Ongoing efforts by the SA Gunners’ Association (SAGA) to honour South Africa’s fallen artillery men and women saw new commemorative tablets unveiled at the National Gunners’ Memorial precinct.
The new additions include the names of four MK (Umkhonto We Sizwe) gunners who died in 1988. They were gunners OW Lukhele, S Nkosi, DM Nkabinde and M Velaphi. Members of their families were present at the Potchefstroom Kanonierspark on Sunday, 14 April, to participate in the annual memorial service.
SAGA extended space for names to be listed and it now include a pair of low-standing walls carrying the revised and updated name tablets. Gunners from both the statutory and non-statutory forces that today form the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) are inscribed.
This year’s service was the 67th to be held annually as part of cementing fellowship and camaraderie among South African gunners. “Remembering fallen Gunners and rendering support to members and their dependents, the SAGA unites in commemorating the profession of artillery past and present in South Africa, honouring those who serve and sacrifice faithfully in it,” according to an online tribute.
The addition of the MK names to the memorial follows the placement of the restored ordnance quick-firing 13 pounder “barrel #289” to the memorial precinct last year. The piece comes from the Transvaal Horse Artillery (THA) and was captured by the German Schutztruppe at the Battle of Sandfontein in what was then German South West Africa, now Namibia, in September 1914. The artillery piece was recovered by South African Union Defence Force (UDF) troops the following year.
Chief dignitary at this year’s memorial service was Lieutenant General JS Mbuli, SANDF Logistics Chief and General of the Gunners.
Ahead of the wreath laying ceremony, sentries and troops on parade honoured the fallen which included bugled Last Post and Reveille, broken by a pair of THA gun troop salvoes, bracketing the two minute silence.
In addition to SANDF Regulars and Reserves, the memorial service was attended by military veterans’ organisations, local community and municipality representatives as well as military attaché and advisory corps (MAAC) members.