Today, 23 November, 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. 


23 Nov 1969: 5974 Senior Technician (Armaments) Johan Matheus Jansen van Vuuren from New Sarum Air Base, Rhodesian Air Force, died after being critically injured when his motor vehicle was involved in a head-on collision with another motor vehicle on the ring road at New Sarum. He was 20.

23 Nov 1975: 05483722PE Captain George Frederick Schoeman from 2 SSB was critically wounded on 9 November 1975 during Operation Savannah in Southern Angola 37km east of Lobito at a T-junction that served the Cities of Lobito, Novo Redondo and Nova Lisboa. Enemy forces had placed mines on the Luanda to Lobito road and the advancing armoured cars had to work around them. Captain Schoeman was one of those walking along the road to spot mines and when he reached the T-junction on the east west road leading to Lobito, an armoured car approached and he had to step off the road onto the soft shoulder to let the vehicle pass. In doing so, he stepped onto a Soviet PMN Black Widow anti-personnel mine. He was flown from Norton de Matos back to Rundu and evacuated to 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. He sadly succumbed to his wounds on 23 November 1975. He was 31.

23 Nov 1975: 05477377PE Warrant Officer Class II Alwyn Johannes Benson from 4 SAI was Killed in Action during Operation Savannah at Ebo, in Southern Angola while in command of a mortar platoon. During the battle, while engaging the enemy, his mortar position was hit by a Soviet 122mm Katyusha Rocket killing him instantly. He was 32.

23 Nov 1975: 67728378PE Captain Johan Wolfgang Holm HC (P) from the Danie Theron Combat School was Killed in Action during Operation Savannah near Ebo in Southern Angola when his Armoured Car Squadron was ambushed by a numerically superior Cuban Force. During the course of the engagement, he was forced to expose himself from the turret to physically assist another armoured car out of the ambush area when a Soviet 122mm Katyusha Rocket exploded behind his Eland 90. He was struck in the head by a large piece of shrapnel, killing him instantly. For his unselfish act in exposing himself from the safety of his turret in the face of heavy enemy fire to save the lives of others, he was posthumously awarded the Honoris Crux. He was 36.

23 Nov 1975: 71259428BC Trooper Neil Lombard from B Squadron 1SSB was Reported Missing during Ops Savannah at Ebo, in Southern Angola. He was the driver of the armoured car commanded by Lt J du Toit. They were ordered forward toward the bridge over the Massaba River. As the car approached the bridge it received a direct hit by a hollow charge anti-tank round from a Chinese 75mm Recoilless Gun killing him instantly. The car was knocked off the road by the force of the explosion and ended up on its side in the river. His body could not be recovered. He was apparently later buried by locals next to the cross roads of two pathways at Ebo. When the remains of the "Ebo Four" were recently repatriated back to the RSA, his remains could not be located despite an intensive search of the area. Sand from the site where locals say he was buried was brought back and interred in the Memorial Niche at the Voortrekker Monument Wall of Remembrance. He was 20.

23 Nov 1975: 71475925BC Corporal Jochemus Jacobus Taljaard from 2 Special Service Battalion was Killed in Action during Operation Savannah at Ebo in Southern Angola when he was struck by shrapnel from a Soviet BM-21 122mm Katyusha Rocket. He was 20.

23 Nov 1975: 72449325BC Lance Corporal Gerhard Vollgraaff from 2 Special Service Battalion Died of Wounds received in Action during Operation Savannah during the Battle of Ebo. His armoured car was hit in the turret and he jumped out of the vehicle. As he did so, an enemy sniper shot him in the stomach. He was evacuated to the surgical hospital at Cela where a successful operation was performed. Unfortunately, complications set in and he succumbed to his wounds later during the day. He was 19.

23 Nov 1976: 71275531BA Rifleman Stephanus Johannes Swartz from 6 SAI was killed in a military vehicle accident at Bedford in the Eastern Cape. He was 21.

23 Nov 1978: 77012292PE Corporal Nicolaas Marthinus Dekker from Quartermaster General was killed by shrapnel at Potchefstroom when a G2 140mm Medium Gun High Explosive projectile exploded in the cannon breach during a training exercise. He was 18.

23 Nov 1981: 77157410HK Rifleman R. Mukoya from 202 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a contact with enemy forces. He was 25.

23 Nov 1986: 66213299KV Sergeant Gert Benjamin Labuschagne from the Virginia Commando was found dead during a military training exercise. It appeared that he suffered a fatal heart attack while he was asleep. He was 36.

23 Nov 1993: Captain Louis Joubert from 1 Squadron was Reported Missing when his Dassault Mirage F1AZ, Serial No.234 was seen to suddenly bank steeply and dive into the sea approximately 80km South, South West of Cape Point while carrying out a low level maritime strike. Although the Pilot ejected safely, he was unable to jettison his parachute that subsequently dragged him under the water before he could be rescued. He has no known grave and remains unaccounted for. He was 24.


1974 – Pte Thomas MABIZA, Spt Coy, 2 Bde, died from multiple injuries sustained in a vehicle accident on the Lomagundi Road. He was 21 years old.

1976 – DSA Elias REVAI, DSA, Kp Prtn, Intaf, was killed in action Bikita, Op Repulse.

1977 –Air Lt Philip Wilfred "Phil" Haigh (MFC Ops), No. 2 Sqn, RhAF, was killed crash-landing a Vampire FB52 (R1386) after being hit by anti-aircraft fire whilst attacking Vanduzi Camp, Chimoio, Mozambique, during Op Dingo-Zulu 1. The Vampire flown by Phil on the day was one of four which did not have ejection seats. When Sqn Leader Steve Kesby found out that Phil had not reported in to Grand Reef, he descended to search for him. Flying towards a pall of smoke in a field, Kesby noticed that Phil had managed to crash land, but had hit a ditch, resulting in the Vampire, with Phil still inside, bursting into flames.

1977 – Tpr Frans Jacobus NEL, C Sqn, SAS, was killed on Op Dingo-Zulu 1 at Chimoio in a combined SAS, RLI and RhAF attack on Venduzi Camp in Manica Province, Mozambique.

1978 – Cpl W.M. DEKKER, Army, died in an accident.

1979 – Pte L. URAYAYI, 2nd Bn, RR, died from gunshot wounds in a CT action.

† Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †


  • November 23, 2017
  • Piet Fourie
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