Durban Light Infantry

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Durban Light Infantry
Durban Light Infantry emblem
SANDF Durban Light Infantry emblem
Active May 1854 to present
Country South Africa
Type Infantry
Role Motorised infantry
Size One battalion
Part of South African Infantry Formation
Army Conventional Reserve
Garrison/HQ DLI Avenue, Durban 29°50′50″S 31°0′57″E / 29.84722°S 31.01583°E / -29.84722; 31.01583Coordinates: 29°50′50″S 31°0′57″E / 29.84722°S 31.01583°E / -29.84722; 31.01583
Motto(s) Primus in Africa
Battle honours
South Africa 1879
South Africa 1899-1902
Relief of Ladysmith
Natal 1906
South West Africa 1914 - 1915
Western Desert 1941-43
Alamein Defence
Alamein Box
El Alamein
Italy 1944-45
Casino II
Gothic Line
Monte Stanco
Monte Pezza
Po Valley
Lieut Col Z. Hangana
Honorary Colonel Vacant Post
Company level Insignia SA Army Company Insignia.png
SA Mechanised Infantry beret bar circa 1992 SA mechanised infantry beret bar circa 1992.jpg

The Durban Light Infantry is a Motorised Infantry regiment of the South African Army. It lost its status as a Mechanised infantry regiment in 2010 in line with the rationalisation of resources. As a reserve unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Army Reserve or United States Army National Guard unit.[1]


The Regiment was formed as the D’Urban Volunteer Guard, in May 1854. In 1859 it became the Durban Rifle Guard. In 1873 it became known as the Royal Durban Rifles. In 1889 it became known as the Natal Royal Rifles (Left half Battalion). In 1895 it became the Durban Light Infantry.

On the constitution of the Union Defence Force in 1912, the Unit became the Durban Light Infantry, renamed the 1st Infantry, (Durban Light Infantry). In consequence the Unit was permitted to add to its badge “Primus in Africa”.

In 1953, King George VI conferred the title Royal on two Regiments being the Royal Durban Light Infantry and the Royal Natal Carbineers, as a recognition of their seniority and service.[2] In 1961 with the formation of the Republic, the title "Royal" was considered incompatible and the Regiment reverted to being the Durban Light Infantry.

Regimental Colours[edit]

At the centre of the 'Regimental Colour' is the badge worn by the Regiment since 1961. It consists of the recognised Infantry Silver Bugle with tassels and a shield with two wildebeest and a crown. The wildebeest are symbolic of the Province, while the crown retained as a traditional device is reminiscent of the title “Royal” bestowed upon the Regiment by King George V in 1935.

The words “Primus in Africa” are superimposed within a scroll.

The crest is composed of a lion passant guardant on three mounds – the centre mound being charged with a pyramid. The lion is symbolic of strength, courage and fortitude. The three mounds are symbolic of the battles fought in World War II – Monte Stanco, Monte Peza and Monte Sole/Caprara. The pyramid is symbolic of the 1941–1943 Egyptian Campaign.

The garland which surrounds the coloured badge comprises the Thistle of Scotland, the Tudor Rose of England and the Shamrock of Ireland – symbols taken from the old colour – and the other two flowers, the Protea, the National flower of South Africa, and the Strelitzia, the flower of Natal (now KwaZulu-Natal).

Previous Dress Insignia[edit]

UDF era The Royal Durban Light Infantry shoulder flash
Durban Light Infantry beret badge with backing

Current Dress Insignia[edit]

SANDF Infantry wide cloth beret badge 
SANDF Infantry wide shoulder flash 

Active Service[edit]

  1. South Africa, Anglo-Zulu War 1879
  2. South Africa, Anglo-Boer War 1899–1902
  3. Relief of Ladysmith 1900
  4. Natal, Bambatha Rebellion 1906
  5. South West Africa 1914–1915
  6. East Africa 1916–1918
  7. Rand Miners’ Revolt 1922
  8. World War II
    1. Western Desert 1941–1943 (See 1st SA Infantry Division)
    2. Bardia
    3. Gazala
    4. Alamein Defence
    5. Alamein Box
    6. El Alamein
    7. Italy 1944–1945
    8. Casino II
    9. Florence
    10. Gothic Line
    11. Monte Stanco
    12. Monte Pezza
    13. Sole/Caprara
    14. Po Valley
  9. South West Africa – Namibia 1976–1994, five tours.
  10. Internally in South Africa in support of the SAPS (SA. Police Service) in the following actions;
    1. 1949, 1960, 1961
    2. 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992 (mainly rural areas)
    3. 1994 Elections.
    4. 1996 Elections.
    5. 1999 Elections.
  11. 2006 Op in Burundi. Detached members to Standing Army control structures.
  12. 2007–2014. Internal operations.


From Colonels-In-Chief To
1905 Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn KG KT KP GCB GCSI GCMG GCIE GCVO GBE VD TD 1938
1947 HM Queen Elizabeth II 1961
From Honorary Colonels To
1903 Maj General Sir George Dartnell KCB CMG 1913
1914 Col the Hon. Sir Matthew Nathan GCMG PC 1939
1940 Brig General GMJ Molyneux DSO VD 1959
1960 Col C Metcalfe SSA JCD ED JP 2004
2005 Col Errol Richardson 2013
2013 Awaiting Nomination Present
From Commanding Officers of the Regiment To
From OC Durban Volunteer Guard To
n.d. Colonel, the Hon George Rutherford n.d.
From OC Durban Rifle Guard To
n.d. Colonel HJ Meller n.d.
1863 Major AW Evans n.d.
1866 Capt BW Greenacre n.d.
From OC Royal Durban Rifles To
n.d. Capt Edward Randles n.d.
1874 Capt William Randles n.d.
1879 Capt PS Flack n.d.
1884 Capt JF King n.d.
1886 Capt T McCubbin n.d.
From OC Natal Royal Rifles To
1889 Major T McCubbin n.d.
1893 Major HR Bousfield n.d.
From OC Durban Light Infantry To
n.d. Lt Col T McCubbin MG VD n.d.
1902 Lt Col J Scott-Wylie MVO VD n.d.
1914 Col J Scott-Wylie MVO VD n.d.
1914 Lt Col J Dick VD (Second Battalion) 1915
1914 Lt Col RL Goulding VD (First Battalion) 1915
1915 Lieut Col GMJ Molyneux DSO VD (First Battalion) n.d.
1915 Col J Scott-Wylie DSO MVO VD n.d.
1920 Lt Col GMJ Molyneux DSO VD n.d.
1925 Lieut Col JFR Lauth DSO VD n.d.
1930 Lieut Col CE Borain MC VD n.d.
From OC Royal Durban Light Infantry To
1935 Lt Col CE Borain MC VD n.d.
1936 Lt Col IW Nolan VD (First Battalion) n.d.
1936 Lt Col LGC Bayliss VD (Second Battalion) n.d.
1937 Lt Col J Butler-Porter VD (1/2 Battalion) n.d.
1940 Lt Col LC Wendt VD (Second Battalion) n.d.
1942 Lt Col J Butler-Porter DSO VD (1/2 Battalion) n.d.
1943 Lt Col C Metcalfe SSA JCD ED JP (1/2 Battalion) n.d.
1946 Lt Col C Metcalfe SSA JCD ED JP (First Battalion) n.d.
1946 Lt Col LC Wendt DSO VD (Second Battalion) n.d.
1947 Lt Col AC Martin MC VD (Second Battalion) n.d.
1950 Cmdt OS Hampson VD (Second Battalion) n.d.
1952 Cmdt C Metcalfe SSA JCD ED VD JP n.d.
1952 Cmdt OS Hampson VD n.d.
1956 Cmdt G Jaaback VD n.d.
1961 Cmdt JH Smallwood JCD n.d.
From Durban Light Infantry To
c. 1961 Cmdt JH Smallwood SM JCD c. 1969
1969 Cmdt DN Deavin JCD n.d.
1974 Cmdt JJ Hulme JCD n.d.
1980 Cmdt MJ Adrain MMM JCD n.d.
1984 Cmdt DI Moe SM MMM JCD n.d.
1989 Cmdt WJ Olivier SM MMM JCD n.d.
1995 Lt Col GPD De Ricquebourg MMM JCD n.d.
2004 Lt Col Mark J Whitson MMM JCD n.d.
2011 Lieut Col PH Bruyns n.d.
2012 Lt Col SA Mbuyazi (Suspended)[a] n.d.
2012 Lt Col MD Motsamai (Caretaker OC)[b] n.d.
n.d. Lieut Col Z. Hangana Present
From Regimental Sergeants Major To
From Durban Volunteer Guard To
n.d. G Russell n.d.
From Durban Rifle Guard To
1861 A Miliett 1862
1862 T Green 1863
1863 WK Packman 1864
1864 A Curle 1866
1866 W Geere n.d.
From Royal Durban Rifles To
1873 AJ Court 1873
1873 DI Nolan 1876
1876 SB Kemp 1877
1877 W Goodal 1880
1880 J Archibald 1886
1886 H Hatchell n.d.
From Natal Royal Rifles To
n.d. A Forbes n.d.
From Durban Light Infantry To
1895 RSM A Forbes 1910
1910 RSM AL Pepper 1913
1913 RSM A Eales 1914
1914 RSM A Eales (First Battalion) 1915
1914 RSM WJ Simpson (Second Battalion) 1915
1915 RSM A Eales 1926
1927 RSM G Sime 1931
1932 RSM PH Johnson 1933
1933 RSM CA Carlyle n.d.
From Royal Durban Light Infantry To
1933 RSM CA Carlyle 1935
1936 RSM CA Carlyle (First Battalion) n.d.
1942 RSM LPA Boxhall n.d.
1936 RSM JWH McGreavey (Second Battalion) n.d.
1942 RSM LPA Boxhall (1/2 Battalion) n.d.
1943 RSM NJR Punch (1/2 Battalion) n.d.
1946 RSM LPA Boxhall (First Battalion) n.d.
1948 RSM JF Potgieter (First Battalion) n.d.
1946 RSM J.E. Law (Second Battalion) n.d.
1950 RSM W.H. Ward (Second Battalion) n.d.
n.d. RSM J.F. Potgieter ED n.d.
1956 RSM J.J. Wiliemse n.d.
1957 RSM C. Krause n.d.
1959 RSM A.R. Miles n.d.
From Durban Light Infantry To
1962 RSM A.R. Miles JCD 1968
1968 RSM S.M.J. Swanepoel JCD 1974
1974 RSM R.I. Francis PMM MMM JCD 1993
1993 RSM Mark J. Whitson MMM JCD (later Commanding Officer) 1995
1995 RSM W.J. Smith MMM JCD 1999
2000 RSM Bobby Freeman JCD 2005
2005 RSM Quentin Lategan MMM 2005
2006 RSM "Ampie" Vorster 2011
2011 RSM Vilikazi Present

Regimental Headquarters[edit]

The regimental headquarters of the DLI has been declared as a National Monument.[4]

Peacekeeping deployments and training[edit]

The Regiment is being deployed in Africa, Burundi, DRC; in support of the United Nations and African Union mandate

All members of the Regiment are volunteers, with employment in the civilian roles, they fulfil their responsibilities and duties on top of their duties and responsibilities to their Families and Employers. An enormous commitment to the safety and security of the Republic of South Africa.

Training is mandatory with the current requirements of Equality and Equity in line with the SANDF Policy. The duration of training places an enormous pressure on members to get Employers to relieve them to attend the courses and training exercises.

Regimental history[edit]

"Durban Light Infantry" by Lieut Col AC Martin MC VD BA (Cape) Hon.Ph.D (Natal) was published in 1969.[1][2] It is out of print.

An illustrated history of the 150 years of the Regiment has been prepared by Prof. Brian Kearney, Mr Dave Matthews and Lieut Col "Bill" Olivier SM MMM JCD (Retd.). The book is being sold by the Headquarters Board.



  1. ^ Suspended following allegations of wearing awards and decorations not received & possession of stolen property[3]
  2. ^ Lt Col Motsamai is currently the Commanding Officer of another Reserve Force Unit based in Gauteng


  1. ^ a b Martin, Lt Col A. C. (1969). "Volume I: 1854–1934". The History of the Durban Light Infantry incorporating that of The Sixth South African Infantry 1915–1918. Durban: The Headquarter Board of the Durban Light Infantry. 
  2. ^ a b Martin, Lt Col A. C. (1969). "Volume II: 1935–1960". The History of the Durban Light Infantry incorporating that of The Sixth South African Infantry 1915–1917. Durban: The Headquarter Board of the Durban Light Infantry. 
  3. ^ Gibson, Erika (1 October 2012). "CO of Durban Light Infantry in medals scandal". The Witness. Archived from the original on 2014-10-26. Retrieved 26 October 2014. THE commanding officer-designate of Durban Light Infantry (DLI) is being prosecuted for allegedly wearing the medals of a deceased chaplain of the unit during a parade. Lieutenant-Colonel Sibusiso Amos Mbuyazi (42) apparently wore the padre’s Southern Cross medal, awarded for 30 years’ service, and the Pro Patria decoration, among others, on August 22, when he was awarded his lieutenant-colonel’s rank during a parade in Pretoria. 
  4. ^ "SAHRA – Durban Light Infantry Head Quarters 5 DLI Avenue Durban". SAHRA. South African Heritage Resources Agency. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 

External links[edit]