Remembrance Day 2022

Various Rooiplaas members joined hearts in honouring Remembrance Day. We traveled to Vryheid and linked up with the Rooiplaas Northern Natal Canopy, under the able guidance of Lukas Marais. The memorial service held at St Peter’s Anglican Church drew a sizeable crowd in the pouring rain … the dark somber clouds reflecting the seriousness in our hearts remembering those who had gone before. Eight veteran parabats and proud members of Rooiplaas stood at attention during the proceedings, which were organized by the local Moths.

The names of those from Vryheid who died during the wars were read out loud, accompanied in the background by the solo sound of a trumpet – it was quite touching. Their names and memories are forever engraved into the cenotaph. Andre van Ellinckhuyzen gave a short overview of the wars, its devastating emotional impact, and the scars that we carry … a poignant, but important message. (See his attached speech below).

Different groups and family members laid wreaths. It was heartwarming to see the local primary and high school student leaders, representing Lukas Meyer Primary School and Pionier High School respectively, honoring this memory and tradition. However, it was quite touching when the veteran bats as a group stepped forward and saluted as Nico placed a wreath on the steps. They are just breed apart. Brotherhood, Honour, Respect!

On Friday, 11 November, Chappies van Zyl and Fanie Botha represented Rooiplaas in Bloemfontein at the St Andrew’s Remembrance Day Service, where a wreath was placed against the school’s memorial wall. Joining Chappies and Fanie was Johan Raath, representing the Recces.

On Sunday, 13 November, representing Rooiplaas, Chappies van Zyl joined other military veteran groups such as 61Meg, other paratrooper veterans, and special forces at 1SDB, Tempe, for a special service and wreath laying. Rooiplaas Members further afield joined various Memorial Services – Pieter de Bruin of the Southern Cape Canopy (Mosselbay), Sakkie Mare from the Rustenburg Canopy, Derrick van Zyl representing the Rooiplaas Port Elizabeth Canopy and Sergeant Major Kitching representing us in Jeffreys Bay.

“At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them”

Remembrance Day Speech: Sunday, 13 November, 2022 by Andre van Ellinckhuyzen, Vryheid
Goeie more and Good morning. Onlangs kyk ek op Netflix na die epiese anti-oorlog rolprent “All Quiet on the Western Front”. Hierdie rolprent, met Edward Berger as Regisseur, en gebasseer op die 1929 novelle geskryf deur Erich Maria Remarque, volg die lewe van die sestien jarige jong Duitse soldaat, Paul Bäumer. As daar nou ooit ‘n wyse kon wees waarop enige mens die wreedheid en tragedie van oorlog visueel kon beskryf, dan is dit deur hierdie rolprent. U kan gerus ook tyd maak om na die rolprent “The Forgotten Battle” te kyk. Hierdie rolprent met Matthijs van Heijningen as regisseur, is gebasseer op “De slag van De Schelde”, ‘n geveg wat afgespeel het in die noorde van België en die suid weste van Nederland vanaf 2 Oktober tot 8 November 1944. En soos die bekende Suid Afrikaanse rolprent kritikus, Leon van Nierop, sê ek: “Hierdie rolprente is ‘n MOET KYK, en gee ek beide beslis ‘n 9 uit 10.

Some of us have been through things so traumatic which the human mind is not built to handle, but we fight and persevere every single day and night. If that is not strength, then I do not know what is.
For some veterans the war has never ended.
‘n Oorlog veteraan skryf: “Ek het baie op my hart. Hoe verduidelik jy dit vir iemand? Ek moet maar daarmee saam lewe. Gee my net daardie uitveër om my verstand skoon te kry.”
Nog ‘n veteraan skryf: “Ek is gebuig, maar nie stukkend nie. Ek is hartseer, maar nie hopeloos nie. Ek is moeg, maar nie leweloos nie. Ek is bang, maar nie magteloos nie. Ek wou al opgee, maar ek het nie.”
Yet another war veteran writes: Do not tell me that I will be okay, until you have seen the monsters I battle every time the sun goes down.”

It is estimated that at least 1,2 billion artillery shells were fired during WW1. Simply take one Guy Fawkes cherry bomb, times it by 1000, and perhaps you will get the idea of the impact of only one such artillery shell, then multiply it by 1,2 billion.
Gedurende die Tweede Wêreld Oorlog is meer as 11 miljoen ton se artilerie ammunisie deur die gealieerdes afgevuur, en meer as ‘n half miljoen soldate het gely aan psigiatriese ineenstorting as gevolg van die oorlog.

At the end of the Great War at least 80 000 cases of “Shell Shock” was documented for the British army alone, and what would the total sum then be if we knew the figures for all the other countries and civilians?
It is also known as ‘Shell Shock, Bossies, Old Sergeants Disease, Nostalgia, Soldiers heart, Bosbefok, Combat fatigue, Wounded minds, Combat stress reaction, aka Post Traumatic Stress Disorder’.
The Americans are here once again at the forefront. The term PTSD first came into use in the 1970’s after the diagnoses of US military veterans who served in the Vietnam war.
Die voormalige Amerikaanse President, John Fitzgerald Kennedy sê eenmaal: “Mankind must put an end to war before war puts an end to mankind.”
PTSD causes your brain to get stuck in DANGER MODE, and without treatment it will get worse over time, leading to severe depression, anxiety, anger management problems, substance abuse and even suicide.
When researching the life of Captain Moffett, a cousin of Ritchie Moffett, John Moffett, remarked: “The cruelty of war caught up with Ritchie at times, then he found his solace in “Fire Water”.

In 440 BC, Herodotus, an ancient Greek historian and geographer, described how an Athinian was suddenly stricken by blindness after seeing his comrade killed in battle, and Hippocrates, one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine, described soldiers who experienced frightening battle dreams.

Can you start to imagine how it is to for example fear sleeping with your back to a door, or to fear darkness, even after more than 30 years have lapsed after the experience of a life threatening event?

What are the symptoms of PTSD?
• Confrontation by sudden unwelcome memories of what happened;
• Nightmares;
• Avoidance;
• Memory Loss;
• Negative thoughts about the self and about the world;
• Self-Isolation and feeling distant;
• Anger and Irritability;
• Reduced interest in a favourite activity;
• Hypervigilance;
• Difficulty in concentrating;
• Insomnia;
• Vivid Flashbacks;
• Avoiding people and places related to the event;
• Casting blame or self-blame;
• Difficulty in feeling positive emotions;
• Exaggerated startle response; and
• Risky behaviours such as substance abuse.

In the darkest hour, when the demons come, call on me Brother and we will fight them together.

Without treatment the psychological symptoms of PTSD are likely to worsen over time, but here in South Africa we have mostly adopted the “Cowboys don’t cry, especially in front of their horses” stance.

Older war veterans might tell you that they suffer from PTSD symptoms even after more than 50 years of their wartime experience.

When interviewing a relative of a war veteran I often get the response: “My grandfather or my father never spoke of the war”.

Closer to home and recent times, several studies have shown that South Africans are exposed to high levels of violent trauma with many developing PTSD.

I will venture to claim that hardly any of the war veterans attending today’s parades in Vryheid and in all centres in South Africa, ever received any type of counselling or debriefing when they returned home after the war.

Post Traumatiese Stres Versteuring gaan nie weg nie, maar met effektiewe inligtings gebaseerde behandeling kan die simptome beheer word en vir jare dormant gehou word.

Another war veteran wrote: “I really hope that there is some kind of God out there, because I cannot forgive myself for the things I have done. I really hope he can.”

In September 1914, at the start of the Great War, so it is written in “The Times History of War”, a terrible rumour was started. It was said that during the Battle of the Marne, near Paris, soldiers on the front line had been discovered standing at their posts in all the dutiful military postures, but they were dead. Every normal attitude of life was imitated by these dead men, and the illusion was so complete that often the living would speak to the dead before realising the true state of affairs.

I truly hope that for you it is not like that with the veteran in your life.

So today let us remember those who paid the ultimate price in war, and with LOVE, embrace those who made it home by the Grace of God, alone.

Pie Jesu, Dominé, Dona eis Requiem.

Jesus, Merciful Lord, Let them rest in peace.

I thank you.