Cummins, who has really made a monument that just says so much, and which is going to be unbelievable when it is completed.
 
 
I do not know if I will see it again, but I do think that this is one of the most effective memorials I have seen for those who never came home. 
 
More information about the installation and the charities that will be benefiting from the sale of the poppies is available on the The Tower of London Remembers Website
 
© DRW 2014-2017. Images recreated 19/04/2016
Updated: 13/12/2016 — 20:08

Remembrance Day 2012

11 November fell on a Sunday today, and 11 November is when we remember those who paid the supreme sacrifice in aid of what?
 
World War1, touted to be “The War To End All Wars” was really a practice round for the carnage to come. It was also an exercise in how to throw lives away. In my record card research I often see the effects of that carnage so many years ago. Men who were severely wounded, or who would suffer from the effects of gas, or “shell shock”. Men who would survive the war, only to die in the flu epidemic of 1918, or from the effects of their service overseas. 
 
My record cards do not mention how this service affected their families, apart from a notation about a pension denied, or a grant given, campaign medals issued, or maybe just the name of the next of kin. In quite a few cases I have found the record cards of the soldier whose grave I photographed, and sometimes I have to remind myself that these were really real people, and not just a card with a name and abbreviated military history.
 
If my war grave photography has taught me one thing; then it has taught me that the military is an extremely efficient killing machine. 
 
So today I will display my poppy with pride because I am remembering all those who never came home, and those who are no longer with us.  I remember my grandfather who survived the slaughter of  Delville Wood, and I remember my Uncle who is buried far away, and my late father who wore the poppy with pride and who was captured at Sidi Rezegh. I remember those who have no known grave, and those who came home broken. And, I will continue to do so as long as I am able, because it is important, and because we must never let this happen again.

 

In  Memory of Herbert Turner, Robert Owen Turner and David Walker.  Lest we Forget.

 
© DRW. 2012-2017. Images recreated 26/03/2016

Updated: 12/12/2016 — 07:24

Delville Wood

The Battle of Delville Wood is probably one of the most important, and most wasteful in terms of the South African military. It is also the first major engagement of  the South African 1st Infantry Brigade on the Western Front and in terms of casualties the brigade also lost 80% of its strength. I am not able to describe that battle, which is described as “..the bloodiest battle of Hell of 1916” , in fact I don’t think anybody could really describe the carnage and devastation that was inflicted on that small portion of France.
 
My own interest in Delville Wood comes about as a result of my late grandfather being one of the few survivors of the battle. He was wounded on the 18th of July 1916, and was probably evacuated to a casualty clearing station and onwards for treatment.  He was luckier than most. 
 
 
Today the wood is home to the South African (Delville Wood) National Memorial Longueval, and while it has been replanted, the wood still holds the remains of many who never came home, or who have no known grave. It is a place of pilgrimage for visitors to the Western Front battlefields, and on my list of ever I do get to France one day. 
 
 
 
My work with the WW1 record cards will often bring forward the card of a casualty of the battle and I do keep a special eye open for them. 
 
Unfortunately, surviving Delville Wood was no guarantee of a safe passage back to the Union; in fact many survivors of the battle would loose their lives later in the war, or die of Spanish Flu when they  returned home. Our family was one of the lucky ones.
 
In South Africa there are a number of interesting Delville Wood memorials and artefacts, the most obvious being the Delville Wood Memorial at the Union Buildings, and in Cape Town. I know of two Hornbeam trees that were planted from cuttings from the last surviving tree at Delville Wood, and The National Museum of Military History in Saxonwold has a number of artefacts on display, the most poignant being a lantern that was recovered from the battlefield. It still has the stub of the original candle inside it. 
    
That tiny light must have been a small comfort in the mass of death and destruction all around it. If only it could tell us what it witnessed in those fateful days. 
 
A lot has been written about the battle, and a lot of photographs of the battlefield and memorials have appeared in recent years. My personal favourite is the Official Website of Delville Wood, and I have found it to be an extremely helpful source because it gave me the final clue to finding my grandfather’s military records.
 
My grandfather never spoke about what happened to him, and while he was alive I never knew what questions to ask either. Only now do I have a new appreciation of what he may have gone through, but that probably pales into insignificance when viewed with hindsight 96 years later. 
 
The Chapel at St Johns College in Houghton has many links to the battle, the walls of the church still bear the insignia of the 4 South African Infantry Regiments from World War 1. Fr Eustace Hill served as chaplain to SA forces in Luderitzbucht, German West Africa, before ministering to the SA Brigade in Delville Wood, The crucifix he had made arrived at the college in 1917. 
 
The Transvaal Scottish Museum has an extensive collection of photographs and memorabilia from World War 1, and they also have an original Delville Wood Cross, one of at least 3 in South Africa. There is also a Delville Wood Cross in Durban, and the famous “Weeping Cross” in Pietermaritzburg.

Delville Wood Cross in Durban. Image by Eleanor Sue Garvie

Many MOTH Shellholes also have Delville Wood memorabilia, much of it donated by members who served during the Great War, and who were survivors too. But, I think that lantern still says so much about the lives that were extinguished so young, and the silent rows of graves are a reminder that the folly of war should always be avoided at all costs.
 
 
 
©   DRW 2012-2017. Images recreated 25/03/2016, some images by Brian Roberts. 
 
Updated: 08/12/2016 — 20:36

The Police Memorial

Following my the wreath laying ceremony at the VTM I went and did a spot of gravehunting at Rebecca Street Cemetery in Pretoria before heading to the Union Buildings to photograph the SAHA Memorial and take a closer look at the Police Memorial which I had only seen from a distance before.
When I had seen the memorial originally I noted that there were a lot of plaques with names on them, but when I actually stood at the plaques then I only realised how many there actually were. By my reckoning there are roughly 4114 names on the memorial, dating from roughly 1920 till 2011. Being a policeman in South Africa is not for the feint hearted. Unfortunately the sun was in a really bad position for photography, so my pics were not great at all. But, it is worthwhile returning here one day to capture all of those names and see how it compares to the ROH of the police.
 
For those that are interested, the cornerstone was laid on 20 May 1983 and it was unveiled by the then State President PW Botha on 17 October 1984. 
 
It is a sobering memorial, because many of the police mentioned here may not have covered themselves with glory, and given the amount of controversy surrounding the police in South Africa at the moment I think many of those named here would be ashamed to associate themselves with the police force. 
 
© DRW 2012-2017. Images recreated 25/03/2016.  Links replaced 20/05/2015
 
Updated: 08/12/2016 — 20:39

They do not grow old, as we grow old.

In the course of my gravehunting I was always on the lookout for four specific graves. These are the final resting place of 4 young boys who died during their military service, and with whom I served during my two years. 
 
The first death I encountered was of a rifleman who was a member of E-Company in Jan Kemp Dorp.  His death was one of those that should never have happened, but it did, all because of the pig headedness of those who were supposed to lead us. I will not go into details, but he has been in my mind since 1980, and I have never found his grave. But, Sktr Van Der Kolf, I have never forgotten you and hope that one day I will find your resting place.
 
The next loss I experienced was that of a young rifleman, Lionel Van Rooyen. During a rehearsal for what would become Ops Protea, the platoon that he was in, as well as some of my friends, was involved in a live fire accident and 15 of them were wounded, Lionel never survived. He was a very popular guy and a Springbok figure skater. That accident devastated our company, and Lionel became yet another statistic. Many years after the incident I read a report about the investigation, and  a magistrate in Ondangwa found nobody to blame. Ask anybody that was in platoon 6 on 10 July 1981, and they will quite happily tell you who they think was to blame. (Image courtesy of Eleanor Susan Garvie)
 

The next death that struck us very hard was that of Cpl  Johan Potgieter, who was killed during Ops Daisy on 04 November 1981. The events leading up to his death tell of his bravery and his sacrifice. It was not too long before the operation that I stood guard with him, and I remember us brewing coffee in the guard post. We had 44 days left of our national service when he died, and he never saw the day when he too could walk out of Tempe and return to civvy life. I was fortunate enough that I found this grave myself and was able to stand and say my goodbyes in person. It was a very emotional moment.

 
 
The final death was that of Rfn Peter Hall. I do not know the circumstances of his death too well, but if anything it was through “misadventure”. However, it matters not. He lost his life on the 2nd of March 1981. We had been on the border just over 3 months by then,  and he too became a statistic. Finding his grave was always a problem because we did not know where he was buried. Now I know, and this image is courtesy of  Tanite Swart.
 
 
The platoon commander of the platoon where Peter Hall was in, said that this grave completes the circle, and while in my case that circle is not yet complete, I suspect that I have found the grave of my Sktr Van Der Kolf, but just need confirmation to close it.  
 
They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old,
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn them,
At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
We will remember them.
 
 
© DRW 2012-2017. Images recreated 22/03/2016
Updated: 08/12/2016 — 07:36
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