Rhodesia

Selous Scouts Operation Miracle: 26 September 1979

October 20, 2012
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Download article as PDF Gerry van Tonder is a well known author, archivist and researcher on warfare in Southern Africa, Rhodesian military history and military history in general. He, along with Adrian Haggett, is the author of the definitive Rhodesian War Roll of Honour In spite of previous Rhodesian Security Forces successes against ZANLA bases in the Manica Province of Mozambique, it became evident from reconnaissance missions that camps had again been established in a sixty kilometre radius from the town of Chimoio, not far from the Rhodesian border town of Umtali. Within this area, in what was now called the Chimoio Circle, and to the east of the Chimoio-Tete Road, aerial photographs revealed a large sprawling complex of five […]

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Selous Scouts Operation Eland

October 12, 2012
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Download article as PDF In early July 1976 Reid Daly began preliminary planning for Operation Eland. Air reconnaissance over the camp continued and Winston Hart searched ‘every capture and scrap of paper found in the rubbish tip, or on dead terrorists’ to build an accurate intelligence picture of the Nyadzonia Camp.[1] Reid Daly’s account of the operation, and several other sources too, make mention of a ZANLA section commander by the name of Morrison Nyathi who was captured in Inyanga and debriefed personally by Mac McGuinness. The impression gained is that information received by Nyathi clarified the picture considerably, lending detailed information on numbers, camp protocols, layout and other key intelligence. Discussion with surviving Special Branch Liaison Officers involved in […]

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Siege of Elands River: 4 – 16 August 1900

August 1, 2012
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Download article as PDF Map: Siege of Eland’s River Staging Post 4-14 August 1900 Map: Battle of Eland’s River 4 August 1900 With the capitulation of Johannesburg and Pretoria by early June 1900, the Commander-in-Chief of British Forces in South Africa, Lord Frederick Roberts VC, divided the Western Transvaal operational theatre into districts, with the sole objective of mopping up pockets of Boer resistance.  The Marico District, including the towns of Mafeking, Zeerust, Lichtenburg and Rustenburg, was assigned to Maj. General Robert Baden-Powell, his force including 1,100 Rhodesia Regiment troops, Southern Rhodesia Volunteers and BSA Police. Boer Generals Koos de la Rey and Christiaan de Wet continued to believe that victory might still be within the grasp of their respective […]

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Fireforce: A Memoir of the Rhodesian Light Infantry

April 30, 2012
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Download article as PDF Fireforce: One Man’s War in the Rhodesian Light Infantry. Written by Chris Cocks. Published by 30 Degrees South, Johannesburg South Africa. 2006 There is always a book somewhere out there that should have been read, but has not. As an author and writer on themes of African warfare and general history it is incumbent on me to read as much on the subject as is available, and there is a lot available. The Rhodesian War has generated an enormous amount of biographical material and general military analysis over the years, to the extent, I sometimes feel, that the whole episode has been mythologized far beyond the scope and significance of the war itself. To put it […]

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Operation Quartz: Zimbabwe/Rhodesia on the brink

April 18, 2012
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Download article as PDF Ceasefire and Elections The closing chapter of Rhodesian history was decided in Lancaster House, London, between 10 September-15 December 1979. There, in what has been described by some as the Funeral Parlour of the British Empire, the principal protagonists in the unfolding drama of the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia Bush War brought the curtain down on this, the last substantive act in the drama of British imperial disengagement. It was a moment of profound delicacy. The Rhodesian conflict had been deliberately regionalised in an effort (a) to attack and destroy external guerrilla forces in their bases of operation in both Mozambique and Zambia (also in Angola during Operation Vanity in February 1979), and (b) to so reduce the national […]

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The Emergence of the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle

December 18, 2011
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This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 18 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleThe immediate consequence of the split in the nationalist movement was violence on a level hitherto unseen. This was a fight to the death, an equalisation and an unequivocal exposure of the deep ethnic and personal fissures that had lain unseen beneath the surface as the cordial first phase of the struggle came to an end. One of the most beautiful understatements ever written about the Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle came from the pen of ZAPU historian Eliakim Sibanda when he wrote: ‘Zimbabweans have a long history of bitter and sometimes violent disagreements based on mostly non-ideological, ethnic, and very often personal differences among […]

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Black Political Awakening in Rhodesia

November 7, 2011
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This entry is part 17 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 17 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleIn the short history of Zimbabwe ZAPU, or the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union, has tended to be regarded as a predominantly amaNdebele party, which latterly has certainly been the case, but at its founding it was a continuation of the determinedly multi-racial and multi-ethnic nationalist credo that defined the formation of the revived African National Congress. This was reflected in the leadership, with Nkomo representing the amaNdebele and his deputy James Chikerema representing the Mashona element. Lower down the strata this continued with a mix of ethnicity that helped to define the common enemy that confronted all black people of the colony. Meanwhile […]

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The Shangani Patrol

August 13, 2011
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Download article as PDF As Rhodesian Administrator Leander Starr Jameson rode into the smoking ruins of Bulawayo in the aftermath of the first phase of the Matabele War he somewhat naively expected to find Lobengula waiting to surrender formally. This would have crowned an impressive advance with a clean victory and wrapped up the war in favour of the BSA Company with a minimum of dispute. However, with no formal surrender in hand and the King still at large,the game was still wide open. Technically the threat of an official decree from Sir Henry Loch on behalf of the Imperial Government remained. Neither Jameson nor Lobengula had expected such a swift advance on Matabeleland, and Lobengula could certainly not have […]

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A brief history of Rhodesia

August 13, 2011
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Download article as PDF The colony of Rhodesia was born on 13 September 1890 with the arrival in the vicinity of present day Harare, then Fort Salisbury, of some 500 hand-picked volunteers who made up the British South Africa Company Pioneer Column. This represented the culmination of several years of political manoeuvre and capital adventure in the great game known at the time as the Scramble for Africa. >>Rhodesian Parliament Golden Jubilee A brief background to the occupation of Mashonaland In 1885 all the major powers of Europe met in Berlin to discuss, among other issues, how best to partition Africa between them with a minimum of conflict and according to a series of predefined rules. The Berlin Conference decreed, […]

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The amaNdebele and modern African imperial history

August 12, 2011
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This entry is part 14 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 14 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleThe educated rather than the raw native very often becomes a nuisance to his white neighbours…Report of the Land Commission The end of the First World War did indeed usher in a change in British imperial policy. A general revaluation of the moral certainties of old coincided with the emergence of a class of educated natives worldwide who were the first among their respective peoples to actively deal with the challenges and seek the benefits of an open society. The global imperial map was rearranged under League of Nations Mandate which saw foreign territories fall under a Sacred Trust, a term that redefined […]

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A Quick Sketch of the Zimbabwe/Rhodesia Bush War

August 8, 2011
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Download article as PDF I have noticed a lot of search traffic on this site pertaining to the Zimbabwe/Rhodesian War.  Aside from the Wikipedia entry covering the period, there is very little on the world wide web dealing with the subject. What follows is a thumbnail sketch drawn from my own reading of the episode which is not intended to be an accurate historical synopsis. The political background to the Rhodesian Civil War The Rhodesian War of the 1970s was a civil war. It was fought for the preservation of the Anglo/Saxon values and culture that had been grafted onto the landscape as a consequence of British imperialism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The territory of Rhodesia […]

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The aftermath of the Matabele Rebellion

August 6, 2011
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This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 13 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleMatabeleland should be treated as a portion of Mashonaland lately occupied by the Matabele – Leander Starr Jameson The trust placed in Cecil John Rhodes by the amaNdebele leaders was the trust of desperation, and it was by no means absolute, and bearing mind that Rhodes was a proven master of negotiation the terms of peace were as mixed as they were many. Underscoring the settlement, however, was the sense commonly felt among the rank and file of the amaNdebele, and one that Rhodes himself could not fail to acknowledge, that the amaNdebele had not literally surrendered, but had in fact agreed to […]

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Selous Scouts: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists

August 4, 2011
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Download article as PDF The Africa@War series is being launched this year as a joint venture between 30 Degrees South publishing of SA and the Helion Group of the UK. It covers African warfare in the post WWII period, which, as we all know, is a very rich period in this particular field. The first book to be released in the series is Prof. Richard Woods treatment of Operation Dingo, the attack on the ZANLA Chimoio base in late 1977. Next is Battle for Cassinga by Mike McWilliams followed by two written by myself, France in Centrafrique and Selous Scouts: Rhodesian Counter-Insurgency Specialists. The Selous Scouts The story of the Selous Scouts has been covered comprehensively in Commanding Officer Col. […]

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The Matabele Rebellion

July 20, 2011
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This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 12 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleHow can the white men punish them? Where are the white police? There are none left in the country.[i] The uprising was mooted to begin on the evening of the full moon of March 28 1896, no hint whatsoever of which reached the ears of white settlers and administrators in the territory. Even long time residents of Matabeleland such as the Rev. Charles Helm of the Hope Fountain Mission remained convinced that the defeat of the amaNdebele had been absolute. In a conversation with Frederick Selous, who had recently been appointed cattle inspector for the districts between Umzingwani and Insiza, Helm let it […]

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Rhodesia, the white man and the land

July 12, 2011
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Download article as PDF It is on the land that the African lives and it means everything to him. The African cannot depend for his livelihood on profits made through trading. We cannot depend on wages. We must go back every time to the only social security we have – the piece of land. The land stolen must be restored, because without the land the future of the African people is doomed. God will hear us because that is the thing he gave us – Eliud Mathu, the first African to sit on Kenya’s Legislative Council One of the most interesting things about getting behind a desk and starting the process of writing Rhodesia, Last Outpost of the British Empire, […]

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The Matabele War

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This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 11 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleThe invading force of settler volunteers represented an unimpressive army which, without an unequal portion of confidence, would have been overwhelmed by the knowledge that it marched without supply lines, communications or support, and beyond any meaningful assistance or reinforcement. If it did not conclusively defeat the amaNdebele in the early skirmishes – about half of the fighting strength of the amaNdebele was mobilised in preparation – all involved stood an excellent chance of an early and unpleasant death. The amaNdebele were, despite the lengthy preamble to this confrontation, badly prepared for war. The army was disunited, notably among the ranks of the […]

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The death of Mzilikazi and the arrival of the white man

Thumbnail image for The death of Mzilikazi and the arrival of the white man May 14, 2011
This entry is part 9 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 9 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleThe Matabele Mission died in due course of depletion and internal discord, proving only that no man or woman in Matabeleland would dare to commit to anything that competed with the stern residue of Mzilikazi’s rule. However the political importance of the mission was that it introduced the younger generations of Moffat and Khumalo to one another, meaning that when Lobengula ascended to the amaNdebele throne, and when John Moffat took over the role of family patriarch, a continuum of the trust enjoyed between the fathers of these two men would play out in the later transfer of political power from black rule […]

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Lobengula

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This entry is part 8 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 8 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleThe young prince who had so narrowly escaped death at the hands of his father settled into life as a youth in amaNdebele society in a way little different from any other. The date of Lobengula’s birth is obscure, but if, as has been widely recorded, he was the subject of Mzilikazi’s wrath soon after the union of the two halves of the nation, he must have been born sometime in 1834 or thereabouts. This means that Lobengula would have been an infant as the tribe was routed from the Transvaal and sent northwards towards its new home. It is unlikely that either […]

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Mzilikazi, the Zulu, the Griquas and the Boer

Thumbnail image for Mzilikazi, the Zulu, the Griquas and the Boer April 9, 2011
This entry is part 6 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 6 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele As Robert Moffat’s wagons slipped over the southern horizon and disappeared Mzilikazi turned back towards enKungwini to face arguably the greatest series of challenges to the long term survival of the amaNdebele that he had confronted thus far. The first of these was the long awaited settling of scores with the Zulu that came soon afterwards as Mzilikazi had always feared that it would. Two years earlier the short but shockingly violent reign of Shaka Zulu had been brought to a predictably bloody end by his assassination at the hands of his younger half brother Dingaan, and other disaffected elements within a […]

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An introduction to the History of the amaNdebele

Thumbnail image for An introduction to the History of the amaNdebele March 18, 2011
This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebele

Download article as PDF This entry is part 1 of 20 in the series History of the amaNdebeleOf the many great events of pre-colonial history in Southern Africa, perhaps the most dramatic has been the rise and dispersal of the Nguni line of the Bantu family. Several branches of this family exist, but of those that broke away from the main rootstock, and established satellite communities beyond the borders of South Africa, there are three. These are the Gaza people, or the Shangaan, who at one time ruled, and still currently occupy, a large swathe of what is at present Moçambique, the Angoni, or Ngoni, who at present reside in the modern nation state of Malawi, and the Matabele, or […]

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Some Great old Pictures of Salisbury

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Download article as PDF My friend Paul Naish of Durban SA send me this wonderful collection of old pictures of Salisbury, Rhodesia, many years ago. Its hard to imagine sometimes what life must have been like then. The nation was administered by a commercial company, and the institutions and traditions of a shortlived corner of the Empire were developing…

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Why did you fight? Narratives of Rhodesian identity during the insurgency 1972-1980

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Download article as PDF The piece published below is attributed, and is an important observation on events of the 1970s in Rhodesia, balancing out a good many similar academic oral studies made on the guerilla forces involved, and balancing out some emotional but factually lean historic studies of the Rhodesian War from the point of view of white  Zimbabweans/Rhodesians. Here is a PFD version of the below published on the BSAP.org site Why did you fight? Narratives of Rhodesian identity during the (Rhodesian) insurgency 1972-1980 An oral history project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, carried out by the University of the West of England, Bristol Final project report, October 2010 Dr Sue Onslow and Dr Annie Berry […]

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Proof that it wasn’t just white against black!

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Download article as PDF (Some interesting comments and observations on the theme of this article can also be found here) I was browsing through the photographs on the Rhodesian Military Facebook page, and noticed a comment attached to a picture of a black Rhodesian soldier manhandling a black guerilla corpse, that this was…‘Proof that it wasn’t just white against black!’ I hope that one of the results of this war will be some arrangement or convention among the nations interested in Central Africa by which the military training of natives in that area will be prevented, as we have prevented it in South Africa. It can well be forseen that armies may well yet be trained there, which under proper […]

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Ian Smith, Prime Minister Rhodesia 1964-1979

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Download article as PDF In September 2002 I had a very interesting experience. At the time Rachel and I were living in Harare and were owners of a small guest house in Avondale. On one particular evening I fell into conversation over a few beers with a guest by the name of Anthony Oberdorfer. The discussion quickly turned to the subject of Rhodesia, and then on to Ian Smith, who at that time was commenting fairly frequently to the press over the matter of the ongoing farm invasions. His appearance had prompted renewed murmurs from central government that he deserved to be tried as a war criminal, to which Smith had memorably replied that should he stand in the upcoming […]

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