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ArmyCollage

In the mid to late 70's the Rhodesian Army was reputed to have some of the best anti-terrorist units in the world. All western governments, apart from South Africa, applied sanctions to our country and tried to force us to hand over a relatively stable nation to a bunch of power-hungry, tribalistic terrorists. We knew what the result would be if this happened - as we had seen it occur in every one party black state to our North. We said "No" to the world. The Cold War was in full swing at the time and there was a tribal power struggle going on in Africa with the different factions of our enemies backed by either the Soviet Union or Communist China. Each of these Communist nations were trying to gain control of the minerals and resources of sub-equatorial Africa. I met a number of foreign, (British, French and American) soldiers in our army. These were men who had fought in Borneo, Korea, Vietnam, etc. They saw what we were going through, saw how the West deserted us, and came to help by joining the Rhodesian Army. I had great respect for them. Ultimately however, a small country like ours could not, indefinately, maintain a stand against the West and the Communists and it was towards the end of my National Service in 1976 that our government anounced we would be handing over to black majority rule, to the terrorists in my book and my family decided to leave once I completed my national service.

DRR Stable Belt

National service in Rhodesia was compulsory for white males only. Initially, you were allowed to go to university first, if you had been accepted into a program but, during my last year at high school, (1975) the law was changed and military service had to be performed immediately after high school.

My Dog Tags

Those are my dogtags above, I still have them, hanging here on my wall. They stayed on me all of the time and, even after all these years, they are still stained by my sweat.

I completed my A-Levels at Hamilton in Bulawayo in November 1975 and reported for duty at Llewellyn Barracks at 8:00am on 08 January, 1976. I still remember saying goodbye to my parents and being rather nervous as I walked through the front gate. Little did I know the joys that awaited me...

Llewellyn from 14,000ft

Llewellyn Barracks from 14,000 ft: (I have a Google Earth Pro subscription & these are some shots from it).

A) Main Entrance to Llewellyn

B) The parade ground: Where I spent many painful hours

C) The sports ground: With rugby posts that we often had to run around during drill on the parade ground

D) The abandoned air strip: Around which we had to run most mornings before breakfast

E) The rifle range: Now abandoned. You can see the butts just left of the "E"

F) Number Three Guard: Where I also spent many painful hours

Llewellyn from 8,000ft

Llewellyn Barracks from 8,000 ft:

A) Sports field

B) Parade ground. One morning, after constantly making us run the whole time through drill, (frequently screaming "By the time I count to ten I want to see the last man around the rugby posts..." etc.) one of the guys next to me collapsed just as we formed up after running. I and another guy jumped forward to help him and our commander shouted at us and told us to leave him and get back in form. He marched over to the guy, unconscious on the ground, and yelled and screamed at him and accused him of sleeping on the parade ground. When he finished his show he ordered us to drag the guy over to the low wall on the east side and prop him up against it. When he came round one of the guys was ordered to march him over to the guard room and have him charged for "sleeping on the parade ground."

C) The cinema, an old converted building, where I remember films on first aid & treating bullet wounds etc. At one of these rather bloody first aid films I was in sitting in the front row. The wounds depicted were so realistic I began to hear hissing in my ears and the movie screen got darker and darker until I felt like I was looking at it through a long tunnel. I realized I was on the verge of passing out. Fortunately it had been raining and, while we were formed up outside - with no rain gear which was normal for our army - we had gotten soaked. My cap was wet so I used it to wipe my face and that brought me back to being fully conscious. When the lights came on after the show, guys were on the floor all over the place, all having passed out. I remember many times too being double-timed down here for a lecture and, after getting inside people tended to cough a lot after running, especially the smokers. The corporals, sergeants and so on would storm up and down the aisles shouting and screaming, cursing and swearing, telling the coughers to stop coughing.

D) The guard room. Once, when doubling to tennis for PE in our PE kit, which included shorts, takkies, vest and cap, one of the top brass, with his fancy green hat, feather etc. on his head drove past us. We did a, by-the-book, "eyes left" to acknowledge him and continued on our way. His car came to a sudden halt behind us and, next thing, he was screaming at us and ordered us to double to the guard room to be charged for not respecting a superior officer because we had not saluted him. Well, we doubled over there and told the guard commander we had been ordered by this moron to go there and be charged. (We didn't use the word "moron" to the guard commander however, just in case you were wondering). The RP's screamed and shouted, cursed and swore, etc., etc., at us but gave us an opportunity to say a few words. I spoke up and told them we had been strictly instructed by our platoon commander that we were only permitted to execute a salute if we were wearing BOTH a belt AND head-dress and thus, in PE kit, we had head-dress but NO belt and therefore, in accordance with our training and to the best of our knowledge, we executed a perfectly correct "eyes left" to acknowledge the superior officer. Well, the RP's did their little intimidating song and dance routine which, when I was 18, was rather unnerving, but released us without a charge.

E) Tennis courts where I went for PE

F) Dining room was somewhere in here

G) The platoon armouries were somewhere down here but I don't remember them being so big. I'm not sure if these buildings are new or existed when I was there in 1976. Looking at this now, I think the platoon armouries were in the long thin building with a red roof on the side of the road almost in the center of line drawn between "G" & "H."

H) My barrack room, 9 Platoon. First commanded by Color Sergeant Van Den Berg & Cpl Newbold then commanded by Sergeant Mullins, a British soldier who had served in Borneo. My barrack room was the one immediately north of "H" or the one second to left from this one. I was in a bed about 2/3 of the way down on the south side (north is up) and the entry was on the east side. The long thin buildings running between the barrack rooms were the ablution blocks.

Leon Kruger was in the bed next to me and he was an avid snake collector. We had built-in bedside lockers and I remember going to sleep one night with a cardboard box full of young puffadders just above my head on his locker... Thankfully none got out during the night. On our classical war exercise he caught a massive banded cobra that fell into someone's trench.

I) Swiming pool where we had to go and swim in the mornings after our run around the airstrip

 

 

Llewellyn Ammo Dump

Number 3 Guard from 7000 ft:

I remained in the infantry and we had to do regular guard duty at this ammunition dump. We had been told that if this place went up it would take Bulawayo with it - which seemed like utter nonsense to me. There was absolutely no way there could be enough conventional explosives in there to take Bulawayo, miles away, with it. It was however, quite an eerie sensation walking down between the bunkers at 2:00am in the morning, on your own, to replace someone in a guard tower. I remember climbing these swaying towers in raging thunder storms. Quite an experience.

A) The Guard House at the entrance: I was relatively small and skinny and everyone nicknames me “Skraal.” I'm a pretty placid sort of person who doesn't show much emotion and nor do I pick fights. We had someone in our platoon who was rather obnoxious and arrogant, I think because of his famous family background. He and I never really hit it off and, one evening we were in the small courtyard between the north and south wings of the building just left of the "A" above, I can't remember why but this guy started picking on me while we were standing there. (To add some context, he was about 6ft, 3 180 lbs & I was 5'-10, 130 lbs). He started cursing and swearing at me and I said something back to him - which I can't remember now. (I do know for certain that I did not swear at him because, throughout my service, I decided that I would not let myself start swearing). Anyway, this guy came at me and hit me on my upper body with the butt of his Brengun, knocking me to the ground. Thankfully, other guys in our platoon were there and they jumped up in on my defense and grabbed him and stopping him from using his gun further on me. Needless to say, I was quite happy about them taking my part.

B) Guard Tower: These were placed around the perimeter of the dump.

C) Guard Tower: I remember specifically being in this tower and talking on the tower phone with John Morgan, who was over in Tower noted "E," and asking him about university since that’s where I was headed after my service and he had been and already had a degree. We spoke for a minute or two on the phone system one night then the guard commander came on and told us to stop talking and get off the phone.

D) Guard Tower: I was on guard in this tower when one of our guys had an accidental discharge inside the guard house "A" when he messed up unloading his FN in the barrack room. He was sitting on the end of the bed at the end of his shift and forgot to take the magazine off before cocking the rifle to eject the round in the chamber. When he pulled the trigger to release the hammer he, of course, fired off a round that barely missed one of the guys standing near him and it went up right through the roof. I remember hearing a strange kind of a crack and then heard conversation strike up over the tower phone telling us there had been an accidental discharge.

E) Guard Tower:

 

Please Note:

Everything expressed on this site is my opinion and, the photos, images and drawings, except where noted, are my work and may not be used anywhere, by anyone, without my written permission.