South African War Memorial Rededication

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| By Kev Bovill

The WA Botanical Gardens and Parks Board had undertaken a major restoration of the South African War Memorial and the 75mm Krupp Howitzer located there.

The surrounding plants and gardens were replanted to be as close as possible to the original settings.

The South African War memorial is the oldest memorial in Kings Park, its foundation stone being laid in 1901 and dedicated by the Duke of Cornwall and York when he came to Australia for the opening of our new parliament on 9 May 1927.

The Duke and Duchess of York later became King George VI and Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.

The Botanical Gardens and Parks Board had done a magnificent job of restoration and the Boer War Memorial Society of WA Inc felt their efforts deserved a rededication service of some significance.

Perth turned on a magnificent spring day for the event and the park was at its arboreal and botanical best. The event was attended by around 150-200 invited guests and the general public.

Pleasing was the number of passers-by that stayed to listen to the service.

Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC was escorted by 10 Light Horsemen reenactors from the Bunbury 10th Light Horse memorial Troop under Barry Ball.

Mr Ball delivered a goodwill message from the Governor-General, General Sir Peter John Cosgrove, AK, MC. 

We were honoured to receive it.

The catafalque party for the day was drawn from The Westralian Great War Living History Association who paraded to their usual standard under command of their Company Sergeant Major, Bob Wise.

The Churchlands Senior High School Band performed magnificently and we were privileged to have them.

Moira Wilson, our resident songbird and Director of Music had the Wembley Entertainers Choir well in hand and the PA system supplied by Paul Weir of Castlerock productions added an extra dimension of resonance to their performance.

The Reverend John Dunn (RAAF Rtd) again rose to the occasion with well-chosen prayers and requiem.

As well as providing the music, the Churchlands Senior High School Band were co-opted into laying a single flower for each of the 40 named Killed in Action, Died of Wounds or died as a result of disease or misadventure.

Leading them was a number of descendants including our own Howard Angel wearing Thomas Hotspur Angel’s DCM and MID.

A member of the Forrest family (Gaysie Atkinson) laid one in memory of a young Anthony Alexander Forrest (16 y/o) of the 5th Western Australian Mounted Infantry, who is numbered among the fallen.

Our Vice president and historian, Mr John Sweetman delivered the keynote address that succinctly covered the history of the monument and why Sunday 5 November had been selected. It was the 117th anniversary of The Battle of Bothaville, 6 November 1900 in which Western Australians prominently figured.

The South African Veterans Association of Australasia (SAMVOA) under their new Chairman Veteran Dave Stevenson was sartorially resplendent as always.

At the completion of the service, all attendees and guests were invited back to Frasers Restaurant where convivial hospitality was laid on and where the Army Museum of WA, Mr John Burridge and Mr Peter Lutley presented a display of Boer War memorabilia.

John Sweetman spoke on the battle of Bothaville, John Burridge on his Boer war memorabilia and recounted a few tales about collecting. A special mention must be made of Robert Mitchell and Braddon Miller who put together the Army Museum of WA’s Boer War display.

It was first rate.

Supplementing Moira’s choral group was the Coastals Pipe Band, old friends who had been with us on many previous occasions.

The committee has one final task for 2017 and will then take a well-earned break over Christmas and New Year before getting on with the planning for our annual Commemoration and Reconciliation service on Sunday 4 June 2018.

| Photo 1: Her Excellency the Honourable Kerry Sanderson AC, Governor of Western Australia. || Photo 2: SAMVOA (South African Military Veterans Organisation Australasia) has been our strong right arm since the beginning in 2009. ||| Photo 3: Mrs Donna Prytulak P.H.F, RSLWA Vice President delivering the Ode to the Fallen. |||| Photo 4: War Horses of the 10th LH Memorial Troop enjoying the shade and no doubt pondering the fate of their predecessors left behind in South Africa and in the deserts of the Middle East in 1918. ||||| Photo 5: Something of a Rogues Gallery-BWMS Committee at the end of a hectic year.