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Thread: Africa's Commandos - new book on the RLI

  1. #21
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    Default Parachuting on Fire Force

    The standard for Fire Force was 16 (4 sticks of 4) per Dak. Jumping at 500ft gave 20-25 seconds in the air. Good for a more accurate drop and less time as a sitting duck in the air. Highest number of Op jumps in the RLI: Cpl Des Archer 73, Lt Mick Walters 69.



    Note: no use of containers, webbing worn, weapon under right arm and helmets a mixture, including motor cycle helmets, you use what you can get.
    Last edited by JMA; 07-01-2012 at 04:58 PM.

  2. #22
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    Default Logical next photo...

    ...three of the six 'Daks' on their way to Chimoio (Op Dingo):


  3. #23
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Fantastic Pictures!!!!!

  4. #24
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    Extract from the book:

    The joy, sadness and pride of being an RLI wife
    By Pauline Liversedge

    I was a young 22-year-old wife with a small child when my husband Geoff came home one night and announced that we were moving to Salisbury from Bulawayo to join the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI). I was petrified as I did not know what lay ahead of us. Little did I know that we were going to join a great and wonderful battalion of men, who, once you joined, embraced your family.

    We moved into the Married Quarters not long after Geoff was promoted to sergeant which was when my life as an RLI wife really began. There were so many joys: seeing the battalion presented with its colours, being honoured with the Freedom of the City of Salisbury. My children made so many friends and had the security of being in a safe environment. The doctors and hospital were there for you at all times. There were men like Alan Beattie who looked after you and would never turn you away no matter what the problem even to phoning Geoff at Training Troop to tell him that my pregnancy test was positive, whereupon my proud husband announced to the rest of Training Troop “ Liversedge strikes again!” He never lived that down.

    My children’s joy included the annual Christmas tree in the large hall close to the battalion’s entrance. Father Christmas was always George Walsh who arrived by army tank/truck, full of many other wonderful ideas.

    We moved to the School of Infantry in Gwelo in 1968, if I remember correctly, and spent five years there. We returned to the battalion in 1973 and to our great surprise, moved into our old house, No 6 Married Quarters. Geoff became Company Sergeant-Major of his old commando, the Big Red, 1Cdo. The joy of being back! I met and made many long-lasting friends like Dot Springer, Jacqui Kirrane and more. My boys had wonderful friends like the Springer twins and the Kirrane children. They rode their bicycles all over the barracks. They had the use of the swimming pool. As they grew older they were trained on the assault course, played, and used all the facilities.

    I became part of a group of women who were always there for one another whether it was in times of sadness or joy. The worst times were when the padre’s vehicle drove down the road, not knowing whose house it was going to stop at. Was your man injured, or worse, gone? If I close my eyes I can still see Trevor Kirrane marching down our road with his swagger stick under his arm coming home at the close of a day. Jacqui and the children would be waiting at their gate for him, while the other children in the street shouted out their greetings to one of their favourite uncles.

    The ladies of the Sergeants Mess had the pleasure of enjoying a ladies’ night once a month on a Saturday evening. We were treated royally and I can remember one night in particular when we held tequila races amongst the ladies. This ended in the group enjoying a skinny-dip in the battalion’s swimming pool at 2 a.m. The guards on duty at the front gate were given strict instructions not to go anywhere near the swimming pool. The news travelled out to the bush very quickly and we literally had to stand on the mat on our husbands’ return. But what great fun we had.

    At the beginning of 1977 I was one of the many mothers who stood to the side and watched my eldest son at the age of 17 trying to his best to be chosen for the RLI to do his national service. I was proud that he was chosen but my heart was heavy for the next 18 months while he served with Recce in Support Commando. He did his father proud but grew up very quickly.

    When 1980 came we laid our colours to rest. That was one of the saddest days of our lives. Our time was over and slowly the battalion shrank as people left. I cried as we drove out of the barracks on our way to South Africa.

    Fast-forward to 5 February 2011 and the reunion. What joy to see faces we hadn’t seen for 30-odd years! Rhodesians, we stand proud and tall. The proudest battalion in the world, we served our beloved country well!
    Note: to serving soldiers, let your wives read this. There are things universal to life in a battalion at war.

  5. #25
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    Default Hit the showers, you lot...

    Elements of 11 Troop, 3 Commando after an uninvited visit to Mozambique.



    Interesting photo. Top left is Chris Cocks - in Tarzan pose - (author of book FIREFORCE) then a Scotsman, then a Welshman and on the end an Englishman. Second from right at the bottom is the Troop Sergeant, an American.

  6. #26
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    Default And a little ceremonial too...

    ... it wasn't all "Rootin’ Shootin’ Tootin’" in the RLI:


  7. #27
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    JMA,

    How old is that RLI Trooping the Colour photo? The flag being carried in the background has features of the Union Jack, so pre-declaration of a republic from memory in 1970.
    davidbfpo

  8. #28
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    David, the Lancaster House Agreement was signed on 21 December 1979. At that moment Rhodesia reverted to the status of a British colony - 'The British Dependency of Southern Rhodesia'.

    As a result the Queens and Regimental (with the crown on) colours were taken out of mothballs.

    So on the final parade on 17 October 1980 both colours were paraded.

    See both colours on parade here:



    The men of the battalion were proud to parade the Queens Colour but would have gladly chopped the vermin who infested the corridors of the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office into little bits.

  9. #29
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    Default The RLI colours are now...

    ... cased and laid-up in the private family chapel on the Salisbury family estate at Hatfield, UK




  10. #30
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    Default RIP old friend...

    In memory of Sgt Hughie McCall from NYC, USA:

    They went with songs to the battle, they were young.
    Straight of limb, true of eyes, steady and aglow.
    They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
    They fell with their faces to the foe.
    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning,
    We will remember them.



    Artwork by Craig Bone

  11. #31
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    Default RLI's first landmine...

    On 21 December 1972, Altena Farm in the Centenary District in North East Rhodesia had been attacked. The RLI and elements of other units were deployed. The next night Whistlefield Farm was attacked and elements of Support Group (as it was known then) deployed. The next morning while moving troops to start a follow-up they detonated the RLI's first landmine. Then Lt Ian (Buttons) Buttenshaw takes up the story:

    I was sitting on the bonnet of the International (one and a half-tonner) truck and stopped them turning along the track, quickly telling them we had found the tracks and were about to follow up. As we turned the corner the rear wheel detonated a landmine. I was thrown clear, as were Corporal (Cpl) ‘Bog Rat’ Moore and Trooper (Tpr) Pete Botha who, both being in the back, absorbed the whole blast. The driver, Cpl Gordon Holloway and the other passenger Tpr Rod Boden, were in severe shock. I was not feeling too good myself. We organized a casevac but Cpl Moore died two days later and Tpr Botha eventually lost both legs.
    Two views if the vehicle:




  12. #32
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    Default As an aside...

    The early landmine incidents led to the development of effective mine protection and later also ambush protection of vehicles in Rhodesia.

    The Pookie mine detecting vehicle was a massive success. Read about it here.



    After a light aircraft - Cessna - detonated a landmine on a dirt airstrip a 'basic' device, the FU2 (figure out for yourself what that stands for), was developed using the proven Pookie technology with a bicycle - I kid you not:


  13. #33
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    Default MRAP vehicles...

    A selection of the vehicles used in Rhodesia circa late 1970's


  14. #34
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    Default K-Car ...

    This configuration - a side mounted 20mm cannon - to create a gunship - called a K-Car was a devastating weapon used in Fire Force operations. The airborne commander was also seated in this bird which maintained an anti-clock wise orbit over the target area at 800ft.


  15. #35
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    Default RLI history is finally getting more coverage

    I look forward to reading this book. I've been studying Rhodesia for about7 years and little by little more and more books are popping up. Its frustrating money wise because of the cost of most books that come from overseas to the US.

    Not to divert from this website but I was fortunate enough to write a 3 part article on the RLI Fire Force for sofrep.com . It's a basic introduction to the history and function but I had alot of positive feedback and am planning more articles on Rhodesian forces. I've also taken up fiction writing. Not about Rhodesia but warfare by PMC's in Africa. My books are linked at the end of the articles. I don't post much on the forums but I relish the influx of new scholarly articles. I learn so much.

    http://sofrep.com/7791/rhodesias-coin-killing-machine/

    http://sofrep.com/7796/fire-force-rh...achine-part-2/

    http://sofrep.com/7798/fire-force-rh...achine-part-3/

  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by zealot66 View Post
    I look forward to reading this book. I've been studying Rhodesia for about7 years and little by little more and more books are popping up. Its frustrating money wise because of the cost of most books that come from overseas to the US.

    Not to divert from this website but I was fortunate enough to write a 3 part article on the RLI Fire Force for sofrep.com . It's a basic introduction to the history and function but I had alot of positive feedback and am planning more articles on Rhodesian forces. I've also taken up fiction writing. Not about Rhodesia but warfare by PMC's in Africa. My books are linked at the end of the articles. I don't post much on the forums but I relish the influx of new scholarly articles. I learn so much.

    http://sofrep.com/7791/rhodesias-coin-killing-machine/

    http://sofrep.com/7796/fire-force-rh...achine-part-2/

    http://sofrep.com/7798/fire-force-rh...achine-part-3/
    Dan, your article is very good and is certainly recommended reading.

  17. #37
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JMA View Post
    The early landmine incidents led to the development of effective mine protection and later also ambush protection of vehicles in Rhodesia.

    The Pookie mine detecting vehicle was a massive success. Read about it here.
    I have to say that the story behind this article has greatly impressed me. The first thing I actually noted on the pictures were does tyres, looking like F1 ones, and with the old SA GP in mind it clicked. Using a tyre designed to deliver as much traction as possible for turning, breaking and accelerating a beast of a race car to give a improvised vehicle created with such minimal economic ressources the ability to drive over personal mines is just amazing. It is not just genius, but also hard, hard work with a lot of skills and a great mindset - and not least the driving forces of much pain and sorrow.

    This vehicle was, as the article states, designed with a precise purpose in mind. The enemey adapted and tried and found ways to reduce its impact. Technology has given both sides new means to blow things up and to counter them, but it is difficult to imagine a better solution under those circumstances against those threats.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  18. #38
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    Default A gook slayer of note...

    The gunship variant introduced late in the war was called the "Alpha Fit" and comprised a mounting of four .303 Brownings. Where the 20mm HE would detonate on the tree cover this baby had the penetration and the rate of fire to deal with targets under tree cover.


  19. #39
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    Default Fire Force country...

    This is a photo of a black eagle flying over the Matopos. Whenever possible gooks sited their camps were they a had the natural cover of the bush, rocks and caves. The RLI had to go in there and winkle them out one by one.


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    Default A hunting we will go...

    Not a bad haul for a day's work... 20 odd weapons recovered after a good Fire Force action (bodies not on show). Time for a shower, a plate of steak, egg and chips (fries) and a few (maybe more) bitterly cold beers. A job well done.


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