THEIR ranks have dwindled, but about a dozen Moths gathered at the Battleaxe Shellhole in Port Alfred for the Delville Wood remembrance parade on Sunday.
They were joined by their wives and a few other members of the public.
The annual remembrance parade commemorates the Battle of Delville Wood during World War I, in which more than 2 000 South African soldiers lost their lives over just six days.
They were volunteers, members of the 1st South African Infantry Brigade. They are remembered for their courage in the midst of a German artillery bombardment that flattened the forest, and repeated attacks by enemy troops.
Rev Des Spenceley was chaplain for the remembrance service and took his reading from Luke 19, about Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when Jesus saw the city and wept over it, and said: “If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace – but now it is hidden from your eyes. The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognise the time of God’s coming to you.”
Commenting on the passage, Spencely said: “Jesus was saying, ‘If only you knew what is needed for peace’.”
Peace remains elusive, Spenceley said, as the news reveals hatred, strife, violence and war happening around the world.
“[World War I] was supposed to be ‘the war to end all wars’. But of course you as servicemen know this wasn’t true.”
Spenceley said the men in Delville Wood may have seen similar horrors to those Jesus predicted for Jerusalem. And Jerusalem itself was destroyed by the Romans in AD 70.
“But just as weapons are powerful, so prayer is powerful,” he said. “God will not allow evil to dominate good. Good will always prevail against evil.
“But there are still places in the world where men and women need to go into battle to fight evil.”
Spenceley mentioned Syria as an example of the evil taking place in the world, affecting not only soldiers but the civilian population.
“Isis seems worse than what Hitler was,” he said.
He ended with a prayer for a spirit of peace, justice and love in South Africa.
“May we reach out to the despairing and desperate.”