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Military veterans legion in Pta celebrate end of WWI

This year marks the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I.

The SA Legion of Military Veterans will be remembering those who died in World War I this coming November.

The eleventh of November, or Remembrance Day, has a special significance this year as it will be the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War, spokesperson Christopher Szabo said.

People will be wearing a red poppy flower to commemorate the day.

“It was a war that marked the beginning of the end of western European, Russian and Turkish colonialism,” said Szabo.

He said the war involved all population groups of South Africa.

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Most of the military memorials will remember the Battle of Delville Wood in July and August 1916; the tragedy of the sinking of the SS Mendi on February 21, 1917; as well as the heroic fight at Square Hill, not far from the Biblical site of Armageddon, the city of Megiddo in present-day Israel.

“The First World War affected all of South Africa, even though the fighting was mainly in distant Europe, in today’s Namibia, East Africa and the Middle East,” he said.

“Nevertheless, many soldiers, sailors and airmen lost their lives and it is our duty to remember them.”

Szabo said for those organising or taking part in the centenary year Remembrance Day, whether at a church, school, town hall or other venue and wishing to obtain poppy flowers could do so through SA Legion.

He said to do so, the Pretoria branch chairperson Charles Ross could be emailed on charlesross800@gmail.com.

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Towards the end of World War II, the legion launched several housing schemes in various parts of the country.

A large social centre and chapel in Soweto are two examples.

“From the beginning, the legion established a close liaison with government departments, which fortunately still exists, although there have been times when relations were strained,” he said.

“Successive governments have enlisted the help of the legion when drawing up war pension legislation. The legion representations have made a significant contribution towards making this legislation among the most generous in the world.”

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He said the fight to obtain parity of pensions for all was finally won in 1986/87.

“It had been a long battle.”

He said one of the legion’s major undertakings is securing pensions for South African post-war disabled servicemen.

The poppy can be obtained through SA Legion. Photo: Kayla van Petegem

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