Probably 1974

Early morning……first light just gone.  First call-out just arrived.

My billet was quite a way from the the ops room at 1 Indep and I was running and mumbling as fast as I could to get there.  Considering I was loaded down with my rifle, full battle webbing (no chest webbing yet), 1st line ammo, and a mine detector I think I got there in good time.  I was not sure what was going on yet but had the feeling something had happened as I was not asked to go through this routine every morning.

I was told to put my kit down and wait for a briefing.  The person who was to do the briefing came into the office and I recognised him as one of the extra-marital shaggers.   To be honest I had got to know him over the last few weeks and actually he was not a bad sort of chap really…..he respected the Sappers and that was good enough for me.

I was informed that there had been a mine incident in the very early hours of the morning, the result of which was a crippled Bedford RL.  I was to be choppered out from Forward Air Field 1 (FAF1), the local Rhodesian Air force base, accompanied by a couple of infantrymen as a protection party.  My mission was simple……check the road either side of the casualty for 2 clicks and see if I could find anything else.  This had to be done as soon as possible as a recovery vehicle was waiting to get in and take the damaged RL out.  They could not move until I gave them the all clear.

Seemed pretty simple enough.  Little did I know the tragedy that had been the precursor of the mine incident.  I was soon to find out.

The picture below shows a Bedford RL.  This is an identical vehicle to the one I was flown out to assist the recovery crews with.

Bedford RL

Bedford RL

I Am Not Old

October 16, 2010

I am not old…..I am 55.

You will however notice that from here on I am going to be cautious when quoting dates unless I am fairly sure when something took place and even then I will probably only quote the year.  When I do there will always be the caveat that I could be mistaken and I would really appreciate input from individuals noting errors or things I have forgotten.  Bear in mind I did not keep a diary, neither do I have access to files or other records to assist me.

In reality why are exact dates important in this context anyway?  The simple answer is they are not.  The residue of these recollections remains the same whether they are dated or not.

I will however always remain truthful and accurate in my ramblings as without the characteristics of honesty and integrity this whole effort equals nothing and would be a disrespect to the brave men and women who never went home.

For those of you with the privilege of having historical data at your disposal and photogenic brains, I look forward to your constructive input…….and thank you in advance.

Those who wish to merely gloat and critisise with their brilliance……I suggest you stay away as you may find yourself the subject of a subsequent installment.  Remember……I might just know you.

Below is a photo of my best friend Yogi…..gone forever……..the date of her passing is not remembered…..but her love and companionship will never be forgotten.





1974……Brady Barracks

Time to find out where we were getting posted to.

Rock and Roll was over and we had all returned to the Squadron HQ at Brady Barracks (alias Headquarters 1 Brigade).  The Squadron HQ was a rather dilapidated collection of buildings not too far from the Brigades Warrant Officers and Sergeants Mess, which meant nothing to me but is worth mentioning.  Inside the HQ it always smelt of paper and stationery and chemicals used for the Gestetner roneo machine.  The ones that had some kind of red waxy paper to type on. This specific machine was hand operated and there was always someone there cranking the big black handle on the side that was the trigger to pick up paper, print, and spew out paper the other side.  It only printed on newsprint or at least that’s the quality we got with our precis.  In those days this was a very serious piece of kit.

Anyway I am getting side-tracked.

I had been informed that my first posting was going to be to a place called Wankie (yes there were some Wankers there)…..up the Victoria Falls road to an outfit named 1 Independent Company, Rhodesia Regiment (1 Indep Coy RR).  I was a little disappointed at first as all my mates or most of them anyway were going to Mukumbura in the North-Eastern border area to lay mines on Cordon Sanitaire.  I shouldn’t have worried for two reasons.  Firstly I would get more than enough tours to various parts of the Cordon, and secondly it was not too bad at 1 Indep once I got used to arrogant Infantry Officers who had more domestic scandals surrounding them than I care to remember.  It was really bad there at one stage and the extramarital shagging that went on in the background was the stuff that legends were made of.  Extramarital shagging is fine but not in front of the troops…….and no effort was made to be discrete.  One of these people doing the shagging actually had the temerity to call me a dude one day because he had sent me and my crew out as a stop group without the opportunity to get fully prepared…….knobber.

My specific job-title was “Mine-Standby”,a  really strange coincidence seeing that 1 Indep was based inside an old mine compound in those days.  Wankie was one of the biggest collieries in the world at the time and the army had taken over one of the disused compounds.  Dozens of little cottages……better than tents that’s for sure.  As the job title implied my mission was to stand-by and wait for a landmine to go off somewhere.  I would then be flown out by chopper to sweep the road 2 kilometers either side of whatever or whoever the victim was in case the evil gooks had laid additional mines…..a common tactic.

It was about this time (and before my first deployment) that I realised that our Squadron Quarter Master was a rather nasty piece of work and a tosser to boot.  He was a bully who seemed to think that everything in the store belonged to him and that all of the kit belonged on the shelf so he could show it off to the Squadron Commander when he was brown-nosing the boss.  There is no place in the field for these possessions of his either.  If one of us asked for a replacement first field dressing we were asked for the old one.  I could name this individual but I wont.  He knows who he is… infantry officer, not even a Sapper.  And I really hope he reads this because by now he realises that we only saluted his rank and not him.  There was actually talk of fragging him amoungst us……hope that woke him up.   The other ranks in the stores were OK but he needed shooting.  The only time I saw him in the bush was to come and count knives and forks……I jest not with you.  Woe betide the Troop Sergeant who was a fork down on his camp inventory when the Major came calling.  This was tantamount to treason and equaled the loss of the entire vehicle fleet of the Rhodesian Engineer Corps……including all the Pookies!!  I saw his name on an e-mail distribution list the other day so he survived the war staying out the combat zone……brave bugger you have to be to survive in the stores.  I think he was impotent too.

Anyway enough slagging off the officers for now……but to be honest some of them really deserve it as you will find out later.

And now it was time to draw my weapon and first-line ammo, pack my kit, and depart on some of the greatest adventures of my life.


A much thinner FatFox9 testing the MMD1...1974 Wankie

A much thinner FatFox9 testing the MMD1...1974 Wankie