Today, 10 April, we salute and honour the following men & woman who sacrificed their lives whilst standing in the defence of what they held dear at the time and against evil and tyranny.

SOUTH AFRICAN BORDER WAR

10 April 1975: 05564125PE Sergeant Nicolaas Johannes Steyn from the Technical Service Corps, attached to the Rundu Military Base was killed instantly while travelling between Rundu and Katima Mulilo when, approximately 20km from Rundu, the rear tyre on his vehicle burst, causing the vehicle to leave the road and overturn. He was 27.

10 April 1978: 76928134SP Rifleman S.M. Chicoto from 32 Battalion was Killed in Action during a contact with enemy forces in Southern Angola. He was 27.

10 April 1982: Major Helmuth Adolf Kessler from 1 South West Africa Air Commando Squadron SWATF was Killed in Action during Operation Yahoo while flying in support of Koevoet anti-insurgent operations in the Elundu area. His PA28-235 Cherokee Pathfinder aircraft, Registration ZS-EXT had been fitted with 2 x AKM Assault Rifles under the wings that could be operated from inside the cockpit and a grenade launching tube was fitted between the pilots legs. His aircraft suffered engine failure (Bent Valve) while assisting Koevoet in a follow-up operation and he had to carry out a forced landing in a mahangu field. Unfortunately, the aircraft undercarriage dug into the furrows and the aircraft flipped over. A Primed hand grenade that Major Kessler had placed into the launching tube fell back into the cockpit area when the aircraft flipped over and exploded, killing him instantly. He was 52. His passenger, Sergeant Frederick Albertus Francois Claasen from the South West Africa Police Counter-Insurgency Wing: Ops K Division (Koevoet) was grievously burned in the accident and succumbed to his injuries on 20 April 1982.

10 April 1982: Special Constable Shitelgipo Hamukwaya from the South West Africa Police Counter-Insurgency Wing: Ops K Division (Koevoet) was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN Insurgents in Northern Owamboland. He was 27.

10 April 1983: 82074394CK Rifleman John Kerneels Samson from the South African Cape Corps died from a gunshot wound accidentally sustained. He was 19.

10 April 1985: 82518556BG Rifleman Douw Gerbrand Du Plessis from 4 Reconnaissance Regiment accidentally drowned during a training exercise. He was 19.

10 April 1986: 74740671PC Petty Officer Desmond John Pekeur from SAS Wingfield was killed near Schmidtsdrift when the rear tyre of his Landrover burst causing the vehicle to overturn. He was part of a SADF group engaged in locust extermination in the area when the accident occurred. He was 29. 

    RHODESIAN BUSH WAR

    1968 – Trooper Michael Edward “Mike” THORNLEY, 4 Troop, 1 Commando, 1st Battalion, RLI, KIA. Killed in a contact, east of Karoi, Op Cauldron. ZAPU and SAANC insurgents had infiltrated the country from Zambia at the junction of the Chewore River with the Zambezi. After their presence had been detected, elements of the RAR and RLI were brought into the area from Chirundu and Mtoko respectively, with a JOC established in Karoi on 16 March. The SAS and PATU were also deployed as the hunt for the CTs gained momentum. At 1330 on 10 March, RLI's Lt Nick Fawcett's troop and a PATU section under SO B. Marshall found a CT position in prospector's diggings only 8 miles east of Karoi. A fierce fire fight ensued, with the CTs doggedly defending their position. During the contact, Mike was shot in the chest and killed instantly. SO Marshall was seriously wounded in the head. Fawcett and his men eventually overran the CT position, killing all seven. Mike was buried in Warren Hills Cemetery, Salisbury.

    1976 – District Assistant Nevermind KAMAKA, Regular Intaf, KIA. Died from a gunshot wound, Bveke Road, Kandeya TTL, Mt Darwin, Op Hurricane (US704943), aged 20. Their vehicle was ambushed the previous day. Buried in Urungwe district.

    1978 – Sergeant Kevin Howard BICKNELL, 3Platoon, 1 (Independent) Company, RAR, killed on active service.
    Died of gunshot wounds sustained in a shooting incident at the Essexvale Battle Camp, Op Tangent. Upon returning from R&R on that Monday, twenty members of this Company had drawn rifles and live ammunition for retraining purposes. They assembled at the end of a football field, where they stripped their weapons for cleaning prior to moving to the rifle range for firing practice. Once the group had stripped their FNs, a Private Robert Nyamini Mapfumo suddenly cocked his rifle and opened fire on automatic at his fellow soldiers. As Mapfumo's 20-round magazine emptied, and before he could replace it with a fully charged one, Privates Mawonda and Zevezene overpowered and disarmed Mapfumo. Tragically though, four lay dead and four were seriously wounded. Corporal Stephen RANDALL of Bulawayo, Lance Corporal Michael WALL of Que Que, Sergeant Kevin BICKNELL of Hartley and Private John TSHUMA of Bembesi had lost their lives. Sergeant Vic Anderson, Corporal Malcolm Partridge, Lance Corporal Rob Garitzio and Private David Chiremba had been wounded. In spite of claiming insanity, Mapfumo was found guilty of murder in the High Court in Bulawayo and sentenced to death. Also found listed as 4 (Independent) Coy and Date of Death as 19 April, but first-hand accounts confirm that these details are incorrect.
    1978 – Lance Corporal Stephen William RANDALL, 1 (Independent) Company, RAR, killed on active service. See BICKNELL above.

    1978 – Private Johani TSHUMA, 1 (Independent) Company, RAR, killed on active service. See BICKNELL above.

    1978 – Lance Corporal Michael Anthony WALL, 1 (Independent) Company, RAR, killed on active service. See BICKNELL above.

    1978 – Private Rabson RWAWUYA, 8th Battalion, Rhodesia Regiment, died on active service.

    1979 – Field Reservist Eric Rodney CASTLE, Police Reserve, BSAP, KIA. Died from wounds in a CT action, Salops area, at the age of 45. His semi-military funeral was held at Warren Hills Cemetery, Salisbury, on 17 April. See GRAHAM below.

    1979 – Field Reservist Thomas Desmond Piek GRAHAM, Police Reserve, BSAP, KIA. Killed in the Salops area, at the age of 50. His private funeral was held at Warren Hills Cemetery, Salisbury, on 17 April. See CASTLE above.

    1979 – Junior Corporal Freddy KAMAU, Protected Village Protection Group, Guard Force, died on active service.

    1979 – Corporal Rodwell MOYO, 2nd Battalion, RAR, KIA. Killed in a CT action.

    1980 – Assistant Sergeant Z. TAWAYA, 7 Squadron, Rhodesian Corps of Engineers, died on active service. 

    † Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †

     

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    • April 10, 2017
    • Piet Fourie
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