By Stanford Conway
In commendation of the 40th anniversary of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF), Commander of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force (SKNDF) Lieutenant Colonel (Lt Col) Patrick Wallace intimated it was his fervent wish that the existing goodwill between the two institutions would continue to solidify.
“Our forces have enjoyed a long cordial and productive relationship, as it was an officer of the GDF who assisted with the formation of the first Regular Corps of our defence force some 38 years ago.
“Over the years, the GDF has immensely assisted in the training of the St. Kitts and Nevis Defence Force personnel at all levels and, for this gesture, we will always be thankful,” Wallace said.
Wallace expressed regrets not being present to join with Brigadier General Edward Collins, his Officers and Other Ranks (ORs) to celebrate the auspicious occasion, but noted his physical absence did not signify that his spirit was not there.
The army top brass noted the GDF as being in the forefront of Guyana’s development with significant contributions through exploration of the hinterland and ensuring the security of the territorial borders.
“On behalf of the Officers and Other Ranks of the SKNDF, I sincerely extend congratulations to the GDF on attainment of this significant milestone, the 40th anniversary of existence. The GDF has a long, distinguished and proud history. May God continue to bless the force and to guide the High Command as it charts the course that will see the institution through another 40 years, diligently and conscientiously serving the people of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana,” Wallace said.
The first Regular Corps of the SKNDF was formed in 1967 under the late Sir Robert Bradshaw’s administration after a failed coup attempt by a group from Anguilla and American mercenaries along with local political dissidents, who supported the Anguillans’ cause.
They invaded St. Kitts on July 10, 1967 and were repulsed by members of a volunteer organization that called itself the SKNDF.
At the time of the invasion, the islands of St. Kitts, Nevis and Anguilla, together as a British colony, was moving towards associated statehood with the United Kingdom, but the Anguillans resented the fact that Kittitians would have administered them and opted to remain a crown colony.
“After the failed attempt, Bradshaw decided that the state must have a professional body to secure its internal defence, so he approached some Caribbean countries for help in setting up a regular corps. But, most of them were unwilling with the exception of Guyana, which sent Captain Oscar Pollard to assist with the administrative end of setting up the force,” Wallace said.
Wallace said that Pollard’s immeasurable contribution was followed by the making of an officer in SKNDF’s first Commander Earl Maynard, who was the Under Officer in the first locally ran course at the Colonel Ulric Pilgrim Officer Cadet School (CUPOCS) in Guyana.
“The then Premier, Bradshaw, was pleased with Maynard’s performance on his return to St. Kitts and this paved the way for a long-standing relationship with the GDF in which numerous Officers and Ors benefited from its highly rated infantry, jungle, maritime and drill courses,” Wallace added.
The GDF was formed on November 1, 1965 and since that time, the institution had been involved in the training of hundreds of officers and ranks from defence forces and regiments within the region.
To mark the celebration of its 40th anniversary, the GDF staged a fitness competition, parachute-jumping display, military tattoo, blood donation exercise, route march around Georgetown and, most importantly, all members attended the Anniversary Church Service, among other activities.