Hannes Wessels,

I write this on the 11th of November, having read the news of the day and reflected on where I think we are and where we have been.  

I remember oh so clearly being at home 58 years ago in what was then known as Umtali, in the then Rhodesia, with my brother, three sisters and my mother and father. It was 1 o’clock in the afternoon when we sat in silence and listened to Prime Minister Ian Smith, tell the country that he and his cabinet had decided to seize independence unilaterally despite warnings from the British government led by Harold Wilson, that such action would be considered illegal. Rhodesia thus became only the second country after the United States in 1776 to follow such a dramatic course of action.  

I was only nine years old then so the implications of this decision were unclear to me but I recall a grim countenance befall my father and this troubled me. Not long after the broadcast we heard that Britain might invade and we would be at war. It came as a shock; three days prior to this I had been at the cinema and as was normal for us then, we all stood to attention, watched the Trooping of the Colour, and honoured the Queen before the film started. The fact that she would soon be dispatching her soldiers to attack and possibly kill us was gut-wrenching stuff. The rest is history; 15 years later the government of the Crown prevailed and Robert Mugabe came to power with the blessing of an ebullient Prince Charles.  

Last weekend I had the pleasurable surprise of meeting up with my old friend Bruce Drysdale at a regimental reunion. Bruce served in the SAS and the Selous Scouts, all three brothers in the Selous Scouts. The Drysdale’s were a stout-hearted farming family, so typical of the tough, enterprising breed of people that worked so hard to develop the country and improve the lot of all races.  

 I last saw Bruce 43 years ago when he, his three brothers and his mother and father, left the country for Australia in dismay, declining the opportunity to continue farming in the new Zimbabwe. Presciently, they did not believe the reconciliatory overtures and thought it was only a matter of time before Robert Mugabe would revert to type and purge the Europeans. Sadly they were proved right.  

What is poignant and pertinent to events unfolding today relates to Bruce’s father Ron. Over 100 years old he is, I believe, one of the last surviving member of the famed Long Range Desert Group. Ron, along with a core group of fellow Rhodesians, was a founder member of this extraordinary body of men who tormented Rommel in the Western Desert and provided the tactical inspiration, along with the personnel for what became the SAS.  

The reason I mention Ron in relation to what is happening in London today is because it reflects a sad irony. While pro-Hamas jihadists, openly calling for the destruction of the country in which they enjoy comfortable residence, will today enjoy massive police protection in registering their protestations, Ron Drysdale, if he were to appear in public representing the Rhodesian servicemen who died in both World Wars, would risk arrest. As Home Secretary Suella Braverman has pointed out, the police have shown a lamentable tendency to show little mercy to those of a conservative bent, while tolerating destructive behaviour from the left-wing extremists. Examples include the arrest of elderly people violating lock-down rules by sitting too close on park benches, while officers actually participate in BLM protests to show their support. Astonishingly, the British government of the day openly embraces those who seek its overthrow but denounces those who fought and died to preserve the empire and protect the motherland.  

This is because Ron Drysdale hails from the country that had the impertinence to defy Harold Wilson’s socialists, and the courage to take on the world in a bid to maintain the systems and values that once imbued the greatest empire the world has ever seen.  

From afar Ron might look at what is happening around the Cenotaph today and be reminded he fought fiercely and fearlessly to keep Britain free and has thus played a part in providing a platform for those who seek its demise. 

15 thoughts on “What Did They Fight For?”
  1. Great article and on the nail, I was too young to remember the Declaration of UDI but I do remember the riots of the Pearce Commission in 1971 -72 (I think). I would like to just correct one point you mention, Mr Drysdale is one of three LRDG surviving veterans – Mike Sadler and Jack Mann join him.

  2. We don’t want war? Have we not learned from all those before us who lost their lives, but as the tension in the World rises to epic proportions, what the Hell is wrong with everybody????

    The “Modern” and future generation in the UK and the West are running headlong into this self destruction invoked by “criticism from behind the screen,” namely social media. Non-entities getting a buzz from their negativity about anything or perhaps I should say everything anyone says or does. Highlighted this weekend by the Palestinian support march on Armistice day. Suella Braverman our Home Secretary (Now sacked) “live news,” spoke out and basically stated the obvious and what the majority of the people actually believe about the MET Police and their softly, softly attitude adopted to dealing with Anti-Semitic and terrorist supporting offences committed during the recent demonstrations in London.
    Stand up for what you believe and you are vilified on line by people who would appear to have nothing better to do with their lives than moan and whinge, by TV channels and the press who leap upon every word, then twist what has been said in every effort to make you an enemy of the World!
    The Wokey side of life is gaining far too much momentum and should be considered as a serious concern to life as we know it over here. Combine that with the tsunami of illegal immigration that Europe is finally waking up to, several years behind the UK and we are heading for the perfect Storm!

    The UK has sat and watched Rhodesia waste away from it’s former glory as the Jewel of Africa to it’s dismal state of affairs as Zimbabwe. Was this really the intended outcome? Surely not. Have we learned anything? Apart from apologising to anyone and everyone, for anything and everything and then paying compensation for issues that occurred hundreds of years ago. It would appear not?

    We must not and cannot keep pandering to the “Past” and the “Woke.” Unfortunately History is what it is, history. It cannot be changed. Only lessons to be learned.

    Learning from history we should therefore be seriously concerned for the demise of South Africa? Why should I be interested? I have relatives who moved from the UK to Rhodesia, were “kicked out” and live in South Africa. I got married in Camps Bay and love and adore the country with many friends who live there. From here the downward spiral has well and truly started?

    1. WWIII is already underway and is waged via the social media. It is a form of attack by anti-West forces that understand that once you have destroyed the moral fibre of a country it will, without physical destruction, fall into your hands.
      The West is losing, will loose, the battle.

  3. Brilliant Hannes and so well said! I drove a mini-bus for a school here in Sussex and had such fun stating ‘How proud the Palace of Westminister must be over Zimbabwe’. Cue squeaks of rage to my huge amusement.

    1. Hannes you have nailed it. Married into an old-fashioned English family of the sort England was built on and my family are bewildered by this constant drift left.
      But I was told why UDI enraged them. Timing boet. Smith really hurt them with the declaration “overshadowing” Armistice Day. Apparently this was disrespectful to the respectable within the Civil Service and country. And it was important because it was deemed impossible to invade and bring us back into the fold precisely BECAUSE it was Armistice Day – you couldn’t have fighting comrades to fight each other, especially if you believed in the healing power of Remembrance Day…clever old Smithy!

  4. Excellent piece thank you Hannes. Sums up what is transpiring worldwide in the so called new woke era. Respect of history has dwindled, humbleness and hard work are now frowned upon. A generalization I know but it is happening

  5. Hannes I applaud your general sentiments. We also listened to the PM Hon Ian Smith speech, I was an eighten year old BSAP Patrol Officer recruit in the Morris Depot. At eighteen I did as I was told and standing loyally for the Queen in cinema’s was what we did.
    A life time later our values remain but our perspectives have changed appreciably. We live in Brisbane, Australia and enjoy the fruits of our labours. We took the trouble to inform ourselves and found that Perfidious Albion (“PA”) betrayed Rhodesians, and by extension Zimbabweans. As far as we are concerned PA can go to hell in a handbasket. The main game is in the USA. We are loyal Donald J. Trump MAGA Movement supporters. Trump (politically) and Elon Musk (economically) is where our faith lies.

  6. Thanks Hannes. Well said. I was in Salisbury on that day in 1965 and heard Ian Smith on the radio. The Hamas terrorism is no different from that which the Selous Scouts, the SAS and others fought against in Rhodesia. And after 40 years, can we really call the outcome in Zimbabwe “liberation”?

  7. I appreciate this insight.

    Keeps me in proper perspective.

    I, too, do see irony.

  8. Well said. It looks very much as though we are well down to path to history repeating itself because the human race never learns from it.

  9. Bravo ! Once again Hannes you hit the nail on the head. I only wish that the “Wokish” police force in London would do the same, figuratively of course, to the disrespectful throngs of inhumanity that take full advantage of the free society availed to them by the very heroes who fought and gave their lives to ensure a free society – unlike the countries where these parasites pour in from. I, and all of us here, salute Ron Drysdale and his incredible offspring.

    1. Such a shame so many quality people like the Drysdales were lost to the country. If they, and so many like them had been truly wanted the new country would have been a massive success. Unfortunately racism, in it’s purest, most brutal form, prevailed! And the world cheered!!

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