Remembrance Day

14 11 2011

And old soldier (WW2 era) and a boy scout wait for the service to start

“PARADE WILL RETIRE….   FALL OUT!” shouted the master of ceremonies and the half dozen or so black ex-soldier types standing in front of me reflexively twisted their shoulders to the right. One chuckled, a little embarrassed to be overtaken by the moment and we wandered off for tea.

I was at the Athol Evans Centre (for the aged and infirm) not far from my old Cranborne barracks for the Remembrance Day service to commemorate war dead. It was Tendai who earlier in the week had  suggested it would be interesting to see who was going to attend. He told me last year that General McIntyre had attended and I was quite keen to find out what had happened to his son Hamish, who’d been one of my officers in the RLI (Rhodesian Light Infantry), my old regiment. Us “troopies” did not fraternize with the higher ranks but I fondly remembered Hamish as being a fundamentally decent guy. In the event I did not recognize anyone I knew which I guess was not that surprising as 2 Commando was frequently under strength and the soldiers were either of the professional type who would have moved on after the unit was disbanded or of the type who would not have stayed on in the country after independence. I had chosen not to wear my old beret, mainly because it was too hot to wear a blazer which would have been a requirement. I was also a bit concerned about being identified with my old unit. In the end it would not have mattered – we were there for the ceremony which was attended by representatives of all branches of the military; both very old and current, local and foreign.

Being an atheist I did not care too much for the service though I have to admit I did like the hymns (some religious music IS good!) and was amused to realize that I still knew the words for most of them. The wreath laying ceremony was what moved me despite being a relatively small gathering for a war that had wreaked so much havoc. It was quite well attended by the local diplomats who layed wreaths on behalf of their country. Yes, I think I will be back next year. I don’t know who might attend then and anyway, I think I should lay a wreath on behalf of my old regiment, the RLI. The SAS did and I cannot think why they should continue to be the “glamour” regiment!

Wreaths in the Remembrance Garden at the Athol Evans centre



2 responses

14 11 2011

Readers may be puzzled as to why what is often a high profile ceremony elsewhere in the world is so low key in Zimbabwe. There is so far as I know no alternative to the Cenotaph in Zimbabwe. While there is a national cemetary, Hereos Acre, it is heavily politicized and populated with some extremely dubious “National Hereos”. As the losers in the civil war that ran for some 15 years the Rhodesian forces were denied any official memorials for their dead and any that existed at the time of independence were spirited out of the country to South Africa and the UK rather than risk being lost and/or destroyed. I did wonder if the irony of all this was realized by the very senior military ZNA (Zimbabwe National Army) representative at the Remembrance Day service. Maybe there really are soldiers professional enough in our army who would like to distance themselves from the politics.

I was told yesterday that a museum containing most of the Rhodesian forces memorial material is being set up in the UK. This strikes me as a rather sad situation.

20 01 2013

I agree no one out of the country realises

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