Vice Admiral L.J. Woodburne, (DVR, SD, SM, SM) 13.O7.1939 – 05.07.2013

Article and photos by AB S.C. Prins

The funeral of the late V Adm Lambert Jackson “Woody” Woodburne was held at the West Yard Naval Chapel on Thursday 11 July 2013. The service was held by Reverend Errol Sadler.

The late V Adm Lambert Jackson Woodburne

Tributes were given by former Chief of the SA Navy, V Adm J. Retief, who described “Woody” as a tough, confident, war-winning type and also said that “Woody” was a born leader.



Chief of the SA Navy V Adm J. Mudimu paying his final marks of respect with the wife of the late V Adm L.J. Woodburne

Chief of the SA Navy V Adm Mudimu and Former Chief of the SA Navy V Adm Retief

Chief of the SA Navy, V Adm J. Mudimu also paid tribute to the late V Adm Woodburne and described “Woody” as a people’s person. He also said that he was respected and admired as a role model to so many and ensured the Woodburne family that the “Woody” legacy will live on.

After the service in the chapel a Guard of Honour was waiting outside to pay the final marks of respect to the late V Adm L.J. Woodburne.

Senior Warrant Officers carrying the coffin into the Chapel

The final slow march


Curriculum Vitae

Vice Admiral Lambert Jackson Woodburne (Woody) was born in Kimberley on 13 July 1939. His father was a former SAAF wartime pilot who farmed in the Maclear district. V Adm Woodburne was schooled in the Eastern Cape, Swaziland and in the Naval Gymnasuim, completing his education in 1958 and joined the Permanent Force in January 1959. He then attended the Naval Academy and was commissioned in December 1962.

V Adm Woodburne served on various frigates at the start of his career. After serving on frigates he went for training in the United Kingdom where he excelled in specialist mine warfare and diving. On his return he was appointed Officer Commanding of the SA Navy Diving School for two years.

After a spell in command of the minesweepers SAS MOSSELBAAI and SAS JOHANNESBURG, with the advent of submarines in the SA Navy, he volunteered and was accepted as the first commanding officer of the submarine SAS EMILY HOBHOUSE (later renamed SAS UMKHONTO) in 1971. During the submarine’s work-up in France, he was described as one of the “best foreign submariners ever worked up in France” and earned the Southern Cross Medal.

The following year he was awarded the prestigious Van Riebeeck Decoration for distinguished service against the enemy in the field, one of only two SA Naval members to receive this decoration.

He joined Special Forces in 1978 and from 1983 to 1985 was the SA Armed Forces Attaché at the SA Embassy in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

On his return to the RSA at the beginning of 1986 he was promoted to Commodore and appointed Director Naval Operations at Naval Headquarters and there after Chief of Naval Staff Operations.

In January 1989 he was promoted to Rear Admiral and he moved to Cape Town where he was appointed Flag Officer Commanding Naval Command West.

In July 1990 he was promoted to Vice Admiral and appointed Chief of the SA Navy, and retired on 31 August 1992.

The Coffin of ''Woody''