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May 26th, 2014


On Memorial Day in the United States, remembering South African airborne soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.


Rank Name Date Unit
Sgt. D.J. Human 26 Nov. 1975 2 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A.T. Bate 26 Nov. 1975 2 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. W.C. Swanepoel 25 March 1976 2 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. A.L. Broderyk 13 April 1976 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A.J. Blaauw 17 July 1976 2 Parachute Battalion
S/Sgt. Francisco Daniel Roxo 23 Aug. 1976 1 Reconnaissance
Sgt. Ponciano G. Soeiro 23 Aug. 1976 1 Reconnaissance
Sgt. José Correia Pinto Ribeiro 25 Aug. 1976 1 Reconnaissance
Rfn 4 May 1978 3 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. 4 May 1978 2 Parachute Battalion
Rfn 4 May 1978 3 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. 4 May 1978 2 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. 12 Aug. 1978 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. 12 Aug. 1978 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. 12 Aug. 1978 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. T. Davis 15 Dec. 1978 2 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. E.L. Bell 4 June 1979 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. L. Grobler 27 Feb. 1980 2 Parachute Battalion
Sgt. L.T.H. Wessels 15 Jan. 1981 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. L. Truter 15 Jan. 1981 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. G.J. Harvey 1 June 1981 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. M.S. Hadlow 26 July 1981 44 Pathfinder Company
Rfn. J.C. Cromhout 29 Dec. 1981 2 Parachute Battalion
Capt. L. van Wyk 2 May 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. E.P. Lombaard 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. S.R. Hoare 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. R.H. Barrett 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A. de Klerk 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. G.W.E. Krill 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A. Kruger 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. M. le Roux 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. S.P. Mallon 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. J.T. Marshall 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. C.A. Moody 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A.H. van Niekerk 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A. Wolmarans 9 Aug. 1982 1 Parachute Battalion
Sgt. R.T Beech 18 Aug. 1982 44 Pathfinder Company
Sgt. J.A. Wessels 18 Aug. 1982 44 Pathfinder Company
Cpl. G.L. Steytler 24 June 1983 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. A. Tucker 7 July 1983 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. G.E. de Lange 22 July 1984 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. J.P. Hall 24 Jan. 1985 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. B.A. Fidler 15 Sept. 1985 7 Medical Bn Group
Rfn. N.W. Smuts 5 Nov. 1985 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. M.A. Benecke 6 Sept. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. N.S. Olivier 31 Oct. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. R.M. Light 31 Oct. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. H.N. de Rose 31 Oct. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. W.C. Ewels 31 Oct. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. D.W. van Rooyen 31 Oct. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. J.M. Schuurman 1 Nov. 1987 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. P. Breytenbach 24 Dec. 1987 2 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. M. Coetzee 4 March 1988 4 Signal Unit
Cpl. T.M. Stewart 20 March 1988 44 Pathfinder Company
L/Cpl. J.D. van der Merwe 20 July 1988 3 Parachute Battalion
Capt. J. Nel (Dr.) 22 Sept. 1998 7 Medical Bn Group
Cpl. J.A. Sax 22 Sept. 1998 7 Medical Bn Group
L/Cpl. Z.S. Mafuta 22 Sept. 1998 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. O.A. Mothupi 22 Sept. 1998 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. S. Mtengwane 22 Sept. 1998 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. L.N. Magwazana 22 Sept. 1998 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. A.T. Mangoegape 22 Sept. 1998 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. P.T. Tshweu 22 Sept. 1998 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. N.A. Mogorosi 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Cpl. M.D. Seakamela 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. S.D. Molara 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
L/Cpl. L.M. Tsheke 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. M.W. Bojane 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. X. Dlamini 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. L.M. Hertzog Lebatlang 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. K.E. Matsheka 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. K.P. Msenga 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. Z.J. Mxhosana 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. V.J. Ngaleka 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. T.A. Phirimana 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. M.S. Thulo 23 March 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Sgt. M.O.Mahasa 29 April 2013 1 Parachute Battalion
Rfn. K.L. Moloke 25 May 2013 1 Parachute Battalion

Tribute to the Parabats (Facebook video; 3:19)


Click on photo for full-size display


Related links

1 Parachute Battalion (Wikipedia)

1Bn 44 2.jpg
Airborne Soldier


Parabat Veterans Organization


Update: August 25, 2016

August 26, 1966 — 50 years ago today — marks the beginning of the South African Border War, which lasted 23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days. Remember the 2,280 members of the SADF who gave their lives in service to their country during that period. Of those, 776 were killed in action. (Click on image to view Facebook post)

Update: July 25, 2017

Parabat Promo 720P from Efpe Senekal on Vimeo

More Â» “Parabat” — The Documentary


Related reports on this site

Memorial Day 2011 (May 30, 2011)

Image: President Barack Obama takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery
President Barack Obama participates in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo credit: NBC News)

Memorial Day 2010 (May 31, 2010)

Image: Barack Obama lays a wreath as he participates in a Memorial Day Ceremony
President Barack Obama after laying a wreath at Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery in Elwood, Illinois, on Memorial Day, May 31, 2010. (Photo credit: Jim Watson / AFP — Getty Images)

Memorial Day 2009 (May 25, 2009)

Image: U.S. President Barack Obama takes part in a wreath laying ceremony
U.S. President Barack Obama takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony with Maj. Gen. Richard J. Rowe at the Tomb of the Unknowns on May 25, 2009, Memorial Day, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia. (Photo credit: Mandel Ngan / AFP — Getty Images)


Operation Meebos

An External Counter-Insurgency Operation by 61 Mechanised Battalion Group into Central Southern Angola from 13 July 1982 until 30 August 1982

Excerpted from the website of the 61 Mechanised Battalion Group Veterans Association, with minor copyediting and added photos.

Objective of the Operation

The aim of Operation Meebos was to prevent FAPLA from re-occupying the towns of Xangongo and Ongiva. The secondary aim was to pinpoint and destroy enemy headquarters and caches and to disrupt its logistical routes. As an added instruction the force had to keep the morale of the local population high and also gain local intelligence sources while trying to turn the local population against SWAPO and FAPLA. Operation Meebos was planned in five stages: (1) Reconnaissance and establishment of a helicopter administration area; (2) Airborne operations by a paratroop company in the area north of the cut line; (3) Assault; (4) Mopping up; (5) Withdrawal of own forces in a general line south of Mupa.

A Tragic 9 August 1982 — We Lose Fifteen Splendid Soldiers in One Swell Swoop

Personal impressions of the commander, Cmdt. Roland de Vries

The remains of the 12 paratroopers were cremated and later interred as a group in the Paratroopers Memorial at Tempe in Bloemfontein.

9 August 1982. A crisp winter’s morning in southern Angola with nothing much really happening …

Sixty-one Mech was still in an ambush position to the east of the Cuvelai-Techamutete road, somewhere close to the Mui River. New intelligence had been received of a small SWAPO logistics base close to Techamutete. An attack was considered by the TAC HQ. It was, however, realized that FAPLA could interfere and the idea was scrapped.

The frustrations relating to the finding of the next viable target was now the thing bedevilling the momentum and continuation of Meebos. Was the search and destroy show petering out already?

Captain Willem Ratte and the scouts of 32 Battalion were eagerly searching for the infamous Bravo Battalion of SWAPO — the main enemy 61 Mech had sought and had a few skirmishes with during Operation Daisy in November 1981. They were still out there, roaming the bush. Lost in the same wilderness were the Central and Eastern Area HQs of SWAPO. Don’t forget about the other loose assortments of SWAPO running around in the bush. Where the hell is the enemy, in six-figure map grid reference’s terms…? Show yourself damn it!

The target search by Ratte had now shifted to an area to the northwest of Cuvelai. It was within two hour’s striking distance from where 61 Mech was influencing the road leading north to Techamutete from Cuvelai.

The signs and the symptoms of the enemy were there — the signs had been found by Ratte on the ground. The TAC HQ decided to launch an area operation into the suspect area: fly in with Puma helicopters, patrol, and wish for a number of lucky strikes with the enemy, fly out again, tally-ho. The recipe was the same; the Alouette gunships would provide close air support. Hopefully as well, during the flying the gunships would pick up the enemy on the ground. Eight Pumas were poised for the trooping mission of the splendid soldiers of 32 Battalion and 1 Parachute Battalion. Ready to go…

Just after midday the Pumas started flying in the troops to the target zone just north of the Mui River about 15 km to the west of the Cuvelai-Techamutete road. The route chosen took the aircraft flying along the dry river bed of the Mui River. The flying pathway of the Pumas from the HAA almost took them over the deployment position of 61 Mech hidden in the bushes below.


With their first flight, the Pumas had unwittingly flown over a deployed SWAPO anti-aircraft position. The enemy was lurking in a bushy patch of the Mui River approximately 15 km west of the Cuvelai-Techamutete road.

The second time around, at about 15h00, four Pumas again came with a flurry… Again along the dry Mui River with their precious cargo on the way to a landing zone. A curtain of enemy anti-aircraft fire suddenly erupted from below and slammed into the second Puma piloted by Captain John Twaddle. The Puma plummeted to the ground, exploded and burst into flames. Three SAAF crew members and twelve paratroopers were killed instantly — no, for a brief moment one of the paratroopers was still alive…

This was an amazing tragedy. 9 August 1982… We had lost fifteen splendid soldiers in one swell swoop.

“Today 35 years ago, I was 18 years old, sitting in the open door of a Puma helicopter, flying fast, just above the trees in Angola. Suddenly anti-aircraft tracer bullets blasted around us, and the helicopter flying next to me was struck and crashed. Twelve fellow paratroopers (Parabats) and three helicopter crew were killed. I remember that day like it was yesterday! Rest in peace fellow soldiers. Never forgotten.” (Shane Yates, Facebook, Aug. 9, 2017)

Soon after the Alouette gunships went into action. More than thirty SWAPO soldiers running towards the crash site were spotted. A battle ensued and some of the Alouettes took hits from below. One Alouette pilot reported seeing more than one hundred SWAPO insurgents dancing around the stricken Puma. More gunships were scrambled and were on their way to the contact site.

By this time the TAC HQ had informed 61 Mech about the unfolding tragedy in the Mui River. We immediately responded and started moving at best speed towards the position we knew were the fight with SWAPO and the gunships was raging. Sixty-one Mech was approximately 23 km to the east. Time- and distance-wise it would take our vanguard close to one hour of bundu bashing to get there. Move! Move! Move!

The battle was still raging at the downed Puma site. The Alouettes were taking fire from SWAPO’s formidable 14.5s and SAM-7s. The gunships needed to return to the HAA to re-arm and re-fuel. At this stage Captain Willem Ratte was still deployed farther to the north, close to the Calonga River searching for enemy bases.

Sixty-one Mech reached the crash site within little more than an hour. As we deployed in an all-round defensive open leaguer around the crash site we could hear a mini-battle raging just to the north of our position.

My first instruction was for all of 61 Mech to remain extremely alert and to stay mounted on their Ratels until I had assessed the situation. I halted my Ratel next to the Puma helicopter, which was still smouldering. Looking down into the wreck we could see a number of charred remains of the paratroopers. It was obvious that nobody could be alive. However, our biggest fear was that the enemy could have captured someone.

On the command radio-net I then reiterated my command for everyone to remain mounted on their vehicles. As this was as much an army as an air force show, SAAF Major Jaap du Preez and I dismounted to inspect the blazing sight and analyze what had happened — our fear remained the possibility that soldiers had been captured.

About fifty meters to the north we could see where the 14.5s had been positioned — the area was strewn with empty shell casings. The whole area was covered with the chevron boot print of SWAPO. Of the enemy themselves there was no sign at this stage.

Realizing that SWAPO expected us to visit the site, Jaap du Preez and I looked at each other and sort of simultaneously warned: “Watch out for booby-traps and personnel mines.” It was an eerie situation…

The three SAAF crew members had clearly been removed from the wreck by SWAPO soldiers. The three bodies were propped up in their seats as if someone had posed them for a photograph in their scorched flying suits.

Incidentally, in a contact with the enemy a day later a few Polaroid photographs were found on dead SWAPO insurgents, as well as some of the “dog tags” (two metal identification disks worn around the neck) of the paratroopers.

As I stood next to the wreck I momentarily felt an immense sadness, a heavy weight settling on my chest… silently crying. I was thinking of those back home who did not yet know what had happened in the Mui on this fateful 9th of August 1982.

My pondering did not last long as I was interrupted by a Ratel-90 approaching the crash site. Close to me lay one of the doors of the Puma which had been blown to one side.

The approaching Ratel-90 belonged to Second Lieutenant Dewald Weideman, one of the troop commanders of Captain Chris du Toit of Charlie Squadron. Weideman dismounted and started walking in my direction… Why? Chris du Toit shouted at him to get back on his Ratel. As I put up my hand and echoed the warning to halt him, there was a tremendous explosion right in front of me.

Weideman was flung into the air, one foot and the bottom part of his torso blown to bits, but our man was alive… Medics! Doctor! Medics! Quick! Call for a Puma casevac now!

Again I shouted: “No one, but NO ONE get off your Ratels! Repeat my message down the chain of command now, AGAIN!”

There was an eerie respectful silence that enshrouded the death site.

Jaap du Preez and I then found a drag mark from the Puma wreck to a lonely tree approximately thirty yards away. We could see the body of one of the paratroopers propped up against the trunk of a Mopani tree. We walked very carefully towards the site, searching the earth for signs of booby-traps or personnel mines. The paratrooper was dead. He must have been alive for a while, probably thrown from the Puma by the explosion. His skin was blistered and hung in tatters from him. The pain must have been excruciating. He was shot through the center of his forehead — was this a coup de grace by the enemy?

Jaap du Preez and I returned to the wreck and started counting the bodies. We repeated the count six times to make very sure that all had been accounted for. We then confirmed our counts.

I then instructed one of the Ratels to drive towards the Puma wreck and for our soldiers to carefully transfer the remains into body bags. The body-bags were not enough and some of the charred remains had to share bags. A Puma was called in to fly the remains to the HAA and then back to SWA.

Sixty-one Mech then left the Puma site and to leaguer a few kilometers to the north of the Mui River for the night. We would return the next day to evacuate the helicopter wreck; we were definitely not going to leave it for SWAPO to use for propaganda purposes later on.

Sadness permeated the leaguer of 61 Mech as the sun set in the west over the Calonga River. Somewhere out there was Captain Willem Ratte and his scouts and the enemy in the darkness…

That night Major Alex Britz made our command group a “Potjie” (typical African stew prepared in a Falkirk three-legged cast-iron pot). He had made a deep hole in the ground for his fire so that the glow could not be discerned by any watchful enemy. We sat on our camp chairs in the bush in camaraderie, surrounded by darkness and the silence from within.

At midnight I was called to the radio by my signals officer, Captain Sean MacSweeny. It was the TAC HQ. They had sifted trough the remains of our slain soldiers and could only find signs of fourteen. One was missing. I replied: “No ways, check again.” Captain Jaap du Preez and I checked our counting procedure of the day once again. We were very sure of the numbers; we had counted fifteen, over and over.

At 03h00 the next morning I was contacted again by radio. The TAC HQ informed me that the medical staff at the HAA had found fifteen unique bones, which affirmed the count was correct.

Relief washed over me.

In Memoriam — let us be quiet for a moment.

The three crew members of the South African Air Force: Captain John Twaddle; Lieutenant Chris Pietersen; and Flight Engineer Sergeant Grobbies Grobbelaar.

The twelve paratrooper national servicemen of 1 Parachute Battalion: Corporal Esuas Lombaard (20); Lance-Corporal Stephen Hoare (20); Rifleman Andre Wolmerans (21); Rifleman Grant Krull (20); Rifleman Craig Moody (20); Rifleman Andries Hermias van Niekerk (20); Rifleman Anton Kruger (22); Rifleman Martin le Roux (22); Rifleman James Marshall (20); Rifleman Alan de Klerk (19); Rifleman Shane Patrick Mallon (21); and Rifleman Ruffle Hilton-Barret (21).

In later years I came across the following message on an internet site: “3 April 2009. My brother died in Angola together with 12 parabats and 2 more pilots on 9 August 1982. Chris Pietersen I still miss you and love you to bits. Your sis.”

As darkness settled over the leaguer, some of it also settled in the souls of the one thousand soldiers of 61 Mech who became the lone victims of their own apprehensions and thoughts once again.

The South African Border War started on August 26, 1966 and lasted 23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks, and 2 days, ending in 1989 (with 2280 members of the SADF losing their lives during this period, 776 of them killed in action).

91 Responses to “Parachute Battalion”
  1. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    7 April 1984: 78368115BT Rifleman Daniel Stephanus Venter, age 22, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in action in a landmine explosion during anti-insurgent operations just north of the Angola-Namibia cutline.

  2. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    13 April 1976: 72541816BG Corporal Anton Leon Broodryk, age 20, 1 Parachute Battalion, died of wounds received in a landmine explosion in southern Angola while on patrol near the Angola-Namibia cut-line.

  3. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    26 April 1982: 77317840BG Lance Corporal Gert Gotlieb Gouche, age 20, 1 Parachute Battalion, was accidentally killed when his Buffel troop carrier overturned at Kombat village near Grootfontein, Namibia.

  4. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    2 May 1982: 72481708PE Captain Leon van Wyk, age 26, 1 Parachute Battalion, died of wounds received east of Otavi, Namibia, during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN insurgents. A SWAPO/PLAN insurgent was holding up inside a small zinc pump house that was quickly surrounded by a section of paratroopers as darkness fell. A heavy volume of fire was brought to bear on the building before Capt. van Wyk tried to enter it. However, the insurgent was still alive and opened fire with his AK-47 as he burst through the door, hitting him several times in the upper body and chest. The critically wounded Capt. van Wyk succumbed to his wounds a short while later. The SWAPO/PLAN insurgent made good his escape in the confusion that followed.

  5. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    4 May 1978: Four members from 2 and 3 Parachute Battalion were killed in action in the airborne assault on Cassinga in Southern Angola during Operation Reindeer.

    The casualties were:

    71384234BTRifleman Edward James Backhouse, age 22, 3 Parachute Battalion.
    Photo by Guy Mullins: The body of Rfn. Backhouse is carried by fellow paratroopers to the waiting SAAF helicopter.

    Rifleman Jacob Conrad De Waal, age 23, 2 Parachute Battalion. …

    Rifleman Martin Kaplan, age 25, 2 Parachute Battalion. …

    Rifleman Andries Petrus Human, age 29, 3 Parachute Battalion. Rfn. Human was reported missing in action after jumping from the aircraft over Cassinga. After exiting the aircraft, he was never seen or heard from again and remains unaccounted for. For administrative purposes, he was officially declared dead on 22 January 1980. Although efforts are being made during 2018 to recover his human remains from Southern Angola, he still remains unaccounted for. …

  6. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    13 May 1964: P/49773 Rifleman Paul Jacobus Krogh, age 20, 1 Parachute Battalion, died after he was accidentally shot in the chest with a .38 revolver by another soldier while in the barracks at Tempe, Bloemfontein.

  7. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    “Buried Behind the Wall” Roll of Honour »

    At the end of the Efpe Senekal documentary “Buried Behind the Wall” is a South African Border War-era roll of honor. Names marked with an asterisk (*) were killed in action. The Afrikaans song “Staan My By” was written by Rian Malan and recorded live at the Atterbury Theatre, performed by Ian Roberts and the Radio Kalahari Orkes.

  8. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    18 May 1973: 05535174E Staff Sergeant Kevin Everitt Potgieter, age 27, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a parachute accident at Tempe. Kevin had been given a steerable reserve chute by his father that he decided to test. To do this, he had to first discard his main chute before using the reserve. After discarding his main parachute, he deployed the reserve but it became entangled in the buckles of his main chute before wrapping itself around him causing him to plunge to his death.
    (Staff Sergeant Potgieter is seen in the photo standing 3rd from the right)

  9. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    25 May 1977: 65778532BV Sergeant William Henry Bernard Gildenhuys, Honoris Crux (posthumous), age 28, Cape Town Highlanders, was killed in action after suffering multiple shrapnel wounds while detached to Alpha Company, 1 Parachute Battalion, for special duties. During an anti-insurgent patrol with 1 Parachute Battalion to the rear of the Cape Town Highlanders’ position northeast of Ondangwa, Namibia, where mining of vehicle tracks had become a common feature, he was killed during an extremely gallant attempt to save others when he saw the safety pin being accidentally extracted from a soldier’s rifle grenade after hooking on a thorn bush. He rushed forward, grabbed the rifle and tried to fire off the grenade to prevent injuries to the other soldiers in the patrol but the rifle grenade exploded before he could do this. Rifleman F.E. Eksteen, W.R. Hamber, R.J. Schonken, and A.J. Rohlandt were all injured in the explosion. Sergeant Gildenhuys was posthumously awarded the Honoris Crux for his gallant action that ultimately cost him his life. …

  10. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    1 June 1981: 76244718BG Rifleman Gavin John Harvey, age 20, B Company, 1 Parachute Battalion, was severely wounded in the chest and lungs on 22 May 1981 by shrapnel from a Yugoslavian M-60P1HE Pencil STRIM rifle grenade during follow-up operations against SWAPO/PLAN insurgents in conjunction with Koevoet units. He was evacuated to the hospital in Grootfontein, Namibia, where he was stabilized before being evacuated by air to 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria the following day. He unfortunately succumbed to his wounds on 1 June 1981.

    Image: Memorial plaque. …

    Image: Yugoslavian M-60 HEAT STRIM rifle grenade entry point on the Buffel troop carrier. …

  11. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    2 June 1981: 77254266PE 2nd Lieutenant Christoffel Petrus Taylor, age 20, 1 Parachute Battalion, died in 1 Military Hospital after being critically injured on 29 May 1981 while flying in the rear passenger seat of a 42 Squadron Atlas AM3C Bosbok, serial no. 958. The aircraft crashed near Eenhana, Namibia, while flying a low-level water/ration drop over a shona after the wing clipped some trees just as the aircraft was pulling up. The pilot, Lieutenant Jeremy John van der Wath from 42 Squadron was killed in the crash.

    Image: Headshot. …

    Image: Gravesite. …

  12. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    17 May 1994: Warrant officer class 2 Hennie Hurn, pathfinder, 1 Parachute Battalion, died accidentally during a parachute jump. …

  13. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    15 December 1978: 72570344BG Corporal Thomas Davis, age 24, 2 Parachute Regiment, was killed accidentally in the operational area when he was struck by a bullet resulting from an accidental discharge of a fellow soldier’s rifle.

  14. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    4 January 1976: Four members of the SADF were killed during Ops Savannah when an Aérospatiale SA 330C Puma helicopter, serial no. 122 from 19 Squadron that was flying staff officers between Mussende and Carriango in central Angola, was mistaken for a hostile enemy helicopter and shot down by friendly 20mm anti-aircraft gunfire. The anti-aircraft gun was protecting Battle Group Orange and had not been informed of the flight. When the helicopter approached the anti-aircraft gun position directly from their 12 o’clock, the helicopter was misidentified as hostile and as there was no “guns safe” or “guns tight” order issued, the 20mm anti-aircraft gun immediately opened fire and raked the entire length of the helicopter, scoring 21 hits and causing it to crash in flames. The aircraft commander was not killed in the initial crash but rescuers were unable to free him from the wreckage before the helicopter burned out. A badly burned and wounded passenger, Commandant Martin Verster, was the only survivor and was immediately evacuated from the area.

    The casualties in this unfortunate incident were:


    Captain Ferdinand Immelman (pilot and aircraft commander), age 30.

    Captain Constant Daniel de Wit (co-pilot), age 26.

    Sergeant George William Kellet (flight engineer), age 26.


    Brigadier Johan Diederik Potgieter, SM, was the Officer Commanding 2 Military Area. He was on a scheduled visit to Battle Group Orange located near Mussende in central Angola. He was 40.

  15. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    15 January 1981: Two members from 1 Parachute Battalion were killed in action during a fierce firefight with a numerically superior FAPLA and PLAN force while supporting 32 Battalion elements during the Battle of Cuamato in southern Angola. The paratroopers had retreated to regroup when they were again subjected to heavy enemy mortar fire and small-arms fire. Rifleman Truter was mortally wounded in the neck by shrapnel and died in a fellow soldier’s arms. Sergeant Wessels was killed instantly when shot from a trench by a SWAPO/PLAN insurgent using a Soviet RPD light machine gun.

    The casualties were:

    75339440PE Sergeant Louis Theodorus Hermanus Wessels, age 21.

    73484347BG Rifleman Leonard Truter, age 23.

  16. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    28 January 1976: 71249882E Rifleman Chris Kruger Moorcroft, age 20, 1 Parachute Battalion, died from bronchial pneumonia and renal failure in 3 Military Hospital, Tempe, Bloemfontein.

  17. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    8 February 1984: 73521593PE Captain Sarel Jacobus Kruger, age 26, 5 Reconnaissance Regiment, was killed in a parachute training accident at Hoedspruit.

  18. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    14 February 1990: Corporal Pieter Gabriel Jacobus Haasbroek, age 21, 4 Reconnaissance Regiment, was accidentally killed when his parachute failed during a practice jump at the Saldanha airfield near Vredenburg.

  19. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    1 May 1982: Rifleman Hans Jurie Storm, age 19, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident near Bloemfontein while on weekend pass.

  20. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    26 May 1973: 70252598N Rifleman Jeffrey Gerald Holm, age 19, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a military vehicle accident in eastern Caprivi, Namibia. Rfn. Holm was the third SADF soldier and the first paratrooper to die in the Border operational area after the SADF took over the border protection role from the South African Police.

  21. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    12 June 1980: 76451947BG Rifleman Jacobus Willem Du Plessis, age 19, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident at Dealsville.

  22. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    16 June 1984: Rifleman Johann Jacobus Hurter, age 24, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident while on weekend pass.

  23. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    24 June 1983: 80214372BG Corporal George Louis Steytler, age 19, 1 Parachute Battalion, was critically wounded in the head when his patrol temporary base (TB) was attacked by a FAPLA/Cuban force in an area approximately 42 km from Cahama in southern Angola. He died of wounds while on the casevac helicopter flight to the base surgical hospital at AFB Ondangwa, Namibia.

    Cpl. Steytler is seen standing 2nd from the right in the photo of his platoon at the link:

    25 June 1983: 73562142BT Rifleman Marthinus Heymans Geldenhuys, age 26, 3 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident at Bronkhorstspruit. He had just completed a 3-month operational tour of duty on the border (as an army reservist) and was returning home.

  24. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    4 July 1986: Two members of 1 Parachute Battalion were killed in a military vehicle accident at Richmond in the Cape Province. They were:

    80250376PE Corporal Jacobus Nicolaas Claase, age 21.
    82535154BG Rifleman Richard Alexander Knipe, age 20.

  25. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    18 July 1983: Rifleman Jan Harm Kruger, age 23, 1 Parachute Battalion, died after suffering severe brain injuries in a nonmilitary-related accident.

  26. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    19 July 1993: Staff Sergeant Rhinus Nieuhaus, age 26, 44 Parachute Regiment, was killed accidentally when his parachute failed to open during a practice free-fall jump.

  27. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    22 July 1987: 84536903BT Sergeant Adriaan Jonker, age 20, 2 SWA SPES (SWATF), was accidentally killed in Windhoek, Namibia, after his parachute failed during a practice parachute jump at the J. G. Strydom Airport.

  28. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    8 August 1984: 80449242BG Rifleman Stephanus Badenhorst, age 19, 1 Parachute Battalion, died from a gunshot wound accidentally sustained at the De Brug Training Area during counterinsurgency operations (COIN OPS) training.

  29. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    12 August 1970: 65490377 Rifleman Christopher Coetzee, age 21, 2 Parachute Regiment, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident.

  30. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    12 August 1978: Three members of 1 Parachute Battalion were killed in action after running into an enemy ambush in Southern Angola while in hot pursuit of a SWAPO/PLAN insurgent group approximately 70 men strong (45, according to another account). The patrol was moving at pace when they approached a dip in the terrain where the insurgents were waiting. L/Cpl. Pierre Du Bois was hit in the neck by enemy gunfire and died instantly. Rfn. Cornelis van der Nest was also fatally shot and killed by enemy gunfire in the initial exchange. Rfn. Johannes Greyling, the radio operator, was critically wounded by shrapnel when a Soviet 82mm high explosive mortar bomb landed and exploded just in front of him while he was taking the radio off his back. He was evacuated by casevac helicopter to the medical trauma facility at Grootfontein where he unfortunately died of wounds a few hours after being admitted. (According to another account, L/Cpl. Du Bois and Rfn. van der Nest were killed instantly after suffering multiple shrapnel wounds when a Soviet 82mm high explosive mortar bomb landed and exploded between them. According to this account, Rfn. Greyling broke cover and ran to where their bodies were lying to retrieve the radio to call in an airstrike, suffering fatal gunshot wounds in the process.)

    The three casualties were:

    75398263BG Lance Corporal Pierre Johannes du Bois, age 19.
    74440124BG Rifleman Johannes Barend Greyling, age 20.
    74445370BG Rifleman Cornelis Frederik van der Nest, age 19.

  31. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    18 August 1993: Sergeant M. Dube, age 35, 5 Reconnaissance Regiment, was accidentally killed when his parachute failed to deploy while carrying out a training freefall parachute jump.

  32. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    6 July 1979: 74426362BG Lance Corporal Etienne Lucas Bell, age 21, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in action when his patrol walked into an ambush during an external operation in the Njinji Forest in Zambia. L/Cpl Bell was the MAG light machine gun (LMG) group leader on the left flank and was walking in front of the patrol. At exactly 18:45 as twilight was falling, enemy forces opened fire and a bullet struck him in the head, killing him instantly.

    18 August 1979: Two members from 44 Parachute Pathfinder Company and one member from 1 Reconnaissance Regiment were reported missing approximately 40 miles inside Matabeleland during Operation Drama, a clandestine mission in Zimbabwe. The force of 18 SADF members were ambushed by Zimbabwean forces and conflicting reports indicate that these three men were killed in action while other reports state that they may have been taken prisoner and later executed by Zimbabwean forces. News reports also later reported that the Zimbabwean Government had “disposed of their bodies” as the next of kin had failed to claim them. All three men have no known grave and remain unaccounted for.

    The casualties were:

    Staff Sergeant Peter David Berry, age 33, 1 Reconnaissance Regiment.

    Sergeant Robert Trevor Beech, age 27, 44 Parachute Pathfinder Company.

    Sergeant John Andrew Wessels, age 24, 44 Parachute Pathfinder Company.

  33. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    6 September 1987: 83249417BG Lance Corporal Melvin Ashley Beneke, age 19, 44 Parachute Brigade Pathfinder Company was killed in action during a contact with enemy forces at the Lomba River in Southern Angola during Operation Modular. His patrol walked into an ambush and he sustained a fatal gunshot wound to the head.

    Photo may be funeral of Cpl. J.P. Hall (1985).

  34. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    2 Dec 1984: Rifleman Wynand Eckard, age 21, 2 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident in South West Africa (Namibia) while on leave.

  35. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    10 December 1990: 88594817BG Rifleman Wayne Alexander Pohl, age 19, 44 Parachute Brigade, was critically injured in a private motor vehicle accident on 2 December 1990 and admitted to 1 Military Hospital, where he unfortunately succumbed to his injuries on the 10th.

  36. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    29 December 1992: Rifleman Abraham Mohlolo Khoathela, age 24, 44 Parachute Regiment, was killed in a military vehicle accident at the Soweto off-ramp while traveling on the Potchefstroom Road.

  37. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    9 August 1982: Three South African Air Force helicopter crew members and 12 paratroopers from 1 Parachute Battalion made the supreme sacrifice during Operation Meebos when their Aerospatiale SA330C Puma, serial number 132 was shot down by enemy 14.5mm ZPU-1 anti-aircraft guns southeast of Cuvelai in Southern Angola.

    Puma 132 helicopter crew:

    73275349PK Captain John Guy Twaddle (pilot & aircraft commander), age 25 (31 Squadron).

    7635461PE Lieutenant Christian Wilhelm Pietersen (co-pilot), age 22 (31 Squadron).

    67428813PE Flight Sergeant Coert Nicolaas Grobler (flight engineer), age 31 (19 Squadron).

    1 Parachute Battalion paratroopers:

    78366077BG Lance Corporal Stephen Richard Hoare, age 19.
    77419422BG Rifleman Russell Hilton Barrett, age 20.
    79232518BG Rifleman Alan De Klerk, age 19.
    76275536BG Rifleman Anton Kruger, age 21.
    78457256BG Rifleman Grant William Krull, age 20.
    76336700BG Rifleman Martin le Roux, age 21.
    78345949BG Corporal Esuas Philluppus Lombard, age 19.
    77255379BG Rifleman Shane Patrick Mallon, age 20.
    78456035BG Rifleman James Thomas Marshall, age 19.
    78473790BG Rifleman Craig Andrew Moody, age 20.
    78412871BG Rifleman Andries Hermias van Niekerk, age 19.
    78567005BG Rifleman Andre Wolmarans, age 20.

  38. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    23 April 1984: 80413156BG Rifleman Nico Adriaan Lombaard, age 19, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident in Johannesburg while on weekend pass.

  39. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    6 May 1994: 2nd Lieutenant Hermanus Johannes Lombard, age 19, 44 Parachute Regiment, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident.

    17 May 1994: 79222055PE Warrant Officer Class II Robert Henry Hurn, age 30, 44 Parachute Regiment, was accidentally killed at Bainsvlei when his main canopy failed to deploy during a practice free-fall parachute jump. As a result of his death, an automatic activator was installed on all sport parachutes.

  40. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    14 June 1980: Rifleman Donald Philip Romans, age 18, 1 Parachute Battalion, was killed in a private motor vehicle accident while in East London on a weekend pass.

  41. Aubrey Immelman Says:

    27 February 1974: 67486977BC Rifleman Hendrik Minaar Pienaar, age 22, 1 Parachute Battalion, was found dead at the Unit with an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

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