Potchefstroom Hosts 66th Annual Gunners National Memorial Service

Article and Photo by Pte Kabelo Tsogang
Logistics Division Photo-Journalist

On Sunday, 22 April 2018 Gunners Associations accompanied by other military fraternity, Members of the City Council and Captains of Defence Industry braved the chilly morning of Sunday to attend the 66th Annual Gunners' Memorial Service. It seemed nothing would keep them from attending this auspicious event despite unpredictable and unbearable early winter weather condition. The memorial was rededicated with the unveiling of an additional 13 Pounder Quick Firing Field Gun – Barrel no 289 by Chief Logistics, Lt Gen Jabulani Mbuli,psc(j),ensp been appointed as "General of the Gunners", and National President of the Gunners' Association of South Africa Lt Gen Philip du Preez,SD,SM,MMM.

The refurbishing of the Memorial took place in the year 2000 which 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 1, flank and embellish the Memorial. The fourth gun is a World War 2 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 surrounds are maintained by the Town Council of Potchefstroom and the ancillary equipment by 4 Artillery Regiment and the Artillery Regiment.

The Gunners Association is a military veterans organisation with the aim to keep in touch with old friends and colleagues of yesterday. Although the main focus is directed towards the 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 Association is open for all ex-military combatants and veterans that's includes serving members who is looking for a place to meet old friends and maybe even make new ones, who can share experiences and stories from yesterday and even tomorrow with that unique military edge.

The Gunners Memorial is situated near the outskirts of Potchefstroom in the North West Province. on a site originally owned by the government but transferred to the Town Council of Potchefstroom in 1972. The location of the Memorial was selected 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 the eminent architect, Dr Gordon Leith, himself a gunner, who had served overseas with the SA Artillery during World War 1. 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 - 1918; 1939 - 1945."

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