Derek William Andrews was born in Wyndham (WA) on 4 January 1950. He first served in the Citizens Military Forces (CMF) from 13 February 1968 to 18 November 1969 and then enlisted in the Australian Army on 24 November 1969.
After basic training he was posted to the Infantry Corps and underwent basic infantry training at the Infantry Centre, Ingleburn (NSW). Following completion of corps training, Derek was posted was to the 3rd Battalion, RAR. He served in South Vietnam with the Battalion from 15 February to 13 October 1971. The Battalion was involved in the “Pacification Program” during its tour – seeking out and destroying the enemy and helped create a secure climate for the local people.
Derek returned to Australia and took his discharge on 23 November 1972. He re-enlisted and served from 27 August 1973 to 5 December 1975, during which time he served with Armoured Corps. Following his discharge, Derek travelled to Rhodesia in February 1976 and enlisted for a term of three years in the Rhodesian Army, which formed part of the Rhodesian Security Forces (RSF).
Derek served with Grey’s Scouts, a mounted infantry unit and later transferred to the Selous Scouts, a special forces formation, in the Rhodesian Bush War against the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) and Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA).
The Rhodesian Forces conducted frequent cross-border operations taking the fight to the enemy in the strongholds. Derek attained the rank of sergeant and was serving with the Selous Scouts when he took his discharge in late 1978 and returned to Australia.
In February 1981, he enlisted in the South African Defence Forces (SADF) for three years. Derek served with the 44th Parachute Brigade, where he served with the newly-formed pathfinder reconnaissance unit of the Brigade, and later attained the rank of sergeant. He took part in many cross-border operations against a ruthless and determined enemy during his service with SADF during the South African Border War. At the expiration of his service, Derek returned to Australia in early 1984.
Derek retired in 1995 and moved to Victor Harbor in 2001 with his wife Linda.
The following article appeared in The Times in February 2011.
War veteran receives medal 33 years later
Thanks to the efforts of the Victor RSL curator Bob Suba, former war veteran Derek Andrews has finally received his Rhodesian war service medal, some thirty-three years after his service in the Rhodesian armed forces.
Sub-branch President David Miller said last week “The finding and recovery of Derek’s war service medal was made possible through our curator’s efforts after he learned Derek had been unsuccessful in trying to recover it through the Zimbabwean Embassy in Canberra”.
Derek Andrews had formerly served with the Australian Army in Vietnam in 1971 and after his discharge in 1975, he enlisted in the Rhodesian Defence Forces and served with the Grey’s Scouts, a mounted infantry unit, and the Selous Scouts, a special forces unit. During the 1970’s, the units were engaged in operations against terrorist organisations inside and outside Rhodesia prior to Robert Mugabe coming to power.
In 1978, Derek took his discharge from the Rhodesian Defence Forces, and with military service still in his blood, he enlisted in the South African Defence Forces in 1981 where he served with the 44th Parachute Regiment. The unit was engaged in anti-guerrilla operations in the South African border war in South-West Africa (now Namibia) during the 1970-1980’s. Derek returned to Australia in 1984 after completing his service with the Regiment.
The Rhodesian General Service Medal was awarded to members of the Rhodesian Defence Forces for service on operations undertaken for the purpose of combating terrorists or enemy incursions into Rhodesia. In 2002, the Zimbabwe National Army advertised their intention to dispose of unclaimed medals and invited recipients to claim them, however Derek was unaware of his eligibility. The medals were later sold in bulk to medal dealers in Britain.
“Upon learning of Derek’s unclaimed medal, curator Bob Suba set about to try and locate it through the internet.” Mr Miller said. “Bob was successful; the medal had been earlier inscribed with Derek’s regimental number and name, and even though it had to be purchased from a dealer in the UK, Derek thought the outlay was well worth it”.
“I now have my full medal entitlements from my army service in Vietnam, Rhodesia and South Africa; I am grateful to Bob Suba and the Victor RSL in their splendid efforts in locating it”, Derek said.
Service file of 53574 Derek William ANDREWS, a copy which was supplied by the Soldier Career Management Agency (formerly CARO).
Certificates issued by the Republic of South Africa in recognition of his military service and medals awarded.
McAleese, Peter Beyond No Mean Soldier: downloaded 19 April 2012; Derek is mentioned twice in McAleese’s memoirs, Chapter Eight, pages 13 and 15.
Compiled by the Victor Harbor RSL History Research Team, March 2020.