GF Group Foxtrot

                                               Asst Cmdt M. Axworthy CO GF Group Foxtrot

A / Comdt  Mark  Axworthy  shares his knowledge and  rememberings  as  OC  of AHQ “ F “ MTOKO  involved  in  Farm  Protection.

I was the OC of AHQ “ F “ in the Mtoko / Mrewa Commercial Farming Area and my HQ was at Rathgar Farm. I had previously been a Coffee Farm Assistant, later Manager in Melsetter and had Guards at the farm. When the farm had to close, due to the murder of both neighbours, I joined Guard Force. I received training at the GFRD at Chikurubi for the first three month of 1978 and was posted as Jnr Comdt to AHQ “ F “ at Mtoko. I remained there in charge of AHQ [ later RHQ ] “ F “ until our stand down in June 1980.

The terrorists increasingly managed to infiltrate through the TTLs into white commercial farming areas, so Guard Force was ordered to take up Farm Protection. Regional Headquarters [ RHQs ] “ A “, “ B “, “ C “, “ D “ and  “ E “ were formed under each JOC containing white commercial farms. RHQs were subdivided into Area Headquarters [ AHQs ] under the operational control of Sub-JOCs.

RHQs “ F “ and  “ M “, formed in 1979 were under the operational control of Sub-JOCs.

RHQs were equivalent to static Battalions and were task with Farm Protection [ including Ranches ] and also with the protection of vital commercial enterprises and installations. They fell under the operational control of JOCs and under command of Guard Force HQ. There was no standard order of battle and strength and the number of AHQs depended to the area covered and the threat level. RHQs A, B, C, and D had about 800 men on average. RHQ “ E “ never reached the size of the other RHQs because because of the lower threat level.

AHQs were equivalent to static Companies and had an average strength of 250 men.

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 occasions 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 accomodations and beds were to 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 firing positions in the event of an attack. At dawn they were to contact an early morning mine detection patrol down the farm-drive to the nearest council maintained road. For this purpose they were issued with mine prodders. During the day they were used as bodyguards 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 BSAP 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 or Kudu Ram. Where the BSAP Reserve reaction units had been completely replaced by Guard Force soldiers, 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-up operations after farm attacks were primarily the preserve of the local PATU sticks on motorbikes but Guard Force was also deployed on them. As a result of this additional role, AHQs developed an infantry element and were issued with support weapons. For example, by mid 1070, in addition to G-3 rifles, RHQ “ F “ had a 60 mm Commando mortar and 12 SA supplied .303 Bren LMGs .

Anomalies and Complexities. The above is a somewhat simplified version of a complex process drawn entirely from my memory. There were numerous anomalies. For example, in my area alone there was an eight man horse stick with a heavy barrel FN as support weapon [ useful], an unreliable Browning HMG mounted on a pack mule [untested in action], a bycicle section [ abandoned as useless] and two ACC Leopards on loan [ which were immobilised by a clumsy American Sergeant who pulled the gear levers out of both ]. My soldiers were also guarding the Grey,s Scouts killer dog section and two related radio-controlled cattle-rustler detectors. 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 available for some period of the second half of  1979 and early 1980.


The pictures below were supplied by KC Walter Specht whilst based at Farm Protection duties AHQ Foxtrot in Mtoko

The pic below is of Asst Commandant Mark Axworthy inspecting troops at AHQ F at Mtoko on Farm Protection duties.

Attendance at farm near Chitora (GF Foxtrot)

Guards at AHQ Foxtrot base.

Picture below supplied by Sgt. Jurgen Winkler.