SAMVOA 7th Formal Mess Dinner

On behalf of the City of Belmont RSL Sub-Branch, may I pass on our Thank you, to Lisa & David Stevenson Dinner President. Ian Higley & Garth Pienaar. Just to mention a few.

The RSLWA was represented by Martin Holzberger AM CSC Operations Manager. City of Belmont RSL Sub-Branch, Alan RICHARDSON OAM JP President, Yvonne Alan RICHARDSON Secretary, Steve & Lyn Toon Vice-President.

We were honoured to have as a very special guest of Honour – Major General Roland De Vries (Rtd) SD, SM. MMM.

Deputy Chief of the South African Army. Commanding Officer: 61 Mechanised Infantry Battalion Group. (it was classed as mechanized infantry, it was a combined arms force consisting of infantry, armour and artillery.)

61 Mech was organised along the following lines:  two infantry companies, which were equipped with the Ratel-20 Infantry Fighting Vehicle, if necessary, a third infantry company was attached. On many occasions, this was a company from 1 Parachute Battalion who was attached as a motorised company in Buffels an armoured car squadron initially equipped with Eland Armoured Cars. During 1980 the Elands were replaced by the Ratel-90 and later the Rooikat Armoured Fighting Vehicle, a support company consisting of an anti-tank platoon in Ratel-90s, an 81mm mortar platoon in Ratel-81s, an anti-aircraft troop and an artillery battery equipped with the G5 howitzer. Firepower was further augmented by the addition of the self-propelled version (G6 Rhino).

In 1988 61 Mech also received the first combat-deployed squadron of Olifant MBTs, “ Olifant” Mk1A African Elephant. Mk1B Unlike the Mk1A, which is an upgrade from the Centurion Mk.3/5 hull, the Mk1B was a complete rebuild and in doing so to counter the ever-escalating FAPLA (The People’s Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola) tank threat. 61 Mech was primarily tasked as the Army’s Immediate Response Unit, due to its versatility.

What an enjoyable, informative professional event. Lyn and I gained a much greater understanding of the history of South Africa from the 60 ’s to today. (Out of interest, General De Vries, Joined the Army one year before me in 1964.)

During the 60 ‘s and 70 ’s we as Australian veterans of; Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation, 1962–66 Vietnam War, 1962–73 conflicts, and for us British Veterans we also had Brunei Revolt 1962–1966 Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation 1962-1966, Dhofar Rebellion 1962–1975 Aden Emergency 1963–1967 and  Operation Banner Northern Ireland 1969–2007  (Inline with South Africa a conflict that still goes on today in one form or another.) (Dates, courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia.)

As I have mentioned before, “No matter the colour of your uniform or even what your first Language is, we all share something that you can’t put into words” esprit de corps – (a feeling of pride and mutual loyalty shared by the members of a group,) explains some of what we share, Fear, Pity, Dust, Smoke, Death, ear-shattering and blinding explosions, are only a few words. That indicates an endless list of words that bind us together.

There are many ESO’s (Ex Service Organizations) in Australia, fortunately we also have the RSL that binds us all together, as one group.

Great food.

The entrée, in the south African way, a mammoth dish comprising South African Bobotie, (This traditional South African dish incorporates mildly spiced curried mince with a savoury custard topping.)  Boerewors (Boerewors must contain at least 90 percent meat, and always contain beef, as well as lamb, pork, or a mixture of lamb and pork. The other 10% is made up of spices and other ingredients.) and as if you wanted more, there was rice curry and Mrs Balls Chutney.

Main what a choice. Chicken filled with Apricots and cashers or the lamb shank and gravy.

After a we walk, magically achieving more room in our stomachs, Theirs           Desert – Malva Pudding with custard or/and Milk-Tart and ice cream. Yum/Yum.

  • Steve Toon, Belmont Sub-Branch