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Sunday , 25th April - Melbourne VIC

Record crowds attended the Dawn Service as this event becomes more and more popular each year with Victorians and visitors alike. This year SAMVOA missed Mike Black (Victorian State Chairman) who was in Tasmania helping to get this State up a running. Those members who attended the Dawn Service were Veterans Walter Skilton and Karl Brown.

Our position in the Order of March was No312 with a step-off time of 1210H on this beautiful April morning. There appeared to be increased numbers of spectators this year and the South Africans (SAMVOA) was positioned behind the Indians and in front of the Canadians in a column that included all Commonwealth member countries.

We had our new banner up this year, which shows the conflicts in which South Africans took part from the time when Union was formed in 1912. This drew a much greater response from the spectators as they could read the major conflicts where South Africans have served in the air, on the sea and on land. We have always enjoyed crowd appreciation because of our outstanding drill, dress and discipline on parade and we rate, without doubt as the smartest group on parade.

On the march

The SAMVOA Order of March was:

Mounted in a jeep; Cliff and Josie Everton. Cliff is our 90-year-old WW2 veteran.

Banner duty: Derrick Smith Gerhard Coetzee.

First row: Kevin Edwards Walter Skilton Tony Macquet

Representing; (Peninsula Club) (Waverley Club) (National Exec)

Second row; Adriaan Den Dulk Philip Myburg Karl Brown

Third row; Chris van der Spuy Trevor Robinson Max Newman

Fourth row; Neil Skilton Neva Skilton Peter Dickens

Fifth row; Jacque van Niekerk Rory Arrow Brian Tucker

Some of our regular marchers were not present this year for a variety of reasons and the long weekend probably contributed mostly to a smaller than usual number this year.

All went well with Veteran Philip Myburg calling the time as we could hardly hear the bands both in front and behind us. As we started approaching the half way mark, there was a sudden commotion just ahead of us. People rushed from all directions to what turned out to be a veteran vehicle that had gone out of control and had knocked down about 6 Sri Lankan Veterans. This was only 50 meters ahead of us and only the Indian contingent separated us from the accident.

As there was no immediate assistance the SAMVOA group could give and there were police and medical assistance arriving in numbers, the SAMVOA members stood fast and awaited the outcome.

Fortunately, there were no fatalities and a police representative came down the line saying that the parade had been abandoned because of the accident. SAMVOA members then fell out with a precision that would have made any WO1 more than pleased and left the surrounding spectators “gob smacked”.

Standing around about halfway through the march

We retired to the Bells Hotel in South Melbourne for lunch and a few beers. As always, the ex-Rhodesians joined us as did the Victorian Welsh Men’s’ Choir a bit later. Once these Welshmen get their first beer, they can’t help it but break into song, which is always very enjoyable however, this time they stunned us with an exceptional rendition of Nkosi Skelel iAfrica. This had all our members on their feet.

Once again, a really great day that was marred by the unfortunate accident that denied us the opportunity to experience the thrill that one always experiences in the final march past the State dignitaries and then the saluting of the Memorial. There were three members on parade who were marching for the first time and they were Veterans Karl Brown, Peter Dickens and Brian Tucker who are yet to experience this. Sorry gents, but that will have to wait till next year.

Regrettably, the cutting short of this year’s parade meant that we have very few photographs.

Written by Tony Macquet

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