Today, 31 October, 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. 


31 Oct 1980: Two members from the Army Gymnasium in Heidelberg were Reported Missing when their Civilian Piper Cherokee PA28-180, Registration ZS-VVK, disappeared while on a flight from Wonderboom Airport to Graskop. Both members were on a weekend pass at the time of their disappearance. They have no known grave and both remain unaccounted for. They were:

  • Lance Corporal Gunther Jurgen Dreyer (Pilot). He was 19.
  • Lance Corporal Andre’ Coetzee (Passenger). He was 19.

31 Oct 1987: On Saturday 31 October 1987 a 101 Battalion Battle Group, supported by members of 5 Reconnaissance Regiment together with D Company, 1 Parachute Battalion, attacked SWAPO/PLAN positions at Nindango in Southern Angola. The Operation was known as Ops Firewood and it became clear from the start that SWAPO/PLAN had been expecting such an attack as they were in well prepared defensive positions and supported by a Cuban Tank and Artillery element with a FAPLA Motorised Infantry Unit in support.

During the extremely heavy fighting that continued throughout the day, a 101 Battalion Casspir was knocked out by a RPG-7 anti-tank rocket and burnt out. The Battle Group suffered 15 casualties with approximately 67 wounded before contact was finally broken off at nightfall. The Battle Group casualties for this engagement were:


  • 82513110BG Rifleman Hughes Norbert De Rose. He was 21.
  • 82437369BG Rifleman Wayne Valentine Ewels. He was 21.
  • 81033292BG Lance Corporal Raymond Mark Light. He was 21.
  • 83219139BG Corporal Nico Smith Olivier. He was 19.
  • 83247502BG Rifleman Dirk Willem van Rooyen. He was 20.
  • 83271031BG Rifleman Jean Marc Schuurman. Critically wounded and evacuated from the battlefield to AFB Ondangwa where he underwent emergency surgery. He was evacuated back to the RSA the following day on 1 November 1987 but he succumbed to his wounds before the aircraft landed in Pretoria. He was 20.


  • 83561928BG 2/Lieutenant Dylan Chevalier Cobbold. He was 20.


  • 76330893PE Captain Andries Hercules Du Bruyn Rademeyer. He was 27. 
  • 83587345BG 2/Lieutenant Deon Botes. He was 20.
  • 84533793BG Sapper Erasmus Albertus Steyn. He was 19.
  • Rifleman W. Abraham 
  • Rifleman P. Epafu 
  • Rifleman V.Petrus 
  • Rifleman T. Sheepo
  • Rifleman M. Uusshona

All the dead and wounded were casevaced to AFB Ondangwa during the night of October 31October/01 November 1987. The 101 Battalion casualties were taken directly back to their Unit and not to AFB Ondangwa. The last Puma helicopter departed at about 03h30 the following morning ferrying the remaining dead and lightly wounded back to AFB Ondangwa.

(NOTE: The Roll of Honour for this engagement has been debated at length on Face Book over the years with some individuals insisting that the final casualty total for this engagement was 19 and not 15 as listed. To date however, none of these individuals have come forward with any official proof to substantiate their claims or produce a list of the four individuals that supposedly do not appear on this Roll. Until such time as official documentary proof is produced, this list will be accepted as the official Ops Firewood Roll of Honour).


1974 – Tpr Michael Arthur AVES , 1 Cdo, 1st Bn, RLI, died in a vehicle ambush from a gunshot wound, Dotito, Mt Darwin, Op Hurricane, aged 19.

1976 – Rfn Graeme Richard FANNER, 2 Tp, 1 Cdo, 1st Bn RLI, died from a gunshot wound, in a contact during Op Mardon in Seguranca, Mozambique, during an attack on a ZANLA base on the Luia (Ruya) River, aged 19 years. Elements of 1 Cdo had walked 15 km at night towards the CT camp, with the intention of calling in an artillery strike once the camp was observed. The exhausted and out of water troops reached the Luia where they immediately quenched their thirsts and assisted those who were badly dehydrated. As they were crossing the river, Frelimo opened fire with an RPD, fatally wounding Graeme. The troops went on to overrun the camp, accounting for many CTs.

1976 – Tpr Emil Christopher LOTRINGER , C Sqn SAS, died from gunshot wounds in a contact on Op Mardon in Tete Province, Mozambique. Died aged 25.

1976 – DA SANHANI, Regular Intaf, died of gunshot wounds at Kapondoro CV (VR450790), Mtoko district, Op Hurricane. He was 30 years old.

1976 – Pte Dumaira SANHANI, 2 Mat Bn, RDU, RDR, died from multiple gunshot wounds from CTs, at the age of 22.

1977 – Snr Dist Asst Nhire MASHANDA, Regular Intaf, died on active service.

† Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †


  • October 31, 2017
  • Piet Fourie
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