RBW- RIC operations

 Neville Bulloch served with RIC (Rhodesian Intelligence Corps) and this is an interesting extract from his experience in Pseudo Operations towards the end of the war.
 Based upon intelligence received from SB informants through Sub JOC queque, either PATU sticks, Support Unit or Phumo Revanu would be deployed within Op Grapple from a forward operation such as Gokwe Police Station.
Once we received orders to mobilise, a stick of 8 or more were selected and equipped from our armoury with AK, RPD, RPG7, Sks, grenades, rifle grenades, 60ml mortar and HE rounds. We would draw rations and prepare our kit.
It was imperative to emulate the Zipra terrorist dress code and weapons. Titles were given to the team such as political commissar, section commander, carder etc so that when the guys spoke to villages they would not be compromised. Chimorenga names were also used.
Our packs, ammo, water bottles, rations etc were checked for noise by getting the guys to jump up and down on the spot. We did allow smoking and occasional mbanje as that is what the gooks used.
My camo comprised of denims, dark long sleeved clothing, Portuguese boots, a black mafushwa hairstyle and food colouring dye.
1:50000 maps of the area were marked with the intelligence info and placed in ziplock plastic bags inside our shirts. First aid field Dressings, drip and giving sets, cannulars, Bandages and Sosegon or Pentazocine was carried by myself and Joseph the commander. A TR28 was used for Comms. We still carried the daily Shackle codes for Comms.
Deployment was at night from Riscoe base in Redcliffe via a closed crocodile to Gokwe so mujibas could not inform gooks we were in the area.
Once within the SB compound I would apply camo and get further briefing from SB Sgt at Gokwe.
We were then deployed along gravel and sand roads accompanied by a convoy of a Leopard, Landrover and Crocodile. Police Reserve or Patu often accompanied the deployment. We were dropped off by opening the rear doors and crawling forward jumped off the back.
A broken branch was used to sweep the road of tracks.
Using compass bearings and map reading by covering the map and pencil torch with a dark green bivy we made our way to the suspected ct sightings. Sometimes accompanied by an informer.
This was frightening as we were never certain they were not taking us into a trap.
Joseph and I separated our command to the flanks and placed our RPG and Mortar in the middle. The RPD gunner and AKs took point.
By first light we had secured a defensive position within the Jess bush as vegetation was sparse and cover limited. We tried to avoid vegetable patches, sweet potatoes fields etc as we feared locals walking in on us.
As you’re well aware we faced Mange ridden barking dogs, young boys herding cattle or goats, women carrying wood or water on their head rings, mugiba informers who the CTs deployed around their locations up to 3 km away etc.
A hide was established from which we took it in turns to leopard crawl into and use binoculars to scan the kraal lines, “business” centres or schools. Movement of locals was monitored for typical patterns of ct activity.
The following night we’d set up an ambush and killing ground with stop groups on either side.
We never slept or regrouped in the same location twice and all evidence of our presence had to be gathered silently. Hand signals were used for Comms.
At night we often heard gatherings of small groups of zipra with locals and young girls who often cooked for them or carried equipment.
Chimorenga songs were sometimes sung and political slogans shouted when they believed there were no security forces around. Occasionally we identified a pungwe by the women carrying in home made beer, large chunks of bread, Sadza etc.
A radio sched was maintained daily with Gokwe.
If and when a challenge or contact was made with locals or mugibas Joseph or the more senior his would give intelligence of who and where our gang had supposedly entered the area. They all spoke Ndebele and I would remain well out of sight in the dark. We would ask to locate and join up with other commanders known to be in the area from informant and SB intelligence.
When a sighting was made both sides would convey greetings and attempt to establish identity. This rarely worked well as our info was often several weeks old.
We would attempt to go our seperate ways and then track the group. Fleeting Contacts sometimes occurred at a distance if the zipra suspected pfumo Revanu.
Nights in the Gorodema flats were hot and dry. Vegetation and tree cover was thin. Patrolling was curtailed on moon lit nights. We could be out for over a week subject to activity. Our major brief was to identify gook groups, gather intel and report to SB for follow up instructions. Once a contact occurred we were compromised and had to fight and hopefully get kills.
Zipra in the area often had large female groups who we found more aggressive in contact than the men.
Joseph was in fact shot and killed on a patrol into Gorodema when we were ambushed from a jess line while crossing a potato field. At the time he was identified as the commander and targeted because he carried out mortar. He was shot in the neck and chest killing him almost instantly. That contact lasted for just over an hour. Several youngsters in my stick received injuries.
The radio call into Gokwe was monitored by Que Que JOC and patu was deployed to assist us. Once the gooks had fled we checked their locations for numbers, dead or wounded. Blood spoor was identified and 13 firing positions were located. A PKM, RPD and Aks were used against us in the contact. Our RPG7 was fired twice during the contact towards the PKM.
When four Patu arrived they were asked to stop their crocodile and walk towards me with my torch flashing on and off. All four carried MAGs and were dressed in camo shirts and shorts. They were all farmers or ranchers from the area.
At the time I was exhausted and had shaking hands from the adrenalin and contact. We recovered Joseph’s body and placed him in the crocodile. The injured were attended to.
We returned with Patu to Gokwe. The next day follow up Support Unit sticks were sent out to the area and I believe made contact, killing two zipra.
I received that letter from SB for that action.
Memories of the patrol included having a sensation of being watched and followed. The terrain was difficult to traverse unseen due to sparse cover. We encountered donkeys one night and thought they were zipra. One of my younger guys fired his SKS and compromised our location.

This may assist you with your war game scenario. I attended Joseph’s funeral in Que Que with senior SB and que que police. He was a good soldier.


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