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 on Sunday. The Royal Family will lead the country and the Commonwealth in honouring those millions who died for King and country. 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 6,000 men, (40% of the male European population) immediately enlisted following the declaration of war in 1914. Incredibly, most actually paid their own travel costs to get to the battlefields where they fought in frontline units and suffered heavy casualties. The same scenario played out in the course of World War II when again, more Rhodesians as a percentage of the European population volunteered to serve than any other country in the British Empire. Most were tough, resourceful, aggressive, fighting soldiers and many died. When Britain faced a determined Communist insurgency in Malaya in the 1950’s, again Rhodesians volunteers rushed to the rescue and made up the formation of ‘C’ Squadron of the Special Air Service. But this loyalty and commitment to the former Great Britain and shared values counts for nought because Rhodesians, in their desire to survive and save their country from ruinous misrule on a hostile continent, once refused to bow to the whims of Whitehall, offended the crypto-communist government led by Harold Wilson and for this, unlike the Germans, there is apparently no forgiveness.
But on reflection, maybe we’re well out of their Remembrance Day? Shouldn’t we celebrate exclusion rather than mourn it? While we have not compromised our values and principles, the once great country we all cherished and venerated has forsaken us. It exists no more as we knew it and the commitment to the Christian ethos and the binding bonds of what we came to know as Western civilisation have been abandoned. It has been replaced by a socialist nanny-state where white, heterosexual men, popularly referred to as constituents of a ‘tyrannical patriarchy’, are considered ‘public enemy number one’ and the British people have been brought to their knees by a collective sense of misplaced guilt because they once built and ran a great empire and changed the world immeasurably by giving birth to the most successful civilisation in history. Members of the former ‘tyrannical patriarchy’ that survived the wars did indeed play a leading role in the affairs of the post-war UK but since their demise and the elevation of homosexuals, lesbians, bisexuals, transgenders and any population group bereft of a pale skin, to positions of dominance this is a radically transformed country that bears little resemblance to what once was.
This is a country where an insolent and ungrateful scholastic non-event named Ntokozo Qwabe who happened to be at Oxford from South Africa, courtesy of the benefactor he claimed to revile, had the country’s media and the academic and political establishment scurrying red-faced for cover when he insisted the Cecil-John Rhodes statue at Oriel College (the college which Rhodes contributed heavily to) constituted an ‘act of violence’ visited upon him and demanded its immediate removal. It’s also the country where the majority appears to have acquiesced limply to demands from students for the removal of the statue of Field Marshal Jan Smuts from the grounds of Cambridge University. Smuts was once Chancellor of this institution, might be considered the founder of the Royal Air Force, played a critical role in helping Britain win two world wars, helped form the League of Nations and the United Nations and created the Union of South Africa and the most important country in Africa, but the slobs who run the country see it differently. They now look for leadership to Muslim fundamentalists like Sadiq Khan who runs the city of London and Jeremy Corbyn, an erstwhile IRA supporter and a man bent on rendering his country defenceless against nuclear attack.
The millions who died in two world wars defending Britain, delivering a peace and prosperity in Europe that has lasted over 70 years, must surely be rolling in their graves when they see what has been wrought by those who have never fought and now, we are told, will not fight. General Nick Carter, Chief of the Defence Staff, recently lamented the fact that British Millennials are too self-interested to pursue a life in the military, that the young generation was overly concerned with “instant self-gratification” and “what’s in it for them”. As a result, army recruiters have announced they will be reaching out to young men and woman beyond Britain’s borders to fill the ranks of their armed services. A country of 70 million cannot find 100,000 of its own to defend it!
I’m not sure we Rhodesians do ourselves any favours being seen around this motley crew; let’s go and mourn our dead alone; then drink a beer, have a cheer and sing ‘Rhodesians Never Die’. I think our gallant countrymen that perished would prefer it that way.