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Old 07-04-2010   #1
davidbfpo
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Default Leaks

JMA,

Amidst your post was:
Quote:
Of concern to us was the fact that at one point operational intel was being passed on. For example on one camp attack into Zambia when we were going through the paperwork in their ops room we found a fresh signal they had received that morning saying "You will be attacked at 12h00 today".
I learnt when in Zimbabwe in 1985 that operational security lapses had caused immense concern and aside from the "usual suspects" some thought was given to the regular arrival of external supporters before each major external operation. Supporters who provided the funding and more - they were not identified, but the finger of suspicion pointed northwards to Arabia. Their arrival in executive jets invariably was to Salisbury and could have been monitored.

After 1980 the Rhodesians discovered that some of the lapses could be attributed to the weather station at Salisbury airport, which was all-African and from their position could monitor the build-up of aircraft. Maybe even requests for weather reports? IIRC the Rhodesian Air Force main operating base, New Sarum shared the civil Salisbury airfield.

Security did work and I was told that ZANLA had never worked out where the ammunition was stored for the AML armoured cars; it had been in the squash courts and had been unseen.
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Old 06-11-2012   #2
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Default Africa's Commandos - new book on the RLI

There is a popular, long-running thread 'Rhodesian COIN' and this thread will be merged in due course.

Coming out in the summer is a privately published book 'Africa's Commandos', edited by a SWC member (JMA) and Chris Cocks; the publishers are the RLI Regimental association (RLIRA) and the main beneficiary is a linked charity.

From the pre-publication circular:
Quote:
...this book is a compilation of over 80 short stories, each told in the specific writer’s own style, in their own words and with their own emphasis. Whilst the nature and approach ranges from the sophisticated to raw, the sincerity and reflection of the writers is both honest and appealing. By taking personal stories and aligning them with well-chosen photographs, many of which have resided in personal collections, the editors have managed to capture the values, spirit, concerns, apprehensions, and emotional aftermath of people’s lives in the RLI. Through these stories, the reader gains a full understanding of the meaning of being an RLI commando.

The book is 50 per cent pictorial, giving it a rich visual appeal. We have selected photographs not only to complement the stories but also to provide the emotional context of the moments.....with time we will all appreciate that there were not too many armies in the world where 30 years ago, or even today, you could spend the day out in Fire Force action returning in the afternoon for a hot shower and a plate of steak, egg and chips washed down by a few cold beers.
The circular also has three short stories, on Fire Force, a Contact and Foreign Recruits; all worth reading.

Details of ordering, price and delivery are provided. The print-run will be for 2k and the book can only be ordered direct.

How much is the book?

For Hard Cover South African Rand 459 (US$ 54.68, UK Pound 35.21) and Soft Cover R399 (US$47.50 and UK Pound 30.60).

Link:http://www.therli.com/NewsletterRLI/...tah0706012.htm
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Old 06-11-2012   #3
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Old 06-13-2012   #4
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Default Who wants this job?

The duty of the Padre in armies where they are required to inform the NOK (next of kin) in the event of KIA (killed in action) is the worst duty in the world. Personally I had on occasion to inform an 18 year old troopie that both his mother and father had been killed in an attack on their farm homestead. He collapsed. Over the years I have role played those moments over and over in my mind to try to figure out how I could have broken that tragic news to him in such a way so as to soften the blow. The answer is simple you can't. I would rather run into a burning building than have to be the bearer of such tragic news again.

In the book Africa's Commandos an extract from the battalion padre's own book is published which deals with just this most terrible of duties our army passed onto our padres.

Quote:
Baptism of Fire
By Bill Dodgen

Extract from 'Reflections of a God Botherer' by Lt-Col The Rev Bill Dodgen, Sigma Press (Pty) Ltd, Pretoria, 1991, pp 1-7

I entered the Rhodesian Army as a chaplain at the start of the escalation of the bush war. If I had had any romantic thoughts when I was commissioned into the Rhodesian Army as Chaplain with the rank of Captain, my very first task on my very first day shattered them.

Having been welcomed by the Chaplain General, Norman Wood, I had a feeling of intense pride as I sat in that (Norman’s) dingy office. At last a dream had come true - a dream of being a minister and a soldier, woven into one. A chaplain at last, and not in just any army, but in the ‘greatest little army in the world’ – the Rhodesian Army.

Just then the sergeant from the Communications Centre arrived with the usual pile of notifications of injuries. Reading through them slowly, Norman’s face turned grey. He glanced at me over the signals in his hand.

“This is bad news, Bill. There has been an ambush and four young men have been killed. Sorry to spring this on you like this, but the deep end is the best place to learn. Please inform the next of kin. Sergeant Thompson will drive you.”

In that moment I was gripped by panic. My throat closed up, my mouth dried and I could feel the perspiration running down my arms as I gripped those notices. For the first time I read the words ‘killed in action’. I felt like I needed a life jacket.

After praying together, Andy and I set out in his Land Rover. I began rehearsing what I would say, an exercise which later I was to learn was useless. The news I had was the worst kind, even if it was said in Shakespearean prose, or with the skill of a Demosthenes.

After knocking at the door of the first home on my list, a young girl opened the door.

“Ma, there’s an army bloke here! Something’s happened to Boetie!”

Within a few seconds the mother was there, wringing her hands on her apron.

“It’s not serious? Tell me it’s not serious,” she said.

The expression on my pale face must have given her no hope. Before I could tell her that her son was killed in ambush, she threw her arms up and began wailing and chanting “No! No! No! Not my boy. It’s all a mistake. Not my boy – my boy.” With a groan she collapsed into a chair, sobbing.

Andy and I just stood there as if hypnotized by the scene that followed. The entire neighbourhood came running in and turned the place into a den of wailing. Andy and I slowly retreated with promises to come back later.

By this time the news had travelled all over the suburb. Mothers whose sons were in the same unit were waiting on their doorsteps. The Land Rover pulled up outside the gate of the second home on the list and before I even got to the gate, the wailing began with masses of people being attracted to the source of the noise.

Travelling to the third family, Andy requested to remain in the Land Rover as the trauma was too intense for him. At that home, I encountered an aggressive attitude and had to remove myself promptly for fear of physical harm.

By the time the fourth family had been informed, it was almost 1400hrs.

Returning to Army Headquarters I informed Norman that all the families had been notified. He then passed this information on to Army Public Relations for release on radio and TV. “Security Headquarters regrets to announce the death in action of four members of the security forces …”

Behind that communiqué were hours of tears and torment. No one can fully appreciate the agony of soul experienced by chaplains who, called to be messengers of eternal life, find themselves to be messengers of death.

Having received the necessary forms for funeral procedures, I returned to the homes of those poor grieving people. There I was bombarded with questions as to how, when and where he died. If he suffered. Was his death slow? Not knowing the details myself, I could merely state what was reported in the signals from the unit in the field.

What a day! A day of such intense emotional stress. This was indeed a baptism of fire. The deep end could not have been any deeper.

Who was sufficient for these things?
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Old 06-14-2012   #5
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Default A poem from the book...

Notes:
1. jess = jesse bush = thorny bushwillow - Combretum celastroides
2. ouen = troopie/mate/friend/comrade



Death of a boy in thick jess
by Chris Cocks

An ouen took a round in the throat that day
In the winter of ’77
In single file he was leading the way
On terrain that was rough and uneven

The horse flies were biting, the jesse bush tore
At our jump suits, our webbing and skin
Our camo cream ran, the sweat was a whore
In our eyes and our cuts it got in

The point man was yanking at creepers and vines
Visibility was down to a yard
The air was so thick, ambush played on our minds
Moving forward was so f###ing hard

Gunfire erupted to the front and the side
As we crashed to the earth seeking cover
AKs were cracking, with nowhere to hide
As a gunship came into the hover

Then our gunner came up, a hundred-round belt
On his gun he drummed out his tattoo
He blasted those f###ers right back into Hell
His aim straight and low and so true

The gunship was firing, the dust and the smoke
And the cordite were burning our eyes
Our point man was down, feebly clutching his throat
Blood gurgling and sputum and flies

The gunship withdrew to the stick leader’s screams
As the silence of death crept around
Almost incidental, for that’s what it seems
An ouen was now dead on the ground

In single file he’d been leading the way
On terrain that was rough and uneven
A boy took a round in the throat that day
In the winter of ’77


.
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Old 06-15-2012   #6
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Default Demystifying the Rhodesian Fire Force

An extract from the comprehensive article on the Rhodesian Fire Force from the book:

Note: The regimental march of the RLI is "The Saints" hence the references to 'the saints' (being the serving men of the regiment) and a word play on "when the saints go marching in...".

Quote:

FIRE FORCE

...

Reflections and legacy

The gain: The evolution of Fire Force as an infantry air-borne assault method and its widespread study by military academics and students in military learning institutions throughout the world bears testimony to its efficacy. However, the main lesson of Fire Force still probably has to be learned. Fire Force was the end product of a philosophy – a philosophy that ignored the inter-service rivalry, vested interests, convention, rank, petty rule books and personal agendas so prevalent in the behaviour of the modern military. Fire Force was a manifestation of an ethos that like-minded commanders of all ranks and of all arms needed to combine their considerate talents in a collective effort to constantly evaluate the battlefield, to be self-critical in all analyses, and to strive to work for the greater good.

The pain: The years 1975-1979 were the years of the RLI Fire Forces. Whilst much is made of the valour and achievements and of course the casualties, one thing was certain: no combatant of either side exposed to Fire Force action was left unscarred by the experience. Those who were left physically unscathed did not escape varying degrees of trauma which still stalks those veterans today. After 30 years, perhaps this is yet to be acknowledged. In 1978 Rhodesian society, which was overwhelmingly masculine in orientation, little was known of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and even if its presence had been acknowledged, it cannot be said that its recognition would have found universal acceptance then. Commanders, however, remained sensitive. RLI soldiers subjected to sustained bouts of conflict and battle stress often displayed classic symptoms: irrational behaviour, fits of temper, depression and moodiness, and sensitivity was needed in their handling. There were many such young men in the RLI who were managed with great skill by young troop NCOs and officers. PTSD then was simply another problem for leaders who had a great capacity for problem solving. A casualty list compiled today would include many of those who served in the Fire Forces, an experience that would determine the behavioural pattern of many young lives from that time onwards for the rest of their lives.

A final word

The years 1975-1979 were momentous – only five years, a short span in the telling of things military. They were the years when a bushfire insurgency became a vicious regional conflict. The years when a fine fighting regiment and wonderful aircrew revolutionized counter–insurgency air assault doctrine. The years when RLI Fire Forces brought a nation to the cusp of victory. The years to which men would later return and say: “Yes, who could forget those stirring times - the RLI Fire Force years - when the ‘Saints’ found immortality; the years when ‘The Saints went marching in ....’”

N D Henson
September 2010
Copyright vested in the Regimental Association of the Rhodesian Light Infantry.
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Old 06-17-2012   #7
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From the book Africa's Commandos extracts from an article by the RMO (Regimental Medical Officer) on the use of an MRU:

Quote:
Mobile Resuscitation Unit – the RLI lifesaver
By Cliff Webster

... The 1973 Arab-Israeli War and the then-recent Vietnam War had amply demonstrated the value of casualties receiving quick access to resuscitation and stabilization before transfer to major medical units for specialist attention. This required the medical personnel getting to the casualty in the field as soon as possible to commence resuscitation. The sooner the casualties received intravenous resuscitation fluids the better, whether in the field and/or on arrival at the MRU. During these years the international term ‘golden hour’ was coined. It referred to that critical hour after serious injury during which resuscitation should ideally commence to ensure a good outcome for the casualty. The MRU was frequently well within an hour’s helicopter flight from the battlefield. (both located in Salisbury, now Harare)...

... The MRU was often deployed next to a forward airfield so that fixed-wing aircraft could be made immediately available to transfer casualties back to a central hospital once they were stabilized in the MRU, usually to the Andrew Fleming Hospital via New Sarum Air Base. ...

... Injuries were broadly classified into the following groups (medevacs included):

Injury Groups.....................Number.....Percentage
Superficial injuries.................127.......... 39.1%
Orthopaedic injuries..............100...........30.8%
Multiple trauma......................24............7.4%
Burns...................................16........ ....4.9%
Head injuries.........................11............3.4 %
Chest injuries........................11............3.4%
Abdominal injuries..................11............3.4%
Other (e.g. ENT).....................8............2.5%
Medevacs............................17............ 5.1%
...

Note: in the terminology of the time the term 'MEDEVAC' (medical evacuation) related to evacuations related to sickness and disease - as opposed to CASEVAC (casualty evacuation) which included all war wounds and related injuries.

...

Of the 325 persons who were casevaced and medivaced through or from the MRU, two died en route to the MRU, two died as they arrived at the MRU and two died en route to a central hospital from the MRU. Three of these cases were multiple trauma cases, one was a gunshot wound (GSW) to the thigh with femoral artery severed, and two were GSWs through the base of the skull. This was a 1.8% death rate which emphasized the value of having such a unit in the forward area as there were clearly cases which would not have survived the long trip to a central hospital without stabilization. Sometimes the RLI MRU was close enough to a Fire Force contact to see and hear the K-Car over the contact. On a couple of occasions we received at the MRU, or were able to get to, critically injured troops within 7–10 minutes of them being hit.

In conclusion it can be said that the RLI MRU more than paid for itself as a lifesaver and also as a morale booster.
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Old 06-18-2012   #8
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Default Using African buffalo to flush out the gooks...

Included in the book with the permission of the author:

Quote:
With a little help from the ‘dagga boys’
Extract from Choppertech, Leach Printers & Signs CC, Louis Trichardt, 2011,
pp 182-184
By Beaver Shaw

The incident described below took place probably on the Angwa River in the Tribal Trust Land (TTL) about 45 minutes’ flying time from Karoi. My attempt to date it makes it 6 December 1978. I was in K-Car serial number R7509 with Nigel Lamb (pilot). It was possibly airstrike 907.

Fire Force was called out from its temporary base at the junior school in Karoi to a sighting of ten to twelve terrorists by a Selous Scout observation post (OP) in the TTL adjoining the commercial farming area. It was reported that the group of terrorists were armed with AK47 rifles, an RPD machine-gun and an RPG7 rocket launcher. They were dressed in blue denims and were relaxing in the riverline after having been fed a few hours previously by local village women from a kraal about three kilometres away.

Our K-Car flew overhead of the Scout OP and pulled into an attack pattern with the Scouts speaking the gunship on to the target area. As we pulled over the riverline the terrorists began to bombshell into the thick vegetation on both sides of the riverline.

I threw smoke (a smoke-generating grenade to mark the target) and began engaging the terrorists with 20mm cannon, killing two in their camp while the remainder of the terrorists who had managed to survive the initial contact took cover and ran into thick riverine vegetation and began to give us a serious snot squirt (return fire) from a heavily overgrown reed bed on the left-hand bank of the river. I returned fire with the cannon which did not have any effect in suppressing the enemy fire, as the 20mm high explosive incendiary (HEI) rounds burst on top of the reeds and did not penetrate into the thick reeds. We were taking a lot of hits from small-arms fire and had to pull into a wider orbit to avoid being shot down. Whenever we tightened our orbit, the terrorists’ return fire became more intense.

At this stage the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) Fire Force commander called for plan Alpha (which involved the supporting G-Cars dropping their troops at pre-determined positions thus giving the K-Car crew time to sort out their immediate problems). The G-Cars orbiting the contact area turned in to drop their stops both upstream and downstream of the contact area as planned. There was no need to put stop groups on the sides of the river because the surrounding bush was open other than the line of riverine vegetation. Any breakout would have been quickly stemmed by 20mm HEI rounds fired into the open by the K-Car. The RLI Fire Force commander was worried about his Fire Force troops sweeping into the reed beds ahead of their drop-off positions, and got them to sit tight in an ambush position while the Lynx was called on to drop frantan (frangible tank - the Rhodesian version of napalm). Nigel Lamb pulled the K-Car into a wide orbit to give the Lynx an opportunity to attack the terrorist position and the Lynx immediately swooped in firing .303 Brownings and 37mm unguided SNEB rockets, and then dropped a frantan which unfortunately went a little high and caused a huge fireball, followed by a plume of sooty black smoke in the riverbed, but failed to hit the terrorists in their secure position in the reeds.

A G-Car was called into the orbit to assist by putting down flushing fire with its twin .303 Browning machine-guns. We could see the tracer streaking into the reeds which only succeeded in the gooks returning intensive fire at the aircraft in the vicinity from this position. These gooks had found a really secure position and we were going to have a job at hand to root them out without taking any casualties on our side.

Earlier, as we were pulling up into the initial attack pattern, I had noticed two dagga (mud) boys (solitary old buffalo bulls who had been rejected from the herd due to their advancing years) wallowing in some swampy ground in an open area to the left of the river. These old buffalo were now milling about in the vicinity of the reed bed close to the contact area and it was obvious that they had become very agitated by all the activity, noise and smoke emanating from the contact in the area.

I had devised a plan which seemed out of the ordinary, but which could just swing things our way, and discussed it with the K-Car crew over the intercom. This plan was to attempt to drive these old dagga boys towards the terrorist position while I fired the cannon close to the buffalo without killing or wounding them in the hope it would scare and drive them into the thick reeds, which in turn would drive the terrorists out into the open where we would be able to take care of business.

The plan was accepted which resulted in me firing one 20mm round a time near the two old buffalo. As the dust from the strikes settled, the dagga boys charged for the nearest cover in that loping, bouncing run that only buffalo can do, with their tails in the air. As they entered the reed bed in which the gooks were hiding, the terrorists began to fire at the buffalo which incensed them even more. All we could see from above was the reed bed swirling as the buffalo charged at the gooks.

Stop 1 reported hearing gunfire from that area and thought the second stop group was in contact with the enemy. A few seconds later I saw three terrorists running towards Stop 1 at the top of the riverline with one of the buffalo in hot pursuit. Three terrorists were shedding themselves of their packs as they ran. I opened fire with the 20mm cannon, double tapping at the fleeing terrorists in the riverbed and dropped one as they tore away from the reed bed in an attempt to escape the enraged buffalo. The 20mm fire had unnerved one of the buffalo which once more crashed back into the reed bed where he remained. Stop 1 called on the radio to say that they had shot two of the terrorists attempting to run down the riverbed about 200 metres from the initial contact area. I don’t think these terrorists even knew or cared about the stop groups in their attempt to escape those buffalo which were now milling about in the reed bed. It was decided that it was not a good idea to sweep through the reed bed and suffer the same fate as the terrorists.

The stop groups swept the area surrounding the reed bed and the riverline and dragged the five bodies out for pick-up, together with one RPD machine-gun, two AK47 rifles, one RPG7 rocket launcher with three rockets, and an SKS rifle.

A few days later we flew over the contact area on the way to another call-out in the area and saw the dagga boys lying in the riverline chewing the cud as if nothing had happened.

The Scouts had a grandstand view of what must have been one of the strangest Fire Force contacts ever seen.
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Old 06-18-2012   #9
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JMA, Many serious comments preceding, but that last report verifies that truth can be stranger than friction.
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Old 06-18-2012   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
JMA, Many serious comments preceding, but that last report verifies that truth can be stranger than friction.
Maybe it also indicates that in the absence of own forces casualties war can be fun at times...

... like when the 'A-Team' (on TV) used to talk about how great it is when a plan comes together.

Oh yes talking about using animals...

... our enemy used baboons as early warning of airstrikes. They kept baboons chained to a tree in their camps and if they had survived a camp attack they were valuable as they could pick up the approach of the jets long before the human ear and would start to get really agitated. This would allow the leadership to jump into a vehicle and escape to be able to run another day. I kid you not.

Last edited by JMA; 06-18-2012 at 09:28 AM.
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Old 06-20-2012   #11
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Default From an American trooper...

A comment from one who served:
Quote:
From an American trooper
By Ken Gaudet

When I attend military reunions with the unit I served with in Vietnam, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, I am often asked what it was like to have been a soldier in Africa.
My answer has always been that it was a time to be a soldier and one of the most memorable experiences of my time in the military. I reflect back when I was in Vietnam as a 19-year-old sergeant patrolling in our area of operations. The US armed forces had all the military firepower but not the will of the American people to win in Vietnam. Often in the RLI we thought how different the war would have been if the Rhodesians had had more helicopters, planes, modern equipment and troops to defeat the terrorists. What I saw was the Rhodesians making do with what they had because they had no other choice.

When I joined the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) right after the internal elections in April 1979, everything was changing except the morale of the combat troops. The mission was to continue to take the fight to the enemy, find them and do your job as a soldier. The RLI guys in Support Commando were a mixture of Rhodesian national servicemen, foreign soldiers from various armies, and Rhodesians who had been fighting since the beginning of the terrorist war. What a group to say the least. We were beyond fearless: it did not matter if we were on Fire Force, combat ops with the Special Air Service (SAS) or Selous Scouts – we were there to take the fight to the enemy.

The RLI soldiers can easily be compared to a modern US Army Ranger battalion. The RLI made numerous combat para jumps, not only inside Rhodesia on Fire Force operations, but para drops into Zambia and Mozambique into some of the biggest terrorist base camps of the war. The RLI will always be remembered as one of the finest fighting forces in modern times. I am proud to say for a time I was part of ‘The Incredibles’.
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Old 06-21-2012   #12
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Default Reflections on Operation Dingo

In November 1977 The Rhodesian forces two major ZANLA military bases in Mozambique in Op Dingo. In two phases, this joint SAS/RLI operation; Zulu 1 was the attack on the Chimoio complex - killing in excess of 1,200 insurgents - and a few days later Zulu 2, being the attack on the Tembue complex - 220 km into Mozambique where in excess of 500 insurgents were killed. Audacious is not a strong enough word to describe these actions but perhaps to borrow from the SAS it was certainly a case of 'who dares wins'.

Quote:
Extract from book...

Reflections on Operation Dingo
The RLI lost its innocence during Operation Dingo. The audacious plan, which a week before had drawn gasps of amazement, had been met with shaking of heads or total disbelief, had tested the regiment in a way it had never been tested before. The RL1 as a unit had emerged with much deserved credit, new-formed confidence and secure in the knowledge that it had a right to be described as ‘The Incredible RLI’.

For the first time, the regiment began to see the conflict’s wider picture: there was more to this war than the occasional Fire Force action; the numbers given by Special Branch in their ‘Threat’ briefings were not figments of imagination. The danger was now tangible. The RLI was in a toe-to-toe knockdown struggle that was a long way from being concluded.

Air power in Operation Dingo
The conduct of the Rhodesian Air Force in Operation Dingo was remarkable. This ambitious, audacious - some say outlandish - plan could never have been achieved without their planning, their professionalism, their devotion to duty, their passion to use every fibre of their being to employing their machines for their destined purpose and beyond.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, the Royal Rhodesian Air Force (RRAF) on Commonwealth deployments in Aden and Cyprus achieved aircraft availability that had Britain’s Royal Air Force shaking their heads in disbelief. The availability of aircraft on the flight line for Operation Dingo matched and exceeded these figures; the flawless execution of two back-to-back airborne assaults within three days of each other employing eight different aircraft types whilst leaving nothing in reserve was a remarkable demonstration of the Rhodesian Air Force’s fighting resolve.

Lt Mark Adams, 3Cdo, who took part in Zulu 1 – Chimoio, has commented on the technical expertise of the chopper techs as follows:

“In the opening minutes of the Chimoio attack one of the trooping G-Cars was damaged by ground fire requiring a tail rotor assembly to be replaced. In addition the command helicopter damaged by 12.7mm heavy machine-gun fire limped away with damage requiring a full rotor change. The chopper techs on the ground waited for a full set of rotors and a tail rotor assembly to be flown in from Grand Reef airfield to repair the damaged choppers in the field. This they achieved while working in the bush and both choppers were repaired and able to fly back to Grand Reef that night.

“The day between the Chimoio and Tembue raids required extensive repair and maintenance work on the 31 choppers as every one of the ten K-Cars had sustained hits during the day. Bearing in mind that troops had stayed overnight at Chimoio to mop up any gooks who had drifted back into the area, they also had to be withdrawn the next morning by chopper.

“During the Tembue attack, 220km into Mozambique, the Forward Admin Base was only six kilometres from the camp itself. One K-Car had taken a strike to its engine and needed a replacement. The replacement engine was flown in to the admin base where the chopper techs changed the engine in the bush using empty fuel drums as their workbench. The repaired K-Car was able to fly out by the end of the day.

“Maybe we need to pause for a moment and remember the skill that these ‘chopper techs’ displayed both with machine-guns and 20mm cannons and technically. The Rhodesian Air Force ‘chopper techs’ were definitely the unsung heroes of the bush war.”

No country - no army - no regiment was ever served and supported by a more devoted Air Force who gladly risked life and machine in support of their troops on the ground. To a man, the RLI would have died for the men in Blue, whom they loved, honoured and revered.
Footnote: of course at the time the left wing propaganda was that Op Dingo was launched against refugee camps. Over the past 30 years this pretense has been dropped by all but a small group die-hard 'useful idiots' in North American and Europe who continue to perpetuate the lie.
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Old 06-21-2012   #13
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Default 17 October 1980

On 17 October 1980 the RLI held a final parade and laid up the colours prior to being officially disbanded on 31 October 1980. The Commanding Officer's speech on that parade is memorable.

Quote:
CO's Speech on Final Parade - 17 October 1980

Officers and men on parade, distinguished guests and former members, ladies and gentlemen.

In a few minutes time this battalion, known to the country and to the world, for a short but golden period of history, as the first battalion, the Rhodesian Light Infanty, will march off the square and into history. To mark this dramatic and to many of us heart rending occasion we will shortly pay a last tribute and say farewell to our colours which we have carried aloft with such pride and honour for more than 14 years of war.

There is so very much that one can say at a time like this: yet it is a sacred moment. A moment for personal meditation and reflection. There is little I can say to alleviate our sorrow.

If the world neither knows nor mourns our passing, let us rest assured that the great captains of history and those who study military affairs will know that a fine regiment is lost to the honourable profession of arms this day.

I should simply add that we, the final team of this wonderful regiment must leave this square not only in grief but with intense pride, dignity and honour. We have much to be grateful for. I am eternally grateful to those fine men who served these colours before we did: to those amongst us who lost loved ones: to those who, to this day, bear the scars of war received whilst fighting under these colours : to those friends — and there are many of them - who have stood by us in adversity : to those who fought with such courage beside us.

I am grateful that we can shout to the world this day: “There are our colours. They are unstained, undefeated, triumphant. They are covered in glory”.

I would like to think that those of our number who lost their lives are paraded with us this afternoon. I believe they would be proud. We have not let them down.

I am reminded of Butch Fourie, an ordinary RLI soldier, who turned the words of a well known song to capture the spirit that prevails today:

“Far have I travelled
on land and through sky,
dark are the mountains
the valleys are green,
and oh our colours
fly higher than high,
for we are the boys of the RLI.”

Our colours will continue to fly higher than high. We know that in years to come we will say to our children and to our loved ones with the greatest pride: “I served in the RLI”.

Finally I offer a personal and humble prayer.

May god bless our beloved regiment and those who on this day and in the past have served her with such honour. I thank god that we have done our duty.

Amen.

(JCW Aust) Lt Col
CO 1RLI
17 October 1980

Last edited by JMA; 06-21-2012 at 09:53 PM.
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Old 06-22-2012   #14
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Default From the regimental magazine October 1980...

Note: buff beans, aka velvet bean or cowitch = Mucuna pruriens
: TA = Territorial Army or reservist
: gonk = sleep
: N.O.K. = next of kin



“Come on Padre, how come you are talking to us about God when we have to go out and kill’?”

By Major (The Rev) Bill Blakeway

“Padre, do you want to go on Fire Force.” That question put to me by Maj Pat Armstrong, then O.C. of Support Commando, started my understanding and appreciation of what the RLI was all about.

I nearly had a heart attack when I looked at the stick board that evening and saw there in first wave, stop one - Padre! It was quite a serious stick - Cpl ‘Dutch’ de Klerk, ‘Ticky’ Millet, ‘Buzzard’ Dalgerous and yours truly. Fortunately, the only contact we made that day was with ‘Buff Beans’. But I shall never forget the almost paralysing fear as the chopper circled the target area. For me the moment of truth. I have recalled that “heavy war story” because that experience helped me to know something of what the members of the Battalion had to go through every time the siren went off. I don’t think it is possible for a Padre to begin to communicate with the Troopie unless he has been frightened with him.

My association with the Battalion started during 1974, whilst I was still a TA. Right from the beginning, to me, there was something “special” about the Unit. It also became clear to me that there was a tremendous pride in the Unit by its members and like all regular army units, it was a “closed shop” to anyone on the outside. I soon realised that 1 would have to become a regular if I was to stand any hope of being accepted. It was during the first half of 1976 that the Chaplain General said, “You are now officially Chaplain to the RLI get on and know them.”

It would take far more than this article and would be impossible to recall and record everything I would like to of these last six years. The Padre’s Hour for instance. You know that exciting period during the week when most of the ouens catch up on their gonk! I recall a few anxious moments when difficult questions have come up, like . . “Come on Padre, how come you are talking to us about God when we have to go out and kill’?” If anyone thinks there is an easy answer to that one - good luck. All I could do was to help the troopie to see that the country had the right to both rule and defend itself, and that the Christian had a moral obligation to be involved in both. I would also like to say that during the whole of my association with the Battalion, I have not come across one man who claimed categorically that he is an atheist. They might not have been Church-goers, but they accepted the fact that there was “someone up there” looking after them.

My trips to the bush to visit the different Commandos - few Chaplains had the privileges that I had in this respect. To be accepted as part of the Unit. I remember incidents like Forbes Border Post with 2 Commando, hot extraction demonstration with 3 Commando - with me hanging from that bar and the chopper circling a couple of hundred feet up - when I could have been back home sitting having tea with the old ladies of the Church! Being one of six sticks, total 24, and being told by the O.C. that 75 to 100 enemy had been sighted - I didn’t stop shaking for an hour.

The occasional patrol clinging hopefully to the promises of the Log Enslins and Charlie Warrens of: “Dont worry, Padre, we will look after you.” Another moment that aged me twenty years was when the present CO Lt-Col Aust was 2IC. We were discussing the various para courses and he said: “Do you want to be para-trained?” As I was still stumbling over my answer he picked up the phone, spoke to the para school and asked them if the Padre could get on a course. I sat completely speechless as I heard him say: “Right, thanks, — three weeks’ time.” Once again, however, what a privilege to be accepted as one who has jumped with the Battalion - even if they were only fun jumps.

There have been the sad times …. having to go and visit N.O.K. of members of the Battalion and giving them the one message they were dreading. The happy times at the get-togethers and marriages. The proud moments. There is no doubt that to me, personally, the supreme moment of pride was on the 1st February, 1979 when the Statue of the Troopie was unveiled. To have been part of that magnificent ceremony will always be the most treasured memory that I will have.

And who of those who were there will ever be able to forget the Memorial Service on 12th September, 1979, and the funeral service for Major Bruce Snelgar, held at the foot of the statue. Or that final Wreath-Laying. Possibly there will be those who will read this and say “the Padre’s being carried away again.” All I know is that those who have served in the Battalion will know exactly what I am saying. They will understand the fierce feeling of pride that the men in the Unit, and its achievement, coupled with the memory of those of their number who did not return from the op area.
As the Padre remembers, he would also like to say “Thank You”. Thank you to the men of the green and silver, for your professionalism as soldiers, for your courage, for your loyalty to the cause for which you fought. And I thank you for your personal friendship.

Remember this, we’re going to be in that number when the SAINTS GO MARCHING IN!

From the October 1980 Cheetah magazine.

Last edited by JMA; 06-22-2012 at 07:11 PM.
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Old 06-25-2012   #15
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Default Welcome to 12 Troop, Trooper Geach...

An extract from an article in the book:

Quote:
The shyte hit the fan as we hit the ground. All hell broke loose and a long and fierce firefight took place. I experienced just about everything a soldier could expect to face in a lifetime in the army. There were airstrikes that nearly hit us, a terrorist threw and hit me with an empty AK magazine, two of my friends, Kevin and Kim, were seriously injured and flown out, and I had my first kill. I have never forgotten that moment … 18 years old and I took another human being’s life. Raised as a Catholic this had a severe impact on me. The worst was to come. At the end of the day we had to retrace our movements and collect all the bodies and drag them to a pick-up point. The sight of the fatal injuries were horrific, limbs shattered, huge holes everywhere, exposed internal organs and brains oozing out the bodies; the yellow fat, the flies, the stench of death were gut-wrenching. No training could have prepared me for this.

On our return to Mount Darwin camp, the troop decided that it wasn’t too late for me to be initiated. So there I was at 2100hrs, jogging on the spot, totally naked and drinking from a four-litre bucket filled with a mixture of beer, Chibuku (African beer made from maize meal) and spirits. I could not believe this was happening on what was probably the most frightening day of my life.
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Old 06-26-2012   #16
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Default They called themselves the 'Crippled Eagles'...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JMA View Post
A comment from one who served:
American Ken Gaudet eating a melon in the Angolan bush circa 1981:



The yanks who came to the RLI were certainly up for the fight. Their contribution (and in some cases, their sacrifices) are remembered with deep and sincere appreciation.

Last edited by JMA; 06-26-2012 at 08:33 AM.
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Old 06-27-2012   #17
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Default The perfect contact...

.. except for the farmer and his wife, Trooper Jim Buckley and the gooks that is.

Notes:
K-Car = Alouette III helicopter gunship - armed with 20mm cannon
G-Car = Alouette III trooping helicopter - carrying stick of 4 men.
Radio relay station = manned station on high feature to relay VHF radio comms
kopje = small hill (normally isolated)
"culling" = what the RLI did to the CTs contacted by the Fire Force


Extract from the book:
Quote:
The perfect contact

1 Commando (1Cdo) were on Fire Force duties at Grand Reef in January 1978. This trip had been busy, starting off with the attack on Grand Reef by a large concentration of communist terrorists (CTs) during the first night in camp.

On the morning of 18 January 1978, a radio relay station was positioned by helicopter in the white farming area just to the south of Grand Reef. At about 1700hrs, the commando had just finished its daily PT session when the siren sounded. Amidst the normal groans and mumbling about it being “too late” to be called out, we assembled in the ops room and were told that the relay station deployed that morning had just witnessed a gang of ten CTs ambush a farmer’s vehicle directly below their position. The gang were now sauntering down the road toward the nearby tribal trust land (TTL) without a care in the world. As the relay station was only five minutes’ flying time from Grand Reef, the Fire Force was immediately deployed to contact the CTs.

The Fire Force consisted of the normal K-Car and three G-Cars. Because of the proximity to the airfield no paras were required. On pulling up over the target, it was found that the area consisted of open ploughed fields with the odd isolated rocky kopje. It was perfect ‘culling’ terrain. It was into one of these kopjes that the gang had bolted. During the initial deployment of stop groups around the kopje, Stops 1 and 2 came under fire from an RPD gunner, severely wounding Trooper Jim Buckley. In the initial firefight five of the CTs were eliminated, but as light was fading fast the action was broken off and extra stops were flown in to encircle the remaining gang still holed up in the kopje.

During the night a further three CTs were eliminated by stop groups as they tried to break out of the cauldron. At first light the next morning, with K-Car back overhead, sweeps of the kopje resulted in the killing of a final CT holed up under a rock overhang. The final score was nine CTs killed in return for two 1Cdo wounded. One CT escaped. The death of the farmer and his wife had been avenged within minutes of their murder and Jim Buckley, after a long battle, eventually recovered from his wounds.

Last edited by JMA; 06-27-2012 at 04:20 PM.
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Old 06-28-2012   #18
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Default They have the faces of boys...

"We of the RAR used to laugh at your soldiers.
To us they looked like boys.
But they have showed us how to fight.
They have the faces of boys, but they fight like lions."

- Platoon Warrant Officer Herod,
E Company,
1st Battalion the Rhodesian African Rifles,
18th March, 1968.





"The Rhodesian's army cannot be defeated in the field,
either by terrorists or even a more sophisticated enemy.
In my professional judgment, based on more than 20 years
experience of counter-insurgency and guerilla type operations,
there is no doubt that Rhodesia now has the most professional
and battle-worthy army in the world for this type of warfare.
Here is a breed of men the like of which has not been seen
for many a long age."

Sir Walter Walker, former NATO commander
(writing in the Times, January 1978)
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Old 06-29-2012   #19
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Default Death of an officer and an act of valour...

Note: RAR = Rhodesian African Rifles

An extract from the book:

Quote:
The area was flat and open with rocky ‘gomos’ (granite outcrops or koppies). The RAR had surrounded the area and when we landed the RAR Company Sergeant Major (CSM) told us their officer had been shot and they couldn’t get to him. Russell Phillips and I with our respective sticks immediately ran up to the side of the outcrop. We came under heavy fire, and when I say heavy fire it was accurate and was intense. My guys just pumped the fire back into the cleft in the granite koppie with the MAG machine-gun barking a full belt at a time. We battled but eventually made the bottom of the koppie and climbed up to the cleft. We found Lt Jeremy Fisher in a really bad way outside of the cleft. He had a serious chest wound and was visibly fading.

Russell and I grabbed him and hauled him back and down slightly about 10m behind a small ledge, while our sticks carried on pumping fire into the cleft/cave entrance. At this stage the boss was screaming for info and trying to find out what was going on. As I was the only one that could hear and see what was going on I had to try to co-ordinate what was happening on the ground as well as trying to prevent my head getting shot off. I organized the medic and tried to calm the RAR guys down. It was absolute mayhem with everybody trying to talk at the same time.

The boss kept on $hitting on us for not answering the radio – how the hell you talk on a radio when you are getting the $hit shot out of you I never found out. Russell said to me “stuff this”, dropped his webbing and rifle and grabbed his 9mm Browning pistol and dived into the cave, shooting like an absolute master. That was the only time I heard a 9mm Browning sound like an Uzi submachine-gun on automatic. It seemed like every few seconds he called for another magazine which I had collected from my guys and tossed to him as needed. It sounds quick but we were in and out of that cave for over three hours trying to duck shots and ricochets. We ran out of 9mm ammo until the RAR guys came up with some.

The gooks were below us in a cave below the main cave and shooting up a crevice which meant that most of the rounds were ricocheting all over the place. How we were never hit was unknown. I couldn’t go in with Russell as if I disconnected my FN from the radio there would be no coms and there was no way to swing an FN in that tight space. I stayed at the mouth of the cave and learned just how Jeremy got shot as when I stood there my shirt and webbing were drilled three times. Russell went deeper into the cave and after his eyes became accustomed to the dim light he dropped two gooks in the top cave and then we set about trying to get the others out from the cave below. We angled our rifles and shot down the cleft and then we tried to drop a grenade but it jammed halfway down the cleft and nearly took our heads off. This Mexican Stand-off went on for ages and as someone passed in front of the cleft the gooks shot at us. Things quietened down in the late afternoon and we suspected the gooks were running low on ammo or were wounded or hurting. An RAR sergeant was with us trying to talk the gooks out during the quiet phases but that didn’t work either.

Corporal Sandro Mazella, the troop medic, had been working on Jeremy for all this time with bullets and shrapnel flying all over the place. For the civvies reading this you must appreciate that the noise in a contact is unbelievable. You have three to four choppers circling overhead and with the firing and grenades you do not hear too well. We managed to cassevac Jeremy and continued into the late afternoon trying to winkle out the gooks but they were well ensconced in the caves.

This thing was going to have to continue overnight...
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Old 06-30-2012   #20
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Default Welcome to Rhodesia...

The RLI greets the Commonwealth Monitoring Force - February 1980:



I wonder if the 'brown eye' salute is used by the yanks to any extent?

Last edited by JMA; 06-30-2012 at 09:08 PM.
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