Friday, 30 November 2012


Ref. Rhodesia


Chapter 1 Introduction

My name is Boet van der Walt, born and bred Rhodesian (Zimbabwe) During the many jobs I have had I was once a relief station foreman on the railways.

Relief means going places to relieve other station foremen who were going on leave or being transferred and so forth.

By travelling to all these different locations, many incidents happened to me, some tragic others comical, that I would like to tell you about. I also heard many tales from colleagues that I will be imparting.

These tales are all true but maybe just a hint of stretching the truth may have sometimes crept in but bear with me, if I say its true, it is.

Many names are fictitious but some not so if you recognise your name please do not be offended, it is all done in a good cause.

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Chapter 2 An explanation of a few words and concepts

Caboose: A carriage with sleeping quarters, kitchen, bathroom and eating room for crews working a long section of rail. Usually 2 crews were on board and were away from home for 3 or 4 days at a time and worked shifts of 9 hours.

Siding: Because 90% of the tracks are single track, trains travel in both directions and have to cross or pass one another. A siding is a place where trains can pass or cross one another.

Loop: The track next to the main line where trains were diverted in order to pass or cross one another. Loop could also be a loop off the siding where trucks could be left for off loading or when they had “hot boxes” etc

Points: The blades of the rails diverting a train onto another line.
Paper orders: Before the days of centralised train control, paper orders were used to give trains crossing or passing places on the single tracks. Station foremen at opposing stations drew these up.

Time table: A laid down time table was used for regular trains stating running times, crossing or passing places and stopping times from the starting point of the train up to the end of the route.

Up and down trains: The route was up from Cape Town to Cairo and down from Cairo to Cape Town.

Trolley: A small-motorised vehicle with steel wheels used for transporting signal technicians or platelayers to various parts of the track for maintenance purposes.

Station: Where a station foreman was stationed and sometimes a stationmaster too.

Guards van: The last vehicle on a train in which the train guard sits. Sometimes goods and various articles were carried in the van that could not be accommodated in the carriages.

Train driver: The person in control of the train.

Fireman: The assistant driver on diesel locomotives, also the person shovelling coal on a steam locomotive.

Ballast: The rocks from quarries used to lay the tracks on.

Please note: The illustrations used are not true representations.

PATU: Police Anti Terrorist Unit. These were men who were called up for active duty during the war.

Shunter: A person who shunts railway trucks around to make up loads or place them in specific positions.

TF: Territorial (National Service) force member who did his Army or Air Force stint in uniform


Chapter 3 Barry and the Signal “Tree”

“Control, this is train 542 at Lukosi siding, the signal is out, can I carry on?”

According to the signal in the control room the light was on so I confirmed that he could carry on.

“Control, this is train 548 at Lukosi siding, the signal is out, can I carry on?”
Again, the signal in the control room showed it to be functioning correctly so I confirmed.

This was during the night so the signal should be visible from some distance, so I phoned Barry, the standby signal technician.

“OK, I’ll go and have a look”

Barry had to come to the station and place his trolley onto the tracks in order to go to the siding.

Thirty minutes later Barry stated that he was ready to go and I gave him the signals and points to depart.

Those of you who knew these trolleys know that they were very fast, he whizzed down the track and in no time he came on the radio.

“Boet, this signal with pole seems to have disappeared, I am going to get off the trolley and go and have a look”.

The torch he was holding was not very bright but he kept going.

When he reached the approximate position of the signal in the gloom he saw that a tree was standing where the signal was supposed to be. Putting his hand on the tree, to his amazement the tree moved, he jumped back in alarm and looked carefully at this tree. Slowly he backed off when he realised that it was an elephant that had gone to sleep next to the signal and was blocking the view of the trains to the signal.

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Chapter 4 Gary and the leopard

As I have explained before, trains have to cross or pass one another on single tracks. On the section between Dett and Sawmills a train was put into the loop in order to cross another train.

When this happens the guard usually goes to the front of the train and uses the telephone to contact the control centre to ask what was happening.

Gary walked to the phone and asked control how far the opposing train was from them. He was told that it should be there in about 10 minutes time.

Gary walked back to his guards van and as he climbed into the van he was startled by a leopard that jumped between his legs onto the ground.

As I have also explained, sometimes goods were carried in the guards van, and in this case some chickens were carried in a woven basket.

When Gary walked away the leopard entered the van and was busy eating the chickens until Gary surprised him on his return.

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Chapter 5 The big crash

“Hello control, this is train 320 at Deka siding, the light is red, any trains coming?”

“No” I replied, “the section seems to be down, proceed cautiously”

The time was approximately half past 7 in the evening and this was the last train from Victoria Falls.

Nearly an hour passes and no train emerges from the section to the next siding.

(Actual photograph)

“Control” crackles the speaker, “we’ve hit a mine and are derailed.”

“Anybody hurt” I asked.

“No, just shaken up.”


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Chapter 6 Nick and the loco

Standing on the loop at Ingezi station, train 320 was also busy changing crews. 

Usually the diesel loco was shut down if it was going to stand for more than 10 minutes but this was not done and it was idling. Nick was the new driver and while standing in the door of the loco the other driver, Gert, shouted from the door of the caboose.

Nick could not hear him and shouted back.

“What did you say?”

“Mumble mumble “ Gert shouted

“What are you saying?’ Nick shouted again.

Gert shouted again, but still Nic did not hear him.

“Wait, I’ll shut down the engine so I can hear you” Nick said.

“Don’t shut down the engine” Gert said as silence fell, “It won’t start again”

There they sat and waited for 3 hours until a loco electrician came and fixed the problem.

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Chapter 7 Jimmy and the caboose

Train crews that travelled together for long periods were very innovative in order to pass the time. Many times on still periods trains were late during the night.

Whilst stationed at Rutenga during the building of the rail link to Beit Bridge I contacted the train by radio asking them where they were.

“We are having a bit of loco trouble but should be there in about half an hour” said Jimmy.

Half an hour passed and I heard the whistle and let the train into the station.

“Want some Kudu meat? Jimmy shouted as they came past me.

“Thanks” I replied.
The train had stopped and with a point 22 rifle they shot a Kudu next to the track.
The whole crew being 2 drivers, 2 firemen, 2 guards and 2 cooks got out, pulled the Kudu to the door of the caboose and hooked the legs with a winch and winched it into the dining room of the caboose.

The winch clipped onto the door frame of the caboose and the cable was attached to the winch with a hook on the front, this was reeled in with a pulley and a ratchet.

They had stopped, shot, loaded, gutted the Kudu and cut it up and also cleaned the caboose within 20 minutes. That is what I call ingenuity.

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Chapter 8 The leopard and I

The first siding north of Bannockburn was Oreti where there was a quarry that produced the ballast stone for the tracks.

I was stationed there while ballast was loaded onto the trucks for relaying of the Somabula Rutenga line.

The station and house were temporary buildings made from board and corrugated iron covered with tarpaulin.

When trains had to cross or pass each other I had to cycle to the points and let the train into the loop, cycle back to the office, complete the paper orders for the approaching train, cycle to the opposite points, hand the orders up to the driver and guard, open the points, give orders to the train in the loop, close the points after the train had left and cycle back to the office all within about 8 minutes, whew!

One night the chain of the bicycle broke so I had to walk all the way to the points and back.

Going outside the office one night, I noticed something strange about 30 yards from me in the moonlight. I went and collected the torch from the office and shone it at the strange object. Was I surprised to see a leopard crouching and looking straight at me, when I switched the torch off it stood up again and crouched down as I shone the light.

No trains were going to cross at my station that night and I confirmed that with the control office in Bulawayo.

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Chapter 9 The tumble

On the Bulawayo Mafeking line, steam trains were used until a few years ago.

These trains could go only so far with the water they carried in the tender so there were water points along the way at certain stations.

One such station was Seruli where I was stationed early in my career on the railways.

Water for Seruli also had to be transported from another station by rail tanker.
In order to have the tankers filled a train could carry the 3 water tankers overweight.

The train was stopped at the points, the engine cut off and diverted onto the loop and past the tankers, and them push the tanks back onto the load.

I stopped the train at the points and informed the driver to pick up the tanks, cut the engine off and jumped onto the steps of the engine as it came past me.

The train was going to go onto the loop, as it was to cross the mail train at my station.

As I put my foot on the step of the engine it slipped off and I took a tumble.
Fortunately I kept my arms next to my body as I fell and the engine missed me by inches, but I was covered from head to foot in the muck that falls off the train next to the line.

“OK” shouted the driver, “We will carry on and pull into the loop ourselves”.

I rushed to my room and scrubbed myself, got dressed in clean uniform and was in time to hand orders to the driver and guard of the mail train.

Close call!

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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Chapter 10 The Irish

During the 60’s, the railways imported a lot of Irishmen to employ as guards and they were stationed at various centres in the country. One such place was a little railway town called Dett situated right next to the Wankie game reserve.

Most of the streets were dirt road with only one tar road running into the town up to the railway club.

Early one morning, at approximately 2 o’clock, one of the drivers awoke from a commotion in the street outside his house. Getting up he decided to investigate and what he saw was terrifying.

The Irishman was standing in the street and throwing stones at the “dogs” fighting in the road from about 5 yards away.

“What are you doing?” he shouted at him.

“I’m trying to chase these dogs away that are disturbing my sleep” was the reply.
“These dogs, as you call them, are lions!”

The Irishman jumped over the fence to the house backwards!

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Chapter 11 Sleeping in the car

One evening coming back from a shopping trip to Bulawayo, Fred and his family pulled into the yard of their house in Dett and were just going to get out the car when little Fred said, “Dad, I think we should stay in the car”

“Why?” asked Fred.

“Because there is a Lion smelling the wheels of the car on my side”

Sitting in the car thinking it would move away, they waited in vain for this lion to move, they sat and sat but it did not move away but made itself comfortable next to the vehicle and there they spent the night, sleeping in the car.

Fortunately when the sun rose in the east, the lion wandered off into the sunrise.

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Chapter 12 The “cows” in the road

While sitting on the veranda of the single quarters one evening, I saw an astonishing sight. I must explain that Dett was a one-horse town but it did have a club and a hotel.

The hotel was situated on the “other” side of the railway line and the tar road led from the main road to Bulawayo and Wankie past the hotel, over the level crossing into the town of Dett.

The distance from the town to the hotel was approximately 100 yards and the road led past the single quarters.
In the moonlight we could see one of the Irishmen staggering back from the hotel after having had a few too many.

The problem was that he was walking through a herd of buffalo and swatting them on the rump to get out of the way. Astonishingly the buffalo were very calm and did not bother him.

As he came past us we asked him what he was doing and the reply was “Trying to get these cattle to move out of the way so I can get home!”

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Chapter 13 The brave “Dutchman”

Whilst building the Rutenga, Beit bridge rail link, we worked 12-hour shifts. After a day shift we would shower, get dressed and visit the local hotel, the Lion and Elephant, which was 60 miles from Rutenga.

As you had to get up early every morning to go on shift, drinking time was limited so you got in all you could in a short time.

Playing 7, 14,21 in the pub took too long so we changed it to 5, 10, 15. The person throwing the 5th Ace would nominate the drink, which ranged from Whisky, Rum, Contrau, Gin and whatever, the person throwing the 10th Ace would have to pay and the one who was lucky to throw the 15th would have to drink everything in one glass in one throw.

This way you got smashed (drunk) quite quickly.

Driving back to Rutenga one night we saw the reflection of some animal eyes in the light of the car and decided to chase it. Much fun was had by trying to catch these animals, which ranged from warthog to small buck. At one stage we saw some eyes on the other side of the fence and I stopped the car with the lights shining on the “buck”.

Jumping out with the only weapon we had in the car, a small axe, I ran to the fence, leaped over it and was walking towards the “buck”.

As I drew closer I noticed that the “buck” was not running away but crouching and looking me straight in the eye. Yes you guessed it, it was a lioness and she was watching me with a beady eye.

Till today I cannot recall how I got over the fence but my mates said I did it backwards.

“Dutch courage!

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Chapter 14 The big flood

During the building of the Rutenga, Beit bridge rail link we had a lot of rain over a period of 3 days. This caused a lot of flooding and the Bubye river came down in flood.

Fortunately the driver of the train on its way to Beit bridge managed to stop in time before the washed away bridge and contacted me where I was stationed at a temporary station called Lesanth.

I got into my bakkie and drove to the bridge on the fire path and saw an amazing sight.

The tracks were hanging in the air similar to the photo but the bridge was still intact.

Crews were called in from Bulawayo and work started to fill in the missing part of the wall that had been washed away. Many tons of earth would have to be moved and that would take time, so the engineers worked out that if the train goes over the damaged part of the track the weight of the trucks behind the locomotive would push the loco out the other side and the loco would them have enough momentum to pull the load out the other side. A standby loco was stationed at the next siding to assist trains passing through.

This worked out very well and the goods kept rolling.

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Chapter 15 Lights out

I was stationed at Seruli during my early days on the railways. Steam trains usually ran through this station unless they had to cross or pass other trains or take in water. When a train had to run through the orders were handed to the driver and guard with a fibreglass loop with a handle and a canvas pouch that was used to push the paper order into.

One day a train was to run through and I passed the orders up to the driver as the train came past and the next moment I was lights out.

When I came too, I was lying on my bed in the single quarters with a worried Stationmaster leaning over me.

What had happened was that as I turned away after handing up the orders to the driver, a piece of coal the size of a size 10 shoe fell off the tender and smacked me full on the face. If I had turned away 10 degrees more I would not be writing these stories but it had hit me squarely flat between the eyes.

My face was swollen for a few days and I had black eyes for weeks afterwards.

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Chapter 16 The Ostrich

“Where is the mail train?” The Stationmaster asked.

“I don’t know, it should have been here 10 minutes ago” I answered.

We were waiting for the mail train, the name of the passenger train, at Mbizi station. The mail was coming from Lorenzo Marques in Portuguese East Africa and was hardly ever late as it had precedence over all other trains except a breakdown train.

Ten minutes later the mail arrived. I asked the driver why they were late and he replied, “Go look in the guards van”

When I opened the door of the van to the luggage department I was greeted by about 50 screeching young ostriches.

The train had run into some ostriches on the line and had killed a few including the mothers of the young chicks.

They stopped and everyone on the train jumped out and helped catch the chicks, as they would have died without mothers.

The train went on to Bulawayo where a bird sanctuary owner, Viv Wilson was waiting to take them all to the safety of his farm.

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Chapter 17 Oom Piet

I got to know Oom (Uncle) Piet in 1970 when my cousin married his daughter. Later on he was the Stationmaster at Thompson Junction when I was transferred there as a Centralised Train Controller.

We were both avid fishermen and caught Tiger fish in the Zambezi river. He was actually the one that taught me to catch Tiger, but I am transgressing.

Oom Piet was going to Bulawayo with the mail train and I asked him to buy me an arc welder while he was in town.

When he arrived back from Bulawayo I heard him from miles away shouting at me. What had happened was this.

He bought the welder and had to cart it to the train at Bulawayo station. Those who know the station know that you have to walk around the end of the train in order to embark, meaning the trains were pushed backwards into the station. This meant walking some distance in order to get to your compartment.

This welder weighed around 30 kilos and was packed in a box.

When the train stopped at Thompson Junction, Oom Piet shouted to me to come and collect this piece of lead because he was not going to carry it one yard further.

We got on famously and Oom Piet has since retired and living with his daughter and son in law in Durban. Sadly Oom Piet died in 2006.

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Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Chapter 18 The Barbel

As a CTC controller, we were supposed to work 6-hour shifts, but due to the terrorist war going on in Rhodesia at that time, 2 of the controllers were called-up for active duty and poor me and my colleague had to work 12-hour shifts. This was very demanding as you were locked away in a room with all the panels and things and did not know if it was day or night or rain or shine outside. We were allowed to have our rest days off when a relief was sent to us. Rest days were from 6 in the morning on Thursday till 6 in the evening on Tuesday.

This was my fishing time and I spent it at the Wankie Angling and Boating club at the mouth of the Dekka river into the Zambezi.

Once I came back from the river at approximately 9 o’clock, had breakfast and then a shower and drifted down to the pub because after 10 in the day it became so hot that you had to stay out of the sun.

At the bar was a guy that looked very pale and I asked him if he was OK.
This was his story.

Every year the intake of the pumps for the Wankie colliery had to be cleaned. He was inside this intake in about 8 foot of water with a scuba outfit, as he had to stay underwater for a long time. While working a Vundu that had entered the intake as a young fish but had outgrown the size of the grill, would push its nose against him while he was working, he would just swot it away with a spanner.

When he was finished he saw the tail of the Vundu in an aperture and decided to give his workers outside a fright and throw the Vundu at them.

Holding the ladder with one hand he grabbed the “Vundu” with the other and the next thing he knew was that he was lying on the concrete floor outside, with his workers looking down at him. The “Vundu” was nothing else than an electric barbel and luckily for him his workers saw the commotion under the water and sprang in and “rescued” him. 

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Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Chapter 19 The War

 During the building of the Rutenga – Beit bridge rail link, a PATU stick was stationed at Rutenga. Also stationed there were a group of coloured soldiers who did active duty.

Fortunately they were camped on opposite sides of the track otherwise we would have had sports.

These soldiers were known to be heavy drinkers as they made it known that they should not be involved in the war.

One evening, just after dark, one soldier was cleaning his rifle and after assembling it again, cocked the rifle and fired a round.
Because everyone was jittery due to the possibility of being attacked, the PATU guys fired a few rounds in the general direction from where the shot came.

Thinking that they were under attack, the soldiers retaliated and a full-scale war was on.

This lasted for about 5 minutes until the PATU stick leader ordered, “Cease fire”

The company commander of the soldiers had the good sense to realise that the firing had stopped and also ordered to cease-fire.

The stick leader shouted to the opposite side of the track to identify themselves.
I had taken shelter in the station office and emerged when the firing stopped.

What a sight!

The diesel tanks that were used to refuel the locomotives were leaking in about 30 different places from the bullet holes.

What made the incident even more remarkable was that in all approximately 500 rounds were fired by both sides and nobody was hit, not even a scratch.

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Chapter 20 Snakebite

While shunting at a siding in Northern Rhodesia, a fireman was overcome by gipo guts. Asking the crew to carry on he ran to a toilet next to the track. This was a bucket affair and he sat down and started his business.

Suddenly he felt a snake bite him on his backside. Screaming he ran from the toilet to the locomotive and showed the driver the marks of the bite. Realising that he could die from the venom they cut off the load of the train and sped off to the nearest station and doctor. A person staying at the siding phoned the station and asked them to get a doctor to standby and wait for the train. The driver opened the throttle wide to get to the station as quick as possible.

Meanwhile the stationmaster asked the person who phoned to go to try and find the snake. He walked to the toilet and opened the flap at the rear of the toilet and was surprised to see a hen brooding on some eggs.

When the loco arrived at the station, the driver was disgusted to see the doctor and stationmaster rolling on the ground with laughter while this poor fireman was dying from snakebite.

Hen pecked was the verdict of the doctor.

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Chapterr 21 Stuck in the mud

“Hello Boet, this is 531 at Bubye bridge, I have a hotbox and the axle has broken, can you call for the platelayers”.

A hotbox on a railway truck can mean lots of things from the box getting hot to getting too hot and seizing the axle or shearing it off.

The worst had happened and the axle had broken and damaged approximately 150 meters of track.

“Ok, I’ll come and look”

Where the train had stopped was nearly 2 km’s from my caravan. I had my bakkie with me and set off down the fire path. It had rained during the night and the road was very slippery. I had only gone a few hundred meters when I felt the wheels go into the mud and the bakkie started to slew off the road. Once off the road the ground was very soft and there I sat, up to the axle in the mud.

Walking back to the caravan I phoned control and asked them to contact the platelayers and ask them to help me out of the mud.

Here I was sitting with my wheels out of commission and a train in the middle of nowhere that could not go anywhere, what a situation.

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Chapter 22 The Swimming pool

 While on relief at Mbizi station I came across a swimming pool which had been sorely neglected. The water was dark green from the algae and the filter was not helping at all. I decided to do something about it as Mbizi was in the lowveld and it was midsummer and very hot.

Weed killer was the answer and the only place close by was a farmer who should have some. After my shift I decided to go to the farm and try to get some.

The farmer was very helpful and gave me a litre of weed killer. He said that he and his wife would like to come and swim at the pool when I had doctored it.

I poured the weed killer into the pool and within a day it had regained it’s blue colour. I gave it a good dose of chlorine and was pleased to see that it was indeed clean enough to swim in.

After my shift ended at 8 that evening I decided to go and have a swim.
There only being men at the station I went skinny dipping and left the lights off.

After a while I was surprised when the lights were switched on and the farmer and his wife walked up to come and cool off. They were surprised to see me in the pool and started chatting, me in the water in my birthday suit.

What an embarrassment!

Eventually the farmer realised my predicament and asked his wife to please go and fetch their drinks in the car which gave me the opportunity to dash off to my room and pull my swimming trunks on.

This was the joke of the station for a long time.

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Chapter 23 Floods

I was told to report to Ngezi station while I was on relief.

As I was at Bannockburn at the time I had to travel there by car. It had been raining a lot and the roads were very wet.

I left Bannockburn and drove towards Vugwe. The road was passable but became worse as I progressed. Near Ingezi was a little stream that had become a raging torrent from all the rain.

I stopped at the crossing until the water subsided and tried to cross. This was a big mistake as the water had made big holes in the crossing and were covered by water.

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Chapter 24 The Eland

While driving from Mbizi station one morning after nightshift, I came across a bull Eland standing in the road. I had my rifle in the bakkie but decided not to go for it because this was a beautiful sight. He had a blue green colour on his shoulder which indicated that he was an old bull.

I sat there for a few minutes looking at this magnificent beast until he decided to move off. He ambled to the side of the road and stood next to the fence looking at me and gave one lurch and was over the fence. I could not believe this as he had no run-up but just jumped over the fence from a stand still.

What an experience!

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Chapter 25 Star pistol

Whilst stationed at Rutenga, I wore my pistol to work at night during the terrorist war. It was a Star 9mm pistol.
One night I was on my way to hand paper orders to a driver and guard when the driver asked me about my pistol.
I showed him the pistol and removed the magazine from the gun to show him that it would not fire if the magazine was out. With the magazine in my left hand I pulled the trigger and a shot went off with the bullet hitting my left hand. Luckily the driver was standing on my right so he was safe.
Here I was with a hole in my hand but very little blood. I walked to the office and called the stationmaster to ask him to come and cover my shift while I received medical attention.
The only doctor was 90 miles away but there was a forward airfield nearby with a doctor and medics. Someone took me to the medical tent in a vehicle where the doctor injected me with a painkiller and cut away the burnt flesh. I spent the night in the medical tent and was taken to Fort Victoria the next day to see my doctor.
The pistol was checked for faults but it was ascertained that it could not be fired without the magazine being in place.
The devil had a say in that nights happenings.


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Chapter 26 Big croc

Whilst living in Wankie we used to visit the Wankie Angling and Boating club often. This was where the Dekka river joins the Zambezi and was a prime fishing venue.

In my boat we used to go upriver to the rapids and then drift downstream while spin casting for tiger fish, then start the engine again when the water starts to slow down as you enter the Kariba dam , and motor upstream while trolling up to the rapids and repeat the whole process again.

The Zambezi makes a big “S” and before you enter the slow water there is a big rock in the centre of the river called “Black rock”. During the rainy season the rock is completely submerged but in the dry season it is about 6 inches below the water.

Many a boat had a run in with this rock and broken propellers were a result.

The rock was about 5 metres from the bank and between the roots of the trees on the bank lived a huge crocodile. It must have had a run in with a boat propeller when it was young because it’s snout was a little shorter than it’s lower jaw. It was viscous and would chase any boat that came too near.

It used to be a game to cruise slowly past his hiding place and tease him and then accelerate when he comes after you.

BEWARE OF ROCKS if you go upstream towards Deka Do not attempt to go past "Black Rock" without a guide, unless you really think you know what you are doing and have done it before.

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Chapter 27 Bass fishing in hostile territory

One of the guards came to see me while he was doing his call-up in the Army and wanted to know if I wanted to go fishing with him and his troops.

I still had my camo from the Air force and quickly got dressed and off we went on an army truck. A few miles south of Wankie we turned off the main road and proceeded to the most beautiful dam I have seen. A few guards were placed around the perimeter because this was terrorist country and we proceeded to catch bass. This really was a special dam as we caught some nice bass around 5 to 8 pounds while the guards were on the outlook for terrs. We filled the keep nets with some lovely fish.

NOTE: these names are fictitious.

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Chapter 28 Zambezi in flood

During my off days one April I went to the Wankie Angling and Boating club to go fishing. What a sight, the river was in flood and was considerably higher than I had ever seen it but the water was clean, not muddy as you would expect. This was because the rains fell in Angola and the mud was settled before it even reached the Victoria falls. I launched my boat and went upstream to the rapids which were nearly under water. Tying the boat to a tree on the bank I proceeded to try and catch some fish. One rod I left in the water with a piece of meat on it.

After about half an hour I noticed the rod that was in the water was slowly being dragged to the edge of the boat. Quickly I grabbed it and started to reel it in finding that there was a barbell on the hook. As I lifted the fish into the boat I noticed that it was an electric barbell and I certainly was not going to try and take the hook out. Leaving the fish in the bottom of the boat I returned to the launching site and called for my servant to come and get the fish. I lifted the fish with the rod and he grabbed it but let go of it immediately. “What’s wrong” I asked him. “It stings me” he replied. I then explained to him what it was and how to get the hook out. “First you grab a stick and kill it before you try to get the hook out” I told him which he did but that day he learned a valuable lesson.

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