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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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Thursday, August 21, 2008

THE TROOPER


TEXT Extracted from SOF Magazine

During the exodus and diaspora of many from what was once a magnificent Rhodesia, now the basketcase plaything of the brutal regime of Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, one ‘Troopie’ of the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) made a ‘pimpernellian’-like escape that is worthy of telling and remembering. This is our Troopie’s story.
‘The Trooper,’ or colloquially known to the men of the RLI as ‘Troopie,’ or ‘the little troopie,’ is a bronze statue to commemorate those of the RLI who lost their lives while fighting for what was once Rhodesia. But it is more than that today; it is now a singular emotional and tangible representation of a once proud spirit and represents the sadly lost battle to maintain that splendid Rhodesian ethos; as do the many monuments to the fallen of other conflicts such as Gallipoli, Dunkirk, and Vietnam.
The Trooper was conceived by Lieutenant Colonel Derry MacIntyre when he was commanding officer of 1RLI in 1970, and had a gestation period of nine years until his birth and unveiling under Lieutenant Colonel Ian ‘Tufty’ Bate in February 1979. He depicts an RLI troopie at rest, and with his sweaty hand resting over the muzzle of his 7.62mm FN rifle, his posture has raised some questions about his apparent attitude and poor rifle care. Nevertheless, as Tufty Bate wrote:

“… not long after I took command of the battalion, I was scratching though my desk when I found a note by Lieutenant Colonel Derry MacIntyre, a great CO of the battalion. He had doodled some thoughts on an RLI memorial. I got thinking about it and reckoned it was about time that we had a separate memorial to all the brave RLI men who had passed on to a higher service. I called in RSM (regimental sergeant major) Ken Reed and fielded the idea to him. His reaction was extremely positive and in no time we had a prototype picture of an RLI trooper resting on his rifle with his hands over the muzzle—strictly incorrect, but nevertheless true to his nature. … Army HQ also came to the party with the donation of empty cartridge cases from which the statue was cast; hence the mythology of doppies.”
However, the rather sad demeanour of the statue is most appropriate to signify commemoration of the RLI men killed in action that Troopie represents. The statue was sculpted and cast by Fiorelli Fiorini of Salisbury from a photograph of Trooper Wayne Hannekom, at rest after combat, and funded by the Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental Association (RLIRA) and generous donations from the Rhodesian public and from around the world.
Troopie was unveiled and dedicated on a dramatic and memorable ceremonial parade in front of a large crowd, on the RLI ‘Holy Ground’ on the 18th birthday of the RLI on 1 February 1979. In his address, the Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel ‘Tufty’ Bate said: “This statue, to be known as ‘The Trooper,’ represents the courage and endurance of highly skilled men who fought our enemies with skill and professionalism … It will serve as a constant reminder to all who see it as their sacrifice … Whilst there is so much as a single breath of life left in one RLI soldier, the statue will remain.”
The statue was then unveiled by Corporal R. N. Phillips, one of the battalion's most decorated men, winner of the Silver Cross of Rhodesia. Wreaths were laid, trumpeters of the RAR played the haunting strains of the Last Post and clarion call of Reveille and the commando guards marched off to the regimental march, “When the Saints Go Marching In.”
In July 1980, Charlie Aust was called back and was told that the unit would, in fact, be disbanded in October. Among the many issues the battalion faced was the safekeeping of many regimental items, including the two sets of colours and the Trooper statue.
RLI leadership realized that what the statue of the Trooper symbolized would have been anathema to the Marxist Mugabe government and Mugabe’s supporters would have desecrated and scrapped the Trooper.

It was imperative that the Trooper be removed; thus a hastily put-together parade was held at 1100 hours on 25 July 1980 to bid farewell before it was dismantled and moved to a new resting place. In a simple but moving ceremony, command sergeants major solemnly read the Rolls of Honour.
A small working party then secretly and carefully dismantled the Trooper from its plinth in the RLI barracks in Cranborne with a crane and spirited the statue to a secret airfield. A South African Air Force aircraft landed clandestinely and Trooper and two cases of RLI memorabilia, including trophies and silver, were loaded onto the plane; the doors closed and its cargo left the land of Rhodesia for the last time. Well done, those magnificent men! We all, once of the RLI, salute you!
Subsequently, it was decided to move the Troopie to the United Kingdom. The statute was once more clandestinely flown out of South Africa to the UK. The aim of this article is to explain the importance and emotional significance of the Trooper to both the RLI and Rhodesia.
The solemn and prescient words of Tufty Bate: “… whilst there is so much as a single breath of life left in one RLI soldier, the statue will remain …” have been acknowledged by the Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental Association, which has fully accepted its responsibility, duty and honour, to the RLI and to Rhodesia, to ensure that the Troopie and RLI colours are displayed permanently with proper reverence and dignity.
The Trooper may well be the only existing significant monument representing Rhodesia’s herculean military efforts in the Rhodesian Bush War. The dead whom the memorial commemorates represent that nation’s fight for its existence and dignity against predatory and rampant communism and a megalomaniacal dictatorship. That is its real significance and importance to the diaspora of all Rhodesians, and the free world in general.

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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.