Lieutenant-Colonel Ian R. Bate, MLM
Served as Commanding Officer 1RLI -26 June 1978 to 3 December 1979
Ian ‘Tufty’ Bate was born in Dublin in 1942 of a Scottish mother and an English father and was educated at Churchill School, Rhodesia. He was commissioned into the Northern Rhodesia Regiment in March 1962 and posted to Ndola’s Tugargan Barracks. On the break-up of the Federation he came south and joined the Rhodesian Army.
In 1964, he was appointed adjutant at the School of Infantry in Gwelo where he served until 1966. His first operational posting was to 2 Commando, 1RLI in 1967 where he was appointed troop commander of 10 Troop. He and his men did much border control work which, despite being tedious at times, was to later stand them all in good stead. He was also involved in operations with the Portuguese Army in Mozambique. He remembers one of these joint operations being postponed as they were all avidly listening to the Football World Cup.
After a year with 2 Commando he was sent on a mortar course before becoming 2IC of what was then known as Support Troop under Captain Tony Stephens. He was then appointed Mortar Troop commander. During this time he, along with a score of others, was sent clandestinely to train on the Eland armoured cars.
On promotion to captain in 1968, Ian Bate was posted to Q Branch at Army HQ, an appointment he found dreadful ut nevertheless was invaluable experience. His constant badgering of the QMG, Lieutenant-Colonel Reginald Edwards, to be posted back to the RLI did eventually bear fruit. He returned to the RLI in 1970 as 2IC 2 Commando, under Major Pat ‘The Mobile Wrinkle’ Hill where he remained until his promotion to major in 1972, upon which he was posted back to the School of Infantry as OC Tactics Wing. In 1976, he was appointed OC 2 (Independent) Company RR at Kariba. From 1977 to 1978 he served as Brigade Major, 2 Brigade. He was awarded the MLM (Member of the Legion of Merit) in 1978. In June of that year, he was appointed Commanding Officer, 1RLI and vividly remembers being both stunned and humbled by the honour. He served in this capacity until December 1979, undoubtedly the RLI’s busiest and bloodiest period.
Lt. Col. Bate was largely instrumental in the ‘Troopie’ statue project which became the symbol of pride to the RLI soldier and a monument to the Rhodesian Light Infantry.
From January 1980 to July 1980 he was posted as Commandant of the School of Infantry. After Zimbabwean independence he retired to South Africa and took up a commercial position.
On being asked to take up the post as Patron of the RLI Regimental Association Colonel Bate remarked:
“I was once again reminded how strong the bond is that we all share. The humour and the friendship that comes out when we gather are still fantastic. No one can take that away from us. After all we are the INCREDIBLES.The finest military unit the world has ever seen. My sincere thanks to you all for the priceless Honour of being Patron, I promise to do my utmost to keep the spirit alive and well."