In commemoration of all Trinbagonians who served in the British Army during World Wars I and II, the southern branch of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL) hosted a Family Day yesterday at Fyzabad where veterans attended and gave first-hand accounts of their experience. The event took place at Sanderson Heritage Park, Fyzabad.
Among those in attendance was World War II veteran Mary Anthony, 91, of Crest Camp, Fyzabad. She worked as an accounts clerk at the Quarter- Master office in the Royal Army Medical Corps, a group responsible for running what was called the British Military Hospital.
“That was located at the back of the Colonial Hospital (now called the San Fernando General Hospital). The local soldiers who would have gotten sick, went to this hospital. We had a kitchen, three cooks and what we called medical orderlies. We had about three to five wards, as far as I remember,” Anthony said.
Anthony recalled that part of her duties included ordering food and medicines, all without the use of money as only the nationals of the United Kingdom “handled cash”.
“While we purchased things, we never used money. What we used were army forms. All the bills, I would list them on army form 22 which were then listed on Army form 56. We would pass those forms to command payment,” Anthony told Newsday.
She joined the service in 1944 and served for three years and seven months. She returned as a civilian to “close up the books”.
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon attended the ceremony yesterday as well as Member of Parliament for the area, Dr Lackram Bodoe.
Dillon noted that one of the most important thing about yesterday’s event is the building of camaraderie and showing respect to those who have served the country.
“Once you bring the family together, you continue to contain the memories of those who severed us. When you see people like Mrs Anthony here, who is still driving her own self, it speaks volume,” Dillon said.
He commended the veterans saying it was important for him to attend, as a former military man himself, to give them the kind of respect and honour and to celebrate with they come together as a family.
“I think this is an effort to strengthen the persons interested in this organisation, to bring them together in an atmosphere of cordiality and fun and games,” Dillon added.
RCEL’s public relations officer Ricardo Manzano estimated that nationwide there are about 30 veterans who are alive, many of whom are ailing.
Chairman of the Royal Air Force Association (REFA) Dennis Oliver, who is also chairman of the Federation of Veterans Association attended the event. He said that more than 350 Trinidadians joined the forces in WW II in which 52 were killed.
“The memorabilia and artefacts are some of the history of those who went to war in WWI and II. We honour them as often as we possibly can. This is a Family Day hosted by the legion of the southern branch. We are just part of the event,” Oliver said.
Members of the Royal Air Force on their return to TT from WWII, formed the organistaion in 1953. The office is located at Queen’s Park East, Port-of-Spain.