Members of staff at Chikurubi in October 1978 . Photo supplied by DC Hamish Peters who took over command from DC Alex Bundock. Both are in this photo
Chikurubi Mess - Bill Chalmers, Robin Tarr and Alex Bundock
This article on Chikurubi Training Centre was written and supplied by DC Alex Bundock who was the first commander of the Depot. Copyright belongs to him.
Centralised training commenced in February 1974 at Tomlinson Depot with an intake of 40 D.S.A’s who received four weeks instructions. Two more intakes followed (one of 120 men) before the B.S.A.P. Support Unit Commitment made it necessary to seek new venue, and training accordingly commenced at the Prisons Dept. Chikurubi.
Both the B.S.A.P. and Prisons instructors did an extremely good job under adverse conditions such as lack of uniforms, arms and accommodation, and are to be complimented. Mention must also be made of the staff of Government Central Stores who put in many hours of overtime in order to equip D.S.As. In May, 1974 the first intake of regulars attended Chikurubi for language, customs and admin training following their basic military training at Llewellyn Barracks. The D.C. Training moved to Chikurubi from Old Shell House in June 1974. In July of the same year an establishment of eight D.A. Instructors was authorised and a clerk/typist post transferred to Chikurubi.
IANS 1 on parade at Chikurubi Training Depot. Photo from Rory White.
At this time the Prisons Service made available a bedroom with bathroom en suite as an office for D.C. Training. This was shared by myself, Mrs. M. Howard and later D.O. Duncan Nelson. Between July and December of 1974 conditions for the D.As and D.S.As were abominable. Among the accommodation used were old tobacco barns, marquees and anything else that came to hand. The instructors had no personal quarters and were obliged to share with the trainees – a most unsatisfactory state of affairs. Also during this time a second intake of regulars, two intakes of civil service volunteers, one of B.S.A.P. reserve, one of Army Reserve, one of Airforce Reserve and one of Army N.S. passed through the Depot.
At the same time D.S.As were passing through in increasing numbers, the largest intake numbering 297. It is worth noting that one intake of 129 passed out with only 26 men in uniform. At this time, too, D.S.As were being deployed with one set of clothing, one .303 rifle with one magazine and ten spare rounds. NO other kit or equipment was issued. By December, 1974 work had commenced on various temporary buildings for both European and African trainees and Colin Penton Barracks was under construction. During this month the establishment was increased by the addition of the following:
Chief Training Officer. Robin Tarr.
Senior Training Officer. Terry Wilde.
Storeman. Stan Love
Armourer. Buck Ryan
Training Officers. Peter Marshall, Bill Chalmers, Mick Davis, Clerical - Phil Burns.
Although we were spread out over a fairly large area and in disused or half-completed buildings things were much easier and by this time IANS I arrived in January,1975 Penton Barracks were complete. Some alternative accommodation had to be used however (the I.A. asbestos buildings) as the intake numbered 96 and the Barracks were designed for 70.
To go back in time, many different establishments were examined as to their suitability for a permanent depot. These included Domboshawa, Gonnemara Prison, Governor’s Lodge and Bothashoff School among others. Sites at Seki and Chikurubi itself were also investigated but in every case the sites or establishments were inadequate or were objected to by other Ministries, so we remained at Chikurubi.
During 1975 Peter Marshall and Mick Davis left Internal Affairs and were replaced by Paddy Gallagher and Des Lynch.
Intake D/A I reported in June 1975. From January to June various Police and Army personnel had been attached to Intaf for service and were trained whilst IANS 2 and 3 were in residence. The large numbers of D class personnel made it necessary for us to seek assistance from the Airforce and for some time and various intakes had at least one squad at New Sarum whilst we took the majority at Chikurubi. Occupation of the present office block took place in about March 1975 and although we lacked barrack room and lecture room accommodation the situation was far better.
IANS 2 Passing Out parade. The man in the front row with tinted glasses is Dennis Kung who achieved "Best Cadet" of the intake.
In August 1975, Maj. Gen. Rawlings (who had retired from the Army) was to have joined Intaf as Commander of the Service Unit in the field, with D.C. Training remaining at Chikurubi. However, he saw fit to found a new unit – the Guard Force – and this brought endless problems.
Although Intaf was to continue with a service unit, both for P.V. and General duties, Guard Force assumed responsibility for training, at the same time taking all Intaf training staff. Those remaining were D.C., Storeman, Armourer, Clerk and Clerk/Typist. The D/A instructors were also expected to work with Guard Force on secondment but all refused and the establishment was reduced to three. In January, 1976 the nucleus of the Guard Force staff moved into the same office block as ourselves. At this time Prisons were building a large grain shed to which Intaf had contributed in some measure. The idea was to make it available for D.S.A accommodation and move the D.S.As from the Prisons African lines. Unfortunately the building was promptly handed to Guard Force and limited space allocated to D.S.As.
C Squad IANS 4 at Chikurubi Training Wing 1976
Chikurubi Training Depot armourer at work. Photo from Rory White
This period January to June, 1976 was a particularly awkward one with two units sharing one office block and ourselves being responsible for Admin. Of our N.S. and D.S.A. intakes whilst G.F. carried out training. Fortunately by June, Guard Force had moved in toto to the grain shed and Intaf had acquired the services of Derek Boulton, ex National Parks, as trainer. With our small staff we continued to administer and carry out some training un till about the end of the year when we assumed full responsibility once again, a much more satisfactory state of affairs. This was made possible by our using call-up personnel as instructors.
In February, 1977 after much arguing with boards and S.F. units a rank structure was approved and the first officers appointed. This was followed by approval of pay and insignia and the Echelon system came into being. This further eased the burden of training on the small staff. An A.D.C. (David Peters) and D.C. (Bruce Allen) were posted to the Depot and followed by the return of Paddy Gallagher ex Guard Force. From then on, apart from the inconvenience of sharing the barracks with Guard Force, no further problems with Admin. or training were encountered.
To sum up, the conditions at Chikurubi – although “shambolic” – did not dampen the spirit of either staff or trainees and a terrific esprit-de-corps was built up and remains today.
Article from Focus– Interview with DC Hamish Peters
Vedettes Bridge the Racial Barrier - 1978
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, which has a proud record of service to Rhodesia, is finding itself increasingly involved in the terrorist war. The whole basis of its operations has been and still is to function as the primary link between the government and the people, but to this has now been added the task of negating terrorist pressures and activities, whilst winning the confidence and support of the tribal population. To achieve its aim. the Ministry has had to rely increasingly on the manpower provided by its National Service Unit. "Focus" spoke about the unit to District Commissioner Hamish Peters, who runs the Ministry's training establishment at Chikurubi near Salisbury.
It is a known fact that to fight terrorists the administration has to have a presence on the ground at all times. This often means making extended patrols over rugged terrain, travelling long distances to take administration and law to the people in the war zones", he said. Whereas in peacetime we could control vast areas of land with a mere handful of men, the war has forced us to adopt a para-military role, for our own survival and to continue helping the people." Mr. Peters said that for this reason it had been decided that a certain percentage of the men called up for national service would be allocated to Internal Affairs.
Some were men who were not physically fit enough to play a combat role in the army, but were still fit enough to serve in forward areas. These were used in bases and in protected villages. But we also have to have fit young men who can get around in the bush, who can be seen there by the people, who can lead patrols of district assistants: men. in fact, who can control an area and keep that vital link between government and the people", he said.
"Mao Tse-Tung said: 'Where the waters arc life-giving the fish will thrive. Where they are stagnant the fish will die." In other words, where he can enlist and maintain the support of the people, the terrorist will thrive. Then both the traditional way of life of the people and the administration will wither and die. "Where he is unable to build up and maintain this support and the people arc hostile to his cause, the waters are stagnant and he cannot survive." "The terrorists could only be completely defeated when they were alienated from the people. Guns and bayonets, in this type of warfare, could never be a lasting solution," said Mr. Peters.
"We have therefore had to direct an increasingly large proportion of our efforts to conditioning the people, rather than chasing the terrorists. This is why the role of the Ministry has undergone a change and why the National Service Unit has been created to support it."
"In order to carry out their part in the war the national servicemen — or "vedettes" as they are known — receive a full and varied training as administrators. As they are deployed in operational areas, a large part of the training is of a military nature." "Although the Ministry seldom adopts an aggressive role, its men must be able to fight off terrorist ambushes and attacks on bases. They must be able to patrol without help from the army, because they have a different role from the army and must be seen by the tribesmen to be separate from the security forces."
"To enable the vedettes to do this, they are given intensive training in African customs and culture and language courses, to help them bridge the racial barrier. Once in the field, of course, they have black district assistants to help them." "They are also trained in the basics of community development and man management and are instructed how to co-ordinate the work of the various government and private agencies busy in the tribal areas, such as agricultural advisers, national registration teams, health advisers and so on."
"Bearing in mind that our national servicemen are often deployed singly or in pairs, they must have qualities of leadership and abilities above the average", said Hamish Peters. "They have to be firm but fair, have sound judgement and understanding. They have to be equally at home liaising with security forces and talking to elderly tribesmen and emergent leaders, winning their confidence and support. Vedettes have to be self-motivated and have confidence in themselves. It is a demanding job. There is no place to hide when things go wrong." Mr. Peters said that there were two types of national servicemen. There were men who had elected to join the Ministry as regulars and who were required to complete their national service in the unit before carrying on as cadet district officers. The others were men who either volunteered or were called up to do their national service with Internal Affairs and whose commitment was limited to their initial 18-month stint, after which they returned to their usual jobs and did regular call-ups with the Ministry. It was encouraging that of 58 vedettes who passed out of Chikurubi recently 54 had signed on as regular members of Internal Affairs.
Inserted by kind permission of Eddie Norris - ORAFS