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Historic Overview

Rhodesian Guard Force

Final GF Commanders Meeting 1980 (from a picture supplied by John Radford)

Guard Force.




Following appeals from a number of Chiefs and Headmen in the north-east of the country for protection from terrorist atrocities, in 197? the Ministry of Internal Affairs began to construct Protected Villages (PVs) in the threatened north-east of Rhodesia. Internal Affairs initially provided both the civil administration and a protective force of District Security Assistants (DSAs) for them.


The early PVs in Chiweshe, Madziwa and Zambezi Tribal Trust Lands proved effective, so the government decided to extend the PV scheme wherever the terrorist threat emerged. However, it was felt that it would be counterproductive for a civil branch of Government such as Internal Affairs, which was dependent for its effectiveness on its civil relationship with the population, to become militarised. Furthermore, to have burdened the Rhodesian Army such static defensive tasks would dilute its strength and offensive ethos. It was therefore at this stage that the decision was taken to relieve Internal Affairs of the responsibility for providing protection for the PVs and to create a new force, to be called the Guard Force, to take it over without burdening the Army.




Guard Force was created in August 1975. The Rhodesian Army retirement age was only fifty, which meant that there was a small pool of experienced but still energetic former officers keen to continue contributing their expertise to national defence. Major (?) General Andrew Rawlins was on the verge of retirement from the Army and accepted the post of Guard Force’s first Commander. He asked Brigadier Peter Godwin, who was already retired and then working in the Prime Minister’s Office, to be his Deputy Commander. The senior cadre of regulars at Guard Force Headquarters (GFHQ) on Causeway and at Guard Force Regimental Depot (GFRD) at Chikurubi was initially largely made up of other retired European and African personnel from the Army. In later years the more rapid promotion within the rapidly expanding Guard Force attracted other younger personnel on completion of their term of enlistment in the Army or BSAP.


Thus Guard Force always had a highly professional core, particularly at GFHQ and GFRD, but professionalism was very thinly spread amongst the field units.


In the field, Guard Force inherited several hundred DSAs in PVs in Chiweshe, Madziwa and Zambezi Tribal Trust Lands.


Beyond later providing access to some specialist training courses, the active Rhodesian Army provided almost no support for the creation and development of Guard Force, as it was itself engaged in a major expansion.


Guard Force was styled Rhodesia’s “Fourth Force”, because the BSAP, Army and Air Force were all senior to it, and General Rawlins introduced a Roman “IV” into its cap badge in token of this. Guard Force was not a paramilitary force, but a parallel army for largely defensive tasks. It came under the Ministry of Defence, had no civilian functions and was subordinate to military law. Guard Force ranks had parity with their Army equivalents.


By 1980 Guard Force had some 7,500 men, which was reportedly more regular servicemen than the entire army. All African personnel were on an initial three-year contract. The first of these began to be expire in 1979. To encourage re-engagement, a long service sleeve flash was introduced.


 The Role of Commander.


Rawlins was Commander of Guard Force from its foundation in August 1975. In 1977 he returned to the Army as head of PsyOps and was succeeded by Godwin on 1 March. Godwin’s successor as Deputy Commander was James Pringle, a retired Commodore in the RhAF who had returned to Rhodesia from South Africa, where he had begun a civil career as an aircraft engineer. Godwin and Pringle remained in post until Guard Force stood down in mid 1980.


The Commander (or sometimes Deputy Commander) attended the weekly NatJOC on an equal footing with the heads of the other armed services and civil departments. He also attended the more occasional Prime Minister’s Conferences. The decisions made at these were transmitted by the Commander to the COs of all independent Guard Force field units, heads of section at GFHQ and GFRD at monthly Commander’s Conferences. These also allowed field commanders to relay conditions and developments in their particular areas of responsibility to the Commander and GFHQ.


Commander’s Conferences were vital to Guard Force’s institutional integrity as they were the only fora in which the whole force was represented. Commander’s Conferences essentially dealt with internal policy and A&Q matters. Operational matters were dealt with by the attendance of Group or RHQ commanders at regional JOC meetings, and AHQ and infantry company commanders at weekly local Sub-JOC meetings.




Training took place at Guard Force Regimental Depot (GFRD) at Chikurubi, on the north-east outskirts of Salisbury. The rapid pace at which PVs were set up meant that initially quality had to be sacrificed for quantity in the training programme. However, as the force expanded, standards were raised by extending the recruit programme from ??? to three months and introducing specialist courses such as tracking, drill and weapons instruction, radio operating, etc.


Two other Guard Force elements were also present at Chikurubi. The MT Section had its driver school there and the Detention Barracks were also set up there. The latter provided military police training for field units.


The QM stores were also initially at Chikurbi, but in 1979 were transferred to ??? in southern Salisbury.


Signals Section.?


 Rank Structure.


Rhodesian Army - Guard Force Rank Equivalents.


Rhodesian Army

Guard Force










Second Lieutenant




Deputy Commander

Senior Commandant


Assistant Commandant

Junior Commandant I

Junior Commandant II





Group, RHQ and Infantry Battalion COs.

AHQ and Infantry Company OCs

Highest rank reached by African in 79-80.



No equivalent

No equivalent

Keep Commander

Keep Deputy

European reservists only. Abolished 1979.

European reservists only. Abolished 1979.




Colour/Staff Sergeant



Lance Corporal





Senior Sergeant

Keep Sergeant

Keep Corporal

Junior Corporal


GFRD. Initially highest African rank.









Guard Force’s rank structure paralleled that of the Rhodesian Army, but used different titles. Officer ranks, which were initially exclusively European, were variants of the South African Army rank for Major – Commandant. Other ranks were initially all African and some contained the peculiarly Guard Force prefix “Keep” in recognition of its first role in PVs.


The only anomalies were the ranks of Keep Commander (KC) and Keep Deputy (KD). These were only borne by European reservists below officer rank and had no Army equivalent. As GFHQ and GFRD were run by regulars, these ranks were usually only seen in the field.


The arrival of the Muzorewa Government in early 1979 coincided with the end of rank segregation between Europeans and Africans. Thereafter Africans were promoted to officer rank and the European ranks of KC and KD were abolished, their holders becoming Keep Sergeants(?) and Keep Corporals(?). The withdrawal of Guard Force from the PVs at this time had made these ranks redundant anyway.




Guard Force initially wore the basic khaki uniform used by Intaf (khaki shirt, khaki long combat trousers, brown boots). It was distinguished by a new khaki kepi bearing the brass “Bastion” badge. Officer pips were shallow brass pyramids. In plan view these looked like a cross in a square. This reportedly represented the conventional symbol for infantry, which was held to be representative of Guard Force’s status as an all-infantry force. However, because of a superficial similarity on the khaki slip-on version, they were nicknamed  “Jerry Cans”.


After transfer to the Ministry of Defence the khaki uniform was replaced by Army multi-coloured camouflage. By 1979 the material used was noticeably lighter and the cut had been simplified (i.e. pleats on shirt pockets had been abandoned). Guard Force kept the brown boots and the kepi was now produced in army camouflage. In addition, in some units the webbing belts were turned brown using boot polish. All these things distinguished Guard Force from the Rhodesian Army, which had no kepi, wore black boots and had green webbing belts.



Some Guard Force Unit Distinctions.



Cap Badge


Known as the “Bastion”. Crenellated tower over vertical Roman sword with “IV” on the hilt. It symbolised Guard Force’s original defensive function and position as “Fourth Security Force”.




Officers Pips


First Version: Shallow brass pyramids. In plan view these looked like a cross in a square. This reportedly represented the conventional symbol for infantry, which was held to be symbolic of Guard Force’s status as an all-infantry force. Because of a superficial similarity, they were nicknamed  “Jerry Cans”.

Second version: Five-pointed, 18th Century-style, brass star forts with “IV” in the centre. Also symbolised defensive function and position as “Fourth Security Force”.


“Kwese Kwese” (“Everywhere”). Indicated nationwide deployment. Formally adopted in 1979.

Radio Call Sign

“Bastion” (After the unit cap badge)



Stable Belt

First version: Brown/Red/Brown belt with two brown leather straps and buckles worn on left side.

Second version: Brown/Red/Brown belt with large, square, brown, metal buckle. Individuals added a brass “Bastion” cap badge or the laurel wreath-surrounded KC badge in the centre.

Unit badges

The commanders of various units privately designed and had screen-printed unit sleeve badges, which were issued or sold to all ranks.


Rectangular Brown/Red/Brown field with yellow “Bastion” in centre. Issued to independent headquarters only.



Each infantry company of 1, 2 and 3 Battalions and AHQ “F” had a triangular, Brown/Red/Brown, screen-printed pennant bearing the Bastion and the company letter in yellow. They were carried at the heads of spears.


Commander’s Commendation

Highest internal Guard Force award. Guard Force was eligible for all Army gallantry medals but not the Mention-in-Despatches. Therefore the Commander’s Commendation was created to fill the gap. It consisted of a small rectangular brass badge with a brass “Bastion” on a Brown/Red/Brown background. It was worn above the right breast pocket.



Successful Combat Badge

Because of Guard Force’s defensive tasking it was almost always the target, not initiator, of contacts and it was hard to get kills. Therefore this award was created for anyone engaged in a contact in which there was a confirmed kill found with weapon. It consisted of a rectangular brass badge, slightly longer than the Commander’s Commendation, with a brass horizontal sword with “IV” on the hilt on a Brown/Red/Brown background. Worn above the right breast pocket but below the Commanders Commendation.

Long Service Flash

Brown/Red flash worn on sleeve by those re-enlisting after their initial three year contract was up. Introduced in 1979


 Protected Villages.


At its formation, Guard Force began by taking over protection of 10 PVs already established by Intaf in Madziwa TTL. This became 1 Group. Over 1976-78 eight groups (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8 Groups) were formed to man the Keeps (prefabricated barrack blocks surrounded by a bank of bulldozed earth) guarding the PVs in the north and east of the country. Groups were of irregular sizes, ranging from a couple of hundred men to nearly a thousand, depending on the population and number of PVs in their area.








2 Group

3 Group

4 Group

5 Group

6 Group

7 Group

8 Group








Beit Bridge


















To 2 Battalion



To 1 Battalion

To 1 Battalion

To 1 Battalion








Each Keep was meant to have a European Keep Commander (KC) and a European Keep Deputy (KD), plus an African Keep Sergeant or Keep Corporal, three Junior Corporals and some 24 Guards. The European KCs and KDs were reservists on call up. The African personnel were regulars.


At dawn they checked the access roads for mines using prodders. During the day their job was to check everyone leaving the PV to make sure they were not carrying food for the terrorists and to ensure they were back by curfew at nightfall. During the night they patrolled the PV’s security fence to keep the guerrillas from contacting the civilian population after dark.


The logistics of sustaining PV groups from north to south of the entire country were tenuous and the increasing use of mines by the terrorists led to the issuing ofthe first MAPs – Kudus and Pumas – to group headquarters in order to supply the isolated Keeps along the easily mined and ambushed graded dirt roads of the TTLs.


Guards were initially issued with old .303 rifles, some of which had pre-1923 British South Africa Company stamps. These were gradually replaced by worn ex-army SLR rifles of dubious reliability and eventually by new German G3s. Each Keep was later also meant to have a 60mm Commando mortar.


Mine prodders.


In early/mid 1979 the Muzorewa Government handed over responsibility for security in the PVs to the Security Force Auxiliaries (SFAs). This allowed Guard Force to disband its PV Groups and use their manpower to form three infantry battalions (1, 2 and 3 Battalions).



Farm Protection.


The terrorists increasingly managed to infiltrate through the TTLs into white commercial farming areas, so Guard Force was also ordered to take up farm protection. A Regional Headquarters (RHQs “A”, “B”, “C”, “D” and “E”) was formed under each JOC containing white commercial farms. RHQs were essentially battalion-equivalent administrative headquarters. Beneath them were subordinate company-equivalent Area Headquarters (AHQs).


Farm protection actually entailed guarding the life of the farmer and his family in order to keep them on the land. Material damage to farms was meant to be covered by government compensation schemes. However, farmers on occasion had to be restrained from misusing the Guards they were allocated to guard their labour, crops, machinery or property.


The Guards were meant to live within the security fence of each farmhouse. Their accommodation and beds were to be provided by the farmers. Food was to be bought by the Guards from their S&T money and had to be made available by the farmer. This was usually done by giving them access to normal farm rations and could be supplemented by purchases in town while acting as vehicle guards.


The Guards were to mount an all-night guard on the farmhouse perimeter, within which they were allocated fire positions in the event of an attack. At dawn they were to conduct an early morning mine detection patrol down the drive to the nearest council-maintained road. For this purpose they were issued with mine-prodders. During the day they were to provide a bodyguard and vehicle escorts for the farmer as he worked his lands. To do this comprehensively required about eight guards, but such numbers were seldom available.


AHQs had both an administrative function maintaining the two or three Guards posted on each exposed farm and an operational function in areas where they supplemented or replaced police reserve motorised reaction units. For the latter purpose each AHQ was on the Agric Alert net and by early 1979 typically had a Puma and a Kudu 6 or Kudu Ram. Where the police reservist reaction units had been completely replaced, an AHQ often also got one or more Leopards and/or other light civilian MAPs belonging to the local farmers’ area co-ordinating committee (ACC). Follow-ups after a farm attack were primarily the preserve of the local PATU on motorbikes, but Guard Force was also employed on them. As a result AHQs also developed an infantry element and were issued with heavier weapons. For example, by mid 1979, in addition to old SLR and new G3 rifles, AHQ “F” had a 60mm Commando mortar and 12 South African-supplied .303 Bren guns.



Urban Protection.


After the attack on the Salisbury oil depot on 11 December 1978, Guard Force was given responsibility for its protection. The first Guards for urban protection were initially provided by rotating through the senior recruit course from GFRD at Chikurubi as a form of operational training. However, during 1979 the Urban Protection Group became a separate unit based at New Sarum.



Line-of-Rail Protection.


In mid 1979 1 and 2 Battalions were put on line-of-rail guard duties in the west and south of the country respectively. In addition to conventional Crocodiles and Kudus, they both manned rail-mounted Kudus and Rhinos on the rail lines themselves and patrolled on foot to mount OPs and ambushes beside the tracks. The crews of the rail MAPs were unique in Guard Force in that they received helmets for use in the vehicles.



Infantry Role.


3 Battalion, went straight into a full infantry role in the second half of 1979, initially in the Sub-JOC Mtoko area and from mid-1979 in other parts of Mashonaland. Its headquarters was essentially administrative. Subordinate to it were six independent infantry companies on active operations. They were organised and flexibly deployed in much the same way as Police Support Unit companies. Each company had four platoons, one of which was always on R&R on a six-weeks-on, two-weeks-off cycle, thereby allowing the company to remain permanently in the field. Each company was fully motorised, including at least three Crocodiles, a Puma flatback, a Kudu X and a Land Rover. Weaponry now included a full issue of MAGs, 60mm Commando mortars, 42Z rifle grenades, hand grenades etc. A76 radios.



Future Plans.


3 Battalion was the model for future Guard Force development. At the end of 1979 the majority of Guard Force was on farm protection, but a new policy was being introduced for a structured farm militia to be trained and equipped by the BSAP using farm labourers. This would then release the rest of Guard Force for the infantry role. For example, at the ceasefire AHQ “F” had been partly replaced by the new farm militia in the Mtoko-Mrewa area and was due to become the first farm protection unit fully converted to the infantry role. The plan was to create a total of eight infantry battalions by converting the five RHQs into five additional infantry battalions, but the ceasefire prevented any further move in this direction.


This would have made an all infantry Guard Force of eight battalions little distinguishable in role and equipment from the diluted RAR of eight battalions under consideration by late 1979 or the eight battalions of RR, which were largely manned by African soldiers by the same date. The logical conclusion would have been to absorb Guard Force into the Rhodesian Army.


Symbolic of this new infantry role was a sleeve badge (not mentioned in any of the Rhodesian uniform books). This was designed, approved and ordered in late 1979 and the first sample was received in early 1980. However, it was never introduced because the war ended. It was to be of the same size and shape as the Rhodesian Army “Lion and Pick” flash and worn in the same place. However, its background field was to be horizontal brown/red/brown stripes like the Guard Force stable belt, and its device was to be a vertical, yellow, Roman sword with “IV” on its hilt. The design of the sword was to be the same as on the “Bastion” cap badge. However, the crenellated tower found on the “Bastion” cap badge was no longer to be used. This was symbolic of Guard Force’s move from a defensive protective function to an offensive infantry role. At the same time a pullover of Army pattern, but in the same neutral brown colour as Intaf’s V-neck pullovers was trialled.



Anomalies and Complexities.


The above is a somewhat simplified version of a complex process drawn entirely from memory. There were numerous anomalies. For example, in my area alone there was as an eight-man horse stick with a heavy barrelled FN as support weapon (useful), an unreliable Browning HMG mounted on a pack mule (untested in action), a bicycle section (abandoned as useless) and two ACC Leopards on loan (which an American sergeant immobilised by clumsily pulling the gear levers out of both). My men were also guarding the Grey’s Scouts killer dog section and two related radio-controlled rustled-cattle detector stations (see below). For a while I was put in charge of the officer-less E Company of 1 RDR because Sub-JOC Mtoko was under BSAP command and had no army officers present for some of the second half of 1979 and early 1980.



Guard Force MAPs.


I am certain that Guard Force was issued with CMED Pumas, Puma Flatbacks, Crocodiles, Kudu 6s, Kudu Rams, Kudu Xs, Cougar 6s and mine protected Land Rovers, either because I had them myself or observed other units that did. It reportedly also had Kudu 8s before they were cut down to Kudu 6s and may also have had Kudu 4s. In addition Guard Force units were sometimes lent civilian MAPS, particularly Leopards.


However, I did not observe Guard Force units with CMED Moon Buggies, Hyaenas (PSU), Leopards (Intaf., PTC), Cougar 4s (BSAP and CMED itself), Low Profile Crocodiles (SFAs) or Jackals (PTC). (Brackets indicate agencies I observed using these vehicles.)



Observations on CMED and the Puma as issued to Guard Force.


Numbers of us in Guard Force had suggestions for modifications to CMED designs to meet our own requirements. However, we were told by our MT Section that they had no influence over CMED and that their previous suggestions had been rejected or ignored.


Probably the best vehicle available to us in the PV and Farm Protection role was the Puma. Personally, I also preferred it in the infantry role as well.


Looking at it as an infantry carrier, the Puma’s two-compartment configuration seemed an advantage over the Crocodile. If a Crocodile took an RPG hit anywhere the blast seemed likely to incapacitate both driver and crew, at least temporarily. However, if a Puma took an RPG hit in the cab, its passenger compartment could still function to return fire, while the driver could still drive out of the killing zone if the passenger compartment was hit. Furthermore, the Crocodile’s high sides were a deterrent to debussing, while the Puma’s were easily negotiated.


From a purely Guard Force point of view, as a unit with limited transport, the Puma was a much more versatile vehicle than the Crocodile or a Flatback. In my two Pumas (G-LMA 351 and G-LMA 352) one or both of the benches in the passenger compartment could be unbolted to convert it from a 16-seat APC into either to a mixed 8-seater/load carrier or a complete load carrier. It was thus almost as useful as either a Crocodile or a Flatback in their specialist roles and also capable of acting as a hybrid. This flexibility did not exist in the earlier Police Puma or later Crocodile, in which the seats were fixed.


The high sided Crocodile was also much more inclined to roll than the Puma, which was an important factor given our recently trained drivers.




Guard Force had its own national Command Net for A & Q matters. All those attending Commander’s Conferences were on the Command Net.


The headquarters of Farm Protection units were also on the Agric Alert net used by all farmers. Sub-JOCs and local Police stations were also on this net. Where Guard Force provided the local reaction sticks responding to farm attacks, mobile Agric Alert sets could also be fitted in its vehicles.


PV units on patrol used portable A61 radios. These were fully compatible with Intaf radios, but were only partially compatible with Army A63 and A76 radios or Police A73 radios. However, farm protection units later got A63 radios and the infantry battalions had A76 radios.


Codes were known as Shackle ????. They were changed monthly.




A peculiar Leopard handling characteristic.


In my area we had several small graded roads with a steep camber. In heavy rain they naturally became slippery. I found that once the Leopard’s heavier rear end had slid down the side the vehicle did not have the traction to get it back into the centre of the road. However, it was still possible to keep the lighter front wheels in the middle of the road and aligned with it. As a result it was possible for a Leopard to advance crab-like for hundreds of yards with its rear end virtually in the ditch and its front end in the centre of the road.



Flying Ants.


An unusual problem was flying ants, which fortunately only swarmed one or two nights a year. Because of the curfew and black out in farming areas it was often the case that the only exposed lights for many miles around at night were vehicle headlights. These seemed to attract every insect from one horizon to the other. On one occasion flying ants blocked my windscreen wipers several times and clogged up the radiator of my Puma so that it began to over heat.



60mm Commando Mortar.


We were told of three weaknesses in the 60mm Commando mortar. Firstly we were instructed not to fire it from a stone or concrete base because the recoil might break the base plate. Secondly we were told not to use the auxiliary charges that came with 60mm mortar bombs in order to give them extra range because the tube might not be able to withstand the extra pressure. Thirdly, we were warned that the locking arm that bound the tube to the base plate was weak. Sure enough, mine broke. That said, I still found the mortar a very useful bit of kit, being light and simple to operate.



Elida Flares.


The Elida Flare came in an olive green plastic canister 3-4 inches high and about 2 inches in diameter, the upper third of which was the top. Within the base part was the combustible material. This was lit by striking a match against a strip of striking paper (as found on the side of a match box). Both match and striking paper were attached to the top of the base. (I think there were also two protruding wires to allow for electrical detonation). The Elida Flare burned with a white light and gave off white smoke. It was apparently produced by the Black brothers at the Leopard/Leopardess/Termite Mines complex in the Midlands about 50 kilometres north of Queque. (I deduce this because I saw hundreds of empty Elida flare plastic canisters there after the war.) The Elida flare was a very cheap product issued to Guard Force and Intaf. I do not know if other agencies possessed them. I never heard of them being used on operations, but I did use them to start fires in order to burn camp rubbish. However, even in these favourable conditions I found that only about a third ignited.


The most useful part of the Elida Flare turned out to be the discarded top, which fitted snugly over standard issue plastic water bottle tops, the ends of which frequently popped off when over tightened. The Elida Flare top produced a virtually water-tight seal for damaged plastic water bottle tops. One of my trackers, Guard Mhlaba, got a R$50 award for discovering this and thereby saving the country considerable foreign currency.



Rhodesian G3 Rifle Modifications.


There was a tendency for second rate troops like Guard Force to panic and let off all four magazines on automatic within seconds and without aiming. Therefore a spot weld was put on the change lever of the G3 so that it could not engage automatic and single (hopefully aimed) shots would have to be used instead.


Imported G3 magazines were apparently meant to be disposable and were very lightly built. However, in Rhodesia they were not expendable. Unfortunately, because of our chest webbing they were easily damaged when taking up a prone position and tended to jam. As a result, Guard Force was increasingly issued with stronger, Rhodesian-made magazines. However, these rusted easily and also tended to jam easily.


It appears that, when they were imported, the G3s were not accompanied by the appropriate number of zeroing tools. As a result a local version of the zeroing tool was produced. Unfortunately, these were not very durable and wore out easily. In late 1979 I had the only two (worn) G3 zeroing tools between Nyamapanda on the Moczambican border and Salisbury. Neither Intaf. at Mudzi, Mtoko or Mrewa, nor the Auxiliaries in the same area had any at all. This probably meant over a thousand DSAs and SFAs without a zeroed G3 rifle between the lot of them!



Andre Holland.


If memory serves me correctly (and it may not), Andre Holland’s constituency included the Mtoko-Mrewa farming area. He was widely despised by the farmers there because he rarely visited their exposed area. They were not at all surprised that he developed a close interest in anti-ambush protection!

Above article kindly supplied by Asst/Cmdt Mark Axworthy



The article “ GUARD  FORCE  NEWS “  was written by the first Commander of Guard Force, MAJ GEN  G.A.D. RAWLINS, OLM  and published in the RAR publication  NHOWO  in Oct 1976.


Word has it that in some quarters the Guard Force is called 4 RAR, well, it is a nice thought and probably a happy coincidence that the Deputy Commander, is also Honorary Colonel of the Regiment. Like everyone else we seem to be expanding in all directions and the capacity of the Training Centre should be increased to 500 men in about a month,s time – competing with Shaw Barracks ?

Certainly there is a strong 1 RAR flavour in the Guard Force, the following senior ranks all served in that battalion:

·       Maj Gen Rawlins, OLM, CO 1968-70.

·       Brig W.A. Godwin, DMM,OBE, CO 1964-68.

·       Force Sergeant Major Matambo, ICD, BEM, RSM.

·       WO2 Mudavanhu, E-Coy.

·       WO2 Shamu, HQ Coy.

·       WO2 Zondo, A-Coy.

·       WO2 Herod, E-Coy.

·       WO2 Alison Jubane, D-Coy.

·       WO2 Thomas Mkupe, B-Coy.

·       WO2 Tanyanyiwa, HQ Coy.

·       WO2 Masosa. HQ Coy.

·       WO” Tichareva, HQ Coy.

·       Senior Sgt Bobo, A-Coy.

·       Senior Sgt Alikomas, HQ Coy.

·       Senior Sgt Simukayi, HQ Coy.

·       Senior Sgt Adion Ngwenya, HQ Coy.

Space only permits these names but there are also a considerable number of Sergeants and junior NCOs who are ex-RAR. We could do with a great deal more and if the battalions have any chaps who are getting a little beyond really active duty, we would more than welcome interviewing them.

FSM Matambo is a tower of strength at the Training Centre and it is quite amusing to see the reaction of ex-service men arriving to enlist; these vary from pleasure to something verging upon alarm. The latter category normally do not seem to stay very long. Another tower of strength is WO2 Shamu, our senior African instructor; with his persuasive ways the raw recruits rapidly become that so dear to a Sergeant Major’s heart - a uniformed body of disciplined men.

With few exceptions, the Officers and NCOs are ex-Rhodesian Army and it was logical, therefore, that the Guard Force be modelled on Army ways and procedures. Working closely as we do with Ministry of Internal Affairs we tend to forget that they are not familiar with military jargon. At a recent meeting at which kit was discussed, a remark was made  Simple, really, check his 1157, do a quick 406 on his kit and, if necessary, sort it out with a P1954 “. It is hardly surprising that our friends looked a little bewildered.

Going back to the business of expansion, we are aiming at establishing a Reserve of Officers and should any readers be interested in serving part-time duty with the Guard Force, please contact us. What we are after are ex-Officers preferably with no service commitment. Provided that volunteers are fit, keen and reasonably active there is no rigid upper age limit. [ On reflection, this article seems to be assuming strong recruiting overtones so we will hurriedly stop ].

We send our comrades in the Regiment our greetings, best wishes and every success in the future.

Fabayi  zvakanaka  wakoma  wedu !

Passing-out parade Chikurubi with reviewing officer MoD 18.6.76. We are quoting some of his address to the recruits. I found the following lines quoted on the internet at the same occasion. :   And he added that “ I hope before long you will have killed your first terrorist “ . HORST.


Overview / History :
The establishment of Guard Force, as the fourth arm of the Rhodesian Security Forces,  will always be linked to the concept of the Protected Village system as a counter-insurgency measure by Rhodesian political and military authorities.
The idea behind this concept was to resettle the African rural population, who lived in widely dispersed kraals, into protected and consolidated villages. It was seen as an important measure to protect the rural African population from intimidation and terror by insurgents and to deprive those insurgents of the support from the local population. It also made the attempts by insurgents to politicise and mobilize the people extremely difficult.
The failures of their first incursions and operational activities at the start of hostilities, made insurgents recognise that they needed the support of the local population to succeed. This support required the co-operation of the local people and included acts of terror, in which persons associated with the Rhodesian authorities were mutilated and murdered in the most gruesome fashion. Whilst the victims were mostly rural Africans, the European population in the rural areas were not excluded from this wanton barbarity.
These villages were not a new idea, in fact,   the concept of the Protected Village system was successfully applied by the British military in Malaya, in the 1950’s .
The first Protected Villages [ PVs ] in the Tribal Trust Lands of Rhodesia were established during 1974  and became the responsibility of the Ministry of Internal Affairs [ Intaf ].
Intaf had the task of being in charge of these rural areas from an Administrative standpoint and largely were  responsible for them.  . Thus, the PVs fell under their jurisdiction in this regard.
Very soon Intaf personnel and its administrative structures became priority targets of insurgent operations. Intaf lost many of their members to the enemy in the course of their unenviable duties in the rural regions. When it became clear that Intaf’s primary administrative role suffered because of its protective paramilitary commitments, political and military authorities decided to create an autonomous force exclusively responsible for the security of PVs, and subsequent protection of their inhabitants.
Guard Force was thus born

MAJOR GENERAL  G.A.D.  RAWLINS  OLM.  Maj Gen Rawlins can be seen as the founder of the Rhodesian Guard Force. His many years of service with the Rhodesian African Rifles strengthen his belief  that the security of the Protected Villages should be the responsibility of a separate force, dedicated to this specific military task. He came to the conclusion that it should not be an additional task executed by Internal Affairs [ Intaf ] whose responsibility was  the administration of the rural African areas.  

His idea was not always shared by other roleplayers as explained by Dudley Wall on his excellent website on Intaf, and I quote : “ In AUG 1975, Maj Gen Rawlins should have joined Intaf as Commander of the Service Unit in the field, with D.C. Training remaining in Chikurubi. However, he saw fit to found a new unit – the Guard Force – and this brought endless problems. “  

Other Intaf personnel, responsible for training and with military background joined him in Guard Force. Snr Comdt Robin Tarr and Comdt Terry Wilde were just a few of them who played later an important role in the training of Guard Force soldiers.

As the war progressed the role of Guard Force changed and also Intaf contributed not only to the administrative role of the rural African areas but developed a military capability in the form of its Admin Reinforcements Unit and other military structures. The outlook of Rhodesian Government structures became more and more military / paramilitary.

In FEB 1977 Major Gen Rawlins left Guard Force and took over the Department of Psychological Warfare on the strategic level. 

Above notes from Horst Schobesberger

It should be mentioned that neither the Rhodesian Army nor the BSAP was prepared to take over the function of Protected Villages. Their remit was one of pro-active defence of the country. Or as it was expressed by officials that to have burdened the Rhodesian Army with such defensive tasks would dilute its strength and offensive ethos “.
On the 1st of August 1975 Major General G.A.D. Rawlins OLM, a retired General of the Rhodesian Army, was appointed as the first Commander of Guard Force. He was a strong supporter of the idea to create a separate dedicated force for the protection of the rural areas, where up to now, a great deal of local support was offered to the insurgents. Brigadier W.A. Godwin became Deputy Commander.

The first officers and senior NCOs for Guard Force were signed on in August/September 1975. The task before them was to establish Guard Force Headquarters, and the design, structures and initial modus operandi of the Force. There was very close liaison with members of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Starting in October 1975 Brigadier Godwin and other senior officers conducted visits to existing Protected Villages, in order to familiarise themselves with the workings of the villages and their future role in their well-being.
In October 1975 Guard Force Headquarters was established in Salisbury.  It accommodated the offices of the Commander and Deputy Commander Guard Force and the Staff Divisions necessary to support them and the deployed units and headquarters in the field. Deployed Guard Force elements were falling under the Operational Control of  Joint Operation Centres [ JOCs ], as other military units were,  on different levels. It is worthy of note that Guard Force personnel in the field were transpiring into a sizable force that JOC’s were becoming increasingly reliant upon.  They tended to operate in areas that were previously considered ‘liberated’ by the insurgents (and to some extent by the Rhodesian authorities), and from that viewpoint their contribution was well considered at Brigade level.

P.S. The content of this article is based on input from former Guard Force soldiers and information contained in the following publications, articles and websites :
·       Peter Abbott / Philip Bothham : Modern African Wars [1] : Rhodesia 1965 – 80 :  Osprey, London 1986.
·       Fighting Forces of Rhodesia Vol.5 : The Guard Force – fiercely loyal and protective.  CentAfrican Press Publications, Salisbury 1978.
·       Dr. Jakkie Cilliers : Counter-Insurgency in Rhodesia.:  Croom Helm, Beckenham 1985  and  Institute for Security Studies, Pretoria [ scan ].
·       AAM : Fire Force exposed.:  AAM, London 1979.
·       Peter Godwin / Ian Hancock : Rhodesians Never Die.:  Pan Macmillan. Northlands, 1993.
·       Trevor Grundy / Bernard Miller : The Farmer at War.:  Modern Farming Publications, Salisbury 1979.
·       Norma Kriger : Guerilla Veterans in Post-War Zimbabwe : Cambridge University Press  2003.
·       Paresh Pandya : Mao Tse-tung and Chimurenga.:  Skotaville, Braamfontein 1988.
·       Nhowo ,  Vol Oct 76 : Maj Gen G.A.D. Rawlins, OLM : Guard Force News.
·       Dudley Wall : Website : Rhodesia – Intaf.
·       Dr. J.R.T. Wood : Countering the Chimurenga – The Rhodesian Counter Insurgency Campaign 1962 – 80.  [ Chapter 10 in D. Marston / C. Malkasian : Counter Insurgency in Modern Warfare ].:  Osprey, London 1986.

 On the 17th February 1977 Major General Rawlins retired from Guard Force a
nd was succeeded by Brigadier W.A. Godwin OLM, DMM, OBE and his Deputy,  Air Commodore H.J. Pringle ICD, OLM, OBE, MID . Both of them served in their posts until the stand down of the Force, as great servants of the unit.

In January 1976 the first Guard Force elements arrived at Chikurubi Barracks to establish the Guard Force Training Center [ GFTC ]. This was to be later re-named as  the Guard Force Regimental Depot [ GFRD ]  in 1977.  Offices, quarters and training facilities were shared in those early days, with Intaf, leading sometimes to an uneasy relationship. It should be understood that whilst Intaf were doing a tremendous role in the rural areas they had the difficult task of being ‘friend and protector’ to the local population…..when Guard Force took over the latter role it became a difficult alliance between Guard Force and Intaf in those initial stages. Time would prove however that in general, the two units did work well together for the benefit of the locals and of course to the detriment of the insurgents..
At a later stage other structures, which included Quartermaster Stores, Detentio
n Barracks, Armoury, Motor Transport Section, Signals Section and a Sick Bay / Hospital , formed part of the GFRD. Some elements from the Quartermaster Stores and Signals Section moved at a later stage to other facilities in Salisbury.
The 9th of February 1976 saw the beginning of the first Keep Commander Course. That initial course ran until  the 2nd of April 1976. In total the unit ran in excess of some 16 KC courses during its life, turning out some 400 KCs/Dep KCs.

The first Basic Training Course started on the 14
th of February. The Passing-Out Parade took place on the 18th June 1976. Inspecting Officer was the Minister of Defence ,  P K Van der Byl.  Adressing the Guard Force soldiers on parade, he stated that “ from henceforth, to you will fall the responsibility for the protection and safety of the civilian population of the villages “.

On the 1st of July 1976 the Headquarter of Group 1  Bindura / Madziwa was established,  leading to the first operational deployment of Guard Force soldiers. This was followed by the establishment of Group 2 Chipinga on the 20th December 1976.
On the 6th of December 1976, 85 “ D “ Category National Service members started their training.   D Cat personnel were in essence men of ‘military age’, but  older than 25 years of age approx.  and had not as yet undergone any other military training.                                                                                                                        

By the end of 1976, 2500 African recruits had completed their four week basic tailormade training. European National Service members, and Territorial Force members  had to undergo a ten weeks training programme.
Others were trained with intakes at Llewellin Barracks / Bulawayo.   As the role of Guard Force changed over time, training was adopted to a more Infantry orientated counter-insurgency  [ COIN  ] training and the duration of training was extended. Specialist Courses for signallers, drivers, medics, military policemen, clerks, storemen and drill and weapon instructors were conducted at Chikurubi.
A Guard Force Battlecamp was set up  on a farm north of Salisbury to ensure that the  leadergroup received practical and realistic training in all aspects of COIN including live firing exercises.
Group Headquarters , situated close to the local JOC, BSAP Station and D.C. Camp, were established to exercise command and control over a large number of PVs. Sometimes the number and dispersal  of PVs made it necessary to subdivide group areas and to establish interim command p
osts known as Forward Command Posts. Guard Force Group Headquarters  were established in  Bindura / Madziwa , Chipinga,   Chiredzi,  Honde Valley,  Mrewa,  Mtoko,  Mudzi,  Beitbridge and  Mt.Darwin .This in effect covered the Operational areas which had already been established.
 Each PV, occupied by a few thousand rural African families, was surrounded by a high wire diamond-mesh fence. Within the PV was a fortified strong point known as the “ Keep “. It was occupied and “ defended “ by about 20 African guards and a European Keep Commander and a European Deputy Keep Commander. (Having two European Senior NCOs was a bit of a luxury and in reality each PV was headed up by either a KC or Deputy KC depending upon circumstances ]..
The entire success of the system depended on the control and checking of everyone and everything that left or entered the PV through the prescribed entry and exit points.  Food and provisions control was priority. There was a  dusk to dawn curfew enforced and nobody was allowed to be outside the perimeter fence during hours of darkness. In effect locals largely went about their own business outside of the confines of the PV, their only restriction was that they had to be inside the area after dusk. That arrangement suited both sides as the military were attempting to cut the insurgents off from the locals whilst the locals were given the protection of the PVs during hours of darkness.

Other operational activities included Perimeter Fence Patrols, Clearance Patrols during daytime in the close proximity of the PV, Mine Clearance Patrols on roads leading to and from the PV, Escort Duties and defending the PV against any attack by insurgents. At any one time it was fairly common to have Ground Coverage or Special Branch plain clothes officers working within the PV and the KCs had to have full knowledge of any ‘Intelligence’ going on inside the village.
Starting May 1977,  Guard Force was adopting a new approach “ to cope more effectively with infantry situations “. From a previously static and protective role the force engaged in all aspects of Counter-insurgency operations  [ COIN ]  in their respective Group areas of responsibility within the network of PVs and local areas.
The scale of this more aggressive approach depended largely on the commanders on the ground.  Training standards, lack of support weapons and equipment placed a limit on this more offensive responsibility  and sometimes commanders ignored the fact that the not so popular main role of Guard Force was  to protect and therefore be more defensive in its application. A point which was difficult  to accept by the more aggressive younger white leader group and commanders who came from a conventional military background, and were eager to ‘take the war’ to the insurgents rather than to permit the war to be brought to them..
This point was also valid for the increasingly large group of foreign volunteers and TF members serving with Guard Force. The question could be asked if the leader group deployed as Keep Commanders and their Deputies fully understood and accepted the role they had to play in ensuring the proper and effective functioning of the Protected Village System within the wider Security Strategy. The role was well founded, it was an absolute necessity but by the latter stages of the war the question was continually being asked. ‘Can one of the largest units in the Rhodesian Security Forces continue to have the luxury of performing a mainly static role’?
The permanent change over of  mostly white key personnel did not always give them  enough time to fully understand the rural African environment and prescribed security tasks within the PV and the surrounding area. In other words , were their efforts being misdirected , and could a more strategic responsibility be found for them? To have a significant manpower resource and not use it to its fullest capability was folly.
Guard Force personnel consisted of a regular contract based  leader group [ African and white Officers , Warrant Officers and senior NCOs including quite a number of non-Rhodesian volunteers], white National Servicemen who served for 18 month  and soldiers who belonged to the  25 to 38 years age bracket  who served their appointed call-ups in Guard Force.
During November 1978 a number of newly commissioned Officers who had undergone an officers course at the School of Infantry in Gwelo were posted to Guard Force. On the 19th of May 1979 the first two African cadets were commissioned as Officers. Most African Officers served as Warrant Officers or Senior NCOs with RAR before joining Guard Force where they were commissioned at a later stage . The rank and file were African volunteers on an initial three year contract . In 1979 the total strength of Guard Force numbered over 7000 members. No confirmed detailed figures are available.
 The strategy applied to react to the changes in the security situation and threat against the country led to  changes in the role of Guard Force . In 1978 Combined Operations [ ComOps ] produced a strategy with coherent goals, based on the political and military realities after the March 1978 political settlement, and the formation of the Transitional Government of Muzorewa. The first and most important goal of the new strategy, which led to a change in the role of Guard Force, was “ Protecting Vital Asset Ground “ [ mines, factories, key farming areas, bridges, railways, fuel depots, etc. ]  The political decision by the Transitional Government to open the PVs was another contributing factor. The Transitional Government hoped that the opening of PVs would influence the attitude of the local population to support moderate black nationalist leaders. By December 1978 all PVs in the Mrewa, Mtoko, Mudzi Districts and 20 PVs in the Mt. Darwin District  had been opened .

In other areas Security Forces lifted all restrictions of movement by people  living in PVs and in October 1978  PVs in the Beitbridge, Chiredzi, Chipinga, Mutasa and Mt.Darwin Areas were taken over from Guard Force by Security Force Auxiliaries [ SFA ]. By 1979 the Transitional Government acknowledged  that the opening of PVs was a mistake because people returning to their homes fell victim to terrorism because they were no longer protected.
The withdraw of Guard Force from the PVs made a large number of soldiers available for other tasks and led to the decision by political and military authorities to deploy Guard Force to protect National Vital Assets like European Farming Areas , Railway Lines and vital industrial and commercial enterprises. Before these new deployments and the establishment of new units and HQs, elements of  Guard Force operated for a few months  in a COIN role in their Group areas of responsibility. (Principally but not restricted to the Operation Hurricane area in the NE). This seemed to be the initial start of the ‘soon to be’  Infantry Battalions of Guard Force.
 Retraining and deployment of these elements within their Group areas continued into the second half of 1978 . Their operational activities and deployments can be seen as the forerunners of the newly formed Infantry Battalions. This was a testing period for the new Guard Force, and as history would dictate it worked.
An unprecedented onslaught on the land to disrupt the economy of the country and to drive commercial farmers off the land, led to an increase of attacks and terror directed against the commercial farming community, homesteads and other farming assets, the farmers themselves, their families and farm labourers and their families. The manpower of the country (principally the European effort) was stretched to breaking point and due to their experiences of the culture and of the land any farmers were being called up into BSAP (PATU). Therefore the protection of these assets fell to a very large extent upon Guard Force.
The farmer became a top soft target on the frontline of this conflict. The vital necessity, as spelled out in the Security Strategy of the country, to maintain the commercial farmer on the land required the provision of security for his family, home and labour. To achieve this objective , Guard Force took over the protection of Key Farming Areas together and  in close cooperation with BSAP /. PATU and other Security Force elements. It began with the deployment of about 500 GF soldiers during 1978. Regional and Area  Headquarters , ensuring proper Command and Control were established in the Operational Areas  HURRICANE, THRASHER, REPULSE, TANGENT and GRAPPLE covering most of the commercial farming areas. GF soldiers were deployed to individual farms, with the local control centre being based at the BSAP offices.

Their task was to assist the farmer in security related tasks, clearance patrols, escort duties and defending the farm homestead, the farmer and his family and labour against attacks by insurgents. Reaction Forces were based at the relevant HQs. Local Reaction Forces were based at BSAP Stations and worked closely with BSAP / PATU. Some Regional / Area Headquarters responsibilities included the protection of Government and Municipality installations and industrial and commercial enterprises of vital importance to the economy of the country. Protection of key installations in Salisbury led to the establishment of a Guard Force Urban Protection Group based at New Sarum / Salisbury during 1979.
In May 1979 1 Battalion Guard Force [ 1BN ] was formally  established, using the manpower from GP 5 Mrewa, GP 6 Mtoko and GP 7 Mudzi and later GP 8 Beitbridge . During the first few months of its existence, companies of the Battalion operated in an area-bound COIN Infantry role in their former Group areas . In September 1979 the Battalion was allocated the task to protect the Railway Line between Beitbridge and Gwelo. 1 BN consisted of six Companies and a HQ element which was based at Rutenga. This railway line to South Africa was the lifeline of the country and was given a high Defence priority.
Shortly thereafter 2 Battalion Guard Force [ 2 BN ] was established with the responsibility to protect the Railway Line between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls . Its HQ was situated at the Cyrene Mission near Bulawayo.
3 Battalion Guard Force [ 3 BN ] was the last established Guard Force unit with its HQ at Stamford Farm west of Salisbury . The Battalion deployed its companies as  independent operating Infantry companies  and played an important role during the period leading up to the March 1980 election.                                                                                                                          Changes in the role of Guard Force did not change the role of the individual Guard Force members who fought as soldiers from the day of the establishment of Guard Force as the fourth arm of the Rhodesian Security Forces to the final days of the Bush War.
On the day, when the deployed units in the field received the signal  from  Guard Force Headquarters to stand down was an emotional time for all.. It was a  sad moment  reading the signal which cited the words of  Rudyard Kipling, the great poet of the British Empire (and friend of the common soldier),  ………. now, the time has come to quietly unfurl your tents and fade away ……” .
For the 206 soldiers of the Guard Force, black and white, who made the ultimate sacrifice, their final rollcall came before this painful day.
Keep Cmdr Charles Provis , the last Guard Force casualty of the War, was killed on the 15 March 1980 on active service. As a soldier he fought and as a soldier he died.

Guard Force units and HQs stood down between the 11 May and 25 June 1980.        
For the thousands of African Guard Force soldiers,  who survived the Rhodesian War, the future became bleak. Seen by the new Government as an “ irregular  unit brought into existence solely for fighting the war “, Guard Force was  not considered for integration into the new Zimbabwe National Army. Individual African Guard Force officers, Warrant Officers and NCO’s made it into the new Army, including a few white officers. Most white soldiers who were part of the conscription / call-up system went back to their civilian lives. Others who served as  contract based regulars continued soldiering  “down south “ or looked for civilian jobs. . Foreigners went back to their home countries or continued fighting wars in other distant places.
In the years after 1980 many of the former white Rhodesians  left the country and tried to start a new life in other places. For others, the country they called home was no longer. Most white Rhodesians when called up to serve their country ,did so , and many of them served with Guard Force. All that was left, was to recall and record  bygone days and the challenges they faced in defending keeps and Protected Villages,  farming communities , securing railway lines,  and protecting other vital assets.  The comfort that these men brought to the families both black and white under their protection may never be fully appreciated. Patrols, OP’s, contacts, ambushes, landmines , escort duties ,sweeps and other terms from the COIN handbook became their daily vocabularyall in the service of others, continuing that great tradition of military men the world over.. .
The list of challenges Guard Force soldiers under deployment faced is endless, but there was very little recognition given for what they have achieved. No regular military Force wanted to be involved in protective / defensive tasks. These tasks have been seen as frustrating, sapping the morale of the soldiers and causing ill discipline, in addition to the danger incurred. Success in protecting Vital Asset Ground [ railways, key farming areas, bridges etc, ] or denying the insurgents the access to the rural African population [ Protective Villages ] cannot be measured by the number of insurgents killed.   Had the insurgents not faced this barrier the war would have been lost very much sooner                                              
Guard Force , RDR, BSAP, Intaf and other defensive elements of the Security Forces provided the protective shield so that the sword, consisting of the elite units of the Security Forces,  could strike and destroy the enemy. This very subtle but nevertheless extremely valid assertion is often misunderstood at best, and ignored at worst. Without the protection of those assets and resources, the aggressive aspects become null and void. Both elements, the shield and the sword , were necessary to defend the country against a multifaced revolutionary threat. Guard Force soldiers were part of this total and integrated effort to counter this threat against their country. They have done their duty, against all odds,  and nobody can take this away from them. What others may say about Guard Force is not important and is largely based in not understanding the role Guard Force played in the total war effort.
In January 1979, the white Joint Minister of Justice, Law and Order in the Transitional Government, Hilary Squires, reassured white National Servicemen allocated to Guard Force that    it is one of the most crucial arms of the Security Forces and that it was essential to keep areas clear of insurgents and this was the function of Guard Force “ and he added that “ you are likely to be in the frontline contacts, just as much as anyone else Perhaps he may have added that their function expanded and the force eventually became both ‘protector and assailant ..
We ourselves know - and therefore we can say that  we are proud to have served as soldiers  in the Rhodesian Guard Force “ -  and we must say so at the top of our voices..

·       Valuable  written informations were provided by former A/Comdt Mark Axworthy and military historian and collector Mr. Craig Fourie.