Today, 10 June, 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 Jun 1974: Captain Petrus Johannes Coetzer from 6 SAI suffered severe brain injuries in a private motor vehicle accident on 8 June 1974 near Lichtenburg while on leave. He remained on life support in 1 Military Hospital until he succumbed to his injuries on 10 June 1974. He was 29.
10 Jun 1975: 70476437N Corporal Timothy Chadwick from 6 SAI was accidentally killed while busy building a bunker at Bagani. While in the process of felling a tree with a chain saw to make space for the bunker, the tree fell on him and severed his arm. Despite immediate medical attention, the medical personnel were unable to stem the bleeding and he bled to death. He was 20.
10 Jun 1979: 73442816BT Rifleman Johannes Wilhelmus Landerd Jans from the Johannesburg Regiment was Killed in Action in Southern Angola when their overnight TB was attacked with mortars and a sustained infantry assault in the early hours of the morning by a numerically superior force of SWAPO/PLAN and FAPLA troops led by East German Advisors. He was 22.
10 Jun 1980: 76901859SP Rifleman Jose Miguel from 32 Battalion was Killed in Action in a landmine explosion in Southern Angola during operations against enemy forces. He was 29
10 Jun 1980: Thirteen members of 61 Mechanised Battalion and 1 SAI (attached) were Killed in Action or Died of Wounds during the attack on the PLAN Smokeshell Base complex during Operation Sceptic in Southern Angola after their Ratel vehicles were systematically engaged and knocked out by a Soviet 23mm ZU-23-2 deployed together with three Soviet 14,5mm ZPU-1 Anti-Aircraft Guns all being used in the ground defensive roll. The casualties were:
74391806PE Lieutenant Johannes Jacobus Du Toit (HC). His Ratel 20mm cannon jammed during the attack and his vehicle was in turn attacked by about 50 enemy ground troops. He continued to engage the enemy with the Browning anti-aircraft machine gun until he was mortally wounded by enemy rifle and machine-gun fire. He was 22.
Platoon Headquarters Ratel: Callsign 21
Ratel 21 was engaged by a 14,5mm Soviet ZPU-1 anti-aircraft gun and the Armour-Piercing Incendiary projectiles penetrated the left door and rear of the vehicle. A hand grenade that was hanging inside the door rack exploded causing the vehicle to immediately catch fire and start burning. The personnel immediately evacuated the Ratel to find cover from where they could return fire. The casualties in this Ratel were:
76338946BG Rifleman Francois Johan Loubser. He was seated at the left door where the 14,5mm rounds penetrated and he was killed instantly when the hand grenade exploded. His body remained in the vehicle and was completely charred as the Ratel burnt out. He was 19.
77217907BG Rifleman Petrus Johannes Joubert. He successfully exited the vehicle and took cover in an abandoned enemy position. After a short while, he decided to break cover and run towards another Ratel to draw their attention but as soon as he stood up, he was hit in the chest by enemy rifle fire and fell back into the position. He died before any help could arrive. He was 19.
70518303BG Rifleman Gert Johannes Venter. He was the anti-aircraft gunner on the Ratel and he tried to disembark from the vehicle through the anti-aircraft gunners hatch. He was hit in the stomach by a 14,5mm round and fell dead next to the vehicle. His body was completely charred as the Ratel burnt out. He was 25.
Section Number One Ratel: Callsign 21A
Ratel 21A was engaged from the front at virtually point-blank range by a 23mm ZU-23-2 Anti-Aircraft gun. The casualties in this Ratel were:
7646809BG Rifleman Gerhardus Johannes Kemp. He was the driver of the Ratel when the 23mm High explosive rounds penetrated the windshield and peppered his chest and face with lethal shrapnel and pieces of windshield glass. He lost consciousness and died a short while later while still seated in his driver position. He was 19.
76389238BG Rifleman Jacobus Hendrik Fourie. He was standing up in one of the right hand side fighting compartment hatches throwing hand grenades into enemy positions when he was hit in the midsection by a 23mm bullet that killed him instantly. His body was pulled back into the vehicle by his comrades. He was 20.
Section Number Three Ratel: Callsign 9G (Swopped with 21C that Broke an Axel)
Ratel 9G drew concentrated fire from a 23mm ZU-23-2 Anti-Aircraft Gun that was deployed with three other 14,5mm ZPU-1 Anti-Aircraft guns and was hit several times. The Ratel was seen to turn immediately and head towards the enemy gun position before coming to a halt. The casualties in this vehicle were:
75222965BG Corporal Paul Kruger. He was the Ratel Commander and was killed instantly in the turret after being struck numerous times by 23mm cannon shells in the upper torso. He was 20.
77210839BG Rifleman Stephen Maritz Cronje. He crawled out from the driver’s position to the left rear door where he was struck in the back by a 14,5mm round that killed him instantly. He was 19.
77412153BG Rifleman Peter William Warrener. He tried to jump out of the vehicle via the gunners hatch but his right leg was blown off above the knee by a 23mm High Explosive Cannon Shell. Despite expert medical treatment being administered in the field, he died from his wounds approximately three and a half hours later while being evacuated. He was 19.
7395813BG Rifleman Roberto Nicola de Vito. He was standing up in the left side hatch throwing hand grenades into enemy trench positions when he was hit by a full burst of 14,5mm Anti-Aircraft cannon fire that severed him in half, killing him instantly. Unfortunately, the M26 hand grenade he was about to throw, fell from his lifeless hand through the hatch and exploded inside the Ratel. He was 19.
77471423BG Rifleman Michael Clarence Luyt. He was seated in the left section of the Ratel when the hand grenade that de Vito had dropped, landed in his lap and exploded, killing him instantly. He was 19.
77260578BG Rifleman Francis John Lello. He was killed instantly after suffering multiple shrapnel wounds to the face and chest when De Vito’s hand grenade exploded just as he was jumping out of the vehicle. He was 19.
76325646BG Rifleman Andrew John Madden. He was critically wounded in the neck and back by shrapnel from de Vito’s exploding grenade. He received expert medical attention in the field and was evacuated but succumbed to his wounds 5 hours later at 20h00 that evening. He was 19.
10 Jun 1981: Rifleman Antonio Johannes from 101 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN insurgents in Southern Angola. He was 24
10 Jun 1982: Rifleman K Comoxoxo from 201 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN insurgents near the Cut-Line. He was 25.
RHODESIAN BUSH WAR
1977 – Signalman Jervis BANGOJAVA, 4 Squadron, Rhodesian Corps of Signals, died on active service. Died of natural causes.
1978 – Woman Field Reservist Catharina Jantina WILLIERS, Police Reserve, BSAP, murdered. Killed aged 46 in Chipinga whilst proceeding to duty at the police station, Op Thrasher. Her private funeral was held in Chipinga on 14 June.
1979 – Trooper Robert "Robbie" FRANCIS, 14 Troop, 3 Commando, 1st Battalion, RLI, KIA. Died from gunshot wounds in a contact, Mavuradonha Mountains, Mt Darwin, Op Hurricane. Elements of 3 Commando, responding to a reported sighting, had been deployed by Dakota from the FAF at Mt Darwin to an area in the Mauvuradonha Mountains known as 'The Bull's Nose'. After several successful contacts which resulted in five CTs killed, Troop Sergeant Charlie Norris took his men, some also carrying CT weapons from the earlier contacts, across a river towards a re-entrant. As they moved forward in a sweep line, a group of 21 ZANLA CTs opened fire, killing Robbie and wounding Sergeant Norris and Trooper Andy Dawson. Temporary Lance Corporal Andrew Gibson, showing no concern for his own safety, immediately took command of the situation, coming to the aid of the wounded. After successfully arranging for the wounded to be casevaced, Gibson regrouped the men and launched an attack on the CT position, killing all 21 CTs. Gibson was awarded the BCR for his actions that day. Part of Intake 163, this was Robbie's first day with the commando
† Their names and sacrifices have not been forgotten †