The South Africa National Memorial at Delville Wood

South Africa's Deputy President marks 98th anniversary of the Battle of Delville Wood

Posted on on 09 July 2014
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South Africa's Deputy President, Cyril Ramaphosa, has commemorated the 98th anniversary of the Battle of Delville Wood.

He attended a ceremony on the 6th July 2014 as part of a working visit to France.

The engagement was part of the wider Battle of the Somme in 1916. It was the first major action of South African forces (then a part of the British Empire) on the Western Front and saw them sustain heavy losses.

Mr. Ramaphosa highlighted that as the Centenary of the First World War begins, South Africa is also marking twenty years since the end of apartheid.

He emphasised the importance of "paying tribute to our countrymen who volunteered their services and sacrificed their lives.

"They travelled far from their homes to a strange and foreign land, under unbearable conditions to support Europe when they were needed back home in the cause of freedom".

Reflecting on the battle's siginificance in South African military history, he said that the bravery displayed there "represents a national symbol of courage and sacrifice".

Turning to relations with France, where the battle was fought, Mr. Ramaphosa stated that the "solid relations" between the two countries had been "cemented" with "the blood shed by these gallant men".

He expressed the South African Government's desire to further bilateral relations with France and that the annual commemoration of Delville Wood "will always remind us of our past as we progress as a nation towards building a better life for all".

Source: The Presidency of South Africa

Posted by: Daniel Barry, Centenary News