We would like to chronicle for posterity individual's service memories and experiences that otherwise
may never be recorded outside of commercial publications.
There are no restrictions and you may like to remember a time or place or a fallen mate, we owe it to
our children to pen our experiences and there is no greater honour we can give those that fell than
ongoing life in our memories.
This section may be accessed by young formative minds or old incurable ones and potential authors
are urged to omit detail or personal references that may shock or offend.
A degree of plausibility and fact, although although not essential, is encouraged and the insertion
of asterix where descriptive expletives are required would be appreciated.
In an effort to maintain the tellers flavour, editing will be limited to correcting outrageous spelling and
grammatical errors typical of soldiers narrative.
Copyright © 2009 RLI.ORG.AU. All Rights Reserved.
THE OTHER SIDE OF INDEPENDENCE COIN (Please read and see what the UK were planning for
Bill Teague Writes:-
Interesting to read all the personal memories of where people were when UDI was declared. It brought to
mind this account of what was going on behind the scenes, which I thought that you may find of interest? I
cannot recall for sure where I obtained it from, and perhaps you have already seen it??
British military intervention post UDI.
Initial deployment was by No 51 (rifle) Squadron of the RAF Regiment to secure the airfield at Ndola, in
November 1965. This was then established as a logistics 'air head', and joint force HQ. No 29 with 16 Javelin
all weather fighters subsequently arrived, along with L/70 40mm Bofors guns and Tigercat missiles.
The role of 29 Sqn was to protect Zambian airspace, and specifically the oil air bridge into the country. They
frequently flew parallel flights along the Zambian border with RRAF Canberra's on the other.
It was not a happy venture, two Gunners of 51 Squadron deserted to Rhodesia. They were subsequently
recruited as trainee firemen on the Railways. There were a number of disciplinary incidents involving Army
and RAF personnel in Zambia, these concerning their doubts about the potential of active service against
'their kith and kin'.
In the December 1965, a company group of the 1st Battalion, The Gloucestershire Regiment was airlifted to
Bechuanaland to guard the BBC broadcasting station. This station commenced a propaganda campaign
against the Salisbury regime, an old friend who was serving in the revamped 'C' Squadron at the time has
stated that the unit did 'war game' operations to role play the destruction of the transmitter and towers. This
small garrison was reinforced by a logistical element that had war stocks of vehicles and ammunition, and
necessary stores and spares for two infantry battalions brought from the British stores depots in Kenya.
This commitment ceased in August 1967 on the creation of the nation of Botswana, all stores, vehicles
(including Ferret scout cars) and equipment were handed over to the new Botswana Defence Force.
The RAF finally left Zambia in 1967.
An invasion of Rhodesia was at a very high level of planning in 1966. This was to involve the use of 3rd
Division (the army's Strategic Reserve) as the main part of the invasion force. Using 16th Parachute Brigade,
and 5th and 19th Airportable Infantry Brigades, and the Parachute Battalion Group from Bahrain (1PARA).
The Royal Navy was to provide a task force in the Beira Strait's using the aircraft carriers HMS Eagle and
Centuar, with Buccaneer strike aircraft and Sea Vixen fighters, with Scimitar aircraft supplying air-refueling
(both vessels air squadrons had been reinforced), HMS Bulwark and Albion (both commando carriers)
where to deploy each a Royal Marine Commando and it's support Wessex helicopter squadron (total of 28
aircraft) ashore at Mtwara in Tanzania. With the troops and their vehicles then being airlifted by RAF Argosy
and Beverley transports to Livingstone in Zambia, the helicopters then self deploying through Malawi and
The intention being to deploy the three parachute battalions and support units, four infantry battalions (19th
Brigade, and the third infantry bn in 16th Bde) and a armoured reconnaissance regiment (with Saladin
armoured cars and Ferret Scout Cars) by air into Zambia using RAF VC10, Belfast (both brand new), Comet
and Britannia aircraft, also civil Britannia and Boeing 707 aircraft from BOAC and British Caledonia airways.
The USAF (32 C130 Hercules, eight Globemaster and eight military versions of the 707) and Royal Canadian
Air Force (which was involved in the oil airlift) (with four C130 and seven Canadian variants of the Britannia)
would also give major support.
RAF Victor bombers of No's 100 and 139 Squadrons, operating from Eastleigh in Kenya, were to bomb the
RRAF bases of New Sarum and Thornhill runways - each having four aircraft carrying 35 1,000 pounder
bombs. At the same time troops of 22nd SAS Regiment were to seize the civil airports at Salisbury and
Bulawayo by a coup de main, this followed by parachute insertion of a battalion group into both locations
from Beverley and Argosy transports (the third Para battalion to remain as a mobile reserve), the four
infantry bn's then to flown into both cities. Centres of government were to be taken over, along with
important utilities. With the first objective in Salisbury being the Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation studios,
with a Royal Signals team specially trained by the BBC to operate the broadcasting facilities, and a PSYOPS
team to broadcast a constant message to the population. Part of the messages being in Shona and
Sindebele as well as English for people to tune into the broadcasts from Bechuanaland.
Kariba was to be seized by coup de main based on The Guards Parachute Company, with heli-born
elements of 40 Commando seizing the airfield, bridge and power generators. The Armoured Reconnaissance
regiment was to cross over the Kariba bridge making a road advance to Salisbury, 42 Commando and
elements of 40 were to leap frog down the road using the Wessex helicopters and RAF Andover and Twin
Pioneer aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm strike aircraft were to act as a cab rank close air support over the two
main operational sites.
5th Bde was to be flown in direct from staging areas in Malta, and the RAF base at El Adem in Libya, and the
USAF Idris base in the same. They then to be followed by the artillery, armoured and engineer units of 3rd
Division in a infantry role. These units were to act as holding units in Salisbury and Bulawayo. The initial
strike units from Zambia and Bechuanaland then to spread out throughout the country.
The garrison in Bechuanaland to be reinforced to two battalions (not from 3rd Division) was to advance up
the road to Plumtree then to Bulawayo. This to be a BETA Force.
The plan required the use of all RAF air transports available (even a squadron of obsolete Hastings aircraft
was to be used a freighters bringing in supplies from Eastleigh) with maintenance being a major concern. At
this time there was still a substantial logistic support system in place in Kenya - all gone by 1967.
The rational behind the operation was for large numbers of lightly armed infantry to be on the ground,
saturating the urban areas, to maintain control of the population, disarm military and police, as well as the
civilian population. Apart from the armoured cars and some 120mm WOMBAT recoilless anti-tank guns, no
heavy weapons to be taken. A colonial administration then to assume power backed up by some 1500
British civil police.
At the time we had large scale maps issued showing Rhodesia, all the names changed to that of British
garrison towns, Winchester, Aldershot, Colchester, Portsmouth, Munster, Berlin, Singapore etc. Fooled no
This information released in 1998 following the 30 year rule (1968).
There was much opposition to any attempt to bring Rhodesia under control; within 16th Para at the time
there was tremendous ill feeling. An example of the dislike in the operation was a Fleet Air Arm Lt
Commander commanding a Scimitar aircraft air-refuelling flight; he married to a lady from Gwelo, and refused
to take part in the build up to the operation.
It took the arrival of Major General Tony Deane-Drummond as GOC 3rd Division in the autumn of 1966 to
bring the invasions plans to a halt when he confronted the Labour Prime Minister and Minister for Defence
with the concerns of the officers and men, as well as the logistical problems confronting the operation.
Land Mine in the Kandeya:
Deploying from a Keep early one morning, my MAG gunner Willy van Rensberg and myself were seated at
the back of the RL back to back with the other two members of my callsign, unhappily as it would transpire
we were accompanied by some recently reclassified and enthusiastic S cats on vehicle guard.
In the early morning darkness the vehicle exited the keep gates, it had just been fitted with the new 3 way
break quick release harness, we travelled unfettered for a short time before flicking away the daily heart
starter and buckling up.
Seconds later there was an immense white flash and an ear splitting crack at the front followed by a
prolonged sensation of smooth travel and considerable quiet which I can only put down to being largely
airborne and in the eye of the shock wave.
After what appeared to be an eternity the remains of the vehicle which had been travelling at some speed
dug into the road and everything that wasn't bolted down took off into the inky blackness ahead of us,
including my rifle, Willy's MAG and it's belt of ammunition. The snap of our still moving bodies against the
harness was stupefying but it was milleseconds before we were free and scrambling off the back and up the
road to avoid any possible AP's that may have been placed in the bush around.
Unfortunately elements of the vehicle guard detail had managed to retain their weapons and despite the lack
of incoming fire proceeded to generously spray our immediate environment with reckless enthusiasm. We
now came bolting back down the dirt road and cowered beneath the now skyward pointing rear of the
vehicle for cover, after much bellowing the fusillade of fire subsided and I was able to regain control of the
As the conversations started up we realised we were wet from the water in the RL tyres, our faces were
completely blackened by the blast and only white teeth were visible in the early morning twilight, nervous
sniggers turned into gales of laughter until Willy said "what about Pete" who was his mate and the driver.
We rushed to where the front of the vehicle had been, the entire front end and Cab was missing, the front left
wheel was gone and the Engine and Gearbox hanging drunkenly in it's void. There was a chilling groaning
and we expected the worst, we could just make out a human form hanging limp in a foetal position in the
seat and it's armour plate, Willy shouted "Pete, Pete are you OK" and miraculously out of the blackness
came the reply "Ya" to which he replied "will you for Fuck sake stop making that noise". We cut him down
from the harness and unbelievably he only had a small cut on the leg.
We started to recover weapons in the early light and found the jagged remains of the Cab some 20 metres
away in the bush, it was a miracle that Pete was not decapitated as it peeled off the front of the RL, his Mess
tins and Magazines were flattened by the concussion in the Cab.
The RLI wrecking team from Darwin said it was the worst thay had ever seen, evidently boosted on the left
Pete was driving again the same day.
The Rhodesian Light Infantry Regimental
Assocation of Australasia