Artillery School memorial unveiled in Heritage Month

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Potchefstroom in North West is home to a number of SA Army units, including the Artillery Formation’s School of Artillery where a memorial dome to honour fallen gunners now stands proud and tall.

The dome was unveiled last week and will in future be the venue for an annual memorial parade on the School’s 7 September anniversary or the closest Friday to this date. The unveiling took place in Heritage Month.

A SA National Defence Force (SANDF) report has it School Officer Commanding Colonel Tiger Johnson did the honours cutting the ribbon and unveiling the memorial stone as well as laying the first wreath in honour and memory of fallen gunners from the School of Artillery, established in 1934. He was followed by “representatives from different forums” who laid roses in memory.

The memorial dome will carry names of School of Artillery gunners and Public Service Act personnel (PSAP) who died while on military operations or active service.

It is the brainchild of the then acting Officer Commanding School of Artillery Colonel Buks Botha. It was erected last year and made possible by financial sponsorships. Preparation and mounting were the responsibility of Warrant Officer 1 D Fourie and last year’s intake of military skills development (MSD) volunteers.

The School of Artillery has been around in various guises since 1934 and at one stage was known as the Artillery and Armoured Corps Training School when in Potchefstroom after leaving its Pretoria (Voortrekkerhoogte, now Thaba Tshwane) base in 1939.

After World War 11, the School was re-established on 14 June 1946 as the School of Artillery and Armour in the then Permanent Force of the SA Defence Force (SADF). It was housed in the main Potchefstroom military base and moved to a former SA Air Force(SAAF) base below Hospital Hill when 4 Field Training Regiment was formed in 1953.

Armour training moved to Bloemfontein in 1964 and the School became a separate unit as the School of Artillery on 1 February 1964.\

The School was awarded the freedom of Potchefstroom on 10 March 1978.