Chasing Gooks With The Infantry

January 21, 2013

Wankie (1 Independent Company): 1974/75-ish

Besides landmine incident call-outs, the days at 1 Indep also consisted of camp guard duties, patrolling the married quarters at night, and escorting ration-runs to deployed call-signs in the Company area of responsibility.

Late one afternoon this somewhat laid-back routine was, without warning, rudely interrupted.

Contact had been made with a large group of gooks and they were on the run. Normally in these types of situations the general idea would be to get as many additional feet on the ground as quickly as possible to track the gooks and kill them. At the same time as the follow-up was taking place, stopper groups would be placed ahead of them and straddling their likely axis of advance.

The best way to get a good grip on the situation was to have an aircraft up above the gooks to give the trackers an idea which way they were heading. Choppers would then drop Fire-Force sticks off to give chase. The choppers would also drop of the stopper-groups into which the gooks would hopefully run. One of the aircraft used for the top-cover and gook tracking was the Cessna Skymaster or as we called it, the “push-pull” due to its engine configuration (one back and one front). This aircraft was also known as the “fuck me-suck me” by many of us. Here she is:

Cessna Skymaster

This specific aircraft had the callsign prefix of “Hornet” due to the twin Browning’s at the top looking very much like insect probiscae. These aircraft also carried Frantan bombs that acted very much like Napalm and it was a pleasure to see these being used. Gooks normally quickly lost the urge to do anything bad after one of these was dropped near to them.

The helicopter of choice for the deployment of troops was the good old Alouette 3, also known in the Rhodesian Forces as Cyclone 7. These could be armed with either twin Light Machine Guns (G-Car), or a 20mm cannon (K-Car). The plan would be for G-Cars to drop troops off on the tails of the gooks who would then chase them into the waiting stopper groups (if they were in position) where they would hopefully be killed or captured. This picking up and dropping off of troops took time as the G-Car could only take 5 troops at a time and many opportunities were probably missed because of this lack of an appropriate trooping capability. Here is one of the choppers we used (Beaver Shaw behind the guns and photo by Dominique Hoyet) :

RLIfireforceKCARtakingoff

I had managed to get dragged into leading one of the stopper-groups this specific day and had been dropped off with whatever and whoever was available at the camp. The area that needed to be covered to catch the running gooks was so wide that we had cooks, medics, bottlewashers, and mechanics in the stop-groups. Remember that in the Rhodesian Army we were all Infantrymen first and specialists second. It was in these circumstances that the training model really paid off.

By last light we were still lying there waiting for the gooks to run into us but nothing happened. It gets a little creepy in these situations as you need to be really careful not to shoot your own people chasing the gooks. With non-combat type troops with me this was a real possibility and I knew it. I was not quite sure what the next move was going to be and was hoping that we were not going to be expected to stay out the entire night. Due to the rushed and calamitous deployment, none of us who were normally non-Fire Force troops were carrying warm clothing or rations. As fate would have it I received a radio message that we needed to stay in position for the night. I informed the gentleman on the other end of the line that my callsign was not equipped for a night stop and he had the temerity to call me a dude (yes, a dude!) over the air. This is a typical example of an out of touch commander giving orders without thinking them through and then firing off insults. I could not have worried less. The welfare of my troops came first and they lifted us out.

As far as I can remember they never did get any of those gooks either so all-in-all an unsuccessful day all-round and perhaps in some way I contributed to this poor result. I doubt it, although in retrospect I should have been more prepared for this type of call-out though and I would not be caught out again. It was pretty piss-poor preparation on my part.

I didnt know it at the time but as we flew back to Wankie there was planning taking place in Bulawayo that would soon see me redeployed to a place synonymous with the history of the Rhodesian Corps of Engineers…..Mukumbura!

15 Responses to “Chasing Gooks With The Infantry”

  1. Jennifer Upton said

    Excellent, FatFox9, good read

  2. Sue Craig Steyn said

    Glad to see you are continuing the story…..<3

  3. dee said

    FF9 – I echo the previous comment – glad to see your story back on line – interesting reading Thanks!

  4. Llewellin, Fatfox, is how Lord Llewellin, the Governor-General spelled his name and therefore the Barracks.

    • fatfox9 said

      Thank you for the constructive advice Mr Wood. I will bear this in mind and hope that the good Governor-General has not turned in his grave too many times. I would add though that if you Google Lord Llewellyn you may have a little surprise;-)

  5. Merv said

    Chasing Gooks with the Infantry – was this perhaps at Vic Falls? You were deployed and returned by chopper from Vic Falls Airport – early ’78?

    • fatfox9 said

      This is quite possible Mervyn. I never had a diary so cannot say for sure. If you know more of this event please let us know. We were choppered out for sure but I seem to recall staying at an SAP camp for the night. Still trying to get my grey cells to function:-)

  6. Beaver Shaw said

    That is me behind the gun’s on the Chopper and the photograph was taken by Dominique Hoyet.

  7. LeonT said

    Jesus, you’re amazingly racist.

    • fatfox9 said

      Hi LeonT. Thanks for the comment. Everyone is entitled to their opinion and I accept yours. Dangerous waters to be in calling anyone a racist these days though. I could remove your comment, however, as it is completely unfounded I am going to leave it right here just for fun.

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