Our 68th Annual National Gunners’ Memorial Service should have been held on the 17th of May. Like so many other events it had to be cancelled due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic.

This is the first year since the consecration in 1952 of the Gunners’ Memorial that the gunner fraternity and their friends have not gathered around it to pay tribute to and honour South African gunners who died in the service of our country.

Let us pause and reflect, even if we cannot be together, on the ultimate price our gunner heroes paid so that we may live in peace and harmony, seeking a good life for ourselves.

I am glad to inform you that we did not have to add any names to the memorial plaques this past year. We are thankful that no gunner succumbed during operations or training since we were together in April 2019.

Thinking of the 984 gunners whose names are recorded on our Roll of Honour and forever recorded on our Memorial, it is appropriate to ponder on a verse by Karl Shapiro, which I have taken the liberty to slightly modify.

On these granite plaques we have inscribed
The names of brave Gunners killed in battle.
You, who read,
Remember, that these Gunners died in pain;
And passing here, if you can lift your eyes
Upon a peace kept by human creed,
Know that these Gunners did not die in vain.

We honour their memory.