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by Cheryl Goodenough

Being in Australia on April 25 it is quickly evident that ANZAC Day is a significant holiday in the lives of many Australians. ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and the day marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War. ANZAC Day was officially named in 1916.

The previous year Australian and New Zealand soldiers formed part of the allied expedition that set out to capture the Gallipoli peninsula to open the way to the Black Sea for the allied navies. The plan was to capture Constantinople (now Istanbul), the capital of the Ottoman Empire and an ally of Germany. The soldiers landed at Gallipoli on April 25, and were met with fierce resistance from the Turkish defenders.

After an eight month stalemate, the allied forces were evacuated at the end of 1915, but both sides had suffered heavy casualties, with more than 8,000 Australian soldiers killed. Since 1927 all Australian states have observed some form of public holiday on ANZAC Day. The meaning of the day has recently been broadened to include Australians killed in all military operations in which Australia has been involved. At dawn, which was the time of the original landing, commemorative services are held, while marches are held later in the day. The marches are held in city centres, as well as suburbs throughout Australia in order to pay respect to servicemen and women.

In recent years an organisation representing South Africans has participated in the marches and ceremonies, along with veterans from other countries throughout the world. The South African Military Veterans Organisation of Australasia (SAMVOA) is an ex-servicemen organisation comprising of military veterans who were called up or volunteered to serve South Africa in the South African Defence Force, Mkhonto we Sizwe, and the South African National Defence Force and who nowlive in Australia or New Zealand or other countries in this region.

In addition to participating in events that recognise and remember veterans, SAMVOA provides support, comradeship, fellowship and networking opportunities for veterans and particularly aged South Africans living in Australia and New Zealand. Heritage membership of SAMVOA is open to people with a parent or grandparent who served South Africa in a military capacity, but who has since passed on. Prospective members need to prove the relationship and connection.

Amongst the SAMVOA members who took part in this year's ANZAC Day ceremonies was Cliff Everton who served with South Africa's oldest regiment, the (Royal) Natal Carbineers, which was founded in 1854. “This infantry regiment was brigaded with the 1st Battalion Transvaal Scottish and The Duke of Edinburgh's Own as the 1st South African Brigade and they were the first of six South African brigades to move to North Africa in 1939,” said SAMVOA national chairman Tony Macquet. Cliff spent most of his time at the front as a signaller and was involved in all the 8th Army's major battles.

Another member Tom Robinson, served in the South African Engineers Corps from 1941 to 1945 during which time he spent most of his time at the front and involved in all the 8th Army's major battles from El Alamein to Tunis. “In Italy he saw action in the 4th battle of Cassino and was with the Polish Brigade that captured Bologna on April 21, 1945. As a young telegraph engineer, Tom's father served on the staff of Lord Robertsin the Boer War when the telegraph was new technology!” According to Tony, many SAMVOA members fought in Angola, in a conflict that was said to be larger than the battles fought in North Africa during World War 2. “This saw the employment of the most advanced and sophisticated weaponry available at the time. As in the Boer War, the South African soldier proved to be too much for a numerically superior force of Cubans, Russians and Angolans and this culminated in the New York Accords peace agreement signed on December 22, 1988.”

For more information about SAMVOA go to http://www.samvoa.org/

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Posted by Cheryl Goodenough
25 Jun 2009

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Participation by Mkhonto we Sizwe in the organisation was removed from the SAMVOA constitution by unanimous vote.
Rating: 3 / 5
by Gordon on 11 Feb 2013

anzac day is special to many I did think of joining savoa but it is against every thing I believe to associate with mk. The people at savoa must think we are all stupid,
Rating: 2 / 5
by lucas meiring on 25 Apr 2011

From the first year that I landed in NZ, I marched in all of the ANZAC parades and attended the services. I was taking the opportunity to commemorate my father, whose medals I always wear on parade. Initially I felt a bit out of place, and I wrote to the President of the RSA(RSL) in NZ, and his response was to welcome my participation in the ANZAC commemorations. We may not have the ANZAC blood in our veins, but there is no reason why we should not share in the ANZAC spirit.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Chris Pattison on 18 Mar 2011

11th November, apart from ANZAC day is a very significant day for me. It is 45 years this year that the late Ian Douglas Smith declared UDI for us Rhodesians. It is also a day that I recall the stories passing down my family of the Anglo-Boer war. I think of the friends who lost their sons in the Rhodesian war. I hold in the highest esteem any person who fought in war to try preserve the safety of us, our children, those still to come and those before us. Lest we forget
Rating: 5 / 5
by Maggi Mackay on 17 Nov 2010

Thanks for the info on the anzac battle at gallipoli,i found it quite informative. but what i cant understand or comprehend is how you can even link Uhmkonto We sizwe with the SADF,IT IS AN INSULT TO ME AND MANY OTHER WHITE MEN WHO FOUGHT THESE BASTARDS,THEY WERE NOTHING ELSE BUT TERRORISTS AND EVEN ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR TORTURING AND MURDERING THERE OWN PEOPLE AS WELL AS BURNING AND NECKLACING THERE OWN POEPLE....PLEASE DONT INSULT ME.
Rating: 3 / 5
by robert crole on 03 Nov 2010

Aubrey, I joined you and the other SAMVOA members on ANZAC day in Sydney in 2010 and have to say that it was one of the best days of my life. I felt very close to so many of my friends that fought in our Border War. I will be back in 2011.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Nicky Basson on 13 Jul 2010

Although I come from Durban, I joined the Rhodesian Forces. I have marched with them on Anzac days. I am a member of the RSL, who encourage allied forces to share this memorable day with them.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Mike Buchanan on 23 May 2010

I think we need to remember that Anzac day belongs to the anzacs. November 11 is Remembrance day for all armed forces. This is when we should be honouring Southern Africans who were involved in the world wars and our own bush wars
Rating: 3 / 5
by Dianne Du Toit on 27 Apr 2010

I was very interested to learn of the existance of SAVOA. For the past 12 years I have attended the ANZAC Day ceremony in Auckland as a tribute to the sacrifice made by my father, Saul (Solly)Gordon, who as a Jew and a South African, selflessly fought in World War II. Since his passing 2006, I have worn his medals to the ceremony. This morning I was at the dawn ceremony in Palmerston North. It is because of ANZAC Day that my brothers said I was to have his medals and on this day I feel very close to him. My late fater was the chief pharmacist at the Chris Hani Baragwarnath Hospital in Soweto for over 45 years. This is my very special and precious way of honoring the memory of my beloved Dad.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Jennifer Gordon on 25 Apr 2010

Thanks for doing the ANZAC article. The more I speak with South Africans, the more they want to participate. The stigma has faded and we are getting over our past. We are truly lucky to be in Australia which is so proud of it's history and honours the generations that made the supreme sacrifice so that we can live our privileged lifestyle. Lest we forget our South African servicemen and women.
Rating: 5 / 5
by Aubrey Sonnenberg on 29 Jun 2009

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