Record number pay tribute as Gunners remember their fallen


A possible record number of wreaths have been laid at the Gunners’ Memorial Service in Potchefstroom on April 13 including international military attaches, local dignitaries, serving military members and veterans organisations.

Members of the Gunners Association and more than 60 other organisations recalled fallen comrades who had paid the ultimate price in various military operations and wars as South Africa marked the 20th anniversary of democratic rule and the centenary of World War l in which its gunners suffered their first casualties at the Battle of Sandfontein.

The National President of the Gunners’ Association, Lieutenant General Philip du Preez drew attention to the scale of South African casualties, especially among the Artillery units: “Almost 10 per cent of those who died in WW I were gunners, and almost a quarter of those names inscribed here are from WW I casualties.”

General Du Preez praised the bravery of the South Africans and spoke of a particular incident in the then German South West Africa soldiers where South African gunners were acknowledged by their enemies. He said the opposing German commander, although winning the Sandfontein battle, insisted on the South Africans being buried first as a tribute to their courage.
Gunners memorial

The ceremony culminated with the laying of wreaths by more than 60 serving military units, military veterans groups, foreign military attaches and the mayor of Tlowke Kgotso Khumalo, who took up his post in January.

The wreath-laying was preceded by the traditional last post, two minutes silence and reveille. In true gunners style the ceremony would not have been complete without guns – two salvos of ear-splitting blasts were also fired by the G-1 ceremonial guns. Gunners memorial G6.