Between the furrows
Some news from Course 18.
T.G. Berwick. Tim. Deceased.
T.L. Bragge. Trance.
E.A. Bull. Alan. aka ‘Al’, ‘Abdul’ and ‘Tool’.
S.A. Cloete. Fanie.
R.B. Colles. Rob. Deceased. Struck by lightning.
J.P.C. Dicey. John was born in Gwanda 1945 and went to St Christopher's Junior School in Gwanda. He attended Milton Senior in Bulawayo and left school at the end of 1963 and completed his military training in 1964. He then worked on Bishopstone Estate at Beit Bridge for one year followed by some commercial hunting for Cawoods Mazunga on Liebigs Ranch.
John enrolled with C18 at Gwebi from 1966-1968 and after graduating joined Rhodesia Tobacco & Ranching at Insindi Ranch, Gwanda. John married Gillian (Coppie) Stevens in March 1969 and they had two sons, Stuart born 1970 and Michael born 1975. He joined Meikles Ranching in 1973 and managed Mambo and then North Shangani Ranches.
He joined Dave Banks (C16) as Manager of his Gwanda/West Nicholson Ranches but due to incidents during the Bush War, moved to Keymer Farm at Ruwa. He left Ruwa in 1980 and went back to the Gwanda District to go mining - basically retreating the sands of old mine dumps. He also started custom milling using Stamp Mills until his retirement to Qalisa in Bulawayo in 2015. His son Stuart continues to run the mine.
J.N. Eastwood. John Norman. aka ‘Tick’ or ‘Tickbite’. Returned to farming after National Service and travel. More details follow below.
C.P.L. Finch. Pat. aka ‘Birdie’. Deceased. Pat enrolled with C18 and in his latter years worked at the Plot Garden Centre on Carrick Creagh Road in Borrowdale, Harare. Pat passed away in March, 2018 whilst walking in Nyanga aged 71.
G. Geldenhuys. Gerrie. aka ‘Jurie’.
M.J.C. Hoffman. Matt. aka ‘Hoffie’.
S. Holdsworth. Simon aka ‘Bush’.
J.R. Hulley. Jack.
I.F. Kind. Ian.
E. Kok. Sam. Came from South Africa and soon became homesick so left quite early on in his First Year. To illustrate his sense of humour the Hostel Warden, Stan Hodierne, put Kok and Bull as roommates in the Hostel.
C.J. Liebenberg. Chris.
D.G. Macintyre. Donald.
J.W. Mells. John. aka ‘Jono’.
M.B. Norvall. Malcolm. aka ‘Noof’.
M.W. Park. Mike.
L.E.J. Peacock. John. I was born on the 16th of May, 1947 in Durban and was taken to Rhodesia when my parents emigrated there. I recall being told that I was about a year old when we moved there. I attended Hillside Junior School, Milton High School and then for a short period at Norfolk House in order to complete M Levels for Gwebi entry qualifications.
I did my Pre-Gwebi practical at Spring Grange Farm, Nyamandhlovu, with Edward and Eveline Rushmore and then attended Gwebi with C18, followed by National Service in the Rhodesian Air Force as an engine fitter which I think was a misnomer as I spent most of my time strapping in pilots and refuelling aircraft.
From 1969 to 1971 I managed a huge cattle ranch in middle of Botswana called Nata Ranch which had been started by the British Government with their Colonial Development Corporation shortly after the Second World War. This ranch was run by Gerry Kollenberg and there were 23 ‘paddocks’ each being 5000 acres, a borehole in each with a good old Lister with a rod pump and none of these boreholes exceeded 60 feet of piping for the water supply.
This period included cattle buying, and walking them to the railhead in Francistown. I was in charge of the purchase of ± 5 000 head of cattle mainly from the Greeks in Maun. The cattle bought were quarantined for foot and mouth for three weeks, weighed and branded in this period, and then we walked them down to Francistown. Each daily trek was 12 to 20 miles long, sometimes a herd would be 1000 strong. A lot of time was spent on predator control. I was at the same time used by KD7 a combine of Gerry, Derek Brink, Gluckman and one other guy.
In 1972 I returned to Bulawayo and worked for Phillip Sussman on the Essexvale Road developing his irrigation project.
I married Catherine Coffin Grey 1973 and moved back into Nyamandhlovu to work for Mickey Michaelis where I managed four cattle ranches until 1976. Our eldest son, Tristan, was born in 1975.
In 1976 I managed the irrigation section at Ripple Creek on Liebigs Ranch near Towla. Our second son, Roland, was born in 1977.
In 1978 we made the big move to Weenen in Natal, South Africa, where we managed an irrigation farm for GJC Turner until 1987. We then moved back to Botswana to help develop an irrigation project in Kasane for Botswana Development Corporation where we stayed until 1990. Incidentally, I was selected for this position because of my Gwebi qualification.
In 1990 we moved to Humansdorp, Eastern Cape where we’ve been ever since, running our own business, Taxidermy Africa.
B.W.B. Piers. Brian. aka ‘Old Man’.
Colin W. Pryce did National Service, farming in Acturus, then Malawi, before travel. More news below.
J.A. Rosenfels. John.
B.J. Rowlands. Basil. aka ‘Bas’
P.B. Sansom. Paul.
D.B. Schermbrucker. Dave. Deceased.
D.E. Short. Dave. After working for Henry Elsworth in the Midlands, he moved to South Africa as an agricultural specialist and animal nutritionist. Deceased.
D.G.W. Stewart. Denis. Deceased. 1997.
F.J. Steyn. Fred. After completing National Service in 1969, I joined Lands department for 18 months. I followed that job working for a small company called Heinze Diesel, working in their mechanical workshops. This was followed by a 2 year farming experience in the Eastern Highlands , at Juliasdale, doing vegetables for the Salisbury market. The farm was purchased by my father, as a prospective retirement. He asked me to join him there, and try it out.
In 1972, I joined Farmers’ Co-op in Salisbury, initially as a counter salesman, but moved on to stockfeed sales, stationed in Hartley and Gatooma (Chegutu and Kadoma), for a further 18 months, before being offered the job of stockfeed formulation, back in Salisbury, where I remained until July 1975. I married my wife, Elfrida (Rowe), on the 1st March 1975 in Salisbury. In June 1975, I was offered a job with Wightman Stockfeeds to run their operation in Bulawayo so we moved there in August 1975 where our two children were born – David William on the 4th September, 1979, and Yvonne Ruth on 6th of October, 1980.
We were blessed with two grandchildren from David and his wife, Heather who live in Bulawayo and then three grandchildren from Yvonne and Dean who live in England.
In 1982, I was approached by one of our clients, Heynie Liebenberg, a dairy farmer in the Somabhula area, about 11 km east of Shangani. We moved to the farm in August 1982, and remained there till November 2009, building the dairy up to 720 cows in milk, at its peak, some years earlier.. However, with the farm troubles and economy crashing, we found it harder to purchase raw materials to manufacture our stockfeeds. So the dairy numbers went into decline, until when I left, we were down to 200 cows in milk, but with enough stockfeed on hand to last another 4 to 5 months. The farm I was living on was designated and our future was looking precarious.
(I am pleased to say, by the way, that by the Grace of God, we never suffered any atrocities, though I was imprisoned for about 3 days for apparently not adhering to the presidents orders to vacate the farm on which we had beef cattle). And today, the dairy is back up to 450 milking cows, since the economic change brought in using the USD in Feb 2009. Heynie`s son, Leon came onto the farm to replace me, and has been able to build the dairy back up.
I left Heynie to join my son, David, running a small transport company. He had asked me a couple of times before. With the farm issues, I considered it again, and we made the choice. We moved to Victoria falls in January 2010, to where he had moved. We ran the company till November 2016, when we shut it down, due to the increasing economic pressures.
I now do odd jobs to keep me busy, help my son to improve his property in the Falls, and take care of my wife, Elfrida. She had a stroke in 2010, and a heart valve replacement in 2011. For all the years she looked after me, I now look after her.
We also run a small Christian Fellowship in our home, to accommodate those folk who have no other church to go to, where the culture is not always easy to embrace.
Glenn H. Tatham joined National Parks and more details of his life follow below.
Erenest L.J. Venter aka ‘Ernie’.
D.Ian C. Wannell aka ‘Wankel.’
R.V. Ward. Reg.
N.St. J. Webb. Noel, aka ‘Wick’. Deceased. Noel’s parents, Mark and Nellie Webb lived in Shabani where his father was the Milling Superintendent in charge of Planning on the Asbestos Mine. Noel had three siblings, twin sisters Marie and Wendy and a brother Jerome, and the boys attended Plumtree School. Noel did his pre-Gwebi practical with Peggy Pattulo, the well known Jersey breeder at Figtree. He also worked for Bill Smith at Texas Land and Cattle Company as well as working for a while growing lucerne and raising sheep on the Umgusa aquifer. After graduating from Gwebi with C18, where he was one of the recipients of the Lord Acton Prize for Animal Husbandry, Noel fulfilled his military commitment with the Rhodesian Air Force at the Thornhill Air Base at Gwelo.
Noel was married to Joyce Richardson whose own father, E.A. Richardson, had been murdered by terrorists on his ranch in the Belingwe/Shabani farming area on the 24th March, 1977. Noel and Joyce had not yet had any children.
Noel was working as a cattle manager on Wedza Ranch in the Belingwe farming district for Des and Rita Forbes when on Sunday 17th August, 1977 he went down to the local farm store to collect his newspaper. He was informed at the store that there were some mujibas in the vicinity. Mujibas, young African males who were often cattle and goat herders, were the eyes and ears of the terrorist gangs and invariably, after some rudimentary training, were promoted into AK carrying terrorists. Noel pursued them but was only armed with a handgun and he managed to shoot and wound the ringleader twice but they had laid an ambush for him and overwhelmed and murdered him with knives and machetes. The ringleader was killed by police in Bulawayo on a follow-up a short while later. The three other mujibas were captured by Security Forces and tried for Noel’s murder but were acquitted due to a lack of corroborating evidence.
D.A.C. Wilson. Dave. Deceased. Passed away from Cancer of the stomach.
I.R.H. Wright. Ian. After Gwebi Ian worked as a sales rep for a Stockfeed company then travelled and worked in Europe but returned to farm in the lowveld where he married Minette. They moved to Angola with a four month daughter in 1974 and opened virgin farmland but it was lost after some close shaves during the MPLA/Unita conflict.
Ian joined a quasi-Government farming organisation in Lupane and, after two years, was transferred as General Manager to Chisumbanje. In 1980 he was transferred as Operations Controller for the Agricultural Rural Development Authority but after two years he joined Lonrho where he was appointed Marketing Manager for one division.
Subsequently Ian was transferred to Lusaka to manage the Massey Ferguson agency.
Lumus, using Israeli technology, had established an irrigation farm with 24 pivots at Sinazongwe on the Zambian side of Lake Kariba. Ian subsequently joined them to apply his experience from the lowveld but returned to Zimbabwe in 1990 after completing his contract.
After eight years he moved to South Africa and set up a water and air disinfection business operating out of Randburg but is currently living in Simonstown in the Cape.
B.P. Zietsman. Ben. Deceased. Died in Mokopane/Potgieterus on 17th March 2012 from a heart attack.
Colin Lowe newsletters with his thanks as always to Ian Johnstone, the Researcher at the National Archives, and then the members of the Gwebi fraternity and others - Alan Bull, John Dicey, Fred Steyn, John Eastwood, Glenn Tatham, Carole Pearce (Glenn’s sister), Steve Edwards and Mike Bromwich (Glenn’s colleagues from National Parks), John Peacock, Andrew Newmarch, Jerry Webb, Noel Edington (Noel Webb’s brother-in-law), Rita Forbes Forder (Noel Webb’s employer).
Vale Alan Bull (Course 18)
Alan was raised on a farm and spent 14 years as a boarder - the last being at Que Que High School. He graduated with Course 18 at Gwebi College of Agriculture and was commissioned during nine months National Service.
He travelled to the UK with John Eastwood “Tickbite”, his Gwebi buddy from Hartley. They took up employment on his uncle's island west of Mull called Inch Kenneth and ran sheep, Shetland ponies and leghorn chickens.
Alan married Leslie-Ann and they had three children.
He lived in Boksburg and travelled to work in Angola. He enjoyed painting and writing but started prostate treatment in 2008 and it was repeated two years later. In 2017 treatment commenced on his spine but he was admitted to hospital in mid-2018 but was able to recuperate back at home and acquired a strong following on Facebook where he shared his poetry.
Alan passed away on 25th March 2019 aged 72.
News from John Eastwood (Course 18)
John was born in Salisbury on the 9th October, 1948, the only child of Brenda and Stan Eastwood. He attended Hartley Primary School and was in Selous House at Prince Edward in Salisbury. John did his pre-Gwebi practical on the family farm, Sable Park, 3400 acres in the Suri-Suri farming area of Hartley. John’s vacational job between First and Second Year was with the Moubray brothers on Chipoli Estates, Shamva.
,After leaving the College, John and his fellow Gwebians fitted in a quick visit to Beira before starting their military commitment at Llewellin Barracks with Intake 98, the bulk of it being spent at Wankie in the Tangent operational area. On completing the Army, John and his good friend Alan Bull headed for the UK and Europe for a six month walk-about and look-see and returned to Rhodesia by the summer of ’69 where he started working back on Sable Park, this time with Dave Moss from Course 16, a formidable duo in the Hartley farming district!
Another important milestone for John in 1969 was that he met Bridget, who he later married in 1971, producing their three sons Sean, Jude and Michael. In 1972 they moved next door to Harmony Farm where they grew maize and ran 1700 sheep in the first year and then added 50ha tobacco and cotton to the programme.
By this stage John realised that irrigated crops were the key to increased production so he searched around for a farm with this facility and in 1974 found Venice, 3500 acres not far off the main road between Gatooma and Que-Que, which he purchased after forming a company with his parents and managed by Alan Bull for that first year. For various reasons it was not a good season, and John moved there to try and turn it around or sell. As the farm was close to Venice Mine, which employed a sizeable work force, John and Bridget opened a supermarket which soon proved its worth. John grew both irrigated and dryland crops including groundnuts, cotton, maize, soyas, sorghum and sunflowers but only went into cattle after their last year, when after another drought, they had very little to sell, but had residue for cattle feed. Their supermarket at Venice, close to their homestead, was what kept their heads above water during those drought years but by now the Bush War had escalated and the supermarket was attacked by terrorists.
In 1980, after renting Kirriemuir Farm, which was managed by Simon Price, their nephew and also Gwebi C29, and with the help of Robbie and Margit Paterson who backed them, they produced a very profitable maize crop. They also rented Ardgowan store on Coburn Estates, which gave them a monthly income which covered all the expenses on Kirriemuir. Venice also had a good year, which resulted in them forming their own company which purchased of a lot of machinery to off-set tax.
John and Bridget continued at Venice until 1984 but droughts and loan repayments led them to accepting an offer from Falcon mines to buy Venice, which was when they bought their home farm from John’s parents who then moved into retirement at Selous. They moved the cattle back to Chegutu which sold very well. John, once again, revived the farm and grew tobacco and maize and bred cattle and pigs and were producing 15,000 chicken broilers a week for the ever insatiable market in Chegutu.
The land invasions started in earnest in 2000 and unfortunately the Eastwood family didn’t escape this disaster and lost Harmony Farm altogether and most of Sable Park but retained the family homestead where they live to this day. However during the climax of land theft they had to flee the farm several times through the back roads to stay ahead of the machete wielding hordes who were bent on destruction and mayhem. John could only bring his family home after the situation had quietened down.
Under the ‘new’ government, farming appears to be back on the agenda, and it would seem that the latest generation of Eastwoods are more acceptable to the authorities and are thriving in this new political climate. Long may it last. Sable Park, once again, is producing food for the people and the broiler business has been the basis of their success, with Sean, their eldest son, taking it to a greater level. Apart from the abattoir and broilers, they have a cattle breeding herd, and produce porkers for the local market and further afield. All three sons are independent, but involved with the various projects. However it should be noted that John, Bridget and family have had an extremely rocky road to travel since Zimbabwe’s independence. Like the Smart and Newmarch families, they have managed to cling onto their home and what’s left of their farm through dogged determination and raw courage and at great risk to life and limb. Personally the Eastwood family has had to overcome several serious medical issues but fortunately have remained strong and retained their contagious and uplifting sense of humour throughout this difficult journey, but most importantly, they have been sustained along the way by their very strong Christian faith.
Some memories from John Peacock, Course 18.
During initiation we had to have a matchbox with a grasshopper in it, the thing was definitely not allowed to die! At the end of the initiation, we had to gather in the Second Year quad for a “wedding ceremony”. This wedding was a particularly galling affair, officiated by Drew Conybeare and his then girlfriend Barbie. Being so humiliated in front of this girl was not fun!!!
I guess it was a lucky thing that I knew Derrik Hapelt so well. During the swimming pool initiation, i.e. emptying the deep end into the shallow end with our tin mugs, nearly drowned some of us. Fighting was now on the cards. I approached Derrik to lay off, enough was enough, I said. Lucky Derrik was able to intervene and was able to get our Second Years to slow down on their enthusiastic initiation.
We also had to endure a tear gas canister in the quad, many tears were shed before one could escape the fumes. Of course, our seniors had long gone, fled the scene!
Planting, hoeing, picking tobacco, loading the barns with those mateppes and then night duty stoking the boilers decided me once and for all that tobacco was only good for smoking.
Right in the beginning, our first farm tour with Jack Lane, proved to be highly embarrassing for me. As can well be understood, there was much rivalry between the Matabele and Mashona contingent of students, I fell foul of this in such a stupid way. A wire concertina gate! Of course us dumb Matabelelanders knew how to open and close gates, but this Mashona invention with the lever pole got me flummoxed and the derisory comments did not help much!
Tim Landsberg was the engineering science lecturer and I think the other animal husbandry lecturer was Boyd-Clark .
The day Mr. Maclean’s brother, a pilot in the Rh.A.F., landed a helicopter on the rugby field had the whole college in attendance. If my memory serves me correctly the pilot stopped in after the furniture truck episode near Makuti. Guess all us bloodthirsty guys were wanting to see bodies!
Talking about military, I don’t recall us guys ever getting tangled up with the R.L.I. We did try and keep our distance from their favourite drinking holes and La Boheme seemed to be our club. What I really mean is that we landed up at La Boheme after the mandatory stop at George Hotel.
Bas Rowlands was truly respected by everyone, he was the ultimate hard as nails hero. Our rugby games were the best, whenever there was a problem in the scrums or lineouts with our opponents, Bas used to change position to close the distance with the troublemaker. There nearly always was somebody left lying on the ground. Our champion, Basil.
Some of the wild things that happened in my first year went by in a flash. When it came to finals and the threat of being kicked out for failing, I caught a huge wake up. The problem was quite simple, I had spent most of my youth in the bush hunting, fishing and catching snakes for pocket money. I landed up at cram school in order to get the Gwebi qualification. All this time I did not go out jolling, drinking etc like my classmates. First year at Gwebi was a truly going wild time with a first class bunch of fellows but in my second year I found that I was now getting really interested in the studies part of the syllabus.
It had never been in my mind to be a farmer, all I wanted to do was join the game department and here is where my “mentor”, future Father-in-Law, Terence Coffin Grey, came into the picture. He insisted that the game department was a dead end job! But look how far Drew Conybeare went, mind you I am not sure that I could ever have been that studious.
News from Colin Pryce (Course 18)
I was born Cape Town, South Africa in 1948 and two years later I moved to Lilongwe, Nyasaland (Malawi) with my parents. My Father became an Agriculture Extension Officer/Produce Market Supervisor with what was then Native Tobacco Board now known as Agricultural Development and Marketing Corporation (ADMARC).
My schooling was initially at Fort Jameson School, Fort Jameson, Northern Rhodesia now Chipata, Zambia, then Lilongwe Primary School (Bishop Mackenzie School) in Malawi, followed by St. Andrew’s High School, Blantyre up to Form 3.
The family left Nyasaland in 1964 at transition to Malawi and moved with my Parents to Rusape, Rhodesia and I completed my final two years at Sinoia High School.
Having decided to apply for Gwebi I did my Pre-Gwebi practical year on a Tobacco/Fruit farm near Rusape in 1966.
1967/1968 was mostly taken up by Gwebi College, C18. I learnt important life lesson during first year initiation – keep a low profile and grin and bear it even with a dosing gun mouth full of quinine! I can honestly say that I enjoyed those Gwebi days.
In September 1968, together with 12 other Gwebi graduates, we presented ourselves at Llewellin Barracks for our 9 months National Service. Our college solidarity was an advantage over the others during the 6-week initial training. Four of us were selected for the Sappers (Army Engineers) Fanie Cloete, Patrick “Birdie” Finch, Donald “Mac” MacIntyre and myself. We spent part of the 7 months either building permanent brick shit houses the length of the Zambezi from Kazungula to Kanyemba, or on landmine clearance patrols, a nice mix!
My first post Gwebi job, in 1969/70, was in Goromonzi District on an arable (tobacco, maize and wheat), dairy and beef farm. During my time on the farm my army days caught up with me. The boss’ eldest son was on his 9-month national service based in Kariba. Porky the pet warthog at Kariba Heights Barracks was getting too big and out of control, so he foolishly offered to send Porky to the farm. Guess who had to receive him and take care of him? Porky did not take kindly to being penned in one of the calf pens or any other form of barricade which he duly destroyed. We finally had to put him down and thus Porky ended his days as that week’s meat ration for the farm labourers!
In August 1970 I moved to Malawi to take up the post of Project Manager on the Vipya Tung Estates, Mzuzu, Northern Malawi. The Tung tree plantations had been abandoned by the Commonwealth Development Corporation when the Tung oil price fell due to cheap synthetic oils being substituted in paints and varnishes etc. The oil price had risen again and so ADMARC, who I mentioned earlier, decided to resuscitate the plantations. I completed a three year contract having also started a Macadamia nut project.
After this contract I took time off to travel around the UK. Naively I chose to hitch-hike around the UK in winter - it was cold! But I didn’t have much trouble in getting lifts being the only idiot on the road! An Aunt that I was staying with introduced me to a young lady friend of hers. We soon clicked and after a whirlwind romance, two weeks later we got engaged before I returned to Rhodesia.
I Joined Internal Affairs in Rusape in 1974 as an Agricultural Officer for the Weya, Tanda and Chikore TTLs. My Fiancé joined me in Rusape where we got married. The TTLs I was responsible for were becoming too hot politically and thus I resigned.
I tried a couple of jobs, first on Mazoe Citrus Estates, but quickly got bored when it seemed my only task was counting trees! Moved to Melfort to try farming again. Unfortunately work and housing condition promises were not kept. I got my break by being offered a job with Tilcor (Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation) now known as ARDA (Agricultural Research and Development Authority). We moved to the Lowveld at Chisumbanje on the Sabi river as a Section Manager growing cotton and winter wheat with flood irrigation.
In 1976 our daughter was born and shortly afterwards I was promoted to Project Manager at Ngwezi Estate near Mphoengs, Plumtree District. It was also a flood irrigation project of Cotton and Winter Wheat and Barley. Nearby I also had a 10,000 ha ranch bordering Botswana to manage. Maintaining the fences on the ranch from Elephant damage was a challenge! The other challenge was the increasing terrorist infiltration from over the border. Fortunately I was only ambushed once while in my armoured Kudu. During the run up to the elections in 1979 I was involved with the Commonwealth Monitoring Force, as the Plumtree DC’s local representative, as the Mphoengs Police Station detachment were confined to barracks. I was also appointed to be a Presiding Officer in charge of a mobile polling station in those historic elections. I had with me the UK Bobbies as well as Royal Marines and Royal Engineers as protection! It was an interesting time be to there.
Sadly, when Independence came in 1980, it was the end of an era! We decided, after some hesitation, to leave Rhodesia, as we were not confident that things would get any better. With hindsight, it was the right decision! I was offered a wheat and stall-fed beef farm position in Saskatchewan, Canada but unfortunately, my age, tropical experience and white Rhodesian status did not score me enough points for a visa! So we decided to try it out in the UK. After some temporary menial jobs, I got work as a long-distance HGV 1 (Heavy Goods Vehicle Class 1) truck driver. Three years of roping and sheeting!
I joined BASF Agrochemicals division in 1983 as Sales Promotion Coordinator and did the Agriculture Show rounds with a truck mounted hospitality suite in summer, and in winter booked and organised the setup of conference venues for the distributor network. This was a big leap forward!
In 1987 I started my own business! I took a gamble to set up a subsoil improvement service. I bought a recently invented German compressed air soil injection machine (Terralift). It was used to decompact soil to a depth of 1 metre by blasting compressed air at 200 psi to crack the ground with minimal surface disturbance. The business, after a very shaky start, progressed well to me buying two more machines. My clientele were mainly golf courses (the greens), goal mouth areas, gardens on new housing developments, etc. My downfall was when I took on a partner to develop the business and upgrade the machines. The partner saw a good deal and decided to cut me out! I sold up to him and joined the unemployed for the first time!
1992 brought about a complete change! I was nearly bankrupt and quite depressed after losing my business, but there was a silver lining. By chance I came across an article in the local newspaper reporting on truck drivers being recruited for humanitarian convoy work in Bosnia. I decided that my army experience and heavy goods licence could be useful. I applied and got the job as Convoy Deputy Team Leader for the British Government funded humanitarian aid programme with the UN Refugee agency, UNHCR. An unexpected quality that helped me get the job was being a Rhodesian! Apparently, the Team Leader I was deputising to was an ex BSAP cop! During my time on the convoys I enjoyed real job satisfaction drawing on all of my previous management and personnel experiences. The skill of negotiating muddy African roads was most useful in the snow bound mountain tracks the convoys had to use to bypass destroyed bridges or belligerent frontlines! UNHCR invited me to head their own funded convoy team made up of drivers drawn from the three warring factions. This then led to me becoming head of UNHCR logistics in Sarajevo responsible for receiving all the humanitarian aid brought in by the road convoys and the UN airlift. They were exciting and challenging times working as a civilian in a war zone while under siege with the constant vibration and sound of shelling. During this time my marriage began to break down due to the fall out of losing my business and the long periods spent away from home in Bosnia. While in Sarajevo I met and fell in love with a likeminded Belgian girl, Myriam!
I was re-assigned to Tanzania with UNHCR in 1995. Myriam was fortunately reassigned with me to Ngara in western Tanzania. We were part of the team setting up the refugee camps for the refuges of the Rwandan genocide. I was head of logistics responsible for warehousing and distribution of humanitarian aid to the caseload of 500,000 refugees. The work was intense with long days, 7 days a week and on call at all times. I spent two years in Ngara before transferring to Dar es Salaam as head of logistics at country headquarters.
Myriam gave birth to our son in Geneva in 1997 and shortly after that I was re-assigned to Sierra Leone as head of Logistics for the Returnee Refugee Programme. Myriam and son joined me a little while later. Unfortunately, two days after they arrived Sierra Leone was plunged into another coup d’état and us being evacuated to Guinea. After a brief time in Guinea Myriam was assigned to Uganda. While in Uganda I took paternal leave to look after our son. During our time in Uganda I took on some short-term work, such as a convoy leader for convoys of Congolese refugees returning to their homes in eastern Congo over the Ruwenzori mountains (Mountains of the Moon). More exciting, fun times!
I divorced my first wife in 1999 and married Myriam on the 12-floor Registry Office in Kampala with an out of action lift! Just before the end of the assignment in Uganda we had the wonderful experience of celebrating seeing in the new millennium with friends on an island in Lake Victoria. A real out of Africa experience!
By 2000 Myriam was transferred to UNHCR HQ at Geneva. I continued to be the stay at home Dad. I occupied some of my time by odd jobbing for friends and acquaintances’ gardens, home repairs and erecting Ikea furniture! I also learnt to ski in the beautiful Alpine mountains around us! But never really got beyond the Blue piste level of competency!
I got back into the UN system by being assigned to Chad during the Darfur war refugee crisis in 2003. That was another very interesting job in a country with hardly any infrastructure and vast distances over appalling roads or the absence of! Most of the aid was railed and trucked through Cameroon. However, that was full of logistical problems and therefore I looked for an alternative route. The solution was found by shipping the aid to Benghazi in Libya and then trucking it overland across the Sahara and down to the refugee camps on the Chad/Sudanese border. It was cheaper and quicker hiring Libyan truckers with their massive 6-wheeler Mercedes Benz and Iveco trucks and navigating by the stars!
I resigned from UNHCR after one short term mission to Mauritania. An opportunity arose at the International School of Dakar in Senegal for an Operations Manager which I took on in 2006. With a team of local technicians, I was responsible for the maintenance of school buildings and sports fields and staff housing.
Four years later we returned to our home in France on the border with Geneva while Myriam worked out her last assignment before retirement. I continued to do odd jobbing for a while until Myriam retired last September. Myriam loves singing and joined a choir which has become very successful and performed at concerts around the world – Switzerland, France, Budapest in Hungary, Verona and Venice in Italy, St. Petersburg in Russia, Wuhan (!) in China and Carnegie Hall, New York three times! I follow along as supporting crew and husband bag carrier! We are now enjoying our retirement in our chalet style house in a beautiful part of Europe.
I’m happy to say that I’m still in contact with several friends from C18 who I’ve been able to connect with again. Alan Bull (RIP), Hoff Hoffman, John Peacock, Mike Park, Brian Piers, Trance Bragge and Ian Wright who was also with Tilcor with me many years ago and hopefully we will be in touch again.
Throughout my various careers I have I have come to appreciate the solid grounding of multi disciplines we were taught at Gwebi. I’m truly grateful for that.
Vale Glenn Tatham (Course 18)
Glenn’s grandparents trekked from Greytown in Natal in the 1890s to the Eastern Highlands in Southern Rhodesia. Glenn’s father, Newby Tatham, was a very strong Christian man of high principles and instilled these characteristics into Glenn and his sister Carole, which would later on have a huge impact on Glenn’s life. He also passed on a love of wildlife and wild places which his children have carried through to their adult life. Glenn attended Highlands Junior School as a boarder and when his parents were transferred from Miami Mine in the Karoi District to Salisbury, he was a day scholar at Mount Pleasant High School.
On leaving school Glenn was uncertain of what career he would like to pursue and eventually decided to follow his friend Andrew Newmarch to Gwebi which he did with C18. Glenn was a committed Christian and a teetotaller and was therefore always the designated driver to take his fellow students to and from Gwebi parties. Glenn was also fluent in Shona which gave him a good rapport with any indigenous Zimbabweans that he worked with. After graduating he was employed by Dick Ternouth, a prominent farmer south of Salisbury and it was here he came to the realisation that a career in National Parks and Wildlife Management would be, for him, more rewarding than farming and so he joined NPWLM in 1971.
Glenn spent time at Kyle National Park and thereafter at Chipinda Pools in the Gonarezhou National Park.
He resigned when he held the position of Senior Ranger to do missionary work and obtain his Private Pilots Licence but after several months he returned and applied to rejoin the Department and was taken back without losing service. Glenn, having worked his way up through the ranks of NPWLM, stayed on after independence under the new regime and he was promoted to Warden in 1981 and Provincial Warden in 1984. As Provincial Warden Mashonaland North, he was stationed at Chinhoyi, and the Zambezi Valley, which comprised of Mana, Chewore, Dande, Kariba, Sapi and Matusadona, fell under his jurisdiction and he was responsible for driving the operation to protect and conserve the Black Rhino which were being poached from all sides but mainly on the border with Zambia. He is shown in a photograph here with a captured poacher's rifle.
By this stage Glenn was an accomplished bush pilot and flew the Department’s Cessna 206 on surveys, but more often the Piper Super Cub and Cessna 185 and was quickly able to co-ordinate the various anti-poaching teams down in the Valley. In addition, to remove the temptation from the cross border poachers, part of the NPWLM strategy was to translocate these Rhino away from the border areas to the middle of Zimbabwe where they would be better protected in privately owned conservancies called Intensive Protection Zones. Capture and translocation would have been a Directorate decision and the teams came in from Hwange (Clem Coetsee) and Mashonaland South (Mike la Grange) to undertake this difficult but ultimately successful exercise.
Glenn authored a Scientific Paper in 1986 which was called ‘The Rhino Conservation Strategy in the Zambezi Valley - Codenamed Operation Stronghold’, and it was published in the Zimbabwe Scientific News. Glenn was rewarded for his hard work, loyalty and conservation efforts by being appointed Chief Warden in 1986 but this turned out to be a poisoned chalice in many respects as by now corruption had started to creep in with the political appointees who managed NPWLM. They expected Glenn to turn a blind eye to their illegal activities which included blatant poaching of wildlife in the National Parks, the illegal export of elephant ivory and rhino horn to the Far East and the corrupt allocation of the lucrative hunting concessions by the authorities to the companies owned by relatives and friends. Glenn, due to his high moral standards, refused to accede to their demands and his superiors realised that he was not the pushover that they had expected, so the Deputy Director of NPWLM and the head of the Investigations Branch decided that they would make life very difficult for him in the hopes that he and other white officers would resign.
Just at that time a joint ‘sting’ operation, conducted by National Parks and the Zimbabwe Republic Police, was underway near Makuti when a poacher was shot dead by a member of the ZRP during an attempted arrest and a murder charge was laid against the three white officers, namely Glenn, Steve Edwards and Charlie Haley. These three were arrested, charged and held in Chinhoyi prison and humiliated by being manacled and walked down the main road from the courthouse to the prison on the first day of the trial when they were placed on remand. Whether the hierarchy at NPWLM was behind this decision to prosecute their own officers cannot be ascertained but the Department did nothing to secure the immediate release of them and they remained in jail for three days, after which they were released on bail.
Fortunately, the Prosecutor, appreciating the weakness of the case against the officers, withdrew the charges after five months, resulting in their immediate release from the bail conditions and all three returned to their duties. One positive outcome from this sorry affair was that the ‘Protection of Wild Life (Indemnity Act)’ was passed in 1989 which effectively indemnified officers of the NPWLM from these kind of charges. However, the harassment of committed and loyal white officers from the Investigations Branch of their own Department continued unabated resulting in Glenn becoming deeply demoralised and disheartened and he resigned his post as Chief Warden at NPWLM in 1994.
Since then Glenn has had a varied employment path including Professional Hunting with clients, heading up the anti-poaching team at Sebakwe Conservancy in the Kwe Kwe farming area, and also as the Chief Pilot for Proflight, a Lusaka based regional airline with a branch in Livingstone which is where Glenn lived and worked. Glenn’s dream was to set up a Hospital Ship on Lake Kariba on the Zambian side with the added facility of a Flying Doctor service. Sadly this project never materialised due to a lack of funding.
Glenn was married to Elsabeth, whom he has since divorced, and had two sons, Ralph and Michael. Unfortunately Glenn has had some serious medical issues including an almost fatal dose of malaria whilst living down at Lake Kariba and then a lengthy back operation in Harare where he resided in Greendale. Despite financial hardships of the times, he remained steadfast in his very strong Christian beliefs.
He passed away peacefully in his sleep on the night of Sunday 12th May 2019.
The Old Strip Road
By Alan Bull
The old Rhodesian tarmac strip road
Is something all Rhodesians knowed.
They were a quick-fix to our mode of travel
And way better than mud, dust, bounce and gravel.
We had strip roads part way to our farm.
Sometimes they were cause for consternation and alarm
As the crown and sides began to wear away.
To overtake or pass, the car would swerve and sway.
Johannes and Phineas cycling, on each strip,
A car in front, a car behind, Johannes lost his grip.
Hurtling he went into his mate’s bicycle wheel.
And they both went spinning head-over-heel
They got up bewildered, bedraggled and bent.
The car drove over the bikes and off it went.
Their new suits were scratched, tattered and torn.
Their faces shocked, withdrawn, grey and forlorn.
I had a nasty scare on that stretch of tarmac.
Klaas the rep said. “Alan take over while I sit back.”
“Faster,” he said. “don’t be scared. Jeez, mind that truck”
I left the track, he hollered and prayed and wished us luck.
Dad bought a tobacco farm on the outskirts Que Que,
The old Dodge lorry, carried our stuff from here to there.
It took a few days travelling that old strip road.
From Umvukwes to Que Que and that huge load.
My last memory of those tarmac strips
Were in Masvingo where we did our daily trips.
We used to drive a Toyota Landcruiser off to town.
So unstable, it was all I could do not to drive up-side-down.
Steam-trains and strip roads conjure up melancholic happenstance
Of days of cheap oil, adventure, adolescence and a time to dance.
It’s with bitter-sweet longing, I wish I could go back and sip
In that era of innocence, freedom and the old tarmac strip.
"A donkey in the road". Anecdotes about Dave Short by Alan Bull, both Course 18.
WARNING: Troopies talking without girls about.
It is so long ago, that at times what looks like a crystal-clear memory and brings a chuckle gurgling up from my tummy, disappears in a flash and a blur into the mist the moment it comes to writing it down. I’m going to try to remember a few moments about my friend, who has since passed into eternity riding on the sound of a twangy guitar and the cusp of poor broken down yodel.
Every time I hear the mention of “Bond—James Bond 007,” I am reminded of my short, squat, loping friend in a shiny leather jacket and thick squat legs squeezed into shiny high-length, buckle-up farm boots, Dave Short.
It looks like Dave should have had freckles on his round face - broken up with small level teeth and thinning hairline combed flat from one side to the other - but that they had been scrubbed off with a wire brush leaving his face a bit red and raw.
Mostly, Dave was a bit taciturn and quite opposite to my character. which I figure was loud, brash, embarrassing, shy with girls—actually, so was Dave - and fun-loving and here’s another - rumbustious. Dave would take time to reflect on what was being said or done and would make an immensely wise comment that none of my peers would have thought of, yet Dave was in the thick of the fun we endeavoured to create, but you wouldn’t hear him cat-calling or screaming at girls for a date from the back of an 8-tonne lorry smelling of farm yard manure. No, he was mostly wise and sensible except on this particular night that we found ourselves together at the Zimbabwe Ruins Hotel.
This would be a unique experience for us who hadn’t seen each other for a year or so. I was a lieutenant in 10th Battalion and he was Short with no rank, I think from 8th Battalion or he was seconded to a spy unit. Our company was staying the night at the Zimbabwe Ruins Camp site in preparation for an op across the way in the Zaka district about 100 km. east of Fort Victoria now Masvingo.
I was ordering a round of drinks in the crowded bar, when I heard a soft greeting right behind me. “Hello Abdul.” The pub was full, and full of excitement as well, although at this stage I hadn’t worked out why. I turned around to see if my ears were deceiving me. I knew that voice, but missed him on first glance until I looked down about a head in length and there was Dave with a shiny, happy wire-brushed red face.
“Crickey, what are you doing here china?” I asked stabbing out a hand looking for a hand shake. It found a reciprocating hand and shook it vigorously. “What’s the buzz china?”
“There’s some film company doing a shoot here or something.” He said vaguely and I thought a typical response from a spy unit.
“Gentlemen could you please move away a bit from the bar to give our celebrities some breathing space.” Asked the manager.
The hub-bub-rhubarb-and-custard drone of men’s voices punctuated with sporadic snorts and high-pitched laughter from the ladies, reverberated higher as people almost had to shout to make themselves heard, while they moved ever so slightly away.
There was a sudden hush, a swivelling of heads and jaws dropping as this blonde goddess - dressed in a white full-length dress showing tantalizing amounts of flesh, all contrasting with her smooth tanned skin and her face a beacon of beauty - sailed in with her throng and sidled up to the bar counter.
“Cor” Dave said as his eyes became riveted upon her beauty.
“Grrr.” I replied like a Frenchman and took a swig of beer to quench my throat that had suddenly become parched.
For a minute or two we were lost for words, but not for lewd and lascivious imaginings.
Shortly, the bar settled down as a bunch of people left and military personnel went back to camp. I was tickled to be in the presence of an actress. My first actress and a tantalising one too. She was the famous Bond girl, Ursula Andress, from the famous 'coming out of the water scene'
Dave and I tried to attract her attention, but the wimps hanging around her seemed to be more attractive than two rugged Rhodesian soldiers with berets strapped under their lapels.
“Let’s move in for the kill” I said.
Dave paused to think, but I could see his thinking had been somewhat diluted with beer and took longer than normal to express itself. So, I was compelled to down my beer, squeeze up to the counter and order two more rounds. Beer was dirt cheap in those days. Even troopies on a dollar a day could get drunk.
By the time I got back to Dave, he had worked out a solution and had joined up with a few more co-conspirators. “I have the solution Tool.” My mates used to call me Abdul Tool because of my Arab-like nose and then this name was either abbreviated as Tool or Abdul. Ah well, what’s in a name?
“So, what’s the plan? How about this approach… Hello my name is Bond - James Bond 007?”
“Nah. That’s too corny.” A friend said.
“Girls love to listen to war stories” Dave said sagaciously.
“You reckon?” I asked dubiously since I had never tried it out. I thought girls preferred talking about nappies, diseases and giving birth.
“Yeah.” Said one of his mates and kicked off speaking for the whole bar to hear. “We were pinned down by about 20 gooks hey Pete?"
“27 was the last head count...” Pete responded.
“Ja, 27 blah blah blah”
“Ha, ha, ha“ we all packed out laughing.
Then Dave had a shot at bull dusting. “…and bullets were flying while Pete was bare foot struggling to put on his underpants. Ha, ha, ha.”
“Ha, ha, ha,” More raucous laughter. We were beginning to enjoy our war stories, but Ursula never once turned her head to smile or enjoy a laugh with us.
“Bugger her. She’s a fuggin spoilt sport.” said Dave’s mate.
“Let’s go outside for some fresh air?”
By this time, the thatched roof pub was thick with cigarette smoke, perfume and the sweet smell of spirits. We grabbed another round and sat under some tall trees near the pub. It was dark, but the moon could be seen breaking through the silhouetted tree tops and stars were twinkling and somethings black were stirring in the tree tops.
Our boisterous laughter disturbed the peacocks trying to roost above us and they began to complain every time we laughed and would flutter from one branch to the next, very skitty-like.
I had had enough of their din and shouted and the top of my voice “Fugg off.”
There was pandemonium up there in the branches as the peacocks fluttered and tripped to get out of there and as they left, with us all killing ourselves with laughter, we were drunk you see, a volley of green and white peacock crap, leaves, branches and feathers descended upon us, splashing the table and someone’s shoulder. We all hooted with laughter at this incident, especially me.
“It’s lovely when a plan comes together.” I thought.
Dave took a job with Henry Elsworth, who became an MP for Que Que. I was good friends with Henry also, so once he knew Dave was my Gwebi Agricultural College mate, he invited us all over for lunch. It was a very long lunch. Henry was into bush clearing and introducing hardy palatable grass into his ranch like crowfoot and both Dave and I were extremely interested in the subject.
On my dad’s farm Igogo, 20 odd kilometres off the old Umvuma strip road through wire gates, cow dung, Mafuti forests, Mopani scrub, Marist Brothers, Scotty’s farm and half a dozen drifts that flooded during the rains, and about a mile just outside heaven and just in visual distance of the pearly gates, is where we put our backs to the wheel.
At the time, we were doing the Savoury high density, short duration grazing system with very favourable results and we had implemented some of Henry’s suggestions. Alan Savoury has become some world-famous fundi on grazing practices and of course studied at Gwebi Agricultural College.
Dave, I think used this experience as a spring board for his future down in South Africa as an Ag specialist and animal nutritionist. Unfortunately, he died before I got to read his stories and hear more of his experiments.
As I alluded, Dave became a part-time writer and was one of the beacons for my own writing. It was the pure envy of someone being able to put his imagination and soul in technicolour using words. I meantime, in the grip of procrastination, only started to write three years ago. Mostly rubbish though, and out of the scope of sane people.
Cowboy songs were Dave’s forte as he picked and plunked at his weather beaten 5-dollar guitar that he must have bought from a native farm store. Well his voice matched the guitar for weather beaten and the loose strings matched his yodel as he sang “Git along little doggie yodel-ei-ee yodel-oo-aa-oo-aa-ee” in a most mournful cowboy stupor. I can even see him now, plonked on his horse on a starry night, moonlight glinting off fidgeting cow horns, a $5 guitar in hand, the smell of cows and cud sweetening the air while the cows were trying to get some sleep for the morrow’s trek and Dave’s yodelling keeping them all awake.
I loved listening to him as I was screaming with mirth internally. I also learnt to play the guitar while at college. It was apparently a Des and Dawn Lindberg guitar that they sold to a music shop in Salisbury. It was a twelve string van der Geeft for $200 second-hand. I loved it, practiced and practiced and drove my roommate mad, he cracked and broke into tears and in the next breath he flew back to South Africa. I was disappointed in both him and my playing. It sounds like a Kok and Bull story, but it wasn’t as those are our surnames.
That was a little digression that drives my friends mad, but what I wanted to tell you is one of Dave’s army experiences.
His company had left Gokwe at sparrows in the morning. It was freezing cold, perhaps bordering on ice cold. After a very short distance the cold and the dust had almost deprived the troops in the back of breath. So, they all climbed into their sleeping bags, but since they were high tailing it just behind the front RL the dust was so thick they still could hardly breath. One bright spark decided to put his sleeping bag on in reverse like an oversized beany so that his head was where his feet should be and vice-versa. This seemed like a smashing idea under the circumstances so the rest of the guys followed suit, if you don’t mind the pun. This worked well and before long the guys had rocked themselves to sleep.
Suddenly, a donkey appeared at point blank range between the two trucks. The driver in his haste swerved to miss the donkey and the truck rolled ejecting all those sleeping body bags hurtling like missiles into the bush, head first, with wails of confusion popping out from the foot end of the bag.
The bodies were strewn all over the place and struggled to get out of their sleeping bags in what they imagined was an ambush and their weapons weren’t within arm’s reach. In fact, where were their bloody weapons? I don’t recall what happened to the dazzled donkey, but I supposed he just stood there wondering WTF - like the troopies.
Once the soldiers had prized themselves out of their sleeping bags they must have realized the call for ambush was a false alarm, which allowed them to start fuckin’ this and fuckin’ that and WTF is a donkey doing there and WTF and where the fuck is my rifle. It clearly wasn’t an event for the pope to be witness with all the cussing going on.
With the truck lying on its side WTFing and a thousand sand-bags, rifles, kitbags and writhing, worm-like sleeping bags everywhere; all was lost. A crane or a back actor was needed to put everything back together again. Or at least that was what the shell-shocked troops were thinking until the husky voice of the sergeant-major broke the miserable torpor.
“WTF is going on here. Get that fuckin’ truck back on its wheels.”
Broken legs, crushed spines, flattened heads and lost rifles were momentarily forgotten as army discipline kicked in. Within a jiffy and a heave-ho, the RL was righted and the troops had embarked with their rifles and I don’t think they wore those oversized beany hats ever again.
And the donkey? WTF.
Posted on "Our Rhodesian Heritage" Group on Facebook, 6th July 2017.
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