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.
Secretary’s e-mail email@example.com
Editor’s e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone +64 7 576 9500 Fax +64 7 576 9501
To view all previous publications go to our Archives
We apologise for the lack of comms since our last newsletter but the facts of life are that we were exceptionally busy with the release of Rhodesia Regiment 1899-1981 late last year and since then Gerry and I have had a lot of personal and business related matters to deal with including a massive amount of Association commitments.
We will endeavour to keep to our previous intent of publishing every two months in future.
In our last newsletter I wrote about the aims and aspirations of the Association – principally to build a museum and centre for our administration – an “HQ”. At this point we are still probing options as well as exploring ways of securing the additional finance required for a building.
This newsletter is a public document and so it is not the forum to disclose our bank balance. Those of you who were paid up members at the time of our AGM in October 2014 will have been sent our financial report and so you will know that we are in the strongest financial position of any Rhodesian related Association. A strong position – yes, but not strong enough just yet to be able to freehold a building.
This museum must be built in order to protect our history.
We also need to increase our financial membership. To assist with this we need a large percentage of our 2,000 plus listed subscribers to this newsletter, and the 1,900 plus members of our Facebook group to show their support and belief in our aspirations and make the small individual commitment of NZ$10 per annum (on current exchange rates approx. £5, US$7.50, R90) for financial membership.
We ask you all to support us in every way possible.
There is more on this subject further on in Association News.
Please note that I have changed my personal email to email@example.com I did advise readers in August 2014 but some people are still using my old address. By the time you read this my old address firstname.lastname@example.org will have been shut down.
And a last personal note – as you will see from Gerry van Tonder’s column further on in this publication, he has had to make some major changes in his life. He is now doing a certain amount of book proofing and editing, from home, on a professional basis, but this income is not sustainable, so he is also on the lookout for any other employment opportunities necessary to supplement his income. He is based in Derby, UK. If you have something to offer him please email him on email@example.com
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 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 http://www.rhodesianservices.org/guest-book.htm
Guest Map http://www.rhodesianservices.org/guest-map.htm
On line auctions http://www.rhodesianservices.org/auctions.htm
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 firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange delivery if required.
From Neill Jackson 16/2/2015:
“It is with great sadness that I advise of the passing early this morning of my dear father, Peter Jackson, after a long illness bravely borne.
I enclose below a brief tribute in celebration of his life for your information and would appreciate if you could disseminate this news amongst your members to inform them of his passing.
Peter Barry Ronald Jackson was born on 13 May 1926 in London, England. His father Joseph Ronald Jackson was a Squadron Leader in the Royal Air Force, and was killed in action on 23 March 1942, at the age of 39.
Peter left home in 1943, at the age of 17, and joined the Royal Marines, where he rose through the ranks to Colour Sergeant and was awarded his parachute wings. He served in Italy, Ceylon, Burma, Malaya, the Pacific, Hong Kong, Egypt, Cyprus and Malta. He was on board the fleet accompanying USS Missouri into Tokyo Harbour for the signing of the Japanese surrender treaty at the end of World War II.
He met and married WRNS Louise Gilbert in Valetta, Malta, on 07 February 1953.
During his time in the Royal Marines Peter represented Combined Services as a swimmer, and accompanied Canadian Marilyn Bell when she became the youngest woman to swim the English Channel in 1955. He also represented the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy at rugby and shooting.
In 1956 Peter left the Royal Marines to join the Rhodesian Army. Based initially at Llewellin Barracks and School of Infantry as an instructor, where he earned himself a fearsome reputation as a stickler for discipline and smart turnout, and the nickname of ‘PBR’. He successfully completed an Officer Selection Board and was commissioned as an Admin Officer at Llewellin in 1964 with the rank of Captain. He was subsequently posted to the RLI as 2i/c Base Group under Major Chris Snyman.
Peter excelled at sport and represented the various units where he served at rugby, shooting and basketball.
Peter retired from the Army in 1966 and entered the world of commerce, but continued to serve as a Territorial Force officer with 10RR until 1980.
Peter moved the family to Chiredzi in 1972, where he was employed by Sugar Sales and was responsible for the export of sugar from the Hippo Valley and Triangle Sugar Estates.
Peter continued his interest in sport and coached the Matabeleland and Rhodesian water polo teams in the period 1956 to 1960 and was a delegate to the South African Swimming and Water Polo Board of Control until 1970. He was a founder member of the Llewellin Barracks Golf Club and was involved in the building of a short course at the RLI barracks in Cranborne.
After leaving the Army he applied his administrative skills in the post of National Secretary of the Rhodesian Polo Association, and was responsible for organising several international incoming tours, including Peru, Argentina, Chile, South Africa and Spain.
Peter and Louise emigrated to South Africa in 1992, where they settled in Franschhoek and where Peter managed the Franschhoek Water Company and Montmartre Guest House. On his retirement in 2006 Peter moved to Villiersdorp in the Western Cape, and then to Howick in KwaZulu-Natal in 2013.
Peter passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early hours of Monday, 16 February 2015, after a long and debilitating illness, and is finally at rest.
His passing will be mourned by his wife Louise, children Neill and Johanna, Peta Jane and Neill, his four grandchildren and his two great grandchildren.
“This is my command; be strong and courageous, do not be weak or afraid, for the Lord thy God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1 verse 9.”
Received from Paul Carpenter on 17/12/2014:
“I regret to advise that my good friend Malcolm Hair Intake 84 ‘C’ Company, Depot Royal Rhodesia Regiment of September 1966 was called to higher service this morning aged 67.
RIP Malcolm my good buddy you will be missed.
From Malcolm Ross:
“I am enclosing a photo of myself with the well-respected soldier Major Noel Veale, (The Chief) 9RR, A Coy who passed away early last year.
Please include my e mail address as maybe some of my troopies would contact me - email@example.com “
Our Association is a New Zealand registered charity. Our charitable purpose is the preservation of Rhodesian history and to make it available to the general public and for research.
Over the past six years our Assn has evolved into what now has to be run on a business level of accounting with a significant turnover of money and materials.
Our operation is run by a core of dedicated people giving freely of much of their time and energy.
In order to continue our successful development we welcome others who feel they can give a little. We need people to step forward and offer their expertise. We need people who are prepared to actively participate in the running of this Association. Is this for you?
We need the input of younger people. It is the “younger generation” who are going to ensure that the foundations we have put down will continue to develop. None of us served in WWI but that does not stop us from taking an interest in it and seeing to preservation of record. And so it is with ALL of our history. Do not sit back and think that just because you did not serve in Rhodesia’s Security Forces that you are not welcome to participate.
If you have an interest in history then we want you.
Committee as elected at the AGM in October 2015
President – Grant ‘Grunter’ Robinson
Vice President – Hugh Bomford
Secretary – Charles ‘Chuck’ Osborne
Treasurer – Diana Bomford
Curator – Tony Fraser
Newsletter Editor – Hugh Bomford
Quartermaster – Hugh Bomford
Webmaster – Hugh Bomford
Gerry van Tonder
Please get in behind our Association – convert your freebie newsletter subscription into a financial membership. Subscriptions fall due on 1 October every year. Please contact Chuck Osborne on email firstname.lastname@example.org for payment details or to check if your subs are due.
Subscriptions are NZ$10 per annum – every little bit helps so please support us and as highlighted in the Editorial we need commitment in order to steer this ship into a secure future.
If everyone gives a little – we will succeed.
What sort of people do we need assistance from?
As keeper and maintainer of the address book and membership records I would really like someone to take over this job. It is not hard – it just needs average computer skills and attention to detail – one or two hours a week maximum and it can be done from anywhere in the world. Someone who likes to work tidily with lists and databases would be ideally suited.
1) Identifying how to fund building our museum and HQ base in order to secure the preservation of our history is a primary objective. We have identified a suitable site close to the Classic Flyers Museum on Tauranga airport land in New Zealand – now we need to find the funds.
2) Cataloguing all our museum items in order that the information can be accessible via the internet.
3) Digitising records of names and regimental numbers that we hold in order that they can be more easily searched. It is intended that these will eventually be accessible via the internet.
4) Various ongoing CQ Store projects including the custom manufacture of Rhodesian Women’s Service hats – the first ever attempt at this in the post Rhodesia days.
All these projects require a lot of time and specific skills. Above all they require commitment to our overall objective. If you want to become involved and can help, please make yourself known to us.
On the 14th November 2014 we un-crated the 5th Battalion Rhodesia Regiment Roll of Honour memorial stone – a 130kg piece of black granite which we recovered from Zimbabwe where it had come under threat. We are grateful to all those who assisted us along the way.
It must also be said that did our Association not have the strong financial basis that we currently have, the successful completion of projects like this could not have been achieved.
It is in a temporary place of rest in New Zealand and can be viewed by appointment with the Editor of this newsletter.
Association Curator, Tony Fraser un-crating the 5RR RoH
“They rest from their labours and the memory of their deed shall remain.”
How true, and let us do everything possible to retain those memories
Dateline Rhodesia 1890 – 1980
by Gerry van Tonder, author and historian
It has indeed been quite a while since I have had the time to write my column. Your Association has been very busy with the distribution of Rhodesia Regiment 1899–1981, attracting the most amazing response.
The book that was presented to Queen Elizabeth II
Major Andrew M. Banks (British Army Directorate of Manning) describes the publication:
“The text, pictures and illustrations, combine into a volume that is now a benchmark for regimental histories”.
Brigadier G de Vere W Hayes CBE, Board of Trustees, The Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum has this to say:
“Any regimental history is the result of diligent work by dedicated individuals. This book, relating the eighty-year story of the Rhodesia Regiment, covering native uprisings, the Boer War, two World Wars, the Malayan Emergency and finally the Rhodesian Civil War, was researched and compiled over seven years by a core group, helped by some 400 contributors. They have done an outstanding job and recorded the history of a regiment justifiably proud of its achievements.
It is sad that the crisis in Rhodesia and the eventual declaration of UDI severed links with the KRRC and stripped the Regiment of its ‘Royal’ endorsement. It is also sad that with the creation of the Zimbabwean Defence Force, the Rhodesia Regiment ceased to exist, fading away with discreet laying up of colours ceremonies across the country and little recognition of the achievements and sacrifice of many in the service of Great Britain.
However, as the authors record, whilst it was found inappropriate to have a territorial force named the Rhodesia Regiment in the nascent Zimbabwe Defence Force, in order not to lose the initials ‘RR’ the Regiment was renamed the Rifle Regiment in the last few months of its existence. Thus, the rifle regiment alliance made in 1914 with the KRRC was remembered until the end.
Just as the Rhodesia Regiment was proud of these links, so the KRRC valued the alliance, forged in battle, with their Rhodesian comrades-in-arms. The Chairman and Trustees of The Royal Green Jackets Museum are most grateful to the authors for donating a copy of the History to the Museum library.”
On the personal front, I pushed the boat out at the end of September and left the company that had been my place of employ for twelve years. The reasons are personal, but I will simply say that the work environment had become untenable. I have, since then, been devoting all my time and energy into the field of my greatest passion: writing, researching, copy-editing and proofreading. I have finally been able to submit my Intaf manuscript, Op Lighthouse, to my publisher, a project that has been on the backburner for almost two years as the RR book project took up all my ‘free’ time.
During this time, I also – somehow – managed to completed the draft manuscript for the Rhodesian African Rifles Book of Remembrance, commissioned by the UK branch of the RAR Association as part of the Memorial project, both to raise funds and as a commemorative publication. Sunday, 19 July 2015, will be a singularly momentous and unique day in the annals of the proud military history of Rhodesia. On this day, the officially sanctioned Memorial to the Rhodesian African Rifles and its predecessor, the Rhodesia Native Regiment, will be unveiled and dedicated at the British National Memorial Arboretum near Alrewas in the English midlands. This landmark event now finally recognizes the loyalty and sacrifices made by the men of this regiment serving Crown and country.
Construction work will commence at the beginning of May, with Brigadier Pat Lawless SCR the project manager. Gen Mike Shute OLM, chairman of fundraising, told me at an RAR committee meeting in London on Saturday, 17 January, that funds are still needed for this vitally important project. This is a sketch of the Memorial. The back wall will carry plaques with the names of the regiment’s fallen.
The Foundation Years
The murder of a black BSACo policeman on the night of Friday, 20 March, 1896, heralded what would become known as the Matabele Rebellion, as the amaNdebele rose against white occupation. In mid-July of that year, a spate of murders in the Hartley, Charter, Mazoe, Lomagundi, and Salisbury districts, indicated that the Mashona had joined their erstwhile amaNdebele masters in the insurrection.
Towards the end of June, Brevet Lieutenant-Colonel Edwin Alfred Hervey Alderson, Royal West Kent Regiment, left the Cape for Beira, having been diverted from deployment in Matabeleland to bolster troop levels in Mashonaland. Alderson, who would be placed in command of the northern Mashonaland troops, landed at Beira on July 5, 1896. The force comprised:
(a) Mounted Infantry (Rifle Company and Instructors Company)
(b) Royal Artillery
(c) Royal Engineers
(d) Medical Staff Corps
(e) Army Service Corps
(f) Honey's Scouts
(g) Detachment - Yorkshire and Lancashire Regiment
According to Robert Baden-Powell in his book The Matabele Campaign, 1896 (Methuen and Co., London, 1897), disembarkation and transport by rail proved very problematic. In the absence of wharves, tugs, and lighters, unloading all the troops and equipment was very difficult. En route, one train was stuck in the Pungwe flats for twenty-four hours; another derailed, and a following train collided with the wreckage. Umtali was reached on 19 July.
At the time, the powerful Mashona Chief Makoni fomented considerable unrest in his domain, due mainly to his displeasure with the Rusape Native Commissioner (NC) Archie Ross, whom he considered to be a rival white chief. Through the month of June, an increasing number of murders were being reported, especially in the Hartley, Mazoe, Beatrice, Headlands, and Rusape areas (114 civilians were murdered during the Mashona uprising). NC Ross became aware that Chief Makoni was preparing to launch a 4,000-strong attack on European farms in his district. The Jameson Raid had significantly reduced the number of fighting men in the country, so Ross knew he had a major problem that he personally had to deal with.
Field Force troops at the time of the 1896 rebellions (National Archives)
On 20 June, Ross rode out all by himself to pay a visit to Makoni at his Gwindingwe Hill stronghold. Surrounded by heavily armed warriors, Ross warned Makoni to disband his force or face the might of Empire troops. Miraculously, Ross left untouched, and on his way back he passed the word for all Europeans to vacate their farms. These evacuees were laagered at Hartley. The day after Ross’ visit to Makoni, his warriors swept into the countryside, unsuccessfully attacking the laager at Hartley. The next day, Chief Native Commissioner HM Taberer led the Hartley refugees to Umtali.
By 28 July, Colonel Alderson’s force was making its way to Salisbury, with NC Ross showing the way. On 30 July, Ross, riding in advance of the column, came under attack near Devil’s Pass, but the rebels quickly dispersed when the main force arrived. The next few days were spent visiting kraals, offering assistance to those chiefs who had remained loyal, and burning down the huts of those who had shown resistance.
According to Civil Commissioner and Magistrate H Marshall Hole in his report to the British South Africa Company, at 0200 hours on 3 August, Alderson left the camp with two companies of mounted infantry, detachments of Royal Artillery and Engineers, and sixty volunteers. With added support in the form of two seven-pounders and a Maxim, the column set off for Makoni’s kraal.
Just before first light, the force split in two and encircled the kraal. The occupants were caught totally unawares, but they put up a fierce resistance. It was only after two hours of shelling that the force was able to storm the kraal, where a fierce struggle ensued, resulting in the death of Captain Alfred Ernest Haynes of the Royal Engineers. According to the London Gazette of 5 April 1898, Privates Smith Vickers of the King’s Royal Rifles and William Wickham of the Royal Irish Regiment were also killed. A further six were wounded, with one, Private Richard Broad of the Rifle Brigade, having to have a leg amputated.
Two hundred rebels were killed and the rest fled. The kraal was put to the torch. To consolidate his situation, Alderson established a fort on a road near Makoni’ kraal, calling it Fort Haynes in honour of the fallen officer.
Over the next few months, intensive operations by the force worked towards quelling the insurrection. During this time, Chief Makoni and a number of his followers remained holed up in the caves behind his kraal and therefore in close proximity to Fort Haynes. Eventually, Major Watts of the Derbyshire Regiment, attacked and besieged Makoni’s position, capturing the chief on 4 September. Makoni was tried by court-martial and executed the next day. Watts’s action in confirming the death sentence was called into question by the Imperial authorities in Cape Town, and he was placed under arrest. He was, however, exonerated from blame after a full inquiry.
Captain Haynes, as a junior officer, had been selected by Colonel Charles Warren to accompany him on the Palmer Search Expedition in 1882 and in the Bechuanaland Expedition of 1884–5. He was assistant instructor in Survey at the School of Military Engineering from 1889 to 1894, and in 1896, while taking the 43rd Company to Mauritius, he, with his company, joined the Matabeleland Expedition. A fund, to which many Royal Engineers’ officers subscribed, was raised by his family and friends to erect a memorial in Rochester Cathedral. A balance of the fund was offered to the corps and was used to provide a bronze medal, known as the Haynes Memorial Medal, to be awarded to a sapper in each party of recruits going through the Field Work course at the School of Military Engineering.
Haynes Memorial Medal (Internet)
Battle of Trekkopje: 26 April 1915
On 9 September 1914, South African Prime Minister General Louis Botha recalled parliament to vote on a request from his former enemy of a brief twelve years ago, to ‘… seize such part of German South West Africa as will give them the command of Swakopmund, Lüderitzbucht, and the wireless stations there or in the interior’. With the Great War only weeks old, Britain knew that it had to neutralize German expansion in German South West Africa. The Union parliament voted ninety-one votes to twelve in favour of answering the call. The mobilization of troops included the newly formed 1st Rhodesia Regiment.
During September, four columns of South African troops were deployed to the south and along the coast of South West Africa, including the Southern Force under General Jan Smuts, which gained control of the harbour town, Lüderitzbucht.
On 26 December, the Northern Force landed at Walvis Bay, a natural deep-water harbour and therefore of strategic importance. Lieutenant-Colonel PCB Skinner was in charge of the whole expeditionary force pending the arrival of General Botha on 11 February. The combatant units included the 1st Imperial Light Horse, Grobelaar’s Scouts, a machine gun section, a heavy artillery brigade, and the 3rd and 4th Infantry Brigades. 3 Brigade was commanded by Lieutenant-Colonel FR Burnside of 1st Rhodesia Regiment, and included the 2nd Transvaal Scottish, the Kimberley Regiment, and the 1st Rhodesia Regiment.
German South West Africa, showing the two-pronged assault into the territory by South African forces. Trekkopje is on the railway line, 45km northeast of Swakopmund.
(Image by Dudley Wall, courtesy Rhodesia Regiment 1899–1981)
On 26 April, German and Allied Forces engaged each other at the small railway station of Trekkopje, situated on the main line to Windhoek and Tsumeb. The German forces comprised five companies, totalling 700 Schutztruppe, supported by eight 7.5cm-calibre mountain guns. The combined South African and Allied troops in 3 Brigade, numbered 1,300, supported by nine armoured cars and a BLC 15-pounder Armstrong anti-aircraft gun, nicknamed ‘Skinny Lizzy’.
A Reuter’s Special Correspondent accompanying the Northern Force, WW O’Shaughnessy, reported on what became known as the Battle of Trekkopjes. The account is contained in the book How Botha and Smuts Conquered German South West, which he co-authored with WS Rayner (Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co Ltd; First Edition 1916).
“The engagement at Trekkopjes, a siding on the Swakopmund Otavi railway line guarded by the 3rd Infantry Brigade, afforded a remarkable and not altogether impressive demonstration of the military strategy of our opponents, although, had it not been that their intentions became known to Colonel Skinner by a mere chance, recalling a similar coincidence at Swakopmund on Sunday, February 7, the enemy might have furnished our troops with an unpleasant surprise.
On the night of Monday, April 25, Colonel Skinner, accompanied by the Imperial Light Horse, proceeded on a reconnaissance in force along the south of the line in the direction of Ebony. The troops left behind at Trekkopjes were the Scottish and Kimberley regiments, with the Naval Armoured Motorcar Section, recently arrived from England, and incidentally the Continent, where they had already seen active service.
For several hours the column trekked onward past Karub Siding, the moon casting a deceptive light over the wide and undulating expanse of the desert, without, however, revealing anything materially disquieting. At about 1 am, when near Ebony, the advance guard of the Imperial Light Horse reported a strong body of the enemy, with guns, moving parallel with the railway line on the opposite side. The steady rumble of the gun carriages travelling along a ridge, running from the Palgrave Mine to Trekkopjes, could now be distinctly heard by the main party.”
1st Rhodesia Regiment Maxim section, commanded by Lt. F Hollingsworth, extreme right.
(Namibia National Archives)
So close did one of the ILH troopers get to the Germans, in an endeavour to ascertain their strength, that in the dust-laden air he was suddenly passed by a horseman, who peremptorily ordered him in strong guttural tones to "keep in line."
After such a close call our intrepid scout chose in preference a bee-line back to his regiment. Some critics have pertinently asked why Colonel Skinner did not immediately arrange for an ambuscade across the German line of advance. Such a hastily-planned ambush against an unknown force might or might not have succeeded, although it is difficult to believe that confusion and upset of the German plans would not have resulted in (who knows?) a few guns to our credit. Colonel Skinner decided on the alternative and retired at some speed to prepare the camp at Trekkopje against surprise. The Rhodesians were hastily summoned by train from Arandis Siding, about twenty miles back on the line, and the Scottish and Kimberleys were promptly set to work striking tent and extending the entrenchment around the camp.
The Scottish occupied the right flank along the semi-circular line of trenches covering the point from which the attack was expected, the Kimberleys being disposed across the centre, and the left flank was reserved for the Rhodesians, who arrived at 7.30 am, in time to close up the line before the attack commenced.
At 5.45 am the near approach of the enemy was proclaimed by an explosion on the railway line. It afterwards appeared that the enemy blew up the line east of the camp with the intention of preventing the arrival of reinforcements by rail, on the supposition that it was south of our position.
Schutztruppewith Krupp 7.5 cm Gebirgskanone M 08 mountain gun employed at Trekkopje
(Namibia National Archives)
At 7.40 am the enemy began shelling the camp from the ridges south-east of Palgrave Mine, at a range of about 5,000 yards, advancing and retiring their guns by half batteries.
Certain of the tents had been left standing, and in the half-light the Germans energetically directed their first deluge of shrapnel solely over the deserted canvas. Unfortunately, apart from the anti-aircraft gun, the camp was without a single field-piece with which to respond to the ceaseless shower of shell, and "Skinny Liz" came in for far too much flattering attention at the hands of the German gunners to enable her to be utilised during the attack. A further unlucky circumstance was the removal, only a day or two before, of two guns of the Heavy Artillery Brigade, recalled to participate in the general advance commencing the same day from Swakopmund.
As the morning advanced the enemy began to develop an attack on foot with fixed bayonets, securing good cover among the rocks and melk-bushes, which here abound.
Owing to the rocky nature of the ground it was found impossible in the time available before the arrival of the enemy to deepen our trenches to any appreciable extent, and in consequence many of our casualties occurred through the lack of sufficient cover, several of the men being wounded in their legs, which projected behind them.
The brunt of the attack was borne by the 2nd Kimberley Regiment, though all engaged underwent an experience which, if brief by comparison, yet in its fierce intensity was not dissimilar to European warfare as practised today.
South African Ordnance BLC (Breech loading converted) 15-pounder gun ‘Skinny Liz’ used at Trekkopje(Namibia National Archives)
Probably the principal rebuff to the Germans was administered by the naval men with their armoured cars, which, moving to and fro on the south of the railway, sprayed the cautiously advancing Germans with Maxim fire as they flitted for cover from bush to bush. These newly-acquired war-machines came as a rude and unexpected shock to the Germans, whose aviator had mistakenly listed them in his report as field kitchens! The cars might have offered them a further revelation had it not been that the railway embankment proved insurmountable and prevented the armoured cars from getting to closer quarters with the enemy. So well are these cars protected that a rifle bullet, fired at point blank range, fails to penetrate the armour.
Lieut. Hollingsworth, in charge of the Machine Gun Section with the Rhodesian Regiment, was early shot dead while counselling his men to take better cover.
The firing was heavy and continuous until 10.30 am, when the German rifle and machine gun fire began to slacken.
As it appeared that the enemy were about to retire, the Kimberley and Transvaal Scottish battalions were ordered to counter-attack, and shortly afterwards all the available Imperial Light Horse, consisting of a squadron and a-half, were sent forward on the outer flank towards the north-west; but small progress could be made against the German artillery, which vigorously renewed its energies to cover the retirement. An hour later, at 11.30, the German batteries limbered up and withdrew, whereupon "Skinny Liz" rapped out a few retorts in return for the forward advances made by the Germans throughout the morning.
German Schutztruppe with Maxim machine gun (Namibia National Archives)
Our casualties were three officers and six men killed, and two officers and thirty men wounded. The Germans left on the field, two officers and five men killed; and two officers and twelve men wounded. We also captured one officer and twelve men. The diary of a German doctor found in Windhoek gave the total German casualties as fifty-four. The official German report of the fight makes interesting reading:-
‘Major Bitter attacked the enemy at daybreak on April 26. The enemy held a well-fortified and favourable position along the Otavi railway, and in spite of our having destroyed the line at the beginning of the action, they were able, after a very short time, to pour in reinforcements by armoured motorcars, together with artillery from Arandis, Rossing, Khan and from the north. We subjected their camp to artillery and rifle fire for a considerable time, but at 10 am our troops were compelled to withdraw, as still more reinforcements were reported to be approaching. Our losses are not yet definitely ascertained, as a number of our wounded fell into the hands of the enemy. Amongst our wounded are Hauptmann [Captain] Von Watter, Baron Bentheim and Dr Mahnz (Chief Medical Officer), in the hands of the enemy. There is still uncertainty as to the fate of twenty-six other wounded men.’
Commonwealth War Graves Commission Cemetery at Trekkopje, where the headstones of the nine killed in action at Trekkopje can be seen (Photo CWGC)
It may be explained that the Germans, in mistake, blew up the line ahead of Trekkopjes instead of behind, as actually intended, to prevent the arrival of reinforcements.
With regard to the strength of the enemy force engaged, it was difficult to estimate accurately the numbers owing to the dust and their good cover. Prisoners admitted they had 700 mounted men with two batteries of quick-firers, but an Imperial Light Horse officer, whose especially good position to the west of Trekkopjes enabled him to gauge the number of Germans, thought that 1,500 was probably a truer reckoning. The prisoners also stated that another force with guns should have attacked our camp from the east, but failed to materialise.
The severity of the artillery bombardment was demonstrated by the riddled condition of the tents which had been left standing, shrapnel and shell splinters being found in exuberant plenty, embedded in kits and lying about the camp ground.
A curious feature in the German commissariat was noted that day when the water-bottles of the majority of the prisoners and wounded men were found to contain rum in varying quantities. Later we ascertained from natives that the officers of the force set out from Usakos to Trekkopjes on a wave of enthusiasm and champagne, and returned on a backwash of depression.
Lt Hollingsworth’s grave at Trekkopje
(Photo Steve Rogers, The War Graves Photographic Project, with apologies for poor quality)
Prison Medal for Gallantry, RPM (Gerry van Tonder collection)
A silver, 36mm circular medal, it was awarded ‘For Gallantry’. The obverse carries the armorial bearings encircled by the words ‘Rhodesia Prison Service’. The reverse carries the Zimbabwe bird with the words ‘For Gallantry’.
Only one recipient of this award is recorded; that of Warder Masukume, gazetted on 13 October 1970, for displaying particular gallantry and devotion to duty. Masukume, single-handedly, pursued an escaped hard-labour convict who, on being cornered, severely beat the warder about his head. The prisoner robbed Masukume and fled. In spite of his injuries, which would require subsequent hospitalisation, Masukume continued to chase after the escapee, who was eventually captured in a piece of open ground.
Above and Beyond
160209 Flying Officer William Keith DIVES
44 (Rhodesia) Squadron
Royal Air Force Voluntary Reserve
The London Gazette of 21 September 1945 announced the award of the Distinguished Flying Cross to FO William Dives. His citation, taken from his book (see bibliography) states:
“This officer, as Captain of aircraft, has completed numerous operations against the enemy, in the course of which he has invariably displayed great fortitude, courage and devotion to duty”.
Dives completed no fewer than thirty-six sorties, an amazing achievement in itself.
Born in Que Que, Dives attended Prince Edward School.
Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC)
The Capricorn Africa Society was founded in Southern Rhodesia by David Stirling DSO, OBE in 1949. The society’s objective was for the democratic and multi-racial development of East and Central Africa. The Society has been described as “a small band of idealists in the decade before independence who believed that a future without racial discrimination would allow the countries of east and central Africa to prosper”.
David Stirling was born in Scotland on 15 November 1915. He settled in Rhodesia after WWII, where he was shocked by what he perceived as rising racial hatred in the country. He decided to do something about it, by forming a society of all Africans, regardless of colour, in which all would have equal rights and a basic vote. Capricorn's 5,000 members confined their work to the British territories between the equator and the Tropic of Capricorn, including the two Rhodesias, Nyasaland, Kenya, and Tanganyika.
A descendant of Scottish aristocrats and the son of a brigadier-general, Stirling was serving as a colonel with the Scots Guards at the outbreak of WWII. With the British locked in combat in North Africa with Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Corps and its Italian allies, the young officer fought the military bureaucracy to form a special outfit to operate behind enemy lines.
David Stirling (Photo Wikipedia)
He was allowed to recruit 66 men from what remained of the Layforce. The unit formed in July 1941 was initially known at L Detachment of the Special Air Service Brigade. It was renamed the 1st SAS in September 1942. Operating at night and hiding out by day, Stirling and his men staged lightning raids on enemy airfields and munition dumps.
The raiders, among them Randolph Churchill, the son of Winston Churchill, blew up planes and vehicles causing mayhem deep in enemy territory. Stirling led the unit for fourteen months before the Germans, who had dubbed him the ‘Phantom Major’, captured him. He escaped, was recaptured, and spent the rest of the war as a POW in Colditz Castle, Germany.
In North Africa, in the fourteen months before Stirling’s capture, the SAS had destroyed over 250 aircraft on the ground, dozens of supply dumps, wrecked railways and telecommunications, and had put hundreds of enemy vehicles out of action. Field Marshal Montgomery described Stirling as “mad, quite mad” but admitted that men like Stirling were needed in time of war.
SAS badge (Image Dudley Wall)
The winged dagger design symbolized Excalibur, the sword of the legendary King Arthur: a sword to win freedom from the invader. The two shades of blue represented the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, from where two of the very first recruits came.
Decorated for bravery, Stirling left the army after the war and went to live in Africa, where he founded the Capricorn Africa Society to promote racial harmony. Later he ran Watchguard (International) Ltd., a secretive company through which he helped train security units for Arab and African countries.
In the 1970s, with Britain in economic turmoil, he emerged at the head of GB75, another shadowy group that offered to recruit civilian ‘patriots’ to deal with left-wing anarchy “should an undemocratic event take place” and an impending general strike.
Stirling was awarded the Distinguished Service Order on 20 February 1942 (as an acting captain); Mentioned in dispatches 24 February and 30 June 1942; and appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire on 12 November 1946.
He was knighted (Knights Bachelor) in Queen Elizabeth’s New Year’s honours list on 30 December 1989. He died the following year, eleven days before his seventy-fifth birthday.
Lieutenant-Colonel David Sterling’s original OBE recommendation citation
(National Archives UK)
At the Going Down of the Sun
On the night of 6–7 July 1944, forty-seven bombers (Lancaster, Wellington and Halifax) took off from Tortorella, about four to five miles east of Foggia in southern Italy. The sortie included Wellington bombers from RAF 70 Squadron. The mission was an attack on the German fighter base Fels am Wagram in Lower Austria. German night fighters shot down thirteen bombers, including five from 70 Squadron.
One of the aircraft shot down was Vickers Wellington Mk X JA 520, in which twenty-five-year-old Rhodesian 778127 Sergeant Edwin Guy DAVIES was the bomb aimer. The son of Llewellyn and Jane Isabell Davies, of Bulawayo, Southern Rhodesia, Sergeant Davies is buried in the Commonwealth War Graves Commission’s Klagenfurt War Cemetery, in Austria.
Sgt Davies headstone (CWGC)
As the dust settled after the Zimbabwe independence elections in 1980, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wrote to Lord Christopher Soames, who, as Governor of Southern Rhodesia, had been in charge of the transition.
Mrs Thatcher indicates in her letter, pictured below, that the result was a resounding success, in no small measure due to the “devoted work” of Soames and his team, giving Zimbabwe a “… most convincing start to its new life …”
…and they said
“Our colonial expansion, especially in South Africa, is not undertaken with any idea of show-off, but for the use of our overflow population now, and, more especially in the near future.
Rhodesia comprises all that is worth having in the unoccupied parts of South Africa, and its ultimate development is perfectly assured, without the addition of the riches even of Johannesburg”. Colonel Robert SS Baden-Powell in 1897, shortly after his departure from Rhodesia.
Until the next time, a smile …
Daily Express 12 November 1965
Daily Telegraph, 5 November 1990
Dives, William, A Bundu Boy in Bomber Command, Trafford 2003
Maclean, Joy DFC, The Guardians, Books of Rhodesia 1974
ANZAC Day, Saturday 25th April 2015
Please view this link for known parade venues and contacts in New Zealand and Australia where Rhodesians assemble www.rhodesianservices.org/events.htm
The Rhodesian Services Association’s annual point of focus is the parade at the Hobsonville RSA, Auckland, New Zealand. In the recent past we have had up to 100 people with links to Rhodesia in attendance – let’s see if we can beat that this year. We recommend that you get there at 9.30am in time to form up at 10.15am.
While ANZAC Day has no direct Rhodesian link it has become an important day on the calendars of those of us who live in the Antipodes on account that we have been warmly welcomed by our friends in the countries in which we have chosen to live and we wish to respect their heritage and they in turn have honoured us with their invitations to participate in their parades.
Visit 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.
UK based stock
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org Please note that we can only process credit cards via PayPal. 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 email@example.com These items are accompanied with a note and Union Jack flag indicating this.
After a 15 year gestation period, this long awaited book is now available:
Rhodesia Regiment 1899 – 1981 by Peter Baxter, Hugh Bomford, Gerry van Tonder et al. Published by the Rhodesian Services Association.
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, Colonel in Chief of the Royal Rhodesia Regiment, 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.
Contact these stockists for price details:
Worldwide sales ex New Zealand email firstname.lastname@example.org
South Africa email email@example.com
UK email firstname.lastname@example.org
Zimbabwe email email@example.com
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
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.
Remembrance Poppy lapel pins NZ$10 plus P&P
We produced these for people who want to wear a Remembrance Poppy as a mark of respect on special days, not necessarily the nationally marked days of Armistice and ANZAC.
Each one comes with a small label card in which you can write an inscription if you are going to be giving it to someone.
They are available ex NZ or UK stock.
Braai Aprons NZ$30 plus P&P
We can put any of our embroidery patterns on the aprons (see the top of this linked page www.rhodesianservices.org/clothing.htm for examples of our patterns). Above are examples of currently stocked aprons L-R:
Rhodesian Services Association, Rhodesian Coat of Arms, Flame Lily; the iconic “Advice to every terrorist” (which is an iron on transfer and is very durable – I have been using one of these for years with no sign of deterioration).
Remember – when you support the Rhodesian Services Association CQ Store you are helping to preserve Rhodesian history.
To order from the CQ Store - go on line to http://www.rhodesianservices.org/clothing.htm - select what you want and then email firstname.lastname@example.org for a full price including postage and methods of payment.
Books for Africa
I again remind you that all the books and audio visual disks that I stock and sell are listed at www.rhodesianservices.org/Books.htm These sales are my own hobby and income from sales is directed to me and not the Rhodesian Services Association. However, the Association does benefit indirectly from these sales. A great selection of books, many with a Rhodesian connection, can be found on the link above. All prices are in NZ$ and do not include postage.
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 logistical 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
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Calling former students of Milton and Eveline Schools, Bulawayo
Adrian Monck-Mason (in Los Angeles) is maintaining an Old Miltonian website www.oldmiltonians.com which includes coverage of Eveline High School and also Milton Junior. He would very much appreciate contributions to the website in the form of old school photographs, magazines, documents etc. which would ensure the preservation of the history and achievements of all three schools.
If you have anything suitable for the website please contact Adrian at email@example.com and give him details.
UDI 50th Anniversary reunions
Venue - Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia 13-16 November 2015. Contact Alan Hadfield firstname.lastname@example.org
Venue - Perth, WA, Australia 7 November 2015. Contact Peter Glynn email@example.com
8 Signal Sqn. Rhodesian Army
Can anyone who served with 8 Signal Squadron please contact Allan Schrag on firstname.lastname@example.org
Allan served in that unit and is looking to contact former members as he tries to collate and preserve the chronological history of the unit. He is looking for photos, recollections, anecdotes etc. during the Rhodesian war years. Confidentiality, if required, is guaranteed.
Can you help?
On 1 February 1978, a vehicle carrying troops at the end of their call-up was ambushed as they were leaving Vila Salazar. The cab of the vehicle was hit by an RPG-7 rocket, killing the occupants instantly:
• Rfn Jose Alpium of ‘C’ Coy 9RR
• Sgt Andrew Berrington of ‘C’ Coy 9RR
• Rfn Colin Murray (driving) of ‘C’ Coy 9RR
Neil ‘Radar’ Harper is trying to help David Price, a soldier who was there that day and desperately tried to keep his friend Jo Alpium alive. David is suffering from PTSD. Neil is a member of a UK based organisation tasked with assisting in this sort of situation.
Neil would welcome contact from anyone who was there that day or who has any information concerning those who were. Please email Neil on email@example.com
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.