About 200 Port Elizabeth residents yesterday remembered the fallen heroes, who died in the line of duty, at an annual Remembrance Day event.
Held at the Aloe Moth Shellhole hall in Walmer, the event started with a street parade from Clarendon Park Primary School to the Walmer War Memorial where army veterans and Nelson Mandela Bay deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani laid wreaths in honour of the men and women who died during World War I.
One of the event organisers, Noel Smith, 66, who was in the South African Defence Force for 13 years said: “We honour them on the Sunday closest to November 11 and it’s to remember fallen comrades in all wars, not just here in South Africa.
“And it’s to remember those who are still fighting for our freedom and looking after our country, – giving gratitude for their role in keeping our country safe.”
Remembrance Day, or Remembrance Sunday, is a memorial day observed in Commonwealth countries to remember the sacrifices of members of the armed forces and civilians in times of war.
Former Provincial Moth Adjutant, Declan Brennan, said it was appropriate this year to mark the 100th anniversary of The Battle of Delville Wood during the World War I where more than 3 500 South Africans took part, with only a third of them surviving.
He said: “The cream of South African youth went into that battle. “According to transcripts from the commanding officer of the Wood, there was a division which consisted of three brigades. He sent one brigade to take Delville Wood and they were the South Africans.”
“They fought for six days, artillery shells, machine guns, hand grenades, hand-to-hand fighting, poison gas, pistols and even swords, they held on and did their duty. Service with sacrifice,” Brennan said.
Bobani said that before the event he was unaware that so many South Africans had lost their lives during World War I.
“It’s important because it remembers those who died and not only because of that . . . it’s important for the country and the youth to recognise those who fought for us and for the youth to know the history of this country,” Bobani said.