Today, 24 December, 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.


24 Dec 1976: 73570574BC Private Philip Lindsay Backhouse from 16 Maintenance Unit was killed when the civilian motorcycle he had borrowed, was involved in an accident at the corner of Bosman & Church Streets in Pretoria. He was 19.

24 Dec 1976: 74252131BN Private Hermanus Jakobus van der Westhuizen from 13 Maintenance was killed in a military vehicle accident at the Letaba Training Area. He was 18.

24 Dec 1976: Sergeant Stephen Graham van Biljon from Central Flying School Dunnottar died after suffering a fatal heart attack at the Base. He was 38.

24 Dec 1978: 74324062PF Sergeant Abrie Pieter De Man from 2 SAI was killed in a military vehicle accident in Kavangoland. He was 20.

24 Dec 1980: 75351973BT Signaler Thomas Arnold Du Toit from the Orange Free State Command Died of Wounds after being accidentally shot in a friendly fire incident near Ruacana. A SWAPO/PLAN hideout was identified near Ruacana and surrounded by Ratel IFV's. A Lieutenant together with Du Toit, who was carrying the radio, entered No-Man’s Land between the insurgent location and the Ratel vehicles. The Ratel’s opened fire and the Officer was wounded in the leg. Du Toit received what was first thought to be a flesh wound on the rib-cage but later it was discovered that the 20mm projectile had in fact penetrated his body and he later succumbed to his injury as a result of internal bleeding. He was 21.

24 Dec 1981: 80586233CK Rifleman Karel Theunissen from the South African Cape Corps was Killed in Action after his Buffel Troop Carrier detonated a Landmine while on patrol in Northern Owamboland. He was 19.

24 Dec 1983: 80540933BG Trooper Johan van Tonder from 10 Armoured Car Squadron SWATF was killed when his Eland 90 Armoured Car was involved in a collision with another military vehicle at Grootfontein. He was 19.

24 Dec 1987: 81309981BT Rifleman Pieter Breytenbach from 44 Parachute Regiment was Reported Missing during a parachuting exercise at Komatipoort after he was seen to land in the Crocodile River. Despite an intensive search, his body was never located and he has no known grave. He was 22.


1976 – FR David Patrick BASHFORD and FR Arnold BATHURST, both of PR, BSAP, died from injuries received in an accident. Field Reservists Bashford, Lilford and Bathurst driving a police vehicle north of Karoi, collided with a pantechnicon. FR Warwick LILFORD died from injuries received in this accident in Andrew Fleming Hospital on 9 January 1977.

1977 – Gd Timothy Musiviwa CHIRAMBADARE, PV Prtn Group, GF, was killed in a CT action.

1977 – Lt Paul Martin COURTNEY, 4 Tp, 1 Cdo, 1st Bn, RLI, was killed in a contact, Op Thrasher, aged 23 years On a rain-sodden Christmas Eve, 28 1 Cdo troops were deployed by helicopter and Dakota from the FAF at Grand Reef, Umtali, their objective a ZANLA stronghold on a mountain. As an extended line of 16 troops scaled the rear side of the mountain, there was a fleeting contact by a very large cave. After encountering heavy automatic fire from the cave, Paul, commander of 4 Troop at the time, called in a Lynx airstrike. This, however, was unsuccessful, so Paul launched a frontal attack during which he was shot and killed.

1977 – Pte Jonathan Russell EESON, HQ, Prtn Unit, died on active service, aged 17 years.

1978 – Pte Daniel BEZUIDENHOUT, 1st Bn, RDR, died in a shooting incident.

1978 – L/Cpl Clements MUKARO, 1st Bn, RR, was killed in a CT action.

1978 – Cst Zabron TEMBO, M Tp, SU, BSAP, died in a tragic accident at the age of 24 years.

1978 – Sgt Raymond Melville Emile WATKINS, RhAMC, died on active service, aged 23 years.

1979 – Cst Jonathan Vinti MOTO and Cst Musa SIBANDA, both of L Tp, SU, BSAP, died in a vehicle accident near Juliasdale, Op Thrasher.

1979 – Pte Stephen ZAWAIRA, 9th Bn, RR, died on active service.

† Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †


  • December 24, 2017
  • Piet Fourie
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  • July 06, 2017
  • tom silverside

Ref Lt Paul Courtney KIA Christmas Eve 1977 — Before joining the RLI Paul was a Lt with The Royal Welch Fusiliers in the UK. We were both at the training depot in South Wales when Paul’s release came through. Alas I was away on exercise and unfortunately never got to say goodbye. Paul was a good officer in the UK but hungered to get to Rhodesia and fight. He was also a good friend. I and other ex Royal Welch Fusiliers have visited his grave at Warren Hills 3 times so far. A good all round guy and a sad lose all round.

  • March 17, 2020
  • Charles Le Brun

Paul Courtney and I were good friends whilst at Sandhurst in 1973 and I have often mourned his loss in a noble cause.

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