Cordon Sanitaire: Scope Of Operations

March 1, 2014

Mukumbura………to any Rhodesian Sapper worth his/her salt the name conjures up Cordon Sanitaire operations.  Indeed to most of us this was the Mother of all Rhodesian Cordon Sanitaire operations.  However there were other areas where we laid mines, usually along the conventional lines of what I have described previously, but also some in more unconventional ways (will describe these in future posts).

Here is a diagram showing the extent of Cordon Sanitaire operations throughout Rhodesia.  It also shows the various operational areas:

Corsan Map_All

I would like to point out the following:

1.  This map is not to scale

2.  The information is to the best of my knowledge/memory correct (but fairly accurate and I do not suggest walking on the red bits).

3.  Red bits (added by me) denote armed Cordon Sanitaire strips.

4.  Base map courtesy of shelf3d.

Known mined areas:

1.  220 kilometers: Victoria Falls to Mlibizi

2.  359 kilometers: Musengetsi to Nyamapanda to Ruwenya

3.  72 kilometers: Junction Gate to Jersey Tea Estate to Muzite Mission

4.  50 kilometers: Stapleford Forest to Umtali

5.  61 kilometers: Malvernia/Villa Salazar to Crooks Corner

6.  +-1 kilometer: Kariba Power Station

Not all of the areas above were laid to the same pattern.  Some were standard pattern, others double-density, and some contained additional trip-wire operated fragmentation stake-mines.  The double-density/trip-wire minefields were the most dangerous for us to work in, especially when carrying out minefield maintenance tasks.  I will show diagrams of these variants in future posts to give you a better idea what they looked like and what we were up against.

The above information (Rupiah) is probably reasonably accurate distance wise but definitely does not account for what I will call “other” mined/booby-trapped areas.  I know these “other” areas exist because I laid some of them while serving on special operations.  My conclusion regarding these “other” areas is therefore that they remain unknown and uncleared.

Please also have a look at my website dedicated to Rhodesian and South African Military Engineers.  Please join us on the forums by using the following link:


© Mark Richard Craig and Fatfox9’s Blog, 2009-2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

8 Responses to “Cordon Sanitaire: Scope Of Operations”

  1. Eeben said

    Hi Mark,
    As always, your posts are fascinating and a pleasure to read.
    I am really pleased that you are writing these posts as they remain a small part of a larger history and if you did not make the time and effort to write them, then a part of history would be missing forever.
    Keep up the good work!

    • fatfox9 said

      Thanks Eeben. As always your comments deliver a good dose of encouragement. Thank you. What you say is so true of the Rhodesian War. A Royal Engineer who reads this blog commented to me offline that the Rhodesian War was “airbrushed” from history. What an apt description of the betrayal.
      All the very best,

  2. Eeben said

    You are welcome, Mark – please never stop.
    The Rhodesian War, along with the War in Angola, was airbrushed out of history by the West as these wars were deemed to be politically incorrect. Lessons learnt there are not regarded as “valid” lessons.
    What we did then was internationally condemned and we were constantly threatened with political, diplomatic, military and other sanctions but they too do it except they paint it as Foreign Internal Defence (who has ever heard of such nonsense) and part of their GWOT.
    It just goes to show that hypocrisy has no limits.

    • fatfox9 said

      And now the West is at it again with things they do not fully understand in Eastern Europe. You are right Eeben……but I fear hypocrisy is too kind a word. I look forward to reading something about the current Ukraine issues on your blog shortly.

  3. Michaelvan said

    Hi Mark

    I was never aware of the scale that mines were laid in Rhodesia.
    Wont be surprised if half of you have back problems.

    Keep up the interesting writing.

    Always good to hear a good Army story from a Real Soldier.

    Thank you.


  4. fatfox9 said

    Mick Norton BEM FITOL MInstRE

    I very much enjoyed the read, the Rhodesian sappers were a very brave bunch of guys. I served for 32 years with the Royal Engineers and was fortunate to serve, albeit for a brief period, with the Commonwealth Monitoring Forces as Rhodesia moved to Zimbabwe. I was with Golf Assy area in the south east at Mutandahwe. On our first deployment we moved to Chinna School near Chipenga and had to wait until the Rhodesian Sappers cleared the way in. I remember they used a small, “sports car” type vehicle with low ground bearing pressures that would pick up say a MK 7 anti tank mine. I think they cleared 3 x anti tank mines before we drove down to meet Mugabe’s crowd on the Mozambique border. We were based on the River Sabi a part of my career for which I will always have fond memories. It’s so sad the way things have developed.

    Mick Norton BEM

    Eddy Houghton

    Thanks for this Mark,

    This is an excellent and very interesting account of a war that has been airbrushed out of official history. Thanks for sharing this with us.


    Mark Craig, MVM MIExpE Tech IOSH

    Mick and Eddy,
    Thanks so much for the kind and encouraging feedback. Please continue to visit me. What I find the most difficult is that I did not keep a diary and therefore everything I am writing is from a memory that gets more and more distant. I now understand why some people are so diligent in recording everything they do every day. There is still a lot to come in the blog and things will get interesting as I move into more unconventional activities later in my career, both in Rhodesia and South Africa.
    Mick: I had some time working with the Commonwealth Monitoring Forces in Matabeleland at a place called Wankie (a large coal-mining town). This was with a bunch of Kiwi Sappers so that ended up in the sports club every night doing the haka with many headaches suffered the following morning. The vehicle you mention is a pookie and was based on a VW Beetle chassis with fomula 1 slicks. It had a detection system on it similar to those on the Husky system that the RE bought from South Africa to use in Bosnia (incidentally, I trained the first RE Husky team to come to SA).
    Eddy: This war was indeed airbrushed out of official history. One of the best descriptions I have heard of the entire sad affair. It is comforting to know that fellow soldiers understood what it was we were trying to achieve. Sadly the politicians had other ideas and look where that wonderful country is today.
    For information I run a website dedicated to Rhodesian and South African Engineers. You are all welcome to join the forums. Have a look at I will approve all membership requests.
    All the very best to both of you and thanks once again,

    Denny Jooste

    Mark I have really enjoyed reading your FF9 blog over the past few years – but the entry that really has stayed with me for many reasons was your description of the aftermath of the ambush suffered by the Rhodesian SAS and described in your post “first blood — Sidindi Island (feb 28 2011) –

    As an ex combat sapper and fellow member of the SASappers website I would like to congratulate you on your success in starting and continuing to build the membership of this “gathering place” of like minded souls – Denny

    Mark Craig, MVM MIExpE Tech IOSH

    Thanks for the kind and encouraging comments Denny. As always you are true to your calling. Your support to both the blog and SASappers website is a driver to keep me at it.
    Once again, many thanks.
    All the best,

  5. Lynda said

    The Rhodesian Bush War and the S.A. Angolan War were airbrushed from history because they were both against the Communist ANC and its armies.

    This history: cultural, military and political must be conserved at all costs as a legacy.

    The lie the Western Powers (notably the UK and US), the UN, the Vatican and World Council of Churches gave out during the Cold War was that they supported the Free World (so called) against Communism – an internationalist ideology/organisation concocted for the overthrow of the entire order of human affairs (to quote Popes Pius IX, Leo XIII, Pius X, XI and XII).

    But as it turned out Communism established its first base in Russia with the Bolshevik Revolution financed by the Wall Street Banks and the Warburg Bank in Germany. The USSR became the first officially atheistic government and the base for the military arm of the Revolution against de-colonised , newly independent nations. The Big Western Powers however were/are Communist at the level which today we would call the Deep State.

    Rhodesia and South Africa stood most valiantly alone against the hammer of the Revolution – the Communist Bloc and the anvil of the Revolution – Western (so called) free world.

    And Rhodesia won the military victory but was done down by the Big Powers which arranged for the Communist takeover at the negotiating table.

    The Communist Revolution is now in its globalist, totalitarian phase. The history of the Bush War and the Angolan War is the quickest way to learn about the deceptions and objectives of Communism.

    Keep writing Fatfox9, on every page of this blog are must knows for the younglings who will have to put it all together – and very quickly.

    • fatfox9 said

      Thank you Linda……..I will do my very best to keep going. I make far too many excuses not too. Thank you also for the encouragement.

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