Wars of Liberation, Wars of Decolonisation:
The Rhodesian Army Archive Project.
Newsletter February 2008.
This is the second Newsletter of UWE’s Rhodesian Army Archive project, funded by the AHRC to catalogue the papers of the Rhodesian Army Association. These papers are currently housed in the British Empire & Commonwealth Museum, Bristol
Update on the archiving
The Bamboo software underpinning the catalogue was successfully customised at the start of the project. Tom Mortimer from Lemur (www.lemurconsulting.com) worked closely with Chief Archivist, Dr. Tim Lovering, to make the software reflect the hierarchies that archivists use. This has been a very fruitful collaboration and we hope will lead to other joint projects.
The archivists are progressing extremely well with the cataloguing. Dr Stephen Ball, Deputy Archivist, did not join the project until November 2006, so we were afraid that we might be slightly behind target at the end of the year. Instead, by the end of August 2007 there had been 340 boxes catalogued, five more than the original estimate. Also, on 29th August 2007, the 1,000th item was added to the catalogue.
In September 2007, we submitted our report to the AHRC on progress over the first year of the project. We noted that we were slightly ahead of the target for the number of boxes to have been catalogued by the end of the first 12 months.
However, some of the collection was still in South Africa and was shipped to the UK during the first year of the project. This collection of new material turned out to be significantly larger than we had originally anticipated. We calculate that we now need to catalogue 1,225 boxes as against the original estimate of 1,050. Given that our current rate of work has been good, we hope to be able to meet this target within the original timetable.
What material has been processed so far?
As of 9th January, the contents of over 400 boxes have been added to the catalogue. This total amounts to approximately 1,555 separate files and folders.
This represents the complete collection of papers which were already held at the Museum, with the exception of Rhodesian Air Force Strike Reports and Army Services Corps files. These have been set aside for cataloguing by volunteers.
The major bodies of material included in this total are:
- Army Headquarters records (G, A, and Q Branch papers),
- Combined Operations Headquarters records,
- Special Branch/Central Intelligence Organisation records,
- Operations Co-ordinating Committee, Joint Planning Staff, and National Joint Operations Command files,
- Rhodesian Air Force Headquarters records,
- Air Force squadron diaries.
Other categories of material include extensive bodies of Joint Operations Centres' situation reports, and the complete collection of contact prints of official photographs.
Dr Ball recently completed the initial audit of the newly deposited material arrived from South Africa. He has identified 718 further archive boxes. The bulk of the contents has been found to consist of papers of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, but other material includes significant additions to the Army Headquarters records.
Using the collection
It is important to catalogue this collection so that a clear historical record is available for posterity and for future public reference. We envisage that the collection will be used by people from many different backgrounds and with many different views about the Rhodesian war.
However, at present the Museum has no curatorial services to enable researchers to consult the material. Given that it is in the process of relocation, it seems unlikely that the Museum will appoint such a curator during the lifetime of the project.
Consequently, the Management Board has recognised that new researchers cannot be given access to the collection until the cataloguing has been completed and the collection has been re-established in a suitable research centre within the Museum’s new home.
However, we know that this may put in jeopardy those projects that have already started. So anyone who has previously used the material and who needs to refer to it again – a category that includes, for example, the British Army, as well as academic researchers – may make an appointment with the archivists, Tim Lovering and Stephen Ball. They will do their best to help, within the physical limitations imposed by the Museum’s current storage arrangements.
Archival news from Zimbabwe
In July, Prof Jeater visited Zimbabwe and met with Ivan Murambiwa, energetic Director of the National Archives of Zimbabwe (NAZ). He was very welcoming, and keen to co-operate with the archivists on this project. In particular, he and Dr Lovering would both like to discover where and how the archives in the NAZ and the RAA archives connect or overlap. We are very pleased that Mr Murambiwa will be visiting the project in April, as keynote speaker to our workshop (see below).
Prof Jeater tried to get news of what had happened to the parallel material generated by the nationalist forces, ZIPRA and ZANLA. It seems that the ZIPRA material has probably been destroyed. The ZANLA material is housed in the headquarters of ZANU (PF) in Harare, and researchers may ask ZANU (PF) for permission to consult it.
Other archival news
Dr Lovering has been making progress with the guide to the collection. In particular, he has been working on short administrative histories for the various branches of the Rhodesian Security Forces, and an account of the administrative processes which led to the creation of the records.
Two research assistants will help with cataloguing the Rhodesian Air Force Strike Reports and Army Services Corps files. The first of these volunteers, Theresia Kremer, will join us on February 12th 2008. She is studying for a BA in European History at the University of Bayreuth in Germany, and has a particular interest in working in public history.
The other assistant is Manuel Escamilla, an undergraduate student at UC Berkeley. Berkeley has awarded Manuel a McNair's research scholarship in order to pursue his studies in the UK over the summer. He is particularly interested in the Rhodesian Army.
The progress of the archiving is overseen by the Project Management Board. The Board met twice last year and approved the budget and progress reports.
The Board agreed at its autumn meeting that Brian Oliver, of the Rhodesian Army Trust, should be recognised as a full member. He has proved invaluable in his good advice and sound sense since the project began.
Rosemary Seton, the Chair of the Board and Former Keeper of Archives and Special Collections at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London, has also proved invaluable. She has given us a huge amount of well-informed advice and has shown an enormous commitment to the success of the project.
In October, the archival team, accompanied by Rosemary Seton, visited The National Archive advisory service. We had a range of thorny issues to chew over, because this collection does not fit easily into existing archive categories: it was generated by public bodies but is not part of a government archive. We had a very helpful conversation. Some of the generic issues raised will, we hope, be addressed at our workshop on ‘Expatriate collections in UK Museums and Galleries’, on 19th April (see below for more details).
Return of the Empire: private expatriate archives in UK Museums and Libraries
Readers of the first Newsletter will be aware that we were planning two workshops to bring together museum curators and librarians with archivists, academics, and other stakeholders, to discuss the challenges posed by research collections in UK museums and galleries. We were very pleased to win AHRC funding to support these workshops.
The first workshop took place on September 8th 2007. It focused on the difference between managing an archive and managing a museum collection.
Our keynote speaker, Paul Lihoma, National Archivist of Malawi and Advisor to the Museum of the Society of Malawi, gave an excellent presentation that highlighted how curators are not archivists; there are procedures and facilities specific to archives. Museums need to be aware of these when accepting deposits of archival material.
The discussion was greatly enriched by presentations from Rosemary Seton, Tim Lovering, Tom Mortimer and Brian Oliver, as well as Patricia Methven, Director of Archives and Information Management, King’s College London; Helen Pye-Smith, Head of Resource Centre & Library at The National Archive, and Prof David Killingray, who is also a member of the project’s Management Board.
Key recommendations included
• Advice for museums about accepting archival collections should be drawn up. Museums and archives both need to pay more attention to the importance of support services for research, including good systems for communicating information about opening hours, accessibility etc., and adequate facilities for researchers.
• Cross-domain cataloguing standards, especially meta-level descriptions enabling convergence between catalogues of artefacts, archives and published texts should become established and – importantly – disseminated to archivists, curators and appropriate training courses.
• Funds should be earmarked (eg by AHRC) for a person/institution to develop and maintain a centralised directory of existing guidelines / good practice / standards and existing projects to develop such guidelines (eg MLA, SCAM). This overall co-ordination to be aimed equally at archivists and curators and to ensure dissemination across domains.
The second workshop
Expatriate Collections in UK Museums and Galleries
19th April 2008
With the passing of the colonial generation, there are increasing deposits of expatriate material in UK museums and libraries. Typically they are paper-based archives with enormous research and educational value, but limited display potential. There are ethical and practical considerations regarding the uses of such material, including issues of copyright, confidentiality and access.
Mr. Munhamu Ivan Murambiwa,
Director, National Archives of Zimbabwe
The workshop will be at the Empire and Commonwealth Museum, Bristol. It will share experience and good practice on working with expatriate material deposited within and outside established archives.
The workshop will be of particular interest to those who need to address the ethical and practical issues raised by such materials.
Speakers will highlight some of the problems with access to these collections and the lack of clear guidelines regarding access and confidentiality. We will also consider perspectives from the countries of origin.
Other speakers include:
Susan Healy, Information Policy Consultant and Data Protection Officer, The National Archives
Oliver Urquhart-Irvine, Cultural Property Manager, British Library
Mandy Banton, Principal Records Specialist (Diplomatic and Colonial), Advice and Records Knowledge Department, The National Archives.
Attendance is free. Further details at
‘Why did you fight?’: The Rhodesia Forces Oral History Project
We are delighted to announce that the AHRC has also agreed to fund a two-year oral history project, to accompany the archive project. We aim to interview up to 120 former members of the Rhodesian forces and the British South Africa Police. Dr Sue Onslow, from the LSE, London, will be working with us on this project, which is due to start on 1st March 2008. ________________________________________
Background to the oral history project.
This oral history project is designed to complement the work of cataloguing the Rhodesian Army. The need for a complementary oral history project was identified at an early point in the cataloguing, when three important issues emerged.
Firstly, we have been contacted by researchers from across the world who, for various reasons, are interested in the perspectives of common soldiers in the Rhodesian army. However, this is one subject that does not arise particularly well out of the RAA material, because it was produced by middle-ranking and senior elements of the army. An oral history would enable us to place the RAA material in its broader social context.
Secondly, the cataloguing project has highlighted a range of concerns about how the past would be represented. There was a strong sense that (in the words of one correspondent) the ‘voices of the vanquished’ had been written out of the historical record. The soldiers whose lives were recorded in the army documents felt they had little involvement in the archive that UWE is creating. An oral history project would address both these issues, providing an opportunity to investigate the perspectives of the Rhodesian forces and assuaging their sense of alienation from the academic community.
Thirdly, the archivists realised that their work would be much more efficient if they had more information about the circumstances in which the material was generated. Information about the administrative histories of the various departments represented within the collection would enable the archivists to make better sense of the way in which the material was generated and subsequently organized.
It is our intention to deposit digital copies of the interviews and transcripts in the Museum, as a companion collection to the RAA material, for use by researchers and for public exhibition.
The oral history project will create a valuable archive of memories. However, it is also a research project designed to address academic questions.
We want to address two related questions, from two different perspectives. From the perspective of political history, we want to discover what it was that the soldiers believed they were fighting for. Did their sense of what it meant to be ‘Rhodesian’ match the constructions of national identity at government level, reflected in the press and the political and diplomatic archives? Was the experience of military training, with the bonds of group loyalty formed through war, one of the unforeseen, and unrecognized, factors that sustained the Rhodesia Front’s defiance of the international community? Dr Sue Onslow will lead in examining these issues.
From a historiographic perspective, we want to examine how recollections of the war have been constructed. How are they influenced by subsequent events and by dominant discourses within the ‘ex-Rhodesian’ communities? How do collective memories emerge? The opportunity to gather oral testimony alongside the cataloguing of the archival material offers an exceptional opportunity to identify how some events of the past are given more significance than others. Prof Jeater will lead on these issues.
There is, of course, a dynamic tension between these two questions, with the historiographic issues raising questions about the status of the political history findings. For us, this is one of the more exciting aspects of the project, allowing us to develop conclusions within a robust conversation about the status of the knowledge being generated.
Both the political and historiographic issues can be approached by posing a simple opening question: ‘Why did you fight?’. This multi-layered question will help us to trace the role of war in the construction, and subsequent maintenance, of national identity. ________________________________________
PLANS, PARTNERSHIPS & NEWS
Proposed film for cinema.
Set in 1976, ‘The Outnumbered’ is a proposed feature film about a group of young soldiers in a Light Infantry company during the Rhodesian War.
The director Saxon Logan, who grew up in (then) Rhodesia, although now based in Bristol, writes: ‘My concern is that much of this history – in particular this war – will pass with nothing universally substantial to represent those who lost lives and those who remain wounded by the conflict.
‘An internationally acclaimed, successful movie would re-root this in a worldwide audiences’ consciousness and for generations to come’
Saxon Logan is an established film maker and has won many awards for feature and documentary work.
The initial development of the film has been supported by Films@59, one of Europe’s largest production companies. Saxon is now looking for backers to support the film’s entire development process. If anyone is interested, he will send them an information pack and DVD.
Two books on Rhodesian Forces have recently been published by the South African publishing company, 30oSouth.
Both books had launch events in London that were attended by members of the project team. We were able to meet a range of people involved with the archive, and also made some good contacts for the oral history project.
The regimental history of The Saints – the Rhodesian Light Infantry, by Alexandre Binda, compiled and edited by Chris Cocks, was launched at a gala event at the Guards Museum, London, in June.
Alex Binda also produced Masodja. The History of the Rhodesian African Rifles and its Forerunner the Rhodesia Native Regiment, which was launched in November. Four African soldiers from 1 RAR (Masodja), all of whom had also served in Malaya, were invited to the launch as honoured guests.
30oSouth publishes histories and memoirs of conflicts and soldiers, and attempts to do so from a non-partisan perspective. http://www.30degreessouth.co.za/
Academic papers and projects
Dr Carl P. Watts has recently published ‘Dilemmas of Intra-Commonwealth Representation During the Rhodesian Problem, 1964-65’, Commonwealth & Comparative Politics, Vol. 45, No. 3 (2007), pp. 323-44.
James Guthrie has long-term plans to write a doctorate on the former Rhodesian AF 1964-1980. He won’t be starting until 2011, but nearer that time he would be interested to make contact with people who can offer assistance or ideas.
Colin Graham is a PhD candidate (in History) from Canada writing a dissertation on British intelligence in Rhodesia during the Cold War. If necessary, his dissertation will be expanded to include all of southern Africa. He may be contacted via the project.
In October, the project team enjoyed meeting with James Hargrave, now based in Australia, who catalogued the Welensky papers in Rhodes House, Oxford.
Robin Pickers was a member of the Rhodesian Army from December 1976 until just after the elections in 1980. He is trying to establish a web site dedicated to all the recruits that were part of Intake 155 Depot Rhodesia Regiment at Llewellyn Barracks, Bulawayo, and to all the members of 4 Independent Company (Wankie).
________________________________________Thanks to Management Board and AHRC
In addition to the members of the Management Board already mentioned, the project team would also like to thank Dr Jocelyn Alexander; Dr Gareth Griffiths and Mr John Smith, for their contributions to the Board over the past year.
We would also like to thank Rachel Kelly at the AHRC for her help and advice over recent weeks.
Contact the project at:
History Dept., UWE, St Matthias Campus, Bristol, BS16 2JP.
- Beaver Shaw
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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
- ► 2011 (10)
- ► 2010 (50)
- ► 2009 (146)
08/24 - 08/31
- How THE WEST SOLD RHODESIA TO COMMUNISM
- AN INSIGHT INTO GENERAL PETER WALLS
- AMERICAN "BOUNTY" HUNTERS IN RHODESIA
- ANTHRAX OUTBREAK IN RHODESIA 1978-80
- THE LESSON OF STEVEN HATFILL
- PETER Mc ALEESE AND STEPHEN HATFILL
- WHO IS DR DEATH STEPHEN HATFILL
- RHODESIAN ANTHRAX OUTBREAK
- STEPHEN HATFILL
- THE CRIPPLED EAGLES
- THE OUTNUMBERED
- PARACHUTE TRAINING BOOK RHODESIA
- ORAFS RAFFLE
- ZIMBABWES LIBERATION WAR
- FLAME (RHODESIAN CONFLICT MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN FIGHTE...
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- RHODESIAN ARMY ARCHIVE PROJECT
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- MY BONES SHALL RISE AGAIN - War Veterans, Spirit M...
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- ▼ 08/24 - 08/31 (24)