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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

THE FARMER AT WAR RHODESIA

RPG ROCKET ATTACK ON RHODIE FARMHOUSE


Text extracted from Publication The Farmer at War-Trevor Grundy and Bernard Miller


THESE WERE EXEPTIONALLY BRAVE PEOPLE WHO STRUGGLED FOR THEIR LAND.


Foreword
THIS is a salute to our farmers — white and black farmers and their families who have been in the frontline of the terror war for more than a decade. This is their story told by them.
It is a story of heroism and tragedy, of dedicated determination and tenacity in the face of an unprecedented onslaught on the land. Many have died and many more have been maimed.
Their moral and physical courage is being sorely tried and tested over and again. Lord Moran, who was Sir Winston Churchill's physician for more than a quarter of a century, once wrote: "Courage is willpower ... A man's courage is his capital and he is always spending ..." There is no doubting the willpower of the farming community.
Courage has different faces. There is the courage to stand up and shoot back to drive the raiders from the homestead and land; there is, too, the courage to plough, plant and reap another crop, putting all at risk season after season.
The Farmer at War is also a tribute to those in commerce and industry who provide vital services to agriculture; a tribute to agronomists, extension and veterinary officers in both the public and private sectors; a tribute to the Police and Security Forces. Their combined contribution is incalculable.
Foremost, however, this salute is to the women behind the men — the farming wives. In them lies the strength of our nation.
Denis Norman,President,Rhodesia National Farmers' Union(now the Commercial Farmers' Union)
Chapter One
In the frontline
THERE'S an audible crackle, not loud or piercing, but as if someone is screwing up sweet paper close to your head, and like a string of green fairylights, tracers arc their way almost lazily towards the darkened homestead. Immediately, or so it seems, from behind an unlit window an FN rifle barks its harsh reply, followed by another and another. From a rock outcrop, slightly elevated so that attacking fire is aimed advantageously down on the farmhouse, a mere 100 metres away, the first mortar thumbs skywards. It soars high over the house and, thankfully for its occupants, explodes harmlessly in the bush. The long swish of a rocket, the deadliest of projectiles, is followed by an explosive thump. A hit! Hot lead ricochets off brick wall and rock outcrop, sparking, whining in a cacophony of crossfire.
As that first attacking bullet sped through the sound barrier cracking out its message of death, she awakes almost expectantly, rolls from the bed to the floor and crawls on hands and knees towards the radio alarm which will alert Security Forces and neighbouring families. There's no panic or hesitation. She's practiced this over and again. Night after night. . .just in case. But this is no practice...it's the real thing.
Her actions are automatic. Purely instinctive. She gropes for the alarm button, finds it and presses. She's oblivious to the high-pitched scream coming from the set, a scream of alarm that lasts a mere 12 seconds, but to her could be 12 long hours; oblivious too to bleeding legs, wounds inflicted as she laboured across splintered glass. Only seconds, not long now. "Control.. .go", the disembodied voice comes over clearly, calmly. Reassuring. "Under attack from the north," she replies, her voice low but steady. No trace of hysteria, yet.. .that will come later.
"Small arms, mortar, I think. Maybe rockets, too."
Only a split second before she made that first move (was she really awake, or still asleep and motivated by some unseen hand. Or was it just another repetitive nightmare?) her husband's FN cracked out its first retaliatory burst, unaimed, unsighted. From their son's bedroom came a second burst and a third burst of automatic fire from their police guard. In another bedroom two small youngsters huddle together under their beds. It had been a great game to dive for cover when Dad shouted "bang, bang, you're dead." It was a game that saved their lives. They, too, were calm, solemn-eyed and seemingly oblivious to the shattering noise of battle.
The attack ends as suddenly as it started. Silence. Then a muted thump and the night sky is lit by an orange glow. Retreating, the raiders fire barns and equipment, drive off the farm labour and fire their compound.
In that attack 42 mortar bombs were dropped into the farm complex and approximately 2 000 rounds of small arms fire pumped into the farmhouse.
At first light Security Forces launch follow-up operations on the ground and in the air. The hunters become the hunted, although they still hold a trump card. By day they hide their weapons and lose their identities among the tribesmen in the sprawling villages of neighbouring Tribal Trust Lands, the traditional homes of almost four million subsistence farmers many of whom have been cowed and subverted by their ruthless so-called "liberators."
At the opposite end of the country in the remote Matobo District, 120 km south of Bulawayo, terrorists came for a harmless black woman farmer. Her son tells of "the night they murdered my mother".
They came to her in the night. Three tall, young men brandishing AK rifles.
"Woman," the group leader asked my mother, "how dare you work against the liberation forces of Zimbabwe? We have heard all about you, your two sons (they are policemen) who are collaborating with the enemy. Why haven't you told them to leave their jobs and come back home?"
For a few seconds, words failed her. She simply stared at them, their weapons and their menacing faces. It was an agonising moment.
The question was repeated, in a more threatening tone.
"I am not sure if I know what you are talking about. And what on earth have I done wrong?" asked the woman of 53, her arms folded, in a sad and telling moment.
"You will follow us to our court, where, like many others, you will be tried for your crimes," they said, dragging her out of her home.
My sister, with her three children aged between five years and six months, and my brother's wife, who had three-month-old twins, were told to follow.
They ordered my mother to sit down under a big marula tree. As a flurry of questions was levelled at her she was kicked about, beaten and tortured.
After being vigorously interrogated, both my sister and brother's "wife were ordered to leave the scene. "And we will be coming for you, too," the terrorists added.
While the women stood undecided as to what to do next, the terrorists wasted no time. They opened fire ... one, two, three shots .. . and there my mother lay. She was dead. Dead for "sins of commission and omission", as one of the terrorists said.
My sister and brother's wife couldn't wait to see any more. With the only clothes on their bodies, some of the children at their backs and others in their arms, they ran throughout the night — some 50 km — to the nearest bus stop at Kezi.
Because they had no money, they had to plead with the bus conductor to take them into the bus, which was going to Bulawayo. The grief-stricken and weary survivors of the ordeal told this horrifying and harrowing story when I met them a few days later.
But perhaps the tragedy of it all, said my sister as she wept bitterly by her bed, is that "our mother had to be buried, if at all, by strangers, without any of her five children attending her final farewell".
She asked, "Is this the freedom they are fighting for .. . the bestial and barbaric killings perpetuated in the name of freedom and justice? Heaven help us, we don't need such freedom." I couldn't have agreed with her more.
I will always remember that last time I saw my mother, cheerful as she ever had been. She had journeyed all the long day to Bulawayo last December to see me on my arrival after an absence of five years.
Seemingly with a premonition of death, she told me, "I don't think there is much life for me, my son. It's no longer safe to live in our homes today. But we always hope... only hope... things might improve.
"But even when they kill me, don't worry yourself too much, my son. It seems we have finally reached that point...
"Be yourself. Be a man in this troubled land. And, as long as you don't forget Him above, He will always be with you." Well... may He be with her, too.
These scenes could be taking place now in almost any part of Zimbabwe Rhodesia's farming areas. It has been like this for just on seven years; almost nightly, some luckless farmer and his family are hit. They used to say, hopefully, "It won't happen to us." But it has and it is.
They call this lovely land — a contrasting land of sprawling veld, mountains, rivers and forests, desert and barren outcrop — God's own country. Can all this be going on behind His back?
The Zimbabwe Rhodesian farmer is at war. He is in the frontline of this conflict, a top "soft target" for the externally-based, Communist-trained terrorists whose aim is to remove whites from the country and destroy their influence which in 89 short years has been the key to economic and social development unparalleled on the African continent. Terror tactics have operated on classic Mao lines — infiltrate and subvert the tribesman, disrupt the civil administration by closing schools, clinics and council offices. Violent intimidation of black farmers and the destruction of his crops and stock. The ruthless slaughter of whole kraals where villagers refuse to co-operate.
Attacks on white commercial farms, which number just over 5 500, have multiple aims. To disrupt the economy and drive the whites off the land, to cut communications and lay siege to the country's four cities — Salisbury, Bulawayo, Gwelo and Umtali — breach their defences by urban warfare and eventually bring about the capitulation of the civil authority. Their goal: to set up a Marxist Leninist State "through the barrel of the gun".
This has been openly repeated by the two Patriotic Front leaders Joshua Nkomo, based in Zambia, and Robert Mugabe, based in Mocambique. That they have failed is due largely to the country's white farming community who have not only successfully defended themselves, and made a major contribution to the Security Forces, but have more than doubled food production to ensure self-sufficiency and surpluses for export. But the cost in life and limb is high. In comparison the $1 million a day spent on the war effort is mere peanuts.
If the white farmer is under siege, then his black counterpart in the Tribal Trust Lands, which make up 41 per cent of the country's land mass, an area roughly three times the size of England, and in the African commercial farming areas, is doubly so. Most of the 6 500-plus black civilians who have died at the hands of terrorist gangs, or in crossfire, were black farmers and their families, many of whom were horribly tortured. The list of atrocities makes nightmare reading. He is the man-in-the-middle, a simple unsophisticated peasant farmer seeking out a subsistence living from overworked land, only just surviving against a backdrop of increasing terrorist presence.
Terrorists pressure him to give them food and shelter. To refuse, as many have, spells death for him and his family, after inhuman torture and beatings. Security Forces pressure him to refuse aid and to report all approaches by gangs, and in retaliation terrorists burn his crops and prevent him disinfectant dipping his cattle against insect-borne disease which in 1978 alone killed 250 000 head. His children are abducted and forcibly marched to Mocambique, Zambia and Botswana for military training; his schools, clinics and churches closed, his women raped and often sickenly mutilated. Truly, the position of many black farmers' is untenable.
Unlike the white commercial farmer, he has neither the means or the capability to protect himself with sophisticated weaponry, security fencing and protected vehicles. He lies open. He is vulnerable.
(Beaver's Note)
Hopefully this story would end with the Farmer recieving assistance in the attack from the Rhodesian Air Force -if there was a visible horizon Alouettes could be deployed or normally a Lynx from 4 Squadron would be deployed and would drop Magnesium parachute flares over the farmstead which would normally cause the Gooks to break off thier attack and snivel back into the surrounding bush -my book covers a number of Farmstead attacks in the war and follow up operations pertaining to farm attacks and Farmer abductions.
There is an earlier post from me in this blog giving The Farmer Roll of Honour giving the names of those people who died for thier farms and way of life carved in the harsh Rhodesian Bush.
That struggle still continues and the blame lies squarely on Britain.

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I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.