Cheetah Magazine: August 2011
From the Editors Desk

What a busy few months a number of our members and readers have had; with the re-establishment of the Australia / New Zealand branch and preparations for the 50th birthday celebrations in the UK, many have had much to do. The preparations for both these initiatives have been well laid and the effort of those concerned is to be applauded. I am sure we all wish the organisers and initiators every success.

The Signature article of this edition, is in keeping with the imminent celebrations in the UK; a wonderful account of the actual birth of our regiment, by Digger Essex-Clark. Written in his unique style his recollections and those of others are both informative and entertaining. It is humbling to see the role of people, like Digger, Dave Parker, Tom Davidson, who transitioned 1 Training Unit into the RLI, took on the established order and showed leadership and commitment to the men they had inherited.

It seems to me that history, in any sphere, is created and sustained in the stories and tales of legends. Reputations are forged and culture developed from exploits, adventures and personalities. In our legends section, we have a few great stories and I would like to thank Nigel and Peter for submitting the material. I am sure you will enjoy the narratives as much as I did.

In the (Recall and Reunions) R&R Gallery you will see images of a few friends congregating in Durban and some very young and fit rugby players. It is a pity the 15 RLI players of 1962 are not available for the Springboks of today!

It is also heartening to see everyone looking so well in Durban, and our best regards go to General Hickman and hope he thoroughly enjoys his trip to the birthday celebrations in the UK.

A wonderful article about Paddy Driver has been written by Digger, I hope you enjoy the story of a wonderful soldier

In memoriam
It seems to me that not a month goes by when we don't lose another friend and ex Regimental comrade. Even though we may not have seen them for long periods, our sadness is not diminished nor are they forgotten. This edition pays tribute to those who have recently passed and hope their loved ones and families take comfort in lives well-lived and rich in friendships.

Although many of you may have received separately the notifications and updates from your branches I have included these for general information.

In this edition's section we have an eclectic mix of material with various pictures and anecdotes; our thanks to all who submitted.

I had the great fortune, whilst in Cape Town last week, to attend an ‘Army' lunch. Hosted by Leon Jacobs and attended by many old friends, it was a wonderful get together.

What is not generally known, I think, is the thoughtful financial and moral support this group of old soldiers gives to senior citizens who are ‘doing it tough' (as we say in Australia). Your kindness and efforts are so admirable and we salute you.

Thank you to my first mentor, ex-boss and friend Dick Lockley for the invitation

Comments and feedback
On an editorial note, please feel free to let me know if you have any feedback on the magazine (both electronic and print versions). This is your magazine and your comments will be gratefully received and acted upon.

With best regards to you all


"As recalled by then Major Digger Essex-Clark. (OC ‘A' Company)"

Gestation period: unknown
Place of birth: Brady Barracks, Kumalo, Bulawayo
Date of birth: Wednesday 1st February 1961
Name: 1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry
Godparent: No 1 Training Unit

Please understand that I believe that there was very little, if any, official celebration at battalion, or any other level, on the birth of the 1st Battalion the Rhodesian Light Infantry. Like ‘Topsy' in Lewis Carroll's ‘Alice in Wonderland', we just seemed to grow as our rifle green berets arrived with our new sliver badges, lanyards, stable belts and, when in Cranborne, our green uniforms and peaked rifle green ‘SD' forage caps, as we ‘morphed' from the ineptly, ugly, and awkwardly titled No, 1 Training Unit' into the magnificently titled 1st Battalion of the Rhodesian Light Infantry (1RLI).

When we left for the Congo border we had not completed our basic or even infantry collective training, we had no effective mortar or assault pioneer platoon, and headquarter company was a dogs breakfast of vehicles, unused or underutilised equipment and all managed or mismanaged haphazardly by a much under-strength Quartermaster platoon.

We were never really a reasonably cohesive fighting battalion until very late 1962. Mind you, the leadership, unit morale, and training challenges were great indeed in to establish a unit ésprit de corps and unit identity, let alone a whole-of-unit high morale,

Realisation: has something changed?
My memory and limited research indicates that few within the battalion, at the time, realised that we had become a light infantry battalion. In reality very few of our soldiers recognised that we had changed from the awkwardly titled No, 1 Training Unit, into the First Battalion of the Rhodesian Light Infantry.

Nigel Rittey , who was there on that day ay Brady Barracks, and a member of ‘A' Company wittily states:

The 1st of February 1961 as far as I was concerned meant little to me as I attested as "2037 Private Rittey J.N ....Sah!!!" only on the 19th of that month. At that point of course, there was no bit of uniform declaring "RLI", we had blue berets with bloody great brass badges, belts that needed Blanco worn with KD's with puttees. I think those ex Brit Army "Dieu et Mon Droit" buckled white plastic belts (‘bye ' bye Blanco!) were found and issued prior to leaving Brady after the Congo thing; whilst stable belts were a Cranborne thing. I am almost sure the green uniform, green and silver lanyards, silver badge, green berets and green peaked caps were issued at Cranborne as well.

I recall that, unless you were an RP, our Hitler enthusiasts were threatened with a painful death for "slashing" the peaks. I never understood why RP's could do it, thereby limiting their forward vision to only their own two feet! Perhaps they though it made them more beautiful as nobody could see their battered noses and bloodshot eyes.'

Further, Nigel Rittey cynically notes:
‘In answer to your question about when I...and others...began to get the feeling that we were the RLI, I believe that notwithstanding the lack of identifying uniforms, this "metamorphosis" early in 1961 through communications in Brady as well as through articles in the Bulawayo Chronicle which bored, "lefty" journalists alluded to the "brutal and licentious soldiery of the newly formed Rhodesian Light Infantry having been involved in a brawl etc, etc, etc....all thoroughly undeserved of course. (At the time the Chronicle and the Herald were already being thought of as local editions of Pravda and Investia.).

As to annual birthdays I don't think the 1st of Feb 1962 gave cause for any major piss-ups and I don't recollect much celebration of the birthdays until much later in my service. It is as if the birthday really only became important with the formation of the regimental associations later on.'

Tom Davidson , 2IC of D Company, who was there on the ‘birthday' states:
‘Like you I have no recollection of a formal announcement or how/when I heard about it. I do know that when it eventually clicked with me, that I wrote to Frank Slater, CO 1NRR (Northern Rhodesia Regiment) advising him that I intended to change my affiliations. His reply was good luck ‘but what happens if you are posted back?'

As to when I personally rebadged, it would have been after returning from the Congo as the Northern News photographed me when General Long visited us and I was still wearing the NRR beret and badge. I believe the lack of publicity and the poor response [or inaction or disinterestedness] from Battalion Headquarters resulted in the inactivity down the line. There was certainly no discussion on the issue in the mess and I only collected my new embellishments when we arrived in Salisbury.
I do remember there was much discussion on which way the badges [on the collar dog]) were to face and I seem to recall that I had to pay for my NRR mess kit to be converted from the white lapels and piping to the RLI green.'

Tom Davidson
‘By the way, the stable belt came some time after the other items. Of interest and I do not know the reason, but whilst we adopted the British army light-infantry bugle-horn for the badge we did not follow the light infantry tradition of the rifle being carried in the shoulder arms position or the 140 paces to the minute, thank goodness.

Bill Godwin (Battalion 2IC on the RLI birthday in 1961) did not recall how the official announcement came down and there was certainly no official all ranks notification. However he says there was a dining in night a few weeks later to celebrate the announcement. He says Salt was there.

I cannot recall the dining-in night nor can I recall Salt as CO while we were in Brady. I thought he arrived when we were deployed on the Congo border. Like you, I never saw him as the CO but as an officer accompanying General Bob Long (the GOC of the Amy of Rhodesia and Nyasaland), when he visited us at Mocambo.

Frankly after speaking to Bill Godwin, (Second in Command at that time); I am now very confused but it would seem that you are spot on, in that the birth was a real non-event.'

Mike Higgins also has no recollection of the transition from 1 Training Unit to 1RLI'.
Therefore the battalion more or less slowly ‘morphed' into the RLI as the badges arrived, the rifle green berets, peaked forage/SD caps, lanyards, and uniforms were issued as we grew into the RLI.
I know that ‘A' Company wore the rifle green beret with the silver RLI Badge for the whole of the battalion's deployment to the Congo border, as this photograph of David Parker (left) and I near Kipushi on 16 September 1961 wearing the RLI beret and badge attests (at least, I am).

(Note: I would not think that 'A' Company were the only ones issued with the badge and beret but others may have other photos of our Ouens on the Congo border deployment to prove my point?')
Many officers continued wearing their parent unit uniforms and badges. The CO (John Salt) when not wearing the uniform of a colonel
 as acting Matabeleland Area Commander; wore his RAR uniform, as did the 2IC (Bill Godwin), and Adjutant (John Thompson) who continued to wear the RAR uniform and badge for many months after the ‘birthday'.

The latter never changed their allegiance from RAR to RLI; as did my Company 2IC, David Parker, and I, an action that much annoyed the CO, 2IC, and adjutant.
David and I however, firmly believed our allegiance should be to the men we served and had the privilege to command. So we were the first two to remove our RAR badges and put on our new rifle green berets and new silver: bugle, lion and tusk crowned RLI badges before we deployed to the Congo border.

I cannot remember if any of the other officers, WOs, or NCOs who were with us from the Northern Rhodesia Regiment, the Kings African Rifles or the Staff Corps changed their allegiance and badges or not. I suspect not, until we got to Cranborne Barracks in Salisbury in 1962.

I do remember that by the time General Sir Richard Hull from the UK (as CIGS elect) visited us at Cranborne, all our battalion tribe were wearing the RLI Badge. This may have been a decree from Army Headquarters, who must have by now seen that we were a most higgledy-piggledy badged battalion, and that the eagle-eyed visiting British nominated next Chief of the Imperial General Staff was bound to ask some awkward questions.

Fortunately, from the unit dress aspect, our British Army training-staff attachments had left us by then. There was definitely no effort on behalf of the battalion hierarchy to encourage us to change out allegiance and uniforms, in fact, just the opposite; for it seemed change was a matter of conscience coupled with personal responsibility and respect for much-needed group cohesion and identity.

I expect that many of our soldiers (then just starting to use the Johannesburg slang of ‘Ouens'), did not realise that they were RLI until they too changed their dark blue berets with the brass Rhodesia and Nyasaland Army badge for their new rifle green berets and shiny new silver RLI badges.

We virtually continued our training without pause from the No 1 Training Unit programme though we never completed much of our basic training as a battalion effectively; because many (C and D Company in particular) had been ‘deployed to Gwanda to the Foot and Mouth Disease cattle cordon for 4 weeks and when we got back to Brady Barracks we were sent, almost overnight to Ndola for the Congo Emergency .'

The battalion therefore had had no time to progress to or go through training in section or platoon level combat for patrol or tactical techniques before the whole battalion was deployed to the Congo border protection operations.

The men of the battalion had to learn close quarter battle and minor tactical techniques ‘on the job' as it were, but we were very fortunate to have some, but not too many, experienced NCOs and Warrant officers some of whom were on attachment from the British Army, and many good young officer platoon commanders.

I would add that I felt that we rarely considered ourselves as an infantry battalion until we were quartered in our brand new barracks at Cranborne, and paraded, very occasionally as a battalion, , in Salisbury.

However, I strongly believe that our Congo border deployment had helped us to change our image into a new RLI battalion. However, we had operated there on and across the border as independent well separated companies, with far different objectives and operational conditions.

Even so, I never learnt whether of not we had a battalion reserve for any unforeseen emergencies within our battalion's geographically and ridiculously wide deployment. Neither did we have a battalion ‘Orders Group' or conference, before we deployed; and I saw my CO (Lt Col John Salt) only once during my company's deployment and that was when his visited us near Kipushi accompanying Major General ‘Bob' Long, Commander of the Army of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Nevertheless, before we deployed to the Congo border, we had had an RLI Rugby team in the Matabeleland 1st grade competition to ‘show our colours' in those very early days. We also had our RLI Green and white hooped Jerseys and socks for that venture. This venture was taken from us when we arrived in Salisbury and we were blended into the ‘Rhodesian ‘Forces' Rugby Teams to improve the quality of ‘Forces' performance.
Note: An aide-memoire for you, Tom: Bill Godwin was only acting as the CO (he was actually our Bn 21C while John Salt was once again masquerading as the Area Commander; and loving it! Bill stayed behind at Brady when we went up to the Congo border to arrange the move of the battalion to the new Cranborne Barracks.

This was an action opposed by me that I believed removed an important ésprit de corps element of the battalion. However, as a lever against us, the Forces hierarchy, (led by a Major Vince Bratton of the Pay Corps) opposed our registration as a first grade team in the Mashonaland competition.

The birth
Wednesday the 1st if February 1961, was more of an unrecognised day as we started to metamorphose' from No. 1 Training Unit into the First Battalion of the Rhodesian Light Infantry, (‘The ‘RLI') ~ In reality our birthday at Brady Barracks, Kumalo was a ‘non-event'; more, perhaps, it was just an Army Headquarters routine order administrative happening, to put us, ‘fictitiously', but formally, on the Federal Army Order of Battle.

We could not have fought effectively as a battalion in classical or conventional warfare against any enemy well equipped with armoured vehicles (tanks and armoured personnel carriers or supported by effective field and medium artillery or effective close air support. Yet, as I remember it, we were on the order of battle of the British East Africa Command.

So be it, we were the RLI after a slow metamorphosis from No1 Training Unit, of the Army of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland. The RLI of international fame came only after the battalion's reorganisation into a commando style unit of Commandos.; Troops; and much later, for the Alouette load in Fire Force operations: ‘Sticks'.

In essence, on the day that the battalion was ‘born'; we had neither the CO nor, it seems, an RSM with a sense of occasion or interest in developing an intra-mural and mutual ésprit de corps, unit cohesion, or sense of unit identity. Admittedly there would not have been enough funds for any significant gala occasion; bit we had enough training in drill to be able to have a battalion parade during which the announcement could have been made very proudly.

Sadly, it was not to be and leadership at the time failed to recognise the auspiciousness of the occasion.
‘March on the Saints!'
John Essex-Clark
Canberra, Australia,
Half a century after the event!


The Rand Easter Show: 1964.
By (the then Sergeant Major) Pete Cooper

We have a problem
On being posted to the RLI in January 1964 I found that the battalion had been hard hit by the dissolution of the Federation and was about 50% under strength. In HQ Company many specialist platoons were very thin on the ground; the corps of drums had been disbanded, having only a couple of buglers left and the mortar and signals platoons comprised just a few men each. The rifle companies were numbered A, B and C; D company had been disbanded due to lack of numbers. It appeared that vigorous recruiting would be necessary to save the newly formed unit from foundering.

We have a solution
The RSM, Ron Reid-Daly, told me that a major recruiting drive was planned to take place in South Africa. An opportunity for this presented itself in the shape of the Rand Easter Show, which was held annually in Johannesburg. Various arena events were scheduled at this venue and the RLI had been given permission to stage two displays; a continuity drill demonstration and a "Toy Soldiers" novelty event.

A hurdle
In addition the battalion was to erect an information stand that would provide publicity details of the unit and serve as a recruiting facility. Permission had been granted to approach members of the public in this, a ‘foreign' country but no attestation could take place and interested potential recruits had to make their own way up to Rhodesia where their expenses would be refunded if they were successfully recruited.

An event of two halves
The two arena events were in sharp contrast.:
  • The continuity, or ‘silent drill' display was carried out in No.1 dress and consisted of a succession of movements incorporating all squad drill and rifle movements at the halt and on the march.
    The squad divided and reformed with precision marching and counter-marching, the whole display lasting about 15 minutes.
    No commands were given after the initial "Quick March" and the timing was regulated by taps on a single drum, played by one of the surviving members of the old Corps of Drums, dressed in the smart drummer's uniform complete with silver accoutrements and white helmet.
    This drill needed hours of practice to achieve the necessary confidence and precision but was an impressive display.

  • The "Toy Soldiers" show was intended to provide amusement and light relief but required meticulous timing and execution to achieve the desired effect.
    The troops were divided into a "Red Army" and a "Blue Army", each with cavalry and artillery. They wore tunics that were old bush jackets dyed in the appropriate colour with white crossed belts and cardboard shakos. They carried wooden rifles with a piece of piping as the barrel and their faces were made up with white grease paint with little red blotches on their cheeks to give the effect of wooden soldiers.
    As a finale to the "battle" between the armies the riflemen fired a volley of rockets from their rifles in the darkened arena. About sixty of these ‘rockets' had to be prepared each day before the show. A short length of safety fuse with a fuze match attached was inserted into each rocket and this was struck on a brassard and inserted into the barrel just before the time to fire. The timing of the drill and the meticulous preparation of the rockets was essential to ensure that the rifles fired simultaneously.

    The "Toy Soldiers" were initially not very happy about prancing around dressed up like wooden dolls but eventually, as the drills came together, they revelled in the humorous and novelty aspects of the display and worked hard to achieve the right effect.

The RSM and I were responsible for the planning, choreography and training to ensure these events were a resounding success.

Eventually all rehearsals were completed and the show was ready to hit the road. In March 1964, a contingent of 85 officers and men moved down to Johannesburg by coach. The heavy equipment was sent by rail.

The show went well and the public enthusiastically received our arena events. There were many anecdotes arising from our experiences at the Rand Easter Show and I have earlier made reference to the "Miser of Milner Park".

The continuity drill display was held in the late afternoon and we would emerge from the arena feeling hot and thirsty. Quite naturally we gravitated to some of the many ‘watering holes' at the park, usually still in uniform.

Don't give up your day job!
On one occasion Ron Reid-Daly and I were invited to an upmarket bar by some businessmen and plied with drinks. One gentleman, who turned out to be the manager of the well-known Langham Hotel, was most enthusiastic about our performance and smart appearance and offered us a job, - as doormen! He told us that we were just the kind of chaps he was looking for and we would get a marvellous salary and lots of fat tips from his rich guests.

"You can even choose your own uniform if you like" he said. We politely declined. Later Ron said, "I didn't know whether to punch him on the nose or accept the offer!"

Things don't change
Control of the troops was difficult during the intervening period between the drill display and the Toy Soldier event that was scheduled for 10pm. The same troopies were involved in both displays and they too needed to relax during the evening. They changed into ‘civvies' and went out for a drink or two but some were still quite young and I had to watch their alcohol intake.

I made the contingent parade every hour between six and nine for roll call and a check on their state of inebriation; we couldn't afford to have chaps miss the Toy Soldier show and they had to be sharp enough to carry out the intricate drills involved. We had a few close calls but I can't recall anyone failing to appear on parade.

Another problem was that the men couldn't walk through the crowded grounds in their toy soldier get up without attracting unwanted attention or provoking taunts from some of the more inebriated members of the public. Consequently they would have to carry their gear down to some stables sited near the arena where everybody could get dressed up and prepare to march into the stadium.

Friendships forged
As mentioned in the "Miser of Milner Park" we initially found it hard to find liquid refreshment on a Sunday but eventually discovered places such as the Moth Club and various unit messes where we could slake our thirst. We established close bonds with the Imperial Light Horse (ILH) who organised a mess dinner for our WOs/NCOs and also with the other RLI, the Rand Light Infantry.

An official affiliation with both these Citizen Force units was initiated at this time. When our Sgts Mess members were invited to the ILH some of our hosts came to collect us in a couple of cars and with them was one of their WOs who was also a traffic cop. He was a big Afrikaaner and arrived in police uniform and riding a big Harley-Davidson motorcycle. He escorted the convoy through the city, stopping at each intersection and, irrespective of the traffic lights, parked himself in the middle of the road and held up a hand the size of a bunch of bananas to stop the traffic and wave us through. He would then accelerate past us to the next intersection and repeat the procedure, all the way to the drill hall.

A culture is born
Recruiting had been brisk during the period of the show and we had high hopes that many of those showing interest would eventually make their way up to Salisbury.
Soon after our return to battalion routine at Cranborne Barracks I was posted to B Company, later 2 Commando, at that time commanded by Major Derry Macintyre. The reason for this was that B Company was to become responsible for recruit training and I was Training W.O.
We subsequently had several squads pass through, completing a four-month course. Many of these recruits were from South Africa, proof that our jaunt down to Johannesburg had borne some fruit.


'A night on the tiles'
By (the then Major) Nigel Henson

The RLI's ethos and culture was often touched and influenced by people other than members of our own regiment. Here's an incident, where a blue job acted, as one of the legends would have, I guess …

The blue job
Dick Paxton, one the coolest dudes around. Enemy fire he seemed not to notice - whilst I was flinching away from the K car door, he wasn't even blinking and conducting operations and wisecracking all the time. In many ways he reminded me of Yossarian in Catch 22 - he had a very unorthodox approach to matters military - never conventional, never belligerent but always commenting on events with a kind of amused detachment.

After his aircraft was destroyed under him in Op Uric and he was recovering from his injuries, accounts have it that he could be seen every morning sailing on his yacht close inshore to Carribea Bay on Kariba, leaning against his mast, dressed in the altogether and viewing the breakfast guests on the lawn through a pair of binoculars!

After Independence, Dick joined the SANDF and was the Wasp helicopter pilot on the SAS President Kruger frigate that was rammed by a sister ship in the middle of the night in the South Atlantic. Urban legend has it that upon the order to abandon ship Dick got into a lifeboat and as it was about to be cast off from the foundering frigate he suddenly yelled "Hold it! I've forgotten my Barclay card". He jumped off the lifeboat onto the deck again and disappeared down a companionway, to emerge. a short while later clutching his precious card! What the other occupants of the lifeboat had to say remains unprintable! Vintage Paxton - a great guy.

Fire-force activated
Dick was my pilot in about Sept 77, based at Buffalo Range where the fire force comprised 1K and 2G cars, a Lynx and a Dakota.

One day, in mid-morning we were called out to ‘roadrunner' activation about 20km due west of Birchenough Bridge and a few km north of the Beit Bridge - Fort Victoria road. It was about 1½ hour flight and with a couple of refuelling stops; the use of the vehicle borne. 2nd wave was out of the question.

Eventually we arrived over the target area where the Lynx and a PRAW aircraft were trying to locate the ‘roadrunner' - a difficult task as one really needed 3 aircraft to triangulate. Anyway, surprise by then was lost and it appeared as though the target was in an area of open maize fields interspersed with kraals and small wooded rocky outcrops.

The deployment resulted in a fire fight for which Cpl Russel Phillips was subsequently awarded the SCR and where we tragically lost Lt. Fisher a RAR officer. The engagement lasted a few hours and having cleared the scene, by the about 5pm, we left the area.

The return journey
Unfortunately, the weather closed in rapidly and with the cloud base down to only a few hundred feet we decided to head for Fort Victoria; the closest destination to overnight the aircraft.

With deteriorating weather and a 40-minute journey ahead, Dick made the sensible decision to merely follow the main road, as the cloud base didn't enable flying higher than about 150 feet.

Within a short time, the rain set in and it grew darker still; Dick had to switch on the Alouettes landing searchlight in order to follow the road. So we crept along it, doing no more than about 30 knots for about 20 minutes, all the time checking with the other aircraft that they were still behind us.

It really was hair raising flying, the rain was thrashing down and whenever the road went up a hill, the cloud base descended to no more than 40 or 50 feet. Dick and I were debating landing and going no further when we nearly flew into the back of another aircraft - somehow and unseen a G car had overtaken us!

That decided it! We all landed on the main road in the pouring rain one behind the other; close to some habitation and not far off the road. Radio communication with any JOC had for sometime been lost given the low flying altitude.

After we had shut down the aircraft we decided that Dick and I would try to find a phone and speak to JOC Fort Victoria. The other aircrew and the 8 RLI soldiers were to guard the aircraft; not exactly a picnic as there was the very real prospect of a terrorist presence.

Some locals had gathered around the aircraft and upon questioning it was established that there was a phone at the council beer hall located in the bush about 3km away. A child offered to take Dick and me there, and so off we trudged, freezing cold in the pouring rain in only shorts and vellies.

The track to the beer hall wasn't really one you could take a vehicle on and after about 45 minutes of slipping in the mud, crossing streams in spate and tripping over tree roots, we eventually arrived at a whitewashed building open on three sides and under corrugated iron, illuminated by numerous hurricane lamps.

Well! As we approached we could see the Chibuku signs, there were 30 - 40 locals there and there was obviously the mother of all piss-ups going on.

"I'll wait here and cover you, you go on in and phone" I said to Dick "make it as quick as possible." The cool dude nodded and sauntered into the beer hall where a deathly hush descended on the party when they saw the uniform.

A round on me!
Expecting Paxton to make his way to the phone (one of the old crank handle models) behind the bar, I was astounded by his next move "I'll have one of those" he pointed at the plastic beaker of millet beer" and give everyone else a round on me" (or words to that effect). Crouching out in the rain, cradling my FN I couldn't believe the scene unfolding before my eyes.

The locals, suspicious at first (but never ones to refuse a free beer) grudgingly accepted Dick's offer and crowded around Paxton, who was obviously the object of their curiosity. It was as if I wasn't there - Dick didn't even acknowledge my presence, but bought another round, and suddenly everyone was his friend, slapping him on the back, shouting and trying to get him into a local "down-down" - the place was going mad and Paxton was their hero!

I felt rather foolish sitting out in the rain and after a while strolled in as if I was late and took up station by Paxton.

"You buy them another round - I'll sort out the phone" Dick whispered, and again, the crowd responded enthusiastically, this time to my offer of a round.

Whilst this was going on, Paxton slipped behind the bar and had a word with the barman, who began to crank the phone. After numerous attempts and shouting by the barman, eventually the phone was handed to Paxton for a brief while. Meanwhile the piss up continued, I had two beakers of the vile stuff - now both of us were the hero's!

"Ok, spoke to Fort Vic - they are sending a platoon of RAR - should be here in about an hour". Paxton said matter-of-factly as if what we'd experienced was an everyday occasion "Just time for another round!" I thought he was crazy; we had pushed the envelope in everything we'd done that day, surely it was time to rein in!

Riding 'back-saddle'
Anyway, during the final round and whilst we were preparing to say our goodbyes, the barman and a mate insisted that they run us up to the main road on their bicycles which were outside. They would listen to no amount of protestation and eventually we saddled up on their bikes' rear carriers. By then it had stopped raining, but occasionally the bikes would slip and skid in the mud, unwittingly aided by their drunken drivers.

I'm not sure what the press would have made of this sight had photographs been taken of Rhodesia's killing machine at work! Eventually we arrived back at the aircraft just as the welcome lights of the RAR trucks came over the last rise - we'd made it back - all was over, a fitting end to another adventure.


John Dolman
Ouens with all these noticas ‘s arriving this year I've been wondering should I perhaps write mine out and put it in the draft box so when the time comes my daughter can send it off now that I am approaching the 82 year..

What still niggles me having to contribute for Crash Hannerway gimmick of setting off on the tennis court one of his detonations' on a Dinning Night that cracked the plate glass dining room glass window and John Salt getting a fright and spilling his glass of Port over Governor General.

Then what about the only Irish Navy deserter trying to join the Congolese Mercenary in 1961 (Paddy Cossack)? Yes there are many memories still thought about and some are brought back when you hear of the passing of companions at war and in peace. Please note I don't use the word comrade me because that is used by the other side.

Kind regards,

John Dolman (1130)

'One for the ‘Old and Bold!'
John Cecil ‘Paddy’ Driver

‘Paddy’ Driver as he was known in the Rhodesian Light Infantry came to us from the British Army Parachute Regiment into No.1Training Unit in 1960. He had already fought in Malaya. Cyprus and Egypt, and was a young but very experienced infantryman and soon became a valuable, unassuming but most popular and effective NCO instructor in 2 Platoon, ‘A’ Company.
He was soon promoted to Sergeant and became the platoon sergeant of 2 Platoon, which deployed to the Congo in September 1961. His platoon commander, Lt Brian Barrett-Hamilton was fortunate to have such a fine infantryman and quiet achiever to guide him wisely in his first leadership position after Sandhurst. Paddy was probably the best platoon sergeant in my ‘A’ Company.

 I was very fortunate to have such a high quality leadership exemplar in my company, and Paddy Driver’s dedicated attitude and professionalism influenced the whole company.

He later transferred to the Rhodesian SAS; and on the collapse of the Federation returned to his country of birth, Ireland. However he soon followed his other Rhodesian Army friend ‘Rick’ Rescorla into the US Army and after an outstanding start in the US Army with awards such as the Distinguished graduate of his NCO course plus winning both the General George S. Patton Award for Excellence and the General Douglas MacArthur award for leadership, he was posted to the US 7th Cavalry: The Gary Owens’, (Once George Armstrong Custer’s Unit) of the 101st Airborne Brigade (Screamin’ Eagles) where his CO was Hal Moore of ‘Once we were Soldiers’ fame.

Moore always spoke highly of Paddy and after Paddy was killed in Action in Vietnam Moore spoke at Paddy’s funeral in Arlington Cemetery, in Washington, DC. Though twice wounded in Action while serving with the 7th Calvary; Paddy was finally killed in action on 17 April 1969 on his second tour there while serving with Hal Moore’s 101st Calvary Division. Hal Moore described Paddy Driver as one of the most heroic, dedicated and respected combat leaders who have ever served in the US Army .

Paddy came to visit me in Vietnam while he was on his first tour with 7th Calvary and we spent a memorable and interesting evening together in my small rain-spattered and damp hootchie in the 1st Bn Royal Australian Regiment area near Bien Hoa. Paddy was in good form; enjoying his tour in Vietnam and getting ready to go back on leave to Ireland then return to the States to do an Officers’ Candidates course at Fort Benning; which he passed with honours.

There were three of us clustered close in my cramped hootchie that night discussing the war in Vietnam. There was Paddy, plus David Hackworth of ‘About Face’ fame, then serving as ‘S3’ (Operations Officer) with the 101st; as I was with our Australians); and me. We were glad no generals could hear our scathing comments, about what we felt was the totally inept and unprofessional conduct of the war at both the strategic and tactical levels. Paddy added bountiful common sense and reality to our somewhat pseudo-intellectual observations.

In 1971, 1974 and again in 1984 I had the honour and duty to place a poppy near Paddy’s name; ‘J.C. DRIVER’ on the sombre brailed-bronze Vietnam Wall of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington.

Rest in Peace, ‘Paddy Driver’; we of old ‘A’ Company 1RLI remember you well and treasure the fine spirit and attitude that you embellished upon us.

John 'Digger' Essex-Clark
OC 'A' Company 1RLI

John Hickman's Visit to Natal
Tom Davidson arranged and hosted a lunch at Stokers Arms in Kloof, Natal, July 22, 2011, for Gen Hickman who is down on holiday.

Those present in the photograph below are , from left to right : Mike Higgins, Robin Tarr, Roy Gardener, Richard Wood, Bruce Rooken - Smith, Tom Davidson, Pete Hean, Gen John Hickman, Mark Adams, Mick Mc Kenna, Pete Maunder, and Terry Griffin.

With best regards and happy birthday to Mick.

Digger Essex-Clark forwarded the following photographs; rugby, a fine complement to team and reputation building.

And standards of dress and pride, evident so early on!

Another aide-memoire for you! Reg Edwards had now taken over as 2IC from Bill Godwin; you must have been absent, Haye had gone (thank heavens!); and Harry Harvey had arrived after we got back from the Congo border. Of that front-row seated there is only me still intact above ground level!

We received the following photograph of Jimmy Swan (ex 2 Commando) parachuting in celebration of the regiment’s birthday. (Queensland Australia, 2011)


4th & 5th February 2011 (50th Reunion 1RLI)

The frenzied pre 50th Anniversary preparations have now gone and the African RLI 50th Reunion was held over the 4th and 5th February and was a resounding success for the Association and our friends. The May edition of your favourite newspaper covered in detail the event with our chairman Ian Buttenshaw giving his overview. Some missed that last edition so herewith a few more pictures and some details. We had about 170 members and friends at the Friday night Dickie Fritz gathering and a large number of still photos were taken. These have been posted to the RLIRA website and appear on the DVD as well. There was a great amount of mirth and old mates hooking up after a fair number of years, disposing of vast quantities of liquid and so a stiff profit into the MOTH coffers I believe.
The Saturday graced us with exceptional weather and as guests started to arrive at AFB Swartkops the SAAF was just winding up their monthly flying training day. The SAAF museum even had their beautifully restored DH Vampire in the air and some sniffs could be heard from the RhAF guests as the aircraft flew through its manoeuvres. This was followed on by what must be the only airworthy P51 Mustang in Africa giving us a beat up.

Or guests of honour (Living Co’s and RSM’s) were interviewed on camera at the RV and then dispatched in a Puma Helicopter to be flown into the venue. The purpose of using a Puma was also to commemorate those SAAF, RLI and Rhodesian Engineers that were tragically lost in the downing of Puma 164 at Mapai. Wreaths were laid for all the members lost, during the Memorial Service.

We were completely booked out to capacity (325) for the Saturday birthday celebrations. Esteemed crow Kerrin Cocks was seen taking movies and later on interviewed some of the manne and guests. All of this is on the hour and a half production DVD of the Africa 50th Reunion. This is a must have for all who attended and will remain longer than normal photographs do. Ex RLI members came in from all over the globe and the catering was first class.

The Dempsters’ ran a most efficient and professional "front desk" processing guests with minimum of fuss whilst the Huxhams’ again set up the Q Store and did an exceptional amount of trade in memorabilia for the Association funds. The ladies involved in the preparation and planning set up the incredible décor in the layout of the hanger and this really set the tone for a great reunion.
Thanks again to Grahame Roy and his production of excellent unit and subunit drops including a magnificent huge depiction of the "Troopie’

At the appropriate time our replica President’s and Regimental Colours were paraded by the most proud and buffed Colour Party marched on by ex RSM (School of Infantry) Sandy Miller and Ensigns Rick van Malsen and Neill Jackson. Thank you to Martyn Hudson from the UK in permitting us to use the original braces for the colour party.

Padre Bill Dodgen and ex RSM Robin Tarr presented an excellent service and remembrance to our fallen with the reading of the Roll Of Honour included in the programme.

The speeches by our Patron Charlie Aust and RLIRA Chairman Ian Buttenshaw were moving and again reminded us why this Association must continue for as long as we are all able.

29th May 2011-SADF Commemoration Parade

By kind invitation of John Redfern of the Flame Lily Association and RASA and General Opperman (Retd.) of the Voortrekker Monument Foundation, a number of our RLI RA stalwart members (Alan Strachan, Carol Doughty, Ron Doughty, Papi Bolton, Len Beachy and flanked by the man from the SAS Association, Graham Peak) attended the SADF Commemoration Service held at the SADF Wall of Remembrance, Voortrekkerhoogte in Pretoria on May 29th.

Alan Strachan sends in the below report:

"Hello Bill

I hope you and Sylvia are keeping well.

This event was exceptionally well organized and I think this one needs to be considered a must in future. Papi Bolton, Len Beechy, Graham Peek, Ron Doughty, Carol and I attended.

The service was kept interesting despite the mixture of English and Afrikaans and the wreath laying went smoothly.

As a matter of interest, John Redfern persuaded General Opperman to have a plaque made for the RLI and RhE soldiers that were shot down at Mapai and this plaque has been placed very close to the SADF Wall of Remembrance on the main through road. We all got together to thank Gen Opperman for this and I’d like to suggest that an official letter of thanks from the RLIRA be sent to him. John Redfern will be able to help you with all the details pertaining to this plaque being placed. I think it would be great if we could lay a wreath for the Rhodesian Light Infantry at future services.


After this service we all went to find Art’ Nulty's grave at the New Military Cemetery near Voortrekkerhoogte. Art was a medic in 1 Commando and he joined 44 Para's Pathfinders down here after leaving Rhodesia. He was killed in a car accident in SWA returning back to base whilst still serving in the SADF. After a bit of a search we did find his grave. We cleaned it up as best we could, placed flowers and took photos for his family in the UK. I will forward a copy of my mail to his brother with the attached photos.

After paying our respects we all moved off for a quick drink at a Moth club, where we were made very welcome and then went for lunch at Papi’s favourite eatery - Die Boskelder or something like that.

It was a very pleasant day spent in the company of great people.

Regards, Alan"

"Dear Alan,

Thank you very much for attending and pass on my thanks to all the men and woman who turned out. I agree that this is something we should support for the future especially because of the plaque for Puma 164 recording and honouring the names of all our ouens killed in that incident. The pictures are great and I will get a select few into the next Cheetah and upload the good ones to the website.

I will contact Col Redfern for the General’s details and send him a note for the RLI Plaque and I am glad that you were well received. See you all at the Friday prayer meeting
Kind Regards


26th June 2011 Annual BSAP Association Curry & Rice Luncheon

The BSAP Association kindly invited members of the RLI RA to their annual Curry and Rice lunch held at the Rosebank Bowls Club. Strange to see Papi Bolton behaving himself and no one saw even one blue light in his car boot. The men have mellowed and some BSAP members even manage to laugh now in the company of the mmwc. In all serious it is always a privilege to be invited by other regimental associations and we of course reciprocate at every opportunity

1st July 2011. Prayer Meetings.

On the First Friday of every month the respective regions in the Africa branch have a "Prayer Meeting’’ and no doubt those regions reports will contain detail on their gatherings. I just need to say well done to Debbie and Gary Huxham for cooking, serving and paying for the most excellent Curry and makings at Dickie Fritz on the 1st July. Thank you both for always rising above and beyond the call of duty. Donations were accepted and Debbie handed over R 520.00 taken in to the Association.

July 8th Combined Associations’ Welfare Trust Lunch.

After some behind the scenes discussions and recce this past year it with a great pleasure that we can inform our members that the first formal meeting has now taken place. This was held at the Johannesburg Country Club, the venue kindly organised by Pat Armstrong. A presentation was made on the ideas behind the proposal and discussions held around the main points. The interest is definitely on the rise for a combined forces welfare organisation rather than each of us trying to go it alone. By the time you read this follow up working group would have taken place and feedback should be available at the Africa AGM at the end of August and the UK 50th Reunion in September.

July 15th Voortrekker Monument
Co-Authors of the book ‘Puma 164 Down’ Neill Jackson and Rick van Malsen organised a gathering of some of the relatives of the men who died in the Puma shot down over Mapai and to present copies of their book to them. I was honoured to attend. The book is a most excellent read and an essential part of any of your collections. Their story evokes a lot of memories and a fair number of ex RLI have already got their copy and give excellent reports on the book. Well done to Rick and Neill in providing this most essential record of a part of the Battalion’s history to ensure the memory lives on. Padre Bill Dodgen said a meaningful prayer for the fallen and for those who stayed behind. Earlier this year a marathon was organised by Leon Bezuidenhout around the Voortrekker Monument area to commemorate the SADF crew and the Rhodesians who lost their lives in the incident. Leon presented complimentary gold, silver and bronze medals to Neill and Rick in memory of this. The medals have now kindly been donated to the Rhodesian Fighting Forces Museum in the UK to be placed amongst our memorabilia in the museum. Some pictures below of the gathering.

July 30th/31st South African Arms Fair (Saxonwold Military Museum)

This is the last event in the current diary to bear report was our second foray into the annual Arms Fair held in Johannesburg where we set up shop, this year alongside the BSAP and Selous Scouts Associations. The main aim is of course to generate funds via the sale of RLI RA memorabilia and secondary to maintain some sort of public exposure. The main driver for the Association this year was Alan Strachan spending long hours behind the sales point. Papi Bolton arrived later to lend a hand. A few thousand rands were made and new friends, so well worth the efforts. I would like to see if for next year we cannot scrounge some Fireforce gear and a full set of greens to put on our younger members to increase this exposure. Is there anyone out there with gear the want to donate? Let me know.

Upcoming Events

13 August 2011, All Forces Bash Gauteng

27 August 2011, African AGM

23-25th September, UK 50th Reunion

Eastern Cape

This period was a sad time for us as we had the death of Rory Beary (2Cdo) in Kenton on Sea. What was tragic about it was that his girlfriend had come out from Ireland and that Friday Rory had proposed to her and she had agreed to marry him. They had planned to get married on the following Monday and then fly to Ireland to sort out business and then return to the Eastern Cape.

The Friday they was walking on the beach and Rory had a heart attack and died on the beach.

The funeral for Rory was held on Thursday the 14 in Port Elizabeth and was attended by his one son and daughter, his sister and a few friends. The RLIRA was represented by Bandy Emeric, Mark Taunton, Dawn Gombart (my boss) I. The Selous Scouts Association was represented by Barbara Bresler.

We had apologies from Don Price and Jimmy Jameson who were up Port Alfred way and could not make the funeral. After the ceremony (and tea and cake) we proceeded to the nearest pub and had a few (just a few) drinks in remembrance of Rory. So with the death of Rory and Brian Authers a couple of months previously it seems that 2 Cdo has had a bit of sad luck within a short space.

I would like to take this opportunity to advise guys to consider joining the MOTH organisation. I have been a member of the MOTH organisation for a number of years and have just completed a 7 year spell as my Shellhole Sergeant Major. The benefits of this, I have been given a MOTH cottage which will be mine for the rest of my life and should I die before my wife, it will be hers for the rest of her life for very little rental. What more security could you ask for?

Kwa Zulu Natal

The last few months have been very quiet in the KZN Region with none other than our regular monthly prayer meetings taking place.

Andy Surgeon (ex 2 Commando) displayed his hand crafted knives recently at the KZN Swords and Knives expo held in Umhlanga, and on display were his RLI knives that he produced in commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Regiment.

The picture of the original Sports Pavilion sign, which is displayed in our collection at Natal Mounted Rifles, is presented below.

Doc Skippy Michell

Gauteng Regional Representative Report.

Since the last Cheetah report, there has been little to report on as there have been not major social events.

The monthly "Prayer Meetings" are still well attended and hopefully the weather will soon start to warm up and this may attract more people.

Friday the 01st of July "Prayer Meeting" was with a slight difference whereby we did not have the traditional braai due to the very cold weather and Debbie my wife put on breyani and curry & rice meal which went down well with all that attended and the MOTHS who were there.

There was no charge for the meal, but donations worth R570.00 was raised which was donated to the RLIRA - well done everyone who contributed.

Thanks you Debbie for the time and effort you put in to produce a great meal.

Wally (of the MOTHS) was back from leave early due to some accommodation hick ups, BUT, I firmly believe this was so he would not to miss the "Prayer Meeting" at which his presence would have been missed.

Al Strachan again has come to the rescue of the RLIRA by manning the stand at the Military Collector Show held at the Johannesburg Military museum on Saturday 30th July 2011 - thanks again Al you are a great example of a true RLI soldier always there when needed.

Please remember that the RLIRA AGM will be held at the Dickie Fritz MOTHS shell hole on Saturday 27th August 2011 please all attend.

Remember if you do not place you votes for who you want to represent the association in all its functions during the next financial year and voice your opinions, DON’T MOAN in 2012.

On a final note, Bill you have taken and run with the association like a true leader who should have the respect that you deserve from the RLIRA members and those RLI guys who are not members. You have and always will have my full support and I am proud of being able to have worked with you over the past two years as the Gauteng Representative and QM.

Raffle - There will be a raffle for a HP laptop computer which the start of ticket sales will be from the AGM at R100.00 per ticket which will be drawn at the Gauteng end of year "Christmas " function.

We will notify the members via the web and e-mails what to do to buy tickets.

We must sell a minimum of 100 tickets to make it worthwhile.

Call sign "Hux"

Quarter Master Report.

Firstly, I apologise that there have been some delays and problems with the supply of merchandise requests over the last two months. This has been due to excessive personal and business commitments that both Debbie and I have been committed to.

Hopefully by the AGM all outstanding deliveries / queries will be finalised and completed.

FINALLY - there appears to be a willing member out there who may take over the role of QM as of the 01st September 2011 - "Thank you............May the force be with you".

The roll of QM has been an interesting and exciting one, which has grown over the past two and at the same time has required more attention and dedication, which I unfortunately am not able to provide due to my other commitments. Therefore the reason the position being made available.

There have been moments when I have felt that it was necessary for a "Fire Force Strike" to take out an inconsiderate member or two but was halted by Debbie who always managed to defuse the situation.

Members need to realise that this position is voluntary and anyone taking on the roll of QM does have other daily functions to attend to and certain things may have to wait, but rest assure, you will always get what you have ordered and paid for.

Apart from a few overseas orders, I do not recall any items that have not reached members and within time, sometimes bit close to an advent, but always delivered.

"Quebec Mick" over and out.

Australian / New Zealand Branch News - July 2012

After numerous requests from ex RLI members in Australia and New Zealand to rejoin the RLIRA, a new branch has been formed in Australia incorporating New Zealand and the West Pacific Rim (As per Section 12 of the RLIRA Constitution)

 In order to also associate ourselves with the Australian and New Zealand traditions and areas of our responsibility, we have titled ourselves, the Australian/New Zealand Branch of the RLIRA and will conduct our activities according to the Constitution of the RLIRA and the well-being of our world-wide brotherhood of that the RLIRA represents.

We are glad once again to rejoin our the brotherhood and in doing so, soon found that we quickly had over fifty full members to support us, plus a bevy of honorary members to assist us in our future programmes; ensuring the well-being of our Branch and the longevity of the RLIRA as a most worthy institution.

As a new branch; we will hold our first Annual General Meeting over the Anzac Day Reunion in Canberra in April 2012. Until then our Committee consists of: Chairman; John ‘Digger’ Essex-Clark; our nominal Secretary: Jimmy Swan; and our Treasurer and Acting-Secretary: Richard ‘Granny’ Johnson; plus Committee member and welfare coordinator, Quentin Fourie.. These positions will be open for election at the AGM in April 2012.

Our first small ‘get-together’ was held during the Rhodes and Founders week-end Friday 8th to Sunday 10th July at Jimmy Swan’s ‘Flame Lily Adventures’ holiday and leadership and character development establishment near Burrum Heads in Queensland; where ‘Ouen-ship’, braaivleis and frosty Chiboulies, and old-stories were swapped and enjoyed amongst an atmosphere of veldt and cabin-living, around a fish -filled lake, river canoeing, obstacle courses, flying fox descents, and free-fall parachute jumps.

Jimmy himself is now qualifying as a free-fall expert and is now a spectacularly popular ‘mein host’, and dedicated his first free-fall descents to the RLI. Granny and Simone Johnson also signed up for tandem descents over the week-end. It was an unforgettable experience for all who attended. Many toasts were raised to ‘Old Rhodesia’ and to the RLI!

We, as a branch, are now associated with and will be allied to the powerful Returned Services League (RSL) of Australia and will soon become, in order to cater for the wide-geographical spread of our members, what the RSL titles a 'virtual’ sub-branch.

We are aware, as a new branch, our committee is still searching out ways and means to improve the quality and value of membership. Our members’ and others’ ideas and support would be most welcome in doing this.

Please let me remind all of you, again, that ANZAC day period 2012 (24th t0 25th April) will see us celebrate our first Annual Reunion (to which all who once genuinely served in the RLI and

support the objects of the RLIRA, are most welcome); and we will hold our first AGM for our full-members to elect our Branch committee. More details of this reunion in Canberra will follow soon so that anyone in the world can plan early to be with us on that reunion.

All those ex-RLI Ouens who read this who are not yet members and are resident in our membership domain please apply to us for membership (no forms are needed until contact is made) to Richard ‘Granny’ Johnson by e-mail to;

Finally, we of the Australian/New Zealand Branch wish all who read this the very best of good fortune, good health, much happiness and powerfully supportive memories of Old Rhodesia plus our beloved RLI and what we all once stood for.

For each of you, and your loved ones: 'Take care, mate; and 'March on The Saints!’

'Digger' Essex-Clark


Over the last few months we have said goodbye to friends and fellow soldiers. We extend our sympathies to their families and loved ones.

‘Till we meet again’

Colin Dace        27th May 2011    Bn. Admin Officer

Brian Authers    9th June 2011      2Cdo and Base Group

Col Mac Willar   25th June           1RLI

Rory Beary        8th July 2011       2 Commando

Condolences and Noticas

Colin Dace

Hi Bill

On behalf of my mom, sister and I, if you could please pass on our thanks to the RLI Association for the lovely flowers and to those who attended my dad’s memorial service. It is hard to believe it is now just over a month since dad passed away and I have just not had the heart to go through dads emails. We were in a quandary when had to organise dad’s funeral or memorial as he was not a religious man and was not a member of any church. My sister came up with the idea of having a memorial service at Dickie Fritz, a quiet small service as dad would have wanted it in his quiet and unassuming way

As Pat Armstrong told me at the service "if more of dad’s old colleagues had known of dad’s memorial the entire road from the gate at Dickie Fritz to the sanctuary would have been lined with people who knew him". We have been over whelmed with the support and sympathy from all those who knew Colin.

Kind Regards
Peter Dace

Col Mac Willar

Dear Bill

Sadly my father, Colonel 'Mac' Willar, fought his last battle early on Saturday morning 25 June aged 89 after being ill for some time. He was fiercely proud of his service in the Rhodesian Army and in particular, The RLI in the early days. In keeping with Dad's wishes, there will be a small family cremation and service. Donations to please go to the Dickie Fritz Shellhole.

Simon Willar

Rory Beary

Dear Member/Friend

It is with regret that we inform you of the Passing away of Rory Beary, ex 2 Commando.
Please see below the notice from brother Shane to Tom Thomas, chairman of the Selous Scouts Association

The RLI RA extends our sincere condolences to Rory's family and friends.

"Hi Tom,

Please let it be known to all those who knew him that my elder brother Rory
Beary passed away in Kenton on Sea earlier today. Rory served in 2 CDO RLI, and the Selous Scouts, and then spent years running his own fishing business out of Kenton. Recently based out of Cork in Ireland he was visiting South Africa on one of his frequent walkabouts. He had been diagnosed with a heart problem that appeared not to be serious but suffered a heart attack and passed away suddenly whilst out walking along the coast.

His eldest son Casey and our sister Alana are handling the funeral
arrangements with the ceremony expected to take place in PE early next week.

Please contact his brother Shane Beary on for exact
timing and detail.

Thanks Tom


Dear Barbara,
It was good to finally meet you, although always sad to meet under such circumstances.
I just want to thank you all for the love, care and support you have all always given Rory. The friendship he had from all his friends in the military in Zimbabwe (Rhodesia)! Was what held him together? He valued that friendship more than anything.

It was sad that my husband and three sons were all overseas, so even more special that so many people made the effort to be there for us all.

Casey spoke so well and from the heart, Rory would have been so proud of his boy! Shane, Karen, Siobhan and families were also travelling to Ireland at the time, and couldn't be with us, but we will get together as a family in the near future and celebrate his life with us. It was good to share the service with Rory’s eldest children, Casey and Sheena, Casey’s wife Jeannie and children, Chris, Siobhans son and the close friends who managed to be there with all of us, and Louise who meant so much to Rory, and who was with him when he died.

It was good to hear Pete Gombart speak so highly of Rory, and to have shared his friendship through thick and thin! It was a moving ceremony, one he would have been proud of, especially the John Denver song as the service ended. Rocky Mountain High will always be a favourite! It was so Rory.

He leaves behind a grown family, and two younger sons, who loved him to bits, and it makes us all so happy that his children knew that they were his whole world. I am grateful too that he was able to visit us in Hermanus the week before he died, and to see him so happy with Louise was wonderful.

I have Pete Gombart’s e- mail address, but cannot read the last few letters, so would be grateful if you could pass this on to him, and to all the RLI, and Selous Scout, and SAS groups who sent in fantastic e mails to our brother Shane and family, we so appreciate it. I do not have their e mail details, but know that all over the world, groups were getting together to remember him.
Take care, and thank you all once again, keep in touch.

Alana and Alvin Skinstad and family.

Brian Authers

Dear Members/Friends
It is with deep regret that we advise you of the passing away of Brian Authers yesterday (Thursday 9 June 2011) in Gauteng.

The Association extends our sincere condolences to Lynn, son Mike and daughter Tracey. Also to all Brian's comrades, family and friends at this tragic and untimely loss

We will keep you updated on the funeral service arrangements

Condolences can be sent via me or directly to Brian's son Mike at the address:

Farewell soldier

Kind Regards

Bill Wiggill


News from October 1978

There have been numerous changes in the Commando since the last newsletter. Major Henton Jaaback D. M. M. has left for the dreaded "corridors" and the Commando welcomes Capt Fred "CANT SEE A PROBLEM1' Watts the ex-adjutant as the new O.C. who was firmly blooded on his first night with the Commando by the occasional mortar bomb and rocket at Grand Reef. The Commando welcomes a new "subbie", Bob Graves. Congratulations on being awarded the sword of honour Bob. He has created a frightening precedent within the commando in that he has a University degree! - Though at one stage the 1 Cdo subalterns had 12 years at varsity between them and not one degree.

Capt Pete Cody re has left for England and Lt 'Tall, blond and mature beyond his years" Mick Walters has taken over as 21/C. Mick has become firmly ensconced in his "A" and "Q" job with large piles of empty files surrounding him at all times. The odd remark such as "what a beautiful filing cabinet" is heard to emanate from his desk.

Colour Sergeant Alan Gerrish has left to join the training team at Depot and the new CQ is an old 1 Commando member, C/Sgt Tony Edwards, who has wasted no time in getting onto a Para course. Welcome back Tony and hope this stay will be as long as the last one. Sgt Hennie Van Vuuren has been posted to Hooters, hopefully on a temp attachment.

On a domestic note congratulations to Cpl "Bludnutt" Vice on his marriage to Jane Wilson.

The Commando has enjoyed a fair amount of success over the last couple of months. Last bush-trip we were just short of our record kill rate for one bush-trip. This bush-trip we are once again getting close. This sub-unit is curious as to how much the "LOVERS" paid a certain defence reporter to publish that they held the record kill for a bush-trip.
Your comments BN HQ!  
The Commando has seen a fair amount of good old Rhodesia recently. The convoy had an unscheduled stop for a couple of days when the 21 /C did not consult the rain goddess or take need of flood warnings before taking a short cut. However, we are all together again and any reference to the Big Red Travelling Circus is not appreciated.

We were honoured by a visit from the Battalion 21/C and the QM. No doubt to check whether the Commandos are still ruining their HQ.

On a sadder note than usual we say cheers to 2/Lt "Fabio" Falzoi who was killed in June. Fabio was educated at St. George's College and went on to attain a degree in Entomology at Natal University in Pietermaritzburg. This completed he then joined the Regular Army, was commissioned at the beginning of this year, and commanded 4 Troop during his short stay in the Commando; our condolences to his family and fiancé.

Talking now of WO's and Senior NCO's, we bid farewell to CSM John De la Rue, recently posted to 3 Indep and Sgt Hennie van Vuuren to the School of Infantry.

The present shortage of sergeants in the Commando has, however, been somewhat alleviated by the arrival back, after a spell in the Selous Scouts, of Sgt Stu Taylor, and the making up of "Red" Kerr and Coenie Marneweck to that rank. Our congratulations to them both.

Our thanks must go to the good ladies of Gatooma who took it upon themselves to treat the whole of the "Big Red" to a luncheon at the Terraskane Hotel during last R & R. An excellent lime was had by all and the hotel was also left intact.

End of Article

Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris from the October edition of the RLI magazine, Cheetah (Page 7), dated October 1978.
Thanks Eddy

Who the hell is this!

A Commanding Officer in the making?