Last Sunday, exactly 100 years on, the British High Commission hosted a special centenary luncheon, alongside the Government of Ghana and representatives of the nations involved in the conflict, in an act of remembrance for those who lost their lives serving their country. The centenary commemorations were also a thanksgiving – for the end of the war, for peace and for those who returned to their families.
Over nine million servicemen died in the First World War helping to secure the Allied victory, including nearly a million from the Commonwealth. In West Africa, the first soldier in British service to fire a shot in First World War was RSM Alhaji Grunshi of the Gold Coast Regiment.
Throughout the last 100 years, the UK and Ghana have stood shoulder-to-shoulder in support of global peace and security. Today Ghana is a significant contributor of personnel on UN and African Union Peacekeeping operations, and has deployed forces as part of the African response in support of peace in South Sudan, democracy in the Gambia, and stability in Somalia, as well as further afield.
Ghanaian and British soldiers serve alongside one another in the UK Armed Forces to protect global security and defend our shared vision of a more peaceful world. Today we have some 4,500 Commonwealth servicemen and servicewomen in the British Armed Forces. Examples such as Ghanaian-born, Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, the first black equerry to serve Her Majesty The Queen embody the invaluable contribution that the Commonwealth continues to make.
These are just a few examples of the many thousands of Ghanaian soldiers who fought, and continue to fight, for the freedoms that we enjoy today. We shall not forget their sacrifice and duty. To mark this very special moment in our shared history, the UK Government has announced that over 7,000 Commonwealth veterans who served the British Armed Forces will receive two meals a day through UK Aid. This support to them and their widows and widowers in more than 30 Commonwealth countries recognises the tremendous debt we owe to those veterans, who have served The British Crown through the last 100 years.
Their Royal Highnesses The Prince of Wales, The Duchess of Cornwall and The Earl of Wessex, paid their own special tribute, alongside His Excellency President AkufoAddo, in a wreath-laying ceremony on 2 November at the Christiansborg War Cemetery at Osu, Accra.
UK Defence Adviser, Lt Col Simon Westlake said:
"This year marks an historic anniversary, and 11 November provides an opportunity to remember the sacrifices that have been made. I am particularly pleased that the UK Government introduced a new support programme that demonstrates the gratitude we hold for our Commonwealth veterans."
Private Joseph Hammond (Retired), 91 – Ghanaian Commonwealth Veteran speaking on the new UK Aid support to Commonwealth veterans said:
"I feel proud, that I also defended the British Empire… If we get a couple of meals a day, it will go a long way. It will improve our lives."Distributed by APO Group on behalf of British High Commission Accra.