Ceremony 1

Mbala, Zambia

Gentlemen of NRP, NRR, KAR and BSAP,

You will be aware no doubt of the wonderful parade we held at the Abercorn Memorial in Mbala to mark the centenary of the end of World War One. From a small idea I had two years ago it eventually became a State Event hosted by the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu. We were extremely fortunate to have been able to secure a positive reply from General the Lord Richards, Deputy President of the Commonwealth Ex Service’s League to be our Guest of Honour. We also managed to invite the eldest grandson of General von Lettow Vorbeck, Count Caspar zu Rantzau to be with us.

The first priority was to have the Memorial itself renovated and we are able to get the Commonwealth War Graves Commission involved and, under Simon Hardman and his team from Kenya, a sterling job was carried out, as it was looking like a vegetable ground when I first viewed it last year:

Abercorn Memorial 2017
Abercorn Memorial 2018

After some initial planning the event was taken over by the Northern Province as it was realised that they could hitch the programme on to their EXPO which was geared to bring in investment into the area. Happily the original theme of the programme for the celebrations for November were incorporated into their plans.

On 14th November at 07:30 precisely 100 years after Hector Croad gave the note of the Armistice to General Paul von Lettow Vorbeck in 1918 we held a short service with a group of Ex British Armed Forces men along with a group of Germans who had come of their own accord to do exactly the same thing! We combined our ideas in a couple of minutes and held a wonderful ceremony and had copies of the original messages from 1918 signed by Charlie Harvey (for Hector Croad) from Shiwa Ngandu and Lieutenant Colonel Thomas Blaetter, ex German Army (for General von Lettow Vorbeck). Below right: left to right: Corporal Leonard Thomas, Captain Simon Burgess, Captain Angus Mackie, Captain Peter Jones, Sub Lieutenant James Blewitt, Marine Douglas Badcock, Captain Geoff Thomas, Lance Corporal Kevin Conor.

The Zambian Government then held an re-enaction of the events of 13/14th November 1918 where I was asked to act the part of General von Lettow Vorbeck and once again Charlie Harvey as Hector Croad. After I “accepted” the papers we marched through the town of Kasama with my “German” troops singing all the way! The performance was shown widely around the country.

Lord and Lady Richards flew in to Lusaka on 22nd November with Colonel Nigel Dransfield as his MA and we held a dinner in Lusaka to raise funds for the Zambian Poppy appeal on the evening of 23rd carefully arranged by Lt Colonel Mike Reeve-Tucker and Princess Rose de Boer, Patron of the organisation.

Caspar zu Rantzau, Princess Rose de Boer & General the Lord Richards

On 24th November Lord and Lady Richards, Colonel Nigel Dransfield, Colonel Mike Geldard, Lt Colonel Mike Reeve Tucker, Count Caspar zu Rantzau, Brigadier David Williams, President KAR & EAF Association, and myself amongst others attended another commemoration at the von Lettow Vorbeck Memorial at Chambeshi on 24thNovember.  Also attending was Brigadier General Oscar Chipula who had come from London for the event.

We then all moved to Mbala for the main event the following day having stayed at Shiwa Ngandu for the night to have a splendid dinner with Jo and Charlie Harvey, grandson of Colonel Sir Stewart Gore Browne. Charlie’s African godfather had carried the white flag with Hector Croad on 14th November 1918.

At the main ceremony General Richards laid a wreath bearing the Northern Rhodesia Police insignia in the centre. The Defence Advisor to Zambia Colonel Mike Geldard RM laid a wreath with the Northern Rhodesia Rifles badge and I laid one with the information given to me by the Bulawayo branch of the BSAP Association. Brigadier David Williams laid the wreath for the KAR &EAF Association as its President.

fter the ceremony we moved to the Pioneer Cemetery where General Richards unveiled the granite plaque I had commissioned, which lists all the names of the men who died in the northern area of Northern Rhodesia during World War One, among them 6 members of the NRP, 8 members of the Northern Rhodesia Rifles and 12 members of the BSAP. Nearby we erected a board (paid for out of last year’s funds from the Victoria Falls Cenotaph programme) listing a short write up on each of the men buried there (see attachment for details). These men were later interred at the Kasenshi cemetery in Ndola where their graves are tended by the CWGC. The reverse of the information board carries the story of Hector Croad who is also buried in this cemetery (see links below).

A good 2 weeks paying respects to those from 100 years ago – We will remember them.

By Peter Jones

Plaque – Hector Croad

Names on Mbala Plaque – Nov 18

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