Sunday 24 April 2011

"How Many Days"

Cover Front

Cover Front 1


(Up to 18th May, 1971)

A. V. Sanders, Esq., Bulawayo
Eskimo Hut, Bulawayo
G. A. Ware, Esq, Salisbury
Founders Building Society, Bulavva
Steel Engineering, Bulawayo
Wilsons Chemist, Gwelo
Donaldson and Sons, Gwelo
R. M. Nairn & Co., Bulawayo
Wards Transport, Bulawayo
Detroit Motors, Bulawayo
Beecham South Africa (Pty.) Ltd.
Beverley Building Society, Bulawayo
Tuers Diesel Services (Pvt.) Ltd., Bulawayo
H. Bloomhill & Co., Bulawayo
Gwaai River Hotel, Gwaai
John Pocock & Co. (Pvt.) Ltd., Bulawayo
Africair (Rhod.) Ltd., Bulawayo

Forweword by The Prime Minister

By the Prime Minister, The Hon. Ian Douglas Smith, I.D., M.P.

It is perhaps because military service on behalf of one's country is essentially such a serious matter that it has been treated with a degree of levity over the years.

The young, on whom the brunt of such service inevitably falls, have never been noted for their reverence to the hallowed traditions of the military. It was always thus, and I believe that it is a healthy sign when youth retains its sense of humour in the face of danger and discomfort.

It was the unbelievable horror of trench warfare during the First World War that threw up one of the greatest military cartoonists of them all, Bruce ("If you know a better 'ole ....") Bairnsfather.

Many of my own contemporaries will remember with pleasure "The Two Types" of the Second World War, who epitomised the nonchalance of the British and Commonwealth fighting man in North Africa.

The soldier with a sense of humour is particularly well equipped for the sort of situation that faces us in Rhodesia today. His ability to smile under adverse conditions is heartening to all of us—and this is especially true of the national serviceman, to whom soldiering is not a career but merely an interlude.

I commend "How Many Days?" to all those for whom a laugh is a tonic. But to the young national serviceman himself I have a word of advice: do not wish away this period of your life too fast. It is something you will look back on with a certain wry nostalgia to the very end of your days.

"And would Sir like pink or blue laces with Sir's new BATA boots?"


Biscuits Unlimited would like to acknowledge with grateful thanks:

Mr. Michael Blackman, for drawing the pictures and Mrs. Pen Blackman, for the captions.

Lt.-General K. R. Coster, I.C.D., O.BJE., General Officer Commanding The Rhodesian Army for allowing us to publish this book.

Star Printing Works (1969) (Pvt.) Ltd., without whose faith in our credit worthiness and many hours into the night this book would not be here today.

Brigadier G. A. D. Rawlins, Brigade Commander 1 Brigade for his never ending cheerfulness, help and advice through some worrying times.

Lt.-Col. A. W. Slater, Commanding Officer Llewellin Barracks whose co-operation and help has been invaluable.

Caltex Rhodesia, for distributing the book throughout the country at no cost to the organisation.

Mr. Chester Wilmot and Mr. Louis Bolzc, for giving us so much of their valuable time.

Miss Linda Mee, who worked many hours of unpaid overtime at her typewriter to ensure that our appeal to sponsors were sent out, and the many members of staff at 1 Brigade who were always willing to give assistance.

Mrs. Hickman, Secretary/Convenor of Biscuits Unlimited, would like to say a personal thank you to:

Her Executive Committee, without whose sense of humour she could not have kept going.
And to her husband, Mike. But for his tolerance, understanding and encouragement I doubt whether either Biscuits Unlimited or this book would be here today.

This book is dedicated to the National Servicemen of Rhodesia and in particular to my own platoon as well as to my mother, Mrs. Pen Blackman, without whose constant encouragement and nagging this book would not have been completed.

Biscuit Makers to the Security Forces in Rhodesia

Printed in Rhodesia by Star Printing Works (1969) (Pvt.) Ltd.
P.O. Box 1120, Bulawayo.

Copyright (C) 1971 vested in the Author, Michael Blackman.

THE AUTHOR - Michael Blackman.
Born in Salisbury, Rhodesia, in 1952.

Michael Blackman spent much of his early life in Tanganyika where he achieved his first successes in the field of art by winning several first prizes in local art exhibitions.

Finally settling down in Bulawayo in 1963, Michael attended Hamilton High School—taking a part-time course in commercial art at the Adult Education Department of the Bulawayo Technical College, and also in Fine Arts at a local art school.

Leaving High School in 1969, he worked for eighteen months in the Commercial Art Department of a Bulawayo firm before doing his National Service in July, 1970.

Besides being a cartoonist, Michael is also a serious artist and produced a large number of pen and ink drawings of the Forces while serving on the Border. His other interests include music, photography and acting—he plays a guitar, and
had a small part as an extra in the film "Shangani Patrol".

He lives at Hillside with his parents and is, at present, working for Rhodesia Television in their Bulawayo Studios.


Biscuits Unlimited had it's beginnings in a small kitchen at Inkomo Garrison, Salisbury in 1968. Here, two army wives battled in a confined space to provide biscuits for some 200 men on the Mashonaland Borders. Today, the organisation has grown beyond recognition. The headquarters are in Bulawayo, where some sixty women, from all sections of the community, gather together in the first week of each month to bake 60,000 odd biscuits. These biscuits are packed
in half-pounds, in plastic bags donated by two flour mills, together with a quarter of a pound of sweets. Each man on the border, regardless of colour or rank, receives one of these bags per month. The Security Forces in Rhodesia include all units of the Army, the B.S.A. Police, the S.A. Police and the Air Force.

Today, Biscuits Unlimited is a very real part of the Security Forces Welfare, and from the many letters of appreciation we receive, a very worthwhile project to continue. We are a registered charitable organisation, and, like all charitable organisations, need to work hard for our survival. We are deeply indebted to members of commerce and industry for their contributions towards our ingredients. Each month we use some 500 lbs. of flour, 400 lbs. of sugar, 150 lbs. of margarine and 50 dozen eggs. Of these, most of the flour and sugar are free, all the margarine is donated and we pay for the eggs and other incidental ingredients. Of the hundreds of pounds of sweets we use, about a quarter are donated by sweet factories, a further quarter we purchase from money donated by the people of Bulawayo, and the other half we purchase with our funds. With four years of hard work behind us, we hope that we are now established to serve the Security Forces in Rhodesia for as long as they need our support.


Photo 1

Page 1
The Call-up Papers Arrive ... "21 more days, Son, and that will be you-haircut an' all."

Page 2
Followed by the Medical . . . Inhale-32½". Exhale—32". Pass Al. Next!"

Page 3
At last—the great day comes . . . "Ek se, Ou Maat! What is (his signing-in form mean?"

Page 4
We get issued with our uniforms . . "B-B-But, Sarge!"

Page 5
And then the Army barber takes a hand . . . "Oh what happened to my bonny?"

Page 6
We receive a warm welcome from a Senior Company . . . How many days?"

Page 7
And obtain the rest of our kit from C.Q,M.S.

Page 8
Which we have two nights to bring to perfection-Army style . . . "Hurry, you chaps, here's the boot boy!"

Page 9
We are initiated into the Army . . . "Now, which one of you Rebels wants to take on 'A' Company?"

Page 10
However we arc provided with excellent food . . . "Alright-any complaints?"

Page 11
Which keeps us fit for 5BX . "Up, down. Up, down. Come on, you......bunch of........!!"

Page 12
(Or not so fit ... ) "Oh my blistered feet."

Page 13
For our first session on the Drill Square.

Page 14
Sometimes we relax in the canteen . . . "Watch the language, mate. There's ladies present."

Page 15
And are allowed visitors . . . "But, darling, you look so different without your hair."

Page 16
We write letters home . . . "And just what is Sonny-boy going to write home to his mommy?"

Page 17

Page 18
And go to Church . . .
"Our text this morning is taken from Ephesians—Chap. 5 v. 14—"AWAKE thou that sleepest!"

Page 19
But everywhere we went, it was . . . "Hurry up—and wait!"

Page 20
We are introduced to our weapons . . .
"And what does our Special Agent—Rifleman James Bond—think he is doing?"

Page 21
Go through the Assault Course ... "If our dolls could only see us now!"

Page 22
And get put on fatigues . . . "Alright, Buster, You have dug the nice big hole I told you. Now you can put it all back again—just like it never was, see?"

Page 23
Then comes the ten-mile run . . . "Just fancy, only six more miles to go!"

Page 24
But at last, we get our first pass . . . "Why not? The dolls don't go for guys with short hair."

Page 25
We return and get "Guard Mount" . . .
"You call that clean? There's enough dirt in there to plant a ruddy miealie field!"

Page 26
And guard duties . . . "Baby, it's cold outside!"

Page 27
And more guard duties . . .
"Well, well. Two little Sleeping Beauties waiting for their Princess to come, I suppose?"

Page 28
There are various characters around the place, like . . . G......! ! , and his Gorillas.

Page 29
We do a Night Compass March . . . "Where the 'eck are we?"

Page 30
And go on a Driving Course . . . "Not bad. You're improving. Only three cyclists, one pedestrian and two amber lights, so far."
Page 31
"Realistic Training, is it? More like the Sergeant's idea of a joke!"

Page 32
And undergo C.O.'s Inspection . . .

Page 33
(1) "I say, old chap—spotted a bit of fluff under one of the beds today."
(2)"Look, old man—C.O. is not too pleased. Fluff under every damned bed this morning.''

Page 34
(3) "How do you account for this, Sgt. Major? The whole darn barrack-room covered with fluff and feathers!"
(4) "Captain's just reported and he's hopping mad. B.....Barrack-room like a B.....barnyard!!"

Page 35
"Alright, you men! What do you think you are—a bunch of moulting chickens?!"

Page 36
Then we spend a morning on the Grenade Range . . .
"Come on, Van der Merwe, it won't bite you—it'll only blow your retarded brains out!"

Page 37
Endure Helicopter Drill . . . "Everybody out! Out! Out!"

Page 38
And practice De-Bussing on the move.

Page 39
At last we are considered to he soldiers .

Page 40
And hold our Passing-out party, before . . .
"I don't know about you, mate, but I've just about passed out altogether."

Page 41
Setting off for the Valley. "E-eyes right! Take a last good look chaps."

Page 42
We are met by the old soldiers . . . "How many ski-runs, Ek se?"

Page 43
Set up our first Base Camp . .

Page 44
And post a look-out.

Page 45
We are introduced to the tsetse flies . .

Page 46
A lot of strange things happen—like—"Cut it out chaps, I'm trying to get some sleep.''
(Certain part of the page was damaged.)

Page 47
And . . . "Wake up, mate. I think I can hear something."

Page 48
And . . . "Hi!"

Page 49
We keep radio watch . . . "Hey! What's that noise?

Page 50
Go on patrols . . . "Remember all those nice cold beers in the canteen?"

Page 51
Get chased by rhinos . . . "Hop it, mate. I need this hole more than you do!"

Page 52
Drink with the crocodiles . . . "Alright! Alright! I'm not that thirsty!"

Page 53
We still get food of a sort . . . "Oh, goody, goody. Ration Packs for a change!"

Oage 54
But often get down to our last drop of water.

Page 55
Some of us receive letters from our girl-friends . . . "'Dear John' she calls me now!"

Page 56
We go fishing . . .
"I don't want to be awkward, mate, but I've got a funny feeling that this is not a log we are sitting on!"

Page 57
Carry out Land Rover recces . . .
"O.K. We were chasing wild pigs, but what do we tell the Lieutenant?"

Page 58
And sometimes, we make contacts—like this . . .
"Alright now—which one of vou chaps is going to surrender first?"

Page 59
Or this . . . "They must have heard us coming, and got scared!"

Page 60
Or this . . . "About that noise you heard just now?!"

Page 61
We relax occasionally . . . "Look, man, what is this word 'skive' mean?"

Page 62
And listen to 'Forces Requests.'
" . . . and to mv sweetie-pie, somewhere in the sticks-stay as sweet as you are . . .

Page 63
But then comes the rain . . . "O.K. Noah—so we don't have an Ark . . . "

Page 64
We work out our position . . .
"Well, according to my reckoning, Sir, we are bang in the middle of the main street in Shabani."

Page 65
We have Christmas in the Valley—with free beer . . .
"For we are jolly good fe-ello-ows, and so say all of us!"

Page 66
Which we return the following day on jhe 'ski-run.' . . . "Who said something about a hangover?"

Page 67
We do Guard Duty on the Wall . . . "Ever thought of going in to the fishing industry?"

Page 68
And take part in Boat Patrols . . . "I've heard of the 'Loch Ness' Monster, but this is ridiculous!"

Page 69
And get carried away . . .
"I'm no stork, pal, but somebody's sergeant is going to get a surprise when I drop this!"

Page 70
At last the new company takes over . . .
"I like the way we have to sleep outside, while the rebels get our beds."



Cover Back
Our eager and enthusiastic staff are always ready to welcome new customers.
Back Cover

End of Booklet

Extracted and recompiled by, Eddy Norris for use on ORAFs, from a booklet made available to ORAFs by Diarmid Smith

No financial gain is intended from producing these memories

Thanks to:-
My son, Paul Norris, for the ISP sponsorship.
Paul Mroz for the image hosting sponsorship.
Robb Ellis for his assistance.

Special thanks to Mrs. Val van Malsen for her assistance and to Mr. Pat Hill for his assistance.

The author was also involved with the design of The RLI Memorial Statue in the late 1970's The article taken from the RLI magazine "The Cheetah" dated December 1978 can be viewed at the link below.

A personal account of life at Llewellin Barracks by Peter van Heerden in the early 1960's can be read at the link below.
Peter went on to be the RSM of the 4th Battalion Rhodesia Regiment based in Umtali.

Should you wish to contact Eddy Norris please mail me on

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