Bruce Burrell, GG’75
It came as a great shock to all his friends to learn that 2nd Lieutenant Bruce Burrell had been killed in action on 16th December 1976, at the age of 19. He had been returning from Mozambique on operations with C Sqdn, the Special Air Service, on a combined SAS/RLI attack on a camp at Rambanayi, a few kilometres from the Rhodesian border. He and another SAS Trooper were killed when they detonated a landmine on the walk out.
Bruce left Falcon at the end of 1975 after a most distinguished school career. At the time of his death he was undergoing his National Service and had recently been commissioned in the SAS, and was due to embark on his university studies in February.
His talents were extraordinarily versatile. As a sportsman he captained the Falcon, Matabeleland Schools and Rhodesian Schools at rugby and also represented all three at squash. He was always superbly fit and tireless in his games, and completely free from any display of temperament. Indeed, it was his example of sportsmanship as much as his prowess that earned him deserved adulation from his contemporaries. Less obvious, perhaps, because they were less well known were his other talents: he was gifted academically, with that kind of critical perception that led him to write admirable verse and give an intelligent performance on the stage. With all these talents he was a natural leader, completely straightforward and highly respected, and it would have been surprising if he had not proved to be Falcon’s next Rhodes Scholar.
Additionally, he was Head of George Grey inn 1975 and won the Governor’s Trophy in that year. Bruce’s all-round talents were no surprise to those who had known him at his junior school, Springvale, where he won colours for rugby and athletics and was Captain of Hudson House and Head Chorister in 1970 (at a school with a very strong choral tradition). His acting talents were also already in evidence at Springvale, where he gave a memorable performance as Feste in Twelfth Night. As if to herald his winning of the Governor’s Trophy at Falcon, in his last year at Springvale he won the Special Prize for Outstanding Service to the School in Many Spheres.
The loss of such an attractive and gifted young man is the sort of event that brings home sharply and painfully the tragedy of the situation in Rhodesia at that time. His military funeral in Salisbury was attended by a large number of his contemporaries, among whom he was so popular and respected. We would offer our deepest sympathy to his parents and his sister, who were justly proud of him.
From The Falcon – with other information added from “The Elite” by Barbara Cole, and from the Springvale Magazine of 1969 and 1970.
2nd Lieutenant Bruce Burrell, of C Squadron, the Special Air Service, was killed by a suspected boosted AP mine when returning from Rambanayi, Zonue Road Bridge, Manica Province, Mozambique. Bruce stepped on a mine that killed both him and Trooper Ens van Staden. Died aged 19. Buried at Warren Hills, Salisbury. The original Death Notice gives death as gunshot wounds, in the Burma Valley area.
Source: Dave Arkwright who was there at the time.
Text Credit: derived from Rhodesian Combined Forces Roll of Honour, kindly provided by Gerry van Tonder, one of its co-authors
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