Frontline Rhodesia | Bush War Documentary (Part 1) [Video]

[Music] [Applause] this is a cave in Rhodesia inside are
four members of mr. Micawber's guerrilla forces outside is the Rhodesian army [Music]
[Music] [Music] at the moment give us more notes for
that and to get a recap just pressing a school in to the LZ the Rhodesians claimed to have the
finest army in the world this is an exaggeration it is however the most unusual and possibly the most efficient
counter-guerrilla force operating today [Music] this film is about the men white and
black who make up the casualty figures which appear in a small paragraph at the bottom of the front page
the Rhodesian army is tiny at any one time it has no more than 20,000 men on the ground of these only 4,000 are
full-time professionals of the remaining 16,000 half are african serving in the police or in local defense units the
other half are white Rhodesians who serve on a part-time basis because of sanctions the Rhodesians are very short
on modern weapons they have few helicopters the aircraft are old and outdated and much of their equipment is
locally made their country is one and a half times the size of Britain most of it is rugged and sparsely populated they
have nearly 2,000 miles of hostile border because of the equipment shortage this vast area is patrolled by men on
foot they are faced with between seven and eight thousand gorillas inside the country and the further 15 to 20
thousand outside by all the normal military equations the Rhodesian army should have been defeated several years
ago that it is still more or less in control of a situation reflects not so much on the Rhodesians as on the
competence of their enemy of the 20,000 men on the ground fifty percent are black but in the small Regular Army that
proportion rises to nearly 80 percent blacks join up in the main for economic reasons and there are always more
potential recruits than the army can actually handle thus the recent announcement by the Rhodesian government
of the introduction of that conscription can be best interpreted as a political gesture the recruits are mostly
unsophisticated country lads our job at figures five minutes to come and pick up a copy their basic training
last six months in that time they absorb little more than the rudiments of their new profession it takes a further two
years under good NCOs and officers before they can be regarded as fully trained their training pays as much
attention to normal warfare as it does to counter guerilla tactics the Rhodesians take the threat of outside
military intervention very seriously indeed in the present war the Rhodesians have
learned that they must use their limited resources as effectively as possible most of their helicopters and their best
troops are concentrated into four mobile strike units around the country two black and two white these are called
fire force this is a fire force base for weeks at a time it is home for the men stationed here their job is to stand by
to assist other units in their area in the event of a contact with the guerrillas or a sighting by an
observation post a company second Rhodesian African Rifles has had a very successful record in a three-month
period is accounted for over a hundred guerrillas killed for the loss of only one man a company commander spent 22
years in the British Army for the last three years he has served in Rhodesia his officers are all in their early
twenties the commander is a typical fighting soldier intensely loyal to his men who in turn are utterly devoted to
him half the regular army is parachute trained the manner and the extent to
which the Rhodesians employ paratroops is unique in the history of warfare since the war began there have been some
10,000 operational jumps some of the men in this company had parachuted into action over 40 times other units have
jumped even more frequently in no other war if soldier's parachuted anything like this often the reason for this
somewhat hazardous form of transport is simple there are not enough helicopters a fire force unit has only four or five
one is for the company commander from which he controls the battle on the ground the others carry only four men
each thus a maximum of 16 men can be deployed at any one time by helicopter with the Paras the total force amounts
to little more than 35 men there are over a hundred men in the company and they are therefore deployed in rotation
the officers however are sent out on every call the Paras are flown in by aging decoders
some of these aircraft first saw service in World War two one Dakota has been repainted so often but because of the
extra weight of paint it can no longer carry a full load the ride flying at low level is
frequently very bumpy and has earned a plane the nickname the Vomit Comet when fire forces deployed the men are told
only two things the flying time to the target and the number of gorillas they may expect to meet all the aircraft
carrying low so as to reduce the warning of their approach they have talked under the target by the patrol who have
spotted the enemy speed is vital as soon as the guerillas are aware of what is happening they disperse into the thick
bush and either tried to escape or simply hide as the first chopper comes in to land an air strike is put in on a
suspected guerrilla position the troops are landed as near to the target as the terrain will allow they're either
dropped off in sticks of four men each around the area or as in this case together
they form into extended line and sweep towards the enemy a second air strike is called
the Paris fly-in at a height of between 4 and 500 feet they are dropped on the nearest available piece of open ground
if there is nothing suitable then take their chance among the trees and rocks the injury rate and sometimes were quite
high the company commander circles overhead in his helicopter throughout the
operation directing the battle the helicopter troops have found three girls who were living with the guerrillas they
say there are ten guerillas in a camp at the top of the hill the men take the girls with them to show them the way to
the camp the troops advance quickly at first and then more cautiously as they're near the position every safety
catches on fire every finger is on the trigger whoever sees the other man first in this war lives
they find the camp but as expected it is deserted we found a discarded bag of blankets when I set baguettes pieces of
thought signed together as a blanket container nothing else will be an uneaten meal testifies to the speed with
which the guerillas left the area beyond the position there was a slight movement in the bush a man has died on the other
side of the hill the Paris of hit trouble machine gunner opened fire on two gorillas at a range of 5 yards he
killed one but then his gun jammed and he was shot in the head by the second the man helping to load the body onto
the helicopter is Richard sisal my partner in making this film he was killed a week later in the confusion the
second gorilla managed to crawl away the ferry's go after him and catch a fleeting glimpse in the distance but
this is very thick bush and he escapes as they continue the sweep something moves in the undergrowth a soldier
hesitates and a woman's life is saved he had glimpsed the pattern on her dress and held his fire few civilians are as
lucky as this woman and her child many died in circumstances just like these once the soldiers are convinced that all
the guerillas are dead or have escaped they relax then starts the clearing up one of the officers examines the rifle
of the man he killed like many gorillas weapons it has been badly maintained this one is filthy a large number of the
rifles they find do not work at all it is difficult to understand why this is so as the Russian Kalashnikov ak-47
assault rifle is almost indestructible but this happens frequently and reinforces the professional contempt the
Rhodesian soldiers feel for their enemy despite the large number of guerillas inside ready champions there is a marked
absence of experienced leaders in the bush this goes against the most basic rules of guerrilla warfare the man
killed by the para machine gunner turns out to be a platoon commander by guerrilla standards he is fairly senior
but his rifle is not merely dirty it simply doesn't work lying nearby the soldiers find a satchel full of
documents all the guerillas keep detailed Diaries of their activities such records are absolutely forbidden in
any disciplined army guerrilla or otherwise as they provide useful intelligence to the
amongst other things this hall contains a death list of local African civilians that this group intended to kill
elsewhere the soldiers are making a space for the helicopters to land it is easier to break down a few
saplings and it is to drag a body half a mile through the undergrowth to a natural clearing all dead gorillas are
flown out to be photographed fingerprinted and if possible identified and their weapons are tested
ballistically to see if they are involved in any previous incidents on occasion a units progress across the
country has been plotted simply by means of such evidence for many gorillas their first encounter with the Rhodesian army
is often their last more than 80% of the gorillas inside the country come from the Mozambique bases
of Robert Mugabe some of his men have operated in the Rhodesian bush for as long as two years living off the land
and all but out of touch with their commanders the Rhodesians claimed to have killed some 6,000 of them inside
the country since the war began that figure is accurate what is less certain is the number killed in raged into
Mozambique and Zambia the lowest estimate is 3000 but many put it as high as a further six thousand
[Music] once the clearing up is over the choppers returned to pick up the
soldiers today they have an extra load the girls will be taken for questioning and then be released the whole force
reassembles at a temporary refueling point near a main road the bodies are displayed at the roadside to a busload
of Africans this is done because the contacts with the guerillas take place deep in the bush and most of a civil
population is not aware of the Army's success to the soldiers the sight of death is commonplace but when one does
what is going on in the minds of these ordinary people indeed to anyone the site could be pitiful and perhaps it is
until you see what some guerillas can do to unarmed civilians in this incident 17 men women and children were killed by
tour mister and comers guerillas one of them later confessed to his part in the murder
half the victims were put into a hut and the hut set alight nearly 2,000 black civilians are reported to have died at
the hands of the guerillas since the war began the use of terror tactics against the population is a recognized if
hideous stage in the development of a guerrilla campaign in this respect Rhodesia is no different from Northern
Ireland Cyprus or Algeria the fire force are sent to investigate a village suspected of harboring guerillas
they enter the village and the African soldiers instinctively recognized that things are normal
however they questioned the locals [Music] the penalty for assisting the guerrillas
is imprisonment the penalty for assisting the army is possible death at the hands of the guerrillas themselves
the position of unarmed civilians in a country torn by war is never India bull the headman is taken away for
questioning [Music] okay you just come with me ah for the
men of fire force the war is relentless day after day they leave the security of their base and fly into action the kill
ratio of the Rhodesian security forces operating inside the country is roughly 10 to 1
this includes men killed by landmines in road ambushes and those serving in low-grade defence units however these
figures can be somewhat misleading in straight fighting with their regular companies the Rhodesians kill on average
60 or 70 gorillas for the loss of every man the men of this fire force have also fought inside Zambia and Mozambique
there where the enemy is concentrated in large numbers the end result has often been little short of wholesale slaughter
in this type of operation the Paris dropped from 400 feet other specialist units often jump from 20,000 feet at
night the Rhodesian SAS employ the latest freefall techniques when radiant cross
the border they drop for 18,000 feet before opening their chutes to avoid detection
inside Rhodesia there is no need for stealth as the helicopter troops have already gone in once on the ground the
Paras regroup as quickly as possible and advanced towards a small collection of huts a few hundred yards away near
the huts is a suspected guerrilla position and an airstrike is [Music]
to get to the village the men have to advance through a maze field they move as usual in extended line knowing that
at any moment they may meet the enemy at a range of four or five yards the guerrillas are lying hidden the soldiers
are walking upright completely exposed to fire against a competent enemy this will be suicide
meanwhile the helicopter troops are advancing on the guerrilla position near by the mixture of fear and self control
shows clearly as they move forward [Music] in this war the killing is done at such
close range that a soldier actually sees the expression on his victims face as he dies
[Music] a gorilla dies another man dies this time an innocent
civilian but in this war the man who shoots first survives
in the village the situation is very tense the fighting continues in the maze field roundabout there is an unusually
large number of healthy young men in what is a small family crowd gorillas often wear two sets of clothing so the
young men are stripped and checked the huts are set although the soldiers come from exactly
the sort of village background they have little sympathy for those they suspect of harboring guerrillas since the war
began over a hundred black soldiers have been murdered by guerrillas while visiting their families in their tribal
homes nor are their families safe several of the men in this company have relatives who are guerrillas one Lance
Corporal knowingly and deliberately killed his own brother in a skirmish the soldiers find definite evidence of a
guerrilla presence every Hut is stripped and they unearth a first-aid kit just outside the village in a maze field a
guerrilla is killed and his weapons are brought in the village headman is taken to identify the body
[Music] the long-term effect on these young men of the continued quilling is not yet to
be seen but the immediate conclusion must be that they are becoming indifferent to violence and it sense

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