Sunday, September 17, 2006


As the first draft of my monumental book finally comes to a conclusion, I thought another chapter to whet your appetites might be in order. This story is unedited and completely true.

Last of the Rhodesians: Chapter:16



The massacre of Allan Wilson and the Shanghani Patrol revisited

Gwelo 1978

Some people are natural born wankers. Some achieve this through hard work. That is not easy.

But, even the ‘coolest’ dudes, the Rhodie machos, would occasionally let their guard down and woe befall those that achieved this title, even for a short time.

It is rare however, and here I quote the great Winston Churchill,

“Never in the history of stupidity, was so little done, by so few, to humiliate so many”

because what transpire in the following story that after this fiasco the entire British South Africa Police force were the laughing stock of Gwelo.

The lads who occupied the singles mess in Gwelo were generally a great lot. All so different and each with their own unique personality. They were like me, full of bullshit.

One lunch time we had quite a full house in the dining room. Not only the Urban and Rural regular P.O.’s but my room mate Keith Taylor turned up for a change. He was a National Service Patrol Officer, but being a very witty and smart individual he was accepted by the regulars. I had been to school with him at Mount Pleasant but as he was ‘A’ stream clever ‘oke’ and a ‘Rugger bugger’, I had as a geek been excluded from his ‘Fellowship of the Ring Piece’s’... Now we shared a room and amazingly we were like two dogs. After sniffing the qualifications, we were quite happy to wag tails. I rarely saw him as he had a really shite job. The poor bugger had been allocated to be Mad ‘Dog’ Morris’s sidekick, he being the nutcase who ran the local Police Anti Terrorist Units training ‘college’.

So Keith wanders in just as we all started eating. Whilst greeting all and sundry, he kept picking at the skin on his right hand palm.

‘What’s up with your hand?’ one of the local wits called Terry shouted out over the babble.

Keith holds up a hand pitted with large holes from dried and burst blisters received from digging bunkers at Mad ‘Dog’ Morris’s COIN (counter insurgency) camp.

Awed whistles all around,

‘How the hell you get all that?’ asks Terry

‘Wanking too much’ laughs Keith along with the rest of the room.

Unfortunately in that brief millisecond of thoughtlessness, Terry, having been the interrogator and had eyes still on him, lifted his own right hand instinctively to almost table height and glanced down at his open palm.

Caught red handed, the roars of ridicule from the baying pack could be heard for miles. Now that Terry had declared his qualifications to everyone’s delight, conversation turned to the theme of the greatest debacle ever planned in the history of sport.

Mainly, these cowboys wanted to organise a Rugby 15 and take on the local area schools first teams. There were enough ex Rugger buggers to make up a full squad and plans were well underway.

The first school the leader of this loony lot contacted had spoken to the headmaster. He had flatly refused to let them play against the first team. Our lads had at least 18 months to 2 years average age advantage and he didn’t need his top team mauled by a bunch of desperados. However, he had reluctantly agreed to let our lot of brave lions maul his 2nd team.

Moans and groans and shouts of cowards went around but the game was on for the weekend. I wasn’t much of a rugby fan but agreed to come along to try out the second hand camera I had purchased off some Christian freak that had a shop on Gwelo high street.

The magnificent 15 had had a short training session in the pub and it was really just a matter of sorting out the small details, such as who brought the crate of beers for half time. Down at the quartermasters store they had managed to get some blue police rugby shirts from bygone days of fame. Socks and shorts at each player’s discretion. Rugby boots an optional extra.

On that fateful day, I had by now managed to load a film into the Russian Camera I had bought off the American loony in the bible bashing shop. The first attempt had caused a disastrous fortune when I was informed when picking the pictures up that, sorry it appears the film has not been exposed. You idiots developed an empty film?

My Zenith commie cam had come with some screw on telephoto lenses. Very impressive! What wasn’t impressive was the very primitive light meter along with the fact the exposure settings had rubbed off. As a result, in the end I shot one film and sold the camera to some poor sap for a loss, as usual, prior to leaving the police.

Now as the official photographer/reporter for the BSAP magnificent 15, it was intended that I write and send pictures to the police rag mag with suitable tales of glory and an educational hammering coming to Gwelo, type headlines.

Before I could select a suitable lens for the dramatic opening, the whistle blew and the sneaky young bastards had scored a try before our fly-half had put his fag out!

The few bribed supporters we had dutifully sighed and clasped their hands together. They were to keep them that way for an agonising long time!

If you have a dog or know some one well that has one, try to think of a huge Rhodesian Ridgeback, soaking wet and stinking before the fire. It starts to bite itself all over with that lip curl over the teeth that reminds you of the film Aliens. As it snuffles frantically up and down its steaming fur, you, with your 15th Castle larger of the day in your hand, and stupidly watching the dogs contortions with growing amazement for 40 minutes, think;

If he such a clever dog, as every idiot says to him, How come he can’t catch the fleas?

THAT, is exactly what I thought of the BSAP 15.

It was awful to watch. Like hordes of Matabele warriors, the school kids totally overwhelmed our brave, gallant, wheezing, cramp riddled wankers. No chance of one to one mortal combat as the swift and expertly trained squid worked together like marauding Impis to hamper the efforts of the booze cruise professionals.

Few of our team were interested for a beer at half time. By now the blue police rugby shirts stunk like a stale brewery and fags were passed around with shaking hands. Puffs were interspersed with doubled up dry retching as the accumulated lactic acid in the tortured muscles wracked their bodies in spasms of pain. I have seen deep sea divers suffering from the bends look happier!

The second half got silly. These kids took the piss now and danced around the gallant zombie look-alikes of the fighting police 15 as try after try went over. I felt ill. What a waste of money on the crate of beer.
For the first time since joining I understood what the British South Africa Police insignia of a lion with an assegai shoved deep into it’s pulsating heart stood for.

None of our ‘Men of Men’ had garters and as the socks slid down, the playing field became littered with their combs. I lifted my eyes up into the clear blue skies. Not to look for any divine assistance but to see if the vultures were gathering. In fact they had landed long ago and taken up residence in the unused opponents half and patiently waited for the final whistle, when they would pick the corpses down to their stupid bones.

The score board was a primitive affair with just HOME and VISITORS written in large white letters above two hooks for the numbered cards. The entrepreneurial youngster in charge, noticing that for the first time in the history of the school the score could go to triple digits, had cleverly removed one of the hooks from the unused VISTORS and placed it in preparation under the HOME part.

At last the final whistle went and the lightly sweating youngsters took the trembling claws of our fallen warriors and thanked them for a spirited fight. It could have been worse and 56 to nil was a fair result.

The debriefing lasted all week with the team selfishly blaming each other. Now there were still two schools to go and this time the headmasters were phoning us and offering the first team! Some of our squad were cowards and immediately applied for patrol duty in the terrorist riddled death trap of the Honde valley, rather than go through this again.

With more balls than brains the revamped squad took on the next lot. This time the spectators had increased as parents came to see their sons kick some coppers ass and get away with it. I flatly refused to take any more pictures than the one I had wasted at the previous game.

Although still nursing severe stiffness, they went forth with heads high and hope in their hearts. The hammering this time was of such intensity that any reasonable referee would have stopped the game out of human compassion. This time the score went over the 60,s. A grateful headmaster thanked our butchered upholders of the peace for the fine entertainment. His only regret was that he should have charged an entry fee.

The final match, I didn’t witness as even I couldn’t bear the pain. I believe it went into the 70 something’s. I resorted to walking to the Charge Office for my shift in a large coat covering my uniform.

I think it was at that point I realised we would lose the war and it was time to leave.

In the only photo I have, Terry is the one with the ball and the ‘nut crusher tight’ blue denim shorts. He is looking desperately around for somewhere to hide. The one with his back to the camera, who appears to be throwing up in exhaustion, is Keith. Notice the Mount Pleasant school socks. There is a huge pile of bodies on the left.


Anonymous said...

You have a natural gift as a storyteller; however your literacy skills are well below publishable standard. Take the first line of your story, you are paraphrasing a quote from from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, Act II, Scene 5. which reads: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.”
Your first line should therefore read: Some people are born wankers, some achieve wankness, and some have wankness thrust upon them. If you didn't know of the existence of that quote you're not widely read and the editor of any publishing house will be.

Your claim to quote Winston Churchill is erroneous, you are again paraphrasing. The original quote was from Winston Chruchill's address to the House of Commons as the Battle of Britain (May-Oct 1940) was being won. "Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few."

Take your line: "Unfortunately in that brief millisecond of thoughtlessness," - brief millisecond is a tautology, unecessary repetition using different words - it's also an oxymoron, two contradictory ideas,
it can't be both brief and a millisecond which is in human terms instantaneous.

You could be a good writer with your own distinctive voice and style; except that at the present time you are a gifted amateur, and you need to be a polished professional. You need to study for an English degree. Do that and your natural talent as a storyteller will turn you into a writer.

By the way, your amateur efforts are infinitely better than mine when I first started writing.

Did you ever walk the log across the snakepit at the SAS Mess at Crambourne Barracks? Wilbur Smith told me he was at Crambourne when he served in the Rhodesian Police Force. He was there before my time. Did you ever question why you wore a BSAP (British South African Police) belt buckle?

Best of luck with your writing.

Kudu Eye

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Anonymous said...

Cramborne barracks? Check your literacy skills old chap...and spelling. Its cranborne barracks! You lost the story because you were looking too far up your own ass.