The Keith Holshausen Collection

Image 1

  • Image 2

Click Image to Zoom

Date of Auction: 16th September 2010

Sold for £4,600

Estimate: £4,000 - £5,000

The unique Bronze Cross of Rhodesia (B.C.R.), Queen’s Best Shot Medal group of three awarded to Lieutenant A. K. Tourle, Rhodesia Light Infantry: a legend in Rhodesian Army circles, he was killed by a lion on a Combat Tracker Course at Lake Kariba in 1972

Bronze Cross of Rhodesia (Army) (1276 W.O. II A. K. Tourle); Rhodesia General Service Medal (1276 T./W.O. I A. K. Tourle); Queen’s Best Shot Medal, E.II.R., 1 clasp, 1966 (W.O. II A. K. Tourle), mounted as worn, good very fine and better (3)


Tourle was presented with his Bronze Cross of Rhodesia (B.C.R.) by the President, the Honourable Clifford Dupont, at the first investiture of Rhodesian awards to be held at Government House, Salisbury, on 13 October 1971, the citation stating:

‘Warrant Officer Tourle, as Commando Sergeant-Major, 3 Commando, has on two occasions commanded elements of his commando and shown outstanding powers of leadership and personal bravery of the highest order on active operations.

Throughout the 18 July 1968, troops of 3 Commando were engaged in a fierce battle with a large gang of determined and well trained terrorists in the Kariba area of North Mashonaland. Before nightfall, stop groups were positioned on high ground North of the enemy to prevent their escape under cover of darkness. Sergeant-Major Tourle was put in charge of one such stop group consisting of Headquarters personnel and elements of a Police Anti Terrorist Unit.

At 0600 hours on the 19 July 1968, four terrorists were seen moving cautiously towards a gap in the stop line. With commendable leadership and tactical skill, Sergeant-Major Tourle re-deployed his group across the enemy’s route and then with great determination attacked the terrorists with a small group of men. In the ensuing action, three terrorists were killed by Sergeant-Major Tourle himself while the fourth attempting to escape was killed by one of Sergeant-Major Tourle’s well sited stop groups.

The success of this contact was entirely due to Sergeant-Major Tourle’s quick deployment, aggressive action, and exemplary leadership of an ‘ad hoc’ force.

On 22 July 1968, Sergeant-Major Tourle with elements of Commando Headquarters joined with 1 Troop, 3 Commando, in the follow-up of a gang of nine terrorists. Contact was made during the afternoon and a fierce fire fight ensued. On his own initiative, Sergeant-Major Tourle quickly deployed his group onto high ground covering the terrorist position and engaged them with such effective fire that they were unable to escape. Then, because the Troop Commander, who was less advantageously placed, could not issue orders because of a faulty radio, Sergeant-Major Tourle shouted commands to the remaining sections of the troop, and deployed them as stops at the sides and the rear of the terrorist position. Although this brought heavy fire onto himself, he nevertheless directed the movement of the two cut off sections until the terrorist position was surrounded. Until these sections were in position, Sergeant-Major Tourle and his group successfully contained the terrorists with rifle, rocket and light mortar fire.

Throughout the contact, Sergeant-Major Tourle repeatedly exposed himself to terrorist fire while directing the outflanking deployment and when engaging the enemy with his grenades and rockets. So successful was he in the prosecution of the engagement that all nine terrorists were eventually killed; at least six of them by Sergeant-Major Tourle himself.

Sergeant-Major Tourle again displayed quite outstanding qualities of leadership in taking and maintaining the initiative when he saw his troop commander was ill-placed to execute control.

His gallantry, determination, aggressive actions and complete disregard for his own safety were an inspiration to all, and were undoubtedly the major factor contributing to the outstanding success of the engagement.’

Albert “A.K.” Tourle, a legendary figure in Rhodesian Army circles, was killed by a lion whilst on a patrol during a Combat Tracker Training Course in the Matusadona alongside Lake Kariba on 9 April 1972. Eye-witness accounts describe how the lion broke his spine and neck, and how nothing could be done for him - ‘Albert talked all night about his family. He died like a soldier at 4.45 a.m.’ No better summary of his life and times may be found than the following obituary:

‘We regret to report the death of Lieutenant Albert Tourle, who was killed in the Zambezi Valley when a lion sprang onto his back, whilst on patrol, on Sunday 9 April 1972.

He was born in Bulawayo on 29 June 1939, and was educated at the Chaplin High School in Gwelo, where he was a regular member of the 1st Rugby XV. He took an early interest in the art of rifle shooting, and at the age of 16 was shooting with the Gwelo Rifle Club where he was coached by Freddie Morgan. This sound coaching was soon to show itself in the shooting world.

On leaving school he completed his National Service in 1957, and during this time decided that the Regular Army was to be his life. He got his parachute wings with one of the first parachute courses held in the Army. He believed in supreme fitness of mind and body and in this, was an example to all with whom he came into contact.
He was a keen sportsman and played rugby, hockey and tennis with more than commendable skill. However it was in the art of rifle shooting that he excelled.

In 1965 at the Rhodesian National Bisley he won the Jongwe Memorial Cup for the Military Shooting Aggregate with a record score. He then went on to make a clean sweep by winning the Service Rifle Championship and the Ralston Prize for the Service Rifle Grand Aggregate.

In 1966 he won the trophy for the best individual rifle shot of the Rhodesian Army, and went on to win Her Majesty the Queen’s Medal, for the Champion Rifle Shot of the Rhodesian Forces and British South Africa Police with a record score.

He again won the Rhodesian Army best individual rifle shot competitions in 1967, 1969 and 1971. He won the best all round shot with rifle, pistol and machine carbine in 1968 and 1970. At the Command Weapons Meeting in 1969 he tied for the best S.M.G. shot and won the Freddie Morgan Cup for the best Bisley Shot. At the National Bisley in 1969 he won the Bulawayo Anniversary Cup fired at 900 and 1000 yards with a score of 99/100. His first shot to count at 900 yards was an “Inner” and then to coin a Canadian expression, he “Bulled” out.

In 1970 in the first match of the Presidents Medal he scored 194/200 which is thought to be a world record for this shoot. In 1968 he was a member of the Rhodesian team which travelled to Bloemfontein and won both Test Matches against South Africa. In 1969 he was again a member of the Rhodesian team which took part in the South African Games in Bloemfontein, winning one of the two Test Matches against the Springboks.

Wherever he was stationed he encouraged the younger soldiers to take up competitive shooting and made many trips to District Weapons Meetings with them and became affectionately known throughout Rhodesia as “A.K.”.
He was commissioned in 1970 and awarded the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia for displaying outstanding qualities of leadership and gallantry during security force engagements against terrorists. On one occasion in 1968 his initiative lead to the elimination of nine terrorists, six of whom he accounted for himself.

His funeral service took place with full Military Honours at the Warren Hills Crematorium in the presence of many friends from all Services, including a Company of Rhodesian African Rifles, who paid their last respects to a great friend and gallant officer. He will be greatly missed and long remembered with affection and admiration.’

Sold with a remarkable array of original documentation, including personal letters from the Prime Minister of Rhodesia (Ian Douglas Smith) and the Army Commander (Major-General Putterill, C.B.E), congratulating him on the award of the Queens Best Shot Medal; the citation for the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia, newspaper cuttings, and a personal scrapbook compiled by Tourle covering his shooting career in the army, some 60pp., together with assorted Rhodesian Army badges and two ornate silver shooting spoons.

Also sold with a quantity of original and official photographs, including images of the President of Rhodesia presenting Tourle with his Bronze Cross of Rhodesia; Parachute Training Group in front of a Rhodesian Air Force Dakota; Tourle landing in his parachute and on board the Dakota ready to jump; School of Infantry Shooting Team 1971; Rhodesia Light Infantry Shooting Team 1966 (Tourle wearing his Queen’s Medal); Tourle with two Rhodesia African Rifles gallantry winners; a large framed group photograph of the Rhodesian National Rifle Team, Bloemfontein 1968, including famous names like Rosenfels and Hollingworth (Queens Best Shot Medal winners), and Tarr (President’s Shooting Medal winner); and six official photographs of Tourle’s military funeral with the flag draped coffin on a gun-carriage escorted by S.A.S., R.L.I. and R.A.R. officers and an Rhodesia African Rifles band in support.