Finally! South Africa remembers: Remembrance Sunday 2017

As we walked through Richmond Cemetery on Remembrance Sunday, there was an icy wind to chill the 8ºC on the mercury, and I regretted not giving my gloves an outing.  As the South African War Memorial came into sight when we were about 200m away, and I caught a glimpse of red, and called to my husband that I thought there might be wreaths there. But then headstones and trees obscured the view until we were much closer, when indeed both of us could see FOUR wreaths.

We have been coming here on Remembrance Sunday for several years now with, in more recent years, the company for the two minutes’ silence, of three cyclists, aka the “Patrons of Lost Causes”.  Usually there is nothing at the War Memorial, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Some years ago, Archbishop and Mrs Tutu sent a magnificent floral wreath, and one year there was a single wreath (from the British Legion), and a paratrooper’s cap, but otherwise the monument has been bare.  We’ve got into the habit of bringing sprigs of rosemary from our garden, one for each grave. One year, when Marks was marking down the price of roses at the end of the day, we were able to provide each grave with a red rose. (CWGC spies please note, we are very careful not to place anything near the headstones.)  We also visit the grave of Private George Henry Rosser, 2/SAIR who was actually a native of Richmond, and is buried nearby.

Thank you to the organisations behind these wreaths, probably laid here on Saturday,  Remembrance Day.  We appreciate that this year South Africa Lodge 6742 (UGLE), the MOTHs. the Royal Star and Garter Home and the South African Legion have remembered the South African servicemen buried alongside  the South African War Memorial.

Nor did the cyclists, the supporters of lost causes, forget the South Africans this year.  Here’s the photo I took of Trevor, as surprised as we were by the wreaths. That they’re there at all, is possibly due to the efforts of another of the cyclists, Mark, who’s previously expressed his disappointment to S.A. officialdom.




About Margaret Frood

Margaret Frood is a Family and Local Historian with an insatiable curiosity about the partially told stories of a family's past. Her four war memorial blogs have been created in the hope that they will help to rescue from oblivion the stories of those listed on the war memorials of Petersham, Ham and Tur Langton, as well as Southern Africans commemorated in the UK and in Western Europe.
This entry was posted in Cemeteries, Remembrance Day. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Finally! South Africa remembers: Remembrance Sunday 2017

  1. Brian Parry says:

    How would i get hold of the author

  2. Brian Parry says:

    I am a member of the the South African Legion and Royal British Legion we are the people placing the wreaths at the Richmond cemetery. We where there on Saturday 23 February 2019. For a memorial for the SAS Mendi, Hmsas Southern floe and SAS President Kruger. We also do the Saturday on Remembrance day as on the Sunday we are in London

    • Thank you Brian. I am so grateful that you are doing this and I will pass that on this year to the three cyclists who have been coming for several years now, largely because all five of us felt the South Africans had been written off.

      I started this because the British Legion said they didn’t do anything for the South Africans and if I wanted to do something, I could march with them to Twickenham. Having researched the stories of all the South African men, it felt wrong not to be there on Remembrance Sunday. You cannot imagine my surprise and heartfelt appreciation, as I approached the memorial to realise that someone else had been there in the preceding week.

      When we started there was no sign of any tribute until the year of the Tutus’ wreath. One of the cyclists has a connection with the London Scottish, & I think his complaint may have prompted the Embassy’s first involvement, at least in recent years. It is such a relief to know that you will continue this when we are no longer able to do it. If you let me know the time you will gather on the Saturday this year, we will do both days this year (so as not to disappoint the cyclists on the Sunday).

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