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

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NUJuWhrl-yE

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on modern weapons they have few helicopters the aircraft are old and outdated and much of their equipment is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

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