British Military Advisor Calls For Support For Ghanaian Veterans
By EX WOI Bright Segbefia:
The Defence Advisor to the British High Commissioner in Ghana, Lt Col Ben Richards, has appealed for public support for Ghanaian veterans. He reminded the public that while most parts of the world enjoy the freedoms for which these veterans fought with some dying, the remaining veterans continue to need their support.
He commended the Veterans Administration, Ghana, (VAG), the Royal Ex-Services League, and Forces Help Ghana (an NGO) in their continuing efforts to look after Ghana’s veterans.
Lt Col Richards said they remembered very well the recent history of the Armed Forces from all nations who served, and their personnel who died for the cause of freedom. He praised the Ghana Armed Forces for serving on some of the ‘most demanding’ UN missions, adding that 139 personnel have lost their lives on peace support operations since 1960.
The Defence Advisor made these statements, as the British High Commissioner hosted to lunch Remembrance Day parade contingent as well as some serving military personnel and retired Commissioned Officers at the Commissioner’s residence in Accra.
The High Commission has made this interaction routine. It takes place soon after the Remembrance Day parade each year. The High Commissioner says that is another way of expressing appreciation to the veterans for working hard for the success of the commemorative event.
Rt. Hon. Grant Shapps, Member of Parliament for Welwyn Constituency, Britain and Minister of State Department for International Development, who had arrived in the country that day and former Chief of Army Staff, Ghana, Maj. Gen CB Yaache were some of the dignitaries present.
The veterans sat down at tables in relaxed atmosphere and were served fruit juice and drinks of their choice. They later went in for buffet dinner, known in Ghana as ‘serve yourself.’ Whilst they were eating, music was being played by the army band.
Lt Col Richards described the gathering as one of the most important days of the year. He thanked all those who supported the High Commission to make the day a success.
He recounted the contribution of the Gold Coast Regiment in the First World War in Togo, Cameroun and East Africa, adding that the first shot of the war ‘anywhere’ was fired by Regimental Sergeant Major Alhaji Gruinshi (then a corporal) on 6 August, 1914. He indicated that the last shots of the war anywhere were also fired in Africa by an Askari from the Kings African Rifles in modern day Zambia, some weeks after the Armistice in Europe.
He said the year 2015 marked the 70th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, adding that there were nine infantry battalions from the Gold Coast Regiment in the Royal West African Frontier Forces along with Engineer, Artillery, Signals, Ordnance, Medical and support units.
They, he said, saw action in Kenya’s Northern Frontier district, Italian Somaliland, Abyssinia and in Burma where African colonies contributed 90,000 soldiers. The 81st and 82nd West African Divisions (composed of units from the Gambia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Gold Coast) played a key part in the offensive to recapture Burma in 1944 and 1945.
Lt Col Richards said that the soldiers fought through some of the worst terrain in the world in mountainous jungles involving fierce small arms and grenade battle at short range, often resorting to the use of bayonet and the ‘panga’ and having to be resupplied by air.
Two days before the Remembrance Day parade, the Ghanaian veterans joined staff of the British High Commission for the ‘big salute’.
The veterans were each presented with parcels. The Commissioner released one of his vehicles to convey back to the Regional Office those who could not get space on the VAG’s official bus that conveyed them to the venue. The Regional chairman, EX WOI Robert Kuma thanked the Commissioner on behalf of the contingent and VAG for his sustained benevolence and wished him a happy duty tour.