IANS 4 - Gordon Poultney's Story
The national service call up system provided manpower for all of the services, including Intaf. Each of the intakes was numbered from IANS 1 onwards. The information and photos on this page belong to Gordon Poultney who did his national service in 1976 with IANS4 (intake 150). He also maintains a web site where his story may be found at http://poultney.rhodesiana.com/family/gkp/gkp5.html#gkp5
Gordons story is an excellent illustration of life in Intaf during the war and specifically in the Mount Darwin district which was acknowledged as one of the more active war zones of Rhodesia. All copyright belongs to Gordon and grateful thanks are extended to him for the use of the information and images. Gordon is in field dress in the photo at the bottom of this page.
Gordon Poultney was instructed to report to Chikurubi Barracks where he did his basic training, as did all other national servicemen. Basic training consisted of a numberof subjects including drill, field craft, weapon handling, anti ambush drills, the basics of an African language and an introduction to customary law. When basic training was completed Gordon was deployed to Mount Darwin. This is a summary of his experiences.
In March 1976 I was posted to Mount Darwin for the remainder of the year. I was initially sent to a relatively new Keep at Pachanza which was on the road to Mukumbura and situated just before the road headed around the "Bull's Nose" on the end of the Mavuradonha Range and headed down into the valley floor. The District Officer in charge of Pachanza was Dave Dodds who was a great Bisley shooter so we used to have lots of rifle practice. There was no Protected Village (PV) at Pachanza at that time so we spent our time patrolling the area on foot trying to gather information on the terrs and supervising the weekly cattle dipping at the nearby tank - 1,400 head. We also had to pick up the local Chief, Dotito, and bring him into the Keep every evening to "protect" him from the terrs. Of course it wasn't too long before the gooks caught onto this and were waiting in ambush for Dave one afternoon. He got a very bad wound in the leg and buttock and had to be casevaced to Salisbury. He never was completely right and walked with a limp thereafter. (The DA with him got several bullets in the chest and abdomen and I am still amazed, to this day, that he survived too.)
One of the highlights of my stay at Pachanza was attending a traditional beer drink and rain-making dance held by the famous spirit medium, Parangeta, at Chief Dotito's kraal. It was quite the experience to be in the middle of such an affair and to see the old medium become possessed in the form of a lion, dancing on all fours. Other notable events - the Keep got revved by terrs with mortars and small arms twice while I was there, there were several contacts in the area involving RLI Fire Force and Canberra bombers after terrs had attacked villages at night and I had close shaves with landmines on the road to Darwin. In fact Pachanza Keep was the turn around point for the Engineers who used the clear the road each day using the "Pookie" landmine detection vehicle (that was AFTER I had nearly been blown up a couple of times !) Another vivid memory was a doctor flying in from Karanda Mission to pick up a local who had been shot in the chest by terrs at least six times. I could hardly believe my eyes when the old madala wandered back to his village two weeks later !
In July 1976 I was transferred to the Kaitano Keep with two PV's, situated West of Mukumbura along the "border" road, but not very close to the Mozambique border itself. After a few weeks I took over from Ant Fynn, the DO, who was moved into Darwin HO. Whilst a lot of travel between Kaitano and Darwin was done by planes of the ADF fleet, we did occasionally drive through. One of my memorable trips was along the border road, stopping to visit the Hoya Keep in the Centenary district, then through Mazarabani and up the incredible Alpha Trail. Another one was flying back from Darwin and "gliding" low over one of the army O.P.'s on top of the Mavuradonha so that we could drop them their mail and newspapers ! Then swooping down the side of the escarpment into the valley below and game viewing along the way. The one pilot I remember well was Russell Kilner who often allowed us to "fly" the plane on some trips.
We saw a lot of "action" in the Kaitano area as it was one of the major infiltration routes up to the escarpment. We had several large Fire Force contacts around us and I still remember the sight of 33 body bags (terrs) on our landing strip after one day's kill. (Unfortunately that day the RAR lost one - a tracker called Jeremy Fisher, who was actually at Plumtree a couple of years ahead of me.) Fortunately we had no landmine incidents - they were kept more for the "landmine alley" between Pachanza and Darwin on the highveldt.
Of course many an hour was spent over cold chiboolies at both the Mukumbura Surf Club and the Changamire Arms (Intaf's pub in Darwin) with the inevitable games of Bezant. Every time I eat egg and bacon rolls I am taken back in time to the Forces Canteen in Darwin where we would always stop for some graze; and also to eye any "young" ladies who were volunteering there !
Intaf Staff in the Mount Darwin District at that time were :
Jim Latham - D.C.
Rob Walker - ADC (later DC of Kezi)
Ant Fyn - DO Kaitano and HQ
John Connelly - DO Mukumbura
Barry Mulder - DO Ops Room
Andy Olver - DO Dotito & Bveke
Rob Carruthers - DO Bveke & Kaitano
Colin Bird - DO Nhembire
Pete Skott - DO Nhembire
Steve Cloete - DO Chiswite
Cameron Clarke - DO HQ
Rob Rawson - DO Chigango
Dave Dodds - DO Pachanza
Ken Tuckey - DO Horse Troop
Mike Blake - DO Chesa
Mike Bellis - Agricultural Officer
Allan Nichols - Agricultural Officer
Jim Porter - Primary Development Officer, ADF (African Development Fund)
Ian McFarlane - Field Assistant, ADF
Bill Coowie (Sp?) - Field Assistant, ADF
Geordie - Mechanic, ADF
Reg Lawson - HQ Paymaster (No 2 Jack West)
Daphne Whitehead, DC's Secretary
Mrs Hoad - HQ Assistant
Brenda Tuckey - HQ Assistant
C SQUAD IANS 4 - Gerry van Tonder's squad
Photos from Gerry van Tonder