From the Editors Desk
What a busy few months a number of our members and readers
have had; with the re-establishment of the Australia / New
Zealand branch and preparations for the 50th birthday
celebrations in the UK, many have had much to do. The
preparations for both these initiatives have been well laid
and the effort of those concerned is to be applauded. I am
sure we all wish the organisers and initiators every
The Signature article of this edition, is in keeping with
the imminent celebrations in the UK; a wonderful account of
the actual birth of our regiment, by Digger Essex-Clark.
Written in his unique style his recollections and those of
others are both informative and entertaining. It is humbling
to see the role of people, like Digger, Dave Parker, Tom
Davidson, who transitioned 1 Training Unit into the RLI,
took on the established order and showed leadership and
commitment to the men they had inherited.
It seems to me that history, in any sphere, is created and
sustained in the stories and tales of legends. Reputations
are forged and culture developed from exploits, adventures
and personalities. In our legends section, we have a few
great stories and I would like to thank Nigel and Peter for
submitting the material. I am sure you will enjoy the
narratives as much as I did.
In the (Recall and Reunions) R&R Gallery you will see images
of a few friends congregating in Durban and some very young
and fit rugby players. It is a pity the 15 RLI players of
1962 are not available for the Springboks of today!
It is also heartening to see everyone looking so well in
Durban, and our best regards go to General Hickman and hope
he thoroughly enjoys his trip to the birthday celebrations
in the UK.
A wonderful article about Paddy Driver has been written by
Digger, I hope you enjoy the story of a wonderful soldier
It seems to me that not a month goes by when we don't lose
another friend and ex Regimental comrade. Even though we may
not have seen them for long periods, our sadness is not
diminished nor are they forgotten. This edition pays tribute
to those who have recently passed and hope their loved ones
and families take comfort in lives well-lived and rich in
Although many of you may have received separately the
notifications and updates from your branches I have included
these for general information.
In this edition's section we have an eclectic mix of
material with various pictures and anecdotes; our thanks to
all who submitted.
I had the great fortune, whilst in Cape Town last week, to
attend an ‘Army' lunch. Hosted by Leon Jacobs and attended
by many old friends, it was a wonderful get together.
What is not generally known, I think, is the thoughtful
financial and moral support this group of old soldiers gives
to senior citizens who are ‘doing it tough' (as we say in
Australia). Your kindness and efforts are so admirable and
we salute you.
Thank you to my first mentor, ex-boss and friend Dick
Lockley for the invitation
Comments and feedback
On an editorial note, please feel free to let me know if you
have any feedback on the magazine (both electronic and print
versions). This is your magazine and your comments will be
gratefully received and acted upon.
With best regards to you all
THE BATTALION BIRTHDAY
"As recalled by then Major Digger Essex-Clark. (OC ‘A'
|Place of birth:
||Brady Barracks, Kumalo, Bulawayo
|Date of birth:
||Wednesday 1st February 1961
||1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry
||No 1 Training Unit
Please understand that I believe that there was very little,
if any, official celebration at battalion, or any other
level, on the birth of the 1st Battalion the Rhodesian Light
Infantry. Like ‘Topsy' in Lewis Carroll's ‘Alice in
Wonderland', we just seemed to grow as our rifle green
berets arrived with our new sliver badges, lanyards, stable
belts and, when in Cranborne, our green uniforms and peaked
rifle green ‘SD' forage caps, as we ‘morphed' from the
ineptly, ugly, and awkwardly titled No, 1 Training Unit'
into the magnificently titled 1st Battalion of the Rhodesian
Light Infantry (1RLI).
When we left for the Congo border we had not completed our
basic or even infantry collective training, we had no
effective mortar or assault pioneer platoon, and headquarter
company was a dogs breakfast of vehicles, unused or
underutilised equipment and all managed or mismanaged
haphazardly by a much under-strength Quartermaster platoon.
We were never really a reasonably cohesive fighting
battalion until very late 1962. Mind you, the leadership,
unit morale, and training challenges were great indeed in to
establish a unit ésprit de corps and unit identity, let
alone a whole-of-unit high morale,
Realisation: has something changed?
My memory and limited research indicates that few within the
battalion, at the time, realised that we had become a light
infantry battalion. In reality very few of our soldiers
recognised that we had changed from the awkwardly titled No,
1 Training Unit, into the First Battalion of the Rhodesian
Nigel Rittey , who was there on that day ay Brady Barracks,
and a member of ‘A' Company wittily states:
‘The 1st of February 1961 as far as I was concerned
meant little to me as I attested as "2037 Private Rittey J.N
....Sah!!!" only on the 19th of that month. At that point of
course, there was no bit of uniform declaring "RLI", we had
blue berets with bloody great brass badges, belts that
needed Blanco worn with KD's with puttees. I think those ex
Brit Army "Dieu et Mon Droit" buckled white plastic belts
(‘bye ' bye Blanco!) were found and issued prior to leaving
Brady after the Congo thing; whilst stable belts were a
Cranborne thing. I am almost sure the green uniform, green
and silver lanyards, silver badge, green berets and green
peaked caps were issued at Cranborne as well.
I recall that, unless you were an RP, our Hitler enthusiasts
were threatened with a painful death for "slashing" the
peaks. I never understood why RP's could do it, thereby
limiting their forward vision to only their own two feet!
Perhaps they though it made them more beautiful as nobody
could see their battered noses and bloodshot eyes.'
Further, Nigel Rittey cynically notes:
‘In answer to your question about when I...and
others...began to get the feeling that we were the RLI, I
believe that notwithstanding the lack of identifying
uniforms, this "metamorphosis" early in 1961 through
communications in Brady as well as through articles in the
Bulawayo Chronicle which bored, "lefty" journalists alluded
to the "brutal and licentious soldiery of the newly formed
Rhodesian Light Infantry having been involved in a brawl
etc, etc, etc....all thoroughly undeserved of course. (At
the time the Chronicle and the Herald were already being
thought of as local editions of Pravda and Investia.).
As to annual birthdays I don't think the 1st of Feb 1962
gave cause for any major piss-ups and I don't recollect much
celebration of the birthdays until much later in my service.
It is as if the birthday really only became important with
the formation of the regimental associations later on.'
Tom Davidson , 2IC of D Company, who was there on the
‘Like you I have no recollection of a formal announcement or
how/when I heard about it. I do know that when it eventually
clicked with me, that I wrote to Frank Slater, CO 1NRR
(Northern Rhodesia Regiment) advising him that I intended to
change my affiliations. His reply was good luck ‘but what
happens if you are posted back?'
As to when I personally rebadged, it would have been
after returning from the Congo as the Northern News
photographed me when General Long visited us and I was still
wearing the NRR beret and badge. I believe the lack of
publicity and the poor response [or inaction or
disinterestedness] from Battalion Headquarters resulted in
the inactivity down the line. There was certainly no
discussion on the issue in the mess and I only collected my
new embellishments when we arrived in Salisbury.
I do remember there was much discussion on which way the
badges [on the collar dog]) were to face and I seem to
recall that I had to pay for my NRR mess kit to be converted
from the white lapels and piping to the RLI green.'
‘By the way, the stable belt came some time after the
other items. Of interest and I do not know the reason, but
whilst we adopted the British army light-infantry bugle-horn
for the badge we did not follow the light infantry tradition
of the rifle being carried in the shoulder arms position or
the 140 paces to the minute, thank goodness.
(Battalion 2IC on the RLI birthday in 1961) did not recall
how the official announcement came down and there was
certainly no official all ranks notification. However he
says there was a dining in night a few weeks later to
celebrate the announcement. He says Salt was there.
I cannot recall the dining-in night nor can I recall
Salt as CO while we were in Brady. I thought he arrived when
we were deployed on the Congo border. Like you, I never saw
him as the CO but as an officer accompanying General Bob
Long (the GOC of the Amy of Rhodesia and Nyasaland), when he
visited us at Mocambo.
Frankly after speaking to Bill Godwin, (Second in
Command at that time); I am now very confused but it would
seem that you are spot on, in that the birth was a real
Mike Higgins also has no recollection of the transition from
1 Training Unit to 1RLI'.
Therefore the battalion more or less slowly ‘morphed' into
the RLI as the badges arrived, the rifle green berets,
peaked forage/SD caps, lanyards, and uniforms were issued as
we grew into the RLI.
I know that ‘A' Company wore the rifle green beret with the
silver RLI Badge for the whole of the battalion's deployment
to the Congo border, as this photograph of David Parker
(left) and I near Kipushi on 16 September 1961 wearing the
RLI beret and badge attests (at least, I am).
(Note: I would not think that 'A' Company
were the only ones issued with the badge and beret but
others may have other photos of our Ouens on the Congo
border deployment to prove my point?')
Many officers continued wearing their parent unit uniforms
and badges. The CO (John Salt) when not wearing the uniform
of a colonel
David and I however, firmly believed our allegiance
should be to the men we served and had the privilege to
command. So we were the first two to remove our RAR badges
and put on our new rifle green berets and new silver: bugle,
lion and tusk crowned RLI badges before we deployed to the
|| as acting Matabeleland Area Commander; wore his
RAR uniform, as did the 2IC (Bill Godwin), and Adjutant
(John Thompson) who continued to wear the RAR uniform and
badge for many months after the ‘birthday'.
The latter never
changed their allegiance from RAR to RLI; as did my Company
2IC, David Parker, and I, an action that much annoyed the
CO, 2IC, and adjutant.
I cannot remember if any of the other officers, WOs, or NCOs
who were with us from the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, the
Kings African Rifles or the Staff Corps changed their
allegiance and badges or not. I suspect not, until we got to
Cranborne Barracks in Salisbury in 1962.
I do remember that by the time General Sir Richard Hull from
the UK (as CIGS elect) visited us at Cranborne, all our
battalion tribe were wearing the RLI Badge. This may have
been a decree from Army Headquarters, who must have by now
seen that we were a most higgledy-piggledy badged battalion,
and that the eagle-eyed visiting British nominated next
Chief of the Imperial General Staff was bound to ask some
Fortunately, from the unit dress aspect, our British Army
training-staff attachments had left us by then. There was
definitely no effort on behalf of the battalion hierarchy to
encourage us to change out allegiance and uniforms, in fact,
just the opposite; for it seemed change was a matter of
conscience coupled with personal responsibility and respect
for much-needed group cohesion and identity.
I expect that many of our soldiers (then just starting to
use the Johannesburg slang of ‘Ouens'), did not realise that
they were RLI until they too changed their dark blue berets
with the brass Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army badge for their
new rifle green berets and shiny new silver RLI badges.
We virtually continued our training without pause from the
No 1 Training Unit programme though we never completed much
of our basic training as a battalion effectively; because
many (C and D Company in particular) had been ‘deployed to
Gwanda to the Foot and Mouth Disease cattle cordon for 4
weeks and when we got back to Brady Barracks we were sent,
almost overnight to Ndola for the Congo Emergency .'
The battalion therefore had had no time to progress to or go
through training in section or platoon level combat for
patrol or tactical techniques before the whole battalion was
deployed to the Congo border protection operations.
The men of the battalion had to learn close quarter battle
and minor tactical techniques ‘on the job' as it were, but
we were very fortunate to have some, but not too many,
experienced NCOs and Warrant officers some of whom were on
attachment from the British Army, and many good young
officer platoon commanders.
I would add that I felt that we rarely considered ourselves
as an infantry battalion until we were quartered in our
brand new barracks at Cranborne, and paraded, very
occasionally as a battalion, , in Salisbury.
However, I strongly believe that our Congo border deployment
had helped us to change our image into a new RLI battalion.
However, we had operated there on and across the border as
independent well separated companies, with far different
objectives and operational conditions.
Even so, I never learnt whether of not we had a battalion
reserve for any unforeseen emergencies within our
battalion's geographically and ridiculously wide deployment.
Neither did we have a battalion ‘Orders Group' or
conference, before we deployed; and I saw my CO (Lt Col John
Salt) only once during my company's deployment and that was
when his visited us near Kipushi accompanying Major General
‘Bob' Long, Commander of the Army of the Federation of
Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
Nevertheless, before we deployed to the Congo border, we had
had an RLI Rugby team in the Matabeleland 1st grade
competition to ‘show our colours' in those very early days.
We also had our RLI Green and white hooped Jerseys and socks for that venture. This venture was taken from us when we arrived in Salisbury and we were blended into the ‘Rhodesian ‘Forces' Rugby Teams to improve the quality of ‘Forces' performance.
Note: An aide-memoire for you, Tom:
Bill Godwin was only acting as the CO (he was actually our
Bn 21C while John Salt was once again masquerading as the
Area Commander; and loving it! Bill stayed behind at Brady
when we went up to the Congo border to arrange the move of
the battalion to the new Cranborne Barracks.
This was an action opposed by me that I believed removed an
important ésprit de corps element of the battalion. However,
as a lever against us, the Forces hierarchy, (led by a Major
Vince Bratton of the Pay Corps) opposed our registration as
a first grade team in the Mashonaland competition.
Wednesday the 1st if February 1961, was more of an
unrecognised day as we started to metamorphose' from No. 1
Training Unit into the First Battalion of the Rhodesian
Light Infantry, (‘The ‘RLI') ~ In reality our birthday at
Brady Barracks, Kumalo was a ‘non-event'; more, perhaps, it
was just an Army Headquarters routine order administrative
happening, to put us, ‘fictitiously', but formally, on the
Federal Army Order of Battle.
We could not have fought effectively as a battalion in
classical or conventional warfare against any enemy well
equipped with armoured vehicles (tanks and armoured
personnel carriers or supported by effective field and
medium artillery or effective close air support. Yet, as I
remember it, we were on the order of battle of the British
East Africa Command.
So be it, we were the RLI after a slow metamorphosis from
No1 Training Unit, of the Army of the Federation of Rhodesia
and Nyasaland. The RLI of international fame came only after
the battalion's reorganisation into a commando style unit of
Commandos.; Troops; and much later, for the Alouette load in
Fire Force operations: ‘Sticks'.
In essence, on the day that the battalion was ‘born'; we had
neither the CO nor, it seems, an RSM with a sense of
occasion or interest in developing an intra-mural and mutual
ésprit de corps, unit cohesion, or sense of unit identity.
Admittedly there would not have been enough funds for any
significant gala occasion; bit we had enough training in
drill to be able to have a battalion parade during which the
announcement could have been made very proudly.
Sadly, it was not to be and leadership at the time failed to
recognise the auspiciousness of the occasion.
‘March on the Saints!'
Half a century after the event!
We have a problem
The Rand Easter Show: 1964.
By (the then Sergeant Major) Pete Cooper
On being posted to the RLI in January 1964 I found that the
battalion had been hard hit by the dissolution of the
Federation and was about 50% under strength. In HQ Company
many specialist platoons were very thin on the ground; the
corps of drums had been disbanded, having only a couple of
buglers left and the mortar and signals platoons comprised
just a few men each. The rifle companies were numbered A, B
and C; D company had been disbanded due to lack of numbers.
It appeared that vigorous recruiting would be necessary to
save the newly formed unit from foundering.
We have a solution
The RSM, Ron Reid-Daly, told me that a major recruiting
drive was planned to take place in South Africa. An
opportunity for this presented itself in the shape of the
Rand Easter Show, which was held annually in Johannesburg.
Various arena events were scheduled at this venue and the
RLI had been given permission to stage two displays; a
continuity drill demonstration and a "Toy Soldiers" novelty
In addition the battalion was to erect an information stand
that would provide publicity details of the unit and serve
as a recruiting facility. Permission had been granted to
approach members of the public in this, a ‘foreign' country
but no attestation could take place and interested potential
recruits had to make their own way up to Rhodesia where
their expenses would be refunded if they were successfully
An event of two halves
The two arena events were in sharp contrast.:
The RSM and I were responsible for the planning,
choreography and training to ensure these events were a
- The continuity, or ‘silent drill' display was carried out
in No.1 dress and consisted of a succession of movements
incorporating all squad drill and rifle movements at the
halt and on the march.
The squad divided and reformed with precision marching and
counter-marching, the whole display lasting about 15
No commands were given after the initial "Quick March" and
the timing was regulated by taps on a single drum, played by
one of the surviving members of the old Corps of Drums,
dressed in the smart drummer's uniform complete with silver
accoutrements and white helmet.
This drill needed hours of practice to achieve the necessary
confidence and precision but was an impressive display.
- The "Toy Soldiers" show was intended to provide amusement
and light relief but required meticulous timing and
execution to achieve the desired effect.
The troops were divided into a "Red Army" and a "Blue Army",
each with cavalry and artillery. They wore tunics that were
old bush jackets dyed in the appropriate colour with white
crossed belts and cardboard shakos. They carried wooden
rifles with a piece of piping as the barrel and their faces
were made up with white grease paint with little red
blotches on their cheeks to give the effect of wooden
As a finale to the "battle" between the armies the riflemen
fired a volley of rockets from their rifles in the darkened
arena. About sixty of these ‘rockets' had to be prepared
each day before the show. A short length of safety fuse with
a fuze match attached was inserted into each rocket and this
was struck on a brassard and inserted into the barrel just
before the time to fire. The timing of the drill and the
meticulous preparation of the rockets was essential to
ensure that the rifles fired simultaneously.
The "Toy Soldiers" were initially not very happy about
prancing around dressed up like wooden dolls but eventually,
as the drills came together, they revelled in the humorous
and novelty aspects of the display and worked hard to
achieve the right effect.
Eventually all rehearsals were completed and the show was
ready to hit the road. In March 1964, a contingent of 85
officers and men moved down to Johannesburg by coach. The
heavy equipment was sent by rail.
The show went well and the public enthusiastically received
our arena events. There were many anecdotes arising from our
experiences at the Rand Easter Show and I have earlier made
reference to the "Miser of Milner Park".
The continuity drill display was held in the late afternoon
and we would emerge from the arena feeling hot and thirsty.
Quite naturally we gravitated to some of the many ‘watering
holes' at the park, usually still in uniform.
Don't give up your day job!
On one occasion Ron Reid-Daly and I were invited to an
upmarket bar by some businessmen and plied with drinks. One
gentleman, who turned out to be the manager of the
well-known Langham Hotel, was most enthusiastic about our
performance and smart appearance and offered us a job, - as
doormen! He told us that we were just the kind of chaps he
was looking for and we would get a marvellous salary and
lots of fat tips from his rich guests.
"You can even choose your own uniform if you like" he said.
We politely declined. Later Ron said, "I didn't know whether
to punch him on the nose or accept the offer!"
Things don't change
Control of the troops was difficult during the intervening
period between the drill display and the Toy Soldier event
that was scheduled for 10pm. The same troopies were involved
in both displays and they too needed to relax during the
evening. They changed into ‘civvies' and went out for a
drink or two but some were still quite young and I had to
watch their alcohol intake.
I made the contingent parade every hour between six and nine
for roll call and a check on their state of inebriation; we
couldn't afford to have chaps miss the Toy Soldier show and
they had to be sharp enough to carry out the intricate
drills involved. We had a few close calls but I can't recall
anyone failing to appear on parade.
Another problem was that the men couldn't walk through the
crowded grounds in their toy soldier get up without
attracting unwanted attention or provoking taunts from some
of the more inebriated members of the public. Consequently
they would have to carry their gear down to some stables
sited near the arena where everybody could get dressed up
and prepare to march into the stadium.
As mentioned in the "Miser of Milner Park" we initially
found it hard to find liquid refreshment on a Sunday but
eventually discovered places such as the Moth Club and
various unit messes where we could slake our thirst. We
established close bonds with the Imperial Light Horse (ILH)
who organised a mess dinner for our WOs/NCOs and also with
the other RLI, the Rand Light Infantry.
An official affiliation with both these Citizen Force units
was initiated at this time. When our Sgts Mess members were
invited to the ILH some of our hosts came to collect us in a
couple of cars and with them was one of their WOs who was
also a traffic cop. He was a big Afrikaaner and arrived in
police uniform and riding a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
He escorted the convoy through the city, stopping at each
intersection and, irrespective of the traffic lights, parked
himself in the middle of the road and held up a hand the
size of a bunch of bananas to stop the traffic and wave us
through. He would then accelerate past us to the next
intersection and repeat the procedure, all the way to the
A culture is born
Recruiting had been brisk during the period of the show and
we had high hopes that many of those showing interest would
eventually make their way up to Salisbury.
Soon after our return to battalion routine at Cranborne
Barracks I was posted to B Company, later 2 Commando, at
that time commanded by Major Derry Macintyre. The reason for
this was that B Company was to become responsible for
recruit training and I was Training W.O.
We subsequently had several squads pass through, completing
a four-month course. Many of these recruits were from South
Africa, proof that our jaunt down to Johannesburg had borne
The RLI's ethos and culture was often touched and influenced
by people other than members of our own regiment. Here's an
incident, where a blue job acted, as one of the legends
would have, I guess …
'A night on the tiles'
By (the then Major) Nigel Henson
The blue job
Dick Paxton, one the coolest dudes around. Enemy fire he
seemed not to notice - whilst I was flinching away from the
K car door, he wasn't even blinking and conducting
operations and wisecracking all the time. In many ways he
reminded me of Yossarian in Catch 22 - he had a very
unorthodox approach to matters military - never
conventional, never belligerent but always commenting on
events with a kind of amused detachment.
After his aircraft was destroyed under him in Op Uric and he
was recovering from his injuries, accounts have it that he
could be seen every morning sailing on his yacht close
inshore to Carribea Bay on Kariba, leaning against his mast,
dressed in the altogether and viewing the breakfast guests
on the lawn through a pair of binoculars!
After Independence, Dick joined the SANDF and was the Wasp
helicopter pilot on the SAS President Kruger frigate that
was rammed by a sister ship in the middle of the night in
the South Atlantic. Urban legend has it that upon the order
to abandon ship Dick got into a lifeboat and as it was about
to be cast off from the foundering frigate he suddenly
yelled "Hold it! I've forgotten my Barclay card". He jumped
off the lifeboat onto the deck again and disappeared down a
companionway, to emerge. a short while later clutching his
precious card! What the other occupants of the lifeboat had
to say remains unprintable! Vintage Paxton - a great guy.
Dick was my pilot in about Sept 77, based at Buffalo Range
where the fire force comprised 1K and 2G cars, a Lynx and a
One day, in mid-morning we were called out to ‘roadrunner'
activation about 20km due west of Birchenough Bridge and a
few km north of the Beit Bridge - Fort Victoria road. It was
about 1½ hour flight and with a couple of refuelling stops;
the use of the vehicle borne. 2nd wave was out of the
Eventually we arrived over the target area where the Lynx
and a PRAW aircraft were trying to locate the ‘roadrunner' -
a difficult task as one really needed 3 aircraft to
triangulate. Anyway, surprise by then was lost and it
appeared as though the target was in an area of open maize
fields interspersed with kraals and small wooded rocky
The deployment resulted in a fire fight for which Cpl Russel
Phillips was subsequently awarded the SCR and where we
tragically lost Lt. Fisher a RAR officer. The engagement
lasted a few hours and having cleared the scene, by the
about 5pm, we left the area.
The return journey
Unfortunately, the weather closed in rapidly and with the
cloud base down to only a few hundred feet we decided to
head for Fort Victoria; the closest destination to overnight
With deteriorating weather and a 40-minute journey ahead,
Dick made the sensible decision to merely follow the main
road, as the cloud base didn't enable flying higher than
about 150 feet.
Within a short time, the rain set in and it grew darker
still; Dick had to switch on the Alouettes landing
searchlight in order to follow the road. So we crept along
it, doing no more than about 30 knots for about 20 minutes,
all the time checking with the other aircraft that they were
still behind us.
It really was hair raising flying, the rain was thrashing
down and whenever the road went up a hill, the cloud base
descended to no more than 40 or 50 feet. Dick and I were
debating landing and going no further when we nearly flew
into the back of another aircraft - somehow and unseen a G
car had overtaken us!
That decided it! We all landed on the main road in the
pouring rain one behind the other; close to some habitation
and not far off the road. Radio communication with any JOC
had for sometime been lost given the low flying altitude.
After we had shut down the aircraft we decided that Dick and
I would try to find a phone and speak to JOC Fort Victoria.
The other aircrew and the 8 RLI soldiers were to guard the
aircraft; not exactly a picnic as there was the very real
prospect of a terrorist presence.
Some locals had gathered around the aircraft and upon
questioning it was established that there was a phone at the
council beer hall located in the bush about 3km away. A
child offered to take Dick and me there, and so off we
trudged, freezing cold in the pouring rain in only shorts
The track to the beer hall wasn't really one you could take
a vehicle on and after about 45 minutes of slipping in the
mud, crossing streams in spate and tripping over tree roots,
we eventually arrived at a whitewashed building open on
three sides and under corrugated iron, illuminated by
numerous hurricane lamps.
Well! As we approached we could see the Chibuku signs, there
were 30 - 40 locals there and there was obviously the mother
of all piss-ups going on.
"I'll wait here and cover you, you go on in and phone" I
said to Dick "make it as quick as possible." The cool dude
nodded and sauntered into the beer hall where a deathly hush
descended on the party when they saw the uniform.
A round on me!
Expecting Paxton to make his way to the phone (one of the
old crank handle models) behind the bar, I was astounded by
his next move "I'll have one of those" he pointed at the
plastic beaker of millet beer" and give everyone else a
round on me" (or words to that effect). Crouching out in the
rain, cradling my FN I couldn't believe the scene unfolding
before my eyes.
The locals, suspicious at first (but never ones to refuse a
free beer) grudgingly accepted Dick's offer and crowded
around Paxton, who was obviously the object of their
curiosity. It was as if I wasn't there - Dick didn't even
acknowledge my presence, but bought another round, and
suddenly everyone was his friend, slapping him on the back,
shouting and trying to get him into a local "down-down" -
the place was going mad and Paxton was their hero!
I felt rather foolish sitting out in the rain and after a
while strolled in as if I was late and took up station by
"You buy them another round - I'll sort out the phone" Dick
whispered, and again, the crowd responded enthusiastically,
this time to my offer of a round.
Whilst this was going on, Paxton slipped behind the bar and
had a word with the barman, who began to crank the phone.
After numerous attempts and shouting by the barman,
eventually the phone was handed to Paxton for a brief while.
Meanwhile the piss up continued, I had two beakers of the
vile stuff - now both of us were the hero's!
"Ok, spoke to Fort Vic - they are sending a platoon of RAR -
should be here in about an hour". Paxton said
matter-of-factly as if what we'd experienced was an everyday
occasion "Just time for another round!" I thought he was
crazy; we had pushed the envelope in everything we'd done
that day, surely it was time to rein in!
Anyway, during the final round and whilst we were preparing
to say our goodbyes, the barman and a mate insisted that
they run us up to the main road on their bicycles which were
outside. They would listen to no amount of protestation and
eventually we saddled up on their bikes' rear carriers. By
then it had stopped raining, but occasionally the bikes
would slip and skid in the mud, unwittingly aided by their
I'm not sure what the press would have made of this sight
had photographs been taken of Rhodesia's killing machine at
work! Eventually we arrived back at the aircraft just as the
welcome lights of the RAR trucks came over the last rise -
we'd made it back - all was over, a fitting end to another
RECALL AND REUNION (R & R) GALLERY
Ouens with all these noticas ‘s arriving this year I've been
wondering should I perhaps write mine out and put it in the
draft box so when the time comes my daughter can send it off
now that I am approaching the 82 year..
What still niggles me having to contribute for Crash
Hannerway gimmick of setting off on the tennis court one of
his detonations' on a Dinning Night that cracked the plate
glass dining room glass window and John Salt getting a
fright and spilling his glass of Port over Governor General.
Then what about the only Irish Navy deserter trying to join
the Congolese Mercenary in 1961 (Paddy Cossack)? Yes there
are many memories still thought about and some are brought
back when you hear of the passing of companions at war and
in peace. Please note I don't use the word comrade me
because that is used by the other side.
John Dolman (1130)
the ‘Old and Bold!'
‘Paddy’ Driver as he was known in the Rhodesian Light
Infantry came to us from the British Army Parachute Regiment
into No.1Training Unit in 1960. He had already fought in
Malaya. Cyprus and Egypt, and was a young but very
experienced infantryman and soon became a valuable,
unassuming but most popular and effective NCO instructor in
2 Platoon, ‘A’ Company.
John Cecil ‘Paddy’ Driver
He was soon promoted to Sergeant and became the platoon
sergeant of 2 Platoon, which deployed to the Congo in
September 1961. His platoon commander, Lt Brian
Barrett-Hamilton was fortunate to have such a fine
infantryman and quiet achiever to guide him wisely in his
first leadership position after Sandhurst. Paddy was
probably the best platoon sergeant in my ‘A’ Company.
I was very fortunate to have such a high quality
leadership exemplar in my company, and Paddy Driver’s
dedicated attitude and professionalism influenced the whole
He later transferred to the Rhodesian SAS; and on the
collapse of the Federation returned to his country of birth,
Ireland. However he soon followed his other Rhodesian Army
friend ‘Rick’ Rescorla into the US Army and after an
outstanding start in the US Army with awards such as the
Distinguished graduate of his NCO course plus winning both
the General George S. Patton Award for Excellence and the
General Douglas MacArthur award for leadership, he was
posted to the US 7th Cavalry: The Gary Owens’, (Once George
Armstrong Custer’s Unit) of the 101st Airborne Brigade
(Screamin’ Eagles) where his CO was Hal Moore of ‘Once we
were Soldiers’ fame.
Moore always spoke highly of Paddy and after Paddy was
killed in Action in Vietnam Moore spoke at Paddy’s funeral
in Arlington Cemetery, in Washington, DC. Though twice
wounded in Action while serving with the 7th Calvary; Paddy
was finally killed in action on 17 April 1969 on his second
tour there while serving with Hal Moore’s 101st Calvary
Division. Hal Moore described Paddy Driver as one of the
most heroic, dedicated and respected combat leaders who have
ever served in the US Army .
Paddy came to visit me in Vietnam while he was on his first
tour with 7th Calvary and we spent a memorable and
interesting evening together in my small rain-spattered and
damp hootchie in the 1st Bn Royal Australian Regiment area
near Bien Hoa. Paddy was in good form; enjoying his tour in
Vietnam and getting ready to go back on leave to Ireland
then return to the States to do an Officers’ Candidates
course at Fort Benning; which he passed with honours.
There were three of us clustered close in my cramped
hootchie that night discussing the war in Vietnam. There was
Paddy, plus David Hackworth of ‘About Face’ fame, then
serving as ‘S3’ (Operations Officer) with the 101st; as I
was with our Australians); and me. We were glad no generals
could hear our scathing comments, about what we felt was the
totally inept and unprofessional conduct of the war at both
the strategic and tactical levels. Paddy added bountiful
common sense and reality to our somewhat pseudo-intellectual
In 1971, 1974 and again in 1984 I had the honour and duty to
place a poppy near Paddy’s name; ‘J.C. DRIVER’ on the sombre
brailed-bronze Vietnam Wall of the Vietnam Memorial in
Rest in Peace, ‘Paddy Driver’; we of old ‘A’ Company 1RLI
remember you well and treasure the fine spirit and attitude
that you embellished upon us.
John 'Digger' Essex-Clark
John Hickman's Visit to Natal
OC 'A' Company 1RLI
Tom Davidson arranged and hosted a lunch at Stokers Arms in
Kloof, Natal, July 22, 2011, for Gen Hickman who is down on
Those present in the photograph below are , from left to
right : Mike Higgins, Robin Tarr, Roy Gardener, Richard
Wood, Bruce Rooken - Smith, Tom Davidson, Pete Hean, Gen
John Hickman, Mark Adams, Mick Mc Kenna, Pete Maunder, and
With best regards and happy birthday to Mick.
Digger Essex-Clark forwarded the following photographs;
rugby, a fine complement to team and reputation building.
And standards of dress and pride, evident so early on!
Another aide-memoire for
you! Reg Edwards had now taken over as 2IC from Bill
Godwin; you must have been absent, Haye had gone (thank
heavens!); and Harry Harvey had arrived after we got back
from the Congo border. Of that front-row seated there is
only me still intact above ground level!
We received the following photograph of Jimmy Swan (ex 2
Commando) parachuting in celebration of the regiment’s
birthday. (Queensland Australia, 2011)
AFRICA BRANCH SITREP
4th & 5th February 2011 (50th Reunion
The frenzied pre 50th Anniversary preparations have now gone
and the African RLI 50th Reunion was held over the 4th and
5th February and was a resounding success for the
Association and our friends. The May edition of your
favourite newspaper covered in detail the event with our
chairman Ian Buttenshaw giving his overview. Some missed
that last edition so herewith a few more pictures and some
details. We had about 170 members and friends at the Friday
night Dickie Fritz gathering and a large number of still
photos were taken. These have been posted to the RLIRA
website and appear on the DVD as well. There was a great
amount of mirth and old mates hooking up after a fair number
of years, disposing of vast quantities of liquid and so a
stiff profit into the MOTH coffers I believe.
The Saturday graced us with exceptional weather and as
guests started to arrive at AFB Swartkops the SAAF was just
winding up their monthly flying training day. The SAAF
museum even had their beautifully restored DH Vampire in the
air and some sniffs could be heard from the RhAF guests as
the aircraft flew through its manoeuvres. This was followed
on by what must be the only airworthy P51 Mustang in Africa
giving us a beat up.
Or guests of honour (Living Co’s and RSM’s) were
interviewed on camera at the RV and then dispatched in a
Puma Helicopter to be flown into the venue. The purpose of
using a Puma was also to commemorate those SAAF, RLI and
Rhodesian Engineers that were tragically lost in the downing
of Puma 164 at Mapai. Wreaths were laid for all the members
lost, during the Memorial Service.
We were completely booked out to capacity (325) for the
Saturday birthday celebrations. Esteemed crow Kerrin Cocks
was seen taking movies and later on interviewed some of the
manne and guests. All of this is on the hour and a half
production DVD of the Africa 50th Reunion. This is a must
have for all who attended and will remain longer than normal
photographs do. Ex RLI members came in from all over the
globe and the catering was first class.
The Dempsters’ ran a most efficient and professional "front
desk" processing guests with minimum of fuss whilst the
Huxhams’ again set up the Q Store and did an exceptional
amount of trade in memorabilia for the Association funds.
The ladies involved in the preparation and planning set up
the incredible décor in the layout of the hanger and this
really set the tone for a great reunion.
Thanks again to Grahame Roy and his production of excellent
unit and subunit drops including a magnificent huge
depiction of the "Troopie’
||At the appropriate time our replica President’s and
Regimental Colours were paraded by the most proud and buffed
Colour Party marched on by ex RSM (School of Infantry) Sandy
Miller and Ensigns Rick van Malsen and Neill Jackson. Thank
you to Martyn Hudson from the UK in permitting us to use the
original braces for the colour party.
Padre Bill Dodgen and ex RSM Robin Tarr presented an
excellent service and remembrance to our fallen with the
reading of the Roll Of Honour included in the programme.
The speeches by our Patron Charlie Aust and RLIRA Chairman Ian Buttenshaw were moving and again reminded us why this Association must continue for as long as we are all able.
29th May 2011-SADF Commemoration Parade
By kind invitation of John Redfern of the Flame Lily
Association and RASA and General Opperman (Retd.) of the
Voortrekker Monument Foundation, a number of our RLI RA
stalwart members (Alan Strachan, Carol Doughty, Ron Doughty,
Papi Bolton, Len Beachy and flanked by the man from the SAS
Association, Graham Peak) attended the SADF Commemoration
Service held at the SADF Wall of Remembrance,
Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria on May 29th.
Alan Strachan sends in the below report:
I hope you and Sylvia are keeping well.
This event was exceptionally well organized and I think this
one needs to be considered a must in future. Papi Bolton,
Len Beechy, Graham Peek, Ron Doughty, Carol and I attended.
The service was kept interesting despite the mixture of
English and Afrikaans and the wreath laying went smoothly.
As a matter of interest, John Redfern persuaded General
Opperman to have a plaque made for the RLI and RhE soldiers
that were shot down at Mapai and this plaque has been placed
very close to the SADF Wall of Remembrance on the main
through road. We all got together to thank Gen Opperman for
this and I’d like to suggest that an official letter of
thanks from the RLIRA be sent to him. John Redfern will be
able to help you with all the details pertaining to this
plaque being placed. I think it would be great if we could
lay a wreath for the Rhodesian Light Infantry at future
After this service we all went to find Art’ Nulty's grave at
the New Military Cemetery near Voortrekkerhoogte. Art was a
medic in 1 Commando and he joined 44 Para's Pathfinders down
here after leaving Rhodesia. He was killed in a car accident
in SWA returning back to base whilst still serving in the
SADF. After a bit of a search we did find his grave. We
cleaned it up as best we could, placed flowers and took
photos for his family in the UK. I will forward a copy of my
mail to his brother with the attached photos.
After paying our respects we all moved off for a quick drink
at a Moth club, where we were made very welcome and then
went for lunch at Papi’s favourite eatery - Die Boskelder or
something like that.
It was a very pleasant day spent in the company of great
Thank you very much for attending and pass on my thanks to
all the men and woman who turned out. I agree that this is
something we should support for the future especially
because of the plaque for Puma 164 recording and honouring
the names of all our ouens killed in that incident. The
pictures are great and I will get a select few into the next
Cheetah and upload the good ones to the website.
I will contact Col Redfern for the General’s details and
send him a note for the RLI Plaque and I am glad that you
were well received. See you all at the Friday prayer meeting
26th June 2011 Annual BSAP Association
Curry & Rice Luncheon
The BSAP Association kindly invited members of the RLI RA to
their annual Curry and Rice lunch held at the Rosebank Bowls
Club. Strange to see Papi Bolton behaving himself and no one
saw even one blue light in his car boot. The men have
mellowed and some BSAP members even manage to laugh now in
the company of the mmwc. In all serious it is always a
privilege to be invited by other regimental associations and
we of course reciprocate at every opportunity
1st July 2011. Prayer Meetings.
On the First Friday of every month the respective regions in
the Africa branch have a "Prayer Meeting’’ and no doubt
those regions reports will contain detail on their
gatherings. I just need to say well done to Debbie and Gary
Huxham for cooking, serving and paying for the most
excellent Curry and makings at Dickie Fritz on the 1st July.
Thank you both for always rising above and beyond the call
of duty. Donations were accepted and Debbie handed over R
520.00 taken in to the Association.
July 8th Combined Associations’ Welfare
After some behind the scenes discussions and recce this past
year it with a great pleasure that we can inform our members
that the first formal meeting has now taken place. This was
held at the Johannesburg Country Club, the venue kindly
organised by Pat Armstrong. A presentation was made on the
ideas behind the proposal and discussions held around the
main points. The interest is definitely on the rise for a
combined forces welfare organisation rather than each of us
trying to go it alone. By the time you read this follow up
working group would have taken place and feedback should be
available at the Africa AGM at the end of August and the UK
50th Reunion in September.
July 15th Voortrekker Monument
Co-Authors of the book ‘Puma 164 Down’ Neill Jackson and
Rick van Malsen organised a gathering of some of the
relatives of the men who died in the Puma shot down over
Mapai and to present copies of their book to them. I was
honoured to attend. The book is a most excellent read and an
essential part of any of your collections. Their story
evokes a lot of memories and a fair number of ex RLI have
already got their copy and give excellent reports on the
book. Well done to Rick and Neill in providing this most
essential record of a part of the Battalion’s history to
ensure the memory lives on. Padre Bill Dodgen said a
meaningful prayer for the fallen and for those who stayed
behind. Earlier this year a marathon was organised by Leon
Bezuidenhout around the Voortrekker Monument area to
commemorate the SADF crew and the Rhodesians who lost their
lives in the incident. Leon presented complimentary gold,
silver and bronze medals to Neill and Rick in memory of
this. The medals have now kindly been donated to the
Rhodesian Fighting Forces Museum in the UK to be placed
amongst our memorabilia in the museum. Some pictures below
of the gathering.
July 30th/31st South African Arms Fair (Saxonwold Military
This is the last event in the current diary to bear report
was our second foray into the annual Arms Fair held in
Johannesburg where we set up shop, this year alongside the
BSAP and Selous Scouts Associations. The main aim is of
course to generate funds via the sale of RLI RA memorabilia
and secondary to maintain some sort of public exposure. The
main driver for the Association this year was Alan Strachan
spending long hours behind the sales point. Papi Bolton
arrived later to lend a hand. A few thousand rands were made
and new friends, so well worth the efforts. I would like to
see if for next year we cannot scrounge some Fireforce gear
and a full set of greens to put on our younger members to
increase this exposure. Is there anyone out there with gear
the want to donate? Let me know.
13 August 2011, All Forces Bash Gauteng
27 August 2011, African AGM
23-25th September, UK 50th Reunion
This period was a sad time for us as we had the death of
Rory Beary (2Cdo) in Kenton on Sea. What was tragic about it
was that his girlfriend had come out from Ireland and that
Friday Rory had proposed to her and she had agreed to marry
him. They had planned to get married on the following Monday
and then fly to Ireland to sort out business and then return
to the Eastern Cape.
The Friday they was walking on the beach and Rory had a
heart attack and died on the beach.
The funeral for Rory was held on Thursday the 14 in Port
Elizabeth and was attended by his one son and daughter, his
sister and a few friends. The RLIRA was represented by Bandy
Emeric, Mark Taunton, Dawn Gombart (my boss) I. The Selous
Scouts Association was represented by Barbara Bresler.
We had apologies from Don Price and Jimmy Jameson who were
up Port Alfred way and could not make the funeral. After the
ceremony (and tea and cake) we proceeded to the nearest pub
and had a few (just a few) drinks in remembrance of Rory. So
with the death of Rory and Brian Authers a couple of months
previously it seems that 2 Cdo has had a bit of sad luck
within a short space.
I would like to take this opportunity to advise guys to
consider joining the MOTH organisation. I have been a member
of the MOTH organisation for a number of years and have just
completed a 7 year spell as my Shellhole Sergeant Major. The
benefits of this, I have been given a MOTH cottage which
will be mine for the rest of my life and should I die before
my wife, it will be hers for the rest of her life for very
little rental. What more security could you ask for?
Kwa Zulu Natal
||The last few months have been very quiet in the KZN Region
with none other than our regular monthly prayer meetings
Andy Surgeon (ex 2 Commando) displayed his hand crafted
knives recently at the KZN Swords and Knives expo held in
Umhlanga, and on display were his RLI knives that he
produced in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the
The picture of the original Sports Pavilion sign, which is
displayed in our collection at Natal Mounted Rifles, is
Doc Skippy Michell
Gauteng Regional Representative Report.
Since the last Cheetah report, there has been little to
report on as there have been not major social events.
The monthly "Prayer Meetings" are still well attended and
hopefully the weather will soon start to warm up and this
may attract more people.
Friday the 01st of July "Prayer Meeting" was with a slight
difference whereby we did not have the traditional braai due
to the very cold weather and Debbie my wife put on breyani
and curry & rice meal which went down well with all that
attended and the MOTHS who were there.
There was no charge for the meal, but donations worth
R570.00 was raised which was donated to the RLIRA - well
done everyone who contributed.
Thanks you Debbie for the time and effort you put in to
produce a great meal.
Wally (of the MOTHS) was back from leave early due to some
accommodation hick ups, BUT, I firmly believe this was so he
would not to miss the "Prayer Meeting" at which his presence
would have been missed.
Al Strachan again has come to the rescue of the RLIRA by
manning the stand at the Military Collector Show held at the
Johannesburg Military museum on Saturday 30th July 2011 -
thanks again Al you are a great example of a true RLI
soldier always there when needed.
Please remember that the RLIRA AGM will be held at the
Dickie Fritz MOTHS shell hole on Saturday 27th August 2011
please all attend.
Remember if you do not place you votes for who you want to
represent the association in all its functions during the
next financial year and voice your opinions, DON’T MOAN in
On a final note, Bill you have taken and run with the
association like a true leader who should have the respect
that you deserve from the RLIRA members and those RLI guys
who are not members. You have and always will have my full
support and I am proud of being able to have worked with you
over the past two years as the Gauteng Representative and
Raffle - There will be a raffle for a HP laptop computer
which the start of ticket sales will be from the AGM at
R100.00 per ticket which will be drawn at the Gauteng end of
year "Christmas " function.
We will notify the members via the web and e-mails what to
do to buy tickets.
We must sell a minimum of 100 tickets to make it worthwhile.
Call sign "Hux"
Quarter Master Report.
Firstly, I apologise that there have been some delays and
problems with the supply of merchandise requests over the
last two months. This has been due to excessive personal and
business commitments that both Debbie and I have been
Hopefully by the AGM all outstanding deliveries / queries
will be finalised and completed.
FINALLY - there appears to be a willing member out there who
may take over the role of QM as of the 01st September 2011 -
"Thank you............May the force be with you".
The roll of QM has been an interesting and exciting one,
which has grown over the past two and at the same time has
required more attention and dedication, which I
unfortunately am not able to provide due to my other
commitments. Therefore the reason the position being made
There have been moments when I have felt that it was
necessary for a "Fire Force Strike" to take out an
inconsiderate member or two but was halted by Debbie who
always managed to defuse the situation.
Members need to realise that this position is voluntary and
anyone taking on the roll of QM does have other daily
functions to attend to and certain things may have to wait,
but rest assure, you will always get what you have ordered
and paid for.
Apart from a few overseas orders, I do not recall any items
that have not reached members and within time, sometimes bit
close to an advent, but always delivered.
"Quebec Mick" over and out.
Australian / New Zealand Branch News - July 2012
After numerous requests from ex RLI members in Australia and
New Zealand to rejoin the RLIRA, a new branch has been
formed in Australia incorporating New Zealand and the West
Pacific Rim (As per Section 12 of the RLIRA Constitution)
In order to also associate ourselves with the
Australian and New Zealand traditions and areas of our
responsibility, we have titled ourselves, the Australian/New Zealand
Branch of the RLIRA and will conduct our activities
according to the Constitution of the RLIRA and the
well-being of our world-wide brotherhood of that the RLIRA
We are glad once again to rejoin our the brotherhood and in
doing so, soon found that we quickly had over fifty full
members to support us, plus a bevy of honorary members to
assist us in our future programmes; ensuring the well-being
of our Branch and the longevity of the RLIRA as a most
As a new branch; we will hold our first Annual General
Meeting over the Anzac Day Reunion in Canberra in April
2012. Until then our Committee consists of: Chairman; John
‘Digger’ Essex-Clark; our nominal Secretary: Jimmy Swan; and
our Treasurer and Acting-Secretary: Richard ‘Granny’
Johnson; plus Committee member and welfare coordinator,
Quentin Fourie.. These positions will be open for election
at the AGM in April 2012.
Our first small ‘get-together’ was held during the Rhodes
and Founders week-end Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July at
Jimmy Swan’s ‘Flame Lily Adventures’ holiday and leadership
and character development establishment near Burrum Heads in
Queensland; where ‘Ouen-ship’, braaivleis and frosty
Chiboulies, and old-stories were swapped and enjoyed amongst
an atmosphere of veldt and cabin-living, around a fish
-filled lake, river canoeing, obstacle courses, flying fox
descents, and free-fall parachute jumps.
Jimmy himself is now qualifying as a free-fall expert and is
now a spectacularly popular ‘mein host’, and dedicated his
first free-fall descents to the RLI. Granny and Simone
Johnson also signed up for tandem descents over the
week-end. It was an unforgettable experience for all who
attended. Many toasts were raised to ‘Old Rhodesia’ and to
||We, as a branch, are now associated with and will be allied
to the powerful Returned Services League (RSL) of Australia
and will soon become, in order to cater for the
wide-geographical spread of our members, what the RSL titles
a 'virtual’ sub-branch.
We are aware, as a new branch, our committee is still
searching out ways and means to improve the quality and
value of membership. Our members’ and others’ ideas and
support would be most welcome in doing this.
Please let me remind all of you, again, that ANZAC day
period 2012 (24th t0 25th April) will see us celebrate our
first Annual Reunion (to which all who once genuinely served
in the RLI and
support the objects of the RLIRA, are most welcome);
and we will hold our first AGM for our full-members to elect
our Branch committee. More details of this reunion in
Canberra will follow soon so that anyone in the world can
plan early to be with us on that reunion.
All those ex-RLI Ouens who read this who are not yet members
and are resident in our membership domain please apply to us
for membership (no forms are needed until contact is made)
to Richard ‘Granny’ Johnson by e-mail to
Finally, we of the Australian/New Zealand Branch wish all
who read this the very best of good fortune, good health,
much happiness and powerfully supportive memories of Old
Rhodesia plus our beloved RLI and what we all once stood
For each of you, and your loved ones: 'Take care, mate; and
'March on The Saints!’
Over the last few months we have said goodbye to friends and
fellow soldiers. We extend our sympathies to their families
and loved ones.
‘Till we meet again’
Colin Dace 27th
May 2011 Bn. Admin Officer
Brian Authers 9th June 2011
2Cdo and Base Group
Col Mac Willar 25th June
Rory Beary 8th
July 2011 2 Commando
Condolences and Noticas
On behalf of my mom, sister and I, if you could please pass
on our thanks to the RLI Association for the lovely flowers
and to those who attended my dad’s memorial service. It is
hard to believe it is now just over a month since dad passed
away and I have just not had the heart to go through dads
emails. We were in a quandary when had to organise dad’s
funeral or memorial as he was not a religious man and was
not a member of any church. My sister came up with the idea
of having a memorial service at Dickie Fritz, a quiet small
service as dad would have wanted it in his quiet and
As Pat Armstrong told me at the service "if more of dad’s
old colleagues had known of dad’s memorial the entire road
from the gate at Dickie Fritz to the sanctuary would have
been lined with people who knew him". We have been over
whelmed with the support and sympathy from all those who
Col Mac Willar
Sadly my father, Colonel 'Mac' Willar, fought his last
battle early on Saturday morning 25 June aged 89 after being
ill for some time. He was fiercely proud of his service in
the Rhodesian Army and in particular, The RLI in the early
days. In keeping with Dad's wishes, there will be a small
family cremation and service. Donations to please go to the
Dickie Fritz Shellhole.
It is with regret that we inform you of the Passing away of
Rory Beary, ex 2 Commando.
Please see below the notice from brother Shane to Tom
Thomas, chairman of the Selous Scouts Association
The RLI RA extends our sincere condolences to Rory's family
Please let it be known to all those who knew him that my
elder brother Rory
Beary passed away in Kenton on Sea earlier today. Rory
served in 2 CDO RLI, and the Selous Scouts, and then spent
years running his own fishing business out of Kenton.
Recently based out of Cork in Ireland he was visiting South
Africa on one of his frequent walkabouts. He had been
diagnosed with a heart problem that appeared not to be
serious but suffered a heart attack and passed away suddenly
whilst out walking along the coast.
His eldest son Casey and our sister Alana are handling the
arrangements with the ceremony expected to take place in PE
early next week.
Please contact his brother Shane Beary on
email@example.com for exact
timing and detail.
It was good to finally meet you, although always sad to meet
under such circumstances.
I just want to thank you all for the love, care and support
you have all always given Rory. The friendship he had from
all his friends in the military in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)! Was
what held him together? He valued that friendship more than
It was sad that my husband and three sons were all overseas,
so even more special that so many people made the effort to
be there for us all.
Casey spoke so well and from the heart, Rory would have been
so proud of his boy! Shane, Karen, Siobhan and families were
also travelling to Ireland at the time, and couldn't be with
us, but we will get together as a family in the near future
and celebrate his life with us. It was good to share the
service with Rory’s eldest children, Casey and Sheena,
Casey’s wife Jeannie and children, Chris, Siobhans son and
the close friends who managed to be there with all of us,
and Louise who meant so much to Rory, and who was with him
when he died.
It was good to hear Pete Gombart speak so highly of Rory,
and to have shared his friendship through thick and thin! It
was a moving ceremony, one he would have been proud of,
especially the John Denver song as the service ended. Rocky
Mountain High will always be a favourite! It was so Rory.
He leaves behind a grown family, and two younger sons, who
loved him to bits, and it makes us all so happy that his
children knew that they were his whole world. I am grateful
too that he was able to visit us in Hermanus the week before
he died, and to see him so happy with Louise was wonderful.
I have Pete Gombart’s e- mail address, but cannot read the
last few letters, so would be grateful if you could pass
this on to him, and to all the RLI, and Selous Scout, and
SAS groups who sent in fantastic e mails to our brother
Shane and family, we so appreciate it. I do not have their e
mail details, but know that all over the world, groups were
getting together to remember him.
Take care, and thank you all once again, keep in touch.
Alana and Alvin Skinstad and family.
Brian AuthersDear Members/Friends
It is with deep regret that we advise you of the passing
away of Brian Authers yesterday (Thursday 9 June 2011) in
The Association extends our sincere condolences to Lynn, son
Mike and daughter Tracey. Also to all Brian's comrades,
family and friends at this tragic and untimely loss
We will keep you updated on the funeral service arrangements
Condolences can be sent via me or directly to Brian's son
Mike at the address:
The Commando has seen a fair amount of good old
Rhodesia recently. The convoy had an unscheduled stop for a
couple of days when the 21 /C did not consult the rain
goddess or take need of flood warnings before taking a short
cut. However, we are all together again and any reference to
the Big Red Travelling Circus is not appreciated.
RLI: 1 COMMANDO
There have been numerous changes in the Commando since the
last newsletter. Major Henton Jaaback D. M. M. has left for
the dreaded "corridors" and the Commando welcomes Capt Fred
"CANT SEE A PROBLEM1' Watts the ex-adjutant as the new O.C.
who was firmly blooded on his first night with the Commando
by the occasional mortar bomb and rocket at Grand Reef. The
Commando welcomes a new "subbie", Bob Graves.
Congratulations on being awarded the sword of honour Bob. He
has created a frightening precedent within the commando in
that he has a University degree! - Though at one stage the 1
Cdo subalterns had 12 years at varsity between them and not
News from October 1978
Capt Pete Cody re has left for England and Lt 'Tall, blond
and mature beyond his years" Mick Walters has taken over as
21/C. Mick has become firmly ensconced in his "A" and "Q"
job with large piles of empty files surrounding him at all
times. The odd remark such as "what a beautiful filing
cabinet" is heard to emanate from his desk.
Colour Sergeant Alan Gerrish has left to join the training
team at Depot and the new CQ is an old 1 Commando member,
C/Sgt Tony Edwards, who has wasted no time in getting onto a
Para course. Welcome back Tony and hope this stay will be as
long as the last one. Sgt Hennie Van Vuuren has been posted
to Hooters, hopefully on a temp attachment.
On a domestic note congratulations to Cpl "Bludnutt" Vice on
his marriage to Jane Wilson.
The Commando has enjoyed a fair amount of success over the
last couple of months. Last bush-trip we were just short of
our record kill rate for one bush-trip. This bush-trip we
are once again getting close. This sub-unit is curious as to
how much the "LOVERS" paid a certain defence reporter to
publish that they held the record kill for a bush-trip.
|Your comments BN HQ!
We were honoured by a visit from the Battalion 21/C and the
QM. No doubt to check whether the Commandos are still
ruining their HQ.
On a sadder note than usual we
say cheers to 2/Lt "Fabio" Falzoi who was killed in June.
Fabio was educated at St. George's College and went on to
attain a degree in Entomology at Natal University in
Pietermaritzburg. This completed he then joined the Regular
Army, was commissioned at the beginning of this year, and
commanded 4 Troop during his short stay in the Commando; our
condolences to his family and fiancé.
Talking now of WO's and Senior NCO's, we bid farewell to CSM
John De la Rue, recently posted to 3 Indep and Sgt Hennie
van Vuuren to the School of Infantry.
The present shortage of sergeants in the Commando has,
however, been somewhat alleviated by the arrival back, after
a spell in the Selous Scouts, of Sgt Stu Taylor, and the
making up of "Red" Kerr and Coenie Marneweck to that rank.
Our congratulations to them both.
Our thanks must go to the good ladies of Gatooma who took it
upon themselves to treat the whole of the "Big Red" to a
luncheon at the Terraskane Hotel during last R & R. An
excellent lime was had by all and the hotel was also left
End of Article
Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris from the October
edition of the RLI magazine, Cheetah (Page 7), dated October
Who the hell is this!
A Commanding Officer in the making?