To 161 Battery
|RHODESIA - A FEW MEMORIES
John 'Nungale' Nagle
NZATMC JOC Team
I was a Gun Sergeant in 161 Battery, and I served with the New Zealand Monitoring Force in Rhodesia during 1979-1980.
Well, my experiences in Rhodesia were a lot different from Mike "Subs" Subritzky, who was also in 161 Battery prior to our service overseas (see 'Christmas During the Rhodesian War').
I was with a grunt (infantry) Lieutenant, and I will never forget the day when we left Salisbury in a British C130. We flew at tree-top height, I kid you not. We flew with all doors open on the off-chance that we were going to be hit by anti-aircraft weapons. I still have no idea how we would have got out alive if we had been hit, although I am told that the C130 Hercules is a tough old bird.
I was impressed by the skill of the pilots. At one time I looked out of the side window and we were at the same height as a farmer's house. Real pro's those Brit pilots, although I was not thinking of the skill factor at the time; rather I couldn't wait to touch down. I trusted my feet more than any plane doing 150 knots at 20-odd feet above the ground.
Once we arrived at our destination I was met by members of the Rhodesian African Rifles. The RAR was a Regular Force black Infantry Regiment, and in my view a very professional Army unit. It was one that I would have had no trouble to serve with, and the discipline was of a very high standard.
I did two operations with the Rhodesian African Rifles. These occurred when the local thugs were not where they were meant to be. These so-called "Guerrillas" were simply trying to extort money, sex and property from the local blacks. I didn't think much of them and we were happy to stop them and off-load all the weapons that they had; then arrange for them to go to the "Safe Areas" where they were actually meant to be.
After six weeks with the Rhodesian African Rifles I was transferred to the township of "Fillabusy" (I have no idea how to spell it). I was attached to the BSAP (British South African Police), and worked with the British Representive (he was the Manager of the City of Lancaster). Our job there was to check and monitor the voting system prior to the so called "Free" elections which in my view were a farce.
Subritzky is quite correct when he describes his tour of duty as "surreal". The whole bloody business was so bizarre and stressful that it was straight out of a Stephen King movie.
A lot of other things happened, but this is more than enough for now. This is the first time that I have ever talked about Rhodesia.
John Nagle, November 2000