Affiche The Saints: The Rhodesian Light Infantry
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The 1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry was formed on the 1st February 1961. In its short existence, spanning only 19 years, this fully airborne commando unit carved a reputation as one of the world's foremost proponents of counter-insurgency warfare. This was achieved through their ruthless application of the devastating 'Fireforce' technique. This tactic of vertical envelopment of the enemy was repeatedly applied during their daring cross border pre-emptive strikes against the massing tide of ZANLA and ZIPRA guerrillas based in Mozambique and Zambia.


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S01E01 UDI Declared 00/00/0000 The Unilateral Declaration of Independence (commonly referred to as UDI) was a statement adopted by the Cabinet of Rhodesia on 11 November 1965, announcing that Rhodesia, a British territory in southern Africa that had governed itself since 1923, now regarded itself as an independent sovereign state. The culmination of a protracted dispute between the British and Rhodesian governments regarding the terms under which the latter could become fully independent, it was the first unilateral break from the United Kingdom by one of its colonies since the United States Declaration of Independence nearly two centuries before. Britain, the Commonwealth and the United Nations all deemed Rhodesia's UDI illegal, and economic sanctions, the first in the UN's history, were imposed on the breakaway colony. Amid near-complete international isolation, Rhodesia continued as an unrecognized state with the assistance of South Africa and Portugal.
S01E02 Hostilities Begin 00/00/0000 On 4 July 1964 ZANU insurgents ambushed and murdered a white foreman from Silverstreams Wattle Company, Pieter Johan Andries (Andrew) Oberholzer. The killing had a lasting effect on the small, close-knit white community, even though it was an isolated incident. The Smith administration subsequently moved to detain the ZANU and ZAPU political leadership in August 1964. The major political leaders imprisoned were Ndabaningi Sithole, Leopold Takawira, Edgar Tekere, Enos Nkala and Maurice Nyagumbo. The remaining military leaders of the ZANLA Dare ReChimurenga were Josiah Tongogara and the barrister Herbert Chitepo. Operating from bases in Zambia and later from Mozambique, militants subsequently began launching attacks against Rhodesia.
S01E03 Operation Cauldron 00/00/0000 Operation Cauldron was initiated by National Parks game-ranger Dave Scammell who, when driving with African game-scouts below the Zambezi Escarpment, noticed boot prints of two persons crossing the main east-west access road. Right away Dave recognized that the prints were from terrorist issue figure 8 and chevron pattern boots. RLI troops were flown in and a tracker-combat team under Lieutenant Bert Sachse took control. Squadron Leader Norman Walsh, John Barnes, Mark McLean and their technicians were called forward next day after Bert Sachse's callsign contacted a terrorist group, which took an awful pounding. During the follow-up on survivors, a major base was located near the Chiwore River resulting in a second punch-up on the same day as more RLI call signs deployed. RLI gained further successes with survivors scattering in all directions. Continued follow-up operations resulted in the discovery of five well-established bases along the Chiwore River stretching from the Zambezi River southward for over eighty kilometers to a sixth base that was later found close to where the Angwa River exits the escarpment. The sixth base was still well short of the populated area the terrorists had sought to reach secretly. About 250 ZAPU and SAANC terrorists had established this line of bases with more to follow after reaching the African population above the Zambezi Escarpment. Once established with the locals, they expected to create safe routes all the way through Rhodesia to South Africa-an aim that had failed in the west because of Operation Nickel. Again we had been caught off guard by ZAPU choosing a section of the Zambezi devoid of routine patrol coverage. We had absolutely no hope of covering every inch of our long border and had concentrated on ZANU's dependence on Zambian fishermen to help them cross the big river. In any case, ZAPU did not fit into our planning so far east.
S01E04 Fireforce 00/00/0000 Fireforce is a variant of the tactic of vertical envelopment of a target by helicopter-borne and parachute infantry developed by the Rhodesian Security Forces during the Rhodesian Bush War. Fireforce counter-insurgency missions were designed to trap and eliminate Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and Zimbabwe People's Revolutionary Army insurgents before they could flee. Fireforce reacted to enemy ambushes, farm attacks, or observation post (OP) sightings, and could also be called in by trackers or patrols who had made contact with the enemy and then called for reinforcements. Fireforce was first deployed in January 1974, and saw its first action a month later on 24 February 1974.
S01E05 The War Escalates 00/00/0000 By 1977 the war had spread throughout Rhodesia. The ZANLA continued to operate from Mozambique and remained dominant among the Mashona peoples in eastern and central Rhodesia. Meanwhile ZIPRA remained active in the north and west, using bases in Zambia and Botswana, and were mainly supported by the Ndebele tribes. With this escalation came increasing sophistication and organisation. No longer were the guerrillas the disorganized force they had been in the 1960s. Indeed now they were well-equipped with modern weapons, and although many were still untrained, an increasing number had received training in Communist bloc and other sympathetic countries.
S01E06 External Operations 00/00/0000 During the Rhodesian Bush War (or Second Chimurenga) the Rhodesian Security Forces (RSF) had to deal with an increasing flow of externally trained insurgents coming into Rhodesia, latterly Zimbabwe Rhodesia, from its neighboring countries, especially from Zambia and Mozambique, the latter in particular after its independence in 1975. The objectives were to attack the ZANLA forces in their command and training center before they could enter Zimbabwe Rhodesia and to cut off supply routes into the Gaza Province of Mozambique. It was also hoped that the destruction of communication and railway lines, roads and bridges as far as 200 miles into Mozambique would have an impact on the economic situation and the morale of those who supported Zanla and Robert Mugabe. Targets were the bridges at Aldeia Da Barragem along with a vital irrigation canal feeding a major agricultural area in Mozambique. Air strikes were planned on Frelimo installations in Mapai and Maxaila to demoralize the occupants. Afterwards the base at Mapai would be taken and destroyed by Zimbabwe Rhodesian ground forces.
S01E07 Ceasefire 00/00/0000 Under the agreement of March 1978, the country was renamed Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, and in the general election of 24 April 1979, Bishop Abel Muzorewa became the country's first black prime minister. On 1 June 1979, Josiah Zion Gumede became President. The internal settlement left control of the military, police, civil service, and judiciary in white hands, and assured whites about one-third of the seats in parliament. It was essentially a power-sharing arrangement between whites and blacks. The factions led by Nkomo and Mugabe denounced the new government as a puppet of white Rhodesians and fighting continued. The hoped for recognition of the internal settlement, and of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, by the newly elected Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher did not materialize after the latter's election in May 1979. Likewise, despite the fact that the US Senate voted to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, the Carter administration also refused to recognise the internal settlement. While Prime Minister Thatcher clearly sympathised with the internal settlement and thought of the ZANLA and ZIPRA leaders as "terrorists", she was prepared to support a push for further compromise if it could end the fighting. Britain was also reluctant to recognise the internal settlement for fear of fracturing the unity of the Commonwealth. Thus later in 1979, the Thatcher government called a peace conference in London to which all nationalist leaders were invited.
S01E08 Trooping The Colour 00/00/0000 The RLI trooped the Colour for the only time on 27 July 1970. Among the 3,000 spectators at Cranborne Barracks were the Mayor and Mayoress of Salisbury, the commanders of 2 and 3 Brigades and the commanding officer of the Rhodesian African Rifles. Regimental Sergeant Major Robin Tarr began the proceedings at 10:35, at which time the RAR band and drums started to play the RLI's slow march, The Incredibles, as the RLI troopers marched onto the parade square in divisions. Minister of Defence Jack Howman and Prime Minister Smith then arrived in turn to inspect the men, following which Smith presented Mrs Veronica Ferreira with her late husband Wally's posthumous Presidential commendation for bravery. The regimental colour was then trooped before finally the RLI men performed a march-past in slow and quick time. At the end of the parade, Lieutenant-Colonel Hickman announced his departure from the Battalion, having been promoted; his replacement was Lieutenant-Colonel A. N. O. MacIntyre.