RLI Badge

1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental Association

Anniversaries

Unveiling of the Trooper Memorial

The Troopie Statue

Back at the RLI, a proposal for a memorial statue was mooted. The Cheetah records: … A memorial statue is to be cast in bronze of a typical trooper of Rhodesia’s crack airborne light-infantry regiment, the RLI. This life-size statue will stand on a plinth in the centre of the ‘Holy Ground’ [a large circle in front of Battalion HQ, so named as in the original plans for the barracks, an open-air pulpit was designed to stand in the centre of the circle, for use during church parades] in the RLI Barracks. The statue to ‘The Incredibles’ will commemorate those members of the battalion who have died in action from the beginning of the war. Over this ten-year period a total of 52 members of the unit have been killed in action and eleven have died while on border-control operations. There were a total of 29 non-operational deaths during this period. In return the RLI has achieved the highest kill rate of any unit in the war. Although reluctant to release complete terrorist casualty figures accounted for by this remarkable unit, it is believed they number in the thousands. Renowned for their aggressiveness and professionalism, the RLI has been the spearhead of the nation. In addition to the statue being erected in the centre of the ‘Holy Ground’, the surrounding ‘Holy Ground’ is to be re-organized and the area suitably prepared to add to the beauty of the memorial. Furthermore the chapel will undergo major renovations, including a complete re-fitting of the pews and general furnishing as a mark of respect to those who have given their lives for the country. The design of the statue has been undertaken by Captain Blackman and will be cast in bronze in Rhodesia by Mr. R. Fiorini…

Lieutenant-Colonel Ian Bate writes:” … Not long after I assumed command of the battalion, I was scratching through my desk when I found a note by Lieutenant-Colonel Derry Macintyre. A great CO of the battalion. He had doodled some thoughts on an RLI memorial. I got to thinking about it and reckoned it was about time that we had a separate memorial to all the brave RLI men who had passed on to higher service. I called in RSM Ken Reed and fielded the idea to him. His reaction was extremely positive and in no time we had a prototype picture of a trooper resting on his rifle with his hands over the muzzle, strictly incorrect but nevertheless true to his nature. Next we had to sort out how to raise funds to do it. We then had a brilliant idea which was to involve the Regimental Association of ex-members. Wally Watson, then chairman, convened a meeting and again our idea was greeted with great enthusiasm. Wally quickly mustered his committee of volunteers and soon a national campaign was launched with advertising campaigns. The event really caught the imagination of the Rhodesian public. Money came in from all over the world and from fundraising campaigns. The Association did a proud job and raised not only sufficient money to pay for our statue but also to completely revamp the regimental chapel. Army HQ also came to the party with the donation of empty cartridge cases (from which the statue was cast), arranged by my good friend Colonel Mike Shute. Captain Mike Blackman finalized all the diagrams and arranged for a sculptor, Mr. Romillo Fiorini, to cast the statue. Major Pat Armstrong the battalion 2IC did sterling work co-ordinating the project …”