Call on families of heroes of Battle of Square Hill to unite

Lilian Primo, vice-president, and Marie Frans, secretary, still holding the fort at the South African Cape Corps Regimental Association.

The South African Cape Corps Regimental Association will be celebrating its 100th year since the Battle of Square Hill and the members of South African Cape Corps Regimental Association (SACCRA) are calling all veterans or spouses of World War I and II to come forward so that they can get an invitation to the celebration held at the castle, on Sunday September 23.

SACCRA’s two surviving members, secretary Marie Frans, from Grassy Park, and vice-president Lilian Primo, from Rosebank, said they had been operating from offices in Silvertown, but since the deaths of president Stan Scholtz in May and chairperson Colonel Charles Adams, a World War II veteran, in June last year, they have been mobilising SACCRA on their own, while other board members have split from the organisation.

Every year Ms Primo and Ms Frans, on behalf of SACCRA, come together to commemorate the Battle of Square Hill. The SA Army Band plays, the flag is lowered, and there is a welcome speech, opening prayer, singing of hymns, and scripture reading, followed by the laying of wreaths and other activities.

According to South African History Online (SAHO), during World War I, from 1914 to 1918, 35 000 “coloured men” enlisted for war duty.

“The Battle of Square Hill is where the Cape Corps soldiers were able to shine as soldiers in their first battle with Turkish soldiers in Palestine.”

In Bernard Rundle’s documentary Forgotten Soldiers, Professor Richard van der Ross states that mixed race men who took part in World War I believed that in so doing they “would be brought into the mainstream of South African life”.

According to John Merriman, “no collection of men ever showed more zeal, devotion to duty, or discipline than the Cape Corps”.

He said it was in Egypt and Palestine where the Cape Corps had an opportunity of perfecting itself in discipline and in all
the modern arts of war, and of testing its fighting mettle alongside the men of many coun-
tries.

However, in 1919, when the shadow of the World War I was slowly lifting, the Cape Corps was once again disbanded.

Decades later Professor Van der Ross would wryly comment: “The government was not prepared to give us 100% acceptance”.

People have named schools and halls after the battle such as Square Hill Primary School, in Retreat, as well as Square Hill community centre and Allenby Drive, in Retreat, named after General Edmund Allenby, commander of the British Egyptian Expeditionary Force.

Ms Frans said: “We would like war veterans’ (heroes) relatives to come forward as well as all schools in the Retreat, Steenberg, Heathfield and Constantia to contact us.”

For more information about getting an invitation to the
event, call Ms Frans on 083 880
7397 or Ms Primo on 079 343 7219.