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Lambert Jackson Woodburne
File:Lambert Jackson Woodburne.jpg
Nickname Woody
Born (1939-07-13)13 July 1939
Died 5 July 2013(2013-07-05) (aged 73)
Place of birth Kimberley, Northern Cape, South Africa
Place of death Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa
Allegiance South Africa
Service/branch  South African Navy
Years of service 1958-1992
Rank Vice Admiral
Commands held Chief of the South African Navy (1990-1992)
Flag Officer Commanding Naval Command West
Chief of Naval Staff Operations
Director of Naval Operations
SAS Emily Hobhouse
SAS Mosselbaai
SAS Johannesburg
  • Van Riebeeck Decoration DVR
  • Southern Cross Decoration SD
  • Southern Cross Medal SM
    Pro Patria Medal
  • SADF Good service Medal (Silver and Bronze)
  • Chief of the SADF Commendation Medal

Vice-Admiral Lambert Jackson "Woody" Woodburne DVR, SD, SM, South African Navy (13 July 1939 – 5 July 2013) is a former Chief of the South African Navy (1 July 1990 to 31 August 1992).[1] He is only one of two people to have received the Van Riebeeck Decoration, which he received for Special Forces operations in Tanzania.[2]

Early life[edit | edit source]

He was born in Kimberley, South Africa in 1939.[3] Woodburne's father was a former South African Air Force wartime pilot who farmed near Maclear in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Woodburne was schooled in the Eastern Cape and Swaziland and served in the Naval Gymnasium at Saldanha Bay in 1958.[4] He then joined the Permanent Force and enrolled for a Bachelor of Military Science (B. Mil) degree studying at both Stellenbosch University and the Faculty of Military Science at the South African Military Academy from 1960 to 1961. He did not graduate[5] and after his time at the Academy he started maritime service on frigates.[6]

Military career[edit | edit source]

He completed the Specialist Mine Warfare and Clearance Diving Course in the United Kingdom where he came top of the class. On his return to South Africa he became the Officer in Charge of the Naval Diving School[3] (now known as SAS Simonsberg) in Simon's Town for two years. The Navy 'Diver of the Course' which still receives the Woody Woodburne Shield.[7] Woodburne went on to command the mine sweepers SAS Mosselbaai and SAS Johannesburg.[6]

The establishment of an elite Submarine Branch was a milestone for the South African Navy. Woodburne was trained as a submariner in South Africa and thereafter in Toulon, France during 1970. As a Lt Cdr, he became the commanding officer of SAS Emily Hobhouse (S98) in 1971; a position held until 1974.[8] During submarine’s work-up in France, he was described as one of the “best foreign submariners ever worked up in France”, which earned him the Southern Cross Medal.[9]

In 1972, the SAS Emily Hobhouse landed Special Forces troops, led by Commandant Jan Breytenbach off of Dar es Salaam[10] This mission earned Lt Cdr Woodburne the Van Riebeeck Decoration

From 1975 to 1977 he was assigned to the Agosta submarine project. After this he served with the Special Forces (1978–1983) where he attained the rank of Captain. These were "exciting and dangerous years" said Woodburne in an interview after announcing his retirement in August 1992.[11]

From 1983 to 1985 he was the military attaché in Argentina.[3][4] In 1986 Commodore Woodburne became Director of Naval Operations, then seven months later Chief of Naval Staff Operations.[3] In January 1989 Rear-Admiral Woodburne moved to the Western Cape as Flag Officer Commanding Naval Command West. On 1 July 1990 he was promoted to Vice-Admiral and appointed as Chief of the South African Navy; a position he held until retirement on 31 August 1992.[6]

Woodburne married Vivienne Kemp and the couple had two daughters, but they divorced after his retirement.[12]

He died in 2013.[13]

Awards and decorations[edit | edit source]

Ribbon - Van Riebeeck Decoration.gif Van Riebeeck Decoration (DVR) 1972[14]
Ribbon - Southern Cross Decoration.gif Southern Cross Decoration
Ribbon - Southern Cross Medal (1952).gif Southern Cross Medal (obsolete) 1971[9]
Ribbon - Southern Cross Medal (1986).gif Southern Cross Medal
Ribbon - Pro Patria Medal (South Africa).gif Pro Patria medal
Ribbon - Good Service Medal, Gold.gif SADF Good service Medal (Gold)
Ribbon - Good Service Medal, Silver.gif SADF Good service Medal (Silver)
Ribbon - Good Service Medal, Bronze.gif SADF Good service Medal ( Bronze)
Chief of the SADF Commendation Medal

Vice Admiral Woodburne's medal group is unique as it contains the Van Riebeeck Decoration plus 2 Southern Cross Medals - the 1952-1975 version with no post nominal titles and the later version which allowed the wearer to use the post nominal title SM[14]

The citation for the Van Riebeeck Decoration reads:

Lieutenant Commander Lambert Woodburne distinguished himself by displaying outstanding leadership, perseverance and devotion to duty in a special task of a delicate and dangerous nature during 1972. One occasion, during that year, he was placed in command of an extremely sensitive task in the interest of the security of the State, in the execution of which a great deal had to be relied upon his own judgement and initiative and which demanded positive and dynamic leadership from him.[15] He tackled and executed this difficult task with great courage and daring and, with his personal example, inspired the other members of the team that took part in this task. His positive leadership, perseverance in the face of great odds and his outstanding devotion to duty undoubtedly played a decisive role in the successful execution of the task.[16]

Illness[edit | edit source]

Admiral Woodburne was diagnosed with Progressive supranuclear palsy in 2007[13] and was confined to a wheelchair.[17] He died on 5 July 2013 and was accorded a military funeral in Simonstown.

Notes and references[edit | edit source]

  1. South African Defence Force Information website
  2. "South African Honours and Awards". http://samw.hwmw.net46.net/mil52.htm. Retrieved 8 July 2013. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Biography of late Vice Admiral Lambert Jackson Woodburne". SA Navy. http://www.navy.mil.za/archive/1307/WOODBURNE%20BIO.pdf. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Alexander, E. G. M., Barron G. K. B. and Bateman, A. J. (1986). South African Orders, Decorations and Medals. Human and Rousseau. p121. ISBN 0-7981-1895-4.
  5. http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub/article/download/143/186
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Ian S. Uys (1992). South African military Whoʼs Who, 1452-1992. Fortress Publishers. ISBN 978-0-9583173-3-7. http://books.google.com/books?id=Ka0ZAAAAYAAJ. Retrieved 19 April 2011. p 274.
  7. South African Navy News magazine. Vol XXVIII no. 2, 2008. p24
  8. O. Haupt; South Africa. South African Navy. Submarine Flotilla (1999). Through the periscope: South African submarines: the first thirty years : reflections past and present. SAN Submarine Flotilla. ISBN 978-0-620-23782-6. http://books.google.com/books?id=bKbqAAAACAAJ. Retrieved 19 April 2011.  p 6.
  9. 9.0 9.1 Prins, S.C. AB. "Funeral of late Vice Admiral Lambert Jackson Woodburne DVR, SD, SM". SA Navy. http://www.navy.mil.za/archive/1307/130712_Funeral_V%20Adm%20Woodburne/article.htm. Retrieved July 12, 2013. 
  10. Stiff, Peter (1999). The Silent War. Galago Publishing. p. 50. ISBN 0620243007. 
  11. Ley, Marga (25 August 1992). "Die Vloot gaan verander Lambert Woodburne tree af". Retrieved 9 April 2011. "Later was hy vier 'opwindende en gevaarlike jare' lank deel van die Weermag se spesiale magte" Translation into English "Later he spent four 'exciting and dangerous years' in the Army's special forces." 
  12. "Woodburne gaan van vrou skei". Retrieved 19 April 2011. ""Die pas-uitgetrede hoof van die Suid-Afrikaanse Vloot, v.-adm. Lambert Woodburne gaan van sy vrou, Vivienne, skei." Translation to English "The recently-retired head of the South African Navy, Vice-Admiral Lambert Woodburne and his wife, Vivienne, are going to divorce."" 
  13. 13.0 13.1 "Oud-vlootadmiraal (73) oorlede ná ’n lang siekte". 12 July 2013. http://www.dieburger.com/nuus/2013-07-08-oud-vlootadmiraal-73-oorlede-n-n-lang-siekte. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 Uys, Ian (1992). Cross of Honour. Uys Publishers. pp. 10. ISBN 0958317321. 
  15. Stiff, Peter (1999). The Silent War. Galago Publishing. p. 51. ISBN 0620243007. 
  16. Stiff, Peter (1999). The Silent War. Galago Publishing. p. 52. ISBN 0620243007. 
  17. http://www.sawv.za.org/index.php?option=com_acymailing&ctrl=archive&task=view&listid=4-welenwee&mailid=13-welenwee222011&Itemid=53

Additional reading[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

Military offices
Preceded by
Andries Putter
Chief of the South African Navy
1990 – 1992
Succeeded by
Robert Claude Simpson-Anderson

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