Below is a personal account of life within the Keep itself:

In the latter stages of the Bush War the Guard Force was formed principally to take over the 'protective' role within Protected Villages. These villages were principally in the North Eastern Operation Hurricane area but quickly spread to the rest of the country. 

Typically, the PVs held some 6000 villagers. The village was fully fenced with diamond mesh and had a single entry/exit point. Typical PVs were so large they would have had an airstrip inside and on one side the fence could be over 6 Kms long. One in the Mtoko-Mudzi area was about 45 kms from the nearest tarred road and about 25ks from the Mocambique border. I think its name was NYAMANDE. In that area were some 36 such PVs of various sizes. 

Inside the PV were schools, stores, places of worship and some degree of medical facilities. The homes were largely pole and dagga huts, with grassed roofs. The villagers whilst not overjoyed at the fact, were signed in and out of the village to tend their lands or go about their business from 6am to 6pm. We rarely had people not returning; they just got on with it. Simple searches were made at the entry/exit points. 

Guard Force personnel in each PV usually consisted of 22 African Guards and a European Keep Commander (or less probably a Deputy Keep Commander). These were the only white guys for miles around. In the main you ended up teacher/father/doctor/pastor/enemy and friend to the locals and guards during those stints. 

The GF contingent were housed in either brick or corrugated iron accommodation inside a keep-like fortress at the centre of the PV itself. This was 'protected' by 8/10feet thick earth banks with appropriate firing positions. It was gated and we had a diesel generator for power. Daily routine would consist of localised patrols outside the PV and also inside but these were more limited. The fence was checked for damage each morning and took an age. The usual weapon training and drill was carried out also. Boredom would be a killer. 

We often had other RSF visit the keep for some respite or supplies which always made a welcome change. We had a full ammunition store for small arms and if you were lucky, mortars. We had a radio room connecting us with nearby Keeps and the local sub-control. When I say 'local', my nearest neighbour in one case I think was Makhosa PV about 28kms away. The Sub control where we would be backed up in the event was 45 kms away by dirt road at Kotwa. 

During my first camp we got a stonking on Easter Monday by ZANLA using RPGs and small arms which lasted about 25 minutes. The only effect was that the locals gapped it (broke the fence by sheer weight) and left, returning over the next few days. They didn't like us but feared the gooks with a passion. There was however some 'feeding' going on which was difficult to control. Things weren't ideal for them inside the PV but it was better than the intimidation they had outside. Our 'cavalry' arrived the next morning after the fun was well over, a few huts were burned from tracer etc but no injuries. 

Our main duty was to protect the Keep and secure the area; a presence in remote so-called gook 'liberated' areas I suppose. The relationship with the guards and Junior NCOs was mixed but in the main everyone had to get on. Look after your men at all costs was the guide. Stints usually lasted 42 days. In June 1978 we were withdrawn to the Mrewa/Mangwende area to slot into a classic infantry role. This became largely the new role for GF until the end of the war. They had 2 such battalions and were spread very thinly. Although never compared to the more crack troops, our role I think was more productive once we vacated the PVs to Pfumo re Vanhu. 

At about the same time GF were tasked with the protection of European farmland and other strategic locations. A vast section of the force was allotted this responsibility and thus was formed the Regional HQs.

(George Parker  2012)

Nyamande PV Gp 7 Mudzi 1978 (entrance gate)

Location of Nyamande Pv Gp 7 Mudzi 1978

PV Gp 7 Mudzi 1978

The selection of images of Keep locstats were kindly supplied by Phil Evans (Intaff)....thank you Phil!
Marembe Keep
Shinga Keep
                                                                                                                   Nyamande PV
Morosi DC Camp
Benson PV


Above 2 pictures supplied by Horst Schobesberger are of Jnr Cmdt Wood as described in the article ref Dotito in 'Coin Operations' page.
The first was at GF initial Training at Llewellyn Barracks and the
bottom pic is at Gp 7 (Mudzi, around late 1978)

Gp7 HQ Mudzi 1978

Gp 7 HQ Mudzi 1978

 Cmdt Ed Owen OC Gp

Troops on Parade Gp 7 Mudzi 1978

Troops on Parade Gp 7 Mudzi 1978

Relaxation time : Gp 7 Mudzi 1978

Pre-deployment Gp 7 Mudzi 1978

Pre-deployment Gp 7 Mudzi 1978
(Asst. Cmdt. Horst Schobesberger in foreground)

Pre-deployment Gp 7 Mudzi 1978 
The following incident is taken from information kindly provided by Jnr. Cmdt Gary (Randy) Rees from his time at Mudzi. This refers to the attack at Nyamande Keep mentioned opposite.

That night I received a radio message from the KC at a PV down near the Ruenya River – nearly 4 decades ago so forgive me if I’ve got the name wrong. I believe it was from the PV known as D2 Nyamande. Anyway the substance of the message was that the Keep was being revved and they needed help. I explained that we had a standing order to report any incident to the Mtoko HQ and they would take over command of the situation.  I duly called Mtoko and the 2IC, Guenter Maeser said he would contact the KC directly. I kept a radio watch and I heard the KC and the 2IC converse.   After about an hour the Charlie Tangos broke off the engagement and silence reigned supreme. The 2IC ordered the KC not to leave the Keep in case the CTs started to stonk it again. He also advised the KC to conserve his ammunition stocks because experience had taught him thousands of rounds were fired into the air wastefully as the bullets went nowhere near the enemy.

During the revving the Keep had expended most of their ammunition and the KC started to panic and began to beg for a visit to replenish his ammo and for some comfort as well. The 2IC said they would call on the Keep the following day. Next the 2IC radioed me telling me to be prepared to travel to Nyamande first thing but to wait the arrival of himself, the CO and Glynn Trevelyan.

Glynn must have been contacted and told to arrive at dawn because by 7.30 a.m. the Mtoko convoy arrived at Kotwa. The CO arrived in his Land Rover with his eight trusty guards. The one who normally travelled in the cab was also on the back as Glynn was next to Commandant Hallack in the cab. One of the guards on the back was armed with a LMG, I didn’t even know that Guard Force had LMGs at that time. Guenter Maeser and his elite unit of muscle men were in the van with their Puma. I had started our Puma warming it up and selected some guards as well as a Corporal to travel to the Keep. I assumed I would be ordered to remain at Kotwa to man the radio but to my surprise the CO ordered me to accompany Glynn and he ordered young Jimmy to operate the radio. I rode on the back of Glynn’s Puma and we were instructed to lead the convoy. The CO in his Land Rover followed with Guenter bringing up the rear with his muscle men.

Arriving at the PV we drove to the Keep and met the KC. Inside his quarters he explained what had happened the night before. He had heard grinding sounds like tanks forming up to fire a barrage – that never happened – and they all saw plenty of green and blue tracer, heard the crump of mortars and the swish of RPG rockets and of course rifle and machinegun fire. He estimated there must have been at least 500 Charlie Tangos attacking his Keep. I was beginning to understand fishing stories – not that I blamed the KC – it was not much fun on your own with a few guards you can barely communicate with or even with a deputy KC if one was present, considering they were stuck out in the TTLs and miles from comfort and support from their own unit.

Anyway the CO was taking the report seriously enough to suggest Guenter and his superior band of muscle men should go for a wander outside the PV and see if they could find anything. Guenter declined saying he had already sent his men to the village to speak to the locals. He suggested as I knew the area should take some of our Kotwa guards and a few from the Keep and do the search. I was the lowest rank and second lowest appointment so had no recourse available to me.  The CO agreed and told me to get on with it while they went for a wander round the village to survey the damage.

I collected 6 of our guards from Kotwa including Dondo and Kapuke. The KC indicated two of his guards who would be best to lead me around the PV. It was a large village even enclosing a bush airstrip and the Keep was a long way from the main and only gate. Instead of going towards the gate in the southern fence the local guards led us towards the eastern fence, where they said the firing had come from. I was surprised as to the east was a fairly open plain but then what did I know and I guess it was ideal for tanks, etc. Arriving at the fence the first local guard shimmied up a stout centre post flipped over the wire and let himself fall to the ground. His shamwari threw his rifle over the wire to him and I realised they had practices this move before. Standing back I let all the guards climb over before me. I was the only one with a sling for my rifle so I threw the last guard’s rifle over to him, slung my rifle over my neck and I scaled up the pipe. I let go at the top and being agile fell to the ground on the other side without incident.

Next thing I knew was I was being stuck in the left arm bicep with a red hot hypodermic – what the hell! Jesus, I was stabbed again lower down my left arm. It wasn’t a crazy doctor with a bunch of massive needles, it was a swarm of hornets. Unlike bees, hornets don’t lose their sting once they have attacked they keep their sting and can inflict much more pain. The bloody guards seeing my antics bolted with incredible speed away from me. I too started to compete in the hundred yard dash hoping to evade the swarm of stings buzzing around me. The further away from the fence I got the quicker the hornets lost interest in me. I figured it out and what had happened was that the hornets had built their nest within the hollow pipe and having eight guards shimmy up the pipe had disturbed them. My doing the same thing was too much for the warriors and they came at me to protect their queen and nest.

By the time I’d caught up with the guards my left arm was throbbing abominably from the poison injected into it. My bicep had never been that big before and it was extremely hard. I’d have been proud to own such a muscle except it was on fire and extremely sensitive to touch. The guards didn’t know whether to laugh – at my amazing antics - or use discretion and be sympathetic lest I belted them in my pain and anger. I broke the ice by laughing at myself even though I was in great pain.  Kapuke illustrated my antics which had all the guards in fits of laughter and even I joined in. They assumed we would call off the search and return to the Keep. They didn’t know me and I set Dondo to track.  He soon discovered where the Charlie Tangos had set a mortar by the signs of the base plate.  The number of footprints indicated there were possibly 10 Charlie Tangos in the group.

We pressed on and Dondo discovered another location where the footprints indicated possibly another 10 Charlie Tangos, there was no base plate markings but we did find a piece of packing paper which I’d seen before, it was from an RPG – 2, 5 or 7 - I did not know which.   Dondo found a third area where there were an estimated thirty CTs but all we found were hundreds of AK doppies. We circled the PV expanding our circle for the next sweep. We did four circuits in all when I called off the search. We had collected nearly 900 hundred doppies and Dondo showed me where the Terrs had converged before heading for the Cordon Sanitaire where they had obviously created a safe passage across the border. I had heard stories they would drive game or rustled cattle through the Cordon Sanitaire to clear a safe path.

The Keep had fired off nearly 2000 rounds of ammunition but as we had found no blood spoor chances that they had hit anyone were quite remote. I sympathised with the KC as I too had been stonked and you had the knowledge no help would be coming your way until morning light. The nights were really bad as the slightest sound sends the imagination running riot. And in that part of the world being close to the Cordon Sanitaire every night there were at least half a dozen bangs as innocent game ventured into the cordon; sometimes it was Charlie Tangos.

Back at the Keep I reported what I’d found and the KC told me they had found two huts that had taken the blast of a mortar bomb but luckily the locals had abandoned their huts and had huddled along the fence thus avoiding injury.

NB: Author refutes the mentioning of 'tanks', that would be ludicrous, also my estimate was upwards of 50 CT's. After investigation it was estimated that a group of some 50 had indeed were present during the attack.

George Parker.