Saturday 25 February 2012

Memories of RAF Station Norton

Text from “By the seat of your pants” by Hugh Morgan
Published by Newton 1990

A former Battle of Britain pilot with 41 squadron, Ted Shipman was one of several ex-European Central Flying School students who went out to Norton, Southern Rhodesia during the 1941/44 period. During his time at Norton he undertook the roles of Flight Commander, Chief Flying Instructor and Commanding Officer of the station, eventually closing down the school in late 1945. He recalls: "At the European Central Flying School in the UK we had been working towards training more appropriately for European war conditions, especially bad weather and blackout and also flying the aircraft to their limits. Asymmetric and limit flying seemed to be unknown in operational squadrons until ECFS was formed in 1942. We achieved the right to bypass Group and Command to go direct to the Air Ministry with our recommendations to improve training, both in flying training schools and OTU's. Wing Commander Kermode "the Prof' was the man behind the concept. He was the CGI.

"(Later A.V.M. A Kermode, a former W.W.I. fighter pilot, who was also the author of several books on airmanship and who was considered to be a superb teacher of Aviation, became the Head of the Educational Branch of the RAF).

"My posting to Southern Rhodesia, No. 33 Flying Instructor School was intended to be as a Squadron Leader CFI, but on arrival a local boy had been made up and got the post so I became a Flight Commander. This lasted for nearly a year when I became CFI. In the meantime I had introduced a refresher flight to call in qualified instructors from other schools to bring them up to higher and current policies, to give them a chance to qualify on aircraft different to those originally trained for i.e. Tiger Moth, Harvard and Oxford, Harvard to Oxford and vice versa, and also to increase their instructors categories B to A2 and A2 to Al.

"It was the individual flying instructor's responsibility to maintain the standard of instruction. This was done by keeping a close contact with the flight on a regular basis, watching the student’s progress and doing regular tests in the air. These tests would be at the request of a flight commander should a student be doubtful where a second opinion was needed. Also, of course, the main CFI tests would be done at the end of a course. In the same way the CO would be given one or two tests for him to do. He would also be given an instructor to upgrade say from B to A2 etc. Other schools often sent up one or two of their instructors for re-categorisation tests but we occasionally visited a school and carried out tests there, although this was not so important after the refresher flight was instituted.

I was concerned on arrival at Norton to note that the sodium flare path equipment was not in use. When I queried this the CO (who had not had recent European weather to deal with) said it wasn't necessary because "the weather was so perfect for night flying!" As we in the U.K. had, progressed beyond the sodium system to introduce "two stage blue" I managed to introduce that at Norton, but there was little enthusiasm and the idea was not fully accepted before the rundown in training began.

"Pilot's notes for individual aircraft and notes on engine handling were another aspect given attention in Southern Rhodesia. In this and in an effort to improve the serviceability of Oxfords in particular, I had the help of an instructor who had been a ballistics scientist at Woolwich training schools and Arsenal before his laboratory was bombed. I gave him the job of testing all aircraft after major servicing and after rectification of major defects. This proved to be very worthwhile in raising and maintaining the standards of serviceability. Research flying in an elementary form by fitting one or two aircraft with wool tufts to show airflow during manoeuvres and installing them was attractive and very useful in creating interest in "why and how" an aircraft flies.

"There was light relief from the daily routine of teaching our young students to become instructors themselves and this entailed repeated demonstrations of manoeuvres and "patter" and was provided by one of our own instructors who was no mean artist and who had cartoons published in "Punch". Very often whilst enjoying a cup of coffee between flying detail, this chap would produce a cartoon illustrating some amusing interpretation of the "patter" used. For example, for the climb up after take-off at night the "patter" would be "As soon as you have taken off and have passed the end of the flare path climb up on your instruments." The cartoon in this case would show the pupil undoing his harness and appropriately literally climbing up on top of the whole instrument panel.

"Taking advantage of this ability to produce these cartoons I got this instructor to produce a whole range of them dealing with airmanship and covering all aspects of flying training, navigation, radio, weather, safety and discipline. They were popular and very useful.

"The Oxford was becoming increasingly difficult to keep going because the Cheetah engines deteriorated markedly with wearing pistons and rings, thus allowing oiling up of sparking plugs etc. Finally, Wasp Junior engines were fitted and the engine problem was solved. However, the increased performance with the Wasp was suspected of being responsible for the airframes deteriorating. No doubt the climate was also a factor in some loss of adhesion in glued joints. "After I had become CFI, I was occasionally called to act as President of a Court of Inquiry into a fatal accident either concerning a pupil or instructor and pupil. Such a task had posed problems in obtaining understandable and reliable evidence from natives and in finding all the bits and pieces of an Oxford which had broken up in the air and were scattered across the Bundu (elephant grass, thorn bushes etc.)."

Ted Shipman, the Commanding Officer of C.F.S. Norton:

"In July 1944 we managed to get a couple of Hurricanes allotted for experience. As I had flown one before I encouraged the instructors to get at least one flight each for experience. Unfortunately one Flight Lieutenant was killed diving in. Perhaps he forgot that the airfield was 4,500ft above sea level and wasn't using oxygen (I cannot recall this clearly). "Eventually all staff instructors flew the Hurricane and when the rundown of training began, on VJ Day I felt that the last course of instructors we were to pass out only to fall to demobilisation, should be given the opportunity also to experience a flight in a Hurricane (elementary instructors excepted) I was gratified to have only one opt out and all the rest flew it successfully. Using one of the Hurricanes as a hack when visiting other schools, I felt that a visit on the machine added interest locally. In October 1944 I was asked to join in a City Gold Cup Flypast over Salisbury with two other Hurricanes.

"On l5th September 1945 I was asked to lead a formation of three Hurricanes over Salisbury celebrating the Battle of Britain and that was the last flying I did before closing the station down as a CO.

"Fortunately I had a good team of administrative equipment and technical officers to do the donkey work prior to handing the station over to the civil authorities who were to use it as a camp for internees. All the instructional staff were repatriated to the U.K. unless they were Rhodesians. Although the train passed through Norton Station all personnel were processed through H.Q. RATG and RAF Cranbourne. All we could do was to wave them farewell as they passed Norton going south to the Cape.

"The Oxfords were flown away mainly to ARD Heany, the Harvards and Cornells having replaced the Tiger Moths and being part of "lend lease" were flown out for storage. Then came the return of the technical and barrack equipment to stores depots followed by the clearing of inventories . This all worked very well and ultimately with the last personnel leaving and going to live at Cranbourne I was to carry out the final written hand over with Group H.Q. from there." There was one query Group put to me and that was that there were virtually no deficiencies to write off! I was told there must be some, and I couldn't answer that except to refer to the equipment and accountant officers who were submitting the documents. "

"During the stay at Cranbourne I had literally hundreds of vouchers to sign, and in fact I signed the formal documents in a hotel in Salisbury only a few minutes before boarding the train for the Cape."


Some Pictures from RAF Norton
Compiled by John Shipman.
3 Old Mill Close
SG18 9QY
Tel Home 01462 700650
Tel mobile 07813096551

Ph1, RAF Norton Station

Christmas card designed by Chiswell

Ph2, RAF Station Norton
Cartoon designed by Chiswell to reinforce ground instruction using little pithy sayings or jokes. There were many of these. J Shipman has most if not all those that were created.

Ph3, RAF Station Norton
Members of a court of inquiry investigating a crash in the bush near Kumalo. The president “Shippy” Shipman on right and technical adviser Wng Cmdr Pearson in the centre. [E A Shipman

Ph4, RAF Station Norton
American Ryan Cornell training aircraft which replaced the Tiger Moths at CFS Norton [E A Shipman]

Ph5, RAF Station Norton
Fg Off Olley the pilot on the left and Sqdn Ldr Hunn holding a dead Rain Bird after it had struck the aerial of the Harvard during flight [E A Shipman]

Ph7, RAF Station Norton
Officers Mess RAF Norton

Ph8, RAF Station Norton
E A Shipman far right

Ph9, RAF Station Norton
CFS (SR) RAF Norton 1945 after VE Day

Front row (L to R):
Flt/Lt Twigg (Flt Cmdr); Flt/Lt Stan Wollock (Flt Cmdr); Sqdn/Ldr Padre Speck; EA Shipman (Chief Flying Instructor); Wng/Cmdr Chilvers (CO); Sqdn/Ldr S Pemberton (assist Chief Flying Instructor); Sqdn/ Ldr Maurice G Hunn (STO); Flt/Lt Peter Chiswell; unknown

Second row from front (L to R):
Unknown; “Tommy” Thompson; Unknown; Unknown; ; “Doc” Hay (MO); “Halo” Heaven (Finance); Unknown; Unknown;

Third row from front (L to R):
“Harry” Hill; Unknown; Unknown; Unknown; Unknown; Unknown; Flg/Of Oscar State (RFO and IFFB weightlifting official)

Fourth row from front (L to R):
Unknown; Unknown; Flt/Lt Winsland; F/O Walker (Equipment); Unknown; Unknown; Unknown;


ORAFs records its sincere thanks to John Shipman for sharing these memories and photos with ORAFs. Thank to John.

Comments are always welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at

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

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Thursday 23 February 2012

In Search Of A Lost Grave

(The Salisbury North Exploration Young Farmers' Club conducts an expedition to find the grave of Henry Hartley's teenage son.)

Long before the Pioneer Column opened up Mashonaland to European influences the interior of Southern Africa had acted as a magnet to hunters, traders and prospectors alike. Many Europeans must have died in those years prior to 1890, but no marked graves are known.

From various papers and diaries of the time, it is known that in 1870 about 19 Europeans entered Mashonaland to hunt ivory, and that no less than seven died from either malaria or dysentery. One of those deaths has left an intriguing mystery which, until the present day, has not really been solved.

William Hartley was the son of the famous hunter, Henry Hartley, and during the early part of 1870, was travelling to the rich ivory hunting grounds of Mashonaland. The year was a disastrous one for the seasonal hunters as wet weather persisted until May, and malaria was virulent between Tati and the hunting grounds.

At the beginning of May, William Hartley and his companion, James O'Donnell, came down from Thaba Insimpi and met up with Thomas Leask, who was camped on the Chirundazi. After spending a few days at the camp. Hartley, in company with O'Donnell and two other hunters, set off to cross the Umfuli, towards the Hunyani. Fourteen days later, Leask, who had trekked south-east to higher ground, received a message that Hartley's group was stricken with fever and needed help.

In spite of Leask's ministrations, William Hartley died at midday on Sunday, May 29, aged 17 years. Later that evening, James O'Donnell also died.

Leask, in his diary of that time, makes no mention of Hartley's grave or burial; but in August that year, he visited the site again to show the place to the boy's father, who had arrived at the beginning of August. Thomas Baines and Robert Jewell, a photographer, were with them.

The actual grave site has been, owing to the passing years, shrouded in mystery. It is known that Leask carved William Hartley's name and the date of his death on a tree which stood at the head of the grave, and Baines's "Gold Region of South Eastern Africa" gives a longitude and latitude position. But time, nature, and the human element have combined forces in such a way as to create a continual mystery regarding William Hartley's true resting place.

It was this sense of mystery and challenge that led the Salisbury North Exploration Young Farmers' Club to set about finding Hartley's grave. Attempts by various people had been made in the past, but without success

The Club leader, the late Mr Robert (Bicky) Bicknell, encouraged members to go over diaries, papers and published works for any information, hints or clues to the grave site. On a previous expedition, the Club had established the fact that the present Hartley Hills was in fact Fort Hill; therefore, using this infomation, it would seem that previous attempts had been five miles to the west of the actual area, and that the true site was not far from the banks of the Chirundazi.

Comparing Baines's co-ordinates with a modern map, it was found that the longitude was too far to the west. His latitude, however, was very close tr the correct position. It appeared Baines relied heavily on dead reckoning, which at the best of times was a "hit or miss" affair. In his book he gave the longitude of the grave as 30°59'; the club members found that by apply a correction of 25' 30", it brought the longitude of the grave to 30° 27' 29" east.

From other information obtained by the Club, it was apparent that the site would have to fulfil three important requirements: it had to be near sufficient water to cater for 120 oxen and horses, and yet not pollute it for human consumption; it had to coincide with Baines' map showing the routes he took on his journeys; and it also had to be between the Umfuli and Chirundazi Rivers.

The Club decided to organise a full expedition to the Hartley Hills area and to divide it into "search" squares. Their first requirement was to check out information contained in a fairly recent published paper, which put the site of Hartley's grave on the edge of a vlei leading into the Tumbwi stream from the north-west, about one mile from Mashayamombe School. But after checking and re-checking co-ordinates and information at hand, it was proved that the site could not possibly be Hartley's grave.

The next step was to find the Hunter's Road Drift over the Umfuli and try to re-trace the route as given in Baines's diary.

The Club trekked from the southern bank of the river, through a veritable jungle of "wait-a-bit" thorn bushes before they reached the top of a bank near the weir. Beyond this was another steep bank, covered with boulders, sharp-leafed reeds, and dense undergrowth. Less than a kilometre below the weir, they found they were opposite the road on the north bank.

At first it was impossible to see any signs of a road, but, after two hours of exploration, the road was seen ascending through a cutting with steep banks rising on each side. At the top, members found what they first took to be a gully, with water standing at the bottom; but, upon investigation, it was realised this was Sir John Swinbourne's gold diggings, which he had worked in 1869. This was the final proof that this was Hunter's Road Drift.

The expedition was now in a spot of correction in a square of approximately 50 metres, on the east bank of the Chirundazi. Information obtained from local Africans indicated there was a grave nearby; in actual fact, the grave was discovered approximately 300 metres from their calculated position with the corrected co-ordinates.

The site corresponded exactly with the expedition's interpretation of Jewell's picture taken in 1870 — a vlei, with rocky outcrops in the background. The outcrops, it was felt, would account for the fact that Hartley's grave was only covered with brushwood at the time of his burial, but that his father would have travelled the necessary distance and bought back stone in order to give his son some final recognition. Of the tree there was, of course, no sign, but a msasa tree alive in 1870 would be unlikely to have survived for more than 100 years.

Above: Willie Hartley, aged 13

Below: This photograph of Willie s grave was taken in August 1870, by Robert Jewell, who accompanied Henry Hartley and Thomas Baines to the site
Pg2-2, Willie s grave was taken in August 1870, by Robert Jewell

As the soil in that area has a high alkaline content, it was unlikely that any bone remains would survive so long, but the expedition knows from an entry in Henry Hartley's diary that William was buried wearing the family signet ring, which was made from pure gold and contained a large ruby.

To back up the expedition's theory that this was, indeed. Hartley's grave, it was necessary to find the site where O'Donnell was buried as, according to Baines, it was no more than four miles from Hartley's grave. Using a map of the area, the Club established a rocky outcrop some three miles away in a north north-east direction.

Operating in pairs, the Club swept an area of 300 metres square, and eventually came across a site which, although densely overgrown, was unmistakably a grave. All information and co-ordinates checked out that this was definitely the last resting place of James O'Donnell.

At the head of the grave stood a tree on which a small black area of the bark had been, at some time, blazed, leaving a mark about eight centimetres wide. The bark around the area was carefully removed; but the Club could not find any indication of an inscription, and decided to leave further investigation until expert help could be obtained.

Has the Salisbury North Exploration YFC solved the mystery of the final resting place of William Hartley ... can they establish conclusive evidence ... or will William Hartley's grave be lost forever?

That's what the next expedition is all about!

Pg3-1, Map 1
Above: Diagram of the Umfuli Region.

Pg3-2, Map 2
Above: Enlarged diagram of the area of exploration.

Pg3-3, Map 3
Above: Salisbury North Exploration YFC's site at Willie's grave, together with co-ordinates.

The End.

Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris from the magazine Rhodesian Knowledge Number 1, which was made available to ORAFs by Bruce Rooken-Smith. Thank you Bruce.

Please note that this publication was directed to the youth of Rhodesia.

Comments are always welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at

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

Sunday 19 February 2012

Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia Matabeleland)

by C. K. COOKE, F.S.A.
Director, Historical Monuments Commission.

1-Cover, Cover Page
Above: The main wall of Naletale Ruins is the finest piece of decorated walling so far found in Rhodesia. The patterns include "herring-bone", chevron, chequer and lines of contrasting coloured stones.

THE southern half of Rhodesia (Matabeleland) can boast of four important ruined stone buildings each of which has unique features and all of which are National Monuments. Although they belong to the same complex as the well-known Zimbabwe Ruins, they each contain many features not found there: if Zimbabwe was the dwelling place of the paramount ruler, then each of these smaller ruins may be likened to manor houses, occupied by the lesser but very important chiefs under him.

Khami Ruins.
The most extensive of the four, these ruins are situated only 14 miles from Bulawayo. They cover many hundreds of acres but the most accessible and important are adjacent to the Khami Municipal Dam.

Lobengula used the main hill for rain-making ceremonies and in consequence denied access to all. Pre-Pioneer maps show the area as "The King's Preserve". Thus, the ruins remained unknown until after 1893, whereas Zimbabwe had been visited by white men many years before.

The Hill Ruin was the centre of religious and other ceremonies and also the dwelling place of the Mambo, or chief of the area. From the top of the hill other ruins can be seen set in park-like grounds surrounded by broken granite hills of great beauty.

The Historical Monuments Commission has carried out a number of archaeological investigations here, and many of the relics found will be on display in the Site Museum which is due to be opened to the public in September, 1966. Some of the other major ruins at Khami are illustrated on this page.

Dhlo Dhlo Ruins.
Sixty miles from Bulawayo, in the Fort Rixon district, are the ruins known as Dhlo Dhlo (pronounced Shlo Shlo). These compact ruins, situated in beautiful surroundings, can be easily reached in a motor-car, for more than half the distance is a full-width tar-road, and the remainder is well-graded gravel.

2-1, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia
Above: The Precipice Ruin at Khami is a magnificent wall overlooking the impounded waters of the Khami Dam The breaches in the walls were probably made during the time when the buildings were sacked by Swazi invaders towards the end of the 18th Century.

Below: The compact Passage Ruin at Khami represents the complete living area of one family. The platforms flanking the passage had huts made of mud on them. Stone enclosures at the back were kraals for domesticated animals.
2-2, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia

2-3, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia
Above: A sunken stone-walled clay-plastered hut at Khami. This hut had a flat roof made of mud plastered over wooden beams. Divining-dice and other paraphernalia used by a "witch doctor"were found during excavations.


Below: A beautifully decorated wall (at Dhlo Dhlo) against which was built an un-coursed wall of rough boulders. The enclosure was probably used as a cattle kraal by the last occupants of the site.

3-1, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia

Above: A ruined wall on the top of a granite hill away from the main Dhlo Dhlo settlement. This wall shows a decorated enclosure similar to that at Regina. The plants in the foreground are "Aloe chabaudii".

Photo 3-2

Below: The main ruin at Regina. A three-tiered building, it had huts on the second and top platform. Other smaller ruins surround this structure. Examples of the grotesque "Euphorbia ingens" can be seen on the lower platform.

3-2, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia

Above: Foundations of huts and grainbins (at Regina) raised above ground level as a protection against termites and rodents. In the background is a high wall built in un-coursed masonry.

Below: A small decorated enclosure at Regina, probably a place where the Mambo, or
chief of the area, sat in conference. Similar places are found in other ruins.
4-1, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia

It was at this site that the ruling Mambo held captive a number of Portuguese prisoners. Relics left behind by the captives included a silver chalice, a priest's ring and part of a candlestick. These were recovered by early investigators.

The fenced area surrounding the ruins containing many shady trees, is a delightful place in which to picnic or camp.

Regina Ruins.
These should more properly be called Zinjanja and have only recently been cleared and opened to the public. It is believed that there the chief levied tributes of grain from his people. This grain — probably millet — was poured through stone-lined holes into chambers below. Some of these holes may still be seen intact; others were broken down by treasure-seekers many years ago. Other unusual features will be noted by the observant visitor.

These spectacular ruins — tiered like a wedding cake — are situated in well-watered open granite country about 18 miles from Dhlo Dhlo or 75 miles from Bulawayo if the direct
route is taken.

Naletale Ruins
Are situated on top of a granite hill overlooking the bleak open lands of the Somabula flats. The whole hill is covered with aloes (A. chubaudii and A. aculeata), whilst the Cabbage tree (Cussonia sp.) may be seen growing within the enclosures.

The main wall is outstanding both in building technique and in variety of pattern. The small square towers, each with its monolith, are very unusual in our ruins. The building was never completed; it was probably abandoned at the time the other structures were sacked by raiding Swazi impis.

Like jewels in individual settings, each ruin has a charm of its own; not only does the surrounding country vary, but each ruin has the stamp of its designer upon it. It can be said that all four ruins were built for the prestige of the resident chief: they thus have basic similarities, yet they differ greatly. Each site presented individual problems because of the variability of the terrain, the rock available for building, and the personal preferences of the ruler.

4-1, Ancient Ruins of Rhodesia

Published by Rhodesia National Tourist Board Printed in Rhodesia by Unitas Press, Salisbury.


Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris for use on "Our Rhodesian Heritage" blog
Publication was made available to ORAFs by Lewis Walter. Thank you Lewis

Acknowledgement and Appreciation
Paul Norris for the ISP sponsorship.
Paul Mroz for the image hosting sponsorship.
Robb Ellis for his assistance.

Should you wish to contact Eddy Norris please mail me on

Comments are always welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at

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Thursday 16 February 2012

The Mazoe Patrol

By Lindsay Fourie
(Photographs by courtesy of the National Archives)

The following story is the main part of a prize-winning project written four years ago, by Lindsay Fourie, while she was still a pupil at Blakiston School in Salisbury. Lindsay, now studying for "O" Levels at Queen Elizabeth School, wrote this project to mark the anniversary of the Mazoe Patrol, which is celebrated by the staff and pupils of Blakiston School every year at this time.

Chapter 1

MY NAME IS Mrs. Salthouse, and the story I'm going to tell you is one of the unbelievable courage of the men in the Mazoe Patrol.

It all started in June, 1896:—

The Mashonas had risen unexpectedly to help their former oppressors, the Matabele. From the 15th to the 18th of June, and many days after, almost every hour brought tragic tidings.

Unsuspecting prospectors, miners and travellers were being attacked and slaughtered from all directions.

Stores and lonely houses were taken after the owners were killed. Refugees were cut off in attempting to come in.

Various outlying communities were besieged, and all the occupants cruelly slaughtered and assegaied.

Judge Vincent, the Chartered Company's acting administrator, could only get 250 men and 80 rifles to protect the 300 women and children in Salisbury. Desperate efforts were being made to divert a column on its way to the front from Natal, but transport difficulties were likely to delay their arrival.

Mr. Dan Judson, chief inspector of the Chartered Company's Telegraphs, was one of the few men who had predicted the Matabele rebellion. He had recently performed the daring feat of riding alone at night through the enemy's camp fires from Gwelo, across country into Mashonaland, and he had observed the armed watchfulness among the Mashonas.

Mr. Judson wired to my husband. Manager of the Goldfields Mazoe Company, the news of the murders as it came in. This was to put him on guard against treachery.

When, early on Wednesday, June 17th, Mr. Judson had occasion to wire us the list of the terrible Norton Massacre, he suggested that we, the three women, had better come into Salisbury, where a strong laager was being constructed. Later that evening the Government received the news that a large Impi, responsible for many massacres including the Norton, was marching on to Mazoe. On hearing this news, Mr. Judson went to Judge Vincent and obtained his permission to take a conveyance to Mazoe, as this was the only way to get

the women into Salisbury quickly. At midnight a wagon and six mules left the telegraph office in charge of Mr. John Blakiston, Mr. Judson's clerk, and Trooper Zimmerman of the Rhodesia Horse. Blakiston, a young man of 27 years, persuaded Mr. Judson to let him take Judson's place. He had pleaded hard for indulgence, saying, "Let me go, Mr. Judson. I have had no excitement since I came to this country; there is sure to be some now. Let me go this once!"

The party at Mazoe consisted of some Cape boys 14 Mashonas, Mr. and Mrs. Dickenson, Messrs Archer-Burton, Spreckley, Fairbairn, Pascoe, Stoddart Fault, Goddard, Darling, my husband, and myself. Except for Mr. Cass, who was a farmer, and Mr. Rout ledge, who was with the Telegraph Department, most of our party were connected with the mines. At 9 a.m. on the 18th June, a telegram arrived from Blakiston, announcing that he had arrived safely and that he was ready to leave with us women after breakfast.

On going to the office, Mr. Judson was astonished, believing Mazoe to have been deserted since morning, to hear the instrument clicking. It ceased as he entered, and Lieutenant Harnson silently handed him this message:


Three minutes after the instrument stopped clicking, the heroic signaller of that message was lying dead on the grass.

Just before sunset, the little patrol of one officer and four men rode out of town on its forlorn errand. The party consisted of Judson, and Troopers Honey Guyon, Godfrey Kind, and Hendriks, and three miles out was joined by Captain Stamford-Brown.

Pg2, The Mazoe Patrol Story
The wagonette in which the women and wounded men were brought from the Alice Mine

Five miles out, the patrol met two Salisbury outposts, who reported that they had been ten miles along the road without seeing a sign of anything coming in the distance. This was bad news. The fact that there was no sign of the refugees meant that either they had been slaughtered, or were in laager somewhere and in urgent need of help.

Chapter 2

When it was decided that we Mazoe people should go to Salisbury, a party of men, with fourteen natives and a cart, drawn by two donkeys, to carry provisions, started on ahead. At about 11 o'clock in the morning they left the rough laager which had been constructed the day before. They had not gone three miles when the native carriers led them into an ambush. Messrs. Cass and Dickenson were killed on the grass with assegais and knobkerries, while the rest turned the cart and jumped in. They had not gone far, however, when Faull, who was driving, was shot by a concealed native, and almost at the same moment one donkey was killed, and the other wounded. The surviving men abandoned the cart and ran for their lives.

They met the wagonette containing Mrs. Cass, Mrs. Dickenson, and myself. Shooting for all they were worth at the fifty or so natives who pursued us, the men drove us safely to the shelter of the laager.

And then we realised that a message had to be wired to Salisbury for relief. All of us knew that it was certain death for whoever took the message.

Then Mr. John Blakiston volunteered to take the message if Routledge, who was a telegraph operator,would accompany him to transmit the message. These brave men knew too that they would surely die, yet they were prepared to give their lives to save others.

Mr. Blakiston was wounded in the foot before he reached the telegraph office, but he sent his message and, with it, his goodbye.

We saw Blakiston and Routledge on their return journey, when they were about 1 700 yards away.Blakiston fell in the road, he and his horse riddled with bullets. Routledge ran for refuge in the bush, but we never saw him again.

All through that dreadful day, the rebellious Mashonas, led by the Matabele warriors, fired into the laager. But the men in the laager shot well, and by killing a number of the enemy, prevented them from rushing the laager. When it was dark the rebels did not fire at us, but resumed at dawn. Unfortunately they had crept up to within 150 yards of the laager and, at this close range, fired with tremendous vigour. Our narrow escapes were miraculous, but we were exhausted, and suffered from lack of food and drink. However, at two o'clock the relief arrived, and the enemy practically ceased firing.

Mr. Judson and his patrol were obviously heading for the telegraph office. We all joined in one loud shout, in order to attract their attention. Fortunately they heard us, and turned around. They then shot a pathway for themselves, and, still firing at masses of enemy that surrounded the laager, they galloped up the kopje, and soon we were all united.

But Judson and his patrol also had a long story to tell.

Pg3, The Mazoe Patrol
Thomas George Routledge, seated at the instrument in the Transcontinental Telegraph Office, Mazoe, where he sent the message to Salisbury for relief of help, he ordered Trooper King to ride back to Salisbury with a letter to the Commandant, describing the situation.

Chapter 3

When Mr. Judson realised that we had either been slaughtered or were in the laager in urgent need.

The patrol then pushed on and, after one brief halt to loosen girths, and allow men and horses a hasty meal, rode on to Mount Hampden, and again halted, keeping a sharp look-out all the time. Here, at half past three in the morning, they were joined by a reinforcement from Salisbury, consisting of Troopers Finch, Pollett, Niebuhr, Coward, Mulvaney, and King. At a quarter past four the whole party made a start and, after a series of mishaps, reached the Mazoe River. They then proceeded to the farm house, which was found to have been recently deserted. There the men and horses had a two hour rest. This was absolutely necessary due to the fatigue of both. A plentiful supply of food and drink was taken by both men and horses.

The vedettes, posted during the halt as guards, reported that they had seen swarms of natives running about on the distant kopjes in a great state of excitement.

Before starting, Judson addressed his comrades, pointing out that they were about to enter what might prove a death trap. Not a man, however, tried to shrink from the mission.

Descending the rise on which the farm stands, they crossed the Tatagora River,and proceeded in Indian file, Judson leading the patrol.

After covering a mile or more, they entered a stretch of very tall, dense grass, in length about 300 yards, terminating in a perfect jungle. This was obviously an ideal spot from which the natives could fire at the patrol, and Judson realised this. Turning in his saddle, he gave the abrupt order, "Gallop!" Still in single file they tore along. Judson dashed through the worst patch about ten yards ahead of Brown, who was closely followed by the others. Then he wheeled his horse around and, raising his gun, covered the thickest clump of grass, past which Niebuhr and Pollett were then galloping. As they did so, a dozen shots rang out in rapid succession, killing two horses, and injuring Niebuhr severely. Pollett was badly shaken. While the others captured the enemy's attention, Judson got Niebuhr on to his horse. They then started off at a gallop. Before they had gone very far a large party of natives was seen running parallel with them, obviously to cut them off. Judson immediately stopped the party, and fired volley after volley into the enemy, thus forcing them to retreat.

Once more the party started forward, but this time at a gentle canter, emptying their rifles as they rode. On approaching thick clumps of grass, among which many natives were concealed, the party fired into them as they neared the danger spots, and then rushed past at a flying gallop.

About four miles on they saw a wrecked cart with a dead donkey in the traces. A wounded donkey stood a few yards off. Near the cart was the body of a white man, neatly covered with branches. The party found the body to be that of Faull.

At this, the instant thought of all was that Mazoe had been wiped out, and therefore their ride had been in vain. Judson told his comrades that if they did not find their friends alive, they were to ride to the telegraph office somehow, and inform the authorities of their plight. They would then laager as best they could. The fact that they had no food and little ammunition forced them to realise that this would mean certain death.

The fire that was opened on them as they approached the end of the valley was simply terrific, and if they had not returned fire and used good galloping tactics, not a man of them would have lived through it.

Then, just as they were heading for the telegraph office, they heard a great shout behind them. Looking around they saw, waving frantically from a laager on a kopje near Alice Mine — us!

Chapter 4

A Hottentot boy named Hendrik, induced with the promised reward of £100, rode to Salisbury with a despatch asking for a reinforcement of forty men He set off at about 2 a.m. and, I suppose due to the fact that he looked so unlike a courier, he got through the enemy without being touched.

Pg4-1, The Mazoe Patrol Story
Fort Mazoe (1970), showing the graves of Blakiston and Routledge

Pg4-2, The Mazoe Patrol
In this photograph, Mr. and Mrs. Salthouse are seated on the extreme right and Dan Judson on the left

On the Gwebi Flats he met Inspector Nesbitt, of the Police, and his patrol of twelve men. Troopers Ogilvie, Harbord, McGregor, Byron, Edmonds, Arnott, A. Nesbitt. Berry, Van Staaden, Zimmerman, McGreer and Jacobs.

The Inspector decided not to wait for further reinforcements, but to start off for Mazoe at once and, partly because of the darkness, they reached Mazoe without fighting. The party reached the laager just before dawn on the 20th, and once more we broke the ominous stillness with a great shout of joy. The party now numbered thirty men and three women, including myself; and after the new arrivals had fed and rested their horses, we all set about preparing for departure.

The wagonette was armoured with sheet-iron which, as we observed at the time, fitted so well that it seemed to be made for the purpose. This sheetiron undoubtedly saved the lives of us women and the wounded. The mules had all been shot or lost, so six men were dismounted, and the six troop horses inspanned in their place, though they had never been harnessed before.

Five mounted men went in front, and behind them eight men on foot, and then seven mounted men and eight footmen behind the wagonette. We started off before noon.

The enemy had again opened fire while the wagonette was being fortified, and this was kept up for the first mile or more of the route. But this was nothing compared to the fire that was opened on us when we reached the first donga, near Vesuvius Mine.

At this donga Mr. Pascoe, who was formerly a member of the Salvation Army, climbed to the roof of the wagonette, where he was a good target for the enemy, and remained there to the end, so that he could report as to where the enemy were.

Then Lieutenant McGreer fell, and his horse bolted, but it was pluckily recaptured and ridden by Hendriks. Then two of the patrol had their horses shot under them. Judson and Stamford-Brown ran back to see McGreer, and found him lifeless, with bullets through his head.

Half mad with thirst and weariness, we struggled forward; the men and horses growing weaker all the time. At times many of the men became too exhausted to lift their rifles, and had to hang on to some part of the wagonette until they regained enough strength to carry on.

The continuous hailstorm of bullets made a deafening rattle against the iron plates, denting it as well. But amid the dreadful uproar, we women uttered no sound, and made no movement, besides passing out handful after handful of cartridges to the men.

Next, Troopers van Staaden and Jacobs were killed, the former falling with the side of his head blown away.

Hendriks, in the front, was shot through the jaws and mouth, and was ordered to abandon the convoy and save himself.

Ogilvie was shot and severely injured, and Mr. Burton, receiving a terrible wound through his face, just managed to clamber into the wagonette, and fell bleeding, to our horror.

Then, at the end of that terrible valley, a plan was hit upon. The mounted men rode forward, cheering wildly as if they had seen the relief coming towards them. The cheering was taken up by the rest of us, and we succeeded!

The enemy's firing slackened, and soon stopped altogether; and before we reached the Gwebi River they were not pursuing us at all. Near this river we unharnessed the wounded leader, who had stood by us so gamely when we needed it so badly.

We then started off painfully to cover the remaining seventeen miles. We reached the Salisbury Laager at about ten o'clock. Our journey was over at last. We received an indescribable welcome, it having been reported that we were all killed.

Pg5, The Mazoe Patrol Story
The survivors of the party of fourteen who took refuge at the Alice Mine, and the two relief forces.
Names, reading from the left
Bottom row: Edmonds, Greer, Mrs. Cass, Mrs. Salthouse, Mrs. Dickenson, Judson and Pollett
Standing: R. Nesbitt Arnott A. Nesbitt Harbord, O. Rawson, Ogilvie, Salthouse, Fairbaim, Spreckley, Niebuhr, Darling, Coward, Hendriks, Hendrik (Hottentot driver) and Honey
Top row. Berry, H. Rawson, Pascoe (on roof), and George (African driver)and one Maxim gun.

Eight men had been killed outright, and six wounded. Six mules, two donkeys, and eleven horses were killed, while most of the remaining horses were wounded.

Chapter 5

Inspector Nesbitt was given a Victoria Cross, but he was the only member of the band whose services were recognised by the Government.

But the brave deeds of all the other gallant men will be remembered — how Dan Judson rode miles to rescue us, how John Lionel Blakiston and Thomas George Routledge volunteered to ride to the telegraph office, how John Pascoe sat on the top of the wagonette, and lastly, the courage and endurance of all those men who took part.

The End

Extracted and recompiled by Eddy Norris from the magazine Rhodesian Knowledge Number 2, Winter Issue 1977, which was made available to ORAFs by Bruce Rooken-Smith. Thank you Bruce.

Sincere thanks to Lindsay Fourie for her wonderful story.

Please note that this publication was directed to the youth of Rhodesia.

Comments are always welcome, please send them to Eddy Norris at

Readers may also like to view the 75th Anniversary of the Mazoe Patrol Brochure by visiting the link below:-

Monday 13 February 2012

It's Just a Trip Down The River

A report on the Rusape River Race dated sometime in the 1970's

By Herald Reporter John Dalling

YOU can't get, more Rhodesian than the Rusape River Boat Race; It's hard-playing fun with just a spice of danger to stiffen the boisterous slapdash nature of the event.

Many of the entrants don't treat it as a race at all but as a trip down the river, travelling the way they like with their smokes, drinks and girls.

One competitor who finished the 8 km course paddling solo was asked where his partner had got to.

"Stopped at the Crocodile Motel for a drink." was the reply.

A record 742 people entered, manning; 231 craft —tire tubes tied together with sticks and string.

Rusape brothers Gavin and Patrick Woest won first and second prizes respectively.

Gavin (20) was partnered by Kosie Smit (21). They finished in 1 hour 15 minutes 58 seconds,

Patrick (18) was partnered by Stuart Tennent (16), Their time was 1 hour 17 min, 48 sec.

Rhodesia Herald cartoonist Vic Mackenzie and Brian Harker of Salisbury were third in 1h 24 min, 48sec,

The first women's team was Mrs. Sheila Foulis and Mrs. Maureen van der Merwe of Rusape*


The first mixed team, Miss Caroline Goschen(18), her brother Charles (16), of Rusape, and Jonathan Ludgater (18), won the Beverley Cumming Memorial Trophy given in memory of the Salisbury girl who drowned in last year's event, Her parents Mr. and Mrs. Tom Gumming, of Hillside Road, Hillside, watched the race, and her brother Alan took part this year.

Although life - jackets were . recommended as part of an extra drive for safety, a minority of competitors wore them.

Marshals equipped with walkie-talkie radio sets were on duty at possible danger spots.

News 1, Some of those in the race
Above: IT MAY look chaotic—and it is. But that's all part of the fun of the Rusape River Boat Race. A team takes some organizing when the front is a long way from the back and there are only tied" together tire tubes between.

Below: The winning women's team, Mrs. Maureen van der Merwe (left) and Mrs. Sheila Foulis.
News 2, The winning women's team, Mrs Maureen van der Merwe (left) and Mrs Sheila Foulis.

BELOW: This was the head of yesterday's queue of 742 competitors.
News 3, This was the head of yesterday's queue of 742 competitors.

End of the Rhodesia Herald Article.

Vic Mackenzie has kindly made the following cartoons, photos and report below available to ORAFs

Rusape River Race
By Vic Mackenzie

The original Rhodesian river race was started in Rusape. It all began as a bet in the Balfour Hotel pub when Solly Ferreira (yes the same RRAF pilot) claimed he could float all the way down the Lesapi River from the Silverbow bridge to the Chiduku bridge and not fall off his raft (tubes). There are some pretty nasty rapids just before the Crocodile Motel so there were plenty of bet takers.

The whole bar emptied one Friday evening to witness Solly's ride down the slimy greasy Lesapi River. Most of them headed for the worst rapids near the Crocodile Motel where they feared or wished Solly would be swept into the the swirling abyss. However Solly was a man of impeccable timing. He chose to go down the river after the first really heavy rainstorm where the large volume water covered the rocks and negated the effect of the rapids.

He managed to remain upright on his tube all the way down to the Chiduku bridge and win the bet. We all made our way back to the pub where Solly in typical Ferreira style spent all his winnings on supplying free drinks until the money ran out.

Following Solly's epic journey the first race was organized and opened to the public. It ran for a number of years until the security situation in the Rusape area got out of hand. I taught in Rusape and tried really hard to win that race but only managed to finish second or third a couple of times. It was always won by locals who knew the river.

Below: Solly just after receiving his Wings with 3 SSU in August 1953
Solly, Solly Ferreira of 3 SSU

Ctn 1, Vic Mackenzie artwork

CTN 2, Vic Mackenzie artwork

Vic1, Vic and friend

Vic 2, Racing

End of Article.

Thanks to Vic for sharing his memories with ORAFs.

A question from ORAFs - could the John Ludgater mentioned in the newspaper article be the same chap that got his Wings with 31 PTC? ORAFs has him on ORAFs and living in New Zealand?

Also please remember that comments are always very welcome. Send them to orafs11@gmail,com

Tags. Rhodesia, Rusape.


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Saturday 11 February 2012

Muzorewa Embraces the Terrorists

By Vic Mackenzie

Muz, Muzorewa Embraces the Terrorists


Thanks to Vic for sharing his artwork with ORAFs.

Comments are always welcome please send them to Eddy Norris on


1976 Opening of Parliment

By Vic Mackenzie

1976 Parliment, 1976 Opening of Parliment


Thanks t Vic for sharing his drawings with ORAFs.

Comments are always welcome please send to Eddy Norris on