On Sunday 22 April, Gunners Associations accompanied by other military fraternities, members of the City Council and captains of defence industry braved the chilly morning air to attend the 66th Annual Gunners’ Memorial Service in Potchefstroom.
The memorial was rededicated with the unveiling of an additional 13 pounder quick-firing field gun – barrel no 289 – by SANDF Chief Logistics, Lt Gen Jabulani Mbuli, who has been appointed as “General of the Gunners”, and National President of the Gunners’ Association of South Africa Lt Gen Philip du Preez.
The refurbishing of the Memorial took place in 2000 and included the construction of two dwarf brick memorial walls to accommodate extra plaques. Three quick-firing guns, which were deployed by the SA field gunners in German East Africa during World War I, flank and embellish the Memorial. The fourth gun is a World War II 3.7-inch anti-aircraft gun.
A focal scenic panorama was formed by mature poplar trees growing in a semi-circle on the periphery of the site. The trees were replaced in 2010 after the original trees died. The garden and surrounds are maintained by the Town Council of Potchefstroom and the ancillary equipment by 4 Artillery Regiment and the Artillery Regiment.
Although the Gunners Association mainly focuses on gunners, the Potchefstroom Branch also includes veterans and serving members from other forces. The Gunners Association already has strong ties with members coming out of the Intelligence, Mechanised Infantry, Technical and Armour communities.
The Gunners Memorial is situated near the outskirts of Potchefstroom, adjacent to the now closed No: 3 Gate of the Military Base through which, over a period of time, all gunners passed on entering or leaving the camp. The design of the memorial was conceived by Dr Gordon Leith, himself a gunner, who had served overseas with the SA Artillery during World War I. The Memorial was unveiled on May 1952 by the Chief of Staff, SA Army, Lt Gen “Matie” CL De Wet du Toit and entrusted for safekeeping by the Gunners Association to the then Officer Commanding Western Transvaal Command. The original plaque on the Memorial reads “To the glory of God and the memory of all Gunners who lost their lives in two World Wars, 1914- 918; 1939-1945.”