Signals Association

Second Annual Luncheon - Sunday, 6 May 2018


The Signals Association hosted its 2nd Annual Luncheon at the Parow Golf Club on Sunday, 6 May 2018.

This was in keeping with out promise may on 1 May 2016 to continue the rich tradition of our forefathers who staged luncheons for 70 years non-stop from 1946 to 2016.

In the second issue of Jimmy’s Own in September 2017, we covered a full article about our past relationship with the 3rd Brigade Signals Company Reunion Association and its almost century long rich history and we are please that  we have managed to stage yet another successful event on the road to try and even our forefathers record. Another 68 years to go. A surely impossible target, given the current uncertain environment within which military veterans find themselves to exist nowadays.

It was with sadness that Major (Retired) Charles Holloway, the last Chairman and President of the 3rd Brigade Signal Company Reunion Association could not be present as he passed away to high order in February this year, just four months short of when he would have celebrated his 100th birthday on 15 June 2018.

However, we were extremely pleased to have present Sergeant Syd Ireland, age 97, one of the last two remaining World War II signalers. Eddie Mills, the only other member of the 3rd Brigade Signal Company is in frail care and could not be present at the luncheon.

As per association tradition, the  ‘Flame of the Signaler’ was lighted by our Secretary General and then placed in the outstretched hand of Mercury (Jimmy as is commonly known worldwide), a symbol of the Signals Association, by our Vice Chairman, Piet Jordaan.

Following a moments silence in honour of Major Charles Holloway, and the saying of Grace, guests sat down to a memorable lunch, where after Alderman Clive Justus who is the Chairman of the  Economy and Environment Portfolio Committee of the City of Cape Town and a longstanding friend of the signalers in Cape Town paid tribute to the association and its cordial relationship with the City of Cape Town.

Alderman Justus spoke from the heart which resulted in his speech being well received. He reminisced about his national service days in the Corps of Signals with significant people such as signaler courier Chris Willemse, the Springbok cyclist and the retired RSM of Western Province Command Signal Unit, WOI Johan Smuts, who was also present at the luncheon as an association member. Clive fondly recalls WO Smuts as continuously reminding his soldiers of the need to always “leave better than you found. Taking pride in all you do, and delivering on what you promise.”

Thank you Alderman for your inspirational speech and in so doing contribute towards a successful luncheon. As a former signaler yourself we thank you for applying for membership our of association and look forward to having you in our midst, not only as a friend, but as a member of our organisation.

After Alderman Justus’ speech, Dr Elina Tagar delivered a special poem titled “The Cranes”, written by Rasul Gamzatov in 1967 and translated into English by Z. Korovin in 2003. Dr Tager is involved with Russian military veterans, with special emphasis of those who fought during the Angolan War. The poem read:

I often sense that our fallen soldiers,
Who left on battle fields their bloody stains,
Did not lay down in their graves for solace
But have been transformed into white-winged cranes.

And we have seen from many years ago:
They soar above and send their mournful cry.
We are transfixed in our deepest sorrow
Becoming speechless as the cranes soar by.

They soar, they soar exhausted white triangles,
And pierce the fog in a spell-bound line…
I spy a gap in their ranks - not for angels.
This space, I clearly see, may soon be mine.

They day will come, when I will join the row
Of birds inside their even flying chain,
And call you, whom I left behind, below.
By the voice of a slender, white-winged crane.

She also honoured Syd Ireland by presenting him with a book titled “The Hidden Thread”, which is about Russia and South Africa in the Soviet Era.

The event ended with the “Flame of the Signaler” in the hand of Mercury being extinguished.