Go Darke

Light thinks it travels faster than anything but it is wrong. No matter how fast light travels, it finds the darkness has always got there first, and is waiting for it

Family History, Tactics

Boxing day

Boxing Day, 1979. My wife’s grandfather (60 years old at the time) was driving on his farm in Hartley, Rhodesia. (now Chegutu, Zimbabwe) Ostensibly a tobacco and coffee farmer he was on his way into town when he was ambushed on the farm-road by ZANLA liberation fighters.

His old (even at the time) Mercedes Benz was riddled with automatic gunfire. This vehicle however is credited with saving his life because it was built like a tank. He was shot through the shoulder in the firestorm, unable to turn around on the single track road he drove through the ambush and on three flat tires made it to the neighbouring farm before passing out from blood loss. The neighbouring farmer staunched his wounds and managed to get him to a hospital. Although he survived he would struggle with the wounds from the attack for the rest of his life.

A non combatant, he was attacked two weeks after the official cease fire was signed to end the war.

Farms and by extension farmers were easy targets in the Rhodesian Bush war. Difficult to defend, spread out and often isolated a lone farmer with FN-FAL had very hard time of it against twenty or thirty insurgents with AK47s. Farm attacks and attacks on other civilian targets were demoralising and drained resources away from the conventional armed forces.

2 Comments

  1. jim-

    at

    Incredible survival. I have a Mexican friend at work who went back to his home town on vacation when his taxi was stopped by guerrillas. After a short interview with the taxi driver they instructed my friend and his brother to take their luggage and walk back where they came from, then executed the taxi driver in the road. That was 15 years ago. He’s never been back.

    1. Jo

      at

      I don’t think I would go back either. I remembering getting stopped in Zimbabwe a couple of years ago on our way to the Victoria Falls by an ‘informal’ army or police road block (the two branches kinda blur). The type where they are wearing civilian clothing… but sporting their assault rifles. We ended up just getting shaken down for money and cigarettes… but I remember feeling very… whats the word… vulnerable.

      Third world fun.

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