I welcome each of you to our 28th Annual Remembrance Service at our dedicated SAS Plinth in this beautiful Garden of Remembrance.
Many of you have travelled long distances to be here and it is our privilege to have you join with us today in honouring our fallen.
We warmly welcome also:
o Our Special Guest - Mike Boon, Special Forces Commander and author
o Maj Grahame Wilson, GCV SCR BCR who, last night, was appointed our Association President, following the very sad passing of Lt Genl Peter Walls
o Justice Hilary Squires and Mrs Coralie Squires
o Mrs Eunice Walls and her daughter, Tracey
o Pat Armstrong, former Selous Scouts Commander and his wife, Mary, daughter of the late Lt Genl Peter Walls
o SSM Jock Hutton DMM, former Sqn Sgt Maj of C Sqn SAS who is visiting from the UK. SSM Hutton is a para veteran of Arnheim during WW2 and a year ago or so he repeated his parachute descent at Arnheim - a wonderful feat - congratulations Jock
o Taffy Pelser and Members of D Squadron
o Guests representing other Forces, Units, Services and formations and those who will lay wreaths to commemorate their fallen.
o The next-of-kin of our fallen SAS soldiers
Our thoughts are also with those who could not join us for reasons of illness or other difficulty - and here I would particularly mention Vernon McLuckie and Rob Garmany.
We honour the memory of our fallen comrades who paid the highest price for their beloved country, Rhodesia. We also pay tribute to those of our number who have since passed to higher service.
Whilst dedicated to the soldiers of the Rhodesian SAS who died in battle, we take pleasure in extending this purpose to patriots of other units who similarly died and we jointly commemorate their bravery in their ultimate sacrifice. Let us not forget the brave soldiers of our parent Regiment, 22 SAS, who daily spearhead the fight for a free world. This is also dedicated to those of their number who have fallen in battle.
The next of kin and families of our fallen are a vital part of us and this Service. We are particularly delighted when members of those families are able to join us, as is the case today - I extend a warm welcome to Sheila and John van der Heever. Sheila is the daughter of 202597 Captain William John Cumper MC who was a founding member of the SAS during WW2 having served with David Stirling.
I wish to also make mention that we have been in communication with Hester Venter in Zimbabwe, the sister of Tpr Enslin van Staden whose name appears on this Plinth.
Today, on behalf of all members of our Association, those who could not be here and those present, I salute the families of the men whose names appear on the Roll of Honour and those of other regiments.
Perhaps our common purpose is to share our being with others, embracing like values that stitch together the fabric of our lives.
Montgomery said "Comradeship is based on affection and trust, which between them produce an atmosphere of mutual goodwill and a feeling of inter-dependence" and went on to say "All men have within them a streak of generosity and unselfishness - a touch of nobility - and these qualities will be brought out in their attitude to their friends. Friendship causes men to give of their best". These words have expression in our continued comradeship with our friends and reverence of our fallen.
Adopted as our memorial poem, I would like to leave you with the words of "Lament" by World War 1 poet, Wilfred Wilson Gibson:
We who are left, how shall we look again…
Happily on the sun or feel the rain…
Without remembering how they who went,
Ungrudgingly and spent their lives for us
Loved, too, the sun and rain?
A bird among the rain-wet lilac sings -
But we, how shall we turn to little things
And listen to the birds and winds and streams
Made holy by their dreams
Nor feel the heartbreak in the heart of things?
James Sprent said, "If I am worth it, keep my memory." -
Today we proudly say to our fallen - "you are worth it! We keep your memory."
May God bless you and keep you safe. Thank you all for joining us.