Breytenbach funeral and memorial service details announced


The funeral service for retired colonel Jan Breytenbach will be held tomorrow (Friday, 28 June) in a private ceremony at St George’s Anglican Church, Knysna.

The funeral service is for family, close friends and selected military veterans only, a spokesman said.

The wider military veterans community and public wishing to pay respects to the founding father of Special Forces in the South African military are welcome to attend a memorial service in Pretoria on Saturday, 6 July. The service – at 10h00 – will be against the backdrop of the Wall of Remembrance at the Voortrekker Monument, north east of Thaba Tshwane, South Africa’s unofficial military capital known previously as Voortrekkerhoogte and before that as Robert’s Heights.

The funeral and memorial service will be live-streamed in recognition of what the tough-as-nails soldier achieved during a career spanning 37 years in the then SADF (SA Defence Force) and five years in the Royal Navy (RN) Fleet Air Arm.

Breytenbach was the first commander of 1 Reconnaissance Commando, South Africa’s first Special-Forces unit; as well as first Commander of 32 Battalion and 44 Parachute Brigade.

When he was 39 Breytenbach completed the freefall parachute course at 1 Parachute Battalion in mid-1970, then the oldest man to have done so. Eleven men were recruited and selected to form the first nucleus of the South Africa’s Special Forces. They became known as the “Dirty Dozen” and were then Commandant Breytenbach; Major Dan Lamprecht; Captains “Fires” Van Vuuren and John More; Warrant Officers Second Class Trevor Floyd and FC Van Zyl; Staff Sergeants “Yogi” Potgieter, Kernaas Conradie and Koos Moorcroft; and sergeants Dewald de Beer and “Hoppie” Fourie.

After commanding 44 Parachute Brigade during 1980-1982, and later founding the SADF Guerrilla School, he retired in 1987 to write seven military history books, including on 32 Battalion and the Cassinga raid in Angola.

In his long career, he served in the Suez Crisis, the Biafran War, the South African Border War, and the Angolan Civil War, and attained the rank of colonel before his retirement.

Breytenbach died in the George Mediclinic on Sunday 16 June at the age of almost 92. He is survived by his wife Rosalind, his son Richard, daughter Angela and grandchildren Christopher and Matthew.

The live-stream link for the funeral and ceremonial send-off on Friday 28 June at the St Georges Anglican Church in Knysna can be found below. The link will be live from 10:45:

Breytenbach’s online memorial page can be found here: