On the sombre occasion of Remembrance Sunday, the nation selectively remembered.
Airbrushed from the occasion the 26,121 Rhodesians who fought for Britain during WWII in which 916 gave their lives.
Also blue-pencilled the 784 members of the British armed forces and their families who lost their lives during the mission to Occupied Palestine (1945 – 1948).
Hannes Wessels, a combat soldier in the Rhodesian Bush War and author of A Handful of Hard Men: The SAS and the Battle for Rhodesia:
“Mixed emotions of sadness and anger are visited upon me when reading the news that the small group representing Rhodesians killed in the Great War will have to mourn their dead discretely and away from the main event at the Cenotaph in London.
In a laudable act of forgiveness and magnanimity, the former enemy, the Germans will attend and be welcomed but not the Rhodesians. This is particularly galling when one considers the fact that no country or Dominion contributed a larger portion of its male population to the fight and no other contingent suffered casualties as heavy.
Roughly 40% of the male European population immediately enlisted following Westminster’s declaration of war in 1914. Most actually paid their own travel costs to get to the battlefields where they fought in frontline units and suffered heavy casualties.”
Rhodesian Bush War pilot, Group Captain PJH Petter-Bowyer MLM (Ops), DCD, MFC (Ops) is the author of Winds of Destruction. In a letter to the Times (11 November 2010) he wrote:
“On Remembrance Sunday we repeat our promise, ‘at the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them’.
Yet, since 1965, the British government has banned Rhodesian veterans from remembering their fallen comrades in the Cenotaph parade. Rhodesia’s small white population provided the highest number of servicemen and suffered the highest percentage losses of any national group that participated in WWII.
With black majority rule, Africa became a pawn in the Cold War and propaganda demonised Rhodesia’s government. The result was Robert Mugabe’s thirty-year campaign of national devastation and personal looting.
Unlike Australia and Canada, which slaughtered their indigenous peoples, Rhodesia expanded its black population from about 400,000 in 1890 to over 7 million by 1980.
The country was entirely self-sufficient in food, with a highly efficient infrastructure of schools and medical facilities. Power-hungry nationalists took over a superbly managed country and destroyed it.
Perhaps it is a blessing that Rhodesians who fought and died for their King and country could not foresee how their sacrifice would be rendered worthless by successive British Governments.
Nevertheless, Rhodesians in London on Remembrance Sunday will hold their own simple isolated remembrance service to honour fallen colleagues officially forgotten for reasons of political correctness.”
Further Reading: Rhodesia’s Death, Europe’s Funeral