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The Durban Light Infantry was a Mechanised infantry regiment of the South African Army, this has been changed to Motorised Infantry in line with the rationalisation of resources. As a Reserve Force unit, it has a status roughly equivalent to that of a British Territorial Army unit or United States Army Reserve 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. 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

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).

Active Service

  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 - 2012. Internal operations.


H.R.H Arthur, Duke of Connaught HM Queen Elizabeth II
1905–1938 1947–1961

Honorary Colonels

Maj General Sir George Dartnell KCB CMG Col the Hon. Sir Matthew Nathan PG GCMG Brig General GMJ Molyneux DSO VD Col C Metcalfe SSA JCD ED JP
1903–1913 1914–1939 1940–1959 1960–2004

Current Staff

Current Honorary Colonel Officer Commanding
Col E Richardson. Lieut Col PH Bruyns

150th Anniversary

Officers Commanding

The Commanding Officers of the Regiment were:


  • Colonel, the Hon George Rutherford


  • Colonel HJ Meller
  • 1863 Major AW Evans
  • 1866 Capt BW Greenacre


  • Capt Edward Randles
  • 1874 Capt William Randles
  • 1879 Capt PS Flack
  • 1884 Capt JF King
  • 1886 Capt T McCubbin


  • 1889 Major T McCubbin
  • 1893 Major HR Bousfield


  • Lieut Col T McCubbin MG VD
  • 1902 Lieut Col J Scott-Wylie MVO VD
  • 1914 Colonel J Scott-Wylie MVO VD
  • 1914–1915 Lieut Col J Dick VD (Second Battalion)
  • 1914–1915 Lieut Col RL Goulding VD (First Battalion)
  • 1915 Lieut Col GMJ Molyneux DSO VD (First Battalion)
  • 1915 Colonel J Scott- Wylie DSO MVO VD
  • 1920 Lieut Col GMJ Molyneux DSO VD
  • 1925 Lieut Col JFR Lauth DSO VD
  • 1930 Lieut Col CE Borain MC VD


  • 1935 Lieut Col CE Borain MC VD
  • 1936 Lieut Col IW Nolan VD (First Battalion)
  • 1936 Lieut Col LGC Bayliss VD (Second Battalion)
  • 1937 Lieut Col J Butler-Porter VD (1/2 Battalion)
  • 1940 Lieut Col LC Wendt VD (Second Battalion)
  • 1942 Lieut Col J Butler-Porter DSO VD (1/2 Battalion)
  • 1943 Lieut Col C Metcalfe ED (1/2 Battalion)
  • 1946 Lieut Col C Metcalfe ED (First Battalion)
  • 1946 Lieut Col LC Wendt DSO ED (Second Battalion)
  • 1947 Lieut Col AC Martin MC VD (Second Battalion)
  • 1950 Commandant OS Hampson ED(Second Battalion)
  • 1952 Commandant C Metcalfe ED
  • 1952 Commandant OS Hampson ED
  • 1956 Commandant G Jaaback ED
  • 1961 Commandant JH Smallwood JCD


  • Commandant JH Smallwood SM JCD
  • 1969 Commandant DN Deavin JCD
  • 1974 Commandant JJ Hulme JCD
  • 1980 Commandant MJ Adrain MMM JCD
  • 1984 Commandant DI Moe SM MMM CD
  • 1989 Commandant WJ Olivier SM MMM JCD
  • 1995 Lieut Col GPD De Ricquebourg MMM JCD
  • 2004 Lieut Col MJ Whitson MMM JCD
  • 2011 Lieut Col PH Bruyns
  • 2012 Lieut Col SA Mbuyazi No Post Nominals Suspended following allegations of wearing awards and decorations not received & possession of stolen property
  • 2012 Lieut Col MD Motsamai - Caretaker OC, currently OC of another Res. F. Unit based in Gauteng.

Regimental Sergents Major – RSM

The Regimental Sergeants Major of the Regiment were:


  • G Russell


  • 1861 A MilIett
  • 1862 T Green
  • 1863 WK Packman
  • 1864 A Curle
  • 1866 W Geere


  • 1873 AJ Court
  • 1873 DI Nolan
  • 1876 SB Kemp
  • 1877 W Goodal
  • 1880 J Archibald
  • 1886 H Hatchell


  • A Forbes


  • 1895 RSM A Forbes
  • 1910 RSM AL Pepper
  • 1913 RSM A Eales


  • RSM A Eales (First Battalion 1914–1915)
  • 1914 RSM WJ Simpson (Second Battalion 1914–1915)


  • RSM A Eales
  • 1927 RSM G Sime
  • 1932 RSM PH Johnson
  • 1933 RSM CA Carlyle


  • RSM CA Carlyle
  • 1936 RSM CA Carlyle (First Battalion)
  • 1942 RSM LPA Boxhall
  • 1936 RSM JWH McGreavey (Second Battalion)
  • 1942 RSM LPA Boxhall (1/2 Battalion)
  • 1943 RSM NJR Punch (1/2 Battalion)


  • First Battalion:
    • 1946 RSM LPA Boxhall
    • 1948 RSM JF Potgieter
  • Second Battalion
    • 1946 RSM JE Law
    • 1950 RSM WH Ward


  • RSM JF Potgieter ED
  • 1956 RSM JJ WilIemse
  • 1957 RSM C Krause
  • 1959 RSM AR Miles


  • 1962 RSM AR Miles JCD
  • 1968 RSM SMJ Swanepoel JCD
  • 1974 RSM RI Francis PMM MMM JCD
  • 1993 RSM MJ Whitson MMM JCD
  • 1995–1999 RSM WJ Smith MMM JCD
  • 2000–2005 RSM B Freeman JCD
  • 2006–2011 RSM A VORSTER
  • 2011 – RSM Vilikazi

Regimental Headquarters

East Wing Clock Tower Ross Regimental Chapel of St. Michael and St. George Officers' Mess
File:Dli east wing.jpg

East Wing of the Drill Hall

Clock Tower

Chapel of St Michael & St George

File:Dli officersmess.jpg

Officers Mess

Deployments & Training

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

"Durban Light Infantry" by Lieut Col AC Martin MC VD was published in 1969. It is out of print.
An illustrated history of the 150 years of the Regiment is in course of preparation by Prof. Brian Kearney, Mr Dave Matthews and Lieut Col "Bill" Olivier SM MMM JCD (Retd.). The book is due to be released soon.



  1. "Durban Light Infantry" by Lieut Col AC Martin

External links

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