Warner Beach shellhole to host 32 Bn memorial service

Mills Bomb Shellhole in Warner Beach hosts veterans from across the world for the 32 Battalion memorial service and social gathering this weekend.

The battalion was forged in the bush war from 1976 to 1989 on the South West Africa (SWA) border and in Angola. When the SA Defence Force withdrew from SWA, the unit was moved to the North Western Cape and deployed at various points within South Africa, only to be disbanded in 1993 as part of the CODESA negotiation.

Although it never suffered a defeat, the unit lost the most members killed in a single battle at a small town in southern Angola called Savate, 75 kilometres north of the border with South West Africa. On 21 May 1980, under the codename Operation Tiro-Tiro, 32 Battalion attacked and routed a People’s Armed Forces of Liberation of Angola (FAPLA) brigade at Savate.

Fifteen members of 32 Battalion were killed in the action and many more wounded – the highest South African casualty rate in a single skirmish since the start of the Border War. Overall, however Savate was a significant victory for 32 Battalion. In total the unit lost 152 members in its existence.

SEE ALSO: Remembrance Day at Mills Bomb Shellhole

The 32 Battalion Veterans Association (VA) decided that a memorial service would be held on the Sunday closest to 21 May to honour all these members, and also those who died of natural causes and lie buried in the cemetery near the home base Buffalo in western Caprivi, Namibia.

This year the Mills Bomb Shellhole is proud to host the VA members in Warner Beach. On Friday, the clan starts to gather from many corners of the world for a traditional braai. On Saturday the VA holds its annual general meeting, while various stall holders selling militaria and food and drink stalls will be set up.

At noon a group of skydivers will drop in to land on the beach near the shellhole.Music will be provided by the MOTH pipe band and the VA’s own Martin V. There will also be a group from the renowned ‘Dundee Die  Hards’ who will display uniforms and other items of military historical interest.

Sykes commando knife

“During the afternoon there will be an auction of various rare pieces of militaria, starting with a specially-made dagger based on the famous Fairbairn Sykes Commando knife but made from Damasteel and engraved with the emblem of the 32 Battalion Recce Wing. The reserve on this special piece is R50,000 and if it is not met, the knife will go on auction in Paris later in the year.

This will be followed by a braai and braai packs will be available,” said 32 Battalion VA KZN chairman, Roelof van Rensburg. “The highlight of the weekend is the memorial service on Sunday, with members arriving from 8am and the service starting in the Mills Bomb Memorial Garden at 9am. Except for the AGM, members of various veterans associations and the public are more than welcome to attend.”

 

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  AUTHOR
Earl Baillache
Journalist

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