Saturday, 31 March 2012

Three-In -One Garden Memorial

3 in 1 Memorial, 3 in 1 Memorial

About a mile and a half on the Umtali side of the road to Penhalonga a small road branches off to the east, and at the junction there is a sign which reads " Pioneer Nurses Memorial."

A short climb up this road brings one out to a delightfully situated and well-kept garden facing west.

There are terraced flower beds, a fine fig tree, and flowering shrubs. The first memorial is a seat made of concrete blocks set in a stone surround, and this has a metal plaque which records: —

" On this spot Bishop Knight-Bruce *s Nursing Sisters, Rose Blennerhasset, Lucy Sleeman, Beryl Welby, after an arduous up-country walk from the east coast and within a day of their arrival in Mashonaland opened a Camp Hospital and thereby inaugurated Nursing Services in the Colony. 14th July, 1891."

Then on the westerly edge of the garden there is a sundial mounted on a stone pedestal which bears a metal inscription reading: —

Erected in 1950
To the Memory of those who came first.
Col. P. D'Andrada
P. A. Campion
G. Crampton
G. B. Dunbar Moodie
W. J. Harrington
O. W. Harris
W. V. Harrison
O. D. Holliday
J. H. Jeffreys
E. De Kergariou
C. De Llamby
T. Luther
J. S. Maritz
Baron De Rezende
A. Vaughan Williams

These men were in the valley prior to the occupation of Rhodesia.

And the third memorial? Take a good look at the wrought iron gate that stands at the entrance to this garden.

At the top you will see the date 1853; in the centre the initials C.J.R.; and at the bottom the date 1953. It is a Rhodes centenary memorial.


Further notes by Nick Baalbergen:-

Attached is the article and my text of additional information on some of the individuals listed on the memorial plaques. The article comes from the book titled "Know Your Rhodesia and Know Nyasaland" - 300 Selections from 'The Rhodesia Herald', published in 1956.

There are some minor errors in the spelling of some surnames in the original article. I have spelt the names correctly in my additional text to the original article.

Background information on some of the individuals honoured on the memorial plaques.

The Pioneer Nurses Memorial

Bishop Knight-Bruce recruited the three nursing sisters mentioned. He wrote an account of these years from his personal perpective. The book titled 'MEMORIES OF MASHONALAND' was reprinted as volume 13 of the 'Gold Series' of the Rhodesiana reprint series.
Two of the nursing sisters mentioned, Rose Blennerhassett and Lucy Sleeman, co-authored an account of their journey from Beira to the site of 'Old Umtali', as detailed in the plaque. The book titled 'ADVENTURES IN MASHONALAND' was reprinted as volume 8 of the 'Gold Series'. Their account would put a contemporary fictional adventure story to shame, as they travelled on foot from the port of Beira at the coast to the site of 'Old Umtali'. This was prior to the construction of the railway, though territory with a substantial population of predatory animals, where diseases such as blackwater fever and dysentery were endemic.

Memorial 'To Those Who Came First'

Both Baron de Rezende and Colonel Paiva d'Andrada were prominent figures in the Companhia de Moçambique, a company established in Portugal by Royal Charter for the purpose of administering the provinces of Sofala and Manica in Portuguese East Africa. Baron de Rezende was the Managing Director of the company while Colonel d'Andrada was in charge of the company's armed force. The area around Penhalonga was generally accepted to be within the sphere of influence of the Companhia de Moçambique, as Baron de Rezende had secured a concession from Chief Umtasa (Mutasa) to the mining right in his area. This became a point of contention with the arrival of the BSA Company in the area, resulting in numerous armed confrontations over the disputed boundary. Mutually agreed international boundaries were established some years later, when the terms of an existing Anglo-Portuguese treaty were re-negotiated. The Rezende Mine takes its name from Baron de Rezende, as does Rezende Street in Salisbury. Penhalonga, meaning long rocky mountain, also owes its name to its Portuguese origins.

George Benjamin Dunbar Moodie was tasked by Rhodes to recruit a suitable group of farmers from the Orange Free State to settle and farm the area of Gazaland (the Melsetter/Chipinga area of south east Manicaland). Having selected a number of suitable farmers, Dunbar Moodie appointed his uncle, Thomas Moodie, to lead the trek from the Orange Free State to Gazaland to establish the settlement.

End of Article,

Thanks to Nick Baalbergen for sharing these memories with ORAFs.

Comments are always welcome - send them to Eddy Norris on


Rhodesian Advert: Duly and Co Rhodesia

Advert which appeared in the 1939 issue of the NADA annual.

Duly & Co 1939, Ford 10


The great number seen on the roada to-day proves it be good

Try one on the road yourself and you will be convinced

The Ford "Ten" has won established popularity because it is a car that may be confidently chosen for all-round satisfaction. Every one of its host of features is the result of experience
gained in producing more than twenty-million motor vehicles.

Before yoa decide
spend fifteen minutes in a Ford " Ten
Its fine economical performance dependability and riding quality will surprise you.
See and drive it to-day

Price £212


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Rhodesian Advert: Meikles (BYO) Ltd., 1933

Advert for Meikles Bulawayo, which featured in the booklet 'Occupation of Matabeleland - A Souvenir' dated 1933.
Meikles (BY) 1933, Meikles (BY) 1933

Text of advert reads:-

Meikles Store in the Early Days.

For Groceries, Provisions, Confectionery, Liquor, Cigarettes, Tobacco, Hardware, China and Glass, Tools and Paints, Furniture, Manchester Goods, Dress Goods, Showroom Goods, Ladies' Hosiery, Haberdashery, L.adies' and Children's Shoes, Men's and Boys' Outfitting, Toys, etc.



Thanks to Nick for sharing this advert with ORAFs.

Comments are always welcome - send them to Eddy Norris on


Friday, 30 March 2012

Umtali to The Alps

1942 to 1945

Seventy years ago, in early 1942, the new Park River Training Camp was established in Umtali basically to cater for the Southern Rhodesia Reconnaissance Unit, though the First Rhodesia Field Ambulance was also based there.

1-6, B11002 Rifleman Walter C.J.
X8150 Cpl. Walter C.J

On 4th March 1942, B11002 Rifleman Walter C.J. of the 1st Battalion Rhodesia Regiment (having falsified his age downwards) was among those who were required to report to KG VI Barracks “for full-time service in the Armed Forces of the Colony”. They soon found themselves at the Umtali Training Camp, in the S.R. Reconnaissance Unit. CJW’s new Regimental Number was X8150. The Regimental Badge was the well-known Sable, with the Sindebele motto “Asi Sabi Luto” – “We Fear Nothing”. Their Regimental magazine was “The Sable”. Umtali and its surrounds were ideally situated for the nine months of intensive training which followed, and the well-known Umtali photographer E.T.Brown recorded much of the process. During this period, the Unit was renamed the S.R. Reconnaissance Regiment, and later the Southern Rhodesia Armoured Car Regiment, retaining the Sable badge. (The Rhodesia Armoured Car Regiment of Rhodesia’s final years had an adapted version of the Sable badge, and the motto was re-written as “Asesabi Lutho”). Photographs were taken in and around Umtali in 1942, some by E.T. Brown, show the men in training. Hugh Bomford in New Zealand, author of the book on the Rhodesia Regiment, was particularly interested in that of trainees in battle dress wearing steel helmets, and commented : “This photo is identified as unique on account of the sun protectors attached to the back of the helmets. Apparently the fundis (specialists) thought that the three holes in the back of the helmets were for this flap, but it has not previously been seen on a helmet or in any photo”.

UM 1, Umtali

1-1, Umtali

1-8, Umtali

1-9, Umtali

1-2, Umtali

1-10, Umtali

1 Umtali, Umtali

Towards the end of November 1942 the Regiment was moved to Pietermaritzburg in South Africa, and on 1st December 1942 its members were attested into the Union Defence Force. CJW’s new Regimental Number was SR 598119 V, and his age was recorded as 37. He was actually 41. The 6th South African Armoured Division was being formed under Major General Evered Poole, and early in 1943 this became the Rhodesians’ new home. April brought the next stage in their great adventure – embarkation in Durban for “destination unknown”. This turned out to be Egypt, where they arrived at the end of April shortly after Tunis and Bizerta had fallen to the allies, signalling the end of the war in Africa. Most of the Rhodesians were now in the Pretoria Regiment – Princess Alice’s Own – which had its own badge comprising an Impala over the name of the Regiment. They also apparently were entitled to wear the badge of the 6th SAAD which depicted a tank surrounded by a laurel wreath with the motto “Ons Is” – “We Are”. Individuals in the same photographs are shown wearing either one or the other. Presumably there was some reason for this.

Month after month of intensive training and desert manoeuvres with Sherman tanks followed, but the troops were getting impatient for action. Towards the end of the year, to allay this, they were addressed by Field Marshal Smuts who assured them that their time for action would come. Meanwhile, the 6th Division was becoming the Allies’ most formidable armoured force.

Photographs taken in Egypt during 1943 and early 1944 show the rough living conditions of the men. They did, however, have time to sight-see the antiquities of the country around them, and CW described many in letters home. These included the pyramids, Sphinx, and the Temple of Karnak

1-11, Egypt

1-12, Egypt

1-13, Egypt

1-14, Egypt

1-15, Egypt
1-16, Egypt

1-17, Egypt

1-18, Egypt

1-19, Egypt

At last, in April 1944, the time for action came, and the 6th Division with its Rhodesian complement embarked for Italy. It was among those destined to face the German Gustave Line. Their first major action was the attack on Monte Cassino in May, and they then moved relentlessly Northwards, but is not in the scope of this article to record in detail their onward progress – that must be left to those more qualified.

Soon after Cassino, the 6th Division was joined by the British 24th Guards Brigade, which had been placed under the command of General Poole. Their function was to provide infantry support in view of the mountainous terrain in which the 6th Div. would operate. The 24th consisted of the 5th Battalion, Grenadier Guards, the Second Coldstreams, and the First Scots. A squadron of the Pretoria Regiment was attached to each of these. Most of the Rhodesians (including CJW) were now in “A” Squadron. In a break with tradition, the Guards wore the 6th Division’s green and yellow triangle. The British, South Africans and Rhodesians combined to make a formidable and most effective force, with each soon recognising the special qualities of the others.

Together they fought their way Northwards, and the Pretoria Regiment became renowned for its extraordinary ability to get its tanks to mountainous places others thought to be impossible.

In July they entered Florence, the first Allied troops to do so, and by an unusual agreement between combatants, the historic bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, on the Arno was left untouched. I recall CJW writing to us to describe these events, and the miraculous survival of the bridge. He also wrote later about a performance of Puccini’s “Madam Butterfly” in la Scala, Milan, and the wonderful “firefly” effects produced on stage.

Photographs sent home from Italy recorded some of the realities of war, but also the more relaxed side which the men were occasionally able to enjoy. These included tobogganing in the snow, or sunning themselves beside a picturesque lake. One photo proudly records the capture of a self-propelled 88-milimetre rapid-fire gun near Florence. The Germans used these weapons with devastating effect.

1-20, Italy

1-21, Italy

1-22, Italy

1-24, Italy

1-25, Italy

1-26, Italy

1-27, Italy

1-28, Italy

1-29, Italy

1-30, Italy


1-33, Italy

1-34, Italy

The close association between the Guards and particularly the Pretoria Regiment continued through the bitter winter months until 17th February 1945, when as a result of new formations, their ways were to part. At the farewell parade on 25th March 1945, the men of the Pretoria Regiment were awarded the honour of wearing the colours of the Guards Brigade as a background to their own badge.

Dave Fyfe, who was a member of the 6th SA Armoured Division and present at the parade, wrote to me :

“The Pretoria Regiment (Princess Alice’s Own) were not assembled as a regiment on parade. Their tanks were lined up in several rows, each with its crew of five standing in front of their tank. It had been a very happy association. The 24th Guards Brigade consisted of the 5th Battalion Grenadier Guards, the Second Coldstreams and the First Scots. A Squadron of the Pretoria Regiment was attached to each of these battalions.

“ The Guards were accustomed to infantry going in first on encountering the enemy. They found the South Africans had reversed the process. The tanks went first. They thought that was terrific. Other perks, unknown in their army, were 100 free cigarettes per week, occasional “Glory bags” from well-wishers in South Africa with hand-knitted socks, razor blades, soap etc., and later, when winter came in the snow-covered Apennines, a nightly tot of brandy. They had never had it so good. Towards the end of the Italian campaign, to their horror, they were moved back to a British Division.

“After the war was over, our General W.H.Evered Poole had cause to go to London. He took Norman Eikman – a Corporal in our Unit – who had been his personal radio operator throughout the length of Italy – with him. While there, Eikman visited a number of Guards’ barracks. On return he told me he had been impressed to see the 6th S.A. Division flash in a little frame above many beds. They had been proud to wear it while with us”.

An official press release after the award parade records that “……This honour is bestowed to perpetuate the splendid work carried out by the Pretoria Regiment in support of the Guards Brigade”. In return, to show their appreciation of the association, every man of the Pretoria Regiment donated a day’s pay towards the restoration of the Guards’ Chapel in London, which had been severely damaged by the enemy during a bombing raid.

The war wound on to its inevitable conclusion. Germany capitulated on 2nd May 1945, and Victory in Europe was announced on 8th May. For the members of the 6th South African Armoured Division, the Rhodesians among them, the culmination of it all was the impressive Victory Parade at Monza, North Italy, in June. This took three hours to pass the saluting base, so great was the assemblage of armour.

Then followed months of frustration and delay for the troops, and also for their families in Rhodesia and South Africa. CJW eventually arrived back in South Africa, and was formally discharged from service in the 6th SAAD on 4th December 1945. He was finally discharged from the Southern Rhodesia forces on 4th January 1946.

Those who served all the way through qualified for the following awards :
The 1939-1945 Star
The Africa Star
The Italy Star
The Defence Medal
The War Medal
The Africa Service Medal

The Africa Service Medal was affectionately known as “Ouma’s Garter”, in honour of “Ouma” Smuts, beloved wife of Field Marshall Smuts.

1, Newspaper
Text for above:-
Guards Pretoria Honour Regiment Lieut.-General Sir Henry Lloyd, Major-General Commanding a brigade of Guards, has obtained the full approval of Lieut. General Sir Alfred Codington, Senior Colonel of the Brigade of Guards, to the request from the Guards Brigade for the Pretoria Regiment (Princess Alice's Own) to be given the addition of the Household Brigade colour (scarlet and blue) in cloth as a back- ground to the badge of the Pretoria Regiment.

This honour is bestowed to perpetuate the splendid work carried out by the Pretoria Regiment in support of the Guards Brigade.


Regimental Number: SR598158
Rank: Tpr
Name: Bodington, JH
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 1 July 1944
War Cemetery: Assisi

Regimental Number: SR598048
Rank: Cpl.
Name: Bowley, BB
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 12 June, 1944
War Cemetery: Bolsena

Regimental Number: SR598523
Rank: Tpr.
Name: Crawford, JW
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 1 July, 1944
War Cemetery: Assisi

Regimental Number: SR598058
Rank: Tpr.
Name: Davidson, John P
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 27 July, 1944
War Cemetery: Florence

Regimental Number: SR598142
Rank: Sgt.
Name: Den, D
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 22 November, 1944
War Cemetery: Castiglione

Regimental Number: SR598158
Rank: Tpr.
Name: Hamman, GFB
Squadron: C/A
Date of Death: 12 June, 1944
War Cemetery: Bolsena

Regimental Number: SR598356
Rank: Tpr.
Name: Harvard, JI
Squadron: C/A
Date of Death: 1 July, 1944
War Cemetery: Assisi

Regimental Number: SR598000
Rank: L/Cpl.
Name: Kitcat, G de W
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 2 August, 1944
War Cemetery: Foiano Della Chiana

Regimental Number: SR597778
Rank: Tpr.
Name: Meyer, SJ
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 1 July 1944
War Cemetery: Assisi

Regimental Number: SR598417
Rank: L/Cpl
Name: van Rooyen
Squadron: R
Date of Death: 15 June, 1944
War Cemetery: Bolsena

Regimental Number: SR598601
Rank: Lt.
Name: Walker, J
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 5 July, 1944
War Cemetery: Arezzo

Regimental Number: SR597957
Rank: Cpl.
Name: Wiley, PAH
Squadron: A
Date of Death: 26 June, 1944
War Cemetery: Bolsena

(This Roll of Honour was kindly provided by Alan Harris, who is compiling records of Rhodesians killed in WW2. If any relatives of the above have photographs of them, please contact Alan by e-mail at )

1-37, Badges

Lewis Walter,
Fish Hoek, Cape.
March 2012.

Thanks to Lewis for sharing his memories of his Father and for sharing the photos with us.

Comments are always welcome - send them to Eddy Norris on

Suggested viewinjg - Avertisement for the Regiment

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Rhodesian Memories 1949 - 1954

By Canon William (Bill ) Girard

Etienne John Girard b. 1908 came to S. Rhodesia in January 1948 and worked at the Rezende Mine Penhalonga. In June he was joined by his wife, Nine Benita Girard b. 1909 and their twosons, William Nicholas Charles b. 1935 and Peter John b. 1940. At first they lived on the hill where the Mine and plant were situated and later moved to the house (picture 4) situated on the road towards the Old West Mine and S. Augustine;s Mission. Near to the house was the Penhalonga tennis Club.

In 1950 or thereabouts Mrs. Girard's sister, Nora von Schilling (picture 1) came to live with the family. Nora was a photographer who had worked prior to the war in Estonia from where the family originated, then throughout the war years in Germany. While in Southern. Rhodesia she worked for E.T. Brown, Photographer, Umtali amongst whose photographic archive there are likely to be examples of her work. She stayed only a short while in S. Rhodesia before returning to Germany.

Some of the listed photographs may be her work: otherwise they are by her sister.

The photographs are numbered in pencil on the reverse, the locations being as inscribed already in the handwriting of Mrs. Girard. Otherwise unknown. Precise dating indeterminate.

W. Girard.
Ferrar House,
Little Gidding,
Gt. Britain.

1, Rhodesian Memories
1. Penhalonga. Nora von Schilling.

2, Rhodesian Memories
2. Penhalonga. Etienne John Girard with dogs [Gremlin cross Ridgeback/Mastiff & Lixie].

3, Rhodesian Memories
3. Penhalonga. William (Bill) Girard.

4, Rhodesian Memories
4. Penhalonga. House, Girard family (looking towards Jeffeiys Kop).

5, Rhodesian Memories
Penhalonga. Ornaments.

6, Rhodesian Memories
6. Penhalonga. Tennis Club (looking towards Jeffery's Kop).

7, Rhodesian Memories
Penhalonga. Possible mine sand dumps in background.

8, Rhodesian Memories
8. Penhalonga. Imbeza Forest.

9, Rhodesian Memories
9. Odzi River.

10, Rhodesian Memories
10. Odzi River. Odzani Fails (?).

11, Rhodesian Memories
11. Inyanga.

12, Rhodesian Memories
12. Inyanga. Road track. (Love the old gate)

13, Rhodesian Memories
13. Inyanga. Rain imminent?.

14, Rhodesian Memories
14. Umtali. 7 (?) Park Road

15, Rhodesian Memories
15. Birchenough Bridge.

16, Rhodesian Memories
16. Sabi River Motor car is a Model A or T Ford.

17, Rhodesian Memories
17. Sabi River.

18, Rhodesian Memories
18. Salisbury Park

19, Rhodesian Memories
19. Salisbury, Cecil Square Flower Sellers.

Please see for the flower sellers of 1978

20, Rhodesian Memories
20. Borrowdale.

21, Rhodesian Memories
21. Domboshawa.


Thanks to Bill for sharing his memories and photographs with ORAFs.

Special thanks to Lynda Rushby for her help, she brought the photos from the UK and then took them back.

Comments are welcome - please send them to Eddy Norris on

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