It was the smell that I noticed first, a dry, dusty, smoky smell overlaid with a tang of burnt jet fuel, that had a hint of something indefinable in it, was it a slight animal sweaty background? I couldn’t decide, but the air was cooler and much fresher than the stale canned air of the South African Airways Boeing 707 I had just emerged from.
So this is Africa, the mysterious Dark Continent that I had read so much about in my boyhood, home of Tarzan, where the Mau Mau had just been beaten, where the Congo had just erupted into civil war and chaos, where I was going to spend the next three years as a colonial policeman in Northern Rhodesia, this was December 1960.
As I walked down the steps, I looked around at Nairobi Airport, noticing the clear blue sky, not a cloud in sight, such a contrast to the cold, grey, grimy, wet skies of my home in South Wales. The soil, very red and dusty between the sparse grass at the edge of the runway. Outside of the door to the whitewashed transit lounge, where I and my fellow passengers were headed while the plane refuelled, stood a tall African policeman, made taller by the dark red fez with the glinting badge of the Kenya police at the front. He was smart, polished boots, ironed khaki shorts down to his knees. Dark blue crew necked pullover, with a polished black leather belt around his waist. As I neared him I noticed the tribal marks scarring his cheeks, hard, dark, rather bloodshot eyes as he looked us over in passing. "I bet he’s seen some things in the last few years" said Hugh, one of my new colleagues I had met the previous day in the departure lounge at Cromwell Road in London.
There were 18 of us, 15 men aged between 20 and 25 and 3 women probably about an average of 5 years older. We were the next intake going to join the Northern Rhodesia Police, recruited in the UK to boost the numbers as violence broke out over the northern borders with the Congo, Tanganyika and Nyasaland. The men were a mixture; Irish, from both the north and south, Scots, English and Welsh with one South African of English origin. A mixture of backgrounds, public school, grammar school and secondary modern, one ex army officer, 4 ex-UK policemen, 1 ex BSAP, Southern Rhodesian policeman. The others like myself, a mixture of various mundane office jobs, but all looking for that new, slightly glamorous, to our eyes, future which was the Colonial Police.
Having just been seen off by my attractive former girlfriend, I was not impressed with the quality of the would be policewomen, the oldest, who
looked about 30, a mousy ex RUC policewoman from Northern Ireland, was, as the Americans would say, homely, the next oldest, in her late twenties, was a tall blond Londoner who was an ex NAAFI manageress who had spent quite a bit of time in Cyprus, but had a long, slightly hard, horse like face, the youngest, who was about 25 was a pretty Scots girl, the only problem was, as Hugh had said, she was well on the way to having quite an impressive moustache, this was made worse by the fact she had a very pale clear skin and very dark hair!
The previous day when we had all congregated at the Cromwell Road terminal in London, we had recognized that we were all in the same party and introduced ourselves. I had got friendly with Hugh, a South African of English origin who had served 3 years in the British South African Police in Southern Rhodesia. Jock, a Scottish, rugby playing ex public school boy and Derek the ex national service Army officer. We seemed to be able to chat amicably and excitedly about what our new life would be like, whilst drinking numerous pints of beer. We had sat together on the plane and at the 2 stops en route in Rome and Athens, talking about our backgrounds and what we were looking for in Africa. Hugh had been a constable in Southern Rhodesia and looked forward to being an assistant inspector. Derek thought there was more opportunity in the colonial police than the army after the demise of national service. I was looking for adventure in Africa as I had missed national service. Secretly it was also largely to do with unrequited love, my former girlfriend who was 2 years older than me and whom I thought was sophisticated and attractive, had turned down my offer of undying love and marriage, for a far more secure future with her boss, the owner of a chain of travel agents in South Wales. At 20 I was devastated, to the extent that I had actually considered joining the Foreign Legion "to forget". Fortunately common sense had prevailed, when I discovered the pay was terrible and the fact that various masters had torn their hair out trying to teach me French for 5 years in grammar school to the point where I achieved the magnificent total of 16 % in my GCE O level, most of which was probably given for me writing my name on the exam paper. So when the advert for the Police had appeared in the "Daily Telegraph" it seemed the ideal answer, comparatively good pay, lots of excitement, and the lure of Africa!
Jock was an ex Scottish public school boy who had been sent down from university for various offences against the system, mainly drunkenness and
lechery, his father, who was a big name on the Scottish legal scene, had encouraged his son to go abroad to avoid embarrassing him further. A remittance man Derek called him.
We were served a typical English breakfast by a team of quiet efficient Africans with bare feet wearing long white robes. After a few hours we were called back to the plane for the next leg of our journey to Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia. The pilot pointed out Mount Kilimanjaro as we flew over it, I was surprised to see the snow on it even though it was virtually right on the equator. Later we flew over the Zambezi river, which ran through the countryside exposing large tracts of sandbanks on either shore, the pilot explained that was because it was at the end of the dry season, a couple of months later and it would have been full to bursting, flooding much of the plain below.
We landed with no problems at Salisbury and went through the formalities of immigration and customs. We had several hours to kill before our next flight to Lusaka in Northern Rhodesia and we all wondered what we would do, not wishing to spend yet more time at yet another airport. However we were lucky, Derek had some family friends in Salisbury who met him and when they realized the 4 of us had palled up, they invited us all to lunch.
They piled us all into the estate car and gave us a quick tour of the modern, clean city, not unlike a pleasant prosperous market town in southern England but with a lot more dark faces and lovely sunshine, pointing out the original settlement, government house and the famous Meikles hotel.
The family lived in a pleasant suburb not too far from the centre, all the houses looked very similar, good sized bungalows with a covered veranda running around the outside, called a stoop. We sat down to a typical English lunch of Roast beef served with the usual vegetables but with the addition of a squash, I had never heard of this but it turned out to be a delicious vegetable served with butter, salt and pepper. We were also served with our first African brewed beer, ice cold castle, which as the day was getting warm, was much appreciated!
All this had been served by an African, again in bare feet and wearing a long white robe, he was, they explained their "house boy", they also had an African cook and a garden boy. The wife of the house boy also acted as a nanny for their young child. The houseboy and his wife lived in quarters at the bottom of their substantial garden, hidden from the main house by trees and a wall. The cook and garden boy lived in a nearby African township. It was, they explained, fairly normal to have that many servants for a family. By law they had to provide, not just their wages, but food, accommodation and medical care for their staff.
The meal and a few more cold Castles finished, we were taken back to the airport. It was then just a quick trip up to Lusaka in a Vickers Viscount of Central African Airways. We landed just as dusk was falling, by the time we had collected our luggage it was completely dark.
In the arrivals hall we couldn’t help but see our reception committee, a tall, very smart, heavily built Police inspector in Khaki shirt and shorts, highly polished black boots and Sam Browne belt, a swagger stick under his arm! He checked our names against a list and chivvied us on to a canvas topped lorry with slatted wooden benches either side, an African constable at the wheel. We couldn’t see much as we went through the warm African night but after half an hour or so we went through large metal gates and pulled up outside a 2 story barrack block. This was the NRP training school at Lilayi. Another, shorter, Inspector awaited us, again immaculately turned out, between them we were told to hurry up and find a partner and pick a room to share with them on the upper floor, that was to be our home for the next 18 weeks.
Hugh and I got a room about halfway down the corridor, the room was about 12’ x 10’ with two single beds either side of the window and two wardrobes opposite either side of a washbasin. The walls were plain white with a polished red concrete floor. We only had a few minutes to drop our luggage, freshen up and assemble back outside. We were taken over to the dining hall and given a quick meal, then taken to one of the lecture rooms where we had to fill in numerous forms. The shorter of the inspectors informed us that he was to be our drill instructor for our training. We then had a brief lecture on the dos and don'ts of our stay. One of the things that really struck me was the warning not to let any strange dog approach you as the risk of rabies was very high. The cure could prove as fatal as the disease, we were then shown a brief film in which a victim was shown undergoing the horrific symptoms. That definitely made me vow to myself that I would never let any dog approach me, to such an extent that later in my career there I actually had to kill a suspected rabid dog with my long baton as it attacked me!
We were issued with "Daraprin" an anti malarial drug which we had to take all the time we were in Africa as malaria was endemic in Northern Rhodesia. We had already had inoculations against typhoid, tetanus and yellow fever before we left England.
We were awoken by reveille at 6.00 am, after we had cleaned and tidied our quarters, we went to breakfast. As we still had no uniforms we were excused the 8.00 am parade and driven off to the stores prior to which we were given regulation short haircuts, not a problem for me as I had a crew cut already. There we were issued with our kit, including a riot shield, a circular, concave steel plate about 30" in diameter, with two leather holding straps on the inner face, painted dark blue with a large POLICE in white and a "Riot baton" a long wooden pick handle with a hand grip cut into it with a leather strap to wrap around the wrist. Back to the quarters where our new drill inspector demonstrated how to wear and clean the various bits of uniform. Getting a polish that you could see your face in was essential for the boots and Sam Browne belt. This was easier said than done as the boots in particular had a very dull almost pimply surface. This had to be smoothed and then polished using copious quantities of spit and black polish vigorously rubbed in tight circles into the leather using a yellow duster until the toe caps looked like black shaving mirrors, this took literally days. The other thing that struck me as unusual were the khaki shorts, these had to be worn highly starched. To prevent creasing before parades, we had to get our room mate to pull the shirt tight by putting their hands up the wide legs and pulling the ends of it until all creases in the shirt were removed. You then had to avoid sitting down until after the inspection or the whole effect would be spoilt.
Drill was the next thing on the agenda and lots of it, starting with foot drill, later to be followed by rifle drill and subsequently riot drill. If you stayed in the force long enough and were promoted to Assistant Superintendent, you also had sword drill as a sword became part of your dress uniform.
Our drill instructors were nearly all ex British army, the inspector who had met us at the airport was ex Grenadier Guards, whose drill was as immaculate as his uniform. One of his quotes was when doing drill and getting us to move our feet was "lift your foot up six inches and put it down NINE" this last word was screamed at us. The higher pitch carried further and it certainly triggered a better response from us. The other little tip was that when we marched we should "swagger", that was to move our shoulders slightly rather than holding them rigid. Once we had mastered the various drills we had to learn how to take and instruct drill. This was achieved by taking us to the sports fields where we were each given control of a squad. To make it difficult and to ensure we learnt to use our voice properly, these squads were always at the other end of a football pitch about 100 yards away, to make it even more difficult there were often two or three other squads doing the same thing so you had to ensure your squad could hear and recognize your commands. The high pitched scream on the final word of command really helped. Sore throats and lost voices were common in the early days, but it did ensure that by the end of the training our voices were a lot stronger and definitely carried more authority.
Unfortunately in our squad we had a problem. Gavin, a tall gangly lad from S. Ireland, could not march to save his life, when his left foot went forward so did his left arm, the same with his right foot, it went forward with his right arm. At first our drill instructor thought he was just being awkward, so sent for the Chief Inspector who realised there was a problem. He tried everything to remedy it, to the extent he had two drill instructors strapped to Gavin, one either side marching to try and move the arms in the opposite direction to the leg on the same side but even after several sessions poor Gavin couldn’t march. It was decided that he would act as a "gofer" in the admin block when we had drill. This avoided any problems on the parade ground.
Other courses were first aid, police history and regulations, British criminal and road traffic law. Language, this was CiNyanja, one of the four major language groups of Northern Rhodesia. Chosen by the government as it was the first language to have a written dictionary produced some 60 years earlier by missionaries. However in a country roughly three times the size of the UK, with a population of about 2,500.000, there were over thirty languages with over a hundred dialects. Nyanja was spoken by about 20% of the population and we had to get the equivalent of an "O" level in 18 weeks.
Weapon training, which was not just the stripping and cleaning, but also hours on the range learning how to use them. We were issued with a Webley and Scott.38 revolver and for the duration of our stay in the training school, a Lee-Enfield.303 rifle with an 8" bayonet. The latter was mainly for drill purposes but we also had to know how to use and instruct on them. We were also trained on the.303 Bren gun, which was my favourite, I became a marksman on it, able to fire single shots through the bull even when it was on automatic. The 9mm Sterling sub machine gun, the Greener shotgun with a Martini Henry action, an under lever which when pulled down opened the breach and ejected the spent cartridge and an American riot gun. A somewhat cumbersome weapon with a huge bore that fired tear gas shells and parachute flares.
Some people expressed surprise to find that we had such an arsenal of weapons. It was explained to us that our Police force, whilst it still did the jobs done by the average British Police force, was operating in a territory that had only seen its first white man about 100 years earlier and that the first force created in the 1880’s were small contingents of the Indian Army brought in to combat Arab slave raiders coming into the territory on its N.E. borders between Lake Tanganyika and Lake Nyasa. These contingents suffered quite a lot of casualties in battles with these armed slave raiders and so had to use infantry weapons to defend themselves. In 1911 the NRP was formed out of this and 2 other small forces set up in the territory. It fought in the first world war against the Germans forces from Tanganyika and despite being civilianised in 1932 with the splitting of the force into the Northern Rhodesia Regiment and the Northern Rhodesia Police, was still operating with an African population that believed in witchcraft, had deep rooted tribal feuds that went back centuries and in some areas cannibalism was still practised. Moreover civil war had broken out over the northern border in the Congo and there was ever increasing agitation for independence from nationalist groups often funded and trained by Moscow. It was not your average punch up or soccer hooligan that the British Bobby was called upon to deal with. As one of our instructors said "there is no such thing as an unarmed African crowd, a half house brick, a spear, an axe or knife will kill you just as easily as a bullet, that is what you will be up against in any disturbance!".
Another instruction given and emphasized was that if we ever had to open fire on Africans, we were never ever to fire warning shots over their heads or to wound. This was because of the widespread belief in witchcraft, when Africans who had been told by trouble makers that they had "muti" or medicine which made them immune to bullets, would believe it was working and make them even more determined to attack.
Two incidents occurred when we were on the ranges, one scary the other funny. One of our squad, a very short, minor public schoolboy called Pringle, who claimed he was just the minimum height of 5’7", but we thought was only about 5’5", and who tried to compensate for this by walking around almost on tip toe and stretching his neck upwards, was the cause. Safety was emphasized in every lesson we had, always treat a gun as if it was loaded, never point a gun at anyone unless you intended shooting them, if you had a stoppage or jammed weapon, keep the weapon pointing down the range and put your hand up until the instructor came and sorted it.
We were practicing firing the Sterling from the hip, when Pringle, who had fired a few rounds at the target had the gun jam on him, instead of just keeping still and putting his hand up as instructed, he started trying to clear the jam by pulling the bolt back and forth, whilst turning towards the instructor who was standing behind him with the rest of the squad. In the process of this the gun had turned with him and was pointing at us with Pringle still clicking the bolt back and forth, we dived for the ground whilst the instructor pushed the barrel of the weapon down the range just as Pringle cleared the jam and fired off the rest of the magazine.
The other incident also starred Pringle, this was again on the range, this time firing the Bren gun. This was normally fired from the prone position, using a magazine of 30 rounds mounted on top of the breach. Because the Bren is a fully automatic machine gun, the barrel can get very hot and it comes supplied with a spare barrel, which is changed before it overheats. This is a drill which we practiced, the final act of the drill was to ensure the clip holding the barrel was secure before putting a fresh magazine on and cocking the weapon.
Pringle was firing the weapon when the order was given, "change barrel", everything went smoothly, magazine off, clear breach, unclip barrel, replace barrel ensuring it has "clicked" into place, replace magazine, cock weapon, carry on firing, except this time instead of the bullet flying down the range, it took the barrel as well! Pringle had forgotten to ensure the barrel was securely clipped on and so the bullet once fired in the breach, had entered the barrel and taken it up the range. As a result of these incidents Pringle was charged, found guilty of negligence and "back-squaded", this meant going back to a junior squad and repeating all of the instruction again.
The working day began at 6.00 am where we cleaned ourselves and our quarters in preparation for any inspection. 7.00 was breakfast, which never seemed enough for healthy, fit young men who were working and training very hard, in fact we were always hungry. 8.00 was the morning parade where we were inspected minutely by the Chief Inspector, again ex British army, who had eyes like a hawk. Any slight defect in our kit or personal appearance was punished with extra duties or cancellation of weekend leave. With time being at a premium in the mornings I had tried to save a few precious minutes by shaving the previous night, being fair haired I thought I could get away with it, not a chance, I was spotted and given extra guard duty over the weekend which meant I missed the weekend break in Lusaka.
The rest of the day was given over to lessons, more drill, physical exercise, and self defence. The latter seemed, apart from the various arresting holds and arm locks, mainly to involve disabling any potential assailant as quickly as possible by kicking or kneeing them in the privates. Our instructor warned us that in no circumstance were we to get ourselves into a situation where we would lose a confrontation, as in Africa that would be fatal. He also told us that if we were faced by a number of assailants, normally there would be one instigator, if he was taken out the others would often back down or at least hesitate long enough for you to get help.
Getting us fit was another priority so sport was encouraged. Rugby, Soccer and a new game, unique to Africa called Karamoja, this was played with a rugby ball on a soccer pitch, with 2 teams of 10 to 15 players, where the object was to get the ball into the opponents net. Few rules were apparent, the ball was passed by throwing, there was no offside rule, forward passing was allowed and you tackled the opposition to get the ball off them. This was always played with mixed teams of African and European police trainees. It originated in Uganda and was considered a good game to get the two races used to each other and toughen us up. The Africans were often very fast and agile, but not as good at the passing and tackling as the Europeans, especially those who played Rugby.
Another pastime we did together was periodic route marches of up to 12 miles, the whole training school, sixty odd Europeans with a couple of hundred African Police trainees. On Leaving the front gates one of the senior African Police instructors, often ex N. Rhodesia Regiment with WW2 medal ribbons, would start a chant, the chorus was sung by all the rest of us. The one I remember was one that originated way back to when the force was a military one at the time of the first world war.
Chorus "Amatenga ziwaya",
Chorus "Amatenga ziwaya, mfuti, mpeni, kasoti pambuyo ku kondowe".
"We are going "
"We are going to battle"
"We are going"
"we are going to battle with our rifle, bayonet, and pack on our back"
The Africans were natural born singers especially in the lower registers, they picked up descants seemingly without any prompting. Coming from Wales where we prided ourselves on our male voice choirs, I was really impressed with this innate ability, it really made the miles fly by.
Once we had been in the training school for 4 or 5 weeks we became eligible for the trips to Lusaka at the weekend. However the first two weekends were forfeited by our squad failing to meet the exacting standards of the Saturday morning inspection. Boots and belts not up to standard on the first weekend and failing to eliminate the telltale signs of a last minute visit to the lavatory on Saturday morning, (skid marks on the pan) was the other!
At last we were off to the flesh pots of Lusaka, in civvies for the first time in six weeks. Almost the all of the four European squads, about 60 of us, apart from the unfortunates who were designated for guard duty, were piled into 3 trucks and dropped off in Cairo Road, with warnings of dire consequences if we failed to catch the same trucks back to camp at 11.30 pm.
Where would we go? We had a bar back at the camp, but it shut early and we were often too busy revising for tests and exams to enjoy it. We were also very hungry so several of us made our way to an Italian restaurant for a quick meal before trying out some of the bars and beer gardens in the town. The Woodpecker and the Blue Lagoon became 2 of our favourites as there always appeared to be a few nice ladies present. This was a very scarce commodity in Northern Rhodesia. We were advised to keep clear of some of the smaller, rougher bars, often fitted with western style swing doors as there were often fights and as fledgling policemen it would not do to get involved.
After a couple of hours steady drinking some of us decided that another meal would be a good idea. Back we went to the Italian restaurant for a very hurried meal which only just allowed us time to get back on the truck to camp. We all sang rowdy rugby songs all the way back, even the few women joining in with all the obscene verses.
Sunday was also a free day with another trip to Lusaka in the evening, but the return trip was earlier to ensure we were fit for Monday morning.
Those of a religious persuasion had transport provided at 9.00 am to take them into Lusaka for church services. The hungriest of us discovered that if you went to the Anglican service in the cathedral and left that service promptly, it gave you time to run a couple of hundred yards down the road to the Ridgeway Hotel, where you could squeeze in a nice cooked breakfast before the catholic service was finished and you had to get back on the truck. The Catholics amongst us did a similar thing, they would go to eat before their service. This way most of us ravenous (half starved to our way of thinking) young men could have up to 5 additional meals each weekend.
I may seem to be a little obsessed by the food at the time but my memories are such that it was a real problem for us at the time. We ate in the training school mess and each of us had to pay for the food out of our wages. I can't remember exactly how much, c. £10 - £15 per month IIRC, this paid for the food, the mess manager, cook and waiters.. We were getting the princely sum of just under £70 per month, so reasonably good wages for the time and most of us would have happily paid a few quid a month more to satisfy our hunger.
As fit young men who were on the go from 6am to 10pm with lots of physical exercise we were always hungry, indeed we actually formally complained to the training camp CO. when all we were served for breakfast one day was a solitary piece of egg coated fried bread. The senior squad leader wrapped his in a napkin and marched to the C O's office to show him what very active grown men were supposed to survive on. The food did improve a little after that but we were still always hungry and we didn't have the benefit of a NAAFI that we could buy extras. Our only way was at weekends where we descended on Lusaka like a plague of hungry locusts!
Passing Out Parade
With a new intake each month, there was a passing out parade for the senior squad who had completed their training. This was an event where we wore full dress uniform, khaki pith helmet instead of navy blue peaked cap, long sleeved starched khaki drill tunic over khaki shirt and blue tie instead of khaki open necked shirt with sleeves rolled up to just above the elbow, starched khaki shorts, black boots worn with dark blue hose tops fastened with green garter flashes, khaki puttees folded neatly around the top of the boots, black Sam Browne belt and of course carrying our rifle and bayonets.
The parade took a similar format to the one used by the Guards at the Trooping of the Colour for the Queens birthday, inspection by the visiting dignitary who then went and took the salute as we marched past in quick time and then slow time. The Police band was always present and played many of the same airs played at the Trooping of the Colour, the British Grenadiers, Lilliburlero, the Standard of St George and of course the NRP march "We are all of one tribe".
That evening we had our "passing out dinner", dressed in our mess dress for the first time, black dress trousers, white shirt with wing collar, black bow tie, starched heavy cotton short mess jacket with removable silver insignia and buttons, (this was to allow the jacket to be washed easily, the reason for which became evident after the first station mess dinner), with a dark blue cummerbund and highly polished black shoes.
The next day was spent packing our kit into our steel trunks, steel to combat termites. Then it was off to the railway station to catch the train to our first posting. The last words of wisdom from the chief inspector was that as we were now fully fledged assistant inspectors of police, we had to behave like it. Any problem, accident, crime or whatever and the public was looking to us to deal with it. What a thought, slightly intimidating, but this is what we had come to Africa for, our adventures were about to begin.
First Posting: Chingola
We were taken to Lusaka railway station where we were all destined to travel up and down the line of rail, from Livingstone in the south to Ndola at the far northerly end of the rail. Most of us were posted to the copper belt as it was the area with the densest population. This stretched from Ndola, some 200 miles north of Lusaka, to Bancroft up on the Congo border. I was to go to Chingola about 90 miles by road north of Ndola.
Those of us who were going north to the copper belt said our goodbyes to those who were either going south or remaining in Lusaka. The train was unlike any I had seen before, a Garrett 3’ 6" gauge steam train with an additional water tender at the front complete with a massive headlight and a "cow catcher". This was to remove any animal foolish enough to get in the way as there were no fences to keep the larger animals off the rails. By larger I mean Elephants, Rhino’s etc. The carriage was comfortable with rather worn, slightly dusty, bench seats which could be converted into beds, the décor was rather faded with age but clean enough.
The journey was uneventful, quite slow, with the train never exceeding 50 or 60 mph as the narrow gauge did not allow the comparatively higher speeds attained by British trains which run on a 4’ 8.5" gauge rail. The scenery was fairly uninspiring, miles and miles of quite flat, scrubby, dusty bush with just the odd African village consisting mainly of a few circular mud huts with thatched roofs.
The first to leave was Derek, he had been posted to Broken Hill, a medium sized town with a couple of thousand Europeans and about 20,000- 30,000 Africans living there, it was also the main junction on the Great North Road leading to the copper belt and the Congo, with the Great East Road which led to Tanganyika and Nyasaland. It was just under half way to Ndola. The stop was fairly brief just long enough for passengers and mail to get on and off. This was the only town on the journey so no other stops were made until we arrived at Ndola in mid afternoon. There were several Police Landrover’s waiting to pick us up, one for each station, Kitwe, Mufulira, Luansha and Chingola. They were all the normal dark blue painted, short wheel based type with Police in large white letters on either front door. Each vehicle had a radio aerial on the roof and thick wire mesh grills on each of the windows, to protect the occupants from any missiles hurled at it. This grill came with a horizontal slit on each of the opening windows, just deep enough to allow the occupants to use their firearms at any troublemakers outside! The policeman meeting me was Alan Johnson, called "Johnny", a pleasant, medium height, sandy haired individual who was slightly older than me, having done his national service mainly on attachment to the Somali Scouts, coming from Birmingham originally. He introduced himself and we set off on the 2 hour journey to Chingola. We drove through the clean, well laid out Ndola until we hit the Great North Road, a fast tarmac road with a full lane each way. Johnny explained that this was a comparative luxury only found between major towns, most roads were either narrow strips of tarmac which you drove on with a tyre on each strip which involved major manoeuvring to overtake or allow a vehicle to pass coming the other way. The other commonest type of road was just a dirt road, where trees and scrub were cleared and the surface levelled. This soon became "corrugated", covered in ridges which gave a very bumpy, noisy ride, incredibly dusty in the dry season, and sometimes impassable in the wet season.
About halfway to Chingola we drove through Kitwe, the only other town on the way north, again a very similar looking town with clean new buildings lining wide, tree lined streets. In fact nearly all of the towns on the copper belt looked almost identical, most being built in the last twenty or thirty years.
Johnny took the opportunity to fill me in on my new posting, he was to be my shift commander, the station had 3 shifts, 6am-2pm, 2pm-10pm and 10pm-6am, each shift had 2 Assistant Inspectors with 2 African Sergeants and about 30 African constables. He explained that the station was growing and the request had gone out for more police, at least 3 European Assistant inspectors on each shift with about 40 constables, this to cope with the increasing unrest in the African population. This was mainly caused by a struggle for supremacy between the 2 African political parties. The African National Congress under Harry Nkumbula versus the United National Independence Party under Kenneth Kaunda. A lot of the rivalry was tribal based as well, Nkumbula being of the Ila/Toga tribal group, had support based mainly on the southern tribes, while Kaunda, from a Bemba speaking tribe, had the support of the northern tribes.
Johnny explained that there were 3 European traffic police, 5 CID officers, 1 special branch officer and about half a dozen Admin officers as the station was a Divisional H/Q as well as being a working station for Chingola town.
We arrived in the late afternoon and drove to the Station, a single story white painted building set back from a major road on the outskirts of the town. We drove into a spacious forecourt where there was room for about 4 or 5 Landrover’s. I was taken through the building to report to the Station CO, an Assistant Superintendent called Brown. The buildings were in the form of a large rectangle with only a few small high set windows on the outside, but with larger windows and doors opening onto a wide covered veranda which surrounded the large open grassed central courtyard. The only entrance to the front of the station was through the charge office, this was the working hub of the station, where there was always at least one policeman on duty. It was divided roughly into 2 with a high wide wooden counter running down the middle, a bolted flap allowed access to the rear of the office. While a wooden bench firmly fixed to the outer wall was provided for the public in the outer half. I was taken to the CO’s office, he was a tall slim individual in his early thirty’s. He appeared pleased to see me and confirmed that I was the first of the new A/I’s that had been requested. He told me to report with Johnny the next morning and to settle in to my new quarters a hundred yards or so up the road.
Johnny drove me up to the single quarters, 2 white painted single storey blocks consisting of 6 individual rooms linked by a pleasant covered veranda or stoop overlooking a wide, fairly quiet, tree lined road, each room had its own rear covered and wire meshed open room for the hot season. While the main room was fitted with a washbasin, mirror, double wardrobe and single iron framed bed and mattress. Much the same layout we had shared with a room mate in training school. Each block had central baths, toilets and laundry facilities.
Behind these blocks was the single officers mess. An entrance lobby with rows of coat hooks leading into a large bar with a half dozen or so bar stools against it and several comfortable settees and armchairs around the wall. This in turn led into the dining room, a long room fitted with several tables and chairs put together to make one long central table capable at a pinch of seating up to 30 people. The spacious kitchen with its attendant store rooms led off this.
The bar was presided over by "piri piri", a short, extremely cheerful Chewa tribesman, who was provided with a long white robe and red fez. Our cook was a big Matabele we called "Lobby" short for Lobenguela the famous Matabele Chief. Lobby claimed to have been taught to cook in South Africa after he had been injured in a mining accident there. His menus may have lacked imagination, roasts, steaks, stews etc, but after training school it was edible and importantly, plentiful. Our waiter was "Jimbo" a local who was at best, slow! The last of our mess servants was the garden boy, normally a local youngster controlled by Piri piri. In all, for a mess of 12 single men, we had, including each of our own personal houseboys, a total of 16 staff looking after us!
Getting To Know the Ropes
The next morning I was up bright and early, breakfasting with Johnny in the mess, then a brisk stroll in the early morning sunshine down to the station. We arrived at the station at 7.30 AM going into the charge office to meet the officer handing over to us, have a brief chat where he updated us on the situation and to check the occurrence book, basically a large diary in which any shift activity was noted. This was to make ourselves aware of any incidents that had occurred overnight and how many prisoners were in our cells and any special instructions for us such as delivering summonses or taking accused prisoners to court etc.
We went into the central courtyard where I was introduced as "Bwana Williams" to the two African sergeants and the twenty constables on parade. Johnny then inspected the parade carefully ensuring all were properly turned out, clean and smart. Any announcements were read out and each constable allocated duties normally charge office, various beats or car crew. At a minute or so before 8.00 AM the shift was fallen out to its duties and we took over from the night shift, replacing their constables on the desk, one of our sergeants marching the men allocated to the various beats out of the station.
Johnny decided that he would take one of the Landrover’s and show me the town leaving the a sergeant and car crew to answer any urgent call at the station, we were still in radio contact as well.
We went past one of the local European schools a secondary school where the pupils aged from 11 up to 18, children of the towns European mine workers were assembling for the day’s lessons. Johnny explained he liked to go past the schools at the opening and closing hours of the schools to keep an eye open for any speeding motorists.
Chingola was like all of the towns on the copper belt, a fairly new construction built to house the European mine workers who had come to work on the large copper mine. The mine had built most of the housing which was laid out in an American style grid system with Avenues and streets. There was a small commercial area which consisted of several shops including a small Indian run department store, a bank, cinema, some bars, clubs and a cafe.
We drove past the arts center and theatre the swimming pool, sports fields, hospital and fire station to the edge of the mine complex with its winding gear reminding me of the South Wales valleys and later past the edge of the huge open cast mine. Then on past the golf club at the edge of the European township to a large clean well laid out African township which was the housing for the mines African workers.
Here we drove to another smaller police station, this was Nchanga which dealt with the African township. We stopped briefly as I was introduced to a rather dour South African , Vince Van Zyl who was an Inspector, the second in command of the sub-station and renewed my acquaintance with a cheerful A/I from Sussex, Don Dempsey, who had been in the squad above me in training school. He took us round the township showing us the schools, football stadium, beer hall and finally to the small airfield right at the edge of the town. We thanked him and made our way across town to the other African township, Chiwempala, this was built by the N. R. Government for the Africans who were not employed by the mine, people who worked for the contractors and the hundred and one other jobs in the town.
This was slightly shabbier than the Nchanga township but still well laid out with similar small 2 roomed huts for each family.
I was introduced to the A/I on duty, his C/O, a Chief Inspector Muir, a Scot was in a meeting at our Station where the Divisional H/Q was. We were again given a brief tour of the township showing us the schools, sports stadium, clinic and beerhall.
As I didn't have a driving licence for cars, I only had a m/c licence in the UK, Johnny started virtually immediately training me to drive in order to take my civilian test asap, he would ensure I drove with him or one of the African drivers supervising me at every possible occasion until I had passed the various tests. Once I had done that I had to pass the NRP test which was a lot stricter. There were three grades of test in the NRP, saloon cars, our Police cars were at that time the Rover 90. 4 WD vehicles, both the short and the long wheelbase versions of the landrover, which involved the examiner taking us across quite a testing bit of rough ground successful, (that proved invaluable when I later had to drive on very rough border tracks on the Katangese border) and finally a test on the Bedford 3 tonner troop carriers where double declutching was necessary. I proved an adept learner and passed all of the tests within the first month of being on station.
Getting To Grips With Religion, Superstition and Witchcraft
The African Police I commanded had all passed an educational standard not unlike the 11+ in the UK. They all had to speak good English and Cinyanja as well as their own tribal language. Most I encountered claimed to be Christian of one denomination or another. This more or less depended on which Mission school they had attended in their tribal homes. Remember that it was the missionaries who had first come to settle and enlighten the locals after Livingstone had enthralled the religious zealots back in the UK in the second half of the 19th C. These came and negotiated with local chiefs who after accepting the white mans gifts normally trivial or inexpensive, to the Europeans at least, of cloth, beads or useful metal items, knives axes etc, cash had no value to them in those days, that came later, then gave permission for them to settle, build a church/school/clinic and housing in the area. This was not the case with all tribes, some did not want them and drove them away, hence the story's of some finishing up in cooking pots.
There were virtually any denomination you could think of, Catholic's, CoE, Salvation Army, seventh day adventists and a host of other denomination. Some were more successful than others at converting the locals to Christianity, supplanting old beliefs and customs and witchcraft.
It was, to me anyway, really strange when one time when on night shift I had been asked to do a few patrols in the African cemetery as our CID believed that a series of burglaries had been carried out on a European district which was only about 50 yds or so from the cemetery and the burglars were believed to hide and observe the houses before breaking into them.
When I told my car crew what we were going to do at about 2.00 am, my driver, an elderly 40 odd year old, who unusually was of a local tribe, (African Police were forbidden in force regulations, to serve in their own tribal areas for at least 10 years, preferably never, to avoid conflict of loyalties), but const. N'tutuma had been in the police for almost 20 years and after so many years of loyal service had managed to get a posting near his home village. He was a bloody good driver as well. He turned to me and asked me if I was serious, I told him I was. As we approached the entrance to the cemetery, he pulled into the side of the road and asked me again if we were going into the cemetery, I again said yes. He then got out of the landrover, apologising to me as he did, saying he could not enter the cemetery at night and he would wait outside and I could charge him with disobeying orders later. I took over the wheel and calling him a silly old woman to be scared of the dark to the rest of my car crew, 4 tough young Lozi tribesmen who had been with me in some nasty riots and who I knew were hard as nails in a fight. These said nothing and weren't laughing or taking the micky out of him as I was. When we got to what was virtually a hairpin bend to enter the cemetery and I slowed to a crawl to get around it, I found out why.... the back door of the landrover flew open and 4 fit young men jumped out of the back to join N'tutuma at the side of the road. I told them to shut the door and drove into the cemetery wondering WTF I would find there. I drove around it for 15 - 20 mins or so using full headlights and the door mounted spotlight to check for suspicious activity and not seeing any drove back out of the cemetery stopping to pick up 5 sheepish African Policemen about 20- 30 yds away from the entrance. I drove back to the station turfed them all out and asked them WTF was going on with this blatant flouting of orders. N'tutuma said no African could enter the cemetery at night without being bewitched, I said why wasn't I bewitched then, Ah that was because I was a Mzungu (whiteman) and thus immune to that particular witchcraft!!
I left it at that saying I would talk to the CO when he came on duty. He had been in Africa for about 12 years and explained that superstition still played a huge part in Africans everyday lives, even comparatively well educated and civilised Africans like our Police and we had to live with it.
I found that on at least 2 other occasions police under me had claimed to be bewitched, one went mad and had to be sent back to his tribal village to be "cured" by his own tribal witchdoctor.
The other incident caused me a fair bit of bother. In one rather nasty riot which went on for a few hours, after we had dispersed the crowd into a warren of small lanes at the edge of the African township having to break up the baton waves of a dozen or so men into smaller groups of 2 - 4 men to cope with the number of small lanes. On getting the men back together we found one had gone missing, I immediately called for back up in the form of another platoon who together with my platoon spent the rest of the night looking for him, checking all the huts. Come daylight he was still not to be found, despite being pretty exhausted from being firstly in the riot and then the rest of the night searching. The CO called in yet another platoon from a neighbouring station and we searched the surrounding bush for, what we thought by now would be his body.
He turned up two days later, completely unharmed, claiming he had been bewitched by one of the rioters who he claimed was a witchdoctor and had had to leave immediately without telling anybody to seek out a "cure" from his own witchdoctor!
Needless to say I was furious and put him on a charge as I believed he had got scared and hidden in a friends house. When his court martial came up in front of the district CO, he actually brought his witchdoctor to give evidence on his behalf.
He was found guilty of being "absent without leave" for 3 days and only fined 3 days pay, I was not happy and complained saying I thought he was a coward and should have been dismissed the service.
The district CO who had been in Africa for nearly 30 years said no, previously the constable had been a loyal hardworking and honest constable and that in his experience there was the odd occasion when we had to make allowances!!
I did use this superstition to my benefit occasionally. When I was on patrol on the border and wanted to travel to a certain destination or if I wanted a specific policeman to do a boring/menial task the next day, I would pretend to consult the spirits, This was done by using simple chemistry. I had acquired a "muti" bottle, a bit like a Japanese "inro" , which is suspended from a belt. It was made of a piece of hollow bamboo with a bamboo lid held on with a piece of fine woven animal hair. Into this I had put a part of an old plastic keyring fob in the shape of a skull with 2 small pieces of red glass as eyes. Before the ceremony I would prep the tube with some cordite/powder from a shotgun shell and whatever chemical I needed to produce a coloured flame when thrown into the camp fire. e.g. copper sulphate if I wanted a bluish green.
I.e. Where shall we go tomorrow, Kasumbalesa or Tshinsenda, the former where the official border crossing to Katanga was, the latter where the old crossing had been but there was a Belgian who lived there and often had useful snippets of information on the Katanga situation was and coincidentally was where I occasionally bought Simba beer brewed in Katanga for about half the price of Castle.
I would wait until we had had our meal and the campfire had died down to some glowing embers and I would tell the constables I would consult the spirits about our journey next day, if it was red we would go to Kasumbalesa if blue Tshinsenda , I would take the skull put it on a piece of wood facing the fire get a large pinch of mixed copper sulphate and powder, say a few words of gibberish to the skull and throw the powder into the embers which would flare up and burn blue. Right Tshinsendsa it was then, everybody was happy and I never got grumbles from the troops either, I mean they couldn't argue with the spirits could they?
I did find out that my nickname amongst the constables became "Bwana Mfwiti".. Bwana witchdoctor.
I also encountered lots of superstition even amongst our police who were better educated and had a lot more exposure to European culture than the majority of Africans as I pointed out in a few tales earlier.
There was an allegation of a ritual murder of an African about 17 years old in the small isolated fishing village we went to, allegedly inspired by the local witchdoctor. The informant wasn't directly related to the alleged victim.
When we got there the whole village denied there had been any deaths recently never mind a "ritual" killing. On looking around we did find a mound of freshly heaped earth about the size of a termite mound. When we asked about that we were told that it was the grave of the old chief who had died a few years ago that they had moved as the old one was being washed away by the river at the start of the latest rainy season. We again checked on the area of the alleged "old" grave and found that the river had washed away the bulk of an old earth mound.
By this time the villagers were getting a bit restless and started accusing our informer of being a trouble maker, our CID man suggested we get out of there and return to the police station to consult the District Commissioner and his Messengers who might have more information. As the crowd of villagers had got up to about a hundred by this time, many of the men returning from the bush with axes and spears. I decided to talk to the new chief and tell him we were going away to talk to the DC and he would decide what we did next.
I did this to avoid trouble, most likely involving us opening fire on the, what by this time was becoming a very heated crowd trying to lynch the informer.
When we got back and all the facts we had discovered were presented to the DC, he checked with a messenger who knew the village who informed him that the chief had died a few years ago and had been buried next to the river. The other more important fact not know to us at the time was that the "informant" had a long standing grudge against this particular clan of his tribe over a woman and was most likely just trying to stir trouble up for them. No further action was to be taken.
CID were not very gentle with the "informant" when they eventually ejected him from the station after giving him a severe grilling/telling off for wasting a lot of police time.
Hey but that's Africa, but all of us did have a very interesting day on the river, which was quite rare.
Certain areas of NR were worse than others when it came to cases of witchcraft. This often depended on if the area had a Christian mission in residence. Not all chiefs/tribes had welcomed them and there were large areas where no mission influence had been felt. These were often the most superstition ridden and normally had lots of "witchdoctors".
Under NR law many aspects of witchcraft were actually banned under a special thing called the "Witchcraft Ordinance" which specifically listed certain crimes and the punishment for them.
One was a thing called a "kalalozi" gun, this was a tube often made from a human femur bone bound with wire, being used a bit like an old muzzle loading gun to fire a copper slug into someone. The more modern ones came made of a metal tube as some of the old wire bound ones had blown up in people faces. One of the old ones had been recovered and the stock had been attached to the "barrel" using snake skin and was decorated with red and black "magic" beans. Originally before firearms, this gun had been used by the witchdoctor to "point" at a person whilst cursing them and later the "cursed" person would die mysteriously, often poisoned. But the introduction of gunpowder got it used as a primitive musket.
There were several such cases in the mid '50's in the Kalabo area quite close to the Angolan border, where several people had been murdered. As this was an area a long way from the line of rail with the nearest small Police station Mongu a couple of days travel from it, these cases had been going on without check until someone who had been threatened had gone to the nearest mission station and reported it. These in turn reported it to the police in Mongu, the nearest station.
A special task force was sent to the area and after several months of investigations had uncovered over 700 cases. 16 people were tried for murder and 7 executed, another 9 were charged and imprisoned for attempted murder and 120 charged with various offences against the witchcraft ordinance.
That was just in one region. It happened in other areas but not normally on that scale, even in our town where I previously told of the old woman and her witchdoctor being found guilty of cannibalism.
Some of the white mining community would also refer to Africans as "kaffirs" as well. We were a lot more respectful in the NRP and civil administration as we got to know the Africans quite well and in the NRP's case and mine as well, often owed our lives to the bravery and loyalty of our African Police in situations such as riots where if they had thrown their hand in with the mob.
I can recall one such occasion in my second posting, Bancroft about 15 miles NW of Chingola, another slightly smaller mining town, when after the riot act had been read out to a aggressive crowd outside one of the townships administration offices by the DC (district commissioner, the local part of the civilian administration who reported via the Provincial Commissioner to the Governor, who ruled on behalf of the Colonial office in London), in the non mine township.
Our CO had then ordered tear gas shells to be fired and the crowd dispersed by baton charges. Once we had sorted that out, taking about half an hour. We reassembled and I was told to go with half of my platoon and ensure no trouble kicked off at a beer hall some half a mile away and to close it to prevent more trouble. We jumped in the Bedford 3 tonner and went, I disembarked and went in search of the beer hall manager a local African and told him he had to shut, I would give him half an hour to let his numerous customers drink up and go. He said the crowd would not be happy as it was the weekend and most had settled in for the rest of the day. I said it was the DC's orders and had to be done. He close all the serving hatches and made the announcement. Immediately the crowd got restive and I could see more coming in, possibly some of whom we had dispersed outside the admin offices, these started shouting and as I walked back to the lorry where my half platoon had quietly debussed and formed up behind it with Sgt Mwase in charge, awaiting my return.
As I neared the lorry a few stones were thrown at me, which I easily dodged, but the crowd started shouting and gathering around blocking my path to the lorry. I had a problem, I only had about a dozen men plus the driver, the Sgt and myself. the crowd in the beerhall numbered about 300 + and was growing by the minute. The only weapons I had were my men's long batons, the drivers shotgun and my.38 revolver. My CO had taken the armed section plus the riot guns back to the station with him.
I could hear the crowd shouting "Bulala Mzungu" roughly kill or burn the white man, my ring piece was twitching by this time when I saw Sgt Mwase marching his men in 2 small columns towards me, pushing through the crowds and going either side of me and then marching back to the truck with me in the middle.
The crowd seemed stunned by this and only started heavy stoning when we had all got back on the lorry, with me last on board, where we drove quickly back to the station.
Both the CO and I had misjudged the mood of the crowd at the beer hall, we should have realised that a lot of the trouble makes from the admin office would have gone to the beerhall to stir up more trouble.
The riot then continued for the rest of the evening and night with our CO having to call in a mobile unit riot squad from Chingola and a platoon of the Chingola Station to eventually calm things down, making over 200 arrests.
This to me showed how loyal our African Police were. I thanked Mwase for his actions and recommended him to the CO for his actions. He later became an Assistant Inspector on independence and actually wanted to buy my "dress blues" which I had only worn once, as seen in this photo, off me when I left about a year later. He was about the same build but about 7" - 8" shorter hopefully a tailor could sort that out for him Needless to say I gave them to him, reminding him that I owed him my life for his actions that day.
My First Arrest
My first few weeks on Station were basically me getting to know my fellow Police, the area we policed and what it involved. Compared with most stations we had quite a few Police, it being a District HQ. We had some interesting characters in the Mess. One Bill Player the Inspector in charge of the Traffic division in Chingola district, I discovered that he was part of the Players cigarettes dynasty, who always seem to have boxes of 50 "family specials" delivered to him periodically from the UK. A very modest man whose main interest was his pristine MGA sports car which he had driven off the production line in Abingdon and had shipped over to NR at his own expense. No one else was ever allowed to drive or even touch it. He cleaned and serviced it carefully and kept it under a bespoke dust cover when it wasn't being used or worked on, actually doing his own servicing. Apparently despite him going to Harrow, (I found out that by accident and was sworn not to tell other Mess members) and being offered a commission, he had done his national service as a Private in the REME so he could develop his skills as a motor mechanic. When his mother died some time later, he inherited umpteen thousands of acres in Scotland, a large chunk of Players shares and quite a lot of cash. He was never profligate with his wealth, preferring just to remain a normal member of the mess and never boastful. Indeed as I said very few members of the Mess ever realised his Players cigarettes connection.
When Independence came he went to S. Rhodesia and bought a large farm which unsurprisingly enough he concentrated on Tobacco. He built a small village for his workers, supplying them with running water and electricity from a generator. He also built a clinic and a small school, staffing them at his own expense, mainly for his workers but people from a nearby village could use them as well. Sadly like so many others he was murdered on his farm by some of Mugabe's so called veterans in 1999 along with some of his loyal workers when his farm was taken over by them.
Another character was Syd Chaplin, who claimed to be a distant relation to the famous "Charlie Chaplin" and whose father was the Resident British High Commissioner in Basutoland at the time. Its with him my first arrest took place. I had been there for just over 2 weeks when a travelling fair called "Luna Park" came to town, typical side shows, shooting range, dodgems etc. It travelled over quite a lot of Central and Southern Africa, staying for a week or so at each site depending on the population.
Syd and I decided to go one evening after we had dined to see what it was like. We had been wandering around in civvies for a few minutes when Syd was accosted by this slightly drunk but quite aggressive S. African miner in his early 20's, about 3 - 4 inches shorter than me but stockily built, with about 4 or 5 other similar types behind him. Apparently Syd had booked him for speeding a few weeks earlier and he though the subsequent fine administered was too high. I turned and said we were off duty and just looking to have a pleasant time and he could go to the station and complain if he was unhappy. He immediately turned on me and started prodding me in the chest to emphasise his points. I told him to stop immediately as that was assault. He then said as I was "off duty" there was nothing I could do about it.
Remembering my recent training I realised that we had to stop this before the others got involved or we would be in trouble. As he went to push me again I kneed him as hard as I could in the groin and as his head came down grabbed it and smashed it on my knee, while he was still reeling from this put him into a hammer lock which almost dislocated his shoulder and marched him off towards the station about half a mile away while Syd watched my back in case one of the others felt brave. Fortunately enough as our self defence instructor had told us take out the leading troublemaker emphatically and the others will back down.
He went to court and despite the fact he said he had only poked us with his finger he was found guilty of assaulting the Police and fined the equivalent of 2 weeks pay.
About 6 weeks later I met him in the street and he had the grace to apologise to me saying he had been drunk that night and was still angry about the speeding fine but would never mess with any NR Police men again.
I was fortunate enough to be posted to stations that had reasonable numbers of European Police, some 20 + in Chingola as it was a district HQ and about 10 or so in Bancroft. There were many that had only one or two, or less than a half dozen, as in John Gornal's case, where there was no mess.
Our social life revolved heavily around them, remember there was no TV, (the first came when I was in Bancroft and that was only in the "all ranks" Police club, not the mess). Available women were very scarce and in great demand by the numerous bachelors working on the copper mines and other related occupations. I would estimate randy bachelors outnumbered single spinsters by more than ten to one. That's not to say that there weren't a few married Women who looked for a change occasionally, (thank god)! So alcohol in its various guises was used to numb the desire quite a lot. It was considered "infra dig" to consort with African women, and there were a few that sold their charms to some of the mining fraternity both black and white, however the resultant crop of maladies, from the usual STD's and even leprosy which was present in some of the Africans, could have very nasty consequences, so I never knew of any of my colleagues who indulged.
My first relief from enforced celibacy came as a bit of a shock. In my first week on station I had gone to the local cinema on evening and was sat with Johnny my shift boss waiting for the lights to dim when in walked the CO of the Nchanga station accompanied by a very attractive blue eyed blond, his wife. I mentioned this to Johnny who stated she was known as Nina the ice berg as she was always very cold and offhand when talking to any other man. A month or so later after a state of emergency had been declared and the reserve Police had been called up, she, a reserve Policewoman, who by this time had separated from her rather dour S. African husband whom I had met when first visiting his station on my arrival in Chingola, and gone back to live with her family who worked on the mine, turned up for the night shift working in the control room.
At about 2.00am she came into the charge office asking for some paperwork which was kept in a storeroom about 60 yards the other side of our station complex, as I was the sole European in the charge office, the others were out on patrol, I took her across the dimly lit area, unlocked the storeroom and turned the lights on and shut the door. Immediately she grabbed me and pulled my face down to kiss it very enthusiastically. To say I was stunned was an understatement. I pulled away and asked he what the hell she was doing, she said she had spotted me that night in the cinema and had fancied me strait away and started kissing me again. I again tried to pull away saying I couldn't as her husband was a fellow officer. She grabbed me again saying her marriage was over.
As you can imagine being a very normal, red blooded and highly frustrated bloke I was in a noticeable state of arousal, (thank god for those baggy shorts). I again pulled away saying this was not the time or place for anything further to happen but agreed to her picking me up in her car next evening before the shift started and going for a drive.
To cut a long story short we went together, very surreptitiously, only Syd Chaplin knew as he happened to be seeing Nina's best friend another "separated" women in the town, for about two months. When suddenly without any warning, Nina stopped seeing me and went back to her husband.
I got a call from him, the husband, saying he wanted to meet me privately in my quarters, which sounded ominous as jealous husbands had been known to shoot errant wives' lovers. Fortunately, Syd had had a message from Nina via her friend. Apparently Nina's husband had found out due to one of the other Inspector's wives, who happened to work on our switchboard, listening into to one of Nina's calls to me and I was to say it was just "a shoulder to cry on" that I had offered Nina and NOTHING else had ever happened between us, with me actually advising her to return to him.
I asked Syd to be around when the meeting took place just in case and actually had my loaded.38 tucked under my pillow on the bed next to the chair I was sat on during the meeting. I said what I had been told to and he accepted it, threatening to knock my head off if I went near her again. A couple of weeks later he had resigned and gone back to S. Africa with her in tow.
I got a message from Syd's g/f about 7 months later. Nina had had a miscarriage in S. Africa when 8 months pregnant so definitely my doing despite my obviously inadequate precautions. That was the reason she had gone back with her husband, as she knew that as a first tour a/Insp I wasn't allowed to marry and would have had to leave the force, probably being forced to return to the UK as well, but I also think she realised I wasn't interested in marriage with anyone at that time and might probably have said no.
I managed to have relations with 3 other young ladies on that tour, none with such devastating consequences. On returning to London in the "swinging sixties" I could and often did, have that many in a week!! I was like a hungry kid being let lose in an "all you can eat" sweetshop.
As I said earlier most of our social life revolved around the mess. When you came off the morning shift just after 2.00pm, you went back to your quarters relaxed had a nice cup of tea, had a bath run by ones houseboy, (funnily enough I don't remember any quarters having showers) then leisurely got dressed in civvies and got the houseboy to bring one a sundowner from the mess bar on to the stoep while watching the sunset. If you haven't lived in the tropics its difficult to believe that at 5.30pm it can be broad daylight and at 6.00pm its completely dark (hours may vary slightly depending on month) but half an hour was normal.
After that it was into the mess for a few more drinks and on to dinner after which the serious drinking might begin depending who was present.
Formal Mess Dinners were a big thing especially in the bigger mess of Chingola. These happened every couple of months or so with either a local bigwig, the resident Magistrate, District Commissioner, a visiting Senior Police Officer or the like.
They started quite formally with everybody dressed in their best bib and tucker (described by me earlier), medals if entitled etc, standing around chatting, sipping sherry or a small G&T, we then went into the dining room where the meal was served normally with quite pleasant S. African wines, French was normally far too expensive and not easy to obtain. After the meal Port and Brandy went the rounds, belts and sometimes ties loosened and the drinking began. Songs would be sung, games played etc...
When I say games I mean things like Buck buck - Wikipedia where 2 teams compete trying to jump on and collapse the other team. It was banned for a time by the Commissioner as one of his deputies had broken his shoulder when missing his jump and hitting a wall in one vigorous game at the Mobile unit mess.
One day in our mess some idiot suggested using Bows and Arrows to play darts, then a bigger idiot, (would you believe Pringle, the twat who had been back squaded in our entry at training school, he had been posted to Chingola where "as I knew him" our CO had put him under me on my shift,) I had taken over from Johnny as he had wangled a posting to the Mobile unit, our specialist riot Squads that enjoyed a reputation for toughness and a great mess social life. Anyway this moron had decided in his pea sized brain that pistols would be better and had gone to his quarters, got his and promptly fired 6 shots into the dartboard knocking chunks of our mess wall all over the place. Someone then grabbed him, disarmed him and he was sent to bed in disgrace, It cost him several months mess fees to repair the wall. Fortunately for all concerned no one was hurt.
Another night the singing had started with lewd Rugby songs and then we formed a circle grabbed each other around the shoulders and started "hold him down you Zulu Warriors" when some bright spark, a guest IIRC had suggested we needed a fire to dance around and started breaking up chairs and lit a fire in the centre of the mess. That cost ALL of us several months mess fees to put right with the ruined chairs, fire damaged floor and smoke stained walls and ceiling.
As the Provincial CO said we were like a lot of retarded school children not responsible Policemen. But boys will be boys and yes it was one way to let off steam.
A silver mounted "Swagger Stick" was part of our Uniform, rarely carried as they were not very strong and would break if used to thump someone. They were carried on occasions like the wedding I was attending that day and then only to make the arch for the happy couple. We were issued Swords only if and when one became Asst. Superintendent's.
Our African NCO's were issued with silver mounted bamboo cane swagger sticks which were a lot more robust than ours and would occasionally use them to whack an unruly person around the backside.
We were all issued with the standard Truncheon which was carried in a special pocket sewn into our shorts.
However I discovered these were sometimes not up to the job. Late one evening 2 of My constables had brought a couple of Drunken Africans into the station for being Drunk and disorderly. Unfortunately about 4 or 5 of their mates had followed them into the station and when they were told to leave it all kicked off with them attacking the 2 arresting Policemen and myself. I immediately drew my baton and struck the one attacking me on the side of his head.... no effect, I hit him again in the same place with all the force I could muster..... "Oh shit" I thought, as I found the useless thing had broken in half diagonally leaving me with a jagged end in my hand with him still attacking me, I poked the chap in the face with this, giving me enough time to get to the other side of the charge counter where I grabbed my "riot baton", basically a pick handle with a rough handle and strap on one end.
Using both hand I brought this down on his head... relief he went down like the proverbial sack of s&*t, using this I then set about some of the others until we had all of the aggressors in cuffs, fortunately with no serious damage to us apart from the odd cut, scratches, bruises and I bloody nose. The others looked a lot worse.
Fortunately the magistrate gave them all 14 days prison for the offence of assault on Police.
As an aside a few months later I was in charge of crowd control at a football match in a local stadium. I had gone for a walk up to the top of one stand to check all was well and as I went to descend the steps who should I see coming up looking at me intently but my old friend who I had smashed about the head in the station. "Oh shit" I thought, this could turn very nasty, there were about 1500 - 2000 Africans at the match with myself, 1 Sgt and about a dozen Policemen all armed with riot batons. None of whom were near me and he started talking to me, "Bwana, do you remember me?" "Yes, very well" I responded, gripping my baton very firmly behind my back and being ready to use it quickly in order to shut him up. When he started apologising saying he had been very drunk and it would never happen again.. To say I was relieved was a huge understatement!!
The Demise of Pringle
As you might have guessed its not his real name, after he was posted to Chingola after Passing out from training school a month late due to his stupidity he was put into my shift, proving to be of little use. His frankly dangerous behaviour at the mess dinner, it was compounded by several further instances of his folly.
The first was one late afternoon, where a couple of members of another mess decided to come and raid our mess and appropriate (steal) some of our mess souvenirs. These souvenirs took various form, an old Belgian Congo road sign, the bow and arrows, used in the "darts match" which had been brought back by an Inspector after his secondment to Nyasaland, a Policeman's fez from Nyasaland, various other bits and pieces normally hung around the mess.
The first we were aware that a raid was going on was when our barman ran out of the mess shouting thief, thief, after the 3 other mess members had fled taking a couple of our souvenirs with them. I and a couple of other mess members including Pringle came out on to the stoep in various states of undress only to see the strangers jump into their car and start to drive off. Pringle in the meantime had gone back into his room and grabbed his pistol and started aiming it at the receding car. Fortunately another inspector had grabbed him and stopped him shooting.
The next incident involving him was after he had got involved with a 40/50 yr old married woman we called the "merry widow" because of her reputation not just in our mess but the whole of Chingola.
Pringle fancied himself as a bit of a thespian and had joined the local "Am Dram" group and joined the Theatre club where they would hold productions of various plays from Noel Coward and any that took their fancy. It was here they had met, he being desperate, as most of us were, for female company, ignored the fact that she was almost old enough to be his granny and one night he had brought her back to his room. At about 1. am when we were all asleep we were woken up by a thunderous banging on his door, we went out to find the merry widows husband accompanied by a private detective complete with a flash camera confronting the partially dressed Pringle and his equally deshabille female companion and taking lots of compromising photos.. After we had stopped pissing ourselves with laughter at this, the woman dressed and left to go with her husband and quietness descended. He was named as co- respondent in the subsequent divorce.
Mind you our force did have a reputation for this activity. On a neighbouring station Kitwe, some 5 or 6 junior Policemen were named as co respondents in one notorious divorce. I found out when on my ship the RMS Windsor Castle going back to blighty where I had befriended a lovely South African Surgeons wife who was travelling to England with her 2 young children to join her husband there. That she had been warned by a couple of other S. African women on the ship to watch me, as we NRP men had a very bad reputation for seducing married women.
And before you ask, no I didn't. I would have liked to but she was too busy with her children at night. I had to stay celibate until a German Au pair joined the ship at Madeira and who kindly obliged my advances.
The last nail in Pringle's career was when in an effort to impress some of the Am Dram crowd. He had taken several of them, including a few other Policemen - although not me as I was on duty that evening, over to a posh hotel in Kitwe for a champagne dinner as it was his birthday. However, he only went on to bounce the cheque on the hotel. He was given the option to resign and leave the force immediately or face a court martial for bringing the force into disrepute and probably still get canned.
He resigned, he hadn't even been in Africa for a year!! IMHO he was never cut out to be in that position and probably as well he went before either something bad happened to him or he caused something bad to happen to someone else.
John Maxwell came to Chingola just before I moved to Bancroft. He was ex RAF Police born I believe in Merseyside and seemed a nice enough bloke if not a bit of a "know it all". Funnily enough I remember being in the Mess one evening when he was present and we were discussing Croc attacks and how no water in that part of Africa was sure to be clear of them as all of the locals had told us. In fact even when we went to a local swimming hole, believed to be clear, we always took at least one rifle and had someone stand guard after we had thrown a thunderflash into the pool to try and at least get any possible croc's to show themselves. This was in a small pool fed by a spring, not on the main Kafue which we knew was full of crocs.
The other thing discussed was that the only vulnerable spot on a big croc were the eyes.
Anyway he had been on Farm Patrol and found a spot on the banks of the Kafue with a pleasant sandy beach on a bend. On the 10th Dec 1961 he went there for a swim. The farmer had previously told him he let his kids play on it occasionally and agreed it would be ok if John went for a swim.
On that day John swam to a rock about 20 yds from the beach and pulling himself up on it started sunbathing whilst watching the 2 young children, about 9 and 11 play in the shallows next to the beach when he saw a most unusual sight a log floating "upstream" towards the children. It was a 13 foot croc, without hesitation he dived off the rock swam to the beach and got the 2 children up to safety on a slight bank when the croc grabbed his leg and started dragging him into deeper water. He remembered the chat about the crocs eyes and managed to jab his thumb into one of them, on which the croc released him and he started to try and get back to shore. But the croc wasn't finished it came again and stated dragging him further out, in despair he jabbed his thumb in the other eye on which it released him. By this time he was next to the rock he had been sunbathing on and just managed to cling on, both his legs had been mauled and bleeding profusely, the children's cries had been heard by a local African woman Belina Malomi , she despite the croc still thrashing around after its eyes had been gouged out waded out to the rock and dragged Maxwell ashore. She then helped him make a tourniquet for the worst damaged leg and the farmers 14 year old daughter, the farmer and his wife were away on business, helped him to his car and drove him to the Mine hospital in Chingola.
One leg was so badly mauled it had to be amputated below the knee and he was transferred to Roehampton to be fitted with an artificial one. I, amongst others visited him in hospital before he went to the UK. On the 10/4/'62 both he and Mrs Mallomi were gazetted for the George Medal.
Chingola District Police also had a collection for Mrs Mallomi and on the 24/12/61 she was presented with a brand new bicycle at a full dress parade at the Chingola district Police camp to thank her for her bravery.
He returned to duty on his recovery and was seconded for the rest of his tour to Sir Roy Welensky's personal bodyguard.
Most of us thought whilst he was incredibly brave, he should never have been swimming ALONE and without an armed lookout in the Kafue.
The following day the Game department went to the farm and shot the croc, which had lost its eyes thanks to Maxwell. It measured just over 13 feet long!
State of Emergency
In the middle of 1961, just after I had taken over the shift from "Johnny". Kaunda had threatened the British Govt on the, to his way of thinking, slow progress on the Independence talks and threatened, and these are his actual words " To make Mau Mau look like a tea party".
Towards the end of July there was a massive outbreak of lawlessness, mainly in the Northern Province where Kaunda had his tribal power base but spreading to the copperbelt where I was stationed. Over 30 schools were burnt down, 20 bridges on minor roads destroyed and hundreds of supporters of the other main political party attacked, some being killed. For the first time on the copperbelt his supporters had tried to use explosives stolen from the copper mines. As a result a state of emergency was declared and police reserves called up! One afternoon I was called into my CO's office where the special branch officer was talking to him. Apparently an attempt had been made to blow up the main power line which came up from Kariba and supplied not just our town but the others further north. It had been unsuccessful BUT the explosives were still in place on the pylon and SB had had information that a further attempt would be made that night to finish the job and I was to take a patrol and ambush the spot about a mile or so south of the town. I was to take myself, armed with a Stirling smg and my pistol, a sergeant with a riot gun and parachute flares and ten constables, four, the best marksmen shown by their annual musketry scores, to be armed with.303's. and to set up ambush near the site to arrest or shoot anyone who tried to re initiate the charge. Prisoners were to be taken if possible but not on any circumstance to allow the demolition of the power line.
I picked my team, all good chaps I had worked with before. We were taken by a circuitous route to near the site just before dusk in the hopes it wouldn't alert any watchers. Just after dark, making no sound we positioned ourselves on a large termite mound some 50 - 60 yards away just inside the tree line where we had a good view being hopefully concealed behind it so as not to alarm anyone trying to set it off.
I would give the signal to fire parachute flares by touch, the sergeant was right next to me and by whistle to either charge in and arrest or to shoot any possible malefactors.
We settled down to wait at about 7.00pm, now anybody who has been to that part of central Africa knows that July is still in their cold season. At about 4,000 - 5,000 foot above sea level it can and does get f**king cold at night, not freezing but after the warmth of the day and sitting/lying not moving, it certainly feels like it despite all wearing their pullovers and greatcoats.
After a totally quiet night, the SB officer turned up next morning just as dawn was breaking to tell us the men who had set the charges had been arrested and confessed just before midnight.
I wasn't happy WTF hadn't he come to tell us, saving us 5 hours of freezing our b**locks off. "Ah well he could have had more accomplices" came the response.
Somewhat of an anti climax, no chance of heroically fighting off terrorists intent on blowing the lines down and going back to the mess for tea and medals. just a quick trip back to get a hot breakfast and a warm bath
Murders and Post-Mortems
The first murder I was involved with on a very tenuous basis, I drove the vehicle taking the perpetrator to Ndola.
This involved a 40 odd yr old European woman beating her 8 year old son to death.
This woman's husband had died leaving her with a severely handicapped son, IIRC he was a downs syndrome child and terribly ESN and after the husband had died she had had a lot of trouble with the son playing up. One day she had enough and beaten him to death with a rolling pin.
She phoned the police to report it and the shift officer went to the house with a CID inspector. The woman let them in and took them to the child's bedroom to find that she had already washed him, bandaged his head and put him neatly in bed, cleaned up the blood etc before she had phoned us.
She was cautioned and arrested and taken by the CID man to the station for questioning, the shift officer remained at the house to await the MO.
Apparently the woman had said in response as to why she had done it, that she didn't want the child to suffer any more and thought it was better if he was looked after by the angels!
The news of this tragic event went around the station like wildfire and everybody was curious to see her.
She looked to be a normal middle aged woman, quite smartly dressed but who seemed to have a strange and difficult to describe look on her face, almost as though she wasn't there but responded when talked to as though one had interrupted a day dream she was having.
A special hearing was held at the magistrates court that PM which was most unusual and after listening to the arresting CID man and the MO, it was felt by all that she should be transferred to a secure hospital asap where she could get treatment and I was detailed to be the driver of the transport to take her to the Ndola hospital, she was escorted by a female police inspector from the control room helped by a woman pc.
She was later found not guilty of murder because of diminished responsibility and sent to a secure mental hospital for treatment.
Virtually everybody who had contact with her agreed it was the best thing and I think it was just a huge sadness that circumstances had caused her to do it.
Normally it was CID who investigated murders but when I moved to Bancroft later and occasionally when the political violence was at its worst when the predominantly UNIP (Kaunda's party) were killing off opponents from the ANC (Nkumbulas party), we could and occasionally did, have 2 or 3 dead bodies turn up after a bad night of violence and the officer in charge of the shift had to investigate and go to the court. Almost invariably with no suspect being found. People were so terrified if they did see anything they just shut up in case they were next.
I did get to go to the odd post mortem. As a "newbie" in Chingola within the first 2 weeks I was told to attend the PM on a "sudden" death. It was an elderly African who had died overnight with no history of illness. Johnny warned me before I went to buy some cigarettes to take with me, I didn't normally smoke so was a bit surprised and asked why? He grinned and said "you'll soon find out", I did. The first thing that happens is that the medical examiner examines the undressed body on the table minutely for any marks and you are asked to witness and make a note of any seen in case it has a bearing on the death. The body is cut open from chin to crutch and the outer layer of skin and muscle pulled back, stomach, and guts opened up and contents put into jars, ribs cut open and heart and lungs examined.
It is during the last few procedures that the smell starts, god its revolting, no matter how fresh the corpse it is always bad. It was then I started the smoking, indeed I virtually didn't stop puffing huge quantities of smoke out, lighting one fag off the other in order to try and smother the smell.
The ME then cuts the scalp open pulling the skin down over the face and then gets a small circular saw and cuts the top of the skull off. The brain is removed and examined. All irregularities are noted and put into his report which then goes to the investigating officer.
The ME made an interesting comment when doing the last skull cutting, he told me that in his experience African Skulls were nearly twice as thick on average than a European's skull. Which might explain why the chap who attacked me in the charge office broke my baton.
Most African men considered things like working in their gardens growing millet, maize etc. and carrying water or stuff from the market, to be woman's work. Traditionally the men were the hunters and warriors, sitting around while their women worked around the village. Young boys guarded the cattle.
Unless an African was employed and paid by the Europeans, I rarely if ever saw one do any work, it just wasn't in their psyche, I have seen women walking back from the fields/gardens/forest with massive loads of vegetables/wood on their heads with babies slung in a blanket on their backs and the men just carrying their axes giving them no help at all.
Which reminds me of another little incident. When I had moved to Bancroft and was on Border patrol, the CO called me into his office one day and asked me to liaise with the Forestry officer who had a major problem. He took me out to a large plantation of young Mopane trees had been planted by the Forestry department to provide a future supply of an attractive hardwood which because of its popularity had been almost eliminated by over felling mainly by the Europeans. But because it also attracted a particular moth which laid its eggs on the leaves which in turn produced loads of green caterpillars it was felled by African just to get to them which they cooked and ate with relish. this is a photo of them called Mopane worms...
We found about an acre or so of trees of about 10' -15' high which had been cut down and about 6 or 7 Africans busily picking the caterpillars off the leaves and putting them in sacks to take to sell in the local markets. There were half a dozen or so sacks already full.
We arrested all of them and took them and the full sacks back to the station in our 2 landrovers, the Forestry guy had brought his vehicle with 2 of his African rangers.
All those arrested were given about 1 month in prison to try and discourage this feckless destruction.
My 2 constables were delighted when the Forestry guy gave 3 of the sacks to us to distribute amongst all of the African Police on the Station. Good nyama Bwana, lovely when fried/grilled with nsima (a thick maize porridge eaten as a staple by most tribes in NR).
Quite a few insects were eaten by the Africans , Sausage flies (a type of flying ant). Locusts were also in demand.
Remember all these could be found wild at certain seasons and were full of proteins being a useful supplement to the Africans diet.
Indeed at certain times of the year swarms of insects were to be found around every light at night and some constables on their beats could fill their pockets with those that had dropped to the floor.
If one was daft enough to leave ones door or window open at night and leave the light on you found insects covering everything inside. The only remedy was to get a bug spray use it liberally, turn the light off shut the door and go into the mess for an hour or so have a beer and go back and literally sweep out all the corpses.
Another delicacy I was asked to shoot when it was spotted on patrol was the cane rat.
Kapenta, a small dried fish was also popular with the Africans. It normally stank especially when being cooked.
I resisted the temptation to try all of these foods with the exception of nsima, which I found very bland almost to the point of being tasteless. Biltong and "braais" (braaivleis ) were another matter altogether.
One of the most popular occupations and something because of the predictable seasonal weather you could plan months in advance.
This brings me onto another Post Mortem I had to attend. An African man in his early 20's had been taken to hospital with severe stomach pains and subsequently died. Being a "sudden death" I was detailed to attend and investigate.
When the ME had opened up his stomach, again with me smoking like a chimney to smother the smell, he called me over to look at the contents which were bits of partially digested meat, nsima and leaves with a lot of blood, the stomach had bled extensively. We found out later, after the contents had been analysed by the hospital laboratory, the leaves had contained a poison a bit like the oxalic acid found in Rhubarb leaves. This had led to the stomach bleeding extensively and ultimately his death. On investigation and interrogation of various friends and family members present at the meal including his mother who had prepared his food that night. He had bought some vegetables in the market including a cucumber like vegetable which had some leaves with it and he had been the only one to eat the leaves as there were only a few. It was those that had killed him. After all the various statements and ME reports had been examined and witnesses questioned the Magistrate decided it was an accidental death caused by eating toxic leaves!
The first was in Chingola, where we had a call from a woman one evening to say her husband had shot himself. I was sent round ASAP to check what had happened. I got there was shown onto the back stoep to see this guy lying there next to a chair with a.22 rifle next to him. I checked him quickly and despite him having a bad wound to the side of his head was still breathing but unconscious. I got the woman to call the Station again to get them to send a doctor or ambulance asap, while I tried to stop the bleeding.
Looking at the scene it would appear that the chap had got his rifle and while he was sat down on a chair put the muzzle up to the side of his head but in trying to get to the trigger and pull it, the muzzle had slipped upwards a little and the butt and trigger mechanism downwards a little, this was exacerbated when he pulled the trigger, causing the bullet, instead of going through his temple in a strait line, to commence just below his upper jaw line and exit slightly to the right of centre of his upper skull, taking a piece of his upper jaw bone, a few teeth, a small piece of skull and messing up a piece of his brain. He died in hospital a few hours later without regaining consciousness.
The sick jokes in the mess later were about his poor marksmanship.
I dealt with a few suicides, none of which were pleasant and some downright bizarre. A nasty one first … in Bancroft a young chap in his 20's, who had been diagnosed with a slow but progressively debilitating fatal illness either MS or Motor neurone disease, I cant remember which exactly. Anyway he realised it was beginning to affect him and had tried a couple of time earlier to end it all, first by an overdose which his family had discovered and got medical help before it was fatal and then with CO2 fumes in a car which again his family discovered and halted. However third time was lucky, well fatal for him. One day we got a call from his family that he had disappeared in the car in the middle of the night. Everybody suspected he was going to try again and a huge search was mounted by us and all his families friends, we were looking for over a week when a report came in from an African who had been cycling on a little used track about 12 miles into the bush that he had seen a car with a dead Mzungu in. Fortunately I wasn't on duty and one of my colleagues had to go to find the chap had run a hose pipe from the exhaust through a partially closed quarter light window and successfully gassed himself. This was in late November, traditionally called suicide month in NR because it was v. hot and getting humid prior to the rains breaking. My colleague saw to his horror that the body was already in a very bad state of decomposition and covered in huge fat maggots and flies. The mine fire brigade were called and covering their noses smashed the door open and literally hosed the maggots off him and managed to get his rotting body into a couple of plastic bags where it was taken for a very quick autopsy and buried the same day. The magistrates findings unsurprisingly enough was "suicide while the state of mind was disturbed".
Another nasty one not long after right on the border with Katanga, was when an African noticing a vile smell went to investigate and found a body of an African hanging from a very high tree. I went out as I was the Border patrol officer and found this tree just inside NR with this African hanging by the neck from a branch about 30 odd foot up the bloody tree. It wasn't just stinking, fluid and bits were dropping off it. I called the CO on the radio and he came up to see and said f**k that I'm calling the magistrate and ME here and we'll sort it out on the spot. We had already checked to see if there were any Africans from any NR villages missing and their were not, so he was probably from Katanga but it was in our jurisdiction.
The Magistrate and the ME came a couple of hours later. Meanwhile the CO had got a couple of prisoners from our stations holding cells to dig a pit big enough to bury the body beneath the tree.
It took less than a minute for the inquest where it was found that an unknown African Male believed to be from Katanga had committed suicide by hanging whist the state of mind was disturbed. One of the prisoners was given a knife, told to climb the tree and cut the rope. The body dropped with a squelch into the hole and soil hastily shovelled over and a stone placed there as a marker should it need to be disinterred.
The last one I'll mention again was while I was on Border patrol. I was called to a small town called Konkola only about half a mile or so into NR. where there was a small mine which was only being kept open and serviced by a skeleton crew to keep it usable. We had a small sub station there run by a Sgt and 6 constables who reported into me.
A body of a man had been found hanging just outside the town near small path. I went and to my astonishment found this poor bugger hanging by his neck BUT the cloth he had used as a rope had stretched and his knees were touching the ground, never mind his feet. WTF is going on here I thought, was it a murder, had someone forced him to do it? I called CID, telling them the circumstances and they turned up pretty quickly, again they were puzzled. The ME had also been called and we carefully undid the cloth. The wife of the dead man was interrogated and it turned out he had been depressed having just lost his job on the partially closed mine. The ME had checked the marks caused by the cloth on the neck and they were consistent with hanging and not strangulation. No other marks of attack or defence had been found on him during the PM, so it was recorded as "suicide, while the deceased mind was disturbed". But I still think to this day how bad did things have to be to cause you to literally strangle yourself that way!!
One way to avoid dealing with stenching corpses, especially if the incident had happened on the border of two jurisdictions, was to get there first and ensure the body was found in the adjacent jurisdiction. This was easy in the two stations I was stationed, Chingola and Bancroft which were separated by the river Kafue, a tributary of the Zambezi.
There was a favourite spot for suicides there, in this instance, the bridge which went over the river at a place called the "hippo pool", where funnily enough hippos could occasionally be seen. This then flowed under the aforesaid bridge to a small set of rapids. When a car had been reported abandoned at the bridge and a suspected suicide might have taken place , the station first getting the call would rush someone out to the spot and start searching the banks on their side of the river, downstream of the bridge for any body that had washed up. Remember this was the tropics and bodies would rise to the surface quite quickly, often within a day, unlike the UK where because of the comparative colder conditions gasses would take longer to form thus lifting the body to the surface.
If the body was found on "our" side of the river a long piece of stick would be found and the body pushed away from "our" bank until it lodged on the opposite side. Someone would be left to guard the spot while someone else called the adjoining station to inform them of the good news. We ALWAYS waited until they had collected it, thus avoiding the nasty job of clearing it up. I believe from colleagues based at Livingstone and Kariba, similar tactics were used on the Zambezi on the S. Rhodesian border with the BSAP getting the dirty jobs. It was a lot more difficult there as the valley is over 300' deep and involved a difficult scramble to get to the bank of the river.
A lot of my duties were very mundane and could have happened to any bobby in the UK BUT there were many differences in the situation and culture which one had to learn quickly to do the job correctly and sometimes to survive.
Traffic patrol was one where 90 odd percent could be found in the UK. On my first station Chingola, I was told by Johnny to take one of the Rover 90's up to a junction off the airfield road, this had a largish estate of European housing and all vehicles had to use the Jcn, which incidentally had a stop sign on it, before joining the airfield road. The main road was a good double carriageway leading down a slight hill and around a few gentle bends into the town center and Mine just over a mile away with no housing or buildings on either side of it until about 100 yds from the town center. But it had numerous little trackways probably 5 or 6, leading from small African villages/settlements crossing it going in the general direction of the mine and light industrial sites. This was the Problem, especially at night, an African would be happily pedalling his "Njinga", bicycle, mainly without lights, along the track and shoot, without looking left or right, across the road irrespective of other vehicles, causing lots of accidents quite a lot of which were fatal. As a result the speed limit was 30 mph. One scene I went to, the Traffic Inspector estimated from the extensive damage to the victim, bike and car had been doing approaching 80 mph!! My job was to check on and try and dissuade people from speeding on that particular road.
The favourite time was in the morning just after sunrise when a lot of Europeans would be driving down to work in the mine or town center. I found if I parked about 30 - 40 yds east of the junction on the airfield side I had the rising sun behind me and unless the car coming out of the estate stopped and checked carefully he wouldn't see me. and more often or not these were the people who would then speed down into town. I would then follow at a safe distance and often a slower safer speed, but watch them pull away and follow them into their place of work and give them the ticket for both speeding and failing to stop, giving them a lecture on the reason for it. Very few were happy and it might have made some be a little more cautious and saved an Africans life, I'll never know.
Another thing that is totally different from the UK is that in NR there were virtually parallel justice systems. The overall British justice system with mainly laws adopted from the British legal system administered by Resident Magistrates and high court judges and enforced by us. Then there was the Tribal laws and customs administered and enforced by Tribal chiefs in their legally defined tribal areas. In the Towns we also had a thing called the Urban Native Courts, where minor chiefs and their head men dealt with tribal disputes which didn't come under British Law.
My first experience came when an African Woman walked into the station with a massively bruised eye. My Sergeant questioned her and explained to me she had been hit by her husband for not having his meal ready when he came back from working on the mine. I was all for going out and arresting him for assault when my Sgt stopped me and said no Bwana it was a case for the Urban Native Court. They settled such disputes. After contacting the CO who whilst agreeing if a European had done it the man would have been arrested, agreed with the Sgt and said it was the African way!!
A funny sequence to that followed a month or so later. One of my Constables a happy cheery fellow who always seemed to have smile on his face started turning up on shift looking as miserable as sin. I didn't question him but after he had gone on to his beat, asked my Sgt why. He burst into peels of laughter explaining that he had been a bit of a ladies man and had been enjoying the favours of a woman married to a man working on the mine, going to her house when the man was working and one day the man had returned early and caught them at it. Had then gone to the UNC and complained, the verdict was that my constable had to pay the man compensation which was the "bride price" he had paid to her family when they had married. About £30, which was the value of about 3 cows or about 6 weeks pay for my constable at the time. She then had become my constables wife. The happy ending is that some months later my constable had the same thing happen to him and got his cash back turning him back into the happy go lucky chap he was before.
A little word on the practice of "bride price". In the African Languages of NR there were no words for LOVE, it and LIKE were the same. There was no word for WIFE, it was "my woman". When an African wanted to marry a girl it wasn't for "love" as we Mzungu's knew it. It was because he wanted a woman to cook, clean and have children. Depending on the tribe and custom at the time the price would be in cattle from 2 - 5 being the norm, each beast costing about £10. A man kept as many women as he could afford to buy and keep.
On my second station Bancroft I was very surprised to get a formal letter from one of my constables which began "Bwana Williams, I love you very much", going on to ask me if I could lend him some money towards buying a wife from his village costing him about £40 as she was very strong.
I was able to lend him £20 which he paid me back at £5 per month.
I tried to explain that we didn't pay for a wife but normally if we wanted to marry a woman we went to her father and rather than haggle over how many cows she was worth, explained to him that you had a job paying you £x per month and would be able to buy as house worth £y etc and that you would look after her well. Marrying for love had no concept to them.
A bit later in my time at Chingola on the 18th September I and several others on my station were sent to search in the bush to the East and S. East of Chingola to see if we could spot any sign of the plane carrying Dag Hammarskjöld, the UN Secretary General which had gone missing on a flight from Leopoldville in the Congo to Ndola about 90 miles South of Chingola. Parties from every Police Station in that area were sent to search.
It was claimed that his plane was shot down by a Katangese jet fighter fighter. This is dubious to say the least. Katanga only ever had a maximum of 3 Fouga CM 170 Magisters, basically a 2 seater training aircraft which could and was, used as a ground attack plane by the Katangese. But as a night fighter it was totally unsuitable, Hamaskjolds plane crashed at just after midnight, the time was ascertained by the watches found on the bodies, in an area that large. Despite the damage caused by the resultant fire, no signs of any such attack was found on the plane or bodies recovered. It was almost certainly pilot error by him misjudging his height on his approach to Ndola, the wheels were found to be locked down for landing and the attitude of the plane and the 800 yd long trail of damage to trees etc showed that. The pilot had already requested clearance for landing at Ndola at 22.38, at 00.10 he reported "lights in sight" and a Police officer in Ndola heard an aircraft just after that and not long after saw a flash in the sky. It was as a result of that that the Police searches began not long afterwards from 4 stations in the surrounding area.
This was a pilot who took off from Leopoldville filing a flight plan for Luluaboug, and then went on to fly over lake Tanganyika, (the blue area to the left of Albertville) to avoid flying over Katanga, to get to Ndola, which is located about 100 odd miles S.E. of Elizabethville on the map below. That would have added over 1000 miles to his journey, so after being in the air for almost 7 hours he would be pretty tired and messed up his preparations for landing.
But hey who wants to spoil the conspiracy theorists reports of numerous people allegedly seeing a second jet shooting at another. This is an area which apart from the mining town of Ndola and a few other mining towns to the N. W. only had a very few widely scattered very small African villages with only rough bush tracks between them, so few, if any, reliable witnesses.
The African population as a whole probably didn't even know of the situation apart from those tribes who lived right on the border and where African refugees had an impact. I actually have an incident I had to deal with re. that situation.
One morning I was called into the CO's office where he was sat with the District Commissioner who looked very worried. He explained that a couple of the local NR Chiefs had complained that Africans were coming across the border to avoid the chaos/danger there and building villages in NR. This was leading to potential conflict as despite most of the tribes being of the overall Lunda tribal group, many had long standing enmity going back centuries in struggles/wars for dominance over hunting, fishing and settlement rights.
My orders were to go and eject these new settlers and burn down their huts ensure they went back to Katanga and not return. I was told to make sure I had enough man power to do this. I briefed another A/Insp to get a good reliable car crew together and together with my lads from the border patrol and 3 district messengers who knew the location of these illegal villages we set out. 2 Europeans with pistols and Sterling SMG's, 2 drivers with Greener S/G's, 8 constables and 3 district messengers all armed with.303 rifles and bayonets. The messengers led the way on their njingas with their rifles slung over their backs. They stopped about 100 yards before the first "village", just a collection of 6 or 7 rough grass huts in a clearing. I had spread the police out to about 30 yards each side of the track so that as we approached the settlement we overlapped each side, the only open route was back towards Katanga. I instructed the head Messenger to call the people of the settlement together so I could talk to them. There were about 30 - 40 all told including women and children, most of the men had either an axe, spear or bow and arrows so I made sure all my men had their weapons at the ready. Using the Messenger to translate I said they were trespassing on another tribes land and that would lead to violence, possibly death for them if they didn't leave and go back to their land in Katanga but I was going to be kind this once and give them 1 hour to get their things together and go back. We would escort them to ensure no other tribe attacked them in NR, if they came back the local tribe would attack and kill them and we wouldn't protect them.
Once they had all their things together and there wasn't a lot. We then set fire to the shacks after ensuring they were all empty and followed them to the border watching them disappear into the Katangese bush.
We did this three times that day. To my knowledge they never came back and thankfully no one was killed or injured, the local chiefs and the DC were happy.
Oh how I wish I had insisted those orders had been in writing!
As for the reaction of the Europeans, I think at first it was dismay and sympathy for the White Belgians fleeing from the total chaos and murder that had broken out in the Congo when Lumumba had incited the African police and military to usurp and attack their Belgian officers. As often happens a lot of the mobs also attacked "soft" targets, often missions and mission built schools, hospitals and clinics killing and raping those that had helped them. Anyone who could defend themselves were treated with a little more respect.
The N. Rhodesians did a lot in setting up help centres on the main crossing points.
As this chaos subsided a bit, Tshombe declared independence from the central Congo Govt of Lumumba, Most felt a lot of support for him as he seemed sensible wanting the Belgians to keep Europeans in Katanga to supervise and train Africans to do the numerous jobs that Africans were not yet capable of doing.
There was a lot of support from the federation govt. for Tshombe. In NR I think most govt. employees agreed but in Whitehall, the ultimate controlling part of NR, I think there were more reservations especially when the UN got involved and sent troops to crush Tshombe. Most locals thought they were attacking the wrong man, Lumumba had been the one to incite violence not Tshombe.
But I think this is where politics and big business get very murky. This don't forget was in the middle of the "cold war" and Lumumba was favoured by Moscow as he ousted the colonial power, they even named a university after him where many other "freedom fighters"/terrorists.
The mineral wealth of Katanga is huge. The ex Belgian geologist who had the farm I mentioned in the strawberry tale told me that he had surveyed well over a hundred commercially viable sites in Katanga during his time there, only a fraction of which were being mined in the 60's. Copper, Cobalt, diamonds and coltan (essential in the mobile phone industry) to name a few, so there were many outsiders aware of this and eager to oust the Belgian control of them.
When It was clear that Tshombe was losing the war against the now numerous UN troops he decided to leave. I was delegated to meet him at the Kasumbalesa border post and escort him to Ndola airport where he went into exile in Spain.
Our SB Insp. had given me the approx. time he would be arriving with the British Ambassador. I was to get an escort together in 2 Landrovers, myself and another A/Insp armed with Sterling SMG's, 2 drivers with Greener S/G's and 8 Constables each armed with a.303, this again like the copper bonus payroll, was because for much of the journey we were less than 10 miles from the Katangese border and the UN might be tempted to try and grab him. Each of the station districts I passed through was also to provide 1 similarly armed escort group until relieved by the next district. mine was the only group continually present. So at any one time he had 18 armed Police accompanying him.
I got to the border in plenty of time and let my chaps stretch their legs for a bit whilst remaining with the vehicles while I went to chat to the Rhodesian customs and immigration who were also aware of his imminent arrival. When all of a sudden a vehicle turns up very unexpectedly, coming out of Katanga but with only one chap in it who turns out to be a journalist working for the "Times". He is extremely curious as to the large police presence and starts asking what we are doing. I try to give him the brush off but he decides to stay and pulls his car just off the road inside NR as he has finished all the usual border checks on his passport etc and I have no legal reason to either order him to go or detain him. A few minutes Tschombe's Limo pulls up and I call my men to attention, salute and explain to the British Ambassador My vehicle will lead and the others follow his until our arrival at the airport where I will stand guard until his aircraft has departed. The Rhodesian border chaps just waved him through with no checks.
The whole thing went like clockwork and each districts vehicle joined our column and departed with no hitches, any other vehicle that looked as though it would join the convoy or intermix with it was "blue lighted" and told to FO sharply. The Times reporter was in his heaven having got what must have been a "scoop" until at the end of the first district where I told the departing escort vehicle over the radio to pull him over and do a very thorough vehicle, licence and insurance check ensuring he didn't leave for at least a half hour and not to give him access to a phone!
At the airport there was a plane waiting and within a short space of time he was gone, having thanked me for my care.
Coincidentally some years later his plane was hi jacked and he was flown to Algeria and imprisoned until he died in 1969 of allegedly a "heart attack". The Pilot of that plane was a Trevor Coppleston who later became the pilot of the HS 125 owned by the company I worked for, Green Shield and as their Chief Buyer I was able to use it occasionally on business trips in the '70's.
After each of my attendances at Post-Mortems, I found it difficult to get stuck in to a meal that contained meat, especially my first one where my shift commander, after sending me on it, went to the mess and deliberately ordered our cook to prepare a nice steak and KIDNEY pie, just to see my face afterwards. When that was served up that night I retched and left the table hurriedly, much to the hilarity of the rest of the mess who had been informed of the sick, well to me anyway, joke of serving bits of meat and KIDNEYS! I took a few days of cheese and pickle sandwiches or plain omelettes before I could face the normal meat heavy diet we enjoyed in NR. I believe like S. Africa at the time, Rhodesia consumed more meat per capita than even the Yanks, with steak being so commonplace one wished for a change occasionally. For instance Fish was rarely served, with us being over 5 days by train from Cape Town the most accessible port at the time. Occasionally we might get a freshly caught Bream from the Kafue which was a nice change, but that was rare.
Various types of venison and fowl would occasionally be served if someone had been out shooting in our district. Duiker, bushbuck, impala and kudu were occasionally served but I found most to be a bit tough but still tasty. Dove, quail, duck, goose and my favourite guinea fowl were also occasional treats. Indeed Johnny had invited me to a duck shoot within 2 weeks of my arrival, him lending me one of a pair of nice Birmingham shotguns that he had inherited from his Grandfather.
The shoot was around a "dambo", in this instance a small shallow lake created by damming a small stream on a nearby farm whose owner Johnny knew. As at that time I had never fired a shotgun at a flying target and knew nothing about leads, sighting through the line of flight etc, he had told not to bother with flying bird leave that to him. He was to position himself behind a bush at one side and my job was to work my way unobtrusively along the other side to get in range of a few ducks on the surface fire at them trying to bag a few sitters and he would take shots a they flew over him. Then to take cover, wait for them to settle again and repeat. We managed to get 9, with him getting about 6 of those 3 I claimed as sitters. He gave 3 to the farmer by way of thanks and that night we had Duck a L'orange in the mess, with a pleasant S African red, which went down very well.
To Johnny's credit he did give me a few lessons after that to try and get me into shotgun shooting but despite me getting the odd guinea fowl I never mastered the shotgun until 15 - 20 years later when I discovered its delights in Hampshire and got my first Miroku, which according to a friend of mine I became very proficient to such an extent on one small shoot I was a member of in Berkshire, I got a bit of a reputation as a shot. We had an old retired doctor, who while loving to shoot would either "prick" or miss pheasants coming over him in the line. I loved being drawn next to him and would watch the birds approaching him keeping my gun out of my shoulder but letting the barrels follow it, after he had given it both barrels with mainly it being missed or at best "pricked", I would then "wipe his eye" snip "d. 1823 MOOR Suffolk Words s.v., In shooting, if one miss the bird, and a companion, firing after, kill it, the lucky, or more skilful gunner, is said to wipe the eye of his disappointed friend. 1860 W. W. READE Liberty Hall II. 207 If there is anything,.. you shoot first, old boy, as it's your find: I'll stand by and wipe your eye" That way I often almost doubled my bag.
Indeed one day a bird had passed the line further up from me and was turning towards me and I heard a beater talking about the others missing it when the another beater said "don't worry he'll get it" referring to me. I did, much to my relief, hearing the one saying "I told you so"
On arrival to NR we had been shown a brief film of a chap in the final stages of Rabies, quite horrifying and I had made a vow NEVER to let a suspected rabid animal get near me.
In NR the law was ALL pet dogs had to be immunised against it and a certificate and a metal tag which had to be attached to the collar of said animal. Any dog not wearing a collar could and often was shot.
In the European towns/farms we rarely had problems, in most African townships attached to a mine, few dogs were seen as 1) Africans rarely if ever kept pets and 2) the cost of immunisation was high compared to their wages.
In African villages there were a few mangy dogs, most were feral and roamed in packs, this was where a lot of outbreaks started. When this happened and a genuine or suspected case was reported the District Commissioner (the chief govt. official in the area) issued the order for a "TIE UP" i.e. all dogs to be confined or kept on a lead, any found loose were shot on sight. This was announced over the radio and signs put up in public places. We were then ordered to enforce this and most European officers and sergeants went out on patrol armed with our heavy Greener shotguns and a bandolier of cartridges, either SG or SSG that is either 9 x.32" pellets per ounce or 11 x.30" pellets per ounce. So a hell of a charge which stopped virtually any domestic pet in it's tracks.
Any warm blooded animal could contract and pass rabies on. In the USA racoons and even bats have been known to carry the virus. The first suspected case I had was when a "pet" monkey had attacked its female European owner, her garden boy and a neighbour who had tried to help. Now the problem with "pet" monkeys that they were often captured in the wild by African hunters who had killed the mother for meat, the "cute" little baby would then be taken to the nearest Mzungu town and sold to a Mzungu. Now these little creatures were often tiny and looked harmless but in a short space of time can grow up to 2' - 3' in height depending on the species with teeth up to a couple of inches long.
I got to the house pretty quickly, saw the nasty bites on all three victims and carrying my SG at the ready went into the garden where it had last been seen. As I rounded the corner of the house I saw the thing about 3' high about 15 yards away, it saw me and ran straight towards me with its jaws wide open chattering wildly. I didn't hesitate I brought the SG up and fired. Well in my last tale I mentioned I wasn't that good with a SG on a moving target, so instead of killing the f**king thing outright, I just blew its left side and arm to bits. It still kept coming, I started backing up while pulling the under lever down to open the martini breech, pushed another cartridge in, aimed and fired as fast as I could. That did it, the shot had gone to the right of my last shot and the thing was virtually in two pieces on the path, while a hose pipe behind it which her garden boy had been using before it attacked him was acting as a sprinkler due to the shots going through the monkey into it. It turned out not to be rabid after the local game dept. had tested it just a nasty temper.
In a neighbouring town where a "tie up" had been ordered, a dog had been spotted wandering around just behind the main shopping street so a colleague of mine from training school was sent to kill it. As the land rover approached one of the constables saw the dog just going around a corner, My colleague stopped the land rover, got out with his Greener and peered around the corner carefully, there about 10 yards away he could just see the back half of a smallish terrier type dog standing in an open doorway. Up came his gun , BANG one dead dog, but further into the doorway, unseen by him, was an hysterical European woman holding the lead still attached to the dog he had just shot!!
I was even asked to shoot a cat one day. This chap had got up early one morning to do a bit of gardening and left his kitchen door open. When he went back inside a half an hour or so later he had seen a neighbours cat in his kitchen which was not unusual it often popped in to scrounge a bit of meat but he was in a hurry went to scoop it up and put it back outside when it attacked him biting &scratching his hands quite badly. He went back into the garden and shut the door keeping it confined and went to complain to the neighbours, who told him it wasn't theirs and actually showed him it in their kitchen. So he came to the Police station to report it. I attended him and rang the local vet to check if cats could have rabies. Unusual but yes was the answer. I had to go and shoot it in his kitchen, making a better job of it this time only needing the one cartridge.
Over the 3 years I was in NR we had 3 or 4 "tie up" orders and I had to shoot dozens of dogs mainly in African villages. It was the only way to keep a very nasty disease under control.
The last case I remember was after a long day killing dogs in African villages during a "tie up", I had exhausted all but one cartridge and got a call on the radio to go to the mine where a dog frothing at the mouth had been seen.
I went and on arrival a couple of nervous mine official had shown me where it had last been seen. I went towards the area accompanied by one of my car crew who carried his riot baton. We found the thing as we went around the corner of a mine building, it saw us and snarling and frothing as it came, went for us, again Bang but I had slipped as I fired and only badly wounded it, taking its right foreleg off. It was still coming for us, crawling frothing and snapping and I had just used my last f**king cartridge. S**t, Grab this I said to my constable giving him the greener and took his riot baton and proceeded to kill the animal by bearing its head to a pulp. We had to burn the baton asap in case it had the virus on it from the smears of blood all over it.
If you look at this photo of a Police Greener you can see Its a very sturdy and heavy weapon with a full wooden stock and a metal tipped butt and would have killed the dog more effectively than the baton but ensuring no traces of rabies virus weren't still on it would have been extremely difficult, if not impossible, so the baton was the only, to my way of thinking, sensible way.
The Mobile Unit
I mentioned earlier that my first shift commander had left to join the "Mobile unit", this was our specialist riot and disorder control unit.
It was originally formed in 1949 as a mobile back up force to be deployed to areas/towns where widespread disorder had broken out threatening to overwhelm local resources.
Its base and headquarters were in an old mining settlement Bwana Mkuba just south of Ndola. By the time I had arrived it had expanded into 4 companies each of 4 platoons consisting of an Inspector, an Asst. Inspector controlling 4 sections each of a sgt and 9 men and a training and recruitment wing. So approaching 700 men.
It recruited and trained its own constables separately from the main NRP. The emphasis was on strength and fitness, language and education requirements were lower although to qualify for promotion to sgt. the recruit had to pass the equivalent of the 11+ exam and speak good English. All European officers joining were expected to be able teach his platoon members English to bring them up to a reasonable level. It goes without saying drill and fitness training were everyday occurrences led by the European Officers and Sergeants.
There were normally 3 or 4 platoons out on virtually permanent attachment to stations, Livingstone, Lusaka and Chingola were the main towns they were attached on a 6 month rota to. The other platoon on detachment would be sent to one of the smaller Provincial headquarters in the remote tribal areas well off the line of rail, places like Mwinilunga just up near the Angolan border, Kabompo out near Barotseland in the West, Kasama in the east towards Nyasaland. Many of these places didn't have police presence just a Provincial or District commissioner with a few "Boma Messengers", these were Africans recruited and trained by the civil administration to help enforce the various Bomas or regional civil headquarters in the various remote provinces and tribal areas where normal police were not stationed permanently.
In the event of serious disturbances additional Platoons would be deployed to help. Each Platoon when on patrol or attachment went in either 2 landrovers and 1 troop carrier or I land rover and 2 trucks. They carried with them 1 ridge tent for the 2 Inspectors and 4 bell tents for the sections and their sgt's.
The inspectors had a Bren gun and Sterling SMG plus their pistols plus at least one riot gun, each driver had a greener shot gun and at least one section had their.303 rifles and bayonets and all had the standard riot gear of long baton, shield, steel helmet and respirator. They carried enough food and water for several days and resupplied where possible. If they were sent to a town or civil HQ that wasn't a problem but if in a tribal area they might have to negotiate with the local chief/ headman for food. Water purifying tablets were essential but as I found on Border patrol I preferred to take a large cooking utensil and boil any we found.
They also normally carried an anti snake venom kit as there were some nasty specimens to be found in NR and I will come to my near misses later.
Having been down to the MU mess to visit Johnny and talking to the attached platoon in Chingola, I had decided that this was the sort of policing I wanted to do. Into the bush and going to where the action was. Patrolling the beat and fining errant motorists were just not exiting enough and although I had had a little excitement with the ambush attempt, I wanted more. So I applied to my CO "Fitz" for a transfer. He said no I was needed where I was and to talk to him in 3 months. So I had to wait.
I got to know the Inspector of our attached MU platoon quite well he was ex RUC and most unusually also an RC. He would get a little maudlin occasionally after a session in the mess and tell us how he had been shunned by most of his family and childhood friends when he joined the RUC. It was this that had eventually prompted him to join the NRP where he felt much more at home. On Independence he had returned to the UK and joined the Met. The last I heard later in the early '70's was that he had been promoted to det/sgt in the Special branch working as part of the team undercover against the IRA.
Another interesting character I met from the Bancroft mess was John Gilpin, he had been attached to the Somali Scouts during his National Service and fancied the life in Africa. He was the officer in charge of Border Patrols. The post having been established on the outbreak of the Congo crisis in 1960. It was decided by the powers that be that having a roving patrol going out along the border either side of the official crossing post at Kasumbalesa might dissuade or at least diminish the flow of mercenaries, arms and other contraband in and out of NR.
John had used prison Labour to help create a rough track going out some 30 -40 miles each side of the crossing point. Fortunately the border there was right on the line of the watershed between the Congo and NR and roughly aligned with the high ground, so wasn't as prone to flooding in the wet season allowing him to carefully traverse it in all but the worst of weather. To the West there was an even rougher track which went up to Kipushi a further 30 odd miles.
Gilpin claimed to be related to the Redgrave acting family who he thought were prats of the first order and looking at some of their SJW stunts he was right.
His tales about some of the events on the border sounded interesting and he suggested that I apply for a transfer to Bancroft where an A/I had just gone on "long leave" (after a 3 years tour all European officers were granted 6 months paid leave with fares paid to the UK, this on top of the annual 2 weeks local leave) with a resultant vacancy which being in the same district as Chingola would be easier to get than going out of district to the MU. He was due to go on "long leave" in a few months and that would leave his post vacant which would be a shoe in compared with the MU. I had been on a patrol with him along the border with him on one of my rest days in Chingola, so that did it. I went to "Fitz" to ask for the transfer, he was very surprised and again tried to get me to stay by offering me a days only desk job in the admin office with a transfer to the MU in 6 months. The last thing I wanted, so I persisted and a few weeks later I was in Bancroft.
I moved to Bancroft a smaller station about 10 miles from the Katangese border at Kasumbalesa.
Bancroft, now called Chililabomwe, was a newish small mining town with about 2000 - 3000 European residents and about 30,000 - 40,000 African residents so only about a third of the size of Chingola. My first job was to get to know my shift, most of whom are shown in post 158 as I was the new shift commander taking over from the guy who had left for the UK. Then of course the layout of the town and the various beats. This differed from Chingola in that we had the African township to patrol, whereas in Chingola there were 2 sub stations each based in the 2 African townships. So a fair bit to learn and quickly, I didn't have someone like "Johnny" to watch me. One relied heavily on your African Sergeant, who in my case in Bancroft was a good chap as I mentioned in an earlier post actually saving my life with his actions.
As we were a smaller station we had a few police reserves who spent quite a bit of time helping us, especially at weekends. One of these was very useful, a chap called Don Steele, he ran a small garage in the town and had a speedboat he kept to cruise up the navigable bits of the Kafue river. He frequented our mess quite a lot as well, as being in the reserve he was an honorary member.
One of the early shouts was to a report of a dangerous snake underneath a woman's car. She had just left the house to go shopping and saw what she thought was a black mamba just on the drive next to the car.
I got there with a greener s/g and looked very carefully under the car from about 5 yards away. Mambas have a reputation for speed as well as lethality. Couldn't see anything, asked the garden boy if he had seen it go anywhere and he thought it was still somewhere in the underparts of the car. The woman was getting impatient, so I asked if I could open the bonnet to check in the engine bay , she unlocked the car reached in and pulled the release. I carefully using the barrel of the s/g lifted it …. to be confronted sitting coiled on top of the engine with, not a Mamba but even worse a spitting cobra.
These charming creatures can direct a spray of venom of several yards which can blind a person if it gets in the eye. I dropped the lid and backed off rapidly. It didn't drop down onto the floor but seemed to like the engine bay and as I considered my next move the woman was getting more impatient to go shopping. The only thing I could think of was to get the car to Don Steeles garage where we could put it over an inspection pit and persuade the reptile to drop down it from underneath the bonnet and I could then shoot it without ripping the car to bits with my SG loaded cartridge.
We got the car to the garage and Don got a high pressure air hose which he played under the bonnet causing the snake to drop into the pit. As he looked over to see where it was, the snake spat, fortunately Don had partially shielded his eyes with his hand and the venom splashed that. I leaned over quickly and blew its head to bits. Don washed his hands immediately and went to the hospital for a check up. He was ok as he had no open cuts or sores on his hand and apart from a bit of redness where the venom had hit, he was fine.
Did I mention I don't like snakes as I had nearly got bitten by a puff adder in Chingola one evening on the stoep just outside my room. I had gone for a bath just after 5.30 pm when it was still light, had a long lazy soak ang got out and dried just after 6.00 pm and left the bathroom walked onto the stoep with just a towel around my middle with no shoes or slippers to walk the few yards to my quarters. It was quite dark and no one had turned the stoep light on. When I heard a hissing just near my feet. Now the African name for puff adder is Mphiri, with the emphasis on the 'fff' sound of the 'ph' in it, as a lot of African words are onomatopoeic, like udzudzu for mosquito. Anyway I guessed it was a snake, nearly fell over backwards to get to the light switch and sure enough a couple of feet beyond where I had been walking was a puff adder coiled up. Having got passed it safely to my room I returned and killed it with my long baton.
A funny, well to others, incident happened one evening a month or so after I had returned to the UK. It was late autumn and I was just walking home from a pleasant evening in my local. One of the streets lights was out and as I walked along I heard this hiss near my feet, glanced down and saw this sinuous shape right next to my feet, literally almost doing a backward somersault I jumped back, yelling out snake at the top of my voice much to my mates hilarity as when I looked again there was an old broken bicycle tyre inner tube coiled up next to a pile of dried leaves that the wind had blown causing them to rustle.
State of Emergency: Chingola
While thinking of some of the incidents I experienced in NR, I realised that I had missed one that happened during the "State of emergency" that happened in Chingola, which funnily enough wasn't resolved to my satisfaction until I had been based at Bancroft for many months.
After the scare with the power line, worries started for other links vulnerable to explosives. Bridges had sprung to mind and apart from the main road bridge between Chingola and Bancroft, there was one other rail bridge vital in connecting Chingola and Bancroft to the rest of the copperbelt which crossed a shallow ravine about 20' deep, where a small spring fed stream ran. This was located several miles to the S. East of the town and could be accessed by a small track. Every shift had to go to inspect it at least twice per shift along with the road bridge. Two incidents happened which to me at least are memorable. The first occurred at about 2.00pm one morning I was just driving the Landrover to a spot I could park, get out and walk around the bridge checking down in the ravine to see if anything untoward had occurred, when one of my car crew excitedly pointing out of the vehicle said "Kambuku Bwana", Leopard, and there about 50 yards away on the other side of the bridge was a leopard which I lit up with the spotlight only to see it casually walk off into the bush and disappear. Now I had been getting out of the vehicle and casually scrambling down the ravine with just my pistol in its holster and a torch to check the bridge earlier in the week but that night and every night afterwards I took a.303 with me after carefully scanning the surrounding bush with the spotlight! It was the only time I saw a Leopard in my 3 years there.
Another time just as dawn was breaking a couple of hundred yards away from the bridge I came to a stop as I saw a crowd of people on the track in front of us about 100 yards away. I ordered my men out of the Landrover and formed up either side of the track, me with the sterling and my car crew with their.303's. The crowd continued on their way towards us apparently unconcerned and I noticed as they got closer they seemed to be nearly all old women of 40+, about 15 of them, which in NR at the time was old. With just one old man at the front all well wrapped up in blankets, it was still the cold season and was very nippy at night as I mentioned in the "Ambush" tale. That is with one striking exception, in the middle of this crowd of old women was a striking looking girl of about 14 - 15 years old, quite tall for an African woman, probably about 5' 7" and walking very upright revealing a very shapely pair of breasts, which with the cold had quite outstanding nipples. But the most striking and bizarre thing of all was that she was totally naked apart from a rough skirt which appeared to be made of leaves. Her legs were wet and had streaks of mud on them.
When I had recovered from my astonishment I asked them what they were doing. No response so I asked my Sergeant to translate it into the local language or dialect. He and my constables seemed distinctly uncomfortable after the group had got close to us and the Sergeant said to me "It is woman's things bwana, not a threat". I tried to get him to explain more but he couldn't. I tried my Cinyanja on the group and got blank looks in return. None of them carried any weapons that I could see and were totally unperturbed by our presence so I let them go.
On return to the station I asked the CO and other chaps who had been in NR some time, WTF I had encountered and no one could say. My CO said it might have been some tribal witchcraft ceremony but if there was no apparent wrongdoing, nothing could be done. The more Junior mess members joked that at least I had seem a nice pair of tits.
It wasn't until I was in Bancroft and got friendly with a chap who had a small farm near the Katanga border that I got a possible explanation. This chap was a S. African, born in Durban just after his Belgian parents had disembarked from their ship on the way to the Congo in 1900. He had later become a geologist working and travelling all over Central Africa from Angola to Tanganyika. He had semi retired after a few bad bouts of Malaria, buying the small farm near Bancroft and supplemented his pensions with selling eggs, fruit and veg in the market in Chingola and Bancroft. He was a great source of local knowledge, so one day I raised the encounter with naked teenage girl with him. He thought about it carefully asking me all the details and said it was probably a "female circumcision ceremony" which I had caught the end of. Very unusual in that part of Africa but given the widespread catchment area for workers on the copper mines, the group may have originated in East Africa where FGM was widespread.
He explained that the mud and water on her legs were possibly from where the group had taken her to sit in the very cold water of the stream facing upstream with her legs open. The extreme cold would have numbed the pain of the process.
That to me was the most likely circumstances.
On a lighter note I would often get the odd gift of eggs, fresh fruit or veg from him to take back to the mess. In the right season he even had some strawberries and I hadn't seen those for over 2 years and one day when I was introducing the chap who was going to take over from me, I commented on this. He apologised and said he had picked them all early that morning and his wife had taken them to the Chingola market to sell but we could have a look at the patch and help ourselves to any we found, giving us a small paper bag. As we approached the patch it looked empty, all the fruit gone but I just saw one peeping out from beneath a leaf, I bent over to pick it and saw a few more. Come on Jules, that was the new guys name, a great chap from Yorkshire who I am friends with to this day, let try and find a few. Within a few minutes we had filled the bag, as on hands and knees, loads appeared below the leaves. And as I was wearing my Bush hat, a bit like the one shown below but without the upturned brim, I filled that as well. We thanked him profusely and returned to the mess, looked at the couple of pounds of Strawberries we had and thought sod it, they wont go far amongst six so got some cream and sugar from the cook and scoffed the lot ourselves!
I've already mentioned the dire shortage of available females and the fact we had no TV in our mess. Indeed the first one I saw later on in Bancroft was in our police club which was for the constables and NCO's, we could enter but normally only after an invitation from them. As a result of this our drinking was quite heavy, I found my bar bill was normally 2 to 3 times my normal food bill. This was aided by us playing various silly games often using dice, darts or cards, liar dice being a popular one. Another was the 3 strikes, the first to win a game ordered a drink, the weirder and more foul it tasted the better. All to go in a standard beer glass but with a proviso of no more than 2 spirit shots and another 2 liqueur shots and 1 glass of wine, this could and was mixed with beer, tabasco sauce, or various fruit juices. The second guy to lose a round PAID for this foul brew and the third guy to lose had to DRINK it, this came with the added penalty that if it didn't go down in one continual go or they puked or spat it up in the mess, then they also had to take the responsibility to reimburse the guy who originally paid for it.
Fortunately it was only when we were really bored and fed up that that one came up. Our mess toilets did occasionally resemble what most people mistakenly think was the Roman "vomitarium". (I know its the exit/entrance of an Roman arena). Where some guys who had a skin (stomach) full would go and throw up, come back and drink some more.
I used to know when I had too much, when returning to my quarters, throwing my clothes off and going to lie on the bed, it would start to spin, with me trying to brace myself against the wall to try and stop it. Then was the time to get to the sink as rapidly as possible before the projectile vomiting started.
My first shift commander, Johnny had a houseboy who when going to his room in the morning, knew from the state of him, his room, bed and sink to decide what he needed before breakfast. A quiet night in the mess, room, sink and clothes tidy = just a cup of tea. A little untidy but no vomit stains, = an "Alka-Seltzer" , bad room, clothes all over the place, vomit in sink = glass of whisky as a "hair of the dog". The last I heard of Johnny after independence was that he was working as a salesman for Castle Breweries in S. Africa. Well if you can't beat 'em, join 'em!!
Most drinks were paid for at the end of the month after all our chits, which we signed for every drink for, were added up and had to be paid for within the week. Visitors and honorary members paid cash.
Older messes like Chingola often had souvenirs decorating the bar often brought back by members who had travelled to other parts of NR or adjoining countries either on duty or holiday. e.g. One of the members of Chingola had been sent on attachment to Nyasaland and brought back various trophy's, a bow and some arrows, several spears, an Nyasaland Police fez etc.
Our mess in Bancroft being less than half the age and having less than half the members was a little short of souvenirs until later when I got up on the border with Katanga. We decided that we would try and get some companies who advertised in the Playboy magazine, which we got every month, only for the articles and editorials of course, never those naughty but nice revealing photos in the centrefold, to send us promotional materials like dice sets and cups, logoed glasses etc.
The format we used was, to write saying we were in a remote mess in darkest Africa on the Congo border guarding against the ravening hordes of savages and wanted something to put in our mess to remind of things we remembered from civilisation. Bear in mind a lot of the press at the time was full of horror stories about the Congo massacres of missionaries etc.
We had a mixed response, a fair % we heard nothing from, a few a rather cold letter informing us that their office in Lusaka, Salisbury or Cape Town would be in touch (they rarely did) or very rarely a jackpot with on one occasion several parcels of various logoed dice sets including nice leather dice cups, glasses including beer, spirits and wine turned up complete with a lovely letter hoping we would all stay safe. That IIRC was from the San Miguel brewery in the Philippines.
Other successes got us beautifully framed Maps and decorative posters especially from Airlines. You can't say we didn't have initiative, its only a pity that initiative couldn't conjure something like that to get a few nice available females around the place. Needless to say once the months playboy had been carefully examined in minute detail by each mess member, the centrefold was carefully removed and placed either on the wall or ceiling behind the bar!
As I said in the post about Pringle in Chingola, occasionally other messes jealous of another messes souvenirs might resort to a raid to abduct a few to take to their mess. It rarely resorted to violence but normally just a retaliatory raid.. Well something had to keep our mind off women.
Sports were a big thing, I've already mentioned to good quality swimming pools most of the big towns had. Some guys did a lot of running and one even did weights. Cricket and tennis were played and there was even a squash court at the training school. The mobile unit also had a small stable for those who wanted to ride. However Rugby was the big sport, each mining town ran a team, some up to three.
Because I was on a 3 shift rota in Chingola, although I played when I was able, the shifts interfered with the training and my availability. When I transferred to Bancroft and eventually got on Border patrol I played more regularly organising any patrols involving staying in the bush around the training and matches wherever possible.
Coming from S. Wales the biggest change I noticed was the pace of the game. In a typical wet Welsh season the pitch was often very muddy and slow. In Africa often rock hard and very fast. I couldn't use my old long studded boots, I had to buy a pair that had short rubber studs moulded into the sole. Taking the skin off the knees and elbows on the abrasive dry pitches was a ongoing hazard. The coaches of both teams, both S. Africans had to try and get me used to a faster more open game than I was used to. I saw tackle bags and scrumming m/c's for the first time and slowly got better. As a second row I was ok jumping in the line out but being just over 6' 3" I only weighed just about 12 stone and try as I might just couldn't put weight on until many years later after I got married and went up to 14 and a half stone, I was not able to push hard enough in the scrum.
I remember one match playing for Bancroft against the best team on the copperbelt when I had jumped and won the first 2 line outs fairly easily, seeing their captain, who just happened to be the Rhodesian capped scrumhalf, tap one of his props, a S. African provincial prop for the Transvaal , on the shoulder and point at me. The next line out the prop marked me and as I jumped with both arms up to take the ball, I thought my ribs had been broken as he had hit me there just as I was fully stretched. I was put back to no 8 as I was useless and not able to jump for the rest of the match. But as in virtually all rugby I played we still shook hands at the end of the match with the scrum half saying our team should have blocked the props interference and made sure I was protected. He also said I needed to gain about 2 to 3 stone in bulk to be of real use in that type of rugby.
The Dry Season in NR lasted 7 - 8 months from April to December. I remember in 1961 Chingola, in early mid December seeing the first rains since April on a terrain baked brown with not a blade of grass except on small carefully tended patches of lawn, having this incredibly strong smell of the rain soaking into the soil. Last week because of the unusually long spell of hot dry weather which dried everything out, when the rain came at long last it smelt very distinctive.
Although you could get similar but normally much less strong scents in the rainy season, the first of the season was always the strongest.
In the wet season NR would get between 40" - 50" of rain, all of this in 4 - 5 months and yet there was still more sunshine than in the average British Summer. This was because when it rained, it RAINED, often 2" - 3" in a few hours often with a lot of thunder and lightening. Dirt roads and occasionally some tarmac roads and small bridges were often swept away with the resultant flooding. In a vehicle it could be like having several hoses pointed at the windscreen and visibility down to a few feet. It was best to wait until the storm passed over and the sun back out. Then drive on being careful when going through water as the surface below could have been swept away. Lightening strikes were also a hazard, sheltering under a tree was unwise as A) the foliage wouldn't keep the rain off and B) if it was a tall solitary tree it could be struck by lightening. It was best to stay in your vehicle which acted like a faraday cage. … How Faraday Cages Work.
This was why when on border patrol I had to be careful as the track I used often crossed small fords which were totally dry in the dry season but could be a raging impassable torrent after a storm. Hence a diminishing of long or extensive patrols in the bush in the wet season. I tried to stick to or near the proper roads.
After the rains came a couple of months where everything was green, grass and plants grew like mad until the lack of moisture stopped it. In June and July nigh time temperatures could and did drop to 4C or 5C , which as I said earlier is f**king cold if you have to hang around in it, especially if the day time temperature in the shade could have hit the high 20's. The uncomfortable time was normally just before the wet season broke with temperatures going up to 30C - 35C in the shade but with sometimes a high humidity. So all in all not too bad for central Africa.
As you might see, practical jokes were common place amongst the junior European police but could have potentially dangerous consequences. Towards the end of our time in training school, a puff adder had been killed and someone thought it would be a good idea to throw the dead and fortunately decapitated, body over the dividing wall into a bathroom stall where one of our members was having a bath. I have never seen a chap move as fast getting out of a bath when it splashed in beside him. We were doubled over laughing but the poor sod whose bath it was stood there stark b**lock naked, shaking like a leaf almost having a heart attack.
Another incident similar to that happened when I had been visiting the Chiwempala sub station just at the time when the day shift was changing to the evening shift and both shifts were going in and out of the charge office.
One of the shift officers had been on patrol in his landrover and killed a puff adder, put the corpse into an old sack and brought it back to the station to have some fun at the expense of the other shift, as he saw the large number of men going in and out of the charge office he thought it would be a good idea to throw it along the floor into the office. This he did, African police were diving everywhere to get out of its way, I was behind the charge office desk and so safe BUT just in front of the desk were the 2 young children of the station CO about 3 - 5 yrs old, he had left them there with his driver until the shifts had changed and he could take then home.
I then saw a very brave action, the Driver instead of panicking and diving for safety, just stood there and picked both children, one in each arm, up and put them on the desk out of harms way, before kicking the snakes body, which was literally right by his feet, away.
As I keep saying, we had some great African Policemen in our Force.
The puff adder was probably the snake I saw most of in my time in NR, it was quite dangerous in that apart from being venomous it was a slow mover and liked to bask in the early evening night on still warm surfaces like stoeps and as a result people did tread on or near them.
First Mercenary Arrest
Later in my time in Chingola I was called into the CO's office at the start of one Night shift and found the Special Branch officer with him. He had had reports that a recently returned Mercenary from Katanga who had crossed the border illegally, was hiding/sheltering in a small European Farm about 5 miles out of town and the farmer and his wife had managed to contact him and asked if he could be removed as he was armed and they were scared of him.
I was told to take another European Officer with me, both of us to be armed in case of trouble and not to take any risks should he have a weapon and looked as though he would use it to try and get away. Drive up very quietly to within about 100 yards from the farm under side lights, so as not to wake the chap, walk the last 100 yards at about 2.00 am, the period of deepest sleep for most people. The farmer would be looking out for us and let us in, showing us the mercenary's bed room.
At about 1.45 am I set off with one of my colleagues both wearing our pistols. Did as we had been instructed to and just before 2.00 am, the farmer showed himself and took us very quietly into the house, showed us the bedroom door which he said wasn't locked. We ushered him back and approached the door. We already had our pistols out by this time, my colleague then went first into the bedroom, very quietly opening the door and I then joined him, with my pistol cocked at this point, as we had no idea what weapon the chap had, it could have been an Uzi for all we knew and I wasn't going to hang about if that opened up, My colleague turned the light on and shouted "armed Police show us your hands". Thankfully for everybody the guy did just that, putting his hands into the air, my colleague pulled his bedclothes off him and seeing no weapons put his pistol away and handcuffed him. At which I un-cocked my pistol carefully and put it back into the holster, but at the slightest hint of him looking as if he had a weapon and was about to use it, I would have shot him without hesitation.
The only "weapon" we found after a very careful search of the room, was a large "flick knife", which was confiscated, apparently he had dumped his Uzi, ammunition and several grenades in the bush near the border. I will come to weapons we found in the bush in a later post. He went to court and after a short prison sentence was deported back to S. Africa.
In NR at that time we still had corporal punishment for juveniles. For minor offences the magistrate could order up to 12 strokes of the cane!
As part of my settling in I was sent to the local prison to witness one such punishment, which were fairly rare. A young 15 yr. old "garden boy" had been caught going into the kitchen of his employer and trying to steal some cash. He was found guilty and the magistrate ordered 6 strokes of the cane. I had to take him with a constable as escort, to the local prison which was only about 400 yards from our station. There we were admitted to a largish room where the MO was present and gave the youth a quick medical exam to check if he was fit enough to take the punishment, ( no obvious heart or physical defects, which would be exacerbated by the punishment). 3 Prison warders were present who then put the lad face down onto a wooden bench. His trousers were lowered and his shirt lifted up. his hands were fastened above his head by leather straps and his legs likewise fastened below. The doctor then painted his buttocks with an antiseptic fluid and placed two well padded long cushions a bit like wider draught excluders, on his buttocks, leaving a 6" gap right on the middle of the buttocks. This protected the lower spine and back and the upper legs to ensure no damage was done to organs like the kidneys. He then stood back and gave the ok to the head prison officer, who just happened to be a really big, thickset African. He had a bamboo cane about 4' - 5' long and about 3/4" in diameter. He then approached the boy from the opposite side of the bench swishing the cane in the air as he approached. The other warders were standing one at the head and the other at the feet of the boy who was crying profusely by this time. I was stood back near the door with my constable and the doctor, so we had a full view of the proceedings.
As the head prison officer laid the first stoke on really hard, the boy screamed in pain, He did the remaining 5 equally hard, causing more screaming and calling for his mother each time. When it was finished the doctor approached the boy while he was still tied up and painted the welts with another antiseptic to avoid any infection where the skin had been broken.
Even from where I stood I could see that the welts weren't on top of each other but spread right across the 6" gap stretching the full width of his buttocks. Quite a skilful job by the head prison officer.
The boy still sobbing and calling for his mother was then released from the straps and told to wait before he dressed. The doctor said that in his experience the lad would have pain there for several day or even a week or so, depending on his constitution. It looked bad to me, with the welts already swelling and seeping blood. We then left and when the boy felt able he was released to walk home.
I think that it was why it was a rare occurrence. His experience and the sight of his bruised and swollen backside together with his inability to sit for some time, would put a lot of others off committing crime. Perhaps if we still did that with a lot of the so called hard men in the youth gang scene in Britain, they wouldn't be so cocky or dare do it again. The current system of "unpaid community work" or probation, seems to be treated as a joke, if there was a fear of receiving REAL pain as a result of their wrongdoing rather than the pathetic slaps on the wrist our current judicial system hands down, I think a lot of these so called "hard men" would be deterred.
Depths of Depravity
This case was the most disturbing case I heard of in my time there and I normally never try to bring it to mind, it is so pervertedly disgusting, showing the depths that humans can sink to. Fortunately for me I was never directly involved, CID did all the leg work, investigating, interviewing, arresting and charging. I only ever acted as an additional escort when en route to the prison but obviously it was discussed at length in the mess.
The story ….. Teachers at the local European junior school had contacted us after they discovered that 2 children, a brother about 7 yrs old and his sister about 8 yrs old, had been found to BOTH be suffering from gonorrhoea, after the doctor had been called in to deal with disturbing physical symptoms.
The doctor discovered that both children had been raped both in the vagina and anally in the case of the girl and anally in the case of the boy with resultant damage in the form of tearing and bruising. Both children said it was their father while the mother had held them down.
On arrest, the couple from S Africa, initially denied it, however after physical exams on them, both were discovered to be have gonorrhoea and the woman to be an alcoholic, who reputedly sold her body to get more money for drink , she eventually admitted it blaming her husbands threats of violence if she hadn't helped him. He in turn blamed her, saying she had offered them to her clients.
They were both found guilty and the judge gave them the maximum sentence he could, saying he wished it could have been more due to the harm to the children. The children were taken into hospital initially to have treatment and as NR didn't have a child care scheme, they were eventually sent to S. Africa to go into care there!
I said earlier "I FORTUNATELY wasn't directly involved", fortunately because I don't know if I could have controlled my anger and violence to them if I had to deal with them, it still fills me with disgust and anger to this day!!
Ants and Termites
Another Hazard we had were ants of various sorts. One small one we called "ball biter" as reputedly if you brushed past a bush or plant and a few dropped on you, they would wait until they congregated in the warmest moist spot of your body i.e. the genitals and then as if on a signal all bite together.
The trick was to look where you were going especially in the bush and knock them off quickly. The other one I was made aware of was the "Matabele" ant.
"Matabele ants are likewise rather formidable; they go to war with termites the same way the Matabele tribe use to overwhelm their enemies. Even humans are not exempt, as they have a ferocious bite and 10 or more bites can paralyze a human arm.
Matabele ants live in colonies that can grow to sizes in excess of 20 million members. The ants are often seen on the march in search of food, especially once their supply has diminished. When the colony is on the march they move as one entity in a single column, with the larger soldier ants on the edge of the column providing protection for the smaller worker ants. While marching in their columns, smaller search parties break off in search of food and prey. Once food has been located, a pheromone is released to attract the rest of the column which quickly overwhelms it. The ants create a rattling or hissing noise as they move, but will do this especially when threatened. The soldier ants possess formidable pincers which are easily able to puncture flesh or can be used as a defensive weapon. They are one of the world's largest ants reaching a size of 20 millimeters or more. Another defensive weapon, which is not often utilized, is the sting it possesses on its rear, which is sometimes used to dissuade any intruders or predators. The pincers are effectively utilized in the efficient dismemberment of their prey which includes grasshoppers, moths or even considerably larger prey such as mice and birds."
Indeed certain tribes would get soldier ants and use their pincers as a form of stich holding 2 sides of a wound together and removing the rest of the ant.
I was made aware of them when a column like the one below emerged from the bush about 50 - 60 yards from our quarters and seemed headed into our mess complex. drastic action was taken. The most effective was several cans of lighter fluid being sprayed and then ignited on the first few yards of the column. then several cans of insect killer being sprayed heavily in a wide barrier between them and us. Fortunately it did the trick and the remaining ants went back into the bush!!
Termites were not much better. They would infest and devour virtually anything organic. If you had wooden furniture you had to keep checking they hadn't got to the legs. We used metal cases and trunks to keep our stuff safe.
Another nasty thing I found later just before independence when the 2 main political parties were on the final push to eliminate any opposition and people were being murdered and intimidated on a regular basis. We could find a few dead bodies lying around. No one of course seen or heard anything as anyone daring to point a finger would be next on the list along with their family.
Many is the time early in the morning we would be called to a new body, get there, turn it over to establish cause of death to find that termites had already started eating any uncovered flesh, especially the face. Not as pleasant sight especially if you hadn't had breakfast yet.
We were all issued with Daraprim anti malarial drug and took it the whole time I was there. Virtually all windows in Govt. buildings were fitted with fly screens. All the major European towns had an antimalarial campaign which punished anyone causing stagnant water to hang about, including a regular spraying service, where a African would come along with a tank of oil and/or DDT and spray storm drains and other likely spots to stop the Mosquito larvae hatching. These were pretty effective and kept them at bay in the main.
However once you were in the bush, especially near a river or dam that changed dramatically as this experience showed me.
Some of the lads decided after going to the Mine managers daughters party, to continue the social scene with this group of friendly girls and suggested we had a BBQ one evening at a very pleasant spot we knew where there was a "safe" swimming spot on a small stream which had been partially dammed to make a small 30 odd foot long pool about 4 - 5 foot deep pool. We all set off about a dozen or so of us more or less equally divided M/F, I took a.303 and a couple of thunder flashes to ensure it was really safe. Arrived and got the fires going well before it got dark, had a good time, swam, fooled around, scaring Bernard half to death when a couple of us launched a large 6' long semi burnt tree trunk upstream into the pond making it look in the dusk like a croc coming into the pool. I reckon he swam several foot up the bank in a panic before he realised it wasn't, seeing us pissing ourselves laughing on the bank. Had some reasonable food, beer etc listening to some nice music on a portable radio. Everybody had paired off and was chatting and not getting too romantic as some of the fathers wouldn't approve.
We had discussed what to do about Mossies and everybody put on long trousers tucked into socks and long sleeved shirts buttoned up with insect repellent on the face, neck, wrists and hands before it got dark. We all went home at about 11 pm.
It wasn't until I got to my quarters and started to get undressed ready for bed that I noticed one trouser leg had pulled out of the sock. I then looked carefully, in about a 3 - 4 inch band around my ankle I counted 27 bite marks. Bugger if I get Malaria now it will be because of that. Touch wood I didn't,
I'd been bitten a few times before often when doing my overnight stays on the border, but never like that, they itched like buggery for several days.
Any other BBQ'S were organised for the day after that, any evening do was to be in the mess or at some ones house as a few of the girls had been badly bitten as well.
Bancroft was a much smaller mess and when I got there 3 chaps who had almost finished their tour were already preparing to leave within the next few weeks. The only one who was a comparatively recent arrival was Barney M., a S African who was in the CID, a pleasant enough chap who I got on with fairly well. I remember about a year later after I had been on border patrol for a while I had been approached by the Belgian in Tshinsenda asking if I wanted to buy some rough diamonds. Knowing the square root of F**k ALL about these things, I talked to Barney thinking that as a S. African he might know a little about how to identify them, he said he would "look into it". Several weeks went by and I heard nothing and assumed they were just bits of quartz and of no value.
Strangely enough he went on local leave down to S. Africa not long afterwards and drove back with a brand new VW car, saying his father had lent him the money!!
I never did find out the real story, if there were diamonds, if they were real and most importantly was it illegal to move them around between countries like that. I heard one or two tales about others buying rough stones taking them to Amsterdam on their "long leave" and making a tidy sum out of it. During the chaos after the Congo got its independence and Katanga seceded all sorts of s**t happened, Banks. mines and businesses were often looted by Army, police or workers and lots of stuff came on the illegal market. I was offered Uzi's and Mat 49's by the chap in Tshindenda, sadly he never had any nice pistols like the Browning 9 mm. So I politely turned his offers down, sticking to the odd case of Simba beer.
Not long after the chaps due to go on leave left, 2 chaps arrived whom I am friends with to this day. Jules a Yorkshireman who I mentioned in the tale about Strawberries, and Bernard L, a Seychellois who can trace his ancestry back to a minor noble family from just outside Marseilles who fled from the revolution going initially to Mauritius and later to the Seychelles. More about them later.
One of the places on my border patrol area was the small town of Konkola, where there had been a small copper mine which for various reasons had stopped production and just a skeleton staff were there to maintain it. Mainly African with a European Manager to ensure everything still worked. The NRP still maintained a small sub station with 6 constables under a Sergeant and eventually under my control.
One day I was called out to attend as My Sergeant was worried that he and his men couldn't contain a crowd beginning to get restless during a protest to the mine management.
I arrived with my crew so another 6 guys all in riot gear and with tear gas grenades, to find a crowd of about 100 odd women, many with babies on their backs shouting at the mine offices with the mine manager looking very worried at the door.
I got out with my crew and told them to join the Sgt and his men at the front of the offices facing the crowd while I went in to find out what was going on.
The manager explained that the women were worried about the quality of water being supplied to the township. Believing it was flood water pumped from the old mine shafts to stop them flooding and thus infected with the spirits of miners who had been killed in the mine. He explained that the water from the mine was used in the sewage but the potable water supplied to the township taps was from an artesian spring. He had tried to explain it but apparently someone in the township had been stirring trouble up, he wasn't sure if it was political or not.
Hmm.. what to do? The last thing I wanted to do was let my lads off the leash to crack a few women's skulls probably injuring a few babies as well. But as I had arrived I had heard some of the women, after they had seen me mention "Bwana Mfwiti", Bwana witch doctor. My exploits with my "muti bottle" had obviously been talked about by my police and been overheard by the locals. So I had a thought, using my sergeant to interpret for me, I didn't speak the local Lunda language, I said that I was happy to drink the water from the taps to prove it wasn't from the mine shaft and so were all my constables as my magic had assured me it was ok. Not just because of me being a white man, hence all my constables as well. I then got two of the women who had been quite vociferous to come into the offices and get some glasses of water which we proceeded to drink in front of the crowd.
Neither I nor my men fell over and relished the cool water and the crowd thankfully dispersed with apparently some cheeky offers to me from some of the younger women.
The manager was very happy with the result and questioned me about my "muti bottle" and laughed when I told him.
It was a magic result to what could have been quite nasty situation.
|Cannibalism was considered by many to be not unknown in neighbouring Congo, but we actually had disturbing example just before I left Chingola. CID were the ones who investigated and made the appropriate arrests. They had reports to them of such a case about to happen and raided the hut involved where they found a witch doctor and an old woman were busy trying to cook and eat the heart out of her recently deceased husband, whose body was still in the hut having died late the previous day.
Both the accused admitted it and claimed it was the custom of that particular tribe. The Magistrate sent both to prison for several years where the woman died.
My Sergeant once told me that if you saw a man with "teeth filed into points" he was probably from a cannibal tribe, as it aided the eating of the flesh, which apparently was tough! There were rumours and reports of several cases but it was difficult to get evidence, especially if it happened deep in the bush.
I'll repost my response about cannibalism to a thread on Irish battle on UN service.
"I was in N. Rhodesia serving in the N. R. Police in the early '60s and the Irish along with the Swedish, Indian and Ethiopian Army were sent by the UN to remove Tshombe, the self declared president of Katanga, a mineral rich province of the Congo, who had declared independence from the central Congo Govt, because he disagreed with Lumumba (the new communist inspired and backed president), because amongst other things, wished to kick all Europeans out immediately. Tshombe wished to retain them in order to carry on running the country whilst training up African replacements in due course. This was essential to keep the extensive mining and refining operations going.
I was actually in charge of border patrols for a time between N.R. and Katanga, with a Sergeant and 20 Constables patrolling about 100 odd miles of border between Kipushi and just North of Mufulira. For quite a lot of the time we were reinforced by elements of the Federation of Rhodesia Army, including the early Selous Scouts who occasionally patrolled with me along the border in their Ferret Scout cars. The Rhodesian African Rifles had camps just inside the border near Kipushi and Konkola and the Rhodesian Light Infantry and a few Rhodesian SAS were based at Chingola, this was because it was suspected that after Katanga had been defeated the UN was going to try to kick us out of Rhodesia.. I actually was in charge of Tshombes escort from the border crossing to Ndola airport when he was finally defeated by the UN in 1963.
I did and saw an awful lot of interesting things in those times, one thing that did strike me was the poor quality of the Irish troops and other UN elements I came across at that time, which lead to a dreadful ambush at Niemba in Congo where 9 Irish soldiers were killed and allegedly eaten by the Baluba tribesmen that had attacked them.
The Baluba along with several other tribes both in the Congo and N.R. had a history of cannibalism.
One of the sick jokes going around at the time was "whatever you do don't eat the Irish stew!"
Again in Chingola, just after my ambush attempt, the powers that be decided that we must be made aware of various types of explosives that were liable to be used and a WO from one of the Rhodesian Army units was sent round the stations on the copperbelt to give us a lecture. Basically he showed us the type of explosive we would most likely encounter, gelignite which was commonly used in the mines and was occasionally stolen. He showed us the different type of detonators, fuses and det cord which were in common usage in NR.
The best thing in the demo was when he used a few loops of det cord around the branch of a tree and blew it cleanly off.
It did come in handy once, later in Bancroft I arrested an African cycling home from the mine with about 50' of det cord hanging off his handlebars. He claimed it was a bit of thin rope he was going to use as a washing line.
Hard to prove when I cut a few inches off and lit it, just to show him and my lads in my car crew the big whooof it went off with. They would recognise it again if they encountered anybody walking around with some suspicious washing line.
Talking of washing lines, when in the training school we were warned to ensure our houseboys always hung our clothes on washing line to dry and never on the floor. This was to stop an insect called the "Putzi fly"
laying its eggs in the seams of our clothes. If it did they would burrow into the skin and the first you knew was a large boil developing which contained a nice fat maggot eating your flesh before it hatched into another fly.
It did actually happen to one of the chaps in my squad and we all watched ghoulishly while our drill instructor carefully squeezed it out for him.
The best prevention was ironing all of your clothes after they were hung out to dry in order to kill the fly eggs. The drill instructor approved of this method most whole-heartedly.
The 'Mad Cow' Incident
One morning when I was still in Chingola when a district parade was taking place, which fortunately for me I avoided by being on duty in the charge office. Out of the bush adjoining one side of the parade ground wandered a large bovine animal. Now some said it was a bull and were scared it was about to charge the assembled police and so the parade was hastily dismissed and the district CO returned to the station where he gave me orders to get a rifle and shoot it. I got a.303 and 5 rounds out of the armoury and rushed to the parade ground which was about 30 - 40 yards behind the station, to find.... nothing, Ipa (in cinyanja).
I went back to the station to find the district CO has disappeared. So went to the station CO and asked what was going on. He called the senior African sub inspector who had been on parade who confirmed that a large bull had threatened the parade and the district CO had decided to dismiss the parade in case it charged.
My CO then asked me to ring around the European farms in the vicinity to see if they had lost an animal. There were only 3 within 4 or 5 miles of the station and none had knowledge of any missing animals. He thought it might belong to one of the African villages nearby but as none of these had any method of quickly communicating with them the CO decided to get me to track the animal into the bush and shoot it to prevent it wandering elsewhere and possibly doing any damage, plus the fact that the lads might enjoy some fresh and more importantly, free nyama, meat! I was told to take the sub inspector, who claimed he had been a good tracker in his youth and a constable the sub inspector said was a very good tracker, the best on the station.
The CO lent me his rifle, a lot lighter than the .303 Lee Enfield and we set off, initially seeing fairly easily identified tracks but the further we went the rockier and harder to track it became.
After about 3 hours having covered about 6 or 7 miles and the "tracker" finding no more tracks, I called it a day. I had grabbed my camera thinking that a photo of me with a "kill", even if it was only a scraggy cow, would be good to send home to my family, who wouldn't know any difference of either it being a tame milking cow or a slavering bull one finds in Spain goring matadors!
So I took this photo of my 2 trusty "trackers" where we had stopped and then returned to the station. We never did discover where the animal came from or what happened to it.
You can see from the background what a fairly typical landscape was like. Lots of rocky outcrops and not a huge amount of trees or vegetation especially in the dry season. However there were more trees and vegetation closer to the river Kafue and some of the streams that run into it.
When I was in the NRP, all ranks had to complete an annual shooting refresher. All ranks had to fire the.303 Lee Enfield rifle, 10 rounds standing @ 100 yards and 10 rounds prone at 200 yards. A/insp's and above had to fire 12 rounds at 25 yds, from their.38 Webley and Scott pistol, 2 magazines from the Bren gun, changing barrels once @ 200 yards, 2 magazines from the 9 m/m Sterling SMG, 1 aimed from the shoulder @ 100 yards and 1 from the waist @ 25 yards.
There were normally at least 2 A/insps or above on each trip to the range one to supervise the shooting the other in the butts supervising the score. Almost every town on the copperbelt had its own range and we were always allocated days to use them.
You can see that the amount of ammo used was quite small compared with most armies but then we were only the police, albeit a para military force. Our mobile unit which was almost a force within a force had a somewhat different refresher as they were more likely to be called upon to use their firearms. Quite how much different I'm afraid I do not know.
Most of those with pistols took advantage of a scheme where we could buy 50 additional rounds at a subsidised price but still not enough for the serious shooter. Hence quite a few chaps bought their own personal weapon. Browning and Berretta 9 mm were popular as was the S&W .38 police special, it had a lot more stopping power than our issue pistols. For a more discrete weapon the Walther PPK in a 7.62 calibre or the Berretta .25 were popular. The most interesting weapon I saw was one of my colleagues in Chingola who had the Canadian made Browning 9 mm with the detachable stock and rear adjustable sights going out to 500 yards. I never bought my own and only once regretted it when a couple of us were sent in civvies to bulk up the protection detail for a British Cabinet minister visiting Kitwe. We were told to carry our pistols discretely. Those with the smaller calibres or who had a shoulder holster were ok. I found having a.38 pistol in ones coat pocket did pull it out of shape somewhat.
Many other chaps had their own hunting rifles, especially those on the smaller rural stations, most went for the.270 Winchester as it was good for most game they would encounter.
I did try a shotgun but as I have said earlier I was not a good shot with them so stuck with our issued weapons.
Cannabis grew wild in the bush and some of the locals, both African and Europeans would occasionally use it and do silly things afterwards. We used our CID to try and find where patches were in the bush and go and spray with nasty weed killers. Occasionally biggish finds of it were made and I was once tasked with burning 2 x 50 gallons drums of it. I promise I stood upwind and "did not inhale" as various big wigs state.
Seriously I am very anti drug and I have only ever had drugs of any sort when the Doctor prescribes them.
On another occasion I was tasked with taking charge of escorting £750,000 in cash from the Chingola district Border to the Bancroft mine offices. The cash was to be used to pay the annual copper bonus ( a % of wages the size of which depended on the price of copper on the world market). Most Europeans would be paid via their bank a/c's but the Africans were paid in cash.
Now this was a huge amount of cash, my pay was only about £800 a year at that time and I thought I was well paid compared with what I had earned in the UK. We went in 2 landrovers, 2 a/insp's armed with Stirling SMG's, 2 drivers with Greener shotguns and 6 constables with.303's. The Mine had a driver and 3 security men in their land rover all armed with pistols. It may seen excessive but remember we were less than 10 miles from the Katanga border, where there were groups of armed tribal militia wandering around, and more likely to be a threat to that amount of cash, groups of well armed and often unpaid mercenaries to which this sum would be an instant retirement scheme. So the powers that be did not want to take a chance.
Was I tempted? Well along with Jules , the other A/Insp I took with me, we had discussed it at length and decided we didn't fancy living in Brazil, the only country we could get to without an extradition treaty, and wouldn't want to shoot the other guards and most importantly would never break the oath of allegiance to HM we had taken in training school.
So all went well, no marauding mercenaries or savage tribesmen attacked us and it was delivered safely to the mine offices. Just another day on the job!
Kipushi was probably the least visited part of the border for me as the dirt road actually went away from the copperbelt towards Solwezi. further west, even though this was the closest to Elisabethville the Katangese capital of Katanga. My main patrol areas were around Konkola, Kasumbalesa and Tshinsenda wit the odd foray down towards Mokambo in the East.
The main/official border crossing point was Kasumbalesa which had a Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland immigration and customs based there. Normally 3 guys who I visited fairly frequently getting and giving updates on activity in the area and a good spot to get a cup of tea or a quick meal if I was lucky. Konkola with the sub station and its men were regularly visited as was Tshinsenda with it former Belgian equivalent of a District officer who had "gone native" and was living with a couple of African "wives". He was a very useful source of information. As was the former Belgian geologist, he with the strawberries, who had a farm between Bancroft and the border.
I had an awful lot of input regarding my activities from our special branch Inspector during this period of my service. Suggestions as to a likely point for smuggling. illegal crossing etc. He also got regular reports from me as to what I had picked up.
There were the odd Africans who regularly crossed to and from Katanga using traditional routes to small settlements/villages through the bush. One regular was a chap who used to grow vegetables in Katanga and cross to Konkola to sell them in the market place. Pushing an old "njinga" laden with sacks of veg. We would normally do a quick check to make sure nothing more dangerous was hidden.
One day right on the border I stopped a guy with a very old hammer shotgun, he was quite old and claimed he was a professional hunter. I asked him what he shot, anything that he could eat &/or sell was his reply. I asked him what was his biggest kill, Elephant he said. I asked how on earth he could kill an elephant with that old shotgun. He said he got solid shot cartridges and got very close, almost touching them fire up into the heart and swore it was true. I still am not sure if he was shooting a line, taking the mickey or telling the truth. My constables reckoned they had heard of him and said some of the chiefs in the Congo used him occasionally to shoot meat for them.
As he was just on the border and could have just been in the Congo, I didn't worry about arresting him or seizing his (in NR) illegally held shotgun, but told him to stay on that side of the border and not bring it into NR or I would arrest him& he would lose his weapon, apparently his only means of earning living. He had no cartridges with him and actually had the cheek to ask if I could give him a few of mine. I was tempted to let him have a couple just for his cheek but didn't and sent him on his way!
One morning as I was driving several miles West of Konkola when out of the bush only a few yards away on a little track coming from Katanga came an African in his 20's riding his njinga. He saw us jumped off his bike and ran off into the bush, I told 2 of my car crew to get him which they did within a minute or so, reappearing from the bush dragging the bloke between them and laughing their heads off. "What's the joke" I asked, "Ah Bwana, he thinks we are slave traders" one responded between great guffaws.
The chap was standing between them literally shaking with fear. Apparently he was from a remote area of Katanga away from the NR border near Lake Tanganyika and his tribe in the past had been subjected to a lot of raids by Arab led slave traders. I had him searched thoroughly in case he was just trying to throw us of the scent of anything nefarious and found nothing. He had been heading for Kipushi to visit family who had moved there and got slightly off course. We sent him on his way, afterwards I found out my constables had jokingly assured him that we were not slave traders but that their Bwana was a great witch doctor so don't come back to NR or he will put a curse on you. No wonder he looked terrified even after his shaking stopped and shot off at great speed in the direction he had came from much to the hilarity of my car crew.
On another occasion our special branch inspector had asked me to go out just after midnight to a spot just off the road a mile or so short of the Kasumbalesa crossing point and wait to pick up a mercenary who was coming in with important information. Quite how he knew that I never discovered, possibly the chap had contacted a British official in Elisabethville. We were parked up with lights and engine off about 20 yards off the road and waited for almost 3 hours when this figure appears and asks if I'm there to take him to Insp X. I said yes and he jumped in and I took him to the Station at Bancroft where we wait for another 3 hours for the SB Insp. to turn up. I got him a cup of coffee and we chatted. It turns out he was a German ex SS Sgt who after the war was a PoW of the French and he was given the choice of prison or to join the Foreign Legion, he chose the Legion. Going to Sidi Bel Abbes to train and then he was posted to Madagascar where apparently there was a pretty bloody insurrection going on against the French. Later he had served in Indochina and had a rough time there. He had been made Sergeant in the FFL and served in Algeria as well.
Into his third term in the FFL in Algeria he was part of the units who supported De Gaulle when he became president, the fact that in his opinion De Gaulle had then betrayed them when he gave independence to Algeria, led to him being part of the failed attempt to oust him and he had then fled to Katanga as a mercenary with about a dozen of his men. He had been there a few years and he was the last survivor and was hoping that in exchange for information about the Katangese situation he would get help to return to Germany or at least somewhere in Europe where he wouldn't face jail.
He showed me the dozen or so Legion ID cards of the guys who had died, several Germans, Poles, Belgians, and various other nationalities I can't remember. Several had gallantry awards on the ID cards, his wish when he was back in Europe and safe, was to write to all the families to tell them of the fate of the chaps.
I cannot remember his name but he was a sandy cropped haired, very "wiry", sharp/lined faced individual in his forties about 5' 8" in height. His assessment of various armies was interesting. The FFL he said was the best, toughest and well trained of all, then the SS, He thought in the main, British troops did well compared with say the Americans. He was a bit scathing on some of the French Army units , I suppose that's to be expected.
The SB Insp. Picked him up later and drove off with him, I never heard or found out what his information was or what happened to him. He definitely didn't stay in NR, I hope he did get back to somewhere safe, he seemed a solid sort of bloke.
After Tschombe had left Congo there was a lot of discussion about what the UN would do next. Their forces in the Congo numbered about 20+ thousand plus about 20 odd jet propelled fighter/bomber aircraft from several countries ranging from Saabs, Sabres, Canberra's and Vampires at that time and obviously they were feeling a little cocky after "defeating" Tschombe's forces of which the mercenary element never numbered more than 300 - 500 at it strongest and a rag tag of Gendarmes and tribal militias, probably no more than a few thousand
and 3 Fouga Magister aircraft at its height.
Rumours stated emerging that some anti colonialist countries were trying to encourage the UN to pass a resolution to "finish the decolonialisation of Africa" by crossing the NR border and rolling up Northern and Southern Rhodesia and eventually S. Africa itself. To that end the Federation sent several companies of the RAR and Selous Scouts with their ferret Scout cars right up to the border at Kipushi and Kasumbalesa. With a largish detachment of RLI and a few Rhodesian SAS to Chingola to back them up. The NRP sent an additional 2 platoons of Mobile unit up to Bancroft to reinforce the 1 platoon already based in Chingola. There was also some movement of Rhodesian Fighter aircraft sent up to Ndola.
I actually saw Vampires with my own eyes low enough to identify the Indian markings, actually in NR airspace just south of Kasumbalesa several times in 1963 and guided and rode with Ferrets of the Selous Scouts along the border in 1963.
Unfortunately I didn't get any photos as we were genuinely anticipating an incursion. Most of us quite relished the fact as most were convinced the UN had backed the wrong side in Katanga, kicking out the only African leader to acknowledge that Africa needed the European guidance and training for many more years. Plus the fact that most of the reports from Mercenaries who had encountered/fought the UN was that they were poor fighters only winning when in overwhelming numbers or when Mercenaries Ammo had run out.
Needless to say I had quite extensive interaction with these units and took several parties of various units along the border, sometimes in Ferrets where practical other times in my Landrover or on foot. It was after some months of this and visits and lunches with the RAR, I was approached by their CO to see if I was interested in getting a commission with them.
Around about this time I was visiting Tshinsenda to have an update with the Belgian DO who had gone native. I had left my Landrover with its crew on the NR side on a rough dirt road which was blocked off at the border by a rough barrier and walked the 50 odd yards to his bungalow and we were sitting outside on the stoep chatting over a cup of coffee when we heard a train coming. Funny he said there are no trains due. So we both got up and walked up towards the station which was about 30 - 40 yds to the east of the rough road I had used to get to his house. Now I am armed, dressed in my bush/border attire that I wore on the boat trip, so camo jacket, bush hat and high boots in other words almost mercenary attire. As we were about equidistant from the station and the border the train pulled to a halt in the station 20 yards away and to my horror a load of UN troops got off, Ethiopians if IIRC, they see me and point and start shouting, by this time I am literally walking as fast as I can towards the border while trying to appear casual, cross the border leap into my Landrover and f**k off as fast as I could. I stopped about a mile away hid the landrover and went back cautiously through the bush to a spot I could see the train and the Belgians house. The train and a load of UN troops were milling around but no sign of the Belgian. I never saw him again and never found out what happened to him.
I then went back to the station to report this asap to the SB Insp, who passes it on up the line. Fortunately despite him giving my unofficial attire a funny look no further mention was made of it and the CO never saw it.
One of my favourite spots on the border was just West of Kipushi. A small rocky kopje, a bit like the one shown in the "mad cow hunt". When one got to the top and looked west you realised there was nothing between you and the Atlantic Ocean about 1000 k's away, no major river, town road or rail. In fact one couldn't see any sign of human habitation in any direction, just bush! It was this I loved about that particular job, the sense of space and freedom.
I remember talking to one of the Katangese Mercenary Pilots at the Kipushi airstrip and him telling me about the difficulties in navigating when he had to fly to Angola occasionally, where there were no visible landmarks for hundreds of Kilometers. He had to rely on dead reckoning. One of his dreads was to have engine trouble and to force land as he doubted if he would survive the time taken for him to walk to get help if he survived the crash as even African settlements were v. small and few and far between.
One very unusual incident I remember when on patrol on the border, was when I was very carefully driving down the side of a gully, in low gear as the track was both inclined to the one side and quite steep at that point. Just after the wet season had finished. The track dropped down about 30 odd foot to a stream bed and just as I drove through the shallow stream, the bank/path opposite seemed to be multi coloured and shimmering. WTF I thought, stopped to get out and look. It turns out to be literally thousands of different multi coloured butterflies all on the soil and opening and shutting their wings. As I got nearer they would flutter off only to resettle behind me.
What caused it I have no idea, I did ask the old Belgian geologist, he seemed to know an awful lot about things local/African. The only thing he could think of was that it might be something in the soil that attracted them, a bit like "salt licks" for some animals. Very strange and I only ever saw it the once, every other time I passed that spot there was no recurrence. Sadly I didn't have my camera with me as it was truly spectacular, a several yards square carpet of shimmering multicoloured movement!
Another duty especially towards the end of the Katanga crisis when the mercenaries were leaving in droves, was when they would often rock up at the border, realise they might have trouble in crossing and do a detour into the bush so as not to pass through the official crossing point at Kasumbalesa. Often just before re-emerging on the road south and trying to hitch a lift or contact someone to give them a lift, they would dump their weapons in the bush.
We first learnt of this when a couple of Europeans from Bancroft who had been hunting near the border found a small cache and reported it. There must have been three in that group as we found 2 x FN FAL rifles, I x MAT.49, 4 grenades and a quantity of ammunition.
We called in our force armourer to check them out and he took a couple of us up to the local range and allowed us to fire them.
The FN was an eye opener after the Lee Enfield.303 we were issued with as firing it was so simple and allowed for a rapid and accurate rate of fire, I can understand the affection which "that" rifle is held in, although only in the semi auto mode, when on fully auto it was difficult to hold and just rode up, so you may have got the first round on target but the others just went up and over the target. I can understand why some of the Africans liked it as it made a lot of noise and may have felt reassuring to a poorly trained African but in reality just sprayed up in the air and wasted ammunition. The MAT.49, which always reminded me of the WW2 German Schmeisser was fun to fire.
In a few other instances we found more of the same weapons plus the occasional Uzi which we were allowed to try and I quite liked its compact feel compared with our Sterling SMG's.
Later we found towards the end of the dry season a few caches which had been burnt in bush fires which were fairly common. In such cases any wood or plastic furniture had been burnt off and the grenades and ammo exploded leaving just the casings and often the hand grip from the grenade.
Monitoring of Political Meetings
One of the most boring of the tasks we had to undertake was the monitoring of public authorised political meetings. In this particular case you can see our landrover was parked right next to the platform where Kaunda (the first President after independence) himself is speaking. We parked that close so the mike on the recording equipment could be linked with their loud speaker system.
Despite Kaunda being born and growing up in the Bemba tribe, he always affected not to speak it and spoke in English which was then translated by one of his minions for the crowd.
The speeches were bloody awful, the usual BS about nasty white colonialist supressing the poor "hardworking" Africans and how it was all going to be milk, honey and unicorns when he got into power. Hmm.. not dissimilar from a certain "steptoesque" character leading HM's opposition today.
On that day as well they had a younger, seemingly fairly bright character speaking. He led off by saying now that they were getting their "freedom" the following year, everybody had to get stuck in and work to show the white man how to do it and they would be able to earn all the things the white man had!
After a few minutes of this the crowd started getting restless and even booing some of his words. Kaunda stood up quickly and interrupting him, thanked him for his thoughts and then went on to talk about something completely different but again with the usual BS about how they would all have the nice houses the white man had but of course with no explanation how this could be achieved. The magic money tree all these politicians think grows in their back garden I suppose.
I always took the opportunity when everything was set up to stroll around the periphery of the crowd to gauge the mood and normally took the opportunity of buying bottles of coca cola for my lads. Making sure the speakers and the crowd saw me giving it to them. The recordings were there to use in court should there be any incitements to violence or sedition etc.
These meetings could go on for several hours, if it overran our shift we would radio in for a team to come and relieve us, ensuring this was done with as little disruption as possible but making sure the recording equipment was working.
I had 4 different CO's in my time there, the first one in Chingola, Fitz was a good chap and seemed to like my work, I met him once in London after we had returned, he had gone into personnel management and finished up in Australia with an aviation firm, the second in Bancroft I hardly knew as he left just after I arrived. The third Rex, I didn't get on with, he took me off Border patrol for a while and back on shifts until the powers above and I think the SB Insp, insisted they needed someone full time on it as the situation re. Katanga and the UN was getting serious. He thankfully went not long afterwards on "long leave" and was replaced by a younger Chief Inspector, a Ken West, who fitted in quite well. He also was a bachelor and thus spent some time in the mess bar after work was over. When he announced he was going down to SA to marry his fiancé we decided to give him a good bachelor do in the Mess.
We first gave him a very good, very boozy, mess dinner and started to enjoy ourselves playing the usual silly games and getting him to drink even more. I had in the meantime got myself organised, going to a nurse I knew in the mine hospital and getting chloroform, all the ingredients to put one of his arms in a plaster cast and a selection of coloured antiseptics.
After one of the buk buk games was finishing and he was on the floor having collapsed I went around behind him and put a pad I had soaked in the chloroform over his face and he went out very quickly, with the pad of chloroform handy we all got to work, getting his mess jacket and shirt off, We then put a stockinet sleeve over his left arm (he was right handed), then as per the instructions from the nurse , a layer of padding and finally the plaster soaked cover. After checking he still had circulation in his hand and fingers we let it dry.
We then painted his body, from his waist to his shoulders, in alternating stripes of yellow (iodine), purple (genetian violet) and red (chlorohexidine). We then carried him back to his quarters and taking his shoes and trousers off put him on his bed in the recovery position, getting his houseboy and instructing to wake us if the bwana became ill.
I next morning despite still feeling rough from the booze, decided that a longish trip to a remote part of the border was a good idea and only returned late that afternoon to find that despite him being groggy from the mix of alcohol and chloroform, he had survived and gone to the hospital to have the cast taken off. He was more amused than angry at the multi colour stripes as we had ensured his arms, neck and face were clear and thus didn't have to worry when he married a week later but he did moan that he couldn't go swimming on his honeymoon in Durban. His wife who was also a nurse was impressed by our skill at putting the plaster cast on.
He was promoted later to Asst. Superintendent after his handling of a particularly long and bad spell of political violence and rioting in Bancroft which saw all of us being called out several nights a week for 3 or 4 months. It got to the stage on one or two occasions at weekends where we slept in our kit.
This wasn't anti European violence, it was just Kaunda's party UNIP crushing Nkumbulas party, the ANC just prior to the first elections for president. We, the NRP, were just piggy in the middle trying to stop them intimidating and killing each other. So basically like every other sub Saharan African country at the end of our rule where we had, for most of that time, prevented such excesses.
Ken West later went down to SA with his wife and formed a security company. He returned to the UK several years ago and sadly died last year.
The Elephant Hunt
One morning on entering the station I was told the CO wanted to see me before I disappeared into the bush. I knocked at his door to find the DC and another chap who turns out to be from the Game dept. It turns out that a herd of elephants has been raiding a couple of small African villages in our district, eating and spoiling all the maize and vegetables they have been growing in their "gardens", more like large allotments which the wife of each villager tends carefully. The village headmen are threatening to try to kill all the herd if they are not stopped. The Game dept. think there is a better solution, Elephants are a matriarchal group and if someone was to shoot the matriarch the herd would most likely leave the area and move elsewhere.
I along with another a/insp. are instructed to go, one to each of the villages being raided, find and shoot the matriarch, we are each given one of the local African game rangers as a guide and to point out the matriarch.
We each draw a.303 and 10 rounds of standard issue ammunition. I funnily enough already have a few "spare" which I have "acquired" on range days, a couple of which I have already cut the copper tips off to give them a more dum dum effect against large game if I spot any on the border rather than having a large Kudu run off if I haven't got the first kill shot with a jacketed round. I give my colleague a couple in case the jacketed rounds fail to stop the elephant if he happens on it.
Now even then in early '63 there were some slight concerns about falling numbers of elephants, indeed I had never seen any signs of these beasts in my perambulations along the border, so I had mixed feelings about killing one of these magnificent beasts and said so. The Game dept. official said that sadly If we didn't stop this herd the local tribe would either A) employ an unofficial African hunter as I had seen previously on the border or B) set traps which would kill or injure a lot more beasts, so ours was the lesser of the evils.
And as we all know now this is the case today where all over Africa the explosion in the population has decimated or exterminated almost all wild animals apart from in a handful of game reserves and even there poaching is still a threat.
To cut a long story short we both go on our way to each search our respective village and surrounding bush for the herd. I was allocated a village closer to my normal patrol routes and my colleague an area I rarely visited. After a couple of hours driving along a rough bush track we reach my village and I soon see the extensive damage the herd has done virtually every mealie plant uprooted and the left overs strewn around. The herd had also trampled down a lot of the other immature crops in their effort to get to the tastier, to them, bits. We follow the tracks on foot for several hours with still no sign and the ranger says these tracks are not fresh and we wouldn't find the herd that day, so we return to the Landrover and drive back to the station arriving just after dark. There, much to my dismay I get the news my colleague had come across the herd and successfully despatched the matriarch causing the herd to stampede away. He had retired to the mess to celebrate. I joined him as soon as I could, discovering he had had to use 2 of my "adapted" rounds to finally stop the cow after the jacketed round had just made her angry.
The tusks of the animal were taken by the game dept. and after taking a few choice cuts of the meat for the rangers and police, the rest was given to the village for food. The game dept. later sent him the preserved foot of the elephant to use as one of these...
We were entitled to 2 weeks local leave annually and after each 3 year tour 6 months "long leave" with your passage paid.
My first local leave in late 61 was taken in odd days, some of which I used to go to Bancroft and go on border patrol with the chap who was leaving to ensure I knew the ground and to show to my CO that I was serious in my request.
The second was totally different. In the Bancroft mess we had a few honorary members, one of whom was a very friendly Afrikaner who worked on the mine, called Fritz, he came from the Northern Transvaal and had played on the wing for the Provincial Rugby team in his younger days. By the time I knew him he was probably about 50, 6'3" and 19 stone, so had put a lot of "bulk" on. He was married and had one young daughter and loved hunting. One of his prize possessions was the British Army blanket his Grandfather had been given after his capture in the Boer war when he was sent to Ceylon as a PoW. For some reason, possibly as a result of the apparently humane treatment his g/father had received, his whole family were quite anglophile, which was not the case with some Afrikaners I met.
Knowing of my interest in hunting he invited me to go with him and his family down to his Brothers farm just SW of Mazabuka near the Kafue flats. I jumped at the chance.
His brother had about 6000 odd acres and grew some maize, had a dozen or so milking cows and a small herd of beef cattle. His wife kept some poultry, pigs and a nice vegetable plot for the family. Food wise they were almost self sufficient with her baking her own bread, making her own butter etc.
I was made to feel very welcome, sharing their youngest, 19 yr. old sons bedroom. We were up at about 5.30 am every day as he had to start the generator for the electricity, get a quick cup of coffee and then do the milking which I helped a little or I would borrow Fritz shotgun and see if I could bag some guinea fowl or a type of small partridge like bird they called "Qually" IIRC, I believe they were a type of francolin. I then returned for breakfast which was normally served at between 8 and 8.30. The first one was a bit of a culture shock for me. I sat down and was offered cornflakes or mealie porridge, I always went for cornflakes then I grabbed a few slices of home made bread, spread them with lovely home made butter, spread it with honey and got stuck in having worked up quite an appetite looking for birds to shoot. Only then to be surprised when the main part of the meal turned up, a dish full of fried eggs to help oneself to, a full plate of boerewors, another with loads of chops and fried kidneys all of which one was expected to help oneself to. Everybody except me got tucked in 2, 3 or 4 eggs apiece, a couple of boerewors and chops or kidneys with loads of bread and butter. As the next meal was going to be dinner apart from a small snack of possibly biltong and rusks washed down with cold tea or water at midday.
Then off either to help work on the farm or on a couple of the days, hunting on the flats for various species of Antelopes. I carried a.22 long lent to me by Fritz's brother and was allowed to take the first shot at a reedbuck which I downed with my first shot. Feeling very proud ran up to it and stood waiting for the others. "Very good, now what"? they said, "don't just look at it, you've got a knife on your belt, you've got to gut, skin and quarter it, it doesn't do it itself you know!" Oh s**t, I've never done that before if I shot anything up on the border my constables would handle it, they showed me what to do but insisted I had to do it myself as they would. A couple of hours later, with blood all over my clothes from my ankles to my shoulders, I had finished. The real satisfaction was there as my shot had gone through the heart and although being covered in gore and a bit tired I had done it and went back to the farm for a good shower and, to change my clothes which the farmers wife did for me in return for me helping to cut some of the neat into strips and prepare it to be dried to make more biltong. I actually took several strips back to share out in the mess later.
I had a very good 2 weeks there, shooting 2 antelope, a couple of guinea fowl and qually, all of which was good eating, helping out on the farm with milking occasionally, helping to pen cattle for branding and helping load sacks full of maize onto a railway wagon. I will post a few photos later.
The evening meals which were always huge and had lots of steaks and other meat washed down with lots of Castle beer, were normally taken before 7.00 pm and we were normally expected to be in bed just after 9.00 pm, we were always ready for it and slept like a log.
One of the Saturday evenings they had a party for several of the other farmers and their families in the area all of whom were Afrikaners and all speaking Afrikaans. I was feeling a bit weary and grabbed a seat to rest after a long day hunting when I was grabbed by a middle age chap dragging me out of the chair and pointing at an old man saying "staan vir die ou Oupa jongmens" stand up for the old grandad youngster. I was quite shocked at this, fortunately Fritz's brother had seen it and intervened telling him "Sy mooi so hy verstaan nie want hy is 'n rooi nek maar hy is goed" , basically he's English and doesn't understand but he's ok.
It was a very enjoyable holiday and showed me a glimpse of what was probably a typical self sufficient Boer lifestyle which few rooi neks get to see.
My last holiday was a bit more luxurious, I booked a few days at the Victoria Falls Hotel and went by train. Having my own sleeper room, (not necessary as the journey was only about 8 hours, but it was part of the package) I managed to chat up and pull a S. African girl on the train, which was an added bonus.
The hotel was quite luxurious and all meals were included. I went to sleep each night to the sounds of the falls in the background. Did a lot of the touristy things, went for a flight over the falls which was impressive, went for a boat trip on the Zambezi upstream from the falls. Fortunately met another NRP chap who was based in Livingstone, in the bar one night who drove me around the area and showed me the path on the Southern side where there was virtually a small patch of "rain forest" caused by the incessant spray from the falls.
A great little holiday taken a month or so before I left. The food at the hotel was very good, a choice of various dishes including a different curry dish each evening which is where I first got my taste for it.
The final "Goodbye" in Bancroft.
Needless to say the mess gave a good send off, loads of booze the usual inscribed tankard and a couple of personal mementos. I bought a load of African beer for my lads to be consumed in their police club. I got in return a few unusual gifts, a cow hide dancing shield, basically a cut down version of the ones you see in Zulu, several spears and a small ceremonial axe with tribal marks on the head all still in my den bar the shield which my ex wife threw out after a moth had eaten most of the hair on it.
One of my lads who happened to be the youngest son of a chief gave me the skin of a small leopard his father had shot when it raided his cattle, I am looking at it now. The gift that touched me most was one given by my youngest constable. He gave me a loaf of bread, 1/2 lb of butter and a large bottle of Coca cola. This to feed me on my journey, as when he had been stuck with me on the boring political meetings he had often seen me eat the odd sandwich and drink coke, not realising that I would be on a train and later a ship where all my food was provided. This for him would have cost quite a bit and not wanting to offend him took them, later giving the bread and butter quietly to the mess and making a big thing of drinking some of the coke saying it would refresh me on my journey. I got my houseboy to buy some dress material for his young wife and made sure he got it after I left. My houseboy got all my old civvie clothes I wasn't taking a months salary and bits and pieces from my quarters that I didn't want to take with me to sell plus a glowing letter of recommendation.
Gave my "blues" to Sgt. Mwase as promised along with various other bits of kit he might find useful when he got promoted.
On the day Jules drove me down to Ndola where I got on the train bound for Capetown, one of the great train journeys in the world, 5 days and 4 nights, over 1,500 miles travelling through 4 countries, N. Rhodesia, S. Rhodesia, Bechuanaland and S. Africa. Stopping at Lusaka, Livingstone, Bulawayo and Kimberly and crossing the Zambezi at the Victoria Falls.
The Journey was not particularly interesting looking at the seemingly endless bush passing by with very occasionally a small African settlement. We stopped for several hours in Bulawayo and Kimberly, giving passengers time to go for a shower in those places.
I had 2 other passengers I can remember, one worked for the Federation Govt. inspecting explosive stores on the various mines and got off at Bulawayo. The other was quite an interesting chap in his late 60's or possibly 70's who had been working in the Sudan for the British Govt. most of his life and had some interesting tales, none of which I remember now. But it was pleasant chatting at meal times in the dining car as we normally stayed in our sleeping compartments.
Passing through Bechuanaland, stopping IIRC @ Francistown, I saw real poverty and beggars on the platform which came as a shock, this was the same at all stops in Bechuanaland, the only place I saw this in my 3 years in Africa.
Arriving in Capetown I organised for my metal trunk to be forwarded to my ship and got a taxi to the hotel booked for me by the company who had organised the whole trip on behalf of the Govt.
I had a couple of days before I sailed and fortunately for me the wife of my CO in Bancroft, (he of the stag do) had a friend in Capetown, a nurse, who she had arranged to show me around.
She was very good and drove me all over the place, up to the wine growing areas, down to Simonstown and False Bay.
NRP and Decolonisation
The motto of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment which was, until 1933 a part of the NRP is "Different in Race, Equal in Fidelity", which says it all!
Our own march past was "We are all of one tribe and that tribe is the NRP". We had a great amount of respect and admiration for our African policemen. Indeed I almost certainly owe my life to the brave actions of one of my sergeants and men during one riot.
Basically we could see which way the wind was blowing when the UK government decided to let all Africans have the vote in '62. UNIP under Kaunda and his minions, in the many speeches I had to monitor during the political meetings, had made it very clear that everything was going to be done/run by Africans after Independence in 1964. The UK govt. stopped recruiting Europeans in late '61 and stopped renewing contracts in '64, I decided to go to try and beat the surge of several hundred ex NRP A/Insps returning to the UK in '64 to help with the job hunting process. Funnily enough I was offered a couple of well paid jobs in administration working on the mines, paying at least twice what I had been getting as an A/Insp. , but again I could see the way the wind was blowing re. Africanisation so went anyway.
Not long before I left NR, I attended a function where I met an African Doctor, before you ask he was a real one with a proper degree. He also happened to be an older brother of one of my brighter constables. I took the opportunity to ask him now that the British Govt. had given them independence and they were going to get their "freedom", why there was still so much violence and intimidation of people going on. He replied that we were stupid to believe that the Westminster form of democracy could work in Africa as the concept was unknown. For millennia they had a system where one man, the chief ruled with more or less absolute power with his circle of head men and advisors. Some were more despotic than others but that was what the people understood and it would not change in the foreseeable future.
My police also said they did not want us to go as when we did, tribalism would become rampant again and the politicians and their supporters would almost certainly be of one tribe and exclude others thereby creating inequality and grievances. The main thing they liked about us Europeans was that we were fair and didn't favour one person against another on tribal grounds just on if a man was a good policeman and did his duty well.
Sadly talking to some chaps who stayed on to train up the force and reading the book "no better life" I have mentioned earlier, this is exactly what did happen to the detriment of the force and of course in virtually every other field.
Funnily, I had never met or even heard of any NR European people joining the NRP except those that joined the Police reserve, mainly during the times of emergency not long before independence. There may have been a few from S. Rhodesia but I didn't know any personally. There were a few S. African,s a few of whom I did meet but most were from the UK.
My Roommate was ex BSAP, IIRC he was still of English extraction.
I know of at least one chap who went on to the BSAP after independence, Bryan Rogers, the last I heard of him he was a Superintendent in Salisbury in the 70's.
I believe the BSAP did try to encourage chaps to go South by allowing them to join as Sergeants instead of Constables. I don't think many took up the offer but I honestly can't say.
After a fair amount of contact on the border with the RAR, Selous Scouts and the RLI IN 62 and 63, the Major in charge of the RAR on the border suggested I apply for a commission with his Regiment and he would put in a good word.
Other chaps I knew went on to join various other police forces around the globe. The HKP where several went, Bermuda, the Seychelles, Papua New Guinea and even a couple to the Met in England. One or two joined various Armed Forces, a couple in the UK and at least one, Rescorla in the USA.
On an aside the chaps who went to HK, used to have regular get togethers and became known as the Afrika Korps.
Other chaps went on to University or for legal training in either S. Africa or the UK. Bernard my Seychellois friend got into the Middle Temple and became a Barrister, becoming very quickly Attorney General for the Seychelles, then their UN representative and later their High Commissioner in London. He has some great tales to tell of his times in each post.
I had had a great and very formative time in the NRP and for a fair chunk of that when I was on the border being virtually my own boss, looking after several thousand sq. miles of bush with a sergeant and a handful of constables, where everything from petty larceny, mundane traffic offences to witchcraft, cannibalism, ritual murder, armed mercenaries, marauding elephants, hippos & crocodiles were things I had to deal with.
For me going into a force where I would have to start at the bottom, taking orders from people who probably had little or no experience of this sort of life didn't appeal. The BSAP and RAR commission did sound interesting but having seen the speed at which my career in the NRP had gone from in early 1960 being a career for life, to where in 62 we were told we were no longer needed or indeed welcome, had probably made me cynical about the white mans future in Africa. This coupled with the fact that after the demise of Tshombe, we, that is the NRP and the Rhodesian military were on standby to resist any possible invasion by various UN forces to "complete the job" of eliminating colonialism in Southern Africa by pushing on through the border on to the Cape.
We had even had informal discussions with some of the junior Rhodesian officers, who were using our messes at the time, on a possible UDI which would have included NR at that time. But the powers that be said any such move would have been met by the British Govt with force. So whilst being happy to take on the UN troops, we had a very low opinion of their abilities from what we had seen and heard of their Katanga exploits, we were not prepared to take on British troops, plus we in the NRP had all sworn the oath of allegiance to the Queen!
So these factors made me decide to move back to the UK and look for a trainee managers post in industry which I did reasonably successfully!