e-Cheetah: May 2011
  • Editorial: Stand by your beds!
  • Chairman's Briefing
  • CEO's /Africa Branch Report
  • UK Branch
  • Chinas Signing On
  • The Last Post (Vale)
  • Comd & Sigs
  • Admin & Log
  • There we were … knee-deep in grenade pins

Welcome to this bumper edition of the e-Cheetah, this is my last as editor. My 5-year term is up and in the best interests of democracy; I am stepping down due to work commitments. We're desperate to find a replacement scribe but, in usual army fashion, volunteers there are none. This is going to put inordinate pressure on Bill and his dwindling team so, please, if you're even semi-literate, drop Bill an email and put your hand up (2 Commando need not apply).
I remember the last time I resigned, or tried to, from things RLI. It was in 1978, my morale was low in 3 Commando and I'd had enough. I wrote this letter to the OC, Major Snelgar:

The Leaking Bivvy Next to the Cesspit
Grand Reef Fireforce Base
Somewhere in the Operational Area (shh!)
1 June 1978

The Officer Commanding
3 Commando 1RLI
The Nice Cosy Officers' Mess
Grand Reef Fireforce Base
Somewhere in the Operational Area (shh!)

Howzit Bruce,
Please forgive my familiarity, but I feel you've really become a father figure to me, albeit in a sort of Hitlerian way. My nine recent applications for a transfer to the Pay Corps have mysteriously gone unacknowledged; equally, my avowed homosexual, communist, Jehovah's Witness status has been disregarded-as has my 'S' Cat medical condition (chronic bad back and flat feet). I do believe I was recruited under false pretences: your adverts stating that I would be "a man among men" are misleading. If anything I have become, as they say in the SADF, "a roof among rowe" (a scab among scabs). I am, therefore, left with little choice but to tender my immediate resignation from the Rhodesian Army. I would be grateful if you could arrange tomorrow immediate transport for me back to Salisbury; preferably not a 4.5. Thanks, china.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your hospitality, but all good things must come to an end. I wish you every success in your little war. I shall, of course, be "going loco down in Acapulco".

On the flip side, bru...
728353 L/Cpl Cocks C.M.

P.S. It's just struck me: how come we ORs have our initials after our names and you officer okes have yours in front? Discrimination of the highest order. I shall be taking this up with the LCTU (Lance-Corporals' Trade Union) when I get back to Burg tomorrow.

The following reply was received the next day, as a rather informal memo, while I was vainly waiting for my transport outside the Ops Room, watching a gaggle of pilots sunbathing by the pool:

To: Tpr Cocks
From: Major B.M. Snelgar

Dear Scab,
You will note that not only have I stripped you of your rank, but I have also confiscated your initials as well... because I can. Unfortunately, I cannot arrange any road transport for you at such short notice: all the commando vehicles are being used by the officers for the next few days during their O Group at Montclair Casino. However, I have arranged an Alouette helicopter which, you'll be pleased to hear, will be for your own dedicated use. You can probably hear it starting up in the revetments as you read this. The pilot, marginally irritated that he's been dragged away from the pool, will be taking you to a particularly stubborn cave in the Mutambara TTL, where our Fireforce yesterday failed to dislodge a group of hard-core ZANLA chaps armed with several RPDs and a couple of RPG-7s. I expect you to use all your considerable powers of persuasion and get these fellows to surrender. I shall also expect a detailed contact report from you when I return from the rigours of the roulette wheel.

Happy hunting, son
B.S. / OC 3 Cdo

Over and out ....

Chris Cocks


What a great couple of days we experienced over 4-5 February at the South African Branch 50th Anniversary Reunion. It was exceptionally well organised by Bill Wiggill and his team ably supported by their "Crows”, and all members attending thoroughly enjoyed themselves and owe them a great debt of thanks.
For me the weekend began on the evening of 3 February after 16 hours of travel, when George Dempster collected me from the hotel and whisked me off to his house for an ExCo meeting. It was the first time the ExCo had all been physically in the same place, and it was great to hear viewpoints and have face to face discussions, rather than those by email. Anyway the meeting went off well and the future of the Association plotted.
I really knew the Reunion was on at lunchtime on the 4th when I bumped into Sandy Miller and some ex 2 Commando ouens, and immediately the stories began to be told about times gone by. It was the start of a great 2 days.
The evening of the 4th was at the Dickie Fritz Shellhole in Edenvale. What a great get-together, as I walked in I immediately spotted people I had not seen for over 30 years, but we all just melded back in together, chatting and catching up. The years fell away quickly and the RLI's "Band of Brothers” was back together again. Members had come from far and wide, not only from the four corners of South Africa, but Zimbabwe, Namibia, UK, Australia, Hong Kong and the Middle East. It was a great evening and set the tone for the next day's events.
The main events were on 5 February in a hangar at Swartkop Air Force Base outside Pretoria. The organising team and their Crows had decorated the Hangar and the tables superbly with Commando logos and posters adorning the walls just to add to the atmosphere, and Gary Huxham and his wife had the CQ Store open and did a roaring trade in Association Memorabilia.
As we gradually assembled from 1200 hours to register, it was very fitting that it coincided with the tail end of an air show, and we were all reminded of old times when an Alouette 3 came flying past. The day started with drinks and light snacks as everyone waited for the arrival of the surviving COs, RSMs and their wives, accompanied by myself (less my speech notes still in my hotel room!) We all flew in, in a SAAF Puma piloted by Gen John Church (retd.), and set down in front of the venue. Then being led by General John Hickman on the hard standing, were greeted by Bill Wiggill and led past the Colours, carried by Rick van Malsen and Neil Jackson, under the watchful eye of Sandy Miller, into the hangar where we were all seated for the ongoing proceedings.
The Colours were then marched in and placed on either side of the lectern. A dedication from Brig-Gen (retd) Peter (Crow) Stannard to the crew and passengers of Puma 164 felled during Operation Uric.
This was followed by a Remembrance Service conducted by Padre Lt Col Bill Dodgen, the highlight being the reading of the Roll of Honour by former RSM Robin Tarr, who despite microphone problems half way through was easily heard in all corners of the hangar! This was really moving as we all heard names of close friends who had given their lives for our country and it brought tears to several eyes as the Roll unfolded. During the reading an inclusion was made to those men of the RLI, Rhodesian Army Engineers and the SAAF crew of Puma 164 shot down, killing all on board in September 1979. The Service concluded with a Wreath Laying as the Saints was played by a lone piper.
After a 45-minute break to charge our glasses, during which individual Commando photos were taken and some changed into their Association golf shirts, the proceedings resumed. These started with Robin Tarr (without microphone) leading those attending in singing 'The Saints'. The South African Chairman started the speeches and thanked all those who had helped organise and sponsor the function as well as reading a message from General Coster, a former Army Commander. This was followed by a moving speech from our Patron Lt Col Charlie Aust and then Craig Bone came forward and gave a heartfelt rendition of the similarities of 9/11 and our Viscount disasters and how he was putting the message across to the Americans of the wrongs done to Rhodesia. I briefly followed outlining the Association's achievements in preserving RLI's heritage by the establishment of the Museum and relocation of our Colours and The Trooper, before presenting Bill Wiggill with Life Membership and Mervyn Kluckow and Gary Huxham Regimental Stalwart Status. This was followed by a meal and music where all of us milled around, re-establishing the comradeship not seen since the days of the old Battalion. The irrepressible Martyn Hudson conducted an auction for a painting of the original Trooper and two from Craig Bone that raised in excess of R33, 000.
All in all it was a great couple of days that auger well for the UK Reunion in September, where hopefully members will turn out in the numbers they did in South Africa. What was great about the event is that we all came together as we had never been apart, war stories were told, those that were no longer with us were remembered with reverence and affection, and despite the years and no longer being the steely eyed killers of yesteryear, the RLI's capacity to consume 'chibulies' was again demonstrated to be as good as ever! Finally, I must again thank Bill Wiggill and his team for a really stupendous and memorable couple of days.
May the Saints continue Marching on
Ian Buttenshaw
Chairman RLIRA


1RLIRA 50th Reunion: Africa
Recovery I hope is complete for all who attended the SA 50th Jubilee Reunion. These were a most excellent series of events to mark this remarkable milestone since the Battalion's birth in 1961. I have included a few pictures herein and there is a gallery for the 50th on the website where some 200 plus photos were uploaded.
I would like to really thank those who made the reunion the epic that is was. First off, my committee and also the planning group under George Dempster's steerage for a serious amount of work and organisation that enabled us to host some 170 members at the Dickie Fritz Shellhole on 4 February and the 325 souls at AFB Swartkops. George and Shirley laboured long into the nights to process all the guests and print out ID cards for the registered invitees. The very smooth reception of guests at Swartkops was indicative of this fine effort. To Carol, Ashleigh, Sylvia, Debbie, Shirley Ras and all the other ladies that rallied to the cause and helped set up the Swartkops venue with a very professional and congenial ambiance and ensuring that at Dickie Fritz something more solid than Chibuku was available. Thank you indeed you good fellows. Gary and Debbie Huxham again excelled themselves in setting up the Q Store with all the memorabilia that had been organised for the event. Of course without the kind concessions given the Association to use the airbase this would not have happened here. Hats off to the SAAF Museum for the most excellent venue and facilities we all enjoyed on 5 February. Chris and Kerrin Cocks not only produced the stupendous Jubilee edition of the Cheetah but in organising a video of the event (soon to be released) and Crow Cocks was spotted into the dark hours interviewing manne under the wing of a Canberra bomber. Also a first for Kerrin was to ride aboard a Puma Helicopter to film the VIPs. Last heard she was making rotor blade noises for the new baby. Well done and thank you for those most helpful people that joined us in cleaning up the following morning. Thanks also to the Rhodesian Army Memorial Project Committee for the loan once again of the portable Wall of Remembrance. Thank you Pat Hill for helping us set this up.
Thanks must also go to the musos, Paul Harley and his great no-name band (M962!) and Gavin and his disco and loan of his microphone when the Museum one's battery died. A big thank you to Venette Nel who we asked to do the photography and then did not charge us for all the hours she worked taking pictures. This was then followed up with her arriving on Sunday to help clean up. An incredible crow.
This number of ouens and crows together in one place surely is a record of sorts for any ex-Rhodesian regiment. The format employed in Durban for the 49th i.e. a Friday friendly party followed by a formal Remembrance Service with a dinner the following day was equally well applied on this occasion and seems to be the way to go for the future reunions. Well done the Colour Party of officers Rick van Malsen and Neill Jackson and driven by the erstwhile RSM Sandy Miller. Thank you to all the ex officers of the Battalion that made the trip out and supported the Association and help boost morale and the SAAF bar profits.


Selous Scouts AGM
Once again the kind Tom Thomas invited me along to their AGM, this time held in KZN at the excellent Grey Goose Farm near Newcastle. I think I did see some grey geese from the pub window. In all seriousness this was a great venue and so good to see the old mates again. Bundu Peters in full song ably supported by bandmaster Ian Scott could be heard in nearby Memel (30km). Robin Tarr trying to ably cripple the wine cellar was seen melding with former RLI/Selous Scouts types. Always amazing, and it was again good to see Dale Collett who drove his much modified vehicle from Botswana to Newcastle 'on his stomach'. This man's courage cannot even be described in writing. It is always a pleasure to have a drink with the Scouts as there are some truly amazing characters amongst them. Congratulations to Pat Armstrong on his appointment as the President of the Selous Scouts Association. Pat arrived with his one wing in a black sling and stated that he thought he would tie one hand up before 'mixing it' with his ouens. Read into that what you will. Thanks again Tom for the invite and a very enjoyable gathering. I really need to get some sort of golf coaching so I can also let the BSAP contingent win the game.

'Prayer Meetings'
Well done to the Gauteng region for establishing a permanent base at the Dickie Fritz Shellhole and to see KZN region taking up residence last year at the Natal Mounted Rifles. It saves now to hear from the Cape crew as to the new venue in their region.

Website Updates
Now added a Regimental History page at the link: http://www.therli.com/B_History_Reg_Association.asp

All attempts are now being made to keep the 'Events' page updated so you can visit to see 'what's on' in your region.

A special category of recognition is made on the website to our ever labouring better halves and friends and titled 'Honorary Crows' on the page at the link: http://www.therli.com/A_AboutRLIRA.asp

The story with photos of the conception and erection of the Troopie Statue is also on the 'Anniversaries'' page along with updates on Puma 164 (Mapai) and 1 Commando's 28th February Hondo. Follow the link:

Our Chairman wrote his comments on the SA 50th Reunion and these can be read at:

This last quarter has not been without its sadness. Mrs Anne Rich, wife of the late Brig. Peter and mother to Mike and Jane passed away after a struggle with cancer on 29 March 2011 in the UK.
Old Comrade (1 Commando) Colin (Hutch) Welch BCR succumbed to cancer after a protracted struggle on 31 March 2011 in Benoni, Gauteng, RSA. Hutch is survived by wife Julie and children Gavin and Nicole. For those who know comrade Phil Kaye, he had a heart attack this past month but is recovering well and we sincerely hope to see Phil at the forthcoming All Forces Bash.

A note on welfare
The subject of Welfare was raised by a couple of persons during the recent reunion in South Africa including former CO Lt Col Ian Bate. The subject had already been discussed by the ExCo, despite the fact that the RLIRA is not a welfare organisation and is purely an organisation to 'Preserve our Heritage', as there are concerns about members resident in RSA where no welfare system exists.
The ExCo are investigating setting up of a Trust Fund in conjunction with the SAS, Selous Scouts and BSAP Associations (who like us are not welfare organisations), that can be used to help our members with welfare problems. Before the next AGMs of the RSA and UK Branches in September, we should have something to report in this regard and maybe some news of the establishment of the Trust Fund. Be assured the ExCo are addressing the concerns reference welfare, even though it is not within the Association's constitutional remit, and we barely have the funds to keep the Museum etc., going without personal donations. We will keep you all informed of developments in regard to welfare.
I will sign out now and until the next e-Cheetah I will keep you updated with regular signals
Bill Wiggill


Martyn Hudson apologises for being out of touch recently, but is heavily involved in business matters and will be so for the for the next few weeks, on top of which he has been let down by some of the parties in connection with the 50th celebrations in September. The amended Plan for the UK 50th Celebrations, which Martyn will put out in detail once he is back in Comms is as follows:

Friday 23rd Sept
No change - Prayer meeting at The Rifles Club, London

Saturday 24th Sept
Move to Hatfield House as planned with picnic lunch
Service at The Trooper Statue
Visit Hatfield House to see Colours.
Move to Bedford by Bus (Evening Dinner and Drinks at the RAF Association Club and view Museum)
Return late PM to London
Sunday 25th Sept
Pub Lunch and Drinks at The Rifles Club

You can be assured that it will be a great event despite the changes, so book your rooms at the Hotel well in advance to avoid disappointment.

Rhodesian Defence Forces Collection
I recently travelled up to visit the Rhodesian Defence Forces Collection in the RAFA Club, Bedford to revisit the fine work being done by Martyn Hudson and his enthusiasts. Below is my report.

As of late Martyn has been able to acquire more artefacts for the Rhodesian SAS, Selous Scouts, Rhodesian Air Force and the BSAP. A number of items from the Walls and Ron Reid-Daly collections have also been acquired. The amount of work put into creating this display has been prodigious and the efforts to find more relevant artefacts have culminated in a great deal of expenditure. If there is anyone out there who feels they can help with artefacts or funding please contact Martyn Hudson.

Since creating the display Martyn has made huge improvements to the security for the collection. This has included security locks on each display room, iron bars on all windows and the main entrance door to the collection. In the rear of the building wire entanglements have also been installed.

Future Plans
As we all know none of us are going to last for ever so in that vein Martyn is now making enquiries with various establishments with the view to a suitable venue for a permanent base for the collection. Our links with the British Empire and Commonwealth Museum will be ongoing and we look forward to the BECM reforming in the new location in London.

I would like to congratulate Martyn and his cohorts for producing such an outstanding comprehensive display of the Rhodesian Defence Forces, a fitting tribute to all the men and women of all colours who served Rhodesia. For those of you who have not seen this collection I highly recommend that you find the time to make a visit. Contact Martyn Hudson on 07788788095.
John Wynne Hopkins
Displays Member
Rhodesian Army Association


Greetings everybody. It's been a while since I gave a sitrep. There are a few things I would like to mention. Unfortunately, since early December 2010, till now, we have had to sadly say farewell to 3 RLI men in the persons of, Pete Lang, Ticky Mellet and in March, Colin Welch. For these RLI soldiers and the others that have gone before, I want to say we owe it to them to do our utmost to continue the RLI Association. The RLI has a fantastic heritage and we cannot allow it to become a forgotten battalion. I'm asking you all to get your sons, daughters and others who have had involvement with an RLI member, get them interested in our past and bring them along to our various functions and let's make it a task to stir interest in them so as time goes by they can step in and carry on the Association.
The highlight till now was our 50th celebration and much has been said but suffices to say it was nothing less than fantastic. Another very enjoyable and worthwhile function to attend is the monthly Prayer Meetings. Speaking for Gauteng, which is always very ably organised by Gary Huxham and his lovely crow Debbie, every meeting has had such a great vibe with plenty of talking, comradeship, and laughter going on and of course lots of chibulies around the braai fires. These are held at Dickie Fritz MOTHs Shell Hole in Edenvale and the bar is manned by MOTH members of whom the main manne is Wally, also an ex Rhodie. Wally told me his son also served in the Rhodesian Army, as well as Wally himself. These MOTHs folk really appreciate our support and the fact that we hold our functions at their locstat is a good financial gain for them. Of course the bar is always an attraction and at a reasonable price.
For those of you in Gauteng a reminder of another event worthwhile attending is the All Forces Bash always well organised by Carol Doughty. For any ouens who may be in the Free State or Welkom area, I would like to remind you that Steve Hageman, ex 3 Cdo, is the Old Bill for the local Shellhole and would like to hear from you and organise a get together. His contact details are email shageman@duraset.com and mobile: 082-552 9330.
For those of you in other areas maybe looking for a venue for a monthly Prayer Meeting may I suggest that you try contacting any of your local MOTH Shellhole; they really appreciate any support that comes their way.
Well, that's my lot; keep safe till next time.
Chris Ras

Well 2011 started off well with the 50th celebrations starting on 4 February at the Dickie Fritz MOTH Shell Hole which was extremely well attended and from what I was witness to, enjoyed by all, especially those that were tossed out at 03h30 on Saturday morning. The Saturday 5th event was fantastic and thank all that attended from all corners of the planet, it made everything worthwhile. A big hand must be given to the committee and all those that were involved in this events huge success, and a very big thank you from the members of the RLIRA to Bill's daughter Ashley who excelled in her efforts and commitments. Many friends were reunited and even an old flame or two resurfaced and no bar brawls; amazing. Even a new romance that I know of, red wine and all.
A big thanks to the Air Force Museum team that put so much effort into putting together the venue and being there on the day to man the bar, which I might add they could not believe how much the old toppies could pusa, requiring an number of additional restocking trips to keep the troops happy throughout the night (reminds me of 1 Commando's days based at the old Rutenga airfield, never a shortage of volunteers to fill the water bowser considering the vehicle had to pass the bottle store on the way to the filling point).
Great news is that we have secured the Dickie Fritz MOTH Shell Hole "Ridgeback Pub” for our monthly 'Prayer Meeting' venue and have had two very good evenings with 20 to 30 RLIRA people attending alongside the MOTH residence on both evenings. There will always be a braai fire laid on and the refreshments are cheap in comparison to other venues. It also appears to be more accessible to everyone. So please SUPPORT the monthly 'Prayer Meetings' on the first Friday of every month and remember that all are welcome: BSAP, SAS, Scouts, Air Force, Intaf, RAR, including your partners. Bring your own meat. I will be noting which commando members support the monthly 'Prayer Meetings' and will reward the commando whose members attend these meetings in force with a number of beverage rewards that will be given to them at the year-end Christmas function to consume at will.
Shortly the first raid outside the Gauteng region (Op KZN) will be taking place and the op's details will be posted as soon as the logistics have been confirmed. SKIPPY BE PREPARED. Should anyone have any ideas that they want to suggest regarding getting together or any other topic, please let me know.
Hux (Gary Huxham)
083-227 7158

With the Xmas break now a distant memory we are back into the swing of our first monthly meetings, the latest being held on 1 April and well attended by RLI, SAS and Scouts ouens. The display cabinets at the NMR are starting to really take shape now and with the inclusion of my set of greens and beret to the cabinet it will start to take on more of an RLI feel. Jacqui Kirrane handed over to me the original RLI Sports Pavilion sign which is a valuable piece of our history to display. (I'm sure there's an interesting story as to how that was liberated!). Pictures of the event with relevant names of attendees attached:

Mike Higgins (far left) Peter Maunder (bar leaner) Robin Tarr (facing).

Neville Mare (RhAF) & Dick Warton (lurking in the darkness), Chris Garland (centre), Ray Godbeer and George Mitchell (Scouts).

'Prop' Geldenhuys (RhAF) at left, Eddie de Beer (RASA) centre).

The life of a medic at RLI was not all about gunshot wounds and sick parades. It was one particular weekend where I had been assigned duty medic at the camp hospital, when my tranquil pastime of reading books (not much happened in camp at the weekends!) was abruptly disturbed by a Land Rover screeching into the car park with a semi comatose person in the back. The person in dire need of medical attention was the one and only "Jack”, the barman at the Corporals' Club bar. Jack was a short, stocky Englishman who was legendary in the camp and who had decided to get into a vodka drinking competition with the Saturday afternoon club patrons. Unfortunately, the vodka took effect a short while after the lads dispersed and Jack had collapsed behind the bar and proceeded to suffocate on regurgitated Smirnoff, only to be discovered by the driver of the Landy when he popped into the club. He had already stopped breathing and was turning blue in the face, so I started clearing his airway and proceeded to administer CPR, while getting the driver to alert the standby medic (Dane Creswell I think it was) so we could transport him to Andrew Fleming. After a short but hairy drive (the siren wasn't working on the camp's Peugeot 404 ambulance!) we had Jack in casualty and breathing again and left him in the tender care of the nurses at Fleming. Jack returned a few days after his "binge” and continued to run the Corporals Club right up to the close of the Battalion - but I can't say I ever saw him drink vodka again!

Hi there Nick!
Last night I was thinking of my time in SWA and in the SADF during the years 1985 to 1989, and came across the name of Art Nulty on some Rhodesian website. I met Art through John Nienaber in Johannesburg in 1981. He was with 44 Para at the time, and had come down from Rhodesia after it had been given away. I met him again in Oshakati SWA, in 1985, a month or two before his tragic death. I had just arrived from Pretoria as the OC of the DMI, DCC Field Office in Oshaks. He was at the time with SWA Spes, which was the South West African equivalent of the SADF's Reccies. They worked under civvy guise, out of a house in Oshakati. Art was the type of guy any specialist unit would be proud to have on the team. Always cheerful and positive and a workaholic. (Is it not amazing how these guys, who are small in stature, but through sheer willpower and "vasbyt", outclass the Jona Lomu's every time!). He was the SAS's loss and our/Rhodesia's gain. It was with great shock that I learned of his death. A short while later, I drove past the place where he died, and the tyremarks and scabbing in the gravel road shoulder were clearly visible. In the following five years, whenever I drove to Windhoek for a meeting or whatever, I would think of Art as I rounded this bend on the road just outside of Okahandja where the crash took place. Would you care to please pass this on to his brother Pat? Pat may also contact me on this address or on allenroy@iinet.net.au. I might be able to help him contact John Nienaber. My force number was 65337503 PE.
Roy Allen

Hi Roy
Many thanks for your e mail and thank you for sharing your memories of Art with me. I served with Art as a medic in The Rhodesian Light Infantry in 1979 and as you say, he was an invaluable member of our team. I unfortunately lost contact with him when we all bombshelled after the Battalion closed. The last I heard was that he had been arrested at the SA border for trying to smuggle through various pieces of military contraband - whether this is true or not I don't know!
As you can see I have copied his brother on this email as I'm sure Pat would be extremely grateful of your memories and I'm sure will no doubt correspond with you. He has been desperately attempting to track down John Nienaber so any help in this regard would be welcome. I have also copied the Association who might like to insert your letter into our quarterly production of the revitalized "Cheetah” magazine. Where about are you now based? If you're ever in the Durban area, drop me a line.

That's all folks ….
Doc Skippy Michell

November Tango Romeo
Dennis Croukamp

I know I have been very bad and not submitted to the Cheetah for some months now, but things are extremely quiet in our region, with guys spread over a large area from East London to George. Anyway, no excuses. What has been happening in our region is that sadly Mark Taunton lost his father to a long suffering illness last month and we were able to support him by visiting his dad in hospital and attending the Memorial Service.
We have the ever illusive Rory Beary skulking around in the country areas of the Eastern Cape who keeps promising to visit in Bay, but we never see him. Hopefully I will be able to track him down soon! I want to thank Bongwe once again for making it possible for me to attend the 50th birthday and if he is ever down in the Bay, we will certainly look after him, talking about the 50th I always enjoy the reunions very much, but this one was special for many reasons. The first one was I was able to introduce my wife to a great bunch of Rhodies (my wife being South African and never having visited our beloved country) and I must say she has become a committed RLI "goose”. The second was seeing people like Chalky Van Schalkwyk (ex 1 Cdo) and Pauline Gant whom I hadn't seen for many years, but the best was when I was approached by this small grey-headed gentlemen at the Friday night bash who came and said, "Hello Peter Gombart” and on looking confused said, "You don't remember me hey?” I honestly could not tell who it was, and he then introduced himself as Harry Springer; well you could've knocked me over with a feather, reason being, when I was in RLI, I weighed 80kg and Harry looked like this kind of a giant, I must admit I was kak scared of him. Now I am120 kg, big and ugly and I wondered what the hell I was so scared off.
Just on a note of amusement, in my Shell Hole, we have a lot of ex Rhodies, one being a gent by the name of Roy Hair, who did army service in 10th Bat. Roy was a ducktail of note in the sixties and he likes to tell the bar stories about how he used to go the sessions at the Harry Margolis Hall in Salisbury and stuff up the RLI guys. We have many serious debates about who stuffed who up at Harry Margolis and I ALWAYS win the arguments. I must say though, all the Rhodesian guys and girls in our shell hole loved the RLI okes. I never have heard one bad word said about the guys, unless in jest.
Pete Gombart


FALL IN! Welcome to the following who have registered recently with the RLIRA:

Dempster, George / Sgt / RLI Medic / RSA
Wiggill, Bill / Lt / 1 Cdo / RSA

Alexander, Kevin / 106744 / Cpl / Base Group / 1977-78 / Canada
Balson, Alan / Lt / Sp Cdo / UK
Bax, Timothy / Capt / 3 Cdo / 1970-74 / USA
Beech, Graham (brother late Robert Beech) / Sgt / Sp Cdo / 1974-80
Benz, Markus / 728709 / Tpr / 3 Cdo
Bezuidenhout, Andrew / 730176 / L/Cpl / 3 Cdo / 1978-80 / RSA
Boden, Rod / 725305 / Sgt / Sp Cdo / 1971-79 / RSA
Boulter, John / 723749 / Sgt / Base Gp 1969 / RSA
Brown, Robert / Tpr / 1975-79 / RSA
Bruschi, Dino / 95006 / Tpr / 1 Cdo / 1974-75
Caffin, Jean Michel / Sp Cdo / 1978-80
Calvert, Tim / 1970-77 / RSA
Campbell, Roderic Alan / 92657 / Tpr / 2 Cdo / 1975-77 / RSA
Cary, Steve / Maj / 1969-73 / RSA
Chambers, Bill / 2 Cdo / 1976-78 / UK
Clayton, John / 730036 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1979 / Zambia
Clemo, Rob (Tiny) / 1956 and 781120 / RLI / 1961-80 / RSA
de la Rosa, Steve / L/Cpl / Base Gp / 1964-71 / RSA
Dodgen, Bill / 781073 / Lt-Col (Chaplain) / 1976-77 / RSA
Drury, John / 105291 / Rfn / 2 Cdo / 1974-75 / RSA
du Bernard, Gary / L.cpl / Sp Cdo / 1978-80 / USA
du Plooy, Anthony / 126234 / Tpr / 2 Cdo / 1972-77 / RSA
Duncan, John / 727948 / Tpr / 3 Cdo
Edwards, A.F.S. / 72449 / Tpr / UK
Ekins-Bell, Ian / 724816 / C/Sgt /UK
Eldridge, Peter / 2567 WO11 / 3 Cdo / 1961-71 / RSA
Elliott, Bruce / UK
Elliott, Rick / 724218 / 2 Cdo / 1967-69 / RSA
Fergus, Nick / 728218 / Tpr / 3 Cdo / 1976-79 / UAE
Ferreira, Joaquim / 726246 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1973-78 / Zim
Fouché, Steve / 111226 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1976-79 / RSA
Furstenberg, Paul / Tpr / 3 Cdo / 1976-78 / Israel
Gee, Glenn / 728209 / Cpl / Sp Cdo / 1977-80 / RSA
Godbeer, Raymond / RSA
Haines, Roger / Capt / 2 Cdo / UK
Henson, Nigel / 780689 / Maj / Sp Cdo / 1965-79 / RSA
Hewlett, Roy / 106284 / Rfn / 1 Cdo / 1974-77 / Australia
Hislop, Michael / 98180 / 1 Cdo / 1970-79 / RSA
Houston-Brown, Brendan / 725754 / 1 Cdo / 1972-80 / RSA
Izzard, Bill / UK
Jaaback, Henton / 780489 / Maj / 1 Cdo / 1977 / RSA
John, Colin / 006994 / Insp / BSAP / 1962-80 / Australia
Johnson, Mark / 191962 / Tpr / 1 Cdo / 1979-80 / Australia
Johnston, Andy / 723976 / Cpl / 1 Cdo / 1966-72 / RSA
Jones, Ginger / 723644 / WOI / 1 Cdo / 1965-80 / RSA
Kriel, Neil / 780710 / 2nd Lt - Lt / 1 Cdo / 1969-72 / RSA
Law, Michael John / 2453 / Pte / RLI / 1961-64 / RSA
Lewis, Anthony / 887562 / Pvt / 2 Cdo / 1973 / Brazil
Macfarlane, Ian / 780995 / Lt / 1 Cdo / 1974-78 / Australia
MacNeilage, Peter / Sgt / 1 Cdo
Manade, Bob / Tpr / 1977-78
Meyer, Slim / 729562 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1977-79 / RSA
Miller, Neville / 123081 / Tpr / 2 Cdo / 1980 / RSA
Mincher, Peter / 780641 / Lt / 2 Cdo / 1966-71 / RSA
Moffett, Gerald / 728204 / Tpr / 1977-78 / Australia
Morgan, Kevin 130027 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1980 / UK
Myers, Chris / 725109 / Sgt / Sp Cdo / 1970-80 / UK
Nel, Theo / 728846 / Sgt / 3 Cdo / 1979-80 / RSA
Odendaal, Val / 2623 /Pte / RLI / 1961-63 / RSA
Opperman, Pieter Johannes / Cpl / 2 Cdo / 1977-79 / RSA
Padgett, Russell / 72508 / Tpr / 1977-80
Pantelelis, Costas / 91051 / 2 Cdo / 1973-74
Picton, Robb / 101231 / Cdt C4 / 1975 /
Pietens, Willem. B / Drum Corps / 1961-64
Potter, Keith / 83182 / Rfn / 2 Cdo / 1973
Ratte, Wilhelm / 6555 / Tpr / 3 Cdo / 1974 / RSA
Renney, Martyn / 725756 / L/Cpl / 1973-75 / UK
Robertson, Ian / 94329 / Rfn / 2 Cdo / 1972-74 / UK
Robinson, Michael / RSA
Smith, Neville / 117902 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1977-80 / RSA
Squara, Bruno / 108159 / Rfn / 2 Cdo / 1976-77 / RSA
Stringer, Shane / 113484 / Tpr / Sp Cdo / 1977-80 / RSA
Thomson, Donald / 108239 / Tpr / 1 Cdo / 1975-76 / Uganda
Toma, Michael / 728118 / Tpr / 2 Cdo / 1976-77 / Canada
Tydings, Tony / UK
Upton, Bruce / 5002 / Cpl / 3 Cdo / 1970-75 / RSA
Upton, Michael / 2244 / Pte / 3 Cdo / 1961-63 / Australia
van Rooyen, Terrance / 725665 / L/Cpl / 3 Cdo / 1972-77 / Zambia
Van Wyk, Andre / 7383 / Cpl / 2 Cdo / 1974-79 / RSA
Wake, Martin / 780789 / Maj / Sp Cdo / 1979-80 / Bahrain
Webb, Terence / Tpr / 1 Cdo / 1977-79 / UK
Weller, Ken / 3 Cdo / 1971-75 / UK
Wilkinson, Ian Edward / 91735 / Rfn / 3 Cdo / 1974-75 / RSA
Willam, Kinchen / USA
Windrum, George Paddy / 728767 / Tpr / 1977-80 / UK
Winton, Charles William / 3508 / Tpr / Base Gp / 1965-68 / Tanzania

Allan, Peter / 110758 / Patrol Officer / BSAP / 1979-80 / RSA
Embleton, Douglas / UK
Harvey, Jonathan / BSAP / RSA
Hitchcock, Jim / RAR / UK
Jackson, Alan / UK
Kinchen, William / USA
Lotter, Chas / 49286 / Sgt / Medical Corps / 1971-80
Posselt, Gareth / RSA
St John-Ayre, Michael (son of late Andrew St John-Ayre) / Australia
van Wyk, Ashleigh / RSA
van Wyk, Desmond / RSA

 It is with regret that we inform you of the passing away of Colin Welch BCR. Rob Sweeting (RhAF) Colin's brother in law reports: "My brother-in-law Colin Welch passed away this morning 31 March 2011 at 0930hrs, in Johannesburg / Northmead. He has been fighting the dreaded Big C for quite a few years. Our condolences must go firstly to his wife Julie and children Gavin and Nicolle and the rest of the family. We are a very close knit family. He was in 1 Commando RLI, and decorated with the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia. If you read a few of the books that came out after the war he is mentioned quite often. He was a really wonderful man, never thought of himself only of others. Always charitable to others ahead of anything else. He will be missed dearly but not forgotten and this passing will leave a big hole in our lives."
The RLI Regimental Association offers our deepest sympathies to Julie, Gavin and Nicolle. Anyone wishing to send condolences please send these to me and I will pass on to the family.

Dear Billy
Please would you send Julie, Gavin, Nicolle and Rob my sincerest and deepest sympathies. I read you notice with immense sadness and memories of Colin have been flashing before me ever since.
He served as my 2 I/C in 1 Troop for almost my entire time in the RLI. He was the most competent and proficient soldier who had an irrepressible sense of humour, was a natural leader, a courageous warrior and became my closest friend and confidant. I hold nothing but wonderful memories of "Hutch” and those memories will never die. I was with him when he was at the receiving end of a terr machine gunner who also killed two other members of his stick near Miami (as it was then known). When I finally reached Hutch I could not believe it but he had dragged himself, despite very serious injury, to an RAR corporal who had been killed. He was attempting to administer first aid to the corporal. Such was the calibre of this man. People like him very rarely come into our lives. They leave us feeling richer and more complete for having known them. Hutch, until we meet again one day.
Mike Moseley

Dear Bill
My family and I have been so touched by the many condolences received from you and fellow RLI members on the passing of Peter Lang. Peter was our treasured brother and I am glad that you remember him well, Bill. He loved everyone and had that amazing personality to be loved by all he met. Thank you for creating a tribute to Peter on the Vale. He would be so honoured. Our family will also be honoured and grateful for recognizing Peter as a true soldier and loved brother and friend. I will compile Peter's wonderful life and proudly forward to you for printing.
Thank you, Bill
Val (Peter's sister)

Dear Val
Thank you for the kind words. It is the least we can do for old RLI mates and at least some public record is made of the small dent we made in history, to the consternation of so many non-Rhodesians. I look forward to receiving your pen picture of Pete's life.
Bill Wiggill

Dear Bill & Exco
Mike emailed to say his Mum, Anne Rich, sadly passed away in Hertfordshire this morning after a long fight against cancer. Sympathy & condolences to Mike, his sister Jane & the family. As Mike said she will no doubt be sharing a Bols or two tonight with Colonel Peter.
Kind regards
Neill Storey

Hi All
For the record, Mum passed away in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Brave & uncomplaining to the last, she passed with my sister holding her hand. She looked forward to seeing my Dad in the end. The reunion is going to be epic.
Mike Rich

We have been informed of the passing away of Leslie Webb. Eddy Norris from ORAFs sent the following message: "Sad news received from Diana Heselton (nee Webb). Just to let you know Leslie Webb passed away in Bloemfontein on Saturday, 8 January 2011. He had been suffering from a bleeding colon & ulcer for some years. Les was born in 1944 and attended the Dominican Convent, Chancellor Junior & Umtali Boys' High. Les is survived by his wife Rina and children Lara, Rene and Wayne. There are also grandchildren, Carmen and Byron. Les started his working life with the Rhodesian Light Infantry. The funeral service was held on Tuesday 11 January 2011 at the Kingdom Hall in Bloemfontein." The RLI Regimental Association offers our sincere condolences to Rina and the Webb family. Les was one of the 'Originals' joining the RLI in 1960 when the unit was still at Brady Barracks and so it is a sad farewell to another comrade. If anyone knew Les and/or wish to send their condolences you can do so through me, and I will pass on.
Bill Wiggill

It is with regret that we inform you of the passing away of Lydia Buckley, wife of Jim Buckley (ex 1 Cdo). Our sincere condolences to Jim, son Kyle and the family and friends of the Buckleys. Lydia died on Tuesday 12 April from complications following a medical procedure.

Dear Chris
Thank you for taking my call this morning, it was most appreciated. Sir, as mentioned I am looking at complying a simple but concise information on my farther-in-law Rudi Krusberski and the men who served with him. Many years ago he lost all memorabilia, photos and all that goes with it. He now can only speak fondly and proudly of his days served and has no photos of his fond memories. My aim is simply to get a collection of photo's, possible video clips, and comments or stories about the days Rudi and the other men that he spent time together with. He served from 1974-1980, he was in 2 Commando, 7 Troop, and call sign 22 Alpha. Once again thank you for your assistance and willingness to assist me with this personal project.
Craig Niven

Dear Bill
Firstly congratulations on an extremely well organised and very enjoyable 50th Reunion. My sincere thanks to you and all involved. Wonderful to see the photos out already BUT whatever happened to the 3 Cdo photo?
Don Price

Dear Bill
Just a quick note to thank you and the Committee members for all the hard work you guys put in to make this a most memorable event. You guys made me really proud to be a member of this Association. It was tremendous to see so many 'ouens' gather together to celebrate under one roof and to meet up with mates from many years back. Congratulations on your Life Membership Award - you fully deserve it.
Alan Strachan

Dear Bill
There are no words to express my views on what the two of you, plus of course the other unsung heroes in your team, put on for our 50th. It was outstanding and you need to know that you must hold your heads up high for this achievement. Being able to renew friendships was just out of this world. I will be talking about the weekend for many years to come and it was an honour and privilege to have been part of such a memorable occasion. Thank you so very much.
Chris Donald

Howzit Bill and George
Just wanted to drop you a quick note to congratulate your good selves & your committee et al for putting on another fabulous reunion. Don't need to tell you the rekindling of memories, faces & ouens is an emotional ride and its taking some time to get back to normal, whatever that is. Have been looking at the gallery on the website & the 1 Cdo section: amazing. Look forward to welcoming you all to our brigade area in September. You have set the bar pretty damn high.
Neill Storey

Dear Billy and all the wonderful committee elves
Thank you for a truly wonderful day. Both Paddy and I had such a lovely and nostalgic time. For Paddy, it was particularly good, she was an RLI brat and later a friend of so many of the chaps who served and were at the reunion. How hard you all worked and what an incredible venue.
Eunice Walls

Hi Bill
On behalf of me and all the ouens attending the reunion, it was a dam good show, congrats to you your daughter and all those who helped. It will truly be a hard act to follow. Again, well done. I had a great time as did everyone, Thanks.
Dennis Croukamp

Dear Bill, George, Shaun and Martyn,
I am not sure who played what roles, but I know you all had a considerable hand in organising the RLIRA 50th birthday celebration last weekend. If I have left anyone out please relay this message to them. Simply to say Bravo! Well done and congratulations. It was by any measure a howling success in every sense of the word. Thank you for all the hard work and hours you, and I am sure many others, put into pulling this function together. To think that after 31 years you brought together 325 'old comrades in arm' is unbelievable. Great effort gentlemen, and supported by wives and family I am sure. Thank you so much for everything you did for this function and for the RLIRA in general. To plagiarise the words or Sir Winston Churchill, "Never before in the history of past regiments, have so few done so much for so many”. Fantastic, well done and thank you,
Jug Thornton

Dear Bill
A big thank you to you and your team for organizing a memorable event. I appreciate a huge amount of work went into the function. You and your team should take a bow; everything went off like clockwork. Do you have anything planned for next year?
Martin Robbshaw

Dear Bill and team
What a fantastic couple of days and one which will stay in my memory for a long time. The organization of both the Friday and Saturday was superb and both Alannah and I thank you and the organizing committee with all our hearts. By the way Alannah was delighted to be made a RLI Crow and has been telling everyone about this fact and her first trip ever in a chopper. I was so impressed with the ambience created by Ashleigh and the team of ladies. The whole hangar was transformed into a fairytale. The main event on the Saturday was brilliant, the food, décor, music and the memorial service were poignant and moving in a way only old soldiers can know about.
I have started to work my way through the Cheetah and that too is a stunning tribute to the brave men of our battalion. So many memories and so much to catch up on from all those soldiers who to this day bear the stamp of professionals with pride. I was so pleased that the raffle managed to fetch such a good price and no doubt this will go some way towards kick starting our future welfare fund. Again, Bill and friends on the committee, well done to each and all of you and from Alannah and I we thank and praise you.
Ian Bate

Hi Bill
Sorry I am dropping you a line this long after the event but I flew out on a job the day after the Saturday bash. I just wanted to congratulate you and your team who put together a two day bash which certainly maintained the high standards of the RLI. I attended both and know how much work and effort goes into ensuring these events go the way they did. Thanks very much for making this a memorable occasion, I found guys I hadn't seen in years and hopefully I can encourage more of the BSAP guys to join the association as associate members and boost your coffers, I believe it is important in this day and age to support organisations such as this who did so much during the hondo. I look forward to catching up at the various events during the year, stay well.
Doug McGibbon

Dear Bill
I want to congratulate you on a very well organised and expertly conducted event on Saturday 5 February. The occasion expressed the great pride former members of the RLI have in their unit, "The Saints". It was good to see the Rhodesian Forces Mobile Memorial in place, exemplifying the cooperation between all the forces involved in our conflict. I enjoyed meeting and chatting with many old friends and comrades in arms whom I had not seen for years. It brought back many happy memories. Mary and I were honoured to be invited as guests. It was a great privilege for us to be included in your celebrations. Thank you. Our best wishes to you, your committee, and RLI Association Branches worldwide. May you grow from strength to strength?
John Redfern
Honorary National Secretary
Flame Lily Foundation

Hi Billy
Words fail me. Your weekend celebration was just outstanding, my congrats to you and the whole team who put it all together. An amazing tribute to an amazing battalion. Thanks for inviting me, and affording me the honour of rubbing shoulders again with 'The Incredibles'.
Pamberi ne Hondo.
Tom Thomas
Secretary Selous Scouts Association

Congratulations to you and your team on an exceptionally well run event this weekend, the well-oiled planning and execution of which was endearingly reminiscent of the evening prior to departure on a Support Commando bush trip, and was equally well enjoyed by all participants. Please pass on my sincere thanks to all involved for an exceptionally memorable event, which will remain as a fond memory for a long time to come. I must single out Mrs. Dempster for her sterling RP work at the front gate, ensuring that every single time I passed through her area of jurisdiction that I was fully aware of which table I was seated at! I half expected her to jump out from the shadows with the same enquiry, as we passed through carrying the Regimental Colours, but was delighted to note that she managed to restrain herself for just this one occasion! On the subject of which, may I once again express my sincere gratitude for bestowing upon me the immense honour of marching in the Colours, together with Rick and Sandy. It was a task undertaken with a great sense of pride and a vast amount of emotion, and I am extremely grateful to you for giving me this opportunity. All in all, an event of note. Well done those men of RLI.
Neill Jackson

Good morning Bill
On behalf of all the skuzapu fellows who attended and those who missed a fantastic, well-organized and memorable 50th Jubilee, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and all concerned for the great effort and making it all possible.
Willie van der Riet

Dear Bill
Just a short note to say a rather belated thank you and congratulations to you and your team for putting on that wonderful celebration. You really excelled in every aspect of the function. Dot and I enjoyed every aspect of the two events immensely. It was so good to see so many old friends after all the years since we last met. What I found rather disturbing was that so many that I spoke to were struggling and in some cases had not worked for years. That was sad. Once again Bill, a very big and sincere thank you and congratulations to you all.
Dot and Harry Springer

Good morning Bill and the RLI Team
Lew and I would like to congratulate you all on a well performed RLI 50th Anniversary.
1. The Hangar decor was excellent and made good impression on entering.
2. On arriving to tasty snacks and ordering a drink, went down well.
3. The writing on the name tabs were nice and bold - easy to read.
4. The table layout was perfect.
5. The menu was well presented and beautifully done
6. The book markers with different inscriptions written on was a wonderful idea - well done
7. The Remembrance Service programme was well presented
8. Receiving the Cheetah Magazine was an added bonus - well done.
9. The evening meal was most tasty.
10. Unfortunately the one down fall which I am sure must have caused you all a headache was the loudspeaker system; it was difficult to hear the speakers further back. Well except for Robin Tarr and Craig Bone.
11. The 50th RLI Anniversary T shirts that we could purchase were lovely and I am sure Lew is going to wear his with pride.
Keep up the good work.
Lew & Carole Lloyd-Evans

Hi Bill
Just a short note to thank you sincerely (and with some emotion!) for the wonderful reunion you and your team put on both Friday and Saturday. I must admit it was with a bit of trepidation that I came down, thinking that apart from me not recognising anyone and embarrassing myself and I was sure very few would remember me! 31 years is a long time! How wrong I was! As I moved around on Friday, meeting old friends and acquaintances, 31 years simply disappeared. Yes shapes have changed and so have hair colour and hair styles (except Clive Dredge who seems to be in some sort of time warp!!) but the old familiar banter was there which kept me aching from laughter. My only regret was not having enough time to sit and talk to some - you in particular. Thank you thank you! Apart from the weekend, the Association has grown from strength to strength under your stewardship. Its current healthy state is only because of your outstanding efforts. It can only grow in strength with men of your calibre running it. Please keep in touch and if there is anything I can do to help with anything, please do not hesitate to call. Please pass my warmest wishes to Sylvia who I know was very involved in helping you put the show together. You are an awesome team.
Rick van Malsen

Dear Bill
Got back to Oman at 1115 this morning. I want to congratulate you and your team for a superbly organised 50th Reunion. Everything went off so smoothly that it was obviously well and meticulously planned. Everyone I spoke to thought it was great and really enjoyed seeing their old mates and catching up. You really pulled out the stops and it was a momentous occasion. Apologies for my rather cuffed speech, Liz tells me next time she will carry a copy of it with her as well, so at least one of us will have it! Once again very many congratulations on a very well-organised function; for me it was great meeting up with the RSA members of the RLIRA
Ian Buttenshaw

Hi Billy
Congratulations to you and your team for putting together a fantastic 50th celebration at Swartkops on Sat. Colleen and I had a great time renewing acquaintances and friends, many that I have not seen for 32 years, the true spirit of the unit has certainly not faded with the years gone by and the Rhodies humor is so unique. Once again congrats on a most successful reunion.
Kevin Barron

Dear Bill
I have just recently returned home after spending a wonderful 8 days with my family in Jhb. The purpose of this correspondence is firstly, to sincerely congratulate you for putting on the magnificent function on 5 February to celebrate the RLI's 50th Anniversary. It truly was excellent in all regards and there is no doubt that everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves. I would go as far as saying it was one of the best Military functions I have ever attended; such a great deal was achieved. There is no doubt that you and your committee had to put in many, many long hours and a great deal of over time, the attention to detail was outstanding. Well done Bill, you certainly have done us proud. I know you are humbly going to say, "You are only as good as your team". This is very true and they must also be congratulated, but you have got to have someone at the fore driving the issue, this is where you obviously came in very strongly. Secondly, I would like to sincerely thank the RLI Association for funding my return air fare, this I really appreciated. I also thank you for arranging my accommodation, Mervin and Mariette were really graceful hosts, they made me extremely welcome and my stay with them was tremendous. Mervin and I did a lot of reminiscing. Once again Bill, well done and thanks very much.
Robin Tarr

Greetings Billy
You and George and the whole RLIRA SA Branch Committee, together with your Special Project Committee, have put on the most incredible 50th Anniversary! I have searched the dictionary and Roget's Thesaurus trying to find the right word(s) to describe how we, as RLI soldiers, felt about what we experienced and how we were treated during the weekend of 04/05 Feb. I even resorted to SORHB and other Service Writing manuals but could find nothing to do justice to the special feeling that your events gave us and to the professional planning and implementation that was so apparent throughout. Finally, I have found the word - and here it is W O W! This stands for Wonderful Occasion which, will never, never be forgotten or bettered! Thank you, thank you all for everything.
Trevor DesFountain

Hi Bill
Thanks you very much for the great weekend. Sorry I never said too much on the movie they were making but they caught me off guard as I walked passed. If prepared we could have made proper statements. Hope they cut to suit your movie. Well I tell you what. You and your team deserve a pat on the back. That was one very well organized occasion. You can be very proud of your efforts indeed. Wish I could get the support you are getting. I am lucky if I get 20 people at any one time. No funds to really do any thing special. Anyway as I said you can be very proud of yourselves.
Rob Sweeting
Chairmen Gauteng Air Force Association

As a guest of the RLI, I sat at a fine dinner table with the charming daughter and grandson of one of those men who had "a face of a boy and fought like a lion" when we needed them. No. 5 Hanger, Swartkops Air Force Base was full, full, and full of my people, some having flown in from all over the world and it felt good to watch the old "Black Manned Lions" in their No. 1's renewing bonds that go way beyond friendship. The fly-by of A P52 Mustang jerked me back to a similar thing when a great Rhodesian flew past the crowd in his Spitfire, then disappeared into the clouds never to be seen again; just the way Jack Malloch would have wanted it. We had the old General and a few of his Commanders arrive by Puma Helicopter with the RLI colours held high. I'll be damned if I did not see tears of pride in their eyes as they marched past. One speaker had fire in his belly as he recalled the Viscount atrocities, and rightly so, for there is no single example that more clearly shows the difference between the civilised standards of Rhodesia and the bankrupt prehistoric culture of Zimbabwe (turn in your grave Harold Wilson). For me the high point of the evening came when the RSM had us all upstanding and choked with emotion, we sang "When the Saints go Marching In". At that point I fantasized about slinging my slayer and going off to reclaim my homeland - what a way to go - beats the hell out of just kicking the can down the road.
But, spare a thought and sound the "Last Post" for those who did not make it back from the sharp end or may have stumbled along the way. When I think back, I am still filled with rage and I weep for them.
Robert Tarr
34430, 35th Intake, 1960

G'day Chris
Rob Celliers was a Rhodies television cameraman who did his national service in 2 Commando in 1975. In 1995 when I was on holiday in England, I saw a news clip which mentioned a cameraman being shot in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. I thought the clip said that he'd been killed. I was never sure though as to whether or not I'd heard the name correctly and since '95 have from time to time wondered if the person in Sarajevo was the ouen I knew from my RLI days. Well, having finished Wrotters obit, I decided I follow up by confirming whether or not the ouen in Sarajevo was Rob and then write an obit for him for the RLI website. Well, I searched on-line and found that he hadn't died, but I was still not sure if he was the RLI ouen. I found he is working for Associated Press Television News (APTN) and I found a London 'phone number for him. About 11.30 last night I tried the number (it would have been 3.30 in the afternoon in London). Much to my surprise, the call was answered by "Sami" in APTN's Baghdad office! However Sami was able to tell me that Rob had left Baghdad a couple of years ago and gave me his mobile no. I got hold of Rob in Cairo! He's there to cover the current protests and is indeed the Rob Celliers I knew in 1975. (He's in the 1975 2 Commando photograph).
David Armstrong

Dear Sir
My name is Joe Trippodo. I served over 25 years in the US Army and currently work at United States Africa Command. When I was in High School 1976-1980, I was very aware of your struggle, I supported your cause as best I could from where I stood. I read your book as well as a few others on the subject. I just wanted to say thanks, to you and all the other Troopers who gave so much and still had to leave. A close friend of my family went to live in Rhodesia after his US Army service in Vietnam; he took his family and set up a law practice as well as a farm. My friend Richmond was born in Rhodesia and speaks highly of his boyhood in Africa. That is the extent of my firsthand knowledge of your country. Good luck in the future and someday I would like to see your country in person.
Respectfully Submitted
Trippodo, Joseph B. CTR

Howzit Chris
What an outstanding job on the 50th anniversary Cheetah - well done! I have not been connected with the association at all, until this function, but will be now, thanks to Rick van Malsen and Neill Jackson - who invited me on the Mapai trip - and urged me to attend the jubilee. I will make sure from this day on that I'm signed up, paid up, and part of the family once more. Back in the mid eighties I had the brainwave (contrary to popular opinions subbys do occasionally enjoy brainwaves - in fact, the scarcity of those brainwaves makes them all the more enjoyable) - I had this idea to try to get as many of the Commando songs together as possible - then find a decent sized group of reasonably in-tune singers - helped by a guitar or two - and put together a CD (obviously a "tape" back then). The idea was to pull together the serious, the melancholy, the fun and the quite stupid - (think "Cafenol is a painkiller") and bind it all together with a brief narration. We thought about calling it something like "A tribute to the Saints, and their Fallen". Anyway, I never did anything about it - but now, at the back of the Cheetah - I see so many of the old songs in print - man I tell you what, if a CD had been on sale, I would have bought a handful, irrespective of the price - I reckon it would be a great association fundraiser - what do you think? Incidentally - I put together "The Silver and the Green" - and was really surprised to see it here in the magazine - how did you come across it? I don't give a rat's ass about being credited with the song - but it is slightly off - the correct wording is below.

The Silver and the Green.
(Adapted from Johnny Cash's 'Ghost Riders in the Sky')

Was a windy day, say late in June
The siren sounds out loud
The sun was still arising through a heavy bank of cloud
The choppers wind and lift away
For soldiers are on board
They're men that hate, they're men that kill
They are the RLI
The Incredibles you call us
And it's justified you've seen,
We are the men who wear the silver and the green

The K-car strikes, the G-cars drop
The gooks are running now
A frantan bomb, and screams and cries
A Troopie boy gets pulled
Now run you bastards
Run and die
It's the RLI you've seen
And just so you know who's been,
We wear the silver and green

Now smoke and death are hanging still,
Among the rocks and trees -
The smell of blood and cordite is wafting on the breeze,
We're fighting soldiers from the sky
So learn your lesson well
We are the men of the RLI and it's usually you who'd die
And just so you know who's been,
We wear the silver and green.
And just so you know who's been,
We wear the silver and green.
Wayne Grant

I would like to echo the sentiments of Officer Grant, and congratulate you on an outstanding publication. Even though I am not even halfway through reading my copy, my first quick scan was very promising. Great humour, wide range of topics and just enough serious stuff. Well done (once again) that man! I disagree with Wayne re acknowledgement for his song, and think his name should be permanently attached to 'The Silver and the Green' henceforth. It certainly adds character to know that it was composed by one of the ouens. I do, however, agree that a CD of RLI songs, both rough and smooth, would be an excellent idea and a number one best-seller, and I think you should get to it right away. Once again, heartiest congratulations.
Neill Jackson

Dear Chris and Kerrin

Many thanks for the comp copy of The Cheetah February 2011 for the FLF's reference library. It is an impressive publication and does The Saints proud. Thanks too for your ongoing support for the FLF.
John Redfern
Honorary National Secretary
Flame Lily Foundation

Dear Pat [types Hill]
On behalf of the RLIRA, thank you very much for your generous gesture in providing the Operational Areas Backdrop free of charge. It is really very much appreciated, and will add to the artifacts already on display in the Museum. I am sure Martyn will provide the details of where the makers of the backdrop can leave it in UK. They may even wish to visit the RLI Museum themselves and see what has been done so far it is really quite excellent.
Ian Buttenshaw
Chairman RLIRA

Dear Chris
My deep congratulations on an excellent Golden Anniversary edition of The Cheetah. It was a fine tribute to the old and bold of this magnificent former unit, and invoked many nostalgic memories not only for me but all who served. Well done indeed. It was also a great pleasure to meet your good wife and to be put so at ease throughout her interviews .I do hope that she quickly overcame her nervousness of the helicopter flight. Please accept my sincere gratitude for your outstanding contribution to the RLI Association.
John Hickman

Hi Bill
Thank you very much for sending me The Cheetah Jubilee Edition (50 RLI) which I received yesterday and have started reading. It has always been an honour and privilege to be associated with The RLI. The magazine and the contents therein are of historic value and bring back nostalgic memories of the war we fought against communism and terrorism for our beloved Country Rhodesia. I salute you and all the members for the sterling work that is done in keeping the RLI Association going from strength to strength. Keep up the good work.
Fred Potgieter

Dear Bill
What a memorable day on Saturday, 5 February 2011. Certainly one I will remember, and very proud and privileged to be part of. Hats off to you and your team for the great effort in creating such a momentous celebration of your 50th anniversary.
John Pirrett
Chairman BSAP Association

Hello Bill,
I regret the late response to your comment but was out of office from approx midday yesterday. However you know the old adage "wisdom comes with age” and thought it best without becoming too verbose to tell exactly where the term 'DRILL PIG” comes from.
  1. You can be assured it has nothing to do with what they eat as anything they eat becomes Pig Sh*t.
  2. It has everything to do with three factors:
    (a) The quality & quantity of the stuff they SNIFF
    (b) The quality & quantity of the stuff the SMOKE
    (c) The quantity & % alcohol content of the stuff they DRINK.
  3. You see this is what results in their behavioural changes & makes them always wanting to hear people shouting 'UP DOWN” & "1231” Next they then arrive at the stage where they wish to expound their knowledge to all & sundry but insist it is done in a half circle facing them.
  4. Then the rhetoric commences such as "Coy stand easy”. Pay attention to the Company commander's word of command & the detail for a company required to move the right in close column of platoons. The company commander's word of command will be, "Company will move to the right in close column of platoons RIGHT TURN!” The company will execute a right turn as taught in squad drill. This goes on & on & on. Almost ritual.
  5. The end result is they lose all ability to reason and froth @ the mouth & become unbearably demanding requiring people to stamp their feet on a huge tarmac area Just to now satisfy their egotistical perverted sense of humour.
Mervyn Kluckow

Dear Bill
Multi congratulations. You, in particular, and your Committee are to be highly complimented for the outstanding celebration of the South African element of the RLIRA 50th Anniversary. The whole event was truly memorable and extremely enjoyable. It was a high honour to be accorded VIP status at such an august gathering of The Incredibles. I was indeed very proud, yet humbled, to be associated with so many illustrious warriors of the past. You must be justifiably pleased with the obvious good results of all your hard and dedicated work - it certainly was in keeping with the highest traditions of military efficiency. Well done to you all. Kindly pass on my congratulations to your diligent workers.
John Hickman

Further to Mark Eales's query about establishing the first RLI external jump, I think that this, 24 May 1977, is the jump that Mark, was referring to. I have checked Prop Geldenhuys Air Strike Log, and find that there is no entry for 24 May 1977. However an entry recorded for 25 May 1977 describes an external strike on a camp at VT208306, near Chinherere, Mozambique, due north of Nyamasoto. This involved two Canberra's, two Hunters and two Dakotas. Strangely, no Alouettes are mentioned, although that is how we were uplifted. It is mentioned in the notes to this airstrike that Doug Pasea's (Canberra navigator) logbook records the date of the strike as 24 May 1977, which coincides with our date. I am sure that this is the same operation. This was in support of an SAS raid on a ZANLA camp in Mozambique. I think we were based at Mtoko, on Fireforce duties, at the time. We did not have any contacts, nor meet up with the SAS troops, but merely swept through a camp that had just been hit by the air force (possibly Hunters). The camp was occupied at the time of the strike, and obviously abandoned in a hurry, but I cannot recall seeing any casualties. There was a lot of kit, equipment and rations lying around. We liberated a brand new Honda generator, but ditched it on the walk out due to its weight! In typical blue job fashion, we were uplifted mere minutes after destroying this coveted machine! On a lighter note, I recall being decidedly unnerved on this, my first external Para drop. Especially as the briefing went something along the lines of; 'The SAS have hit a camp in Mozambique, and are in the shit. You lot have to jump in to help them out'. The jump went perfectly, except for the fact that I found myself drifting directly towards a small village next to the target area, with a small cooking fire still smoldering in the centre of the circle of huts. I was convinced that the ters had occupied this village and were waiting to ambush us as we hit the ground. The winds was fairly strong, and try as I might, I could not change my direction of drift. I began to loosen the strap holding my FN to my side, so that I could release it immediately on landing in order to be able to defend myself. Unfortunately, pre-occupied with this activity, I failed to notice the proximity of the fast-approaching ground and also failed to conduct my standard landing drills. I hit the ground hard, in a cloud of dust and, still struggling with the strap, failed to release the cape wells that would free the parachute from my harness. The wind whipped the chute over my head, filled it with wind, and used it to drag me, face down, through the supposedly occupied village, straight through the cooking fire, and out on the other side of the huts, covered in dust, ash and ignominy! Needless to say, my troopies found this hilarious, but at least had the grace to thank me for saving them the task of clearing the village!
Neill Jackson

Thanks, Cheetah received in good order. Where did you find the words to 28 days!? Never knew that anyone had written it down. For the record, the history of that was that Passy and I was a spot sozzled on R&R and at about midnight arrived back from the city and took a short cut to the mess over the Holy Ground. The Bn Orderly Sergeant happened to be doing the rounds and met us at the perimeter. He sternly advised us to return to the mess as it was not a smart idea to defile Harry Springer's parade ground - so I wrote the song. The two last lines of both "refrains" are not accurate, so someone obviously modified it, but I can't remember at this time what they were, and it's not a big issue.
Ian Scott

Maningi thanks for the splendid 'Cheetah' 50th birthday edition that has arrived, safe and sound. It is a magnificently produced magazine and all ex 1RLI must be very proud of it. I enjoyed it immensely. All the articles were a pleasure to read, pertinent to the theme, well edited and well constructed. Your editorial was brilliant! Your final two paragraphs were so true. Like you, to me also it still all seems as though it was just yesterday! I'm also glad that you managed to include some of Nigel Rittey's cartoons (he seems a bit lost in the UK at the moment), though I now realise that he must have tuned out to every briefing about why we were on border operations up at Kipushi. The UN (our unannounced enemy) had Panhard armoured cars with 90mm guns; and 81mm mortars, and were being extremely belligerent on the other side of the border near E'ville and we were on the only bridge over the Kafue that they had to use to get vehicles across the border and the Kafue to reinforce UN activities elsewhere from West to East or vice versa. I was not prepared to lose a single soldier through tactical carelessness; and we were not sufficiently trained for combat apart for a simple defense, and that's why we dug in, and why the other companies did not. They were on pussy-foot protection of border posts to the unthreatened Copperbelt towns. Well, that's my excuse anyway. Thank you, and, again, well done with that superb 50th anniversary 'Cheetah' magazine.
Digger Essex-Clark

Dear Chris
Thanks for sending on the Cheetah - have started dipping into it. It's quite a ride: from snorting coffee out of my nose at some of the captions to the intense poignancy of the poetry. Although I haven't read all of the articles yet, the pictures (especially of the old ballies) got me thinking back to an interview I did with John Connolly last year. He's the Irish thriller writer, and his last book dealt with PTSD in the US forces now returning from Iraq. He quoted a book from an American psychologist called James Hillman, A Terrible Love of War: "War is a mythical happening ... where else in human experience, except in the throes of ardour ... do we find ourselves transported to a mythical condition and the gods most real?” But thanks for the nostalgic, hilarious, moving, cheesy, profound, warm and witty Cheetah.
Michele Magwood

The joy, sadness and pride of being an RLI wife
I was a young, 22-year-old wife with a young child when my husband Geoff came home one night and announced that we were going to Salisbury from Bulawayo to join the RLI. I was petrified as I did not know what lay ahead of us. Little did I know that we were going to join a great and wonderful battalion of men, who, once you joined, embraced your family in all aspects? We moved into the Married Quarters not long after Geoff was promoted to Sgt. that was when my life as a RLI wife really began. The joy of seeing the Battalion presented with its colours, the Freedom of the city of Salisbury being honoured to the battalion. My children made so many friends and had the security of being in a safe environment. The Drs and hospital were there for you at all times. There were men like Alan Beattie who looked after you and would never turn you away never mind what your problem was. In so far as to phone Geoff at training troop and tell him that my pregnancy test was positive whereupon my proud husband announced to the rest of Training Troop that Liversedge strikes again. He never lived that down. My children's joy the yearly Christmas tree held in the large hall close to the entrance of the battalion. Father Christmas was always George Walsh who arrived by army tank/truck and many other wonderful ideas. We moved to Gwelo, School of Infantry in 1968 if I remember right and spent 5 years there. We returned to the battalion in 1973 and what a surprise we were moved into our old house. No 6 Married Quarters. Geoff became CSM of his old CDO the Big Red 1CDO. What joy we were back. I met and made many long lasting friends Dot Springer, Jacqui Kirrane and many more. My boys had wonderful friends like the Springer Twins the Kirrane children. They rode their bicycles all over barracks they had the use of the Swimming Pool. As they grew older they were trained on the Assault Course played and used all the facilities. I became part of a group of women who were always there for one another whether it was in time of sadness or joy. The worst times were when the Padre's vehicle drove down the Road, not knowing whose house it was going to stop at. Was your man injured or the worse possibility Gone. If I close my eyes I can still see Trevor Kirrane marching down our Rd with his swagger stick under his arm coming home at the close of a day. Jacqui and the children would be waiting at their gate for him. While the other children in the street shouted out their greetings to one of their favourite uncles. The ladies of the Sgts Mess had the pleasure of enjoying a ladies night once a month on a Sat evening. We were treated royally and I can remember one night in particular we held tequila races amongst the ladies. This ended in the group enjoying a skinny dip in the battalion swimming pool at 2am in the morning. The guards on duty at the front gate were given strict instructions not to go anywhere near the swimming pool. The news travelled out to the bush very quickly and we literally had to stand on the mat on our husband's return. But what great fun we had. At the beginning of 1977 I was one of the many mothers who stood to the side and watched my eldest son trying to do his best to be chosen for the RLI to do his National Service at the age of 17 years. I was proud that he was chosen but my heart was heavy for the next 18 months while he served with Recce in Support Cdo. He did his father proud but grew up very quickly. 1980 came and we put our colours to rest. That was one of the saddest days in our lives. Our time was over and slowly the battalion shrank and dwindled as people left. I cried as we drove out of the barracks on our way to South Africa.
5th Feb 2011. The Reunion
What joy to see faces that we haven't seen for 30 odd years? Rhodesians, We Stand Proud and Tall. The Proudest Battalion in the World we served our beloved country well.
Pauline Liversedge


• RLI ties: £12.50
• RLI blazer badges (green or black backing): £14.50
• Poppy lapel badge: £1.50
• Chest wings: £6.00 (only certified paras eligible to wear these)
• Lapel/cufflink & tie pin set (para wings): £20.00 (only certified paras are eligible to wear these)
• RLI silver beret badge (from NZ): £12.00
• RLI polo shirt: £15.00
• DVD Rhodesia Remembered: £10.00
Prices exclude packaging and posting

This will be a short communiqué this edition as there is not much to report on. There are still a few of the 50th special edition golf shirts available @ R250.00 plus postage, so please order if you want one. The RLI plaques that were on show at the 50th are now available @ R250.00 plus postage. Currently RLI ties are out of stock and will be available in the near future. Finally, I must apologize that we have not yet got the individual commando golf shirts ready, but will be available in the near future.
Gary Huxham

Thanks to Mike McDonald and Nigel Rittey, both informative and entertaining, who have been tireless contributors to the e-Cheetah. These are their final contributions … for now.

MIKE McDONALD kicks off
Support Commando with the SAS, 1978
In 1978 it was conceived that each RLI commando would spend one entire bush trip attached to the SAS. It would be better use of the RLI instead of Strike Force operations. I was Support Commando's MA3 and following here are some of the ops we did. Firstly we went to the SAS camp on Lake McIlwaine for Klepper canoe and landmine training. The fancy new anti-vehicle landmine with anti-lift/detection features was covered with dark brown plastic hence the nickname 'chocolate cake'. Sadly some SAS personnel wisecracked that RLI would blow themselves up with this mine which caused lingering bad feelings between the two units. I still went over and chatted to my SAS mates I had known from various courses, trying to learn how their war was going. One told me he had laid a mine 100 meters from the front gate of a gook camp and he was nervous as hell planting it.

The first op was a joint land mining job by SAS and Support Commando deployed from Mabalahuta camp. Each stick member carried a vehicle landmine and we laid them in sets of four. First a Russian TM mine, then a kilometer down the road a chocolate cake, another kilometer another chocolate cake, then a Russian TM a further kilometer. SAS were deployed by parachute via Dakota to their AO, we by chopper. Being the MA3, I went with the stick that had the deepest penetration of Mozambique. To enable a G-Car to fly to our area of operations and back on one tank of gas it could only carry two soldiers thus we went with two choppers. When we landed deep in the area, known as the 'Russian Front', we could smell sea air from the Indian Ocean. We were to mine one road, get re-supplied and do another road the following night. The area was very sandy and we wore Hessian sacking over our feet to help disguise our tracks. While hiking to our road we disturbed one of the largest herds of animals I had ever seen: hundreds of wildebeest and zebra ran by us for quite a while. When we finally reached the road it had four-foot high elephant grass growing in the middle. Wrong road! We had been dropped in the wrong location so had a very long hike to the proper road. We only ended up mining one more road. I did security up the road each time while the sergeant did the planting of all four mines.
Returning back to Rhodesia in the morning I was seated by the door across from the tech enjoying the long chopper ride at treetop level and watching giraffe and other game below. Suddenly the tech's eyes bulged out of his head and he screamed into his mouthpiece. Our chopper pulled up as fast and sharp as possible. Those huge power lines that ran down the Mozambican side of the border were in our face. We just barely flew over the top strand … in seemingly slow motion. It was right there! Right bloody there! I could have easily stepped out of the chopper onto it! The chopper wheels must have cleared it by millimeters … seriously! I looked over at the tech, his eyes rolled upward then closed and his body sagged and I honestly thought he'd fainted. He opened them several seconds later and had a few more grey hairs. The SAS told us several days later that our joint campaign had caused about 200 enemy casualties including 12 Frelimo sapper teams. Renamo probably got official credit for it.

Border patrol
While at Mabalahuta we do another multi-tasking deployment. One stick to do a prisoner snatch patrol in Mozambique, one to OP Crooks Corner and one eight-man stick a roving fighting patrol inside Mozambique. The stick I was with was to patrol the border from the Nuanetsi River to the Limpopo River to check how many cuts in the fence by the terrorists and if fresh spoor to consider follow-up. I really didn't fancy doing a follow-up through the big Rhodesian border minefield, the Cordon Sanitaire! We crossed the minefield on a path created by Rhodesian engineers to the fence on the Nuanetsi River. Our patrol walked south along the dirt road next to the border fence. We stopped counting cuts in the fence after 50; nothing recent though. There were lots of plain brown stones on this road and we noticed a broken one had neat quartz crystals in it. So, on our breaks we were breaking these stones apart and admiring the cool crystals. Gave the gate marked booby-trapped a wide berth and checked out a hippo in a pond nearby. We stepped back and forth across the border fence many times so that we could have bragging rights that we had been to Mozambique a least a hundred times during the war.
Our snatch patrol came up on the radio; they were making a hasty tactical withdrawal back to the border. All our call signs were going to RV on the border. I don't know exact details but something on the lines that the snatch patrol did target a lone Frelimo but in the commotion he was shot in the leg. This brought many Frelimo comrades quickly to his aid. We all met up and heard Frelimo mortars being fired. We ran north up the border track not wanting to cross the minefield. The area had rolling hills and as we topped one the Frelimo would mortar the hill we had just vacated. This went on for several hills. We laughed each time as we ran north, though I must credit Frelimo for leapfrogging their mortar teams. We watched a Hawker Hunter come and drop a 1,000lb golf bomb on the Frelimo garrison by Crooks Corners as a belated Valentine. We reached the Nuanetsi River and ran up the middle of the dry riverbed into Rhodesia, figuring it would be safe from landmines but knowing they do shift in the sand! The Frelimo mortaring stopped at the border river crossing. Clear of the minefield some guys caught several barbel with a handheld bayonet in the pools of water under some fallen logs. We brought them back and the batmen stopped all their chores to smoke the fish at once. On a stupid note, I wore a brand-new pair of fancy suede lightweight boots I had bought at a Bata store. The damn sole came off the left foot after one day and I walked around in my stockinged foot; and the Nuanetsi river sand really hurt to walk on.

ZIPRA base raid
Another op with SAS planning a raid by 16 men on a ZIPRA camp of about 100 terrorists inside Zambia, deploying from an SAS base camp at Kanyemba airstrip. They required two Support Commando sticks for back-up, and being the MA3 I get to go. Arriving at Kanyemba an SAS stick was being casevaced in from Zambia; I went to assist the SAS doctor. This stick had run into some nasty buffalo beans and two troopers needed to be sedated. I assume they ran into them at night as surely they'd have enough sense to walk around the bean shit in daylight! The SAS doctor asked to check my combat medical supplies. I accepted his criticism and showed a willingness to learn. He gave me a complete tour of the SAS base and we discussed many things. We actually got along quite fine and I got some useful tips.
The ZIPRA camp had Soviet 14.5 AA guns on hills around it so a chopper assault was out of the question. The SAS recce teams even heard them being fired. SAS would be parachuted from afar then walk in. Unfortunately during approach they bumped into sentries who alerted the main camp. The SAS did have a skirmish upon reaching the main camp where one trooper was wounded in the shoulder but were able to overrun the base. They requested both RLI sticks so out we went. We rode a G-Car climbing altitude up this huge Zambezi escarpment. At the very top was this huge male elephant waving his ears and shaking his trunk at us. On a hill nearby the terrorist camp our stick was tasked to pack up a 14.5 AA gun for return to Rhodesia. I played with a captured WW2 vintage Russian DP machine gun with the huge flat drum magazine on top, shooting down some trees to make an LZ for the chopper. It kept having stoppages because the magazine spring was too weak; no wonder the terrorist had abandoned it. So our MAG gunner did his lumberjack thing. The ZIPRA base had lots of kit including brand-new marquee tents but we didn't have enough chopper resources to bring it all back so the tents were burned much to the dismay of some. Three 14.5 AA guns were captured and the air force later set up two of them at the Kanyemba airfield. Then the aircrews took turns manning them while a Lynx flew back and forth, making mock bombing runs and flying like a madman. The airmen wanted to know how easily an AA gunner could track and target an aircraft using the traverse and elevation control hand wheels. They did this for a long time and it was entertaining to watch.

SAS reconnaissance had determined ZANLA terrorists, fresh from the training camps, were assembling at a certain town in Mozambique. When ready they were then transported by two or three cattle trucks loaded with about 70 terrorists each to the Rhodesian border for deployment. Support Commando was going to ambush these trucks. A senior NCO said this was going to be the highlight of his military career. An SAS stick was going to OP the town and give us some warning when the trucks departed. An SAS mate of mine in this stick was pissed because the pre-designated OP position was a 100 yards from a kraal. Sixteen members of Support Commando including me were deployed by choppers to within ten kilometers of the ambush site and we'd walk in. We would sit in ambush for two weeks if necessary. The SAS stick was deployed ten kilometers from their OP but were dropped in error near our ambush position! We had a long hot walk with a couple troops suffering heat exhaustion, which I had to treat with IV drips. I had luckily brought seven water bottles with me; if anyone suffered a head or stomach wound I would have to keep the bandages wet. All streams and rivers we found were as dry as a bone; we even dug down six feet in an outer curve of one and still found no sign of water.
We received word by radio that the SAS chopper had flown over a ZANLA camp yet nobody had thought to alert the local militia. SAS were monitoring Frelimo radio traffic and so we just laid low for a day to suss things out. Two others and I spent half a day observing the road from as deep in the woods as possible because of Frelimo reputation for using big sweep lines on each side of the road. On the second night we received an airdrop of water re-supply. The third day seemed quiet so we went and set up the ambush. The plan was that the first truck would be blown by explosives we had planted in a culvert. The second truck would be hit with a 3.5-inch rocket launcher (don't know why we didn't have a RPG-7). On the far left of our ambush, the eastern side, would be me and a Troopie to act as cut-off, or if there was a third truck to engage it with our two rifles and hand grenades. Our own truck of 70 gooks …. no problem … bring it on! We sent out a four-man stick to OP from a high gomo to the west.
We sent three troops off to cache the rest of our water in a culvert to the east. Our OP saw six Frelimo walking slowly down the road toward us from the west. A senior NCO took two soldiers with him to ambush and kill them. Everyone's attention was on the six Frelimo when suddenly our water party came running back through my position-they had seen gooks while caching the water and had made a hasty tactical withdrawal. Our OP switched focus and saw that we had been surrounded on three sides-north, east and south-by about 200 Frelimo! Apparently Frelimo looking for the SAS chopper troops had found our tracks. Word spread quickly and I admit I was in a minor flap, what with it being my first time surrounded. It took all those hundreds of hours of discipline and marching on the parade square for us not to bolt and run. I watched our captain calmly set up the TR48 and radio for air support. He was so calm and ice cool, it really had a calming effect on me. Our small ambush party returned and I kept vigil on my side of our group. I also crammed my pockets with stuff from my pack that I would keep in case we abandoned backpacks. I was determined not to be taken prisoner and got ready for a fight to the death.
A Rhodesian Hawker Hunter suddenly appeared over our position: perfect timing. The SAS OP had ordered an air strike on the terrorist assembly point in town, reckoning earlier the ambush would be a no go. The Hunter did his strike and came back to give us top cover. The Frelimo went to ground and we got all our gear and made a hasty tactical withdrawal to the west. I was ordered to be last man and to do the anti-tracking. A couple hundred yards later we crossed a ten-foot wide stream with ankle-deep water. The rest ran up the grassy slope on the other side and into the forest. I grabbed a long stick and started flicking up the grass as fast as possible, tippy-toeing and sidestepping as taught by Selous Scouts at Wafa Wafa. I figured that covering this spoor Frelimo might think we ran up or down the stream. I kept looking and expecting Frelimo to emerge any second but anti-tracked for about three tension-filled minutes. I did a good job and ran into the woods to follow the rest of the troops. A couple of small grassy clearings were crossed so I anti-tracked both places as well. A Lynx came and flew around too. After some distance we took up all-round defense on a small kopje and observed the area, awaiting choppers for hot extraction. We never saw any Frelimo-perhaps my ant-tracking confused them but more likely our fearsome air force scared the shit out of them. Finally the choppers arrived to take us back and we were really glad to get our feet back on Rhodesian soil, fighting the urge to kiss the chopper pilot's butt. I spoke to our OP NCO who said the Frelimo were really very close to us, and really there were about 200 of them surrounding us. Maybe the six on the road were a decoy which worked for a short while. A dream ambush became a near nightmare.

I was involved in the above operations. Recce Troop did a recon of a ZANLA camp of about 100 terrorists in Mozambique. They called in a successful air strike causing quite a few casualties. Unfortunately one of the two extraction G-Cars on way to pick up the Recce team was shot down, killing both aircrew. The Recce Platoon Sergeant earned his MFC (Operational) on this operation.
Mike McDonald

NIGEL RITTEY follows on:
Shooting and firearms

In 1961 the army had already replaced their old Lee Enfield 303s with the SLR semi-automatic, which had a caliber at NATO standard 7.62. As rookies, we had hours of weapon training with these things. This took place in classrooms, out in the hot Rhodesian sun and at the shooting range at Woolandale where we discovered just how accurate these weapons could be … in the right hands. Some could knock a tick off a bull's backside at 500 yards while others could not be relied on to hit a barn at six paces.
The targets for the shorter range shoots were either 'Figure 11' or 'Figure12' pattern, which featured fearsome-looking gooks in camouflage kit printed on them. Most of us were content to just whack the things but the purists always tried for a neat grouping of shots between the eyes.
At longer ranges massive targets were the usual and more pride was taken in the achievement of good grouping, which while they may not have been in the bull's eye, indicated that you were a darned good shot and, had your armourer zeroed the rifle properly, they would have all been dead centre. We were forbidden to zero our own sights but many of us did break the rules from time to time.
The Stirling SMG was about as reliable as a two bob watch and was prone to stoppages and even runaways. The latter were hilarious and dangerous at the same time. All the Troopie could do was keep it roughly pointed down the range while the thing emptied the whole magazine. Some claimed the things were not very accurate but I managed to get most of my shots on target. They appeared very much as if they had been churned out by the mile and cut off by the yard in the kind of factory that might be contracted to produce jacks for cheap cars.
Pistols were the 9mm Browning automatics which were about as good as anything around. These were usually meant for officers, but we got to shoot with them on occasions. This brings to mind a time when, on a Saturday afternoon, Denzel Lloyd-Evans and I were nobbled by Lieutenants Douglas and Harvey to patch up targets down at the 30-yard range. These two distinguished gentlemen had been summarily appointed to represent our company at a forthcoming battalion shooting competition and wished to sharpen their shooting skills. Their shooting was appalling to say the least and, at the end of a boring afternoon, they were kind enough to let Denzel and I "have a few shots”. Much to their chagrin, our handling of the two Brownings was impeccable and the two Figure 11s both had a lot of daylight showing through by the time our magazines were empty.
The Bren was a favorite of mine, even though I carried this bloody great piece of ironmongery up many gomos and battled under its weight on many marches. If properly set up a 'double tap' could produce hits on the target that were only a couple of inches apart even over long ranges.
A 3.5 inch rocket launcher was our anti-tank weapon. It was a lot of fun to fire but the price of the rockets meant we were lucky to have a shot with the thing at all. In my whole career I was lucky enough to squeeze the trigger twice. They misfired regularly.
The Energa grenade was fired using a ballastite cartridge from the SLR. It was not very accurate as it had a short range and a high trajectory … sort of a poor man's howitzer. If you did hit something it really banged a hole in it. There was never enough practice with these either.
Occasionally we were allowed to lob hand grenades. These 'Mills' bombs were fun too. The explosion was often characterized by the howling of the base plug, which was a deeper sounding version of the ricochet sound effect so beloved by the makers of cheap Westerns.
Playing with things that went bang was something to look forward to-especially 808 plastic explosive. This stuff looked and smelled just like marzipan icing and it had a thousand uses. You could blow a railway track, bring down a tree, flatten a building or become a highly successful fisherman with it. On a weekend trip in my small boat near Charara at Kariba, a companion and I had, after liberating a small quantity of this 'pyrotechnic plasticine' (along with the necessary detonators and fuses), tootled along dropping sticks of the stuff over the stern just like any serious fishermen would do. The chessa, nkupi, bream, barbel and tiger who had, up to then, scoffed at our more conventional fishing methods, quickly succumbed to this 'depth-charging' … and then the engine stalled. With no electric starter up in the driver's seat, there was a frantic scramble to dive aft and tug the starting cord to get the boat underway before its marine ply bottom turned to matchwood. I could see the morning headlines in the Rhodesia Herald-'Two RLI men die when boat hits Kariba mine! ZANU-PF claims responsibility.' 808 could blow a fair-sized hole through a tree if it was stuffed into the bottom of a broken Champagne bottle. The dome in the bottom of the bottle served as a good model for demonstrations of the hollow charge principle-as did certain aerosol cans, ploughshares and even car hubcaps. Viva la Alfred Nobel!
Battle simulation was greatly enhanced due to the use of the thunderflash which was a bloody great squib with an igniter fixed along its side. You pulled this 'doohickey' and it began to hiss and spurt flames whereupon you needed to get rid of it chop chop if you were fond of your fingers.
Quieter, but a lot more dangerous, were the white phosphorus grenades. These were used in conventional warfare exercises to generate instant smoke screens. I never experienced them being used in anger and am grateful for this. To be slowly roasted to death from the outside would be a ghastly fate even for one's worst enemy.

Instructor's Driving and Maintenance Course
As a seasoned motorcyclist, the time came for the army to switch me over to things with four or more wheels. I had never learned to drive a car so I duly reported to the MT yard for my first lessons with an instructor. This courageous fellow was Corporal Roy Capener who began with a tour of a standard LWB Land Rover:
"This is a steering wheel. When you turn it, this vehicle either a) turns, or b), turns over … all depends on how fast you're going. Then there is this metal pedal on the floor. If you push it down the thing goes faster. If you take your foot off it, it usually slows down … unless you're going down a hill in which case it could carry on going. To make the thing stop you have to stand on this other thing. If you do it too hard you will gooi all the okes to the front. This can be rectified by taking your foot off it and stomping on the pedal I first told you about. There is also this waggley thing here called a gear lever. You start by putting it in this corner here, then this one, then that one, then that one and finally over here … but don't waggle it unless you've pushed that other thing over there…which can only happen when you've taken your foot off the thing I first told you about. There's another thing … don't even think about trying to hit the fifth position of that waggley thing 'cos, if you're stopped … or going very slow … the thing starts going backwards. If you try this and you're going fast, the government will have your guts for garters and this thing's gearbox is gonna need a dentist!”
We survived the first lesson and, after days of blood sweat and tears, I was declared fit to be let loose on Rhodesia's roads. A while later someone told me to go and do this 'D & M' Instructor's Course down at 'Hooterville' (Gwelo) at the School of Infantry. I was not yet a great driver at the time so I wondered at the wisdom of the army's decision to train me on how to do what instructors and examiners did, which was teaching greenhorns (like me) how to drive big expensive pieces of military equipment and then testing them at the end.
At Gwelo we met with the four characters whose task it was to train us. The D & M School was headed up by Captain 'Classy' Lloyd (frightfully public school type), with WOII Bob Preller, Colour Sergeant Norman Dale and Sergeant Pete Arnold (an ex Metropolitan Police driving instructor from Hendon in the UK), as our mentors.
Several weeks of instruction followed. We were taught how to fix 'veekles' (as 'Doppies' Preller pronounced it), how to float them across rivers, how to drive a whole lot better and how the things worked.
The course culminated in a trip down to the Sabi / Lundi confluence in a variety of antique transport. The camp was fun and we had a chance to put theories about the floatation of Land Rovers into practice. This was achieved either by the use of a truck canopy frame skinned with canvas, or by simply wrapping the whole vehicle up in a tarpaulin and committing it to the deep. Ours did not sink, but then it didn't float either. We just couldn't get it into the water. A previous group of trainees had apparently managed to sink theirs.
A snippet of memory from that time was the lecture by the frightfully posh Classy Lloyd who, citing Archimedes, declared that: "When an object is totally or partially immersed in a fluid … the f**king thing sinks!”
I obtained a B+ grading on the course, which I understand is something of a record. This qualified me as an instructor / examiner. In the next couple of years I trained and tested dozens of drivers, amazingly without dents, shunts or other mishaps.

We had our lots thrown in with a great variety of these over the years. Some were admired, some were tolerated and a few were endured. A few are easily recalled. There was Bob Davey: tall, a little pink and with a hint of a developing British politician's lisp but a fine soldier who learned very quickly to relate to the polyglot lot he was tossed in with. Dave Parker arrived at Brady wearing some strange uniform from another regiment and very quickly made his mark on the troops. He was destined to become the Regiment's' 'Main Man What Counted' only to die tragically in an air crash in later years. A young Barney Robinson, stocky and a little vertically challenged, was quickly nicknamed 'Barney Rubble', The Flintstones being in vogue at the time. Of the more hirsute gentlemen was one known as 'Hairy' Holgate. What became of him I know not. There was a frightfully earnest British one, a Second Lieutenant Johnson, who dreamed of becoming some kind of rally or race driver. He spent a lot of his spare time throwing a rather tired Ford Taunus around the barracks on two wheels. As far as I can remember he never did manage to write himself off. Peter Batty was probably the most laid-back of them all. Nothing ever seemed to get him excited. Perhaps one of the ones we did not relate to quite so well, was the rather morose Lionel Dyke, who seemed to delight in anything that would get a troopies' back up. There were a few of those, but most, in time, successfully earned the respect of their charges.

In 1961, the services of batmen at Brady Barracks were supposedly streng verboten for all but the senior ranks and officers. It was amazing what a few shillings would get you however and it wasn't long before we managed to secure their expertise. The khaki drill bush jackets, shorts and longs (KDs), needed to be washed and then starched. Merely immersing them in a starch solution was not good enough. The trick was to brush a sort of goo, made by boiling the stuff in a pot, onto the clothes and then cooking it dry with a hot iron. This gave you the kind of kit that could stand on the floor by itself. The 'Stick Man' contenders actually lowered themselves into their shorts and then waddled to the parade ground using funny little three-inch steps so that there would be no cracks or wrinkles in the things until they came to attention on the command of the Orderly Officer.
Everyone at some time or other had a Lovemore, Sixpence or Phineas who sneaked in and out of the lines fetching and carting kit at all hours of the night. They worked in one of the old hangars bordering what was once Khumalo aerodrome and were constantly raided by the RPs who searched in vain for our forbidden kit. I never lost any. In later times when internal security problems came to the fore and we were put on 'standby', which meant lounging around with vehicles loaded and ready to go somewhere or other around Rhodesia at a moment's notice. We never knew where we might be sent but the barracks batmen could usually be relied upon to come up with a reliable prediction. A typical conversation might have gone something like this:
"Hey, Lovemore! … Upi mina hamba manje?”
"Hau, baas ,… kubani Karoi!”

Township cordons
In the early '60s urban unrest reared its ugly head. Intimidation of the local population was rife as political 'partie's inflicted their viewpoints in rather undemocratic ways. We were dug out of bed at unholy hours of the morning and bundled into RLs, J5s and Land Rovers to surround areas of Harare, Highfields and other townships. The idea was to try to close the net on agitators and thugs while they were still in their sacks, kipping it off after a long hard night of murder and mayhem. The CID, and the other cloak and dagger types, would then interview all and sundry bundling the rotters into jail while leaving the innocent free to go and do their daily business. It was boring work being dug in at the side of a township street, but we found ways to amuse ourselves nonetheless. Soccer matches with the picannins was a popular pastime. Those little blighters were good players and they often ran rings around us. As good Rhodesians we had mostly grown up in households where the family dogs hated cats and black-skinned people and they would erupt into furious paroxysms of barking if these came near. In African townships the boot was on the other foot. Their scrawny mutts went bananas when fair-skinned mukiwas invaded their territory. We could tell roughly where any one of our foot patrols was simply by following the racket made by these watchdogs. The bad guys probably benefited from these mangy sentinels more than we did.

Riot drills
In the early '60s, the powers that be and the military were becoming increasingly uncomfortable with the problem of how to deal with rioters. The old 'let's-break-a-few-skulls' brigade had to be reined in and rioters had to then be dealt with by the book … no mowing the blighters down or climbing in with sjamboks or truncheons would be tolerated. No 'Gunfight at the OK Corral' methods were allowed either. The Department of Bright Sparks sat in committees and came up with a formal 'drill' to deal with it.
The whole circus began where the civil authorities had to formally sign the mess over to the military … rather difficult when the bricks and Molotov cocktails were raining down. Then troops would ever so neatly climb out of their vehicles and form up. On command they would march to an area in front of the screaming mob where they split into a perfect square. Each man faced outwards. Great stuff, but the boffins forgot that in so doing, only 25 per cent of us could see what was about to break our noses or bash our heads in. Of course we were not supposed to duck or avoid these missiles.
The officer in charge was supposed to call out to the mob with a megaphone saying something akin to, "I say chaps … you really ought to stop this Neanderthal stuff and go home!”
If these chaps, after being cautioned three times, still hadn't given up, a 'sniper' would be given an order to go down on one knee and bump off a selected troublemaker. In all the practice drills the officer, having selected a ringleader, invariably instructed, "Man in red shirt … read y… aim … fire!”
Had I been a political agitator at that time, I would never have been stupid enough to wear a red shirt! I don't recollect these riot drills ever being put into practice. These drills came to mind recently when a friend reminded me that camels had come about as a result of Our Creator delegating the design for a horse to a committee!

As close to a contact as I ever got
The first 'gooks' had been nailed at Sinoia , the Oberholzer attack was long gone, the truck driver Edward Juze was cold in his grave when a bunch of them struck at Nevada Ranch, the home of the Viljoen family. Some of the perpetrators came to their well-deserved sticky ends but one was some time later reported to be making his way back to Zambia by way of a well-known path down the escarpment near Chirundu. A team from 1 Commando raced to New Sarum where we boarded a Dakota and headed for Centenary airfield. An Alouette flown by John Barnes picked up a team of us and we were dropped off in a tiny LZ not far from where this terrorist would be expected to pass.
A good site was found for an ambush where a killing ground was chosen, after which we lay for hours in our positions waiting for our quarry to come scrambling down the rocky trail. At some time during the chilly night we heard him coming. Adrenalin was pumping but one of our number, being a bit cold and who had covered himself with his rubberized poncho, decided to take it off, making a hell of a racket in the process. Our target bolted away up the escarpment before any of us could sort him out. The murderer was later bumped off not far from there by another unit.
Our uplift from the LZ the following day was interesting to say the least. Our stick was heavy, the air was hot and the chopper's blades only just cleared the tall trees surrounding the tiny clearing. We thought the pilot would take half of us and return for the rest later but he gave us the thumbs up for all of us to board. By some skilful 'egg-beating' and waltzing around, he persuaded the machine to break out of ground effect and get us back to Centenary where he landed it like a fixed-wing aircraft on the runway.
The Dakota somehow, in spite of the combined weight of our group, a team of RAR troops, all our kit and a Steyr Puch Signals vehicle, got us off the ground and headed for Salisbury. The RAR troopies had to be dropped at Mount Hampden where the walrus-moustached pilot dropped the thing a few feet short of the runway. When the wheels hit the step where the tarmac began, there was an almighty jolt that bounced us against the straps and sent the aircraft back into the air again. The landing a little while later at New Serum was a real greaser however and 'Biggles' was quickly forgiven.

Beer drinking
In 1961 the price of a bottle of Castle or Lion Lager in the Brady canteen was ten pence. As our pay, after all the deductions, was around £25 a month, we quickly measured our worth in beer bottles… 24 bottles to the quid x £25 = 600 bottles a month or about 20 bottles a night! Some actually managed this sort of consumption but if they smoked cigarettes at 2s / 6d for 50 … or eight packets to the pound, then sadly sacrifices had to be made.
Drinking was a serious business. Troops liked to sit around a table and make long lines with the empties and it was not uncommon to see tables completely covered with bottles at the end of an evening. There were competitions to stack the bottles into huge precariously balanced pyramids, which made the practice of rolling around on the floor rather dangerous. The usual 'drink it down-down-down' challenges were part of life. This became even more of a challenge when someone introduced the Yard of Ale which was a great way to either take a bath in Castle or learn to drink beer through the nose. It was not only the low cost that made canteen drinking so attractive. The close proximity to one's own 'fartsack' was a boon as one could hardly get run over or prang while weaving one's way home after an evening of mirth and merriment.
Dumpy bottles, originally with caps that needed bottle openers, came later and it was not long before the lads discovered that during long journeys in Land Rovers, the parcel tray in the front had an edge to it that had been designed by a dedicated beer drinker. All you had to do was hook it under the lip of the tray and shove the bottle forwards. I learned that as long as I had another bottle with a cap on it, I could hook it under the lip of another bottle of beer and by squeezing gently in the left hand and levering with the right, the top would come off with a loud pop. The puzzle about what to do about opening your last one when all the other bottles had no caps was quickly solved. All you had to do was jam a cap back onto an empty one. The screw-off caps and the arrival of canned beer took some of the fun out of it.
There were of course, a few seasoned brandy drinkers who bought the stuff by the bottle and sloshed it into a variety of mixers. Brandy and Coke was a great favorite but the real hooligans wrapped their faces around cane spirits or vodka. Wine was not popular with the troops and would really only be drunk when everything else was in short supply.

Assault courses
A part of our lives, these were actually enjoyed by the masochists among us. The assault course at Cranborne barracks was designed by someone who hated soldiers, had spent a lifetime studying berserk baboons and was the son of a trapeze artist. It had all kinds of unnatural challenges made of concrete, bricks, barbed wire, mud and filthy water. The most frustrating of these was a wall about ten or twelve feet high. Getting over the thing required a team effort, unless you had been blessed with arms long enough to trail your knuckles in the dirt as you walked about doing Neanderthal impersonations … there were a few! The key was to get all the big okes to run to the wall and slam their backs into it where their interlocking fingers acted as a step for the next guy's booted 'beetle crushers'. This brave fellow would be tossed skyward by the big lad in the hope he could get his mitts onto the top of the wall. If successful, he put a boot on the head of his mucker down below and shoved himself upward to the point where he could get most of himself on top of the wall. He was then supposed to extend a paw downward so the next troopie could wrench his arm out of its socket. Once the top of the wall became overpopulated, it was time to allow gravity to take over and to plummet to earth on the other side. The tough part was trying to get the bloody great 'caber tossers', who had hurled you skyward, over the wall. They had no interlocking fingers to put boots in and did not even have someone's bonce to tread on to help themselves up. They either had to be blessed with the arms of an Urang Utang or pray that a comrade on top had been so endowed.
All of this 'fun' was complicated by unnecessary handicaps such as packs, webbing, rifles, water bottles and helmets-steel-troops-for-the-use-of … and heaven help you if you left it behind. Low-strung barbed-wire obstacles were a curse. The kit a soldier carried on him made the concept of shoving of a frightened hedgehog up an angry rhino's rectum, like a walk in the park by comparison. It caught on everything. They also produced tears and rips in your denims which meant having to stitch the things up using the needle and cotton so thoughtfully supplied by Her Majesty's Government as the contents of each soldier's 'Housewife' repair kit. The designers of these courses also happily assumed that the troops had all been born with the sense of balance of a mountain goat. There were gum poles that you were supposed to do high wire acts on without falling off and a sort of 'Tarzan of the apes' monkey rope with which you had to swing across pits filled with foul water. These Charlies had lost sight of the fact that we would have to use the thing while clutching onto a whole bunch of kit and rifles.
I hated assault courses with a passion and decided early in my career that, if the enemy were ever to set themselves up at the end of such a set of obstacles, I would either find a way around them, call in an air strike or wait for the blighters to croak from old age.

The barrack rooms
At the end of a long hard day spent doing all the things soldiers had to do, the time would come for us to kip. The barrack rooms had space for about a dozen of us and a lance-corporal had his own room near the entrance. The Law of Averages unfortunately came into play when it was time for beddy byes … although there was supposed to be a formal 'lights out', troopies had a habit of staggering in at all hours which led to noise and other disruptions to our well-earned rest. There were snorers, whistlers, coughers and those with flatulence and beer burps to contend with, as well as the insomniacs who sat up and engaged in long conversations with their mates.
A few of us dutifully leapt out of our 'fartsacks' at sunrise, on the lance-corporal's command while others had to be bodily dragged from their beds and pushed into action. The barrack rooms were freezing cold in winter and hot as hell in summer when the mosquitoes added to your woes while you sweated, lightly clad, on top of the sheets. Each man had a bed with a coir mattress on dubious springs, a 'Lockers Airman 6 foot' and a 'Lockers Airman 3 foot'. These olive-drab pieces of furniture were supposed to be enough to contain his worldly possessions. If he had any more than the army allowed him, he would have to store the surplus in his car or somewhere else.
Everything had to be polished. At Brady the wooden floors were coated with Cobra and a pair of 'slippers' made from an old blanket were kept near the door so when you came in you were supposed to stand on them and shuffle your way to your space, polishing the floor in the process.
A 'Lockers Airman 3 foot' at Brady was once used as a part of a drunken and rather bizarre contest between some of the more macho soldiers. They placed a 'Mug Tin Troops for the Use Of' on the top of one of these and proceeded to attempt to use their suitably erect 'courting tackle' to whack the thing down the length of the barrack room. The winner actually succeeded with a single blow and managed to dent the mug in the process.
Saturday morning inspections were endured. It was quickly learned that the barracks designers had carefully engineered 'gunge' traps everywhere. At Brady there were rafters and grooves in the floors that could hold enough filth to actually show up on the finger of an inspecting officer's white glove. These people seemed to have been gifted with the ability to scrape microscopic particles of detritus, using a pin, from such places as the joint between a plughole and a basin, or to detect the droppings of a moth on a light bulb at a range of five paces. A fingerprint on a windowpane was almost a case for capital punishment and the lack of cotton in one's carefully displayed 'Housewife' would incur the wrath of the gods. Any of these heinous offences could cost us our weekend passes, so most of us tried our best not to let the side down. There were, however, a few gungy types, who not even the army could change. We soon did.

The MT Yard
The boss was Captain Keith Dyer who had a pleasant disposition until some damn fool chose to cross his path. His rugged 'mush' would darken to a dreadful purple and the offender would then get put in his place with a blast of interesting expletives.
The mechanics I remember were Colour Sergeant 'Rumpy' Jones, Sergeant 'Beaver' Frazer-Kirk, Sergeant Gordon 'Bird' Parrott and a fellow from a planet all of his own called MacAllister. Corporal Charlie Cole was the NCO who kept the wheels turning and doubled as the projectionist at the regimental cinema at the canteen. When he moved on, I was sent there as MT Sergeant and it became my task to do all the things needed to ensure that 100 or more vehicles were treated with the respect they deserved.
These vehicles had to undergo a regular inspection known as the '406'. To do these things, an officer (layman) would be given a clipboard and had to run down the list of items inspected and tick them off or enter an X and write details of the problem he might have found. Quite how a wet-behind-the-ears second lieutenant's diagnosis of what might be wrong with a Land Rover's gearbox was supposed to have been of great value to the military, remains a mystery. It was rather akin to asking a cook to perform a heart transplant. We had to re-do the darned things anyway when the 'subbys' had finished, so the '406' proved a futile exercise and wasted acres of trees used in the production of the forms … in triplicate of course.
No vehicle was supposed to have left the yard without a work ticket signed by the MTO or other authorized person. If stopped by the RPs and the thing wasn't signed, it was a guarantee that some form of ghastly punishment would follow. Of course, once it left the barracks, there was little control on where it went to or how it got there.
When petrol rationing came about as a result of sanctions, the tank of a Bedford became a very attractive target for troopies needing to siphon a couple of gallons to put into their cars and motorbikes so they could continue to get themselves around to pubs, parents and girlfriends, without hindrance. The authorities decided to introduce petrol that contained a purple dye. This stuff worked just fine and left a purple residue around the carburetors of any vehicle using it. The 'wide boys' consequently took great pains to keep their car and bike engines spotlessly clean using that old standby, Jeyes' Fluid, which could be liberated from Army Stores who dished it out as a toilet disinfectant. At some stage the jam stealers substituted this superb engine cleaner with a cheaper, locally made equivalent that really didn't work as well.
For a while I found my two-stroke Yamaha motorbike ran very well on cleaning benzene which I could buy in four-gallon cans. Experimentation at a later stage showed that my private Land Rover functioned reasonably well on a 50 / 50 mix of paraffin and petrol. It knocked a bit but it still got me around.
Nigel Rittey