July/August 2014

A Rhodesian Services Association Inc. publication
Registered under the 2005 Charities Act in New Zealand number CC25203
Registered as an Incorporated Society in New Zealand number 2055431

PO Box 13003, Tauranga 3141, New Zealand.
Web: www.rhodesianservices.org
Secretary’s e-mail thesecretary@rhodesianservices.org
Editor’s e-mail theeditor@rhodesianservices.org
Phone +64 7 576 9500 Fax +64 7 576 9501

To view all previous publications go to our Archives

First off - please note that I have changed my personal email to hughbomford@xtra.co.nz

Please bear with me through this editorial because I believe that it is one of the most important that I have ever written and I would like you to read it and consider what I am saying.

This newsletter is delayed owing to a number of factors, not least trying to recover from the work associated with the Rhodesia Regiment 1899–1981 book project (see below for more details on that subject.)

We are finding that our Facebook group is a successful and popular means of comms where we can broadcast information very quickly, so I would recommend that you join our group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/152017521536350/   to keep up with some very interesting postings and general chatter. Facebook does have a bad reputation (and deservedly so in some respects) but we run a disciplined group and any nonsense is dealt with quickly, all of which makes for a decent environment.

The October RV is fast approaching, please read the applicable section below and make your booking as soon as possible.

Now here is the really important issue:
Our Association has expanded from small beginnings in New Zealand to the current status when we have members in every corner of the globe. But our base is still New Zealand and we have to focus our resources here where best we can. Our primary focus continues to be the preservation of Rhodesian military history through the channels of our museum displays and our archives.

We have sought to run our financial affairs as professionally as possible and by way of innovations, hard work, generous donations and support from you - we are in a healthy financial position. Healthy, that is, in comparison to other Rhodesian orientated societies; however, what we do not have is bricks and mortar that we can call our “HQ”. To make this our next step will require a big effort in the form of fundraising, following which we will require ongoing loyalty from our members.

If we are to get this “HQ”, it will have to be centred where the base support is strongest. At present our museum displays are centred on Tauranga, New Zealand, and so are our efforts to find a place where we can establish this “HQ”. We need a facility, a building, where we can display our full collection; house our archives; run our Assn. from, as well as gather on important occasions.  We believe that we have identified where we can get a piece of land which we can afford. The big step will be to add the building and then the biggest step will be to ensure that we keep it going, as there will be ongoing costs.

For many years we have talked about how we can do this and we always come back to the example that we have seen set by the likes of the Classic Flyers Museum, which is financially supported by other arms of the business, such as the café, conference facility and venue hire.

Over the next three years we need to make a full scale concentrated effort to reach our goal of creating a secure environment for storage and display of our history. If we do not do it now, we will never do it.

In order to achieve the financial goals there are a number of avenues that we will be exploring, such as philanthropic partner/s, as well as a “buy a brick” fund raising scheme where we intend to “auction off” bits of Rhodesia. There will be more about these ideas in the future.

For the immediate future we need people to commit to supporting us in whatever way they can. Like push starting a loaded bus – it’s impossible on your own but if all the passengers get out and shove – it can be done.

Lastly and most importantly, the necessity of involving the younger generation with our Association is vital, for they are the ones who will inherit this legacy. Talk to your children and your grandchildren. Keep the Flame burning.

Shoulders to the wheels people – let’s see what we can achieve – the old catch cry of “Pambere!” is once again what we should be aspiring to.

Rhodesian Services Association Purpose & Web Links
The Rhodesian Services Association Incorporated is an Incorporated Society as well as a Registered Charity under the New Zealand Charities Act 2005. The purpose of the Association is to provide benefit and education to the community. For detail and disclosure please refer to the opening page of our website www.rhodesianservices.org

We also have a Facebook group which you are welcome to join.  We have loaded up a lot of photographs from various events, as well as others from our museum displays. We have found that Facebook is another platform assisting our purpose of preserving Rhodesian history.  If you want to find us, search for Rhodesian Services Association on Facebook.

Please use these links on our website www.rhodesianservices.org  for the following resources:
Guest Book
Guest Map
On line auctions

Please remember to let us know if you are changing your email address.


The Rhodesian Services Association holds a large Rhodesian flag for use at funerals.  Please contact me at thecqstore@rhodesianservices.org  to arrange delivery if required.

Air Marshal Archie Wilson 28 May 1921–4 July 2014
From Warwick Taylor:
Hi All,

I had the honour to attend the Military Funeral of Air Marshall ‘Archie’ Douglas, a fantastic chap.

I only met him here on the Gold Coast, I was manager of a local building society at the time. He wandered in and asked to see the manager. We quickly identified each other as Rhodesians and only later did I learn from a South African chopper pilot, who had been seconded to SAP at Vic Falls, who this wonderful chap was. I even went with Archie to the local RSL club (Returned Servicemen’s League) on a couple of occasions to have an ale (or two), but never more than two rounds each.

Funerals to me are not “invitation only”, like weddings, but you choose to attend a funeral, out of love and out of respect. I chose to attend Archie’s funeral.

I do love a good funeral, so much easier to attend when it’s not one of your own immediate family. Your memory is yours alone, but it was good to hear his daughter Jann, describing how she and Archie took a young kudu bull for biltong, how he stalked it, then shot it, once.

He then left Jann, armed with a .22 to keep other game, jackals etc., from the carcass, while he went off to get the truck and farm-boys. This was such a Rhodesian story. Then she told how her mother admonished Archie with “How could YOU? How could you leave her out in the bush?” at which point Jann swelled with obvious pride and recalled her Dad’s reply, “I wouldn’t have left her in charge if I thought she couldn’t handle it.” Archie gave you faith in yourself, that was the message, if he trained you, then he knew you could do it.

To Archie Wilson a Great Rhodesian!

From David Armstrong:
G'day Hugh
 A bit of sad news for the next edition of your Rhodesian Services Association newsletter.

This morning, I 'phoned Maui to have one of my semi-regular 'phone chats with Rick Norrod, who served in the US Marines, including in Vietnam, and then in the Rhodesian Special Air Service.  Sadly, I learned that he had died on the 4th June 2014 on the island of Maui after a long battle with lung cancer. This link contains an obituary: http://www.obitsforlife.com/obituary/931489/Norrod-Jr-Burx.php

From Paul Griffiths:
David Brown passed away on the 20 June 2014 at his home in Cape Town. He attested to 2 Battalion Royal Rhodesia Regiment in 1952. In 1966 he joined the BSAP A Reserve and after the war he became a B Car driver upon completion of the advanced driving course. He had a keen interest in railways”.

From John Pritchard:
Blue Job, John Barnes died on 3 September 2014 in England.

Association News
Financial Membership.

Subscriptions fall due on 1 October for the next financial year. Please contact Chuck Osborne on email thesecretary@rhodesianservices.org for payment details or to check if your subs are due. The subs are NZ$10 per annum – every little bit helps so please support us and as highlighted in the Editorial we need to commitment in order to steer this ship into a secure future.

Museum News.
We recently purchased a second Allouette III which is being made into a display by the team of restorers at the Classic Flyers Museum who are helping us out with this project.

Loading her up in Taupo on a chilly winter’s day.


 Dateline Rhodesia 1890 – 1980
by Gerry van Tonder


At the beginning of July we received outstanding news from South Africa; our book Rhodesia Regiment 1899-1981 had finally come off the presses in Pinetown. At last we could see the creation that took a dedicated team thousands of hours over several years, four time zones and four continents to produce, an achievement in itself. Without a doubt though, the project has, more than anything else, highlighted the importance of recording and preserving our country’s history. By the time this goes live, I will hopefully have received my stock of this landmark publication for UK distribution and orders can be placed with me on my e-mail address, g.van-tonder@sky.com

Here in the UK archival records are excellent, so the British military legacy will always be retained. For us Rhodesians across the diaspora, we can only strive to emulate this example, but we find it more and more difficult to find satisfactory custodianship, not only of material archives and memorabilia, but also of willing hands prepared to take up the baton and guarantee continuity into the next generation. To this end I have also established a website,The Rhodesian Soldier, www.rhodesiansoldier.com  which will serve as a means for me to share much of my research undertakings. It serves no other purpose. I am indeed blessed that my son, Andries, shares my vision, and performs and edits all things IT on the website. It is imperative that we get the next generation involved now.

The Foundation Years
The name of Captain David Tyrie Laing, in the context of the so-called Matabele Rebellion of 1896, does perhaps not spring to mind as readily as that of say Plumer, Baden-Powell, Grey, Napier, Selous or Spreckley. During the rebellion, Laing raised the Belingwe Field Force, a band of volunteers, initially for the purpose of defending the laagered Belingwe, and thereafter to assist the other local and Imperial forces to quell the rebellion. In his own words:
When the relief of Belingwe was completed and all the different parties fused into one, it formed what might be called a truly Imperial force, composed as it was of members from every part of the British Empire – England, Ireland, Scotland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Natal, Cape Colony and India. All had their representatives, even the Free State and Transvaal furnishing a quota; and I must not forget to mention that Germany, Sweden, Russia and Italy had representatives in the force.
Of course, amongst such a mixed assemblage there were a few who did not quite conform to the necessary rules until these had to be forcibly explained. They mistook insubordination for independence. Yet, when there was so much good in the column, the little leaven of dis-satisfied spirits had not the slightest effect and altogether we got along admirably”.

Early on the morning of 26 March an excited Acting Native Commissioner, Staley Jackson, arrived back at Belingwe with the news that the whole of the Cunningham family had been murdered near Insiza and other settlers in outlying parts of the district attacked. Laing responded immediately, sending out messengers and mounted white police to farms and mine camps in the district, with instructions to retire to Belingwe as quickly as possible, bringing with them as much supplies as they could fit on their wagons.

Capt David Tyrie Laing
(Photo National Archives)

That evening, 33 people attended an emergency meeting at the Belingwe Hotel, a number which the gathering reckoned was still ten short of all those living in the district. As commanding officer of the volunteers, Laing placed all the men on an active service footing, and called on the remaining burghers to assist wherever they could with the mutual defence of the laager. Sir Frederick Frankland, a Mining Commissioner from Bulawayo, was elected as Laing’s second in command.

As the meeting dispersed, native gangs, under the watchful eyes of white armed guards, were immediately tasked with constructing two fortified positions, and by 3am as the moon set, satisfactory defensive positions had been dug. Guards were posted and the remaining men lay down near the earthworks, armed and ready to stand to if required. Over the next two days, others trickled into Belingwe with reports of a massive uprising with looting and destruction of property prevalent.

On the evening of 29 March, Troopers H Posselt and W Lynch volunteered to try and get through to Bulawayo with despatches. Both knew the area well and set off after dark, returning at sunrise two days later. Laing related their findings:
They reported that they got as far as the Insiza, which is about fifty miles west of Belingwe on the road to Bulawayo, and found that place deserted by all white men.

A small laager had been formed at Cumming’s store, which had evidently been attacked. There were several dead bodies of natives lying about, but none of white men. The brick walls of one of the houses bore bullet-marks in many places. About three miles beyond Cumming’s store they saw the bodies of a Kaffir woman and child, both disembowelled. As they approached the river, at the foot of the Insiza Hills, they were fired upon from the thick bush by a body of native police, who were evidently stationed to guard the drift. Posselt and Lynch were forced to return. It would have been useless to have gone further, as they would have been overpowered. Luckily they got off clear – Posselt only losing his hat”.

Whilst not successful, the scouts had been able to get a clear picture of the state of the district. What was of great concern, however, was the issue of whether or not to disarm the native police.

By now, some of the laager residents started to voice an opinion that their chances of survival would be considerably enhanced if they were to move to Fort Victoria.Laing did not share this view, believing their position to be very secure, and called a meeting at the store:
With regard to the suggestion to move camp to Victoria, I said I was very sorry to think that there was any one present who had so little faith in himself or his comrades as to insult them by insinuating that they were not able to hold the position against anything in the shape of an Impi of savages, and that I was really surprised to learn that any of the men were becoming alarmed.

I also stated plainly that if any man, or section of men, thought it best to move, he, or they, were at perfect liberty to do so, but once away from the range of the forts they would have to look after themselves. The men were invited to speak their minds freely and openly, and after considerable deliberation all agreed to remain where they were.”

Laing’s volunteer force now comprised 44 men, with him as commanding officer, Sir Frederick Frankland as his 2-i-C and New Zealander James Stoddart appointed a lieutenant. In addition to this, they had ten armed Cape Boys who did duty with the white men, and 15 ‘Zambezi Boys’ who were responsible for looking after the cattle and horses during the day. Work continued on the general defences and the men were drilled twice a day. The defenders then went about setting up an elaborate, electrically controlled system of mines and warning guns, as Laing explains:
“The fact of natives being able to get through the outer fence and come close up to the forts without being noticed suggested the idea of an automatic sentry, in the shape of a signal-gun, which was erected on top of the guard-room. It was connected with wires to the outer fence, which was divided into seven sections, each with an indicator, which dropped and fired a gun if anything attempted to force an entrance or pull away any of the bushes of which the fence was constructed. In about three days’ time this automatic sentry worked so well that it was impossible to tamper in the slightest degree with any part of the fence or to get through it without first firing the signal-gun. In fact it worked so well, and we placed so much confidence in it, as to withdraw the seven sentries who were posted, previous to its erection, round the laager inside the outer fence.”

This sketch from the National Archives shows the siting of Fort Belingwe around the store, the river meander providing added natural protection.

“The defence works had advanced so far now that most of the garrison had thorough confidence in being able to repel any attack the rebels in the district might make on the position. Besides the earthworks and bush fences, twelve dynamite mines had been laid to command positions where an attacking force could get cover to concentrate before charging. These mines were attached by overhead wires to each fort, and operated by an electric battery, used for blasting purposes at the mines. We were the happy possessors of three such batteries, strong enough to explode a mine several miles away, and they were so arranged that one mine or all could be fired with one shock, if considered necessary.
It gives me great pleasure to mention that the advent of the Cooks’ coming into laager was a great piece of good fortune, for not only were they good shots and all-round men generally, but two of them, John and James, were qualified electrical engineers. To them the arrangement and setting of mines was left, and they worked at them every day until, in all, they had twenty-seven placed around the laager in every available position. The system they adopted was so simple and complete that any of the men could have fired the mines as ordered without explanation.”

 A close-up of the above sketch shows the two forts on opposing corners of the fenced-off Belingwe store. The sketch clearly shows the ‘network’ of centralised, electrically controlled mines – very innovative for that time.

By the first week of May, Fort Belingwe had consolidated its position as a strong defensive outpost, bolstered by extra men and several thousand rounds of ammunition from Fort Victoria. The Victorians brought with them excellent horses, most of them salted, thereby allowing Laing to start scouting patrols in the immediate area for the presence of rebels. In response to a suggestion from Laing, Rhodes instructed him to ride down to Tuli to meet the incoming relief column. Leaving Frankland in command at Belingwe, Laing set of with a small group of men and a Maxim. On the morning of 26 May, they met up with the column at Setoutsi’s, where Laing took over command from Lieutenant Yonge. The column comprised “…about 130 white men, 70 Cape Boys, 150 horses, 25 wagons and 350 mules, the latter, thanks to ‘DoelZeederberg, were in first class order”. It must be remembered that the rinderpest had virtually wiped out the entire population of cattle in this part of Southern Africa. Laing promptly formed three mounted troops and returned to Belingwe without further delay. Upon reaching Belingwe, Laing found that the resident Dr Anderson had managed to rehabilitate all those who had been fever-stricken, ensuring most were fit for duty. He was also met by Captain George Grey who had ridden through Insiza with despatches from Rhodes, one of which Laing regarded as “practically my commission”. Camped near Rixon’s Store on 25 May 1896, Rhodes wrote:

Cecil Rhodes in camp during the rebellion of 1896
(Photo National Archives)

“My DEAR LAING – We got your despatches all right at Gwelo, and we accepted all your suggestions. We instructed Victoria to send you runners telling you to go down and meet the Tuli column and bring it to your place, via the Gondoque road, to you, and when it reached you, you to take command. It had instructions to detach some meal and some necessaries to Victoria. Your instructions are to do what you think is best, to assume the defensive, and do the most harm you can to the natives around you. If, after doing that, you think the best plan is to work up in the direction of the Filabusi and Bembesi, do so: but these matters are left to your judgement. We have every confidence in you, and do not want to tie you in any direction.

Grey, who brings this, will tell you all the news. The only thing you must bear in mind is, that you take command and do the best you can.

Harry reached us all right. I did not send him back, as I thought wires from Victoria quicker.

You may think the best plan is to work through the Filabusi and Molungwana to the Matopo, where we are eventually going; if so, do so, but if you do, I suggest you take a few mules with you for weak, wounded, and food. This plan of going long journeys with only horse patrols is a mistake. You can’t fight on empty stomachs, though I agree too many wagons hamper action.

I can’t say no more, but thank you for your good work

If you can, let me know what you are doing, but for goodness’ sake don’t risk despatch-riders and horses. You will want every horse you have got. The nimble native you can use as a foot-runner.

Yours (Signed)
CJ Rhodes”

Feature: Caring For Our Fallen
On 1 July 1916 the Allies’ line along the Somme in France literally erupted as massive underground explosive detonations, and thousands upon thousands of storming troops, signalled the major offensive that was the Battle of the Somme. Four and a half months later, the amount of strategic ground that was gained was negligible, the casualties incomprehensibly enormous. On that first day alone, 19,240 British and Commonwealth soldiers were killed. By 19 November of that year, more than 300,000 British, Commonwealth, French and German soldiers had been killed.

Writing of the scenes he witnessed on the Somme in 1916, poet Edmund Blunden wrote;
Later that summer the battle of the Somme was fought, and men perished in great multitudes and in places where their bodies could not be recovered, so intense was the new artillery and machine-gun fire, so hopeless the mud which went on for miles. The battalions who came up to the relief of those in the craters and trenches would find themselves, in the fire-splashed night, stumbling over corpse after corpse. In deep dug-outs, twenty or thirty feet down, friends or foes were done to death by one means or another with the ultimate result that there was no entering those burnt-out dreadful caverns”.

In June this year Tracey and I visited some of the Belgian and French battlefields of World War One, including the Newfoundland Park, just below Hawthorn Ridge, where the Newfoundland Regiment sustained a 70% casualty rate while charging the German lines just after 40,600 lbs of ammonal explosive had been detonated under the German position on Hawthorn Ridge. Only on 13 November would the 51st Highland Division eventually retake Beaumont Hamel and the Y Ravine German line. In those few months, thousands would lose their lives, many of their bodies never found. As you look at the horizon to your right, you cannot miss the imposing, massive Thiepval Memorial to the 73,335 British and South African (including Rhodesian) soldiers who were killed and their bodies never identified. I found the numbers mind-boggling.

The Anglo-French Thiepval Memorial dominates the French countryside.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

On the edge of one of the pathways next to grassed-over and shell-cratered trenches, I found a plaque with a poem by English journalist, novelist and poet William Dunkerley, writing under the pen name John Oxenham, admonishing the visitor to grasp what had taken place on these bloodied fields, followed by an oath, I suppose, warning of possible ramifications if we ever forget the debt we owe these brave men…
Tread softly here! Go reverently and slow!
Yea, let your soul go down upon its knees,
And with bowed head and heart abased, strive hard
To grasp the future gain in this sore loss!
For not one foot of this dank sod but drank
Its surfeit of the blood of gallant men,
Who, for their faith, their hope, - for Life and Liberty,
Here made the sacrifice, - here gave their lives,
And gave right willingly – for you and me.
From this vast altar-pile the souls of men
Sped up to God in countless multitudes;
On this grim cratered ridge they gave their all,
And, giving, won
The Peace of Heaven and Immortality.
Our hearts go out to them in boundless gratitude;
If ours – then God’s; for his vast charity
All sees, all knows, all comprehends – save bounds.
He has repaid their sacrifice; - and we -?
God help us if we fail to pay our debt
In fullest full and all unstintingly!

As we drove through the rich farmlands, gently rolling fields of maize, wheat, rape and soya beans, you cannot miss the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) Cemeteries, each clearly identifiable from a distance by the Cross of Sacrifice, synonymous with these immaculately tended places of rest of brave soldiers, many with their names known only unto God.

Today the Commonwealth War Graves Commission has 23,000 WWI and WWII cemeteries in 150 countries, and in which over 1.7 million men and women are either interred or listed on a memorial.

The Great War witnessed the largest mobilisation of fighting men ever. In Britain, 100,000 men volunteered a month for the first 18 months, with almost the same number after national service was introduced in 1916. In total, Britain and the Commonwealth mobilised close on nine million men.

In 1914, 45 year old Fabian Ware, too old to fight, volunteered to serve with the Red Cross in France. A trained teacher, Ware spent ten years in the Transvaal as Assistant Director for Education from the mid-1890s. He saw for himself how the cemeteries of Britain’s fallen during the Anglo-Boer War of 1899-1902 were rapidly falling into a state of neglect and decay.

The precise layout of a CWGC cemetery (above) in Western European farmland, and on the edges of these fields,
wild red poppies growing, sentinels and adopted symbols of our remembrance of the fallen (below).
(Photos Gerry van Tonder)

One of Ware’s main responsibilities in France was to collect accurate information about the dead and where they were buried. He was also faced with the inevitability that relatives would one day wish to visit the graves of their loved ones, and that they would find a measure of consolation if they saw that some care had been taken with the final resting place of that relative.

By October, Ware’s work started gaining recognition, and by February 1915 it had become official, with the army providing petrol, rations and upkeep, while the Red Cross continued to provide essential support. Even at this early stage, the importance of acquiring land in the name of the French state for the burial of Allied soldiers was identified. Sites were chosen where agricultural disruption would be minimal, as well as being a reasonable distance from housing. France would then purchase the land and gift it to Britain in perpetuity. In view of this, the French stipulated that graves had to be placed 9-12 inches apart and a path not exceeding three feet wide was to be allowed between the rows.  In effect, this provided the start of what became the template for all CWGC cemeteries.

The regimented, pristine layout of a CWGC cemetery in Belgium.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

This small embryonic group, now named the Directorate of Graves Registration and Enquiries, worked tirelessly under difficult, and often dangerous, conditions. Soon, their work spread to other theatres of war in Greece, Egypt and Mesopotamia. Army Commander-in-Chief, General Sir Douglas Haig, wrote to the War Office in 1915, saying of the Directorate, “…it does not directly contribute to the successful termination of the war. It has, however, an extraordinary morale value to the troops in the field as well as to the relatives and friends of the dead at home. The mere fact that these officers visit day after day the cemeteries close behind the trenches, fully exposed to shell and rifle fire, accurately to record not only the names of the dead but also the exact place of burial, has a symbolic value to the men that it would be difficult to exaggerate”.

On 21 May 1917, The Imperial War Graves Commission, as the CWGC was first known, was granted a Royal Charter, with the Prince of Wales the first president. Ware was appointed vice-chairman to Lord Derby. The first board members were the High Commissioners for Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Newfoundland and India, in addition to Major General Neville Mcready, Adjutant-General to the British Expeditionary Force. Also appointed to the board were Sir William Garstin, the engineer of the Aswan Dam, who had lost his son in the war, and author and poet Rudyard Kipling, who also lost his only son at Loos in September 1915.

The Commission was charged to care for all members of the Armed Forces of the British Empire who, “died from wounds inflicted, accident occurring or disease contracted, while on active service, whether on sea or land”. They had to have been a member of the armed services between 4 August 1914 and 31 August 1921. The major principles laid down by the Commission at its inaugural meeting in November 1917 still stand today:  there should be no distinction between officers and men and there should be no distinction between creed and nationality. The army would be responsible for the burial, while the Commission was solely responsible for the cemeteries.

The most daunting task for the Commission was the recovery of 150,000 bodies from known graves scattered throughout Belgium and France. In the aftermath of the battles of the Somme and the Ypres Salient, such bodies were thickly strewn over areas measuring several miles in length and breadth, included amongst whom were the remains of men of the Rhodesia Platoons serving with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps. This resulted in many cemeteries being labelled concentration cemeteries, where necessity and the inability to prove identity, gave rise to mass burials. From Armistice Day on 11 November 1918 until September 1921, 204,650 bodies were recovered from battlefields and reburied in cemeteries built and ready to receive them. One of the biggest and most well-known of these is the Tyne Cot Cemetery, holding nearly 12,000 burials, of which more than three-quarters are unidentified. The original battlefield cemetery at this site, a local dressing station during the war, had just 48 burials.

One half of the Tyne Cot Cemetery.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

The next task for the Commission was to develop a template that would standardise all cemeteries under their care. Lieutenant Colonel Sir Frederick Kenyon, Director of the British Museum was appointed artistic adviser, and architects Sir Edwin Lutyens and Herbert Baker were sent by Ware to France to see for themselves what the tragic sights in Europe were really like and to come up with recommendations.

Kenyon’s foresight quickly negated a disagreement over what a cemetery should look like and what it should contain. In spite of the fact that he only had the broken and torn, cratered landscape to look at, his ideas were simple and have stood the test of time:
“The general appearance of a British cemetery will be that of an enclosure with plots of grass or flowers (or both) separated by paths of varying size, and set with orderly rows of headstones, uniform in height and width.

The graves will, wherever possible, face the east and at the eastern end of the cemetery will be a great altar stone, raised upon broad steps, and bearing some brief and appropriate phrase or text.

Either over the stone, or elsewhere in the cemetery, will be a small building where visitors may gather for shelter or worship, and where the register of the graves shall be kept.

And at some prominent spot will rise the Cross, as the symbol of the Christian faith and of the self-sacrifice of the men who now lie beneath its shadow”.

The Cross of Sacrifice, identical in design in all CWGC cemeteries holding more than 40 graves. The sword denotes a military cemetery.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

The Cross of Sacrifice was designed by Sir Reginald Blomfield, overtly Christian, reflecting the main religion of the time. Blomfield allowed the Cross of Sacrifice, on an octagonal plinth, to be reproduced to scale in four different sizes so that every cemetery could have a cross.

The ‘great altar stone’ referred to by Kenyon was designed by Lutyens on the back of an envelope in France. It was to be 12 feet in length, raised upon three steps, of which the first and third to be twice the width of the second. It would be inscribed with words from Ecclesiastes, chosen by Rudyard Kipling, “THEIR NAME LIVETH FOR EVERMORE”.      

So began the work of the Commission, to construct cemeteries and memorials to commemorate the 1.1 million servicemen of the British Empire who paid the ultimate price in the Great War, the task described by Kipling as “the biggest single bit of work since the Pharaohs, and they only worked in their own country”.

The Stone of Remembrance common to most CWGC cemeteries.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

A singularly mammoth task was the manufacture of half a million headstones, with the question over a cross versus a headstone even being debated in the House of Commons. The Commission remained pragmatic in its approach to the issue. A headstone would allow for the inclusion of far more relevant information than a cross. The Commission’s rationale prevailed. The headstone would measure 2 feet 6 inches high, by 1 foot 3 inches wide, with a thickness of 3 inches. The lettering would be simple, designed so that the inscription could be read at a 45 degree angle, thus preventing visitors from having to kneel or crouch to read a line of headstones.

The engraving of such an enormous number of headstones was problematic, until a Lancashire firm developed a machine called a pantograph that could trace the regimental badges and inscriptions onto the stone. This company manufactured 50,000 headstones in the first five years, and between 1923 and 1928, more than 4,000 headstones were shipped to France very week.

All cemeteries visited hold nameless headstones as a reminder of the terrible conditions on the Western Front
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

The horticultural treatment of the cemeteries also became a key issue, the Commission desirous that the overall effect would imitate an old-fashioned English country churchyard, with neatly trimmed lawns and mixed plantings of flowers and shrubs to soften the rows of headstones. The scarlet poppy, the enduring symbol of remembrance, grows best in freshly turned soil, so it was no surprise that these flowers sprung up in profusion in the churned war fields of the Western Front. The hardy English rose proved to be very suitable not just in Europe, but also throughout the world.

The CWGC continues to face new challenges in its mammoth project, with political instability, regional conflicts and environmental issues. The Commission, 100 years after the last shots were fired, still continues to carry out its prime function as bodies continue to be exhumed during normal construction activities, such as road building and farming. In each instance, every effort is made to identify the body. If successful, next of kin are informed and invited to the funeral. Regardless of identification, however, all remains are buried with full military honours.

My recent travels on the continent, combined with the research of casualties both before and after the trip, made me come to one fundamental conclusion: Rhodesians owe the Commonwealth War Graves Commission profound gratitude for caring for our fallen heroes from two world wars. Their efforts ensure that Rhodesians who died in so many theatres of war are remembered in perpetuity. At a quick glance, Rhodesian graves or memorial names can be found in countries such as Austria, Denmark Egypt, Eritrea, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Iraq, Israel, Italy, Japan, Libya, Malta, Myanmar (Burma) Namibia, Netherlands, Pakistan, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Somalia, Spain, Tanzania, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Zambia and Zimbabwe. There are others.

Thiepval Memorial, France.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

On the walls of the Thiepval Memorial are the names of at least 16 Rhodesians who died fighting for British units such as the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, Royal Fusiliers, Middlesex Regiment, Norfolk Regiment, the Rifle Brigade and the Leicestershire Regiment, as well as South African Infantry regiments.

At the Menin Gate Memorial in the picturesque Belgian town of Ieper (Ypres), I found the names of five former 2nd Rhodesia Regiment soldiers who lost their lives on the Ypres Salient while serving with the South African Infantry. At Essex Farm Cemetery, a Rhodesian officer, Lt. Charles Newton; at Tyne Cot Memorial another Rhodesian officer, Lt. Theodore Carnegie. I know I missed many more – I simply did not have the time.

In 2010/11, the Commission received over £55 million in funding, provided by the partner governments of the Commonwealth nations who share the cost of the Commission's work proportionately to the number of their graves:

Governments                      Percentage Contribution

United Kingdom                               78.43%

Canada                                              10.07%

Australia                                            6.05%

New Zealand                                    2.14%

South Africa                                      2.11%

India                                                   1.20%


Menin Gate Memorial, Ieper, Belgium
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

Certain historical characters ensure that our history will remain inexorably linked with these cemeteries and memorials.

Field Marshal the Viscount Herbert Plumer of Messines proved to be one of the best regarded and best performing Allied officers during WWI, his crowning glory being the attack on Messines Ridge, just south of Ypres, in 1917. To his full credit, and in the presence of the King of Belgium, on 24 July 1927 Plumer unveiled the Menin Gate Memorial in Ieper. Plumer is, of course, better known to us as the Commanding Officer of the Matabeleland Relief Force who, in May 1896, arrived in Bulawayo to quell the rebellion. In August he launched a successful expedition into the Matopos, forcing the rebels to sue for peace.

Sir Herbert Baker designed, amongst others, both the South African Delville Wood Memorial and the Tyne Cot Cemetery and Memorial, both curved structures in the style of the Union Buildings in Pretoria. Baker himself referred to his being “Rhodes’ architect, having been told by Rhodes when designing Groote Schuur in Cape Town, “I want it big and simple, barbaric if you like.” General Jan Smuts said of Baker’s relationship with Rhodes, “He not only knew Rhodes personally and closely, but he could enter imaginatively into the mind and viewpoints of Rhodes”.

Rudyard Kipling was a friend of Leander Starr Jameson’s, introduced to him by Cecil Rhodes. It was, in part, sympathy with Jameson’s abortive raid into the Transvaal that Kipling wrote the famous poem If, “…if you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you…” Kipling, for many years the literary advisor to the Imperial War Graves Commission, selected the simple words of remembrance on the altar stone found in almost all CWGC cemeteries, and also wrote the well-known epitaph to Cecil Rhodes, ‘The immense and brooding spirit still shall quicken and control, Living he was the land and dead his soul shall be her soul.’

To the staff, past and present, of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission we salute and thank you. Lest We Forget.

The South African Delville Memorial, France
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)



Rhodesia’s Medals

Medal for Meritorious Service; obverse, reverse of the Civil Division, with the multi-striped ribbon of the Military Division
(Gerry van Tonder collection)

Awarded for resourcefulness and devotion to duty, or exemplary voluntary service to the community.

There are two divisions, Civil and Military (Security Forces), the latter for territorial, voluntary and reserve units.

A 36mm circular, silver medal, with the national armorial bearings on the obverse. On the reverse, the pick from the shield of the armorial bearings, encircled by the words “For Meritorious Service”. The name of the recipient is inscribed on the rim, with the recipient entitled to use the post nominal MSM.

There were numerous awards of the medal to civilians, members of Internal Affairs (including two posthumously), and members of the police and air force.

Above and Beyond
Internal Affairs Air Wing

The southern African country of Rhodesia was similar to Australia in that it contained many remote outposts and centres of human habitation, more often than not serviced by aircraft where seasonal road conditions made vehicle access difficult and time consuming.

Over time, various government departments were instrumental in the development of an extensive network of “bush” airstrips, essentially unpaved runways of less than 800 metres to accommodate small civilian aircraft. These airstrips facilitated the provision of airborne rural medical clinics, not unlike the flying doctor services found in Australia. The Ministries of Water Development and of Roads also made full use of these isolated airstrips to fly in engineers and senior staff.

Many commercial farmers also owned their own light aircraft, providing a valuable spotter role under the auspices of the Police Reserve Air Wing, PRAW.

Intaf twin-engine Cessna in the Lowveld
(Photo John White collection)

Consequently, and with the onset of the war when landmines and ambushes made road travel on gravel roads dangerous for civil servants trying to maintain normal rural operations, these airstrips became of fundamental importance to the government.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs was, for a long time, the principal user of rural airstrips, with almost all districts having airstrips within their boundaries. As the war developed and the insurgency spread, the Intaf air wing came into its own, as existing pilots, like their ground-based colleagues, had to adapt to operating in a war situation. Some were injured, not all survived.

Intaf had accumulated quite an impressive squadron of aircraft, including a twin-engine Cessna. The rest of the aircraft were single-engine Cessnas, mainly 172, 182 and 206, accommodating three to five passengers each. These were flown by a group of dedicated and competent pilots.  Small Cessna 172 type aircraft were used for reconnaissance, casevacs, and re-supply purposes.  The aircraft often came under fire from terrorist forces on the ground, and at least one aircraft was blown up by an anti-tank mine. Pilot Byrne Gardener was killed when his aircraft detonated a landmine on the Mutawatawa airstrip in Maramba TTL, Mrewa, Op Hurricane. The aircraft had landed successfully, but the landmine had been planted in the parking bay. Pilot Gardener and DSAs L Mchonjomera, C Ndlovu and J Nyamayaro were all killed in the same explosion.

Pilot Russell Kilner MSM, on the left, chats to a couple of Intaf vedettes at a remote airstrip in Mudzi.
(Photo John White collection)

The air wing had been started long before the war with one aircraft, and the fleet had gradually grown. Initially they were used for flights over the districts, so that the District Commissioner and his staff could more efficiently plan development such as roads, dip tanks and especially soil conservation.

Members of the tribal land authorities were also taken up, to see for themselves the ravages of soil erosion. As the war intensified the aircraft became more and more useful and clocked up many thousands of hours. After the enemy started its use of heat seeking surface to air missiles, the Intaf fleet was painted a dull dark green colour, in common with other military and civilian aircraft.

Aircraft were used for conveying staff from their isolated keeps to district headquarters, although Intaf continued to use ground transport for the majority of the journeys. The aircraft were also used for propaganda pamphlet drops and even for reconnaissance purposes from time to time.

The ultimate ambition of Secretary for Internal Affairs, Don Yardley, was an aircraft for each district but Intaf never got beyond 13 for the 51 districts. It was Don Yardley who initiated the pilot training scheme for certain District Commissioners and Provincial Commissioners in which a privileged few received training and managed to get their private pilot's licences. They were then able to fly themselves about their provinces or districts, thus releasing the professional pilots for other purposes.

However, the acquisition of hours is very important for young professional pilots seeking to attain their commercial pilot's licenses, and an official complaint was made that the newly licensed amateur pilots were preventing them from accumulating their hours. Thereafter the amateurs were only permitted to fly if a professional pilot was not available.

The Intaf pilots knew that theirs was a hazardous job. Several sustained hits on their aircraft, one was almost shot down by a missile, and another was badly wounded when fired at from the ground. But they carried on undaunted, providing vital links for remote Intaf outposts in the middle of operational areas known to harbour terrorists.

Their actions and unswerving dedication were above and beyond the call of duty.

Who’s Who
“What a chance for the Metford!
How the ivory sight would shew up against their dusky hides! I think the Maxim gun…quite equal to the Matabele nation, wouldn’t it just mow them down!”

Tragically, on 4 December 1893, these words in a letter to his mother held a fatal irony for the 29 year old Captain Henry Borrow, as his life and those of the whole Allan Wilson patrol were taken by the amaNdebele on the banks of a flooding Shangani River. Indeed, there were large numbers of ‘dusky hides’ shimmering in the ivory sights of their weapons, but the Maxims were retained by Major Patrick Forbes on the other side of the river.

But who exactly was Henry J Borrow?

Henry John Borrow was born on 17 March 1865 in Cornwall, England, his family well off enough to pay for Borrow’s education in a public school.

Early in 1882 Borrow moved to South Africa, for a short while working on an ostrich farm near Cradock before running their own farm with another young man, Charley Wallis. This was not to last, however, and late in 1884, Borrow enlisted with the Second Mounted Rifles (Carrington’s Horse), taking part the following year in Maj-General Charles Warren’s expedition into Bechuanaland. During this time he became very adept at riding and shooting, being described as a “…splendid horseman…and one of the best shots in a country where good shots abound”.

After only a year, and having risen to the rank of sergeant, Borrow joined the Bechuanaland Border Police as a lance corporal. Frank Johnson and American Maurice Healy now entered Borrow’s life. A hunger for gold also started.

Henry Borrow
(Photo National Archives)

Even though his current employers offered him a farm at the end of his contract, Borrow was fed-up with the police and felt that a farm would not provide him with riches. He took the bold step of joining up with Johnson, Heany, Ted Burnett and Jack Spreckley to form the Pioneer Party of the Northern Gold Fields Exploration Syndicate. The group of young adventurers met with initial success in Bechuanaland, as Khama granted them prospecting and mining rights anywhere in his domain, but were more drawn to the promise of riches in the neighbouring territory of the amaNdebele king, Lobengula. On 19 May 1887, some years before the Pioneer Column and the Rudd Concession, the men arrived at GuBulawayo, Lobengula’s royal kraal. Borrow, forever the prolific letter writer, quite taken by the amaNdebele, wrote to his mother about the tribe’s customs and habits:
“the natives grow excellent rice in Mashonaland, sent down in neatly woven bags, any amount of Kaffir corn and mealies, tobacco, potatoes, sweet potatoes, ground nuts, etc, etc. All the white people on the station eschew altogether bread and coffee, and simply live on the things aforementioned, meat being very cheap, they have two meals a day, one at 10am and another just before dusk, the interim being filled up with Kaffir beer, of which they drink enormous quantities”.

Borrow also met Selous and van Rooyen at GuBulawayo, impressed by the shooting prowess of the two famous hunters. After a long exhausting wait, the procrastinating Lobengula granted the syndicate the right to prospect in the Mazoe basin. Borrow and Heany remained in “Bug Villa” while Johnson and the others headed for Mashonaland. History fails to provide the exact reasons, but somehow the expedition fell foul of the King’s pleasure, only managing to escape with their lives after much sweet-talking and the payment of a hefty £100 fine.

By this time Borrow had returned to Bechuanaland, where he established a friendship with missionary James Hepburn and his wife, useful in his dealings with Khama. Mrs Hepburn became his confidant, introducing Borrow to a small number of young women who came into the area. The young Borrow was quite taken with these encounters, writing to his mother, “…whole batch of the fair sex has been up here, so you must excuse anything in this letter, as I am naturally susceptible and this kind of thing affects me”.

The concession secured, Johnson went to Britain to seek financial backing for their enterprise. This resulted in the flotation of the company, with Lord Edric Gifford VC, and George Cawston providing finance. Borrow was elated with this news, ceaselessly counting his paper fortune and gloating over his apparent wealth. Reality soon set in, however, with Borrow applying himself as local blacksmith, carpenter and barber, and as an odd-job man for Khama. At the same time, he placed company prospectors throughout their concession in Bechuanaland, periodically inspecting their progress.

Things then suddenly went sour, however, as Lobengula granted other whites, Wood, Francis and Chapman, a concession in a disputed area that Borrow believed was in Khama’s territory, a patch of land that was suddenly deemed to hold immeasurable wealth. The final straw came when Gifford and Cawston became directors of the British South Africa Company, and with that move went any leverage the syndicate may have hoped for in settling the border dispute. Borrow accused their erstwhile financiers of “…fraudulent breach of trust…the most barefaced piece of swindling I ever heard of…if they were a little younger I for one should have the greatest pleasure in obliging them for a few minutes”. The more pragmatic Heany said he was expecting it.

A contemporary sketch of Lobengula’s Umvutcha Kraal, seven miles north of GuBulawayo.

Borrow reacted as best he knew how to, by writing to his father for advice, but history was already determining a different path for the deflated Borrow. A message was received from Selous, stating that he had been granted several concessions by Manica chiefs, while closer to home prospecting expeditions were also being planned by others in the direction of the Zambezi River. Borrow was ready to go on one of these to try and recover some of his ‘wealth’ when a telegram arrived from the BSACo advising him not to leave, as “…much better business was to hand”. Johnson had entered into a contract with Rhodes to lead a Pioneer Corps into Mashonaland, and Borrow must come along.

With the rank of lieutenant, Henry Borrow was appointed adjutant of the ‘corps’. Keen to act the part, Borrow typically plunged headlong into his new position, upsetting Selous in the process. Johnson had asked Borrow to organise a couple of despatch riders with a message for Selous telling him to report. Borrow’s official memorandum to Captain Selous stated he should come at once to Camp Cecil and report to him…by order. Unaccustomed as he was to military convention, the angry Selous refused to answer the call, and it took Johnson and the use of gentle tact and persuasion to get the man to change his mind and understand that Borrow was not being insolent.

Yet as the column headed towards Mount Hampden Borrow would, upon finding military routine to his disliking, spend much of his time ahead of the column supervising the road gang. He was fully aware that the military nature of the column was decidedly irregular, referring to the men in uniform as “highly respectable filibusters”. He made his position to his mother very clear, “…let me beg of you not to address me as Captain, a title to which I have no right whatsoever. I aspire to neither the title nor sword. I am not a soldier”.

Reckoning on a paper profit of £18,000 from his work with the column, within a day of the flag raising ceremony at Fort Salisbury, Borrow and his partners Johnson and Burnett and raced off to the Umfuli River to peg their first claims. They set up their headquarters at the Ranche, where the Ranche House College would be built. The company bought up vast tracts of land at 8d an acre, much to the concern of the BSACo’s senior official Archibald Colquhoun. During this time, the restless Borrow travelled down to the Sebakwe and Bembesi Rivers in search of a rumoured goldfield. Back in Salisbury, the partners’ 22,275 hectare farm, Borrowdale, was sustaining the new settlement with fresh produce.

Before long, however, the absence of sudden wealth from claims led to a restructuring of their affairs, their company being absorbed by a Rhodes-controlled entity, Frank Johnson and Company. Undeterred, Borrow put his energies into the development of Borrowdale Farm by having a dam built, whilst also becoming an officer in the local volunteer force. Encouraged by a Boxing Day 1891 win at the Salisbury race course, Borrow imported race horses from South Africa, all but recovering his outlay on their first appearance.

After having been away from home for ten years, in early 1893 Borrow sailed to England. During his stay, Borrow spread his interests, persuading Harold Money, who was to die with him at Shangani, and ‘young Hirsch’ from the London firm of Hirsch and Company to go back to Rhodesia with him. Just prior to leaving England, Borrow was involved in a coach accident in which both he and his mother were injured. He was still recovering when he arrived back in Salisbury, via Cape Town, in mid-1893. It was then that Borrow met and became engaged to Lucy Drake, building a brick homestead overlooking the Borrowdale Dam as their future home.

Rhodesian pioneers man a Maxim
(Photo National Archives)

Preparations to resolve the amaNdebele ‘issue’ and neutralise Lobengula’s power, especially over the subservient Mashona tribes, came first. The normally keen Borrow, though, was seemingly not so enthusiastic about a conflict away from home. He wrote, almost prophetically:
“Tomorrow we leave for what I look upon as a somewhat risky enterprise viz the subjection of the Matabele. I think as we probably all do that we shall be entirely successful, still I cannot help thinking that a great number of us will in all probability never return, I have not made a will but I have left a note leaving, with a few exceptions, all my personal effects to father”.

Borrow was given command of ‘B’ Troop, with Patrick Forbes overall in charge of the Salisbury Column. According to Trooper George Gooding who, together with scouts Fred Burnham and Pete Ingram was the last to see Wilson and his men alive as they went to find assistance, stated that Borrow trained his men hard, gathering around him 20 hand-picked men …”the finest and fittest in the Colony”.

After successfully beating off the amaNdebele at Bembesi, where Borrow, under heavy fire from the enemy, put his life at risk to rescue some of their horses which had stampeded during the fighting, the column moved into a burning GuBulawayo, the king and his impis gone. Borrow remained in the deserted royal kraal as Forbes hurried after Lobengula with 300 men. Borrow was not expecting to participate in any more fighting, hoping that he would soon be on his way back to Salisbury. But Forbes and his men, tired and hungry, Lobengula elusive, turned back at the Bubi River. Borrow was amongst those sent to reinforce Forbes at Shiloh, making a column of 180 to follow the tracks of Lobengula’s wagon.

A modern day depiction of amaNdebele warriors
(Photo Lewis Walter)

It was the night of 3-4 December 1893 and in very difficult conditions, with the presence of large numbers of Lobengula’s Royal Imbezu Regiment very evident, that Wilson sent three men across the barely passable Shangani River to the main column to ask Forbes for reinforcements and Maxim machine-guns. In what must arguably be the most dubious and hotly-debated decision of that fateful expedition, Forbes decided he was unable to spare any of his Maxims and could only afford to send 20 men under Captain Borrow. In a few moments he had sealed the fate of Allan Wilson and his men in a grove of mopane trees on the Shangani.

Legends and folklore have become ingrained into the demise of Allan Wilson and his patrol. It would be months before store owner Dawson recovered the remains of these men at the Shangani. It is, of course, not known how the men, including Borrow, actually died. Eight of the skulls had bullet holes. Did any commit suicide? It is a fact that the battle went on for some time, so the prolonged end would have been horrific, with the bodies of men and horses scattered over the wet ground. Some  say Wilson’s men sang bravely, others that they cried out for mercy. Legend has it that the last one to fall was a tall man, his rifle empty, singing God Save the Queen. For the grieving Frank Johnson, this man could only have been his friend and business partner, Henry Borrow.

One thing is certain…it was a pointless death.


At the Going Down of the Sun
On 1 July 1916, the replenished 90-man Rhodesian platoon of the 2nd Battalion the King’s Royal Rifle Corps went over the top, storming the German defences on the Somme in France. At the end of that first day of the four and a half month long offensive, only 10 Rhodesians were alive and unwounded. 19,240 British soldiers were also killed. More than half of their bodies were never found, and many that were found, were beyond recognition.

No splendid right is here – yet lay him low,
Ye comrades of his youth he fought beside,
Close where the winds do sigh and wild flowers grow,
Where the sweet brook doth babble by his side.
No splendour, yet we lay him tenderly
To rest, his requiem in artillery.

‘A Soldier’s Funeral
by Sgt John Streets
Killed in Action, 1 July 1916

A symbol of the massive tragedy of the Somme offensive, Thiepval Memorial, France.
(Photo Gerry van Tonder)

Looking back…
On 14 February 1980, telegram 652 was despatched from Rhodesian Governor Christopher Soames to Prime Minister Thatcher in London, his ‘sitrep’ for the day.

With more than 22,000 guerrillas in the assembly points, these camps continued to provide problems for the administration and security forces.

This is a copy of the original telegram initialled by Thatcher.


…and they said
In this the Centenary year of the start of the World War One, these words from Major-General Sir Alfred Edwards KBE, CB, MVO, Commandant General of Rhodesian Forces, are very appropriate:

“We in Rhodesia are very proud of what our men did during the Great War, and I have no hesitation in saying that we are prouder still of the 2nd Rhodesia Regiment – the only one that continued to serve until it could serve no longer – for the way it maintained in unknown hardships the traditions of our race and did credit to the land it came from”.

It must be remembered that large numbers of 2RR troops, upon being demobbed in Salisbury in July 1917, immediately left to serve with South African and British troops overseas.

The Matabele Rebellion, by D Tyrie Laing, Dean and Son, London.
British and Commonwealth War Cemeteries, by Julie Summers, Shire Library, 2010
Rhodesiana, No 18, July 1968
Burnham: King of Scouts, by Peter van Wyk, Trafford, 2003

Important Notice - October RV 2014

Friday 24 October

Saturday 25 October 2014

Sunday 26 October


Organiser – contact John Glynn for RV tickets by email johndglynn@actrix.co.nz or phone (09) 832 1300

Payment – when making payment kindly email John Glynn with first name and surname of those attending

·         Direct deposit to ASB Bank - Rhodesian Services Assn - A/c 12 3015 0497797 01. Use your surname as reference.

·         Cheques payable to Rhodesian Services Assn, PO Box 13003, Tauranga 3141.

Deadline for RV bookings and ordering RV Lapel Pins – Friday 10 October

Annual Auction
We require goods for our annual auction. Here are a couple of suggestions:

Please contact Paul Nes paulnes@xtra.co.nz or phone 027 441 7235 if you can assist or want more information.

The October RV has been the catalyst for the strength of the Rhodesian Services Association. It has become a part of the Rhodesian Services Associations annual calendar taking place in October over Labour Weekend in Tauranga, New Zealand over the past 11 years.

The first RV was intended as a one off event.  It was set up as a reunion and to acknowledge and honour the soldiers who had been decorated for their services in Rhodesia.

The first RV took place in Tauranga at the 6th Battalion (Hauraki) Regiment’s HQ in Tauranga during Labour Weekend in October 2002. The Commanding Officer of the unit, Lt. Col. John Dick ED welcomed us.  During the course of the welcome Lt. Col. Dick said that he recognised us as soldiers and people who had lost our country and he invited us to form a museum display in the regiment's History Room to safeguard our history.  When Lt. Col. Dick said the word "recognised" he did not realise the importance of that word to all Rhodesians.  I assure you that there were very few dry eyes at the end of his speech that day.

That was the beginning which has led on to a strong association between former Rhodesian soldiers, their families and our new country, New Zealand.  It must not be forgotten that the association between Rhodesia and New Zealand dates back to the late 1800's and the Boer War and on through WWI  and WWII and even into the present day where former Rhodesian soldiers work with New Zealanders in Afghanistan.

Everyone is welcome to attend the RV, irrespective of nationality or service to Rhodesia.

CQ Store
www.rhodesianservices.org/The%20Shop.htm  to see what is in store for you.

Please give our CQ Store consideration when buying a present for friends or family. Profits from the sale of these items go towards the Museum Fund. All prices are in NZ$ and do not include postage.

New – info - UK store
Gerry van Tonder is holding stock of the smaller CQ items in the UK. All items stocked in the UK are noted on our website with a Union Jack. You can order direct from Gerry by emailing g.van-tonder@sky.com

NZ customers can pay by direct deposit with bank details being supplied on request.
Overseas customers - we prefer payment by PayPal, personal or bank cheque.  We can accept personal cheques from most countries with the exception of South Africa. If you elect payment by PayPal, we will bill you from
thecqstore@rhodesianservices.org  Please note that we can only process credit cards via PayPal.  We do not accept postal orders or Western Union transfers. Rest assured, if you want to make a purchase we will make a plan to enable you to pay!

 Clothing - shirts, jackets, caps, beanies, aprons, and regimental ties.
 Berets & Badges – most Rhodesian units available.
 Medals & Ribbons – an extensive range available.
 Posters & Maps – high quality reproductions.
 DVDs & Phone tones – historical footage, unique cell phone tones.
 Other goods - flags, bumper stickers, lighters, and more, as well as quality products direct from our contributing supporters.

Please note that some CQ items are stocked in the UK under the control of Gerry van Tonder g.van-tonder@sky.com These items are accompanied with a note and Union Jack flag indicating this.

New product:
RLI Lapel Pins NZ$15 plus P&P

Adding to our range of lapel pins, these RLI lapel pins are custom made and totally unique. They measure 16mm x 15mm and are made from polished die cast zinc with nickel plate. They are available ex NZ or UK stock.

Popular products:
Rhodesian Coat of Arms cufflink & tie pin set NZ$75 plus P&P

Custom made - unique to the Rhodesian Services Association. These are gold plated to jewellery standard in a 3 metal 4 electro plating process making them more durable than silver plate. The base for the mould was from a Rhodesian Army button which shows the Rhodesian Coat of Arms in relief. The closure device on the tie pin is very secure.

Shot glasses NZ$12.50 ea plus P&P

Made in Italy and custom engraved in New Zealand. Badges shown above are available. We can produce other badges if required. We will accept orders for any number of glasses.

New project:
Rhodesian Women’s Service hats
Ann Fairs, together with a group of ex RWS have requested that we supply them with the RWS tartan green hat. We are organising for a limited number of hats to be custom made in the sizes requested. We will only be making to order.
If you would like one please thecqstore@rhodesianservices.org ASAP in order to get in on the act.

Indicative price – around NZ$150 plus badge cost plus P&P.

Lt. Doreen Grey in centre
(Photo Assegai – June 1978)

To order from the CQ Store - go on line to http://www.rhodesianservices.org/clothing.htm - select what you want and then email thecqstore@rhodesianservices.org for a full price including postage and methods of payment.


Books for Africa
I again remind you that all the books and audio visual disks that I stock and sell are listed at www.rhodesianservices.org/Books.htm  These sales are my own hobby and income from sales is directed to me and not the Rhodesian Services Association.  However, the Association does benefit indirectly from these sales.  A great selection of books, many with a Rhodesian connection, can be found on the link above. All prices are in NZ$ and do not include postage.

New titles:
Mercenaries by Al J Venter $38 (s/b)

Mercenaries have been a part of warfare for centuries, and though the names have changed, continue to play a part in global military conflicts.  In today’s world these ‘soldiers for hire’ are an attractive alternative when Western governments are reluctant to put their militaries at risk for obscure causes that would otherwise be difficult to explain to their electorates.  In this book, noted author and foreign correspondent Al J.  Venter provides a fascinating look at modern mercenary actions in the Middle East and Africa.  From brushfire wars in the Congo to outright genocides in Biafra, highly skilled mercenaries were called upon to fight for order, and also for a living.  Whether facing fanatics in Somalia, staving off cannibals in Sierra Leone, or assisting a civil war in Angola, the mercenaries put their lives on the line for a cause.

Many mercenaries freelanced, but under talented freebooting leaders some groups became crack outfits.  South Africa’s Executive Outcomes became a legend in its own time like a quasi military itself, as it dispatched fighters throughout the continent.  Like an ad hoc Foreign Legion, fighters came from around the globe to participate in combat.  In the US, the publisher of Soldier of Fortune magazine organized repeated expeditions, from Laos to Peru.  In Afghanistan the renowned helicopter gunship pilot ‘Nellis’ has recently lent his skills after almost singlehandedly defeating gruesome insurgencies in Africa.  In this book Venter, who was actively involved in the direction and production of segments of the TV series Mercenaries, provides both background to this unique class of warriors, and a fascinating look at their methods and actions.

The Last Hot Battle of the Cold War - South Africa vs. Cuba in the Angolan Civil War by Peter Polack $32 (s/b)

As the Soviet Union teetered on the edge of collapse during the late 1980s, and America prepared to claim its victory, a bloody war still raged in southern Africa, where proxy forces from both sides vied for control of Angola.

The result was the largest battle on the continent since El Alamein, with forces from both sides paying in blood what US-Soviet diplomats were otherwise spending in diplomacy.  The socialist government of Angola and its army, FAPLA, fully stocked with Soviet weapons, had only to wipe out a massive resistance group, UNITA, secretly supplied by the US in order to claim full sovereignty over the country.  A giant FAPLA offensive so threatened to succeed in overcoming UNITA that apartheid-era South Africa stepped in to protect its own interests.  The white army crossing the border prompted the Angolan government to call on their own foreign reinforcements - the army of Communist Cuba.

Thus began the epic battle of Cuito Cuanavale, which raged for three months in the entirely odd match-up of South Africans vs. Castro’s armed forces, which for the first time in the Cold War proved what they could achieve.  And it turned out the Cubans were very good.  The South Africans were no slouches at warfare themselves, but had suffered under a boycott of weapons since 1977.

The Cuban and Angolan troops, instead, had the latest Soviet weapons, easily delivered.  But UNITA had its secret US supply line and the South Africans knew how to fight, mainly at a disadvantage in air power for lack of spare parts.  Meantime the Cubans overcame their logistic difficulties with an impressive airlift of troops over the Atlantic, while the South Africans simply needed to drive next door.

As a case study of ferocious fighting between East and West - albeit proxies for the great powers on all sides - this book unveils a remarkable episode of the end-game of the Cold War largely unknown to the public.  The Angolans on both sides suffered heavily, but it was the apartheid South Africans versus Castro’s armed forces that provides utter fascination in one of history’s rare match-ups


Rhodesia Regiment 1899 – 1981’by Peter Baxter, Hugh Bomford, Gerry van Tonder et al

Published by the Rhodesian Services Association

At the time of writing bulk stocks of hardbacks are being sea freighted to New Zealand and England.  The Limited Editions have just been completed and will be dispatched to New Zealand for on-forwarding to pre-publication buyers by the same method.

This book is a definitive record of the Rhodesia Regiment. It is being funded and published by the Rhodesian Services Association as part of a major historical record.

Queen Elizabeth II posed for a photo for this book and graciously gave us her good wishes for the success of the project in 2011. She asked if she could have a copy of the book.

On Thursday 7 August 2014 a copy was delivered to Buckingham Palace by Gerry van Tonder and Hugh and Diana Bomford's eldest daughter. The book was duly delivered to the Queen who was in residence at Balmoral Castle at the time. A letter of thanks from Her Majesty was received a few days later. This was landmark event in the history of our country and for this, the largest literary project in the history of Rhodesia, a very proud moment.

Inscription in the Royal presentation book.


Copy of Rhodesia Regiment 1899-1981 prepared for presentation to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Rhodesia Regiment

Christopher Sandamas,
Chief Clerk in the Private Secretary's Office, Buckingham Palace  receives a copy of Rhodesia Regiment 1899–1981 on behalf of Her Majesty.


Letter of thanks

Bulk stock will be held and distributed from South Africa, New Zealand, the UK and Zimbabwe.
South Africa email
New Zealand email
UK email
Zimbabwe email andrew.field@bsap.org

Book details:
Total 614 printed pages 300 x 220mm portrait made up as:
528pp x b/w text/photos
8pp x colour photo section
8pp x colour map section
56pp full colour Honours and Awards and Uniforms, Embellishments and Equipment sections
Appendices covering Honours & Awards includes numerous citations; complete Roll of Honour 1899-1981; Leadership Roll; Intake numbers and dates
2pp x tip-in page
Over 8,000 individual names in the book
Illustrations - over 1,500 photos, maps and drawings 
Weight 2.7kg

Keep watch on this newsletter as well as this web page http://www.rhodesianservices.org/rhodesia-regiment.htm for updates.

Our Supporters– please also view our webpage http://www.rhodesianservices.org/our-supporters.htm
This section is for individuals and businesses who support this Association either by giving us something for auction at the RV in October; by donations from sales generated from our listings of their product or service; by offering discount to buyers who mention the Rhodesian Services Association when making a purchase; contributing material to our Museum and Archives.

Email me at theeditor@rhodesianservices.org for details of how you get a mention here.

The Association is very grateful to all our contributors; please reciprocate this support by supporting them in turn. Please don’t forget to mention where you saw their advert.

Buckles and Tees www.bucklesandtees.co.nz
Mike Vivier has a number of Rhodesian related lines which include the 'Advice to Terrorists' image on t-shirts and aprons as well this stunning Rhodesia Regiment belt buckle which sells for NZ$24.95 excluding postage.  100% New Zealand made.

Mike donates a portion of his income from all Rhodesian related items sold to the Rhodesian Services Association. Please email Mike at mike_jovivier@xtra.co.nz with your order or query or go to www.bucklesandtees.co.nz  and do it on-line.

The Global Forked Stick - Snippets and Requests

With grateful thanks to Vic MacKenzie for use of this illustration to better explain
the ‘forked stick’ connection for those who were not raised in Africa.

Seeking information on Russell Williams, Selous Scouts, KIA Wankie National Park 12 Jan 1978.
From Rob Bresler:
Hello Hugh
We have drawn a blank on resurrecting sufficient obituary info on Russell Williams. Russell was stationed at Main Camp Wankie National Park, not far from Dett. He was KIA 12 January 1978 whilst assisting a BSAP PATU stick on follow-up within the park, close to the tar road entrance. Alistair Hull was with Russell during the contact.

Please could you put out a brief entry in the Newsletter requesting any background info which could assist Gerry van Tonder and Alistair Hull.

Responses to Rob Bresler robresler@gmail.com and Gerry van Tonder g.van-tonder@sky.com please.

Seeking Tim Grassie and Tony Wood
From Suzie Zanzi:
Hi Hugh
By way of introduction my maiden name is Champion. My father was BSAP and I was born in Salisbury.

I am trying to get help with two family searches:
Tim Grassie (born Tim Bennetts)
Born in 1960. Ex Digglefold, Marandellas High and Jameson High. It is believed that Tim was Intake 161 with 1 Independent Coy RAR at Beit Bridge and possibly in the RLI and then Grey Scouts. He had a bad stutter.

Tony Wood
Served with the BSAP in Que Que and Bulawayo. He was medically discharged in 1975 after car accident in Que Que.

Replies to Suzie Zanzisuziezanzi@gmail.com

Seeking John George
I have in the last two weeks found my biological mother, I am now 43!

It is such a wonderful love storey, a relationship condoned by my mum’s mum in those days. My new found mum and I would like to try and find my biological dad, John George. He served in the Rhodesian army but we don't know which unit.  He would have been born around 1950ish. We sincerely hope you are able to help no matter how small the info.
Sincere thanks and regards
Kate Impey

Ph +263 772 515854
Email virginveggies@gmail.com

Guinea Fowl School Reunion - 1 November 2014
Contact Syd Wheeler sydwheel@iafrica.com for information.

National Parks and Wildlife Management Rhodesia and Zimbabwe 1928–1990 by Mike Bromwich
Dear Hugh
I have taken the liberty to write and ask whether you would be so kind as to promote the book or story of Rhodesia National Parks in your newsletter.

National Parks and Wildlife Management Rhodesia and Zimbabwe 1928–1990 is a unique historic and anecdotal account of the finest wildlife conservation agency the continent, and very possibly the world, has ever seen. In this regard it ranks with the likes of our fighting units - the RLI, SAS, RAR and Selous Scouts.

As you will recall the Department had a very close relationship with the military, particularly the army, provided tracking teams and trackers from the early days right through to the end of hostilities. A chapter entitled The War – 12 Years of Conflict covers the period that played a major role in all our lives.. 

The book is currently with the printers in Hong Kong and should be available for distribution from Hilton in KwaZulu Natal in October.

Zimbabwe - I will be bringing books into the country with my intention being to do so in the least expensive manner - duty as opposed to postage and understand that this will not negatively impact on the price of US$75. Local distribution it is hoped will be mid/late November.

It is a large book (A4) 640 pages comprising 700+ photos and 600 pages of text excluding the appendices and, has taken, six years of research and work to produce.

At the moment I am only taking orders for this limited numbered edition of 1500; payment will be requested closer to distribution when I will email everyone and advise costs (see attachment) together with my bank details.

Orders and enquiries to mikebrom@gatorzw.com  or mikebromwich1@gmail.com 

Your assistance is appreciated.

With kind regards
Mike Bromwich

UDI 50th Anniversary reunion

From Alan Hadfield:
“Many of us shared, in one way or another, in the momentous events of the declaration of UDI in Rhodesia on the 11th of November 1965. Many of us now keep contact in our adopted home Australia, but we know the tyranny of distance in this wonderful big continent, means that sharing can be pretty remote - emails and phone etc.

Some of us think it would be wonderful to mark the milestone by sharing together in some form of reunion. The proposal is at this stage to meet for a Rhodesia Reunion on 11 November 2015 providing an opportunity to reconnect with old friends, to share with families and friends the spirit of service from those days, and to make new connections.

The BSAP Regimental Association in Australia has a very active membership and organised a very successful reunion in Canberra in November 2013 with nearly one hundred guests. We would be happy to build on that experience as it was so successful. As policemen we came from many parts of the world, and were proud of our traditions of service to all in our community, and the standards we upheld of fairness, equality before the law, and the care of all in our community in challenging times.

We see this reunion as a chance to continue by those values, and make this an all-inclusive opportunity for anyone who had a connection with those times and country, to remember friends, experiences and the spirit of achievement by such a small nation. This is not in any way a political event but a human one, reconnecting the threads for anyone who was there, not just BSAP, service folks or whatever.

So what can you do?

We would like you to join us for the reunion, but even more importantly, we would like you to share in the making of the reunion a wonderful experience for all.

The present proposal is to gather at Coffs Harbour, NSW - about half way between Sydney and Brisbane, and within easy and affordable access by road, train, bus and plane from pretty much anywhere.  The coastal town has come a long way in recent years, has excellent amenities and lots of things to do.

We have provisionally booked out a hotel / motel which can accommodate between 65 and 105 people.

At this stage the idea is to have a core event of three days, with optional add-on activities before and after.

           Let us know if you are interested in the idea - respond by email.
           Suggest things you would like to see covered or activities to do - a full list will be published.
           Suggest people who might like to come, or forward this email to friends who you think might be interested.

Once feedback is received from those who are interested, along with numbers, we will start to complete an itinerary and circulate to all.

Looking forward to hearing from you soon.
Warm regards
Alan Hadfield (8755) Organising Committee.

P:  +61 2 9824 5520 F:  +61 2 9824 5526 M: +61 420 301 156 E:  alan@ppeheads.com.au

Old Mutual Pensions in Zimbabwe

Dave Panton holds the list mentioned below. Please contact him on email zimpensions@gmail.com or go to www.zimbabwepensions.com for more information and application forms.

If your name appears on the list you are due 1007 shares, valued at US$1,200 and a back payment of dividends. If you are not receiving your pension that can also be claimed.

April 2012 - As part of the indigenisation legislation response agreed between Old Mutual Zimbabwe and the Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe, a special award of shares in Old Mutual Zimbabwe has been granted to those pensioners who acquired a Pensions Plus pension or an Emerald Managed pension from Old Mutual Zimbabwe. The award is due to any pensioner who was entitled to receive these types of pension payments between 01 April 2009 and 01 January 2012, both dates being inclusive. The scheme is now at implementation stage and communication to the pensioners/clients concerned has been sent by post.

Old Mutual is also paying out on all other policies, including endowment etc.

Old Mutual is looking for Protecktor/Diamond Policies holders as they have matured and are available to be cashed in or re-invested in. Currently they are dormant and attracting little growth.

Fact or Fiction?
I continue to receive forwarded emails concerning the origin of the ‘Last Post’ and ‘Taps’. These email contain tear jerking stories relating to an officer during the American Civil War going into no man’s land to help a wounded man , only to find that it is his son when the sun rises……………etc.

Misguided people have been even been known to quote from these emails at official functions such as an ANZAC Day parade.

I have commented on this subject at least twice in the past and provided reference to the correct origin of these tunes.

People – please do not believe everything that you get sent or read on the internet. There is a website www.snopes.comwhere you can check the validity of these things.

Could it be?
Barry Morgan sent in this photo taken on a golf course near Huntly, NZ and wondered if Grunter Robertson had anything to say……….


That’s all folks, so until next time – go well.


Celebrate ‘Rhodesia Day’* on the 11th November each year


*The concept of ‘Rhodesia Day’ originates from the late Eddy Norris and family. During the 90 year
life span of Rhodesia we experienced the best of times and the worst of times. I encourage everyone to use this
day to remember the good times as well as remembering those who are no longer with us.


Rhodesian Services Association donations.
You can make a donation to the Rhodesian Services Association by clicking on our 'Collection Hat' below which is a typical slouch hat of the type used by the Rhodesian Army up until the 1960’s. Click on the hat or this link: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=MLMB2B8Y2UY3G and if you are registered with PayPal the process will be immediate. If you are not a PayPal member you will be given instruction on how to make a credit card payment via PayPal. Thank you - every bit helps.

This newsletter is compiled by Hugh Bomford, Newsletter Editor of the Rhodesian Services Association.  It contains many personal views and comments which may not always be the views of the Association or Committee.