Saturday, December 03, 2011

We Will Remember Them

Bang in the middle of the book is an extraordinary chapter. It is literally a turning point in my narrative. Something amazing occurs and incredulously most of it was airbrushed out of the Rhodesian press. I managed to get hold of the press coverage but since I knew more than what was reported, I decided that I should make a determined attempt to uncover the facts.

Now this is where the power of the internet comes in. I am sure that many of you have heard of the six degrees of separation. It refers to the idea that everyone is on average approximately six steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person on Earth, so that a chain of, "a friend of a friend" statements can be made, on average, to connect any two people in six steps or fewer. (Wikipedia). Recently I read that this had become four due to social networking.

So, as the Gokwe Kid, the greatest of bush detectives, I went about a’dickin and slowly but surely, started on getting the pieces of a rather large puzzle together. First off I needed input from fellow police officers. This didn’t throw up too much info as one of the main characters, Inspector Andy Gray, is now dead. My own Boss was on holiday at the time. One copper was around but wasn’t involved ‘directly’ but supplied me with valuable background and some interesting observations. Another copper was directly involved but so far has ignored my appeals to Email me.

I then needed input from the Rhodesian Airforce. Through my pal ‘Coolbeans’ an ex-chopper tech, an appeal was put out on their huge site ORAFS. I then received a copy of the same account I describe but it was missing many details and also in some respects inaccurate. I then was able through the ORAF contact to actually get hold of the actual pilot and he made a huge effort to clarify many points. But this still wasn’t enough because I needed input from the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR). The web didn’t help me much so I contacted another china who puts me in touch with an ex-Brigadier from the RAR. He in turn puts me in touch with Major General Michael Shute who was CO of the RAR at the time.

By now I am bricking myself. Bloody hell, I am just a lowly ex Patrol Officer and I am talking to big guns! Mike Shute does the business and low and behold, I receive input from not one, but two RAR commanders involved in the incident! I still haven’t yet gone through forensically the amazing recollections as this means a rather large rewrite of the chapter.

But just going through what I have, it threw up even more missing bits, like, it turns out the School of Infantry were also involved! That group, along with National Park rangers has me a bit stumped at the moment. I doubt I will get their versions, so will have to make as accurate guesses as possible to fill in the missing bits.

I still have questions for some of my ‘informants’ before I finally wrap up one of the biggest incidents of the war inside Rhodesia that involved three branches of the security forces and National Parks, and has never been fully told. Sadly it has very tragic moments but what happens is a tale of immense skill, courage and tenacity that lasts for days and covers over 200 kilometres.

So, wait and see. Meanwhile - Mike Shute is raising funds for the construction of a memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum inStaffordshire to honour the fallen members of The Rhodesian Native Regiment and The Rhodesian African Rifles. As can be seen by the cover of the brochure he sent me, they want to build it based on the stone structure of the famous Zimbabwe Ruins. You can actually buy a stone. There is also a raffle with the first prize a framed painting by John Hopkins, ex 1RAR Officer, who was art teacher in Wales but now retired early to paint as a professional.

If you wish to donate or buy a ticket (£5) please Email –
Mike Shute, Chairman – Regimental Memorial Committee at

Finally, to wrap up this posting before I continue going over the book that everyone will love to hate…

Have you heard about the ruckus over the recent Nando’s advertisement ‘Last Dictator Standing’? The nice people in charge of Zimbabwe threatened to murder all the staff of Nando’s, so they had to pull it. Here it is -

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