We would like to chronicle for posterity individual's service memories and experiences that otherwise
may never be recorded outside of commercial publications.
There are no restrictions and you may like to remember a time or place or a fallen mate, we owe it to
our children to pen our experiences and there is no greater honour we can give those that fell than
ongoing life in our memories.
This section may be accessed by young formative minds or old incurable ones and potential authors
are urged to omit detail or personal references that may shock or offend.
A degree of plausibility and fact, although although not essential, is encouraged and the insertion
of asterix where descriptive expletives are required would be appreciated.
In an effort to maintain the tellers flavour, editing will be limited to correcting outrageous spelling and
grammatical errors typical of soldiers narrative.
Copyright © 2009 RLI.ORG.AU. All Rights Reserved.
Brigadier Digger Essex- Clark DSM
'I met Paddy Driver (of the buck teeth) in Vietnam on 1965 when he came and visited me at my battalion, 1RAR ,(Royal
Australian Regiment) , attached to the US 173rd Airborne Brigade; when he was serving with the US 101st Airborne
Brigade (''Screaming Eagles') . He was in top form and stayed overnight with me discussing our time together in 1RLI.
Sadly, he was was later killed in action in Vietnam.
John Salt was killed tangling with a hippo on the Zambezi. Rittey's description of him is an absolute classic.
Harry Harvey is well ensconced in Perth. He transferred to the Rhodesian SAS after I left the RLI.
CSM 'Crash' Hannaway was a perpetual nuisance , but an efficient CSM. I had to defend him on a nasty charge but got
him off on an absurd technicality; as I did with a few of the lads who deserted to the Congo in search of 'filthy lucre'. The
lucre wasn't there ,so they came back. The powers that be charged them with desertion, a charge that intent to remain
deserted is paramount, and as they were there In the court room I said that there was no case to answer and got the lads
off. If the powers that be had had added a secondary charge of AWOL.
I remember well the Harry Crampton incident with the croc, on the river near Buhera. I had warned all of the lads not to
go too near the water because the nearby village chief warned me that there was a rogue croc there. But Crampton and
Platt decided to be stupid and did so. Harry Ceampton actually got away by gouging out the croc's eyes. He was hurt. He
had his inner thigh sliced open in about four deepish slashes and his scrotum half opened and and one testicle was
hanging out . So with a saliva wetted matchstick I wound up the tubes and slipped them and the testicle back inside ,
pinned the lot together with a safety pin, bathed the whole mess in mercurichrome , gave him a large shot of rum, and
sent him back to hospital with a very shaken young Platt. Crampton returned as bright as a button but his thigh looked
like the map of a busy a railway junction: ~ Clapham or De Aar?
Llew Lloyd-Evans later played rugby for Rhodesia and came over from RSA with his family for our R:IRA (Oz) Brisbane
Ernie was my Uncle and as a child I remember going up to Cranborne with my Mother on a number of parade occassions.
She was very proud of him and, with the accompanying domestic aggravation, had to get all decked out in our finest for
these events. I was allowed to touch the Regimental mascot once, a Cheetah, which I have never forgotten.
He was the quintessential Bachelor Uncle always appearing on family occassions with couple of pounds as a gift for me
and in later years my Brother.
He could never remember our names and any direct conversations were interspersed with clouds of smoke, hacking
coughs and endless periods of attempted recollection all the while struggling to control his errant set of false teeth. It
would have been much easier to say " I'm Andrew Uncle Ernie" but my mother taught us that it was rude to correct
people. He always told a good story and afternoons with him were a major entertainment event.
In later years he was at KGVI Barracks although I'm not sure with what unit. I used to go and play snooker with him at the
Officers Mess, he wasn't an Officer but had done some considerable cabinet work there so was an honorary entrant.
Ernie was a three beer drunk and a snooker evening inevitably became a wild scene of missed cues, balls on the floor
and baise ripping with increasing attendant hilarity. We usually had to make a timeous departure invariably instigated by
myself, before incurring the wrath of the greater mortals lurking therein.
He left the Army and bought an old military ambulance that he used to live in, it became iconic around Salisbury and was
invariably seen early morning billeted at the Kingsway bus terminal where he used to make use of the ablution block.
The BSAP were evidently a major aggravation to Ernie as he was always being woken up and moved on, he habitually
produced a torrent of invective and abuse towards them and they eventually left him alone as dangerous when roused.
Ernie died suddenly of a heart attack in the early 70's.
Brigadier Digger Essex-Clark DSM
A WOOLENDALE RANGE INCIDENT - MILES MacDONALD
In the early days of the RLI we did much of our rifle, LMG and 3.5" Rocket Launcher live firing on the bleak and dusty
Woolendale rifle range outside Bulawayo. What ranges were not bleak and dusty?
Years later at an RLIRA reunion dinner in Sydney (Anzac Day reunion 2007) I was told by Miles Macdonald that after I
had been coaching my men during a range practice being controlled by Corporal Harry Crampton, a fellow Australian
built like a proverbial brick dunny or 'PK' in the Rhodesian vernacular. I was standing above Miles with Harry Campton
on my left, when Miles turned and looked me in the eye and said: 'May I ask a question, Sir?' 'Of course lad', I had replied;
and with that he asked: 'Are there any small Australians Sir? Miles said that I had replied: 'You're looking at one, Son!'
Miles then told me that he'd told the story many times since.
1 Indep, Wankie, 1967
Eight of us were sent to a tracking course run by the famous Willy de Beer. It was early days and the insurgents were
living below ground in the Zambesi Valley, this evidently had an effect on the movement patterns of resident animals
and we were to be schooled in detecting these changes.
Somehow a picture of accomodation, regular meals and classroom tuition was set in our minds. The reality was a long
RL trip into the middle of the Game reserve done in the late evening as we were not to be seen and upset the tourists.
The vehicle eventually stopped in the middle of a flat area about 500 metres off the road and we were told that this
open patch of ground was going to be home for the next two weeks.
Although we were reasonably experienced soldiers by this time, the concentration of wildlife produced an unrelenting
cacophany of shrieks, howls, growls and rustling throughout the first night that had the townies among us pulling the
sleeping bags a little tighter around us.
The next morning we met Capt de Beer, he had been attacked by a lioness some years before and had forced his hand
down it's throat, his gun bearer who couldn't load or fire the weapon came to his assistance. In the fracas Capt de
Beer managed to bolt load the weapon with his other hand and pull the trigger while the bearer was pointing the
weapon. Later on in the course at our request he showed us the mass of scarring to his chest and stomach from this
encounter, unbelievable that anyone would have the presence of mind to orchestrate his own survival while that sort
of damage was being done.
Our first lesson was to recognise the behaviour of Elephants when approached by man and to identify the difference
between a mock charge and the real thing. Evidently while the ears are out wide and there is much noise and to do
this was a mock charge and the beast would hopefully stop just short of it's selected victim and in addition either kick
dust or spit on you just to add insult to injury. The real thing supposedly was ears flat back, no noise and trunk tucked
up, we were matter of factly informed that because of it's speed flight was futile, and that in any case flight from a mock
charge may encourage the animal to change it's mind and administer the coup de grace. There then followed a
discourse on the futility of shooting an angry Elephant anywhere other than in the knee. Awefully all of our defensive
options involved standing still.
Later that first day we were taken out on a practical and told to leave our weapons behind, I instantly felt naked in the
extreme. We came upon a small heard of Elephants and as predicted with some noisy encouragement from our
mentor the herd coralled with trunks in the air sensing our location. Two large cows were obviously in charge and
while one marshalled the young the other came our way and very soon came thundering and trumpeting angrily towards us.
As one we turned and fled clearing large and small obstacles in our way with olympic hurdler speed and efficiency.
I'm not sure of the distance we covered but it was considerable, we were later joined by a very angry de Beer but
managed to convince him that if we had our weapons it would be possible for us to control the urge to bolt. Happily we were
able to make good on this undertaking.
Ablutions were conducted at sunset in a small pan nearby which seemed to have crocodiles of algal bloom proportions. We
managed to find an area that shelved out a short distance to ankle depth and bathing consisted of a high speed entry into
the water, a quick roll with the application of soap and a speedy exit.
Among the other stories Capt De Beer was also reputed to have gone in amongst a herd of Elephants and pulled a tail.
Returning from the pan one evening we came across a small herd of Elephants blocking our route back to camp. To our
horror rather than skirt around these massive rumbling shapes in the near dark, Willy chose to go quietly up to them and
very gently asked them to move along. Having only just mastered daylight encounters this new seemingly suicidal act had
us forming into an embarassingly intimate group, convinced we were about to be set upon by some as yet unseen angry
Elephant cow. However they eventually slowly moved along with a lot of deep rumblings and a stealth surprising for such a
We were promised some fresh meat on our last night and left to go and shoot an Impala, we found a male a short time later
grazing about 100 metres from us. Expecting some high powered weapon with a scope to be produced for this distance I
was amazed to see Willy with a standard bolt action open sight rifle, at the time I thought that this was going to be ugly and
potentially embarassing but with a single shot the animal went straight down, shot through the head.
An amazing period in our young lives and a privelege to have met such a naturalist.
Mike Buchanan Congo Border, early 60's:
Mike and some others were on OP duty overlooking the Congo Border from Zambia (then Northern Rhodesia). He noticed
a suspicious looking lindividual making his way up the hill towards them carryng some sort of metallic object , youthfull
enthusiasm told him this was a weapon in the hands of the enemy.
Thinking that he may have some shamwaris nearby and that a shot might alert them, he decided to administer some cold
steel and fixed bayonet.
The individual concerned dissappeared into some vegetation near the OP position, Mike crept up within range and sprang
upon the general area, among much screaming as he was about to administer the coup de grace he realised the poor
unfortunate was doing nothing more than releasing a sadza snake.
The tribesman broke and ran screaming for mercy , leaving behind a pair of bicycle handle bars and Mikes reputation in
Moral of the story, when you shit in the bush always try to carry a wheel and face uphill.
The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental
Assocation of Australasia