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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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Friday, July 17, 2009


From a hidden position on the southern shore of the Zambezi River, Rhodesian soldiers near the town of Kanyemba last week saw about 100 armed guerrillas in camouflage fatigues, paddling in rubber boats across the river—the border between Zambia and Rhodesia. The Rhodesians opened fire, and Canberra and Hawker Hunter jets soon joined the battle. So began Rhodesia's first admitted "external" (i.e., incursion) into Zambian territory—a two-day raid that destroyed an arms cache and a command camp of Joshua Nkomo's 8,000-man guerrilla army. Rhodesia announced that the "self-defense" raid—"It was a beautiful op, smooth as butter," said one officer in Salisbury—killed 38 guerrillas at the cost of one white Rhodesian trooper. Insisting that industrial targets had been hit as well, Zambia announced it would seek U.N. condemnation of the raid.

Critics of Prime Minister Ian Smith cited the bloody incident as proof that his announced plan to bring majority rule to Rhodesia by next year would lead to escalation, rather than cessation, of the five-year-old guerrilla war. Smith's "internal settlement," negotiated with three moderate black nationalists, excludes Patriotic Front Leaders Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, who flew to New York last week to address a session of the U.N. Security Council on Rhodesia that had been requested by 49 African nations. "We would do anything to block the Smith settlement here," said Tanzania's U.N. Ambassador Salim A. Salim, "because otherwise it would have to be blocked militarily on the scene." British intelligence analysts say that two Cuban regiments, as well as 200 Soviet tanks and 20 crated MiG-21 fighters, are now positioned in Mozambique, Mugabe's main base of operations. Nkomo last week denied that he had invited Cuban advisers to join his Zambian-based guerrillas. But his strong supporter, Zambia's moderately pro-Western President Kenneth Kaunda, has threatened that he might request Soviet and Cuban aid to defend his country from Rhodesian attacks. On the other hand, TIME Nairobi Bureau Chief David Wood reported, a Soviet diplomat in Lusaka, Zambia's capital, argues that a Cuban intervention is unlikely, since it would almost certainly provoke South African reinforcement of Smith's forces.

Smith's agreement with the country's moderate black leaders—Bishop Abel Muzorewa, Chief Jeremiah Chirau and the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole—envisions a transitional period of evolution toward majority rule during which whites (who number about 264,000 in Rhodesia's population of 7 million) would be guaranteed 28 of 100 parliamentary seats for at least ten years. The present Rhodesian Parliament, which is totally dominated by whites, would have to approve any new constitution. During an interim period, expected to begin within a matter of weeks, Smith will share executive authority with the three black leaders and will have veto power, in effect, since decisions made by the four must be unanimous.


Tactics of Fire Force Operations
The following paragraphs are for the standard Fire Force assault of one K-car, three G-cars, a Dakota and the Lynx. Often there was no Dakota involved, or more G-cars. When in 1979 Cheetas (the Bell Hueys) were introduced, a Commando might go into action with two or three of these, each carrying two (sometimes three) stops. There were many times when no Lynx was used.

The K-car was always the first to arrive at the scene. The K-car Commander, using the radio callsign One-Nine, Two-Nine, Three-Nine, or Four-Nine, depending on the Commando, had to first attempt to confirm the precise area where the enemy had been spotted by the OP (Observation Post). Usually the terrain was extremely broken and covered in vegetation, which made this task particularly difficult. The K-car Commander then had to make a plan - where to position the first stops, where to make the main sweep, and in what direction. The first stops to arrive were always transported in by the G-cars, which followed the K-car in column (sometimes a long way behind, for they were a little slower than the K-car).

Sometimes the stops were dropped immediately, but on many occasions the G-cars would circle the scene several times (to the delight of the troops) before #-nine made his final decisions. Very often the K-car occupants would see the enemy (or any perceived enemy), and then the Helicopter Gunner/Technician would attack them with his 20 mm cannon, using bursts of two to four shells (but no more than five). The accuracy of this firing was extraordinary, due to the machine flying in tight anticlockwise circles just a few hundred feet above the ground. The 20 mm cannon poked out of the port side, thus there was no "lead in", and the exploding high velocity shells would impact right next to and often on their intended targets, very few persons caught by this fire were ever found alive by the troops.

Usually the G-car stops were positioned in areas where the enemy would most likely run through (often a riverbed or dry "donga"), where there was more vegetation, therefore attempting to surround or cut off enemy movement. If there was a hill or ridge that gave outstanding observation, then more than one stop might be placed there. Sometimes G-car stop groups would form the main sweep line immediately they were deployed instead of the Paras, depending on the circumstances at hand.

Whilst the K-car was looking for, or engaging the enemy, #-nine also had to decide on where to drop the Para-stops (and direct any strikes by the Lynx). The Drop Zone (DZ) position was of course dictated by the enemy's own position, and the terrain, but often there would be no clear DZ nearby, in which case the Para-stops would be dropped a mile or so away to be picked up and repositioned by the G-cars. Usually the Para-stops were dropped as close as possible, which resulted on numerous occasions with the Paras being fired at whilst floating down for a few seconds (drop heights normally varied from about 400 feet (120 m) to 600 feet). This firing was always ineffective, as no troops were ever hit. There was also a great variation on the dropping patterns of these stops, as sometimes they were all dropped at once, sometimes individually, or any combination thereof.

Whilst all this was taking place, one of #-nine's main concerns was where the main sweep would occur. In a perfect scenario, the Para-stops would form the main sweep, and the G-car stops would carry out blocking actions. In reality, there was vast variation, so that there was little difference in being Para, or in the First Wave Helicopter assault. First Wave strikes in the G-cars however were generally the best stops to be in for those wishing action.

The Sweep
Each stop made a sweep every time it moved to a new location. This meant (usually) all four soldiers moving in a sweepline formation, spaced apart according to the terrain. In flat open land this may mean as much as twenty five metres or so. In heavy vegetation this dropped to several metres. Even then it was common to lose sight of comrades, pushing alone through the denseness. It was more effective to be spaced as far apart as possible.

Whether in the main sweep (which might be composed of any number of stops available) or in a stop's sweep, the tactics were the same and very simple, to sweep ahead observing your line of sight ahead through the bush and undergrowth.

The speed of this movement varied. Where it was thought (usually deemed by #-nine) the enemy lurked, the sweep would slow very much. When the troops sensed enemy ahead the sweep became even more slow, edging forward inch by inch, rifles held at chest level, pointed ahead with the safety catch off. MAG gunners would bear the gun at the hip, held by a sling from their shoulders.

Usually encounters with the enemy were resolved with great speed (a typical Fire Force action could take hours, whilst a fire fight might take just a few seconds). In the great majority of cases, the enemy were killed outright by swift shooting (sometimes hand grenades were used).

Prisoners were taken on occasion. Although the Commandos were requested to take prisoners wherever possible, in a close-quarter fire fight and in thick bush, it was sometimes difficult to determine an enemy's intentions. Prisoners were usually extremely valuable as they might reveal important intelligence to Special Branch or Selous Scouts. Captured guerrillas were frequently turned to work for the Rhodesian Security Forces, sometimes as Auxiliary Forces (Pfumo Re Vanhu) from 1979.

The Stop Position
The other main experience was for an individual stop to sweep to a position thought most likely to intercept a fleeing enemy, and stay there for up to several hours (perhaps being moved around and maybe later on joining the main sweep). More often than not nothing happened but on many occasions one or more of the enemy came down the (usual) stream bed, or nearby. If there was a clear view then it was easy, once again just a few seconds shooting. Sometimes the process was repeated in the same spot, with fire being opened a bit earlier. Sometimes the enemy were seen behind in which case the stop immediately pursued. There were many occasions where the action was not so tidy due to terrain/vegetation, or even the sunlight blinding them.


No 1 Bulawayo VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Ted Strever
Sqn Ldr Al Westwood
Sqn Ldr Peter Corbishley

No 2 Gwelo VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr John Eadie
Sqn Ldr Tommy Robinson

No 3 Salisbury VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Molly Maltas
Sqn Ldr Marshal Robinson

No 4 Umtali VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Bob Annan
Sqn Ldr Gordon Howie
Sqn Ldr Pete Genari

No 5 Salisbury Lomagundi VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Abbey Williams -Lynn
Sqn Ldr Harry Turner

No 6 Salisbury Air Movements VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Clive Littlewood
Sqn Ldr John Cramp

No 7 Lowveld VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Clive Littlewood
Sqn Ldr Steve Fenton Wells
Sqn Ldr Dave Sinclair

No 8 Field VR Squadron
Sqn Ldr Stan Wilson
Sqn Ldr Geoff Fenn

Thursday, July 16, 2009


The Rhodesian African Rifles, or RAR, was the oldest regiment in the Rhodesian ArmyRhodesian Army
The Rhodesian Army was part of the Security Forces of Rhodesia....
, dating from the formation of the 1st Rhodesian Native Regiment in 1916 during the First World WarWorld War I
World War I, or the First World War , was a global military conflict which involved the Great powers, organized into two opposing military alliances: the Allies of World War I and the Central Powers....
. This was followed by the creation of the Matabeleland Native Regiment, and the 2nd Rhodesian Native Regiment, formed in 1917. In 1918, the Rhodesia Native Regiment was formed by combining the 1st and 2nd Regiments.

Second World War
The regiment was raised again in 1940 during the Second World WarWorld War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global military conflict which involved a Participants in World War II, including all of the great powers, organised into two opposing military alliances: the Allies of World War II and the Axis powers....
and staffed with black non-commissioned officers (NCOs) from the British South Africa PoliceBritish South Africa Police
The British South Africa Police was the police force of the British South Africa Company of Cecil Rhodes which became the national police force of Southern Rhodesia and its successor after 1965, Rhodesia ....
Askari is an Arabic language, Turkish language, Somali language, Persian language, and Swahili word meaning "soldier" . It was normally used to describe local troops in East Africa, Horn of Africa, and Central Africa serving in the armies of European colonial powers....
Unit. This was considered as the direct successor of the Rhodesia Native Regiment, which was confirmed in 1962, and the RAR inherited all of that Regiment's battle honors. Until the late 1970s, the RAR had exclusively black recruits and NCOs and exclusively white officers. In 1979, black officers first began to serve in the unit. The RAR was responsible for over 400 guerrilla casualties from 1966-1973, during the Rhodesian Bush War.

During the Second World War, the RAR established its first training depot at Borrowdale Camp, Salisbury in 1941. The RAR shipped out to Burma in 1944, to serve with the King's African RiflesKing's African Rifles
The King's African Rifles was a multi-battalion British colony regiment raised from the various British possessions in British East Africa from 1902 until independence in the 1960s....
in 22 (East African) Independent Brigade. The unit saw action in April 1945, and earned the battle honors 'Taungup', 'Arakan Beaches', and 'Burma'. The regiment went back to Rhodesia in 1946, where its depot was closed, and the unit effectively disbanded.

A skeleton unit was however retained. By 1949, A, B, and C companies were operational as demo companies. In 1951, B Company became support company. The regiment saw service in SuezSuez
Suez is a seaport town in north-eastern Egypt, located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez, near the southern terminus of the Suez Canal, having the same boundaries as As Suways Governorate....
in 1952, and in 1953 it was presented with the Queen's Colour and Regimental Color by the Queen Mother. In 1954 a new depot was opened for the regiment at Llewellin Barracks in Bulawayo. The Depot was situated near the HQ 1st Bn R.A.R, which had always been at Heany/Methuen Barracks near Llewellyn Barracks. In MalayaFederation of Malaya
The Federation of Malaya , is the name given to a federation of 11 states that existed from 31 January 1948 until 16 September 1963. Comprising the nine Malay states and the United Kingdom Straits Settlements of Penang and Malacca, it was eventually superseded by Malaysia....
from 1956 to 1958, during the Emergency, the regiment served as part of the Army of the Federation of Rhodesia and NyasalandFederation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland
The Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, also known as Central African Federation , was a semi-independent state in southern Africa that existed from 1953 to the end of 1963, comprising the former Self-Governing Colony of Southern Rhodesia and the United Kingdom protectorates of Northern Rhodesia, and Nyasaland....
. While in Malaya, the unit was known as the RhAR to distinguish it from the Royal Australian Regiment.

After the Malaya Emergency, the RAR was deployed to NyasalandNyasaland
Nyasaland or the Nyasaland Protectorate, was a United Kingdom protectorate which was established in 1907 when the former British Central Africa Protectorate changed its name....
(now MalawiMalawi
The Republic of Malawi is a landlocked country in southeast Africa that was formerly known as Nyasaland. It is bordered by Zambia to the northwest, Tanzania to the northeast and Mozambique, which surrounds it on the east, south and west....
) in 1959. Later deployments included Northern RhodesiaNorthern Rhodesia
Northern Rhodesia was a territory in southern Africa initially administered under charter by the British South Africa Company and formed by it in 1911 by Amalgamation North-Western Rhodesia and North-Eastern Rhodesia....
(now ZambiaZambia
The Republic of Zambia is a landlocked country in Southern Africa. The neighbouring countries are the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the north, Tanzania to the north-east, Malawi to the east, Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Namibia to the south, and Angola to the west....
), the CongoRepublic of the Congo (LĂ©opoldville)
The Republic of the Congo was an independent republic established following the independence granted to the former colony of the Belgian Congo in 1960....
Border, and within Rhodesia in 1966. Its first contact in the Rhodesian Bush War came in the Zambezi Valley in September 1966.

A second battalion was raised in 1973; in 1976 this battalion was based at the former boarding school of St. Stephen's College, Balla BallaSt. Stephen's College, Balla Balla
St. Stephen's College, Balla Balla, Southern Rhodesia St. Stephen's College was a privately funded all boys boarding school, founded in 1956 by the Reverend Maurice Lancaster and located in the village of Balla Balla, Southern Rhodesia....
which had closed in 1975. This new barracks in Balla Balla was named Shaw Barracks, after the late Maj-Genl J. Shaw. A JOC HQ was formed at Fort Victoria (now MasvingoMasvingo
Masvingo is a town in south-eastern Zimbabwe and the capital of Masvingo Province. It the town close to Great Zimbabwe the national monument from which the country takes its name....
) followed by 3 RAR (HQ at Umtali, now MutareMutare
Mutare is the fourth largest city in Zimbabwe, with a population of approximately 189,000. It is the capital of Manicaland province....
) in 1977 - formed from three of the Independent RAR companies. Para-training was introduced in 1978 and the RAR were actively involved in "fireforce" missions, where they gained a reputation of jumping from minimum heights. The unit was not deployed outside Rhodesia during the war, but establish a considerable tally on internal operations.

The 4th Bn (Holding Unit) RAR was formed when the Selous ScoutsSelous Scouts
The Selous Scouts was a special forces regiment of the Rhodesian Army which operated from 1973 until the introduction of majority rule in 1980. They were named after British explorer Frederick Courteney Selous , and their motto was pamwe chete, which translated from Shona language means "all together", "together only" or "forward together...
disbanded on 17th April 1980. It existed in name only and continued until 30th September 1980 before becoming 1st Zimbabwe Parachute Battalion as it is today in 2007.

After independence, on April 18 1980, the Rhodesian African Rifles Battalions were integrated into the 1st, 3rd and 4th Brigades of the Zimbabwe National ArmyZimbabwe National Army
The Zimbabwe National Army or ZNA was created in 1980 from elements of the Rhodesian Army, integrated to a greater or lesser extent with combatants from the ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrilla warfare movements ...
but were not immediately integrated with ZIPRAZIPRA
Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army was the armed wing of the Zimbabwe African People's Union, a militant organization in Rhodesia. It participated in the Second Chimurenga against white minority rule in the former Rhodesia....
or ZANLA cadres; in fact, in 1981 RAR and recalled elements of other Rhodesian units were used to suppress fighting in integrated battalions of the Zimbabwe National Army.

•Note: Balla Balla was renamed MbalabalaMbalabala
Mbalabala is a village on the main Beitbridge-Bulawayo road in Matabeleland, Zimbabwe. Situated approximately 41 miles south-east of the city of Bulawayo....
in 1980 when Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. The village is in MatabelelandMatabeleland
Modern day Matabeleland is a region in Zimbabwe divided into two provinces: Matabeleland North and Matabeleland South; and the Administratively separate city of Bulawayo....
, about 41 miles (66km) south-east of BulawayoBulawayo
Bulawayo is the second largest city in Zimbabwe, after the capital Harare, with a population of 676,000 , now estimated as 707,000. It is located in Matabeleland, 439km south-west of Harare , and is now treated as a separate provincial area from Matabeleland....

As in most Rhodesian Army units, the standard weapon was the FN-FAL in caliber 7.62, or the identical South AfricaSouth Africa
The Republic of South Africa, also known by Official names of South Africa, is a country located at the southern tip of the continent of Africa....
n R1. The MAG-58FN MAG
The MAG is a Belgium 7.62 mm caliber general purpose machine gun, designed in the early 1950s at Fabrique Nationale de Herstal by Ernest Vervier....
light machine gun was carried as a section weapon, with heavier support provided by 81mm mortarsL16 81mm Mortar
The United Kingdom's L16 81 mm mortar is the standard mortar used by the British army. The version used by the U.S. armed forces is known as the M252....
. The West GermanWest Germany
West Germany was the common English name for the Germany , from its formation in May 1949 to German reunification in October 1990, when East Germany was dissolved and its States of Germany became part of the Federal Republic, ending the more than 40-year division of Germany....
G3, G03, G.III, G.3 or G-3 may be:...
rifle was used in increasing numbers toward the end of the war. Regulation issued weapons were often supplemented by local products, captured weapons, and a variety of personal sidearms


1-7 September 1979
A Reconstruction.
By Alex Binda
OP URIC is the controversial operation of The Rhodesian War. Though it resulted in over 300 enemy dead for the loss of 15 of their own (the highest ot the war) the Rhodesians, with their very high operational standards, did not regard it as a success. There was bitterness too, as for the first time the Rhodesians were unable to recover the bodies of their fallen comrades; for the first time also the lightly armed Rhodesians were stopped in their tracks and forced to abandon their objective in the face of a more numerous and well dug in enemy , who, for a time at least, displayed a fighting tenacity not encountered before. Despite being armed with anti-aircraft guns and Strela (Soviet name for SAM-7 surface-to-air missile), the most effective enemy weapon proved to be the comparatively simple RPG-7 (a rocket fired from a hand held launcher) which, in the event, was responsible tor all the Rhodesian fatalities.
The following reconstruction is based mostly on Richard Wood's B2 intercepts, sitreps, intreps and debrief notes which he passed on to David Heppenstall in 1992. Information on Uric is not exhaustive, apart from a few minutes of video tape. I have also consulted Barbara Cole's classic 'The Elite' pp 328-338 and Cowderoy and Nesbit's excellent 'War In The Air'. In his covering letter Richard suggests to readers of this article that "This is just an assembly of material" If any reader can explain more clearly what was happening at any particular stage please send your comments in.

Background and build-up.
At the end of 1978 some 11,000 Zanla were operating in Rhodesia and over half of these had been deployed through Mozambique's Gaza Province into the South East (OP Repulse) area of Rhodesia known as 'The Russian Front'. Of a further 15,000 who were in training a third were to be infiltrated through Gaza.
Reeling from the highly effective Selous Scouts raids and SAS-trained National Resistance (the M.N.R) Mozambique was military and economically in tatters. Samora Machel, Mozambique's volatile and excitable leader, dissatisfied with Zanla's progress, took matters into his own hands. Sitting down with his Frelimo commander Sebastiao Mabote and Robert Mugabe, the trio came to a Political/ Military agreemenl whereby Zanla forces in Gaza were to be totally integrated and deployed with Frelimo troops into Rhodesia in a bid to end the War. To this end Machel would supplement Zanla with a thousand Frelimo then being trained by the Russians. From this, it may well be that, given the numbers involved, a Frelimo/Zanla invasion was contemplated wilh the object of giving Zanla an occupied area in S.E. Rhodesia. All forces, in consultation with Mugabe, were to be under Frelimo command and the whole was to controlled from Mapai, the Frelimo 2 Brigade HQ and control centre for Zanla - a very heavily defended forward base 50 kilometres from the Rhodesian border. It is important to note here that Rhodesian COMOPS (Combined Operations HQ) was well aware that, in addition to air support, to try and take Mapai ordinarily would have required 2 infantry battalions conventionally supported by artillery and tanks.

Rhodesian Intelligence were first alerted to this build-up and the new situation in Gaza when a F.P.L.M. (Frelimo) soldier was captured near Kezi in Matabeleland; from this it transpired that over 200 F.P.L.M. were in Rhodesia which caused the Rhodesian political and military hierarchy to sit bolt upright because, apart from anything else the rail link to South Africa (Rutenga-Beitbridge) over which Rhodesia's fuel and ammunition travelled was now under threat. Accordingly, the Rhodesians in an attempt to take the fight into the enemy camp and thus take the pressure off the Repulse and Tangent (Matabeleland) op. areas devised operation Uric which had as its aim the complete destruction/disruption of the Frelimo/Zanla lines of communication as far back as the economically important Aldeia De Barragem (Lit. village of the dam) 93 miles N.W. of Maputo and 200 miles from Rhodesia. At Barragem the road and rail bridges over the dam, along with its vital irrigation canal feeding a major agricultural complex which produced 80% of Mozambique's cash crop, were to be demolished along with 4 lesser bridges. Air strikes would be made on Barragem, Mapai and Maxaila in an effort to so demoralise the occupants that they would abandon their bases because with their road, rail and bridge links destroyed behind them and with communications, supplies and water cut off, the enemy, especially at Mapai, would be in a very vulnerable position. Once the defenders left the situation would be exploited by heli-borne Rhodesian troops who would take and destroy what was left of Mapai. Zanla and Frelimo operating from Gaza would be without a rear base and forced to revert to the Northern routes where they could be more easily contained.

Uric would be executed by 360 ground troops drawn from the Rhodesian SAS and RLI and engineers - arguably the finest troops of their day. The superbly manned Rhodesian Air Force would deploy every available aircraft - 8 hunters, 12 Dakotas, 6 Canberras, 6 Lynx and 28 helicopters - among these last were newly arrived Rhodesian AB 205 A Cheetahs (Hueys) along with a few South African-crewed Pumas and Super Frelons on loan to the air force. (Note: something not generally known is that the South African Air Force allowed some of its aircrews to complete a tour of duty with the Rhodesians - a number ot these brave men died fighting for Rhodesia with whose cause they had identified.) The OP Uric area was close to the South African border and the South Atricans were of course interested. In fact OP Uric had the largest single South African involvement of the Rhodesian war.

Aerial surveillance was to be provided by a remarkable aircraft - a Dakota named Warthog, so called because it bristled with antennae and radomes. This aircraft was fitted out with monitoring equipment mounted on a large board clipped to the fuselage. This provided UHF, VHF and HF coverage with F.M. and A.M., along with a sensor system capable of picking up any radar station/system which the enemy might use to guide missiles, and the ability to identify enemy surveillance radar. Teleprinters were on board with the remarkable facility of encrypting messages typed in clear automatically and immediately. Warthog carried an intelligence officer and four signallers all skilled in identifying the 'handwriting' of operators in Zambia and Mozambique. Unarmed and confined to intelligence-gathering the Warthog was vital to cross- border operations. Richard Wood's B2 notes are littered with Warthog intreps.

Also taking part would be the Command Dak, a converted Dakota carrying the Commander of Combined Operations, General Walls, and Air Commodore Norrnan Walsh, Rhodesian Air Force Director-General of Operations. The commanders would orbit the operational area at a distance and would control both ground forces and aircraft using a Lynx for liaison. Politically, a successful operation would hopefully force Zanla to the negotiating table at the conference being set up at Lancaster House. Furthermore international outcry at the raid would not be as strident as before because, now in its Zimbabwe - Rhodesia transition, the country had a black Prime Minister and President.

D-Day was scheduled for 0700 hrs, Sunday, 2nd September 1979. 200 troops had been placed in an admin box 160 kilometres inside Mozambique East-South-East of Chigubu (see map). This was known as admin base Oscar Bravo (O.B.). The helicopters were at Chipinda Pools airstrip which was also an army base in Rhodesia. This was to be admin base Oscar Alpha (O.A.). Due to guti (a Rhodesian weather peculiarity in the form of soft rain which, as it descends, resembles heavy mist) the operation was postponed for 3 tense days to Wednesday 5th September 1979.

This, then is the background to Uric, what follows is the operation itself, including the intercepts which gives us an idea of the enemy reaction reports.

1 September 1979 (D-Day -4) At 1200 the Frelimo operator at Maxaila reported helicopter movements in his area and requested reinforcements. In reply, Mapai (the controlling centre) ordered Maxaila to search the area and troops from Chigubo were also ordered to investigate the area of the enemy noise. From these intercepts the Rhodesians were aware that the enemy at Maxaila had picked up the transit movement of aircraft to the admin box. Although ready to react, the base was not compromised.

2 September 1979 (D-Day -3) The RLI minelaying teams began their tasks. Air movement from Rhodesia to the admin box consisted of transportation of water, rations, food, ammunition and fuel. 4 vehicles were seen heading for Maxaila. The most signiticant event of the day was electronic jamming experienced on H.F. and the command and control net at about 17.30 hrs.

3 September 1979 ( D- Day -2) In an intercept Maxaila informed Mapai that the reinforcements had arrived (the Rhodesians understood this to refer to the 4 vehicles observed on the previous day) and that once again helicopter movement was observed in the direction of Chipimbi. The enemy at Pafuri had reported air movement in the Rio Wenezi area. During the morning an RLI minelaying team in a helicopter from Mabalauta forward base was fired on by a Pafuri detachment near Salane. An air strike by Lynx was requested and the 'Pafurians' were silenced. The Rhodesian mine planting efforts appeared to be bearing results as the enemy reported an explosion on the Maxaila/Domasse road in the Mapungane area. At 1615 hrs the following joint intrep was received from Warthog/Eland:

Height finder on freq 2608 hAHZ identified on 5 fixes as being 2ks west of Mapai or immediate area. Also a radar operating on 9377 MHZ PAF 398, P/width 2 dec 4. This is in low blow SAM 3 missile radar overflying Mozambique because of changing bearings on signals. Low range radar lost contact with us 40kms west of Buffalo Range F1 10 and we finally lost signal overhead Fort Vic. No flatface radar on 855 dec 5 from Mapai picked up.
With their vulnerable aircraft at stake, news of radar at Malvernia and possibly Mapai caused a few furrowed brows among the airmen. All mining tasks were completed by nightfall, and it still appeared that admin base Oscar Bravo was uncompromised as, clearly confused and unaware of the enemy's intentions, Mapai ordered all stations to be on the alert and ready to react.
By now meteorological indications were that by Wednesday (5th) the weather would clear. If so that day was to be D-Day. With this in mind the revised attack plans would be as follows: First, 4 hunters would golf-bomb Barragem (N.B. golf bombs were a Rhodesian invention with the appearance of a gas cylinder one and a half meters high and weighing 460 kilos; this percussion bomb contained amatol which was detonated by a tube one metre long at the nose of the cylinder which struck the ground first. On detonation the casing burst into over 80,000 fragments lethal at 60 meters with an accompanying stun effect for a further 60. A Hunter could carry 2 golf bombs. There was also a mini golf bomb of 80 kilos for light aircraft such as Lynx). A top cover of 2 Hunters and 2 Lynx would be overhead minutes later while the helicopters (12 Pumas and 6 Cheetahs) deployed the demolition teams. At this time also, 2 Dakotas with troops would be in reserve. Hopefully all tasks would be completed by 15.30 hrs and all troops back by 17.00 hrs.

The following day would be devoted to the destruction of Mapai - 6 Hunters would golf bomb the target at 0630 hrs followed by 6 Canberras with 1000/500 bombs. At the same time 2 Hunters and 2 Lynx, both armed, would maintain air reconnaissance in the target area to cause maximum disruption/harassment. 3 hours later the hunters, re-fuelled and re-armed, would re-strike the target. By now the defenders' nerve would be broken and they would begin to abandon the base and scatter. In this expectation the Rhodesians were to set up a ring of ambushes on all access routes around the base in the hope that the fleeing enemy would run into them, thereby achieving a good kill rate. For this, 192 ground troops (SAS and RLI) would be deployed in 12 Pumas and 6 Cheetahs. With the benefit of hindsight, had this plan been retained this is exactly what would have happened. However, the decision to change the ambushing force into an attacking force was made later, for a number of different reasons, and, without plunging pen into dispute, I must record here that it is around this decision that controversy over Uric is centred.

4 September 1979 (D-Day - 1) Admin Box Oscar Bravo continued to be supplied by para drops. The RLI mine laying teams were again deployed on the crossroads area (Chigumane/Chigubo) and on the Southern power lines, as air recce indicated that these areas were possibly used by vehicles. An intercept from Barragem reported a faulty SAM 7 missile at Chibuto followed by a request for a replacement; as this was near the bridge targets, all Rhodesian air crews were alerted and briefed. Mapai ordered the commander at Mabalane to load 21 trucks and to search for and be ready to attack the enemy. Obviously not trying too hard, this special group later reported lack of success along with a request tor fuel and food - by now it was obvious to the planners that the enemy was searching for the Rhodesians.

5 September 1979 (D-Day) Blowing the Bridges. The day dawned clear, the cloud base having lifted. Uric was on. At Oscar Alpha the air was filled with suppressed excitement, along with the familiar low pitched whine of the helicopters as the air crews checked their machines in preparation to uplift the demolition teams from the admin box. At that precise time, heading for the well-camouflaged admin box , unfortunately for them, was a platoon of 25 F.P.L.M. whose commander ( it later transpired) had been doing his best to avoid the Rhodesians. Fate, however, marched him straight on to the position from where a suitably deployed RLI call sign under Major Pete Farndell had been watching them for some time. As the doomed men approached the killing ground, SAS major Paul Simmonds quickly radiod base (O.A.) to hold back the choppers. Then, with deadly Rhodesian accuracy the call sign opened fire and, in what must have been an incredibly brief and bloody firefight, and in which the totally surprised F.P.L.M. never stood a chance, 23 were killed outright and one wounded and captured - one however, miraculously escaped to raise the alarm. Major Farndell, the only Rhodesian casualty, was wounded in the leg and casevaced.

Though this unexpected contact delayed the uplift of the demolitions teams the airstrike on Barragem was dead on time. Shrieking in, the 4 hunters heading the attack struck the enemy defensive positions with direct hits on weapons, buildings (2 barrack blocks) and all transport, in the face of an intense enemy anti-aircraft barrage. 2 Lynxes then arrived over the target and began to direct the 48 SAS troops who had been dropped off a kilometre from Barragem, their helicopters heading back to a safer holding area. Rapidly the SAS then began to fight forward through the enemy defences and in the face of heavy machine gun fire; luckily they managed to capture two 23 mm A.A. guns and turned one on the enemy on both sides of the river and began quelling pockets of enemy resistance. During the initial fight through, one SAS man sustained a leg wound and a casevac was requested. In the heat of battle the incoming chopper, a Huey, piloted by Fl.Lt. Dick Paxton was misdirected and found itself hovering above a Frelimo position. Suddenly aware of the error Paxton pulled away but it was too late. There was a whoosh and an explosion above his head as an RPG7 rocket struck and severed the main rotor below the blades and with a sickening lurch the chopper fell to earth in a cloud of dust, killing the technician Alexander Wesson on impact. With a broken arm, the stunned Paxton was trapped in the cabin as the Huey now erupted into flames. Seeing this, SAS sergeant 'Flash' Smythe immediately raced up and pulled Paxton out, thereby saving his life. Smythe never received official recognition for the heroic act.

On the Barragem bridges 20 Kg charges were being set up and placed in position, a task that took 5 hours. During that time a call sign under Joey du Ploy had a good time taking the town itself, shooting up vehicles, blowing up 2 power stations and making the interesting capture of a Bulgarian water engineer from Sofia who expressed extreme displeasure at being caught! At the other 4 targets, the demolitions teams, unopposed, completed their tasks and destroyed their bridges by 16.30 hrs. As these went up the reliable Warthog now gave the following disturbing intrep:

At 1627 radar on Freq 2618 MHZ (height finder) identified a D/F position indicated between Mapai and Malvernia. It is now locked on us. Our position 55ks west of Mapai. This could be the one we found on 3 September but Freqs apart.
With radar at Mapai the next day's actions would have to be carefully co-ordinated.
Meanwhile at Mapai bad news was pouring in from all sides and one can only guess at the chaos in the enemy communications centre. Consternation first began when Mabalane reported two jets over their location flying North South then Vice Versa. Minutes later the operator at Xai-Xai informed Mapai that the enemy was attacking Chibuto by the bridge on the road to Canicado and had burnt out a truck. The bridge was also reported destroyed. (The Gaza brigade commander was in Xai-Xai at this time. One wonders how this individual managed to absent himself from his HQ at Mapai at such a vital time and place himself as far away from conflict as possible. Many Rhodesians will remember Xai-Xai as a very picturesque coastal resort.) Referring to the Mazimuchape demolitions team, Moamba reported that the area was still being overflown and that the enemy was spread out in the zone 40 ks from Magude. Mapai then ordered Mabalane to deploy a company/section against the enemy in the Chihibuto area then, surely confused, it ordered Barragem to assist Chibuto though how this could be done was baffling as at about this time the garrison at Barragem was fighting for its life!

Once Barragem was taken the charges were set and Rhodesia's foremost demolition expert Captain Charlie Small blew the bridge - both Du Ploy and Small were tragically killed on the following day. In the fast fading light the demolition team was uplifted before being able to ascertain the damage. In the event, while the rail line was cut, 2 spans having gone down and a sluice gate damaged, the road bridge itself, with 2 spans sagging, was not completely destroyed and light vehicles were able to use it. This was not the fault of the demolition team as it was later revealed that the builders of the bridge had, at the time of construction, doubled the amount of building mix on this section. By 18.00 hrs all demolition teams were back at the admin base, not dissatisfied with the days work, though subdued by the death of Alexander Wesson. The Air Force was of course concerned about the next day's ops with regard to the enemy radar.

At 20.00 hrs the survivors at Barragem sent a formal message to the Bde commander at Xai-Xai informing him of the attack and that the bridge was destroyed. Unable to cope, they requested reinforcements. Minutes later they contacted Maputo with the same story and asked for infantry and A.A.guns. At about 20.50 hrs they gave out that they had suffered 6 dead and a number of undisclosed wounded. They also reported shooting down a helicopter and killing two of the enemy. Two hours earlier Maxaila reported bombing by 4 Rhodesian jets and requested medical supplies for 4 casualties. At about this time Pafuri came on the air informing all stations that the enemy had mined the road and that seven mines had been discovered.

6 September 1979 (D-Day +1) - The fight at Mapai. Despite the previous day's lesson at Barragem the defenders at Mapai were, unbelievably, caught completely by surprise when the hunters hit at 06.35. Many were on muster, others were eating or washing. 22 were killed outright and 32 wounded. The strike demolished the communications and command centre and blew up a small armoury. Racing up to their defensive positions the enemy were ready when the jets struck again, destroying the main fuel dump and, thankfully, the main radar station along with an A.A. gun position. In return they were welcomed by intense ground fire from a ring of some 20 medium-calibre A.A. guns but got away unscathed. The destruction of the radar station was of immediate relief to the airmen who were now maintaining air surveillance over Mapai which is in an area of Mozambique where, apart from the odd isolated Kopie, the ground is almost flat , with thick Jesse Bush. With the temperature in the nineties the helicopter-borne troops were on their way to the target area. From now on bad luck dogged the operations.

En route one Huey was forced to put down in a pan due to severe engine vibrations. The remainder, continuing on to Mapai, suddenly overflew a big enemy camp spread over a large area, and one of the Pumas, Hotel Four, was hit by an RPG-7 as it headed for its dropping zone. The result was the worst single disaster of the Rhodesian war. The rocket struck the aircraft behind the pilot's seat and exploded, killing all 14 people aboard. Forced into a downward spin the helicopter hit the ground and burst into flames. Army call signs dispatched to the crash site found the aircraft totally destroyed, the largest pieces being the turbines; they also found the 14 bodies of their comrades and arranged for their recovery when safe to do so after the taking of Mapai. Sadly this proved impossible.

The troops were put down on their planned LZs with the choppers returning immediately to admin base to refuel. The nine Russian advisors in Mapai whose unoccupied bunker had been demolished by the Hunter strike now took the opportunity to take the proverbial gap as it was no part of their brief to get involved in any fighting. The ground forces now moving on Mapai were making slow progress due to mortar and A.A. fire. 4 Hunters then put in a strike on 3 A.A. gun positions and appeared to score hits, but A.A. fire was now coming up all round the area.

Advancing on Mapai, the Rhodesians began to notice a trench complex with shelters and cooking positions. Crossing the road before the complex they shook out into extended line for the assault. As they went into a sandal wood, 'A' Sqn walked past a FPLM in a tree platform acting as early warning. A member of 'B' Sqn made no such error and shot him out of the tree. As he toppled down it was noticed that everything he wore was brand new, even down to his pistol and binoculars. It was the first of a few such devices. Through the sandal wood the troops now came up against 2 kilometres of Russian-designed interconnecting zig-zag trenches. Call sign 11 noticed heads bobbing up and down along the trench line and movement from left to right. Heavy firing now broke out and the contact started.

The surprised Rhodesians now found that, contrary to all plans and expectations, the enemy had not evacuated the base and fled as anticipated. Instead they were here and, from a very good defensive position, were offering battle as never before. Even the hardened veterans amongst the troops admitted later that they had never been under such intense fire from small arms, mortars and recoilless rifles. Having previously set the grass alight 30 FPLM now had call signs 14,13, 19 and 11 pinned down along with 'A' Sqn's mortars. 'A' Sqn itself was being engaged by two machine guns and were pinned down for 5 to 10 minutes. Then, moving away, the enemy occupied a large trench system on the Rhodesian left flank. 'A' Sqn's mortars, now free, began to fire their 60mm's, mortaring the enemy position as call sign 14 was still pinned down. This merely drew more fire. Indicating the enemy position by 60mm smoke bomb the Rhodesians called in a Hunter strike. Using their 30mm cannon the Hunters duly 'Stoncked' the FPLM position, drawing a terrific amount of A.A. fire from at least 6 to 8 gun positions. The strike had no effect.

The local commander of Mapai, using a mobile means, was speaking urgently with Maputo and his Bde commander at Xai-Xai:

General, chief of staff ground forces, and all command commanders. From 06.30 hrs until now there is combat at Bde HQ both by air and airborne troops. There are dead and wounded. Up till now the same situation continues. The same as in Chocue and Aldeia de Barragem.
In the orbiting command Dak a no less anxious General Walls was assessing the unexpected turn of events following on the tragic loss of 17 of his very fine troops and an irreplaceable helicopter.
On the ground, his lightly armed men now began the dirty and deadly business of trench clearing. Call sign 11 moved into the trench line to the immediate front of the sweep line, while 'C' Sqn occupied the left side. 2 members of 'A' Sqn already in the trench could see 7 FPLM firing at them from across a zig-zag line of trenches; when they returned fire the enemy moved away in the Northward direction where they were seen by call sign 19. The 2 'A' Sqn men now heard A A fire to their front while 3 other members of the Sqn moved along the trench line, observing and firing as they went along. This sort of fighting was being experienced by all the attackers and contacts now began to occur at point blank range. Clearing sorne 200 metres of zig-zag to the front the troops saw firing positions which had all been used, judging by the blankets, boots, clothing, water bottles and empty magazines Iying about. They also saw 2 cooking positions and an O P.

A very alarming development now occurred! The troops, having cleared an area, would suddenly find the enemy popping up behind them due to the intricate criss-cross pattern of the trenches. This caused the attack to falter and come to a virtual standstill as the troops were now having to contend with enemy to the front and rear. In the exhausting heat the SAS, faces caked with filth and pouring sweat called out to the FPLM to surrender, but in reply were sworn at in Portuguese. Then, hearing voices to the North they made ready to attack. 3 FPLM now crept up on call sign 11 and showed themselves, then ducked down only to pop up again complete with RPG 7 with which they rocketed the call sign, but fortunately missed.

As this was going on General Walls was coming to a swift and unenviable decision. Though outnumbered his troops outmatched the enemy and he knew they could take Mapai through sheer infantry skill and fighting spirit. What he was not prepared to accept were the inevitable casualties victory would cost. Accordingly he gave the order for the troops to withdraw back to the LZs for uplift back to base. In a Lynx above the battle, directing the troops, was Lt Dave Padbury, who relayed the general's orders with mixed feelings.

Richard Wood's B2 file P16 - In an interview on 18 February 1988, Padbury told Wood: The reason for the pull-out was that it was getting late and the troops on the ground did not want to stay through the night if the position was not taken. There was, he says, acute sensitivity to the amount of recent casualties and Comops did not want to damage public morale. That day the Puma Hotel 4 had been shot down and there was no desire to lose men unnecessarily. General Walls in the command dak took the decision against the feelings of Padbury who was in a Lynx above the battle and taking 'on the spot' decisions. Padbury was right, as it turned out, because a high level Canberra attack, using the resources allocated for target 19, broke the FPLM nerve. A defector from Malvernia a few weeks later would reveal that the FPLM in the trench network were prepared to stay and fight it out until the Canberra airstrike. They pulled out en masse from the trenches and ran to a pre-arranged R.V. on the railway line and did not return until 2 days later.

The troops now pulled out of Mapai and began a weary walk through the thick bush back to the LZs some eight kilometres North West of Mapai, and aithough there was no F.P.L.M. patrolling activity the helicopters, having uplifted all the call signs and speeding back to base at tree-top level, were, to their horror, met by a hail of harrowing fire from an FPLM reception committee awaiting them with RPG7, small arms and 23mm and 12.7mm machine guns as they burst into the open over the Maxaila Road. Only their speed saved them. Meanwhile the remains of the wrecked helicopter was golf-bombed in a vain effort to destroy any S.A. Markings.

Six Canberras, at high bombing level (over 20,000ft), dropped the final bomb load on Mapai, turned about and headed for base, totally unaware that they were the 'final straw' that broke the enemy at Mapai.

With the withdrawal from Mapai and the compromise of the admin box OP URIC was terminated.

Evaluation Note.
OP URIC along with OP miracle at Chimoio (28 Sept - 1 Oct 1979) were the last large external operations of the war. In both of these the Rhodesians underestimated the enemy. Although never put to the final test, it was becoming obvious that the under-equipped Rhodesians with their obsolete weapons and aircraft would eventually become technologically inferior to the enemy. For example, there is no doubt that if Tanzania had scrambled its Mig fighter bombers and joined in the fight the Rhodesian air force would have come unstuck without South African help. Not only were Rodesian aircraft outdated, there was also not enough of them - after an air strike the hunters required a turn-about of over 3 hours to return to base to refuel and rearm before a restrike. During this time the ground troops would be hard-pressed. The Canberras, bought in 1958, were positively prehistoric and well past their safe flying date. In fact, for fear of metal fatigue, they went at no more than 270 knots. In his autobiography, Moshe Dayan makes this point very well. Israeli circumstances were not unlike those of Rhodesia - a small country with a small, efficient Army and Air force surrounded by more numerous and hostile neighbours:
... we had never imagined that we could ever match the size of the arsenals possessed by the Arab states. But we believed we could bridge the gap by the superior fighting capacity of our troops, so long as we could match the quality of their weapons. In modern warfare, however, the elements of range, speed and fire power in technologically advanced aircraft, naval vessels and armour can be so superior that inferior weapons are simply unable to stand up to them. For every rise in standards of an enemy's arms, there must be a minimum means of reply. Without it no amount of courage can get the better of objective technical superiority. A brilliant pilot in a propeller aircraft has no chance against mediocrity in a jet...
By any analysis the Rhodesian performance during URIC was nothing short of heroic. Here, some 400 men, deep in hostile enemy territory and under-armed, 'knocked hell' out of the enemy economically (Barragem) and militarily (Mapai etc) and in the process killed over 25 of the enemy for each one of their own who fell. Politically it was also a success because Samora Machel had taken enough and, grabbing Robert Mugabe in a political armlock, he steered the unwilling and protesting Zanu leader to the conference table at Lancaster House.
From: Lion and Tusk, Vol. 5, No. 2, February 1994.


Vesta Sithole's book is filled with invective against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe
A former guerilla fighter in Zimbabwe, Vesta Sithole, has written a book to expose what she says is the “truth” about the country’s struggle against white domination. Zimbabwe became independent of Prime Minister Ian Smith’s white Rhodesian government in 1980, and current President Robert Mugabe has received most of the credit for this. But Sithole’s book, entitled ‘My Life with an Unsung Hero – Memoirs of a Zimbabwean Woman Freedom Fighter’ seeks to highlight the role played by her late husband in gaining freedom for Zimbabweans from the white colonialists. In her book, Sithole claims that Mugabe deliberately sidelined Zimbabwean nationalist leader, Ndabaningi Sithole, as the president became increasingly dictatorial. In the final part of his series on new African authors, VOA’s Darren Taylor reports on Vesta Sithole’s expose.

In her narrative, Sithole tells how her late husband, Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole, created the Zimbabwe African National Union Party (ZANU) in 1963 in opposition to Smith’s administration, but later lost control of it to Robert Mugabe. Her book is largely characterized by rancor for Mugabe – a man she has known for decades since they met in exile in the 1960’s.

“I left my career as a nurse to fight the white supremacists. I was harassed and imprisoned by the Rhodesian forces and later by my own people,” Sithole reflects.

She penned her memoir in her home in Maryland, in the United States, where she now lives in exile – once again, having originally fled Rhodesia in the 1960’s for Tanzania, where she was part of the resistance against white supremacy in her homeland.

“In 1980, we thought that freedom had arrived for all Zimbabweans. But it was Mugabe who ended up persecuting myself and my husband, because he saw as a political threat,” Sithole says.

The Smith administration imprisoned her husband and Mugabe in 1964, and only released them a decade later.

“In my book, I want to tell the world about the thousands of people – including my husband – who fought for freedom for Zimbabwe, but never got any recognition for it. We sacrificed our lives for Zimbabwe – a Zimbabwe that to this day is not free from tyranny. I am not free to return to the Zimbabwe I love. I am regarded by Mugabe as an enemy of the state.”

The love Sithole still has for her husband, who died in 2000, shines through the book. ‘My Life….’ is therefore part political intrigue, part love story, and part lament for the Zimbabwe of today: A country in economic chaos, with the highest inflation rate in the world, mass poverty and the negation of political freedoms that Sithole says she, her husband – and even Mugabe himself – once fought so hard to secure.

“It’s a tragedy,” she says.

Sithole, despite finding herself in exile in America, is in a unique position to comment on Zimbabwe’s past.

In addition to the years she spent in exile helping to accelerate the eventual downfall of the Smith administration, she was present at all the major negotiations between the Rhodesian authorities, the British government and the liberation movements that led to Zimbabwe’s independence.

But her book also describes her impoverished childhood in a township in Rhodesia’s eastern highlands, and her political awakening as a young nurse in Bulawayo, when she began attending meetings held by activists.

After the Rhodesian government banned ZANU, Sithole jumped at the chance to join the movement in exile.

“I left the country in secret. No one knew where I had gone, not even my mother,” she recalls.

In the book, she writes about the “dangerous and uncertain” cross-border journey she was forced to undertake in order to contribute to freedom for her people. A ZANU agent accompanied her on a bus to a post at Rhodesia’s border with Zambia.

“I didn’t know what was going on. I was totally confused. We had no passports. We waited at a fishing village near the border. When night fell, I was taken to the Zambezi River…. Later in the night, we crossed, through little boats. I was scared to death. I couldn’t imagine traveling on that river. I had gone to school, I knew about the Zambezi River. I knew about all the crocodiles and the hippopotamus along that river. It was just frightening!” Sithole exclaims.

“God was with us, and we managed to cross, and as the years would go on I would realize that sometimes it is people you should be afraid of, not animals!” she quips.

Eventually she reached the Zambian capital of Lusaka, where other Zimbabweans were waiting to be transported to guerilla bases in Tanzania.

“We were all packed in like sardines in those trucks. Then we traveled through Zaire. It was such a long journey, the longest and strangest and most painful of my life…. We met different kinds of people. And we didn’t understand any language. For me it was just so strange. I was thinking: If the end comes for me here, no one will ever find my body,” says Sithole.

But the intrepid band of freedom fighters later reached Dar es Salaam.

The book, however, is dominated by reflections on her husband.

“Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole was a freedom fighter, through and through. He believed that people should be free in their homelands, and that no tribe should be made the elite ahead of another.”

Sithole says her husband always seemed a “very soft person” but that when it came to “issues of freedom, he was on the hard line. He is the one who started the armed struggle in our country. He decided to go to China in the early sixties to go and seek weapons of war, for the first time. And he brought those things and he trained young men and women to fight.”

But, according to Sithole, Reverend Ndabaningi always said that the armed struggle against the Smith government had been a “last resort. When it looked like Ian Smith wanted to negotiate, my husband was the first political leader to agree to talks. His philosophy was when two men fight, they must always shake hands afterwards.”

But Robert Mugabe, Sithole claims, was a very different character.

“I met Mugabe in Dar es Salaam for the first time…. The impression has been created that everyone loved Mugabe. But to tell you the truth, many people distrusted him, even back then. He wanted power, and at any cost. He was a ruthless man. He always promoted people from his Shona (ethnic) group ahead of those from the Ndebele group.”

Ironically, says Sithole, it was her husband’s desire to negotiate for peace and to avoid “full on” armed conflict that led to his eventual marginalization.

“(In the late 1970’s), Smith invited him, as ZANU president, to talks. Some people, like Mugabe, then said he was a sell-out when my husband talked with Smith,” she says.

Reverend Sithole was seen by many in Zimbabwe’s liberation movement as having betrayed the cause, when – at Smith’s invitation - he joined a transitional government of whites and blacks in 1979.

But, as far as Sithole’s concerned, her husband completed “all the groundwork” that laid the foundation for an independent Zimbabwe, by “working with Smith and softening the white hardcore in Rhodesia.”

But, once all the hard work had been done, Mugabe, Sithole claims, “usurped this power from Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and he became the leader of ZANU and after liberation (in 1980) he was the president. But he (Mugabe) didn’t give full recognition to all those people who fought for freedom. He didn’t praise them, he didn’t say anything (about them); it was just as if there he was; he is the one who did it (all). My late husband was the president of this (ZANU) party also, and when he died Mugabe decided that he was not a hero.”

In her book, Sithole slams Mugabe for excluding some Zimbabwean freedom fighters from the Heroes Acre burial ground in Harare.

“Anyone who has gone against Mugabe in any way, is not buried there. There’s no one who is a trade unionist who is laid there. I just felt it was just unfair for him to do that; I should write something and bring up his (Rev. Sithole’s) name plus names of others who have not been mentioned by Mugabe,” Sithole says.

“I want to show everyone, especially Zimbabweans, that Robert Mugabe was not the only fighter in this war.

All the time Zimbabwean history is skewed to make it as if Mugabe was the only man who fought for freedom from white domination, when this isn’t the case!” she maintains, emphatically.

In the 1980’s, says Sithole, Mugabe immediately began targeting his perceived political enemies. Thousands of Ndebeles were massacred in Matabeleland. She says Reverend Sithole was also “on top of Mugabe’s list” and he was “in and out” of prison.

In the 1990’s, the persecution against her husband escalated. Mugabe jailed him for “instigating treason” – a charge Sithole says was “completely false.”

“A lot of things just happened. The government had decided to take our farm, like the way they are taking the (white-owned) farms now. They started during that time by taking our own farm.”

The Sithole’s fled into exile in the US in 2000, when Reverend Sithole died, “forgotten and empty,” of heart failure.

“He had developed heart problems while in prison in Zimbabwe,” says Sithole.

She fears dying in America, like her husband, never having felt the ground of her homeland under her feet once again.

“I am an old woman now. I want to go back to Zimbabwe, to enjoy that beautiful country. I don’t want to die on foreign soil like my husband. I am praying for a leader who understands the people, and gives them the freedom they deserve. I pray for Zimbabwe to once again prosper. It’s a very rich country. If everybody who is outside in the diaspora goes back, it s going to flourish and bloom. But more than anything, what I want to see in my lifetime is dignity for all Zimbabweans.”

But right now, Sithole says, all she has are her memories, contained in a book that’s she’s “happy” to have written - but still finds insufficient.

“It’s not enough, it’s not enough,” she says. “I want to be a Zimbabwean again.”



Communist Leanings of Rhodesian Nationalist Groups which are now combined under the aegis of the African National Council
In December, 1974, the Rhodesian Government released leaders of two African Nationalist political parties banned in Rhodesia from their restriction so that they could attend a meeting in Lusaka, Zambia, with the Presidents of Botswana, Tanzania, Zambia and Mocambique, neighbours of Rhodesia, in an attempt to unify Rhodesian black nationalists under one banner. As a result of the meetings the Rhodesian nationalists agreed to submit to the leadership of United Methodist Bishop Abel Muzorewa under the banner of the African National Council. They also agreed to abolish their former political parties - the Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union (ZAPU), and the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) and the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI).
In the months that followed this agreement it became obvious that the factions within the African National Council were still at odds with each other and pursuing the ideologies developed during the early sixties. There has been frequent contact with communist countries by members of the banned political parties and Rhodesian blacks have been trained, both in ideology and sabotage. They have received through the OAU, and directly, generous gifts of weapons of communist origin. The purpose of this paper is to show the communist support, both ideological and military, that these factions are receiving.

Links to Communist Countries
The Rhodesian Government has been aware since the early 1960’s of numerous visits to Moscow and Peking by leaders of the nationalist groups. The pattern that emerges here is of close links between ZAPU and the USSR and between ZANU and the PRC.
During this period the external missions of ZAPU were known to be coming under increasing communist influence, especially in London, where the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) was actively engaged in organising ‘platforms’ on ZAPU’s behalf. Advertisements of communist content also appeared in the ‘Zimbabwe Review’, a Party propaganda organ published in London.

The following are countries in which it is known that Rhodesian nationalists have undergone para-military and sabotage training under communist direction:

Groups of Rhodesian African nationalists have been accomodated and trained in houses and flats in the Koxhovoskaya and Chirimuski areas of Moscow. Groups have been small - normally consisting of six men per group - and have been trained by Russian uniformed instructors in the use of explosives, arms, sabotage and guerrilla tactics.
Rhodesian African nationalists have been trained in the use of explosives and arms at a camp some fifteen kilometres from Pyongyeng. The instructors on this course were uniformed North Korean military officers.
Groups of Rhodesian African nationalists have been trained in camps near Peking and Nanking. Instruction has been given by Chinese military instructors in revolutionary tactics, arms, explosives, sabotage technique, communications and strategy.
Large groups of Rhodesian African nationalists were trained at Half Assini and Abenamadi Camps in Ghana during 1965. Instruction was given in guerrilla warfare, weapon training, explosives and sabotage technique by thirteen Chinese instructors.
To bring the situation into the seventies, the following is extracted from a report by the American Affairs Association, Inc., of New York. The report was written by Professor Walter Darnell Jacobs of the University of Maryland. The relevant extract follows:

"In order to judge the extent of Communist support of ZANU and ZAPU some review of the history of these organizations is appropriate. Both ZANU and ZAPU correspond to the type of organization prescribed in the ideology of the national liberation movement as elaborated from Moscow and Peking. The Moscow approach is older, going back at least to Khrushchev’s famous 1960 and 1961 statements which so disturbed President Kennedy and contributed to the reorganization of the U.S. armed forces to attempt to provide a capability to deal with "insurgencies". The Chinese view has been set out in much of the early writings of Mao Tse-Tung and, later, of Lin Piao and others. Both Moscow and Peking have a generous output of theory concerning the national liberation movement. A measure of the significance which the Soviet leadership places on the movement can be gained from assessing its support of ‘liberation’ activities in Vietnam and elsewhere. It can also be measured from the statement by Leonid Brezhnev to the 24th Congress of the Communist Party in 1971 that the three main revolutionary forces of our epoch are socialism, the international working-class movement, and the national liberation movement. The further remarks of Brezhnev on 30 January 1973 in the Kremlin Palace are also germane. At that time he said: ‘The victory of Vietnam shows that it is impossible to conquer a people who fight for their freedom and independence, leaning on the powerful support of their class brothers and all revolutionary and prgressive forces of the planet...The victory of Vietnam is a graphic proof of the effectiveness of the internationalism of the Soviet Union and other socialist countries. We have rendered Vietnamese friends active assistance in their efforts on all fronts - the military, political, and diplomatic.
ZANU and ZAPU have been under some pressure from the OAU and several leading African politicians to merge their efforts. In spite of the split between the USSR and PRC, Moscow and Peking have not appeared averse to such a union. In fact, the first ‘military’ training undergone by Rhodesian African terrorists was in the People’s Republic of China in early 1963. Since that year, ZAPU (formerly known as the People’s Caretaker Council), has received financial and material aid from the Soviet bloc. The other organization, ZANU, has had some continuing support from the Soviet bloc but, more recently, has become increasingly dependent on the PRC. In response to the pressure for unity, on 1 October 1971 the Front for the Liberation of Zimbabwe (FROLIZI) was formed. The constitution and manifesto of FROLIZI are heavily larded with communist verbiage. FROLIZI is headed by James R.P. Chikerema and its effectiveness as a fusion liberation group is still doubtful. In any case, ZANU and ZAPU continue to operate apparently as separate units. Some observers suggest that FROLIZI really represents a coalition of dissidents from ZAPU and ZANU organized behind Chikerema for his own challenge for leadership of the entire Zimbabwe liberation movement.

Further attempts at unity between the remaining members of ZANU and ZAPU led to the establishment of the Joint Military Command (JMC). This was announced at the 19th session of the OAU Liberation Committee at Benghazi, Libya, in January 1972, and ratified at the 20th session in Kampala, Uganda, in May 1972. While the JMC, which appears to be under the command of Herbert Chitepo of ZANU (Herbert Chitepo was assassinated in Lusaka, Zambia, in March 1975) is responsible for recruiting, training, financing, and overall operational planning. Both terrorist groups (ZANU and ZAPU) maintain their own ideological beliefs, and much of the old enmity (basically tribal in nature) still exists.

The following is a breakdown of confirmed and identified terrorist training courses: ZAPU ZANU
Bulgaria 1
Cuba 1 1
North Korea 3
PRC 1 3

Training courses outside the communist bloc include: ZAPU ZANU
Algeria 4
Ghana 1
Egypt 2 1
Tanzania 3 10
under Chinese instructors.

Courses held in the Soviet Union have been of four main types - para-military training, military engineering, radio (usually at Simferopol and Odessa), and intelligence (in Moscow). Para-military training has also been given in Bulgaria, North Korea, and the Arab Republic of Egypt.
Courses in military engineering and radio are self-explanatory. Para-military courses include instruction in weapons training; the manufacture and use of explosives, grenades and bombs; sabotage and demolition techniques for use on ferro-concrete, steel and wooden targets; guerrilla tactics including ambushes against vehicles and personnel, camouflage and spoor- covering; and basic radio communications and map reading.

Intelligence training covers foreign intelligence organizations (including American, British and French), sophisticated codes and cyphers, invisible inks, and hidden microphones. It also covers counter-intelligence such as agent-running, surveillance, mail interception, and similar measures. Also taught are photography, radio communication, and basic firearms training.

In all cases political indoctrination has been a feature of the training and the terrorists have been taught the importance of spreading the communist doctrine among their people. The ‘advantage’ of socialism over capitalism is persistently stressed.

The training of ZANU recruits has been carried out in the PRC at established military bases near Peking and Nanking. While the same para-military subjects are taught there as in the Soviet Union, great emphasis is placed on influencing the minds and attitudes of the terrorists through political indoctrination and the ‘ideology’ of guerrilla warfare. The Chinese make much of the fact that they ‘won their liberation struggle’ by the same tactics being taught to the African trainees. That the Africans were influenced by this brainwashing was evidenced in one incident inside Rhodesia where a group of infiltrators went down clutching Mao Tse- Tung’s ‘little red book’. To these infiltrators the book of Chairman Mao’s thoughts provided no greater protection than the traditional African witchdoctor’s spell against bullets.
More recently courses inside the PRC have been largely replaced by similar training and exercises in Tanzania under Chinese instructors. Also of late, emphasis in this training has been on defense against attack by aircraft and on mine laying and sabotage.

To support their investment in the training of terrorists, the USSR and the PRC individually supply weapons, ammunition, explosives, uniforms, finance and food to the OAU Liberation Committee in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, for distribution to the African nationalist groups. This Committee, as a result of non-payment of dues by the majority of its eleven African member states is forced to rely more and more on direct aid from communist sources. (The aid is supplemented by grants from the World Council of Churches, from some Swedish government funds, and from private groups in Norway and elsewhere. Some liberation groups have solicited funds inside the United States.)
As well as channeling assistance to the terrorists through the OAU, the Soviet Union and the PRC supply aid directly to their liberation groups, ZAPU and ZANU, respectively. This system of direct aid is also followed by the Democratic Republic of Germany, North Korea, Bulgaria, Hungary and Poland.

The German Democratic Republic prints and circulates the ZAPU newsletter, ‘The Zimbabwe Review’. Chinese aid has extended to the supply of radio stations to Tanzania and Zambia for the purpose of broadcasting terrorist propaganda against the white-governed countries of Southern Africa.

There is, in short, no lack of evidence of communist support of ZANU and ZAPU. (Most of the material cited here was gained from interviews with captured or defected ZANU and ZAPU members.) Nor is there any lack of official statements of support by Moscow and Peking for the liberation movements. In addition to the Brezhnev speech cited above, numerous other examples could be adduced. For instance, the Soviet ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo stated during a press conference in Brazzaville on 27 December 1972, that the Soviet Union ‘is to increase its aid to African national liberation movements against all forms of national oppression, bringing all possible aid to liberation movements and to the strengthening of young sovereign states which fight for real and authentic independence’.

Terrorism inside Rhodesia remains a problem today largely because the terrorists are supported by the Soviet Union and the PRC. The willingness of Moscow and Peking to heighten its level of support could complicate the problem for Salisbury. The late 1972 and early 1973 incursions into the Centenary district of Rhodesia and in areas of the Zambezi river demonstrate that the terrorists are most difficult to control completely. The problem is further complicated by some new factors which surfaced in the course of these recent raids. First among these is the apparent ability of ZANU and ZAPU to agree on areas of operation. ZAPU operated chiefly in the western area of Rhodesia, along the Zambezi and near Victoria Falls. ZANU seemed to confine its activities to the northeastern areas of Rhodesia. In this ZANU area of responsibility the terrorists were infiltrated into Rhodesia from areas in the Tete province of neighbouring Mozambique which were controlled by the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique (FRELIMO). As a result of this control ZANU recruits could be held in FRELIMO camps for a period of training under realistic combat conditions. They could be instructed in advanced methods of supply. These were elements of training that had been missing in earlier terrorist activities inside Rhodesia. When ZANU groups did leave the FRELIMO-controlled areas of Tete Province and moved into Rhodesia, they were able to enter the country and remain there undiscovered for several weeks, or until the outbreak of terrorism in December 1972..."

Communist weapons captured by Rhodesian Security Forces
In a paper prepared in December 1974 after a visit to Rhodesia, Dr. Lucius Beebe, Professor of Strategy, the Citadel, Charleston, S.C. wrote as follows:
"Weapons used by the terrorists are all of communist origin; this writer has seen hundreds of Chinese made AK-47’s, many still in cosmoline, as well as hand-grenades, land mines, rocket launchers, booby traps, etc., that have been captured by the Rhodesian authorities. The automatic rifle is the most popular weapon, but the land mine is most widely used because of its ease of placement and indiscriminate destruction which fills the African with terror. Since the end of United States involvement in South East Asia, the terrorists’ inventory has increased and the diabolical phosphorus mine has been introduced..."
On March 8, 1975, Christopher Munnion reported to the London Daily Telegraph from Salisbury under a headline "GUERRILLAS PLAN MISSILES WAR IN RHODESIA" as follows:
"An African guerrilla group in Rhodesia has been told to step up terrorist warfare on the North-Eastern border following the arrest of its leader by the Government.
ZANU guerrillas have received the instruction after the renewed detention of the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, the group’s leader. Guerrilla leaders would be told to go ahead with a new phase of the war due to have been launched before the ceasefire agreed in Lusaka last November, Salisbury sources said.

This phase, I understand, involves the widespread use of the portable Soviet-made Sam 7 ground-to-air missile, large numbers of which have been supplied to ZANU through Tanzania.

The aim is to attempt the destruction of Rhodesian air superiority maintained by Canberra bombers, Hawker Hunter and Vampire ground-attack aircraft and helicopters.

They are also being instructed to lure Rhodesian aircraft - most of them low- and slow-flying - into missile range in the wild border area.

Communist-made missiles have already been used against security force aircraft. But the new phase is understood to involve more than 100 guerrillas specially-trained in the use of the SAM 7.

On the ground the ceasefire has now been completely forgotten by Rhodesian forces and guerrillas alike. Rhodesians are carrying out full-scale counter-insurgency operations while there are daily reports of terrorism."

A Naval correspondent of the same newspaper on March 3 reported under the headline "SOVIET ARMS ARRIVE IN MOZAMBIQUE" as follows:
"Russia has begun shipping arms to Mozambique as the Soviet fleet in the Indian Ocean expands its activities at a rapid rate.
The Mozambique port of Beira and the Comoro Islands northwest of Malagasy are among new ports of call for the Russian ships.

In Mauritius the almost permanent presence of Russian warships has meant that visits by British and American warships have almost been abandoned.

But while France plans to build a new base in the Comoro Islands, the British naval radio station on Mauritius, along with the RAF staging post at Gan in the Maldive Islands, are to be closed under the Government’s defence cuts.

South African naval leaders are worried by the increasing Russian naval activity.

In the western Indian Ocean the elderly South African Shackleton patrol aircraft are the only Western planes available to keep watch on the Russians.

For the first time South Africa is building her own warships. Six missile boats, probably equipped with the Israeli Gabriel missile which was used with success in the 1973 war, are being built at Durban.

More submarines in addition to the three French-built boats now in service, may be ordered. France is most likely to get this order.

To find the number of sailors needed, coloured sailors now form a major portion of the crew of the naval survey ship, Protea, 2,750 tons. Recruiting for a naval Indian corps has also begun."

Policy Statements by Rhodesian Black Nationalist Leaders
There have been a number of interviews of representatives of the Zimbabwe African Peoples’ Union by an organization called the Liberation Support Movement which is based in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada. Below are quotes from some of these interviews:
Interview with Edward Ndhlovu, ZAPU Deputy National Secretary, Dec. 1974
"At the moment we depend heavily on outside supplies of arms and funds to carry out our operations. In the long run, however, such a situation tends to hamper the progress of our struggle. Just the enormous time between requesting certain equipment and actually getting it into areas of operation makes planning very difficult. Our revolution demands patience but having to wait a long time for supplies can become a cause of demoralization among our fighters. It is therefore of great importance that we achieve greater self-reliance as soon as possible. Logistic problems also limit recruitment and training inside Zimbabwe (nationalist name for Rhodesia). Some of our fighters are trained inside, but there is a very definite limit as to how much of this we can do. We give recruits basic knowledge of explosives and training in the use of light weapons. However, we don’t have adequate arms and ammunition for most of those who want to join us inside. Most of our guerrillas, therefore, are still trained outside in socialist or independent African countries. In the future, when we can improve our logistic situation, this should change.
I should add that all our militants also receive political training. They study Marxism, Leninism, Maoism, the history of Zimbabwe and writings on either revolutions, such as in Vietnam, Algeria, Cuba, or the Mau-Mau in Kenya. Whenever we can, we spend time on political education, since it is crucial in building and maintaining the morale and good comportment among our guerrillas.

As for ZAPU, it is no secret that we base our work on the principles of Marxism-Leninism and that our ideological position is rooted in the masses. The struggle to create a new society such as we are striving for must be based on the principles of scientific socialism.

We are committed to a programme of establishing a socialist state and society in Zimbabwe, and this we will do. We will need the support of everyone who has something to contribute, irrespective of race, colour or creed. In the short term there will be land reform and the establishment of peoples’ control over all large companies, including the multinationals operating in our country. Later we will go further,... but it is difficult to be more specific at this stage. Nevertheless, I am convinced that a free and socialist Zimbabwe will be a better place to live in for all Zimbabweans."

Interview with George Nyandoro, General Secretary of ZAPU
"During the liberation struggle our main objective is to seize power - then we can begin the social revolution, begin to put our social principles into practice. When we liberate an area, then we will begin our social revolution from that base - in practical terms. Until that time, until we have power in a liberated area, considerations of socialist programmes and policies are necessarily confined to the realm of pure theory."
Interview with George Silundika, ZAPU Publicity and Information Secretary
"We are confident that the masses will not allow any leaders, whether of the ANC or any other organization, to commit the nation to a non-revolutionary course. Our guarantee is the persistence of the masses in their demand for genuine freedom, which they have already sacrificed so much for. The ANC struck a correct note with an already organized people and the people reacted in a disciplined manner. So while the ANC leadership is inexperienced, the masses have a long history of struggle and will ensure a correct direction to further developments. Bishop Muzorewa’s (President of the ANC) recent public surrender of the principle of ‘one man one vote’ and his unprincipled flirtation with Ian Smith represent a radical and dangerous deviation from the correct line of the masses."
The following quotations are from documents and evidence presented to the Special Court established in terms of Section 3 of the Emergency Powers (Special Court) Regulations, 1975, and presided over by the Honourable Hector Macdonald, Acting Chief Justice of Rhodesia. The Special Court was established to consider the redetention of the Rev. Ndabaningi Sithole, leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union, which is a banned organization in Rhodesia but which is now operating under the umbrella of the African National Council. The following extracts are presented. The official political programme of ZANU has this to say about the establishment of a new state in Rhodesia:
"A truly socialist, self-supporting economy would be established and organized on broad principles enunciated by Marxism-Leninism."
In a publication "Basic Information about ZANU", the question is posed, what is ZANU’s ideology? The answer is given as follows:
"ZANU is guided by the principles of Marxism-Leninism. It aims at achieving a socialist revolution. However, before the achievement of such a socialist revolution, a transitional stage of national democratic revolution is necessary. The national democratic revolution is a necessary preparation for the socialist revolution, and the socialist revolution is the inevitable sequel to the national democratic revolution. The deeper the national democratic revolution, the better the conditions for socialist revolution."
In the official monthly publication for the month of December, 1974, the following claims are made:
"The same period in question saw great achievements and advances in the field of political mobilization at home and abroad. Combining theory and practice and utilizing Marxist- Leninist organization tactics, ZANU cadres throughout the country made great inroads in the mobilization of the suffering people. Workers, peasants, intellectuals and students have all come in full force to support the struggle under the banner of ZANU. ZANU secret branches have been set up throughout the country. Party cadres have organized themselves into clandestine ZANU cells in the countryside, urban residential areas, factories, colleges, etc., in order to carry out political underground work and mobilization of the people."
In the opening paragraph of its political programme, ZANU states that at the time of its formation "it was dedicated to the policy of national independence and national liberation through violent revolution. It sought to unite all African people behind a leadership committed to this policy... For the last seven years, ZANU has been committed to a policy of violent revolution in order to change totally and completely the existing social and political system." In the same document, under the heading "The Task at Present", it is said that -
"The most pressing task of the Party, freedom-fighters and the people at present is to intensify the armed struggle in Zimbabwe in order to free our motherland within this decade...ZANU is committed to achieving national independence through the armed struggle. It disapproves of the policy of collaboration with the white racist states in Southern Africa advocated by the Republic of Malawi. While ZANU appreciates the motives and reasons behind the signatories to the Lusaka Manifesto, it completely rejects its approach to the problem and reaffirms its belief in the armed struggle."
In the December, 1974 edition of the Zimbabwe News, the following emerges:
"ZANU says that there is no ceasefire and there won’t be a ceasefire until there is a definite programme to transfer power to the African people of Zimbabwe. And the only man who can call for a ceasefire is Comrade Ndabaningi Sithole, the President of ZANU."
SLB/CGR 28 November 1975
Information Section
Ministery of Foreign Affairs



In 1965, immediately after UDI, the Zimbabwean nationalist leaders were of the opinion that guerrilla warfare could provoke British intervention in Rhodesia. This assumption was based on the fact that the British government had indicated it would intervene militarily only if ‘law and order' broke down in Rhodesia. 1

The Zimbabwean nationalist leaders based their military strategy on the idea that, ‘… all that was necessary to end white domination was to train some guerrillas and send them home with guns: this would not only scare the whites but would ignite a wave of civil disobedience by blacks'. 2 Maxey asserts that the very rigid control and formal censorship of the mass media stopped the rapid spread of mass opposition by reinforcing the appearance of calm. When the Rhodesian government found itself in serious trouble it turned for external help to South Africa. 3

ZAPU and its military wing ZPRA, with Joshua Nkomo as its leader was based in Zambia. 4 The other nationalist party was the Zimbabwean African National Union (ZANU) and its military wing was the Zimbabwean African National Liberation Army (ZANLA). 5 Both ZANU and the PAC received the bulk of their support from China. The Moaist approach to guerrilla warfare was quite different from the theories of the Soviet Union, which supported both ZAPU and the ANC. 6 One of the major differences between ZAPU and ZANU was the latter's conviction that physical attacks on Whites and their property were necessary.

ZAPU started its training schemes shortly after its formation in 1963 and from 1964 onwards Chikerema, its Vice-President went to a number of socialist countries on behalf the organisation to negotiate for increases to ZAPU's training facilities.

By 1966, ZAPU, which was the major black nationalist movement, realised that the British government would not intervene in Rhodesia. Celliers argues that ZAPU's armed wing also did not have the ability to force a collapse of law and order and cynically concludes that the major task of the insurgent forces was to convince the OAU of their existence and wish to overthrow the Smith government. This was vital if the black nationalists were to continue receiving political and financial support. It was also apparent that if Rhodesia were to become Zimbabwe, the black majority themselves would have to take up arms to fight for liberation. 7

During the early years of the war, ZPRA bore the full responsibility for the war effort whilst the parent party ZAPU concentrated its efforts on mustering international support. ZANLA played a limited military role at that time. 8

Who then were the ZAPU guerrillas?
The nationalist organisations recruited guerrillas from inside Rhodesia and from the large immigrant community living in Zambia, Botswana, Tanzania and even the United Kingdom. The ZPRA cadres were better trained and equipped than ZANLA. One reason for this could be the strong support it received from the USSR, Cuba and the German Democratic Republic (GDR). The Rhodesians found the ZPRA fighters more formidable and more disciplined. 9

It was suggested that over ninety per cent of the fighting men in ZAPU were Ndebele, although they only comprised ten to twenty per cent of the Rhodesian population. 10 ZAPU commanders denied this tribal bias and Maxey concludes that recruitment appears to have been evenly spread over the country. He further quotes Boywer Bell, who used figures obtained from the Rhodesian authorities, which indicated that deceased guerrillas came from all the Rhodesian tribal groups with a pre-dominance of Ndebele. Boywer Bell concurred with ‘ZAPU's claim to be a-tribal…and that its leadership and battle groups are mixed'. 11

Celliers argues that, ‘ZAPU had the backing of the Matabeles, who constitute some 19% of Zimbabwe's black population, while ZANU had that of the loosely grouped Shona nations which constituted 77% of the black population'. 12

ZAPU guerrillas, particularly in the early stages of the war received their training mainly in Russia, Cuba and Algeria, whilst some others received their training in Bulgaria, North Korea and Zaire (Katanga province). At a trial held in Rhodesia in 1968, a ZAPU guerrilla gave a brief description of the training he received in Russia. The classes lasted approximately four months and included a wide range of political and practical topics. Subjects included political science, aspects of intelligence work and the use of codes and ciphers. The guerrillas were given a run-down on the work of the CIA, MI6 and MI5, and the French and Federal German intelligence organisations. On the military side they were taught the use of explosives, hand-grenades, and how to use and assemble guns, rifles and pistols. 13

Both ANC and ZAPU groups had a fairly formal structure with a commander and a political commissar. From 1966 to 1968, they were even dressed in semi-military uniforms.

The Chimurenga war in Rhodesia after UDI
Both ZAPU and ZANU called the Zimbabwean phase of guerrilla warfare Chimurenga, a Shona name derived from the rebellions of 1896-1897. Rhodesian intelligence officers divided the Chimurenga war into three phases. 14 The first phase was from 1964 after Zambian independence when guerrillas began crossing the Zambezi River so as to infiltrate Rhodesia, until the end of Operation Excess in Mashonaland in 1968.

During this time, the first military engagement between the Rhodesian security forces and seven ZANLA guerrillas took place on 28 April 1966, near Sinoia, 100-km north west of Harare. This day is now commemorated in Zimbabwe as Chimurenga Day, marking the start of the war. The Sinoia group of guerrillas was part of three teams, which had entered Rhodesia with the aim of cutting power lines and attacking White farmsteads. A second group murdered a white couple with the surname Viljoen on their farm near Hartley on 16 May 1966. Security forces later captured the insurgents. In total 13 of the 14 original insurgents were either captured or killed by security forces. 15 A little while later another ZANLA infiltration was detected near Sinoia. In the battle that followed seven insurgents were killed and a number captured. 16

The second phase covered the period 1968 until the attack on Altena Farm at the end of 1972. The third phase was the rapid escalation of the war and several international attempts to achieve a negotiated settlement and ended with a cease-fire agreement signed on 21 December 1979. 17 It is in the context of the first phase of the war in Rhodesia that the Wankie campaign took place.

The plan underpinning the ANC-ZAPU alliance
In 1966, Joe Modise, commander-in-chief of MK based himself in Zambia and with ZAPU military commanders conducted reconnaissance work into Rhodesia. 18 In April 1967 a plan for the prosecution of the armed struggle was put forward. ‘After lengthy debates an order was issued that our men and women were to cross the Zambezi towards home'. 19 The decision by the ANC and ZAPU to operate jointly was approved by the ANC Executive in June 1967. Pallo Jordan comments that the Wankie campaign was most probably ‘planned and executed by the most militant elements within MK'. 20 Lodge alleges that the SACP Central Committee was totally unaware of the Wankie campaign until news of the military operation hit the world's press. 21 Shubin disputes this pointing to the unreliability of Lodge's source namely a report in Ikwezi. The fact that Chris Hani was a member of the SACP and the political commissar of the Luthuli Detachment made it highly unlikely that the SACP did not know of the plan beforehand.

By the middle of 1967, it was apparent that ZAPU's guerilla tactics had made no significant impact on the Rhodesian authorities and the ANC had no success in infiltrating guerrillas back into South Africa. Their plan was to send a joint MK-ZPRA force across the Zambezi River into northwest Rhodesia. This big group would split into two upon reaching the Wankie Game Reserve. The main MK column would march south, through the Rhodesian bush into South Africa. The second smaller column of MK soldiers would be part of a ZAPU unit. They would move east and set up a base at Lupane inside Rhodesia to commence a guerrilla war against the Ian Smith regime. This base would also provide a future transit base for MK infiltrators en route to South Africa. Chris Hani said MK hoped to build a ‘Ho Chi Minh route to South Africa'. 22

Preparations for the trip home
Morodi, a Luthuli Detachment combatant received military training in Egypt after which he spent a year in the Soviet Union. He and some other ANC comrades returned to Zambia in early 1966. 23 In early 1967, Morodi and other MK recruits were all transferred from the Tanzanian camps to Joshua Nkomo's camp outside of Lusaka.

Another Luthuli Detachment combatant, Norman Duka, says that in early 1967 the ANC Chief representative in Dar-es-Salaam told him that the chance to go back home [to South Africa] had arrived. He and two others left by lorry to Zambia. The guerrillas received a further five months of intensive training and political education. Chris Hani explains: A lot of time was allocated for the detachment to be together in the bush to be able to train together in order to ensure that physically we were ready for the rigorous task that lay ahead. But in addition to the physical preparation there was also the political preparation, the need for us to forge an understanding between the forces of Umkhonto we Sizwe and the forces of ZAPU and to understand the historical necessity of the battles of Wankie. 24

Importantly the diet of the combatants was greatly improved a few months before the campaign and everyone felt healthy. At about this time the ANC President-General, Chief Albert Luthuli died in South Africa. The acting President Oliver Tambo declared a week of mourning and delayed the march of the guerrillas home. The Luthuli Detachment was thus named in honour of the late ANC President-General. 25 The route chosen for the march home was explained by Morodi:

Some of our men who had been sent through Botswana were captured, and they were beaten up and sent back. So we choose that we have to go through Rhodesia, so that when we meet people there – the police or the army – we can be able to fight, because its not an independent African state and we know it's our enemy. So it was agreed. 26

Before departing the guerrillas were issued with uniforms of Russian origin, which consisted of a tunic, a long pair of trousers and a hat. The uniform was made of khaki gabardine. 27 Each guerrilla received boots, which had a distinctive 8 pattern on the sole, and which unfortunately would later make it easier for the Rhodesian security forces to track them. (See Appendices 3,4,5) Each received a cloth-covered water bottle and a rucksack in which they carried food, private clothing and ammunition.

Each guerrilla was given a sub-machine gun with 300 rounds and a semi-automatic rifle with 300 rounds. Some, not all guerrillas received a pistol with 90 rounds of ammunition and each guerrilla was provided with two hand-grenades: defensive and offensive. 28 The day before departure each guerrilla was given a medical check up, and the group prepared for their long march home.


K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.5

J. K. Celliers, Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia (London, Biddles Ltd, 1985) p.6

K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe , (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.5


In this study, the names of the guerrilla wings as well as their parent party will be used.

D. Martin and P. Johnson, The struggle for Zimbabwe: The Chimurenga war (Johannesburg, Ravan Press, 1981) p.10

J.K. Celliers, Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia (London, Biddles Ltd, 1985) p.6


Learning Nation Volume 1, No.15 September 15-21, 1988, p.1.

J.K. Celliers, Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia (London, Biddles Ltd, 1985) p. 7

K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.10

J.K. Celliers, Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia (London, Biddles Ltd, 1985) p.7

K. Maxey, The fight for Zimbabwe (London, Rex Collings, 1975) p.10

J.K. Celliers, Counter-insurgency in Rhodesia (London, Biddles Ltd, 1985) p. 6

Ibid. p.7


D Martin and P Johnson, The struggle for Zimbabwe: The Chimurenga War (Johannesburg, Ravan Press, 1981) p. 9

H Barrell, MK: the ANC's armed struggle (London, Penguin books, 1990) p.20

F. Meli, A history of the ANC: South Africa belongs to us (Harare, Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1988) p.162. The Luthuli Detachment only had male guerrillas.

Interview with Pallo Jordan (Pretoria, January 1996)

The SACP was a close working ally of the ANC.

See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.2

Graham Morodi was also known as Mashego. He was a member of the Luthuli Detachment and joined the ANC in 1950 when it was still a legal organisation. He was a trade unionist and had worked as an organiser for the general Workers Union. See H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.162

See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html, p.1

H. Bernstein, The Rift: The exile experience of South Africans (London, Jonathan Cape, 1994) p.163

See C. Hani, “The Wankie Campaign”, @ www.anc.org.za/ancdocs/history/mk/wankie/html , p.1

The State vs James Edward April, Supreme Court of South Africa, Natal Provincial Division Case No. 84/71 10 –15 May 1971, p .66. Leonard Nkosi, the Luthuli Detachment chief of staff, later turned askari and state witness in the James April trial.