Guard Force: The Last Defence For Rhodesian Farmers
Editor: One of the most dangerous occupations during a war is farming. In Rhodesia isolated farmers and their families were easy targets for cowardly terrorist gangs that were heavily armed by Communist Soviet and CCP forces.
Guard Force was formed after numerous Chiefs, Headman, Government Officials and Farmers in remote rural areas became desperate. The terrorists were torturing, mutilating and murdering civilians in the most gruesome ways imaginable, including forced cannibalism.
“Guard Force , RDR, BSAP, Intaf and other defensive elements of the Security Forces provided the protective shield so that the sword, consisting of the elite units of the Security Forces, could strike and destroy the enemy. No regular military Force wanted to be involved in protective / defensive tasks. These tasks have been seen as frustrating, sapping the morale of the soldiers and causing ill discipline, in addition to the danger incurred.”Guard Force
The following extracts are from the book “Jim Parker, Assignment Selous Scouts”, published in 2006 by Galago Publishing in Alberton, South Africa .
By KC George Parker, who served in Guard Force
The next two incidents are describing the actions of Guard Force soldiers in the Farm Protection environment :
“ Further north at High Peak Farm in the Belingwe ranching area, Mr Forbes, a rancher with a guard supplied by Guard Force, locked the gate in his security fence at 18:30 on 17 January 1979. His wife was preparing supper when 15 guerillas and 30 mujibas under section commander General Chaminuka launched an assault on the homestead. It lasted for just over three hours during which the guerrillas expended more than 600 rounds of ammunition. Forbes, his wife and the Guard Force detail bravely returned fire and fought off the attacker. No one in the farmhouse was injured.”
“ During the evening of 08 April 1979 the homestead of Mr., Nurse at Branksholm Farm, in Fort Victoria’s eastern farming area, was attacked by 15 guerillas. Nurse and his Guard Force detail returned fire but couldn’t beat off the enemy. Nurse alerted the JOC at Fort Victoria by radio and asked for assistance. The recently armed police reserve aircraft was deployed to assist. When it arrived overhead the homestead the guerrillas began firing on it with small arms and RPG-7 rockets. This was unusual because insurgents usually fled when they heard aircraft sounds. The plan made two low level passes over the raider’s position while the gunner blasted them with his machine gun. The startled guerrillas promptly broke of the attack and headed towards the Zimuto TTL.
Numerous bullet strikes were found on the homestead the next morning, but non of the occupants was injured. “
“ At 18:00 on 21 September 1979 a landmine protected Land-Rover with Niemann, De Klerk and two armed guards aboard was attacked by guerrillas as they were returning to the ranch homestead. The guerrillas were armed with an RPG-7 rocket launcher, an RPD light machine gun, AK47 rifles and Chinese-manufactured stick grenades.
A hand grenade landed on the seat next to De Klerk and he was killed; a Guard Force detail, Sante Kudakwashe, was wounded by the blast. Niemann tried to accelerate and drive through the killing zone but an RPG-7 gunner stepped out into the road and blasted a rocket straight at the oncoming Land-Rover. The missile struck the armourplated windscreen, sending shrapnel in all directions and seriously wounding Niemann. The surviving Guard Force member dived from the vehicle and returned fire in a lone counter-attack. Fortunately his bravery did the trick and the guerrillas fled. The guard ran to the homestead and raised the alarm.
The investigating Officer, Detective Inspector JJ van Royen, located 18 firing positions and a total of 689 cartridge cases as well as two caps from stick grenades.”
Farm Protection, KC George Parker remembers
Farm Protection was a new concept to me after PVs [Protected Villages] then Infantry. I guess this role was my most common and I did them in Kezi, Headlands, Gwanda, Somabula (Midlands), and Hartley/Gatooma.
Basically each KC [Similar to Sergeant] was allocated an area with perhaps some 40/50 farms. The KC was based at the local Police Station. They usually had an NCO and 4/5 Guards to act as a Reaction stick in place of the police.
They performed this role principally but also acted as support and discipline to the guards.
2, 3, or 4 Guards (seldom more) were placed on each farm and in theory ‘protect’ the homestead at night and travel with the farmer on his lands by day (on a sort of roster basis, but this was always a problem as we never had enough Guards).
Every day I would travel by Land Rover or Leopard to each farm in my district and inspect the guards, their weapons, their duty rosters etc. Talk about any concerns they had and generally act as ‘father’ to them (you know what it was like: father, mother, teacher, nurse, priest, doctor, counseller etc etc….).
The farmers were always very grateful for the Guards and their support. On no account were Guards permitted to do any farm work. If they did then we would remove them from the farm. Many times I was transferring guards from one farm to another. When we visited the farmers they always begged us to stay overnight but rarely did we do this.
On the odd occasion I would take a stick and go on patrol with PATU or set up ambushes or act as Stop Groups.
Of all the people in Rhodesia I had most respect for the farmers…..their existence must have been a continuous fearful one, waiting for attacks every night.
I enjoyed working with the police and I think they welcomed our presence, but sometimes the Member in Charge overstepped the mark.
Generally it was 10 times better than the PVs, but again the vulnerability of driving around the bush every day was a bit dangerous….especially when you did the ‘pay-run’.
KC George Parker (UK Sept 2003)
The family farm is always the front line of civilization. A beautiful tribute to Rhodesia’s farmers and to the Guard Force. I read this with much appreciation.