The Rehabilitation of the Walmer Cenotaph

Of all Walmer's war memorials, the Cenotaph set into the boundary wall of the Town Hall is probably the best know. It was designed by W J McWilliams, made by R Pennacchini of local stone and the bronze tablet was cast by James Gardner. It was officially unveiled by the Earl of Athlone on the 24th March 1925. Early in 2023 some nefarious persons decided to steal the bronze plaques with the names of the fallen and the bronze Springbok head from the Cenotaph, causing damage in the process. See pictures for the before and after of their visit.
During April, the Port Elizabeth Branch has undertaken to facilitate/organise the repairs to the Walmer War Memorial, which is used every year to hold the Civic Remembrance Parade in respect of the fallen in all Wars. We have liaised with the department of fine art at NMMU with regard the Springbok head and with local stonemasons for the replacement of the plaques. All will be manufactured in a material that is not so attractive to “affirmative shoppers”!
On our part we are busy liaising with other Military Veteran organisations to raise the necessary finance and at the time of writing are waiting on a reply from the Metro with regards some financial assistance.

 Then these villains started to dismantle the Main Cenotaph in Rink street. As a result a group of architects removed all the remaining bronze tablets and bronze plaques and placed them in storage.
If these people cannot even look after their own memorials how can we expect them to look after the Older Memorial?

Drugs and Vagrants
The Prince Alfred’s Guard Comrades’ Association secretary and SA Legion Port Elizabeth chair, Terry Pattison, holds up a syringe used by vagrants to feed their drug habits at the War Memorial in Walmer.
Vagrants are complicit in the vandalism of the War Memorial in Eighth Avenue, Walmer, and adding to its woes is the drug paraphernalia flooding the empty tomb honouring the dead from World War 1.
Pattison recently found himself ankle-deep in syringes at the site. He said squatters used discarded needles to shoot up nyaope (street drugs). Nyaope. or whoonga, is a popular cheap drug made by mixing low-grade heroin, antiretroviral drugs and other bulking agents.
"I can't prove it. but I'm confident the vagrants know who's [stealing] because they’re there all the time. They’re complicit. if not committing the crime themselves,- Pattison said”. He said the presence of vagrants was of enormous concern.
"Often, they stash bits of plastic, old blankets and other stuff around the War Memorial desecrating it."
The memorial had all its metal pieces stolen. including a venerated springbok head, in March. Pattison said it was problematic getting rid of vagrants to preserve what little sanctity was left. "We can't seem to keep them out”.- he said. Initially, I tried to get an electrician to put the vagrants off by floodlighting the place at night. But the electrical points were vandalised till there was nothing left, not even switches. Vandals destroyed everything, including the street lights."

The Rehabilitation

An appeal for donations to assist with the rhabilitation project was launched. Donations have been received from: (as at 1/10/2023)

South African Legion Port Elizabeth Branch (SAL);
Aloe White Ensign Shell Hole (MOTH);
Dogs of War Motor Cycle Club;
Evans & Sons Stone Masons;
Makanakop Shell Hole Grahamstown (MOTH);
Naval Officers Association of South Africa (NOASA) PE Branch;
Port Elizabeth Historical Society;
South African Defence Force Association (SADFA);
South African Military History Society Eastern Cape (SAMHSEC);
South African Sea Cadet Corps, TS Laherne;
The Walmer Renewal Project;

With grateful thanks.

Securtity lights working; vagrants moved on; gardening sorted out; new flags and cordage; MISSION ACCOMPLISHED

This page updated on 1 October 2023