On Saturday 21 November 2015, initial early morning showers did not deter a huge crowd of bikers and supporters who made their way from the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club‘s clubhouse at 221 Kings Road, Brooklyn, to the Reserve Force military base of Fort Ikapa in Goodwood. As they had done in 2014, the Hells Angels Cape Town, in conjunction with the SA Legion, the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTHs) and the SANDF presented the Poppy Day Run 2015.
I headed through to Fort Ikapa in the mid-morning, once the rain had turned to drizzle speckling my windscreen. Luckily, by the time I reached the base, even the drizzle had disappeared and the sun had broken through the clouds. Perfect weather!
The friendly guards at the main entrance to the base waved everyone through; we were stopped just metres later by a couple of large men from the MOTHS Motorcycle Club, looking like intimidating bouncers – much to my relief, though, they smiled cheerfully when I whisked out my wallet. Naturally (eh-heh), I had no objection to paying the R60 entry charge, as it is for a good cause after all: raising funds for the South African Legion of Military Veterans.
In case you do not know about them, this is what it says on their website:
“The SA Legion is a National Organisation, part of a world-wide family of organisations serving the needs of ex-service personnel and their dependents in the way of housing, pensions, employment and general welfare. It is non-sectarian and apolitical. It undertakes investigations on behalf of the Royal Commonwealth Ex-Services League (RCEL) in respect of assistance requested by other Commonwealth countries.”
I found myself a parking spot, grabbed my camera and headed over to the Headquarters of the Cape Town Rifles (Dukes), where tents and stands had been set up on the road and grass. The various food stands and other stalls, selling bike-related paraphernalia and other bits and pieces seemed to do a good trade; the well-stocked bar was particularly popular! A friendly Captain bought me a delicious hamburger from the Scouts’ grilled hotdogs and burger stand – thank you, kind Sir. 🙂
While we munched our burgers and chatted with a friendly Major and his wife, we watched a ‘Strong Man Competition’, which pitted representatives of various bike clubs against each other. This provided much entertainment for their very vocal supporters! Two-man teams took turns flipping an absolutely humungous tire end-over-end – winner was the team that flipped it the most number of times. Then it was time for a race, with individual contestants running back and forth against the clock, while carrying some seriously heavy weights.
The third heat involved lifting a section of tree trunk up from the ground with both arms, and raising it straight up into the air, before lowering it to the ground again; whoever was able to repeat this the most times, won. And finally, a large cement sphere weighing over 60kg (crikey, that’s more than I weigh!) had to be lifted up from the ground, and placed ontop of a metal drum. This was probably one of the most risky of the competitions, as you could get seriously hurt if you lost your grip on it… Hats off to the ultimate winner – a big hulking chap with serious muscles and tattoos called, I think, ‘Stretch’!
Finally, at 2pm, it was time for a brief wreath-laying ceremony, with the SA national flag fluttering in the breeze above a make-shift memorial. The MOTHs lined up in neat rows to the side of the memorial, and were called to attention by Kennith Steyl of the MOTH Motorcycle Association.
A trumpeter played the Last Post, followed by a two minute silence, and then the Reveille, before a couple of wreaths were laid by Capt John Dorrington of the Cape Town Rifles (Dukes), a representative of the SA Legion and Angus Brits, representing the MOTH Motorcycle Association. Though short, this ceremony had certainly lent an air of solemnity to the entire event, reminding participants what the whole day was actually about – to remember and honour fallen comrades, and to pay respect to those veterans who had made it through alive.
“They shall not grow old, as we that are left grow old.
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning,
We will remember them.”