Protected Villages

 

THOUGHTS  OF  A  GUARD  FORCE  SOLDIER  35  YEARS  LATER  :

IMAGINE…..JUST  IMAGINE…..FOR  A  FEW  MOMENTS………..You are a twenty year old European Keep Commander, coming from an urban background, posted to a Keep somewhere in the  rural African Tribal Trust Land. It is your first posting to a Protected Village. You know it will be your home, military base and maybe battle trench for the next six weeks. You are not even sure if you will make it in one piece back home. With you are about twenty African soldiers and two African NCOs. They don’t know you and see every six weeks the face of another European boy and you are not sure if you will be able to rely on them when the shit hits the fan. The only Africans you had to deal with up to now were your nanny, your garden boy and the African bringing the milk every morning. Your 3 months training at Chikurubi was actually too short and a lot of stuff was theory. The Keep Commander you relieved did not want to “ waste “ time to give you a thorough briefing. His only interest was to get out as quick as possible. You may  not even have received a proper briefing at the Group HQ.  Never enough time. The officer who posted you had no time for you because he had to post a number of other Keep Commanders and Guards to other Keeps and bring Logistic and Admin Support. You are a European and therefore expected to be handle any situation.

The next keep is about 15 km away, connected by a dirt road known as ambush alley and with an extensive history of Landmine incidents. You are lucky, one of the African NCOs is on your side and looks after the keep routine and you learn actually from him.

You have Logistic problems. The waterpump at the river close by was blown up by CTs two days ago. The water in the overhead water tank is nearly finished. The generator gives sometimes problems but you managed to get it going and you are proud of it. The gaz operated fridge is not functioning since 3 months. Your urban comfort is gone. You learn to improvise. At your next call-up you will know what to take with you.

Operationally you are expected to “ kill gooks “, nevermind to protect the rural Africans in the Protected Village. There are about 4000 of them.The first few days you “ explored “ the village and the surrounding area. You joined mine clearance and fence patrols, you spent time at the gate, practiced stand-to procedures and experience Africa.

You found out on the radio that your friend you did training with in Chikurubi is in a PV about 35 km to the south. On the third day one of the officers from the Group HQ is visiting you.[ You are lucky !!! ] He gives you a detail briefing about your duties and makes you aware of the downfalls when serving with African soldiers. He knows the bad and good ones and you listen and you have many, many questions what to do in certain situations. But the worse part of his visit is the “ stories “ he tells you about CT activities in the past and what you can expect during your tour of duty. There are also the stories told by your instructors at Chikurubi. Now you get worried.

The worst time are the nighthours !!! There is no other European Deputy Keep Commander with you, a person you could share your worries and who would make you feeling stonger [ One soldier a coward – two soldiers -two heroes ]. The African NCO is OK, but he is a stranger for you. You lie on your bed. You are not even sure if you should take off your boots, never mind pieces of you uniform. In your mind are the stories of the officer he told you. Large numbers of CTs, cutting the fence, burning African huts, forcing the povos to leave the Protected Village and attacking the Keep with AK-47s, RPDs, RPG-7s, 82mm and 60mm Mortars and probably 75mm recoil guns etc. Nevermind that the CTs are not very good in hitting their target, your Keep, just one 82mm mortarbomb exploding inside the keep walls or one stray AK-47 bullet can mean the end for you. If you have casualties, you have to wait until the next morning. But even in the morning it will not be certain that they will casevac your casualties by chopper. The CTs will have planted landmines on the accessroad to the Protected Village and they must be cleared first to get you out by road. Your worries increase. You get up, take your webbing and rifle and walk out to the earth  parapet with the bunkers and firing positions. You know the positions well from the stand-to the previous evening. Checking the sentries you look over the earth parapet  and listen into the night. The typical  smell of an African village, the sound of drums and singing in the distance and the flickering lights of fires next to the huts. It looks peaceful, but your worries are not gone. Where are the CTs ? Have they already infiltrated the Protected Village ? What will you do if the firing starts now. The worries are still with you. You cannot share them with anybody. You talk casual with the sentries, hiding your anxiety and go back to your room. Stretched out on the bed you can only hear the crackling sound of the radio and sometimes the voices of the radio operators. You fall asleep. You wake up , it is morning, first light and the African NCO is arranging the routine duties. Seeing You, he wishes you a Good Morning or something similar and orders one of the guards to bring you coffee. You look around , feel safe again and enjoy the hot coffee.

Your cousin grew up at a farm and knows Africans and the African environment and Bush very well. He joined the RLI. During his last R&R he told you about HIS operational experiences. The good and extensive training he received, the excellent equipment and reliable modern weapons, sitting in a chopper next to him his fellow soldiers well trained like him and knowing that he can 100% rely on them and all of them in high spirit and extreme confident. Their backup in respect of Air-Support by a professional Air Force and functioning Logistic, Communications and Medical back-up. He spoke about killing gooks and gave the impression that there was nothing worrying him because he was not alone. The soldiers with him were exactly like him – professional, confident and imbued by the spirit of winners.

Sometimes when You are alone with your thoughts and worries in Your Keep , You may say to yourself…..IMAGINE….being a RLI troopie.

During one of your R&Rs you met your cousin again. He just returned from some external Ops and you from Your Keep. He would tell the stories of their victories and the number of gooks they had killed. He would ask you about your experiences and you kept quiet. You nearly felt ashamed.

But then during your next tour of duty in another Keep it happened as you IMAGINED  ………..At approximately 21:00 HRS on the 30 FEB 1977, the Protected Village at Matuse in the Matambo TTL came under intense attack from a large group of terrorists using small arms, RPG-7 rockets and 82mm and 60mm Mortars. The attack lasted close to one hour with three 82mm Mortar bombs penetrating  the perimeter fence. From the expended  cartridges cases recovered from the terrorist firing positions, ballistics confirmed that 29 different AK-47s, 16 SKS rifles, an RDP machinegun had been used in the attack, indicating that at least 50 terrorists had participated. This was an extremely determined attack with the terrorists attacking from  300 meters away. Your soldiers were armed with G-3s.There were only three of your own soldiers slightly injured and you never found out if the CTs took casualties.  It was also an indication that the terrorists were feeling the squeeze of the locals being removed from the rural areas into Protected Villages removed also from their  influence.

IMAGINE…………….when asked at your R&R about your experiences in your Keep, you would not say much about the attack, because you could not talk about the number of gooks killed as the Glory Boys would do. Besides,  people would not understand what it means to be under attack by about 50 CTs using massive firepower and they would not believe you either. Only other Keep Commanders, who had experienced the same ordeal would have understood, but they were not around. So you kept quiet and 35 years later you still keep quiet.

IMAGINE………………the above mentioned story would be true, which   it  is  not, but it could be a story many of you have experienced as Keep Commanders during the days of the Rhodesian War.

Snr Comdt Horst Schobesberger,  MARCH 2015.

Tell  US  about  YOUR  story  as  a  Keep Commander  or   Deputy  because  WE  will  understand  YOU !!!

BECAUSE  WE  WERE  GUARD  FORCE  !!!

 


Regional HQs (Numeric) were principally for the areas of Protected Village Operations. 

PV  areas North-East Rhodesia


 



The following is taken from the report of: 

THE ELECTION IN ZIMBABWE-RHODESIA IN APRIL 1979

In 1979 a five-man team, led by Lord Boyd, was sent to Rhodesia by the Conservative Party to observe the first one-man-one-vote elections in Rhodesia. The following is the full text (in 2 parts) of their report, with the exception of some appendices consisting of photocopies of leaflets and brochures used during the election. The report is in the form of a typed and stencilled MS, signed by the five members of the team. The copy I was able to obtain was originally in the collection of Patrick Wall, MP, together with another report on the election by John Drinkwater (Queen's Council). Due to the length of the report, it has been divided into two sections.

65. The collection of the rural population into large settlements behind wire and with a permanent Guard Force pre-dated the 3 March Agreement by some time. It had as its purpose keeping the farmers and villagers free of guerrilla intimidation and denying the latter the food and solace which they could otherwise easily obtain. Its disadvantage, from the administration's point of view, was that intelligence became much harder to acquire.

66. The Transitional Government decided to take action on protected villages, since these were an emotional issue and a matter for hostile propaganda. Some were dispersed, with the result, we understand, that the inhabitants tended to go to another such village still existent, and ask for admittance. Having visited several such villages and talked to their inhabitants we are sure that they are no "concentration camps". To the families who live there the system has its inconveniences. The main one is the distance which lies between the village and families' farm land which they continued to cultivate unless they had been given other land closer by. Apart from that these protected villages were, we heard from their inhabitants, a haven.

67. If the war ended, said some old men in such a village in Manicaland, they would wait a while and then go back to their kraals. They had all voted, but they said that nobody had come in from the Tribal Trust Lands to do so, because of fear. The vast majority of those living in protected villages voted on the first day. We talked to many of them after they had voted. We are quite clear that they do not look upon their residence in such villages as an imposition, but as a relief; and that the system of protected villages did not constitute intimidation by way of forcing people to vote.



PROTECTED SUBOFFICES / BASES

 

PROVINCE / DISTRICT         NAME                      MAP REF

 

Mashonaland East

Goromonzi                          Chehamba                UR1058

                                        Marufu                     UR4054

Marandellas                         Mahusekwe               UQ1075

                                        Soswe                      UQ6170

Mrewa                                Magunje                   UR7176

                                        Mashambanaka          UR7589

                                        Muskwe                    UR8878

Mtoko                                Charewa                   VS1102

                                        Tsiko                       VR1885

Mudzi                                Kondo                      VS6233

Wedza                               Mukamba                 UQ7610

 

PROVINCIAL TOTALS  11

 

PROTECTED VILLAGES AS AT 14TH APRIL 1978

 

PROVINCE/DISTRICT            NAME OF PV            MAP REF

Mashonaland East

Mrewa                               Borera                      US9018

                                        Chidodo                   UR8687

                                        Chipfunde                 UR8796

                                        Chitimbe                   UR7171

                                        Guyu                       US9719

                                        Karimbika                 UR9586

                                        Kaseke                     UR6578

                                        Katiyo                      UR7796

                                        Magunje                   UR7177

                                        Manyika                   UR8380

                                        Mashambanaka          UR7859

                                        Matsenga                  UR7884

                                        Morris                      UR7485

                                        Musanhi                   UR9175

                                        Muskwe                    UR8879

                                        Mutawatawa              UR9108

                                        Nhakiwa                   UR7280

                                        Nyagande                 US7805

                                        Nyakasoro                 VS1430

                                        Nyamhara                 UR9677

                                        Rukariro                   UR7772

 

Mtoko                                Bondamakara            VR3391

                                        Chimoyo (akaSasa)     VR4084

                                        Chindenga                VR0594

                                        Chipfiko                   VR3477

                                        Chitekwe                  VR2377

                                        Danda                      VS1007

                                        Gurure                     VR0688

                                        Kagande                   VS1001

                                        Kapondoro                VR4579

                                        Katavinya                 VR3994

                                        Katsakunya               VR0877

                                        Kaunye                     VR2675

                                        Makosa                    VR4490

                                        Maneemba                VR0177

                                        Mshimbo                  VR3672

                                        Mudzonga                 VR3185

                                        Mutswaire                 VR1278

                                        Nyamazuwe              VR2091

                                        Rukau aka All Souls    VR3581

                                        Tarewa                     VR1697

                                        Tsiko                       VR1885

 

Mudzi                                Benson                    VS2220

                                        Chipako                    VR7799

                                        Gozi                        VS8601

                                        Kagoma                   VS6824

                                        Kondo                      VS6233

                                        Marembe                  VS7123

                                        Makasha aka Mtondo  VR5589

                                        Morosi                     VS4928

                                        Njera                       VS5617

                                        Nyakuchena              VR4692

                                        Nyamakoho               VS2812

                                        Nyamande              VR6898

                                        Shinga                     VS3920

                                        Stephen                   VS4911

                                        Suswe                      VS3504

 

Total no of PVs as at 14 April 1978 57 (From an original from Dudley Wall ex Intaf)

 The  modus  operandi  of  insurgents  attacking  a  keep  in  a  Protected  Village.

I am using extracts from books and articles to highlight the issue.

This is the extract from the book : John Dove : Luisa , published by Mambo Press , Gweru 1989 :

Fr Gibbs then mentioned attacks by the guerrillas on the Protected Village garrison [ keep ]. He says in the attack I witnessed, it was the custom for the guerrillas to cut their way into the Protected Village and set up their firing lines in among the huts within the range of the strong point [ keep ]. Many Protected Villages were very large and it was too dangerous  for the guerrillas to fire from outside the Protected Village in case their fire fell short and landed in the huts. Fire from the guerrillas would be returned by the Security Forces and innocent people were sometimes caught in crossfire. Fires occasionally broke out when a hut was ignited and, because nobody was able to help put out the fire, all the belongings were destroyed, thus adding to the misery of the people.

Rina described one such attack on the Protected Village. She says that the guerrillas obviously did not want the Protected Village and so they kept attacking the garrisons [ keep ] in order to free the people. They would also burn the huts of the people inside the Protected Village to force them to flee from the Protected Village.”

During the attack six mortarbombs were fired by the insurgents, causing damage to the Hospital at All Souls Mission. The extract from the book continues : The guerrillas sent a note to apologise to Luisa [ Missionary Doctor ]. They mistook the hospital roof shining in the moonlight for the roof of the keep. Also their mortar had no base and so had erratic fire. “ No additional comments !





 

Other   information's  about  dates,  structures  and  names   gathered  from   sparsely  existing  papers / documents  and   other  Guard  Force  soldiers  or  historia ns  / collectors :

·       01 July 1976  GP 1 Madziwa / Bindura established

·       20 December 1976  GP 2 Chipinga established with Asst Comdt Colin Fisher as OC and Asst Comdt J Price as his 2iC, Sergeant Major Ndlela  as CSM.

·       1977  GP 3  Chiredzi established with Comdt Frederick Freiherr von der Trenck as OC and naming the GP HQ  “ Fort General Rawlings “ .

·       1977  GP 4 Honde Valley established with  Comdt Tom [ William ] Lester as OC and Asst Comdt Alan Denham as 2iC. Gp HQ in Haura.

·       1977  GP 5 Murewa, GP 6 Mutoko established.

·       1978  GP 7 Mudzi established

·       1978 [ begin ]  Comdt Nigel Langdale  takes over GP 3 Chiredzi as OC.

·       Begin June 1978, Jnr Comdt Horst Schobesberger served for two weeks at GP 5 Murewa under the OC Comdt Guenter Maeser and his 2iC Asst Comdt John Radford.

·       June 1978 to 01 Aug 1978, Jnr Comdt Horst Schobesberger served as Group 2iC with GP 9 Mount Darwin under the OC Comdt Smokey Richardson [ former British SAS and one of the “ old Malaysian Sergeants “, highly respected by British foreign nationals serving with RLI and based at Mount Darwin Airfield ].

·       01 August 1978 to 20 October 1978, Asst Comdt Horst Schobesberger served as Ops Officer at GP 7 Mudzi under the OC Comdt Ed Owen.

·       20 October 1978 to May 1979 Cmdt Horst Schobesberger served as OC GP 9 Mount Darwin. He took over from Comdt Carl de Vries and handed over to Asst Comdt Graham Wright.

·       08 September 1978  the first 3 PVs opened in GP 6 Mutoko  and 9 PVs in GP 9 Mount Darwin [ but resentment ]

·       October 1978 GP 2 Chipinga, GP 3 Chiredzi, GP 4 Honde Valley , GP 8 Beitbridge and GP 9 Mount Darwin  PVs handed over to SFA.

·       08 December 1978 GP 5 Murewa, GP 6 Mutoko and GP 7 Mudzi all PVs opened. GP 9 Mount Darwin 20 PVs opened.

 

 






The  following  extracts  are  from  the  book  “  Ed  Bird,  Special  Branch  War ; Slaughter  in  the  Rhodesian  Bush – Southern  Matabeleland,  1976 – 1980 .  published  in  2013  by  E.A. Bird,  Amanzimtoti,  South Africa.

The following extracts are from the book “ Jim Parker, Assignbment Selous Scouts. Inside story of a Rhodesian Special Branch Officer “ published in 2006 by Galago Publishing.  

The following extracts are based on incidents recorded in the Beitbridge Special Branch Incident Log [ War Diary ] which formed the foundation of Ed Bird’s book. It is also an account of enemy activities impacting on the duties of Guard Force soldiers deployed within the Protected Village system and the protection of the line of rail. Each of these incidents is a story on its own . The story of soldiers of the Rhodesian Guard Force and their operational activities during the final years of the Rhodesian War.

On 10 February 1978, Guard Force located a landmine on the road between Tongwe and Penemene protected villages.  Engineers were deployed and destroyed the landmine  in situ .

During the early hours of 15 February 1978, the Tongwe protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL, came under attack by a group of twenty terrorists. The attack lasted approximately thirty minutes. Guard Force retaliated with no injuries being inflicted on the opposing force, none of the occupants of the protected village were injured.

On 22 February 1978 , Shabwe protected village came under small arms, rocket and mortar attack. No casualties were inflicted on any of the occupants of the PV. The following morning, elements of D Company 6 RR located the twenty firing positions one kilometre from the PV.

At approximately 09:30 on 5 March 1978, the protected village at Shabwe in the Mtetengwe TTL, came under intense attack from a large group of terrorists using small arms, RPG-7 rockets and 82 mm and 60 mm mortar bombs. The attack lasted three quarters of an hour with three 82 mm mortarbombs penetrating the perimeter fence, causing no injuries, but several tents were damaged by shrapnel. From the expended cartridge cases recovered from the terrorist firing positions, ballistics confirmed that 29 different AK-47 assault rifles, sixteen SKS rifles, and one RDP machine gun and one FN rifle had been used in the attack, indicating that at least fifty terrorists had participated. This was an extremely determined attack with the terrorists attacking from threehundred meters away. It was also an indication that the terrorists were feeling the squeeze of the locals being removed from the rural areas and placed into protected villages. The objective of this and subsequent attacks on protected villages was to drive the locals, through fear, back to their homes, but for the rest of the war they were unable to achieve this.

Farther on, we encountered a Guard Force roadblock / ambush site where we reported the developments to them. Later that afternoon the Guard Force unit received reinforcements and proceeded to the scene of the morning’s action. As they approached the same kraal, they came under attack by approximately six terrorists. The terrorists fled once again and the Guard Force withdrew to their ambush site as night was rapidly approaching. For several hours firing was heard emanating from the area. The following morning, when we returned, the kraals were deserted as the locals had fled, never to return. All their livestock was abandoned – over time, the cattle went completely wild. These locals should, in fact, have been moved into the protected villages in the Mtetengwe TTL but somehow seemed to have been overlooked. The cattle managed to survive and even thrived in that harsh environment. They were to stay in the bush for the duration of the war.

Also on 18 April 1978, at approximately 19:00 hrs, ten terrorists entered the Chaswingo protected village were they were fed by a kraal head. They then left, firing rifles and directing 60 mm mortar bombs at the Guard Force strongpoint inside the protected village. Guard Force returned fire with no casualties on either side. Later that night, the terrorists again attacked the PV with 60 mm mortar and small arms fire. Fire was returned and, again, there were no casualties on either side.

On 18 April 1978. A Guard Force vehicle detonated a landmine in the Mtetengwe TTL. One Guard Force member was slightly injured.

On 24 April 1978, a Guard Force road –clearance patrol from the Shabwe protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL had a fleeting contact with five terrorists. There were no casualties on either side.

During the early hours of 29 April 1978, Penemene protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL came under attack by a large group of terrorists using small arms, an 82 mm mortar and a 75 mm recoilless rifle. The attack was ineffectual and caused no damage or injury to property or person.

0n 09 May 1978, a Guard Force convoy travelling on the Tschiturapadzi road in the Diti TTL  was ambushed by eight terrorists using small arms and RPG-7 fire. There were no casualties on either side.

On 17 June 1978, two elderly locals were shot and killed by an unknown number of terrorists in the area of Shabwe protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL. Both were shot for staying in the protected village against the order of the terrorists and as a warning to other occupants to move back to the bush.

Also on 08 July 1978, elements of Guard Force travelling in a vehicle convoy were ambushed by between fifteen and twenty terrorists in the Diti TTL. The ambush was initiated with RPG-7 rockets, followed by AK-47 and RPD fire. One of the vehicles was disabled by a rocket. One Guard Force member was hit and killed and three others were wounded, all of whom were casevaced to the Messina Hospital.

On the 28 July 1978, ten terrorists cut through the security fence and gained entry into the Chikwarakwara protected village where they abducted sixteen locals whom they forced to march into the Chipisi TTL. Follow-up operations were immediately instituted but due to road-work operations and the movement of Roads Department heavy vehicles, all spoors had been obliterated.

Again on the 06 August 1978, nineteen locals were abducted by a group of terrorists from the Chiswingo protected village in the Diti TTL. Two of the locals managed to escape. Guard Force reacted without success.

On 24 August 1978, elements of Guard Force, while driving into a kraal line, observed locals scattering in all directions. The Guard Force fired warning shots in an attempt to stop the locals and immediately came under terrorist attack. The terrorists were engaged, resulting in the capture of one wounded terrorist and the recovery of an AKM rifle. Guard Force sustained no injuries.

On the 13 November 1978, the protected village at Chaswingo in the Diti TTL came under terrorist attack by a force estimated at fifty strong.The attack lasted two hours during which time RPG-7 rockets, 82 mm and 60 mm mortars and automatic weapons were used. Four locals were serious injured which necessitated their casevac to Messina Hospital. The terrorists broke off their attack at 20:30 hrs.

On 17 November 1978, a group of thirty african females from the Mapai protected village in the Diti TTL, who were out gathering wood at the time, were abducted by nine terrorists and forced to, march in an easterly direction apparently to the site of an extremely large base. Four of the females managed to abscond during the march and returned to the PV.

During the early hours of 26 November 1978, the protected village at Shabwe in the Mtetengwe TTL came under attack from a large group of terrorists estimated to number in excess of sixty. Their 75 mm recoilless rifle was in action again, as well as 82 mm and 60 mm mortars. Fire was returned by Guard Force, which although mainly ineffectual, forced the attackers to stay where they were.

A check of the protected village found that fifty metres of security fencing had been cut and that twohundred locals had been abducted before the attack was launched. During the course of the day, and subsequently, a number of abducted locals returned to the PV, having managed to escape from their kidnappers. These abductions were always regarded with suspicion : it was suspected that the locals were warned of the impending attack and had fled the PV  to escape the ordeal.

The attack was the most accurate up until then, with twenty-seven 82 mm mortar fins and eight unexploded bombs being recovered from the confines of the PV, as well as seventeen 60 mm mortar fins, M60 rifle grenade fins, and one RPG-2 rocket which failed to detonate. Fouteen empty 75 mm recoilless rifle cases were recovered from the attacking position . Several locals in the PV sustained injury but there were no fatalities.

Tenty-two locals were killed on the 4 December 1978 in an airstrike on a povo camp in the Diti TTL. However, all had freely elected to run with and support the terrorists, ignoring repeated warnings to report to the protected villages. It could be said that the terrorists had forced the locals, on pain of death, to remain outside the protected villages, as the enemy could not survive without local support. In fact, the enemy was abducting locals from PVs for this very purpose. Most abductees who wanted to escape from their captors did so within hours and even in the povo camps they ere left unattended for days and had ample opportunity to escape and return to the PVs.

Also on 4 December 1978, six locals collecting firewood outside the Shabwe protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL failed to return to the PV ; it was suspected that they had been abducted by terrorists.

During the early hours of 7 De4cember 1978, an unknown number of terrorists cut the security fence of the Chikwarakwara  protected village in the Chipisi TTL and abducted forty-seven locals. The following morning, elements of Guard Force followed spoor heading in a northerly direction for three kilometres when it was lost.

On 11 December 1978, 1 Indep Company reported that an estimated eighty locals were moving from the bush in the direction of the Chaswingo protected village. Guard Force , reported that, over the past two days, forty-four locals had reported to that PV and another fifty-four to the Chikwarakwara PV, both PVs being located in the Chipisi TTL.

On 13 December 1978, two local men were abducted by a lone terrorist outside the confines of the Tolkwe protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL. One managed to escape and reported the incident.

On the 21 December 1978, twenty-eight locals were abducted by an unknown number of terrorists while collecting firewood from the Tshiturapadzi protected village in the Chipisi TTL. One female managed to escape and reported the incident to Guard Force who reacted and managed to follow the spoor for some considerable distance before loosing tracks.

Also on 24 December, a Guard Force vehicle detonated a landmine in the Diti TTL. Two of the occupants of the vehicle received what appeared to be serious injuries and both were casevaced by air force helicopter to the Messina hospital.

Again, on 25 December, terrorists breached the security fence at Mapai protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL and abducted seventeen locals. However, all the abductees managed to escape and returned to the PV.

Also on 30 December 1978, a Guard Force convoy was ambushed by an estimated thirty terrorists in the Chipisi TTL. The convoy was attacked with RPG-7 rockets and automatic fire. Guard Force returned fire and eventually the terrorists broke off the attack. Blood spoor was located in the terrorists ambush position, indicating that one of the terrorists had been wounded by the return fire.

More and more locals were now being killed, unintentionally, by the security forces. With the implementation of the PV regime, those locals who refused to comply with the requirements to move into the PVs put their own life at risk. Most of the locals were killed in attacks on povo bases, but others who failed to stop when called upon to do so were also fired on, normally with deadly consequences. However, this warning was not afforded to curfew breakers who were shot out of hand, for obvious reasons.

On 15 January 1979, elements of Guard Force opened fire and killed a local man while following the spoor of six terrorists in the Diti TTL. The deceased was subsequently identified as a well known, powerful witchdoctor from the area who had been running with the terrorists for some time.

Also, on 15 December 1979, a CMED convoy under Guard Force escort was aqmbushed in the Diti TTL. The only injury was to one terrorist who was wounded.

Also, during the night of 21 January 1979, forty terrorists breached the security fence of the Tshiturapadzi protected village and abducted three hundred locals. Three locals who refused to accompany the terrorists were badly beaten and were casevaced to Beitbridge the following morning. Spoor of the abductees was followed for several kilometres before being obliterated by cattle movement.

During the night of 22 January 1979, an unknown number of terrorists breached the security fence at the Shabwe protected village in the Mtetengwe TTL. Elements of Guard Force, protecting the PV, opened fire on the terrorists who then returned fire from supporting positions with automatic weapons, 60 mm mortars and 3,5 inch bazooka rockets. Two locals in the PV were killed in crossfire. The terroristd managed to abduct an unknown number of locals who, over the course of the following day, returned to the PV. The follow-up was unsuccessful owing to the amount of human spoor in and out of the PV.

On 26 January 1979, a combined Guard Force – Rhodesian Defence Regiment convoy was ambushed by fifteen terrorists in the Diti TTL. Fire was returned, while the terrorists retaliated with ineffectual 60 mm mortar fire. The follow-up did not last long before spoor was lost. There were no security force casualties.

During the night of 1 February 1979, approximately fifty terrorists attacked the Tshiturapadzi protected village, using 75 mm recoilless rifle, 82 mm mortars, machine guns – including an SG-43 Goryunov medium machine gun – and automatic weapons. Elements of Guard Force reacted to the attack which eventually drove off the attackers. However, prior to the attack, one group of terrorists breached the security fence around the PV and abducted onehundred and seventeen locals. One female was murdered by the terrorists for refusing to leave the PV. At first light the following morning, a check of the area revealed the attacking position where a wounded terrorist was captured. An SKS rifle, thirteen 82 mm mortar bombs, grenades and other war materie were recovered. An unsuccessful follow-up operation was undertaken.

On 5 February 1979, elements of Guard Force patrolling the Diti TTL located a wooden box mine of British manufacture. Army engineers reacted and destroyed the mine in situ.

Also on 7 February 1979, a Road Department vehicle, escorted by elements of Guard Force, was ambushed by four terrorists in the Mtetengwe TTL. The terrorists, apart from automatic weapons, used a 60 mm mortar to attack the convoy. One Road Department employee was slightly injured and casevaced to Beitbridge for treatment. An unexploded 60 mm mortar bomb was located at the scene and which was later destroyed by army engineers.

On 11 February 1979, elements of Guard Force operating in the Mtetengwe TTL opened fire on a group of twelve terrorists. The terrorists did not return fire but fled from the area.Guard Force followed spoor for some distance before loosing it through cattle movement.

Also on 16 February 1979, elements of Guard Force located and successfully recovered an anti-tank box mine in the Diti TTL. On the same date but in a different area of the Diti TTL, Guard Force also located and successfully recovered anolther anti-tank box mine. Former army engineers who had joined the Guiard Force were proving their worth and a damned fine job they were doing too.

On 19 February 1979, elements of Guard Force travelling in convoy detonated a landmine in the Diti TTL. Two guardsmen received minor injuries and were casevaced to Beitbridge for treatment.

Yet again, on 23 February 1979, elements of Guard Force operating in the Diti TTL detected and successfully lifted a wooden box mine without incident, thanks again to their engineers.

On 2 March 1979, elements of Guard Force in convoy in the Chipise TTL detonated a landmine assessed as being a box type. Three Guard Force members were slightly injured and were casevaced to Beitbridge by road for treatment. Shortly after noon, elements of Guard Force guarding the damaged vehicle spotted three terrorists, two of whom were carrying AK-47 rifles and the other a yellow box. The guardsmen opened fire on the group, causing them to flee. There were no casualties on either side. The three terrorists were deemed as being a minelaying team and that the yellow box was the landmine.

During the night 10 March 1979, the Chaswingo protected village in the Diti TTL came under terrorist mortar and small arms attack, lasting fifteen minutes. Elements of Guard Force protecting the PV returned fire. During the attack, another group of terrorists entered the PV and abducted forty-eight locals. Three locals in the PV were slightly injured during the attack.

Also on 14 March 1979, elements of Guard Force located a wooden box mine on a road in the Diti TTL and the army engineers were called in. Because of the poor condition of the mine, the engineers destroyed it in situ.

Again , on 22 March 1979, elements of Guard Force, supported by the local miliotia – now known as Venda Militia and still armed with their trusty bolt-action .303 Lee Enfield rifles – attacked a povo base in the Chipise TTL. The base was occupied by an estimated twenty terrorists who met the attack with mortar, RPG-7 rocket and automatic fire. The attacking force managed to capture the base after forcing the terrorists to flee. They did, however, apprehend a mixed bag of thirty-four local povo and over five-hundred head of cattle stolen from the locals living in the Chaswingo  and Tshiturapadzi protected villages, which were duly returned to their rightful owners. An excellent job executed by poorly trained men. The Venda Militia fell under the control of Internal Affairs and, for command purposes, the District Commissioner and his staff at Beitbridge. They assisted mainly in the guarding of the protected villages, in conjunction with Guard Force, in the Beitbridge area.

Yet again, on 24 March 1979, elements of Guard Force in convoy were ambushed by terrorists in the Chipise TTL. Fire was returned, forcing the terrorists to break off the engagement. The convoy escaped unscathed.

On 10 June 1979, elements of Guard Force engaged in the recovery of the Roads Department vehicle damaged by a mine on 8 June in the Diti TTL detonated a landmine, slightly injuring on of the occupants who was subsequently casevaced to Beitbridge for treatment.

On 25 June 1979, elements of Guiard Force surprised five terrorists preparing to bury a landmine in a road in the Mtetengwe TTL. The terrorists were fired on but managed to escape with their mine.,There were no casualties on either side.

On 2 July 1979, elements of Guard Force fired on a suspected terrorist moving near the railway line in the Mttengwe TTL. The suspect fled and opn following up, the Guard Force located one stick grenade.

On 9 July 1979, elements of Guard Force located and recovered a TM-57 landmine on Lesanth Ranch. Another TM-57 landmine was then located and recovered by the same patrol in the Bubye River farming area.

Again, on 12 July, elements of Guard Force attacked an estimated ten terrorists i9n the Diti TTL. One terrorist was killed. Two Guard Force members were wounded, one seriously and who was casevaced by air to Bulawayo for treatment.One SKS roifle was recovered.

On 28 July 1979, elements of Guard Force located a landmine in the Diti TTL. Engineers, finding the boxmine to be unstable, destroyed it in situ.

On  1 August 1979, elements of Guard Force patrolling the railway line in the Mtetengwe observed a group of terrorists digging under the tracks. The Guard Force then opened fire with rifles and a 60 mm mortar and the saboteurs fled. The patrol was unable to locate spoor because of rocky terrain.

Again on 12 August 1979, just after 10 o’clock that night, the Chaswingo protected village in the Diti TTL came under attack from a large group of terrorists. The attack was repelled by the Guard Force defenders and the terrorists abandoned their positions. However, the shock was still to come when police ballistic reports confirmed that two 75 mm recoilless rifles and one DShK 12,7  mm heavy machine gun had been used in the attack. The DShK 12,7 mm HMG is a fearful weapon often used in an anti-aircraft role; in the right hands it can be deadly against helicopters. Apart from these formidable weapons, forty-five AK-47 assault rifles, tenty-five SKS rifles, one RPD machine gun, one RPK heavy-barrelled AK-47 and one Goryunov MMG were identified as having been used during the attack.

On 15 August 1979, elements of Guard Force located a landmine in the Diti TTL. Engineers were deployed and recovered a TM-57 ,landmine.

Also on 15 August, a Guard Force patrol operating in the area of Chaswingo protected village in the Diti TTL located the body of a terrorist thought to have been killed during the attack on the PV on 12 August. No weapon was recovered.

On 12 September 1979, elements of Guard Force and the Venda Militia travelling by vehicle detonated an unidentified landmine. There was one minor casualty who was casevaced by road to Beitbridge for treatment.

On 20 September 1979, elements of Guard Force travelling in Chipise TTL located a buried landmine. Army engineers were deployed and recovered the mine.

Also on 21 September, elements of Guard Force sighted eight terrorists in the Chipise TTL and moved into a position to attack them. The terrorists were then engaged at a distance of approximately sixty meters. The contact was unsuccessful, with no casulaties on either side.

Also on 23 September 1979, elements of Guard Force located a wooden box mine in the Chipise TTL. Army engineers reacted and destroyed the mine in situ as it was suspected to have been boosted.

Again, during the night of 26 September 1979, the homestead on Sentinal Ranch came under attack for half an hour by an estimated twenty-five terrorists using rocket and small arms fire. Elements of Guard Force protecting the homestead suffered two seriously wounded casualties who were casevaced to Bulawayo by air for treatment. Both subsequently recovered after specialized treatment.

Also on 29 September 1979, elements of E-Coy 1 Guard Force based at the Bubye River near the Lion and Elephant Motel on the Beitbridge – Fort Victoria road came under terrorist attack from the southwestern side of the Bubye River. The terrorists used mortars, rockets and small arms fire during the attack but broke off the contact when the Guard Force returned fire. At first light, elements of 1 Indep Company conducted the follow-up, during which four 3,5 inch rockets were located and destroyed by army engineers. There were no security force casualties.

On 30 September 1979, elements of Guard Force fired on two terrorists in the Mtetengwe TTL. The terrorists returned fire and managed to escape.

On 1 October 1979, elements of Guard Force patrolling the line of rail near Lesanth Siding located an explosive device consisting of twenty kilograms of TNT primed for electrical detonation. Elements of 4 Engineers were deployed, dismantled the device and reopened the line at eleven o’clock that morning.

On 19 October 1979, elements of Guard Force operating in the Diti TTL located a buried landmine and called for the army engineers to deal with it. The engineers successfully lifted the mine which they identified as a P2 Mk3.


The  following  extracts  are  from  the  book  “ Jim  Parker,  Assignment  Selous  Scouts  . Inside  story  of  a Rhodesian  Special  Branch  Officer “, published  in 2006  by  Galago  Publishing  [1999] [ Pty ] Ltd , Alberton, South Africa.

Sometimes it is important to read accounts of enemy activities impacting on the duties of our Guard Force soldiers deployed within the Protected Village system and Farm Protection. Jim Parker, a Reserve Detective Section Officer with the Special Branch Selous Scouts, describes short and precise such incidents as highlighted in the following extracts :

.They selected the Mpagati protected village as a target because its location meant they could launch their attack and retreat safely to the cache area the same night. At last light on 04 August 1977, 32 guerillas unearthed their arsenal and moved to a position by the southern boundary fence of the Mpagati. By that time the Guard Force personnel had secured  the perimeter fence and locked the main security fence gates.

The Guard Force men stayed in an enclosure within the protected village surrounded by an earth abutment three metres high. At each corner were sentry posts made from teak railway sleepers with firing slots built in. It was reckoned their positions were strong enough to resist a direct hit by a 60 mm mortar bomb. Next to the barrack area were bunkers of similar construction.

At 18:10 the guerrillas mounted a major attack on the Guard Force positions, firing AKs, an RPD machine gun, 82 mm mortars, RPG-7 rockets, a heavy machine gun and a 75 mm recoilless rifle. As was the usual pattern, the guerrilla fire was hopelessly inaccurate and after a 45 minute bombardment only one Guard Force member had been slightly injured by shrapnel from a lone mortar bomb that had dropped within the earth perimeter. The Guard Force had only G3 rifles to repel the attack.

The next morning an investigation by National Service Patrol Officer Collinge of Sub-JOC Chiredzi revealed the staggering total of 2415 cartridge cases at the attackers firing positions .

On the 19 October 1977, two weeks later, the same specialist team attacked the Rimbi protected village in the southern Ndowoyo TTL with a full array of weapons. Again the attack was ineffective, even though 540 cartridge cases were found by Detective Section Officer Barton at the guerrillas firing positions.

Eight months had passed since ZANLA’s specialised guerrilla section attacked the Rimbi Protected Village in the Ndowoyo TTL. It seemed they had begun to run low on ammunition but had recently been resupplied.

The next target they selected was the Chikombedzi Protected Village in the Matibi II TTL. Their last attack there on 03 October 1977 was when they mistakenly attacked the Chikombedzi Mission hospital instead of the Guard Force base.

At 19:45 on 04 June 1978 the specialised guerrilla section of 40 combatants moved their arsenal of heavy weapons to firing positions north of the protected village. This time there was no mistake and they set their sights on the Guard Force base. They had two 60 mm mortars, one 82 mm mortar, RPG-2 and RPG-7 grenade launchers, a heavy machine gun. Three RPD light machine guns and their personal AKs. They didn’t use their 75 mm recoilless rifle, probably because they had expended all its ammunition.

Their standoff bombardment lasted an hour. It was an exhibition of inaccurate shooting as not a single missile struck the revetment protecting the Guard Force positions. Detective Patrol Officers Drake and Elkington investigated the next day and found a phenomenal 4986 AK cartridge cases. No one was injured during this major attack.

 

 

 

 

 
 

THE  GUARD  FORCE  -   PROTECTED  VILLAGE  SYSTEM .

The establishment of the Rhodesian Guard Force is deeply rooted in the Protected Village System. Therefore we went into quite some detail when describing in the previous chapter, which we call  Historic Overview, the involvement of Guard Force in the Protected Village [ PV ] system.

Our website is not a platform for discussions on the political strategic level iro the functioning , success or failure of the idea behind the system. It addresses the former soldiers of  Guard Force, spending a considerable time of their lifes deployed in Protected Villages established in the rural areas of the Tribal Trust Land , within a system which tried to deny insurgents access to the rural African population.

We want to hear your stories, your experiences and how you feel about it. However small you think your contribution was , it was part of the total Rhodesian War effort. It is important to share it with others and to feel proud about it. This website will help you to do so.

Guard  Force  Protected  Village  Structure :

Units of Guard Force, consisting of a number of Protected Villages in a specific area of a Tribal Trust Land [ TTL ], were called  “ Groups “.  Each Group was controlled by a Group  Headquarter. A large number of PVs in a Group Area made it sometimes necessary to establish  the sub-structure of  Forward  Control  Posts [ FCP ]  for better Command and Control.

The following Groups were established  [ using the previous names ]:

·       1 Group  Bindura / Madziwa

·       2 Group  Chipinga

·       3 Group  Chiredzi

·       4 Group  Honde Valley

·       5 Group  Murewa

·       6 Group  Mutoko

·       7 Group  Mudzi

·       8 Group  Beitbridge

·       9 Group  Mount Darwin

A Protected Village was accommodating a few thousand rural African families. It was surrounded by a high wire mesh fence and a single entry / exit  gate. The houses were largely pole and dagga huts with grassed roofs. Within the Protected Village there was a fortified strongpoint : The Keep. It was commanded by a European Keep Commander, his Deputy, a few African NCOs and up to 27 Guards. At a later stage African NCO’ were deployed as Keep Commander’s and most of the time there was no Deputy Keep Commander and also the number of Guards was reduced.

The Guard Force soldiers were housed in either A-Frame buildings, brick or corrugated iron buildings. The Keep was protected by three meter thick earth banks. At each corner there was a bunker using railway sleepers as protection and built with firing slits. It was strong enough to withstand mortar fire. More firing positions were situated along the earth wall. There were accomodations for the guards and the Keep Commander with bunkers close by. A diesel generator provided electricity and gaz was used for cooking and a fridge. A Radio Room, close to the Keep Commanders accommodation and storage and cooking  facilities complemented the set-up. A water reservoir stored water which was pumped up from the river close by.

Radio Communications were seen as the lifeline for survival. There were radio communications between Keeps, between Keeps and patrols,  between Keeps and the Forward Command Posts or direct to the Group HQ. Regular SITREPS had to be sent.

At dawn the National Flag was raised inside the Keep and the first perimeter patrol was send out to check the fence. Guards took up positions at the gate. The entire success of the system depended on the control and checking of everyone and everything that left or entered the Protected Village. Other responsibilities included mine patrols sweeping the roads leading to and from the Protected Village, escort duties, stand-to procedures ,prowler patrols within the Protected Village, clearance patrols of the surrounding area, and most of all : Defending the Protected Village against attacks by insurgents. As Guard Force settled in in their role within the Protected Village system more aggressive patrolling and other COIN tasks were completed within a Group area. Some of the Groups reduced the number of guards in the Keeps and established small Reaction Forces .

Discipline was of utmost importance and quite difficult to maintain taking the situation  of  African Guard Force soldiers , based within their own people and with all the temptations around them , into condideration. It is a proven fact that soldiers deployed in static protective tasks will create more discipline problems than others in mobile operations. Weapon inspections, training and turn-out inspections together with the rotation of Guard Force soldiers between Keeps  were measures to curb this problem.

There was close co-operation and liaison with INTAF, BSAP Ground Coverage, SB and other Government structures being based in or visiting the Keeps on a regular basis. Other Security Forces operating in the area provided always a welcome change.

Group HQs were responsible for the Administration [ emphasis on Personnel Administration ], Logistics and  Operational Control of their Keeps within the framework of the total civilian and military war effort of the Rhodesian Security Forces and Government agencies within a Group Area. The Officer Commanding  [OC ] or his Second-in-Command [2iC ] attended the daily JOC /. Sub JOC meetings with its all important INT briefings and the co-ordination of operational activities. Reporting lines to GF HQ in Salisbury were maintained and the Group OCs attended the regular meetings of the Guard Force Command Group. Direct and personal liaison with OCs of neighbouring Groups or other elements of Security Forces and Government agencies in the area were maintained.

Ongoing visits and inspections of FCPs and individual Keeps  formed one of the most important activities of Group OCs or their 2iCs. The ongoing  change-over of the leadergroup through the call-up system and R+R arrangements made it absolute necessary to maintain a tight control of the situation in the Keeps . It was probably quite confusing for the African Guard Force soldiers in a Keep to face every six weeks another European face. Some of them quite young, probably with urban background and unexperienced. For many of them quite a learning experience.These visits provided support and encouragement to the European Keep Commanders and highlighted  the importance  African Guard Force soldiers played within this system. Briefings were given, mistakes were rectified, discipline was enforced and information of the present security situation gathered. Ambushes and Landmines formed an important part in the COIN terminology experienced by commanders when on the road.

To go more into the detail of describing what it meant for a Guard Force soldier  to serve in a Keep or Group HQ will be up to the contribution we hope you will share with all of us after accessing our website.

We are waiting for YOUR story !!!

 

Other   information's  about  dates,  structures  and  names   gathered  from   sparsely  existing  papers / documents  and   other  Guard  Force  soldiers  or  historia ns  / collectors :

·       01 July 1976  GP 1 Madziwa / Bindura established

·       20 December 1976  GP 2 Chipinga established with Asst Comdt Colin Fisher as OC and Asst Comdt J Price as his 2iC, Sergeant Major Ndlela  as CSM.

·       1977  GP 3  Chiredzi established with Comdt Frederick Freiherr von der Trenck as OC and naming the GP HQ  “ Fort General Rawlings “ .

·       1977  GP 4 Honde Valley established with  Comdt Tom [ William ] Lester as OC and Asst Comdt Alan Denham as 2iC. Gp HQ in Haura.

·       1977  GP 5 Murewa, GP 6 Mutoko established.

·       1978  GP 7 Mudzi established

·       1978 [ begin ]  Comdt Nigel Langdale  takes over GP 3 Chiredzi as OC.

·       Begin June 1978, Jnr Comdt Horst Schobesberger served for two weeks at GP 5 Murewa under the OC Comdt Guenter Maeser and his 2iC Asst Comdt John Radford.

·       June 1978 to 01 Aug 1978, Jnr Comdt Horst Schobesberger served as Group 2iC with GP 9 Mount Darwin under the OC Comdt Smokey Richardson [ former British SAS and one of the “ old Malaysian Sergeants “, highly respected by British foreign nationals serving with RLI and based at Mount Darwin Airfield ].

·       01 August 1978 to 20 October 1978, Asst Comdt Horst Schobesberger served as Ops Officer at GP 7 Mudzi under the OC Comdt Ed Owen.

·       20 October 1978 to May 1979 Cmdt Horst Schobesberger served as OC GP 9 Mount Darwin. He took over from Comdt Carl de Vries and handed over to Asst Comdt Graham Wright.

·       08 September 1978  the first 3 PVs opened in GP 6 Mutoko  and 9 PVs in GP 9 Mount Darwin [ but resentment ]

·       October 1978 GP 2 Chipinga, GP 3 Chiredzi, GP 4 Honde Valley , GP 8 Beitbridge and GP 9 Mount Darwin  PVs handed over to SFA.

·       08 December 1978 GP 5 Murewa, GP 6 Mutoko and GP 7 Mudzi all PVs opened. GP 9 Mount Darwin 20 PVs opened.