Now open!

I was wondering why nobody was posting here and decided to check if something was wrong. And yes, I didn’t fully activate this new forum section. It’s all fixed now. :army:

Did any of you have anything to do with the Malayan campaign. I did six months with 617 squadron in 1955. We used datum bombing. The Army would locate a suspected terr camp and the Canberra’s would fly in a block nine formation and would line up on two flares set up in the jungle roof. On passing over the last flare, the bomb aimer would set off the mouse timer and at a given time, 81 x 1,000 pounders would drop covering an area 1,000 x 1,000 yards. The army would guard the jungle paths out of the area and nobble the terrs as the ran out of the maelstrom.


I had just graduated from kindergarten in 1955! :wink: :smiley:

I knew a bloke a couple of decades ago who flew Canberras in Vietnam.

My respect for him grew enormously when I saw the cockpit of a Canberra in a museum and realised what a nasty, primitive, and tight little spot it was and that there was no way I’d spend five minutes trapped in it, even without the risk of being shot at.

Canberras from No 2 Squadron became the first Australian jet bombers to perform a combat sortie in September 1958 when an attack against terrorists in Northern Malaya was carried out, the first of many such excursions.

Nine years later, the Squadron was sent to Vietnam as part of Australia’s large commitment to that conflict, remaining there until June 1971 and in the meantime achieving an enviable record flying what was by then regarded by many as an obsolete bomber.

Operating as part of the USAF’s 35th Tactical Fighter Wing, 2 Squadron’s Canberras flew just six per cent of the Wing’s sorties but inflicted 16 per cent of the damage. Overall, 11,963 sorties were flown in Vietnam, 76,389 bombs dropped and two aircraft lost.

By the time it returned to Australia, 2 Squadron was the last RAAF operational Canberra Unit, 1 and 6 Squadrons having temporarily converted to F-4E Phantoms while they waited for the much delayed F-111s to arrive. 2 Squadron continued flying Canberras well past their planned retirement date until 1982, in the meantime completing many cartographic surveys in Australia and overseas (notably Indonesia), the Canberras equipped with survey cameras. The Canberra’s distinguished RAAF career officially ended on 30 June 1982 when 2 Squadron flew four aircraft over Brisbane and surrounding areas in a farewell flypast.

Our Vietnam era Canberra squadron had a proud history and, most recently, recovered the bodies of its crew who went missing in 1970.

For really nasty other wars, it’s hard to go past post-colonial Africa, from Angola to Kenya (especially Mau Mau) to Congo to Algeria, and sundry parts in between.

Much of it can be laid at the door of colonial powers, notably the French in Algeria and the Belgians in the Congo, but it’s politically incorrect nowadays to lay any blame at the door of the crooks and savages who fought for independence and came to power afterwards, as exemplified by Mugabe in Zimbabwe where he is steadily reducing it to dust.

But that’s not always the way the locals always see it after being freed from the yoke of European colonialism and given the benefit of government by their own people.

Ian Smith Was Better Than Mugabe

I was born 350km from Zimbabwe’s capital city, in Shurugwi a small but bustling chrome-mining town tucked among hills on Zimbabwe’s Great Escarpment, a massive geological wonder that traverses two-thirds of the country. As an early activist, I was inclined to have more interest in Ian Douglas Smith, the last Prime Minister of Rhodesia, than the average teenage boy because he was my neigbour. In the seventies, chrome was a big seller on the international market, thus Shurugwi had a pace and vibrancy about it that no other small town had. Ian Smith’s sprawling ranch was just below the Chironde Mountains, in the fertile valleys where villagers routinely but systematically strayed their cattle at night for quick grazing.

Throughout the liberation war of the seventies, I used to cast my eyes with awe and trepidation as the huge red ball of African sun painted the horizon of Smith’s farm, knowing and convinced that before the solar sphere disappears for the night, scores of African lives would have been lost in the struggle for self-determination. But just like his latter-day predecessor president Robert Mugabe, Smith lived to tell his tales, only to be taken by the cruel hand of nature at the ripe old age of ninety something, ironically, a stone throw away from Table Mountain, one of Africa’s wonder sights.

In its own way, nature made the two ‘statesmen’ similar in all respects. Ian Smith -hard, cold and stubborn - declared ‘independence’ from Great Britain in 1965 and evoked the anger of imperial monarchy that struck Rhodesia off the Commonwealth. He cared less, because to him, Rhodesian sovereignty was more supreme than supping up to the whims of a fading British dynasty. Even if ‘white liberal’ crusaders like Garfield Todd vehemently protested, Smith tucked cotton wool in his ears and enforced compliance with a brute force that sent nationalists like Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo into exile.

Despite a combination of well-calculated economic sanctions, a three-dimensional blockade and superior military backing from Apartheid South Africa, Ian Smith’s world was demolished on 18 April 1980 under the careful mentoring of Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative emissary Lord Soames who handed over Rhodesia to Robert Mugabe and his former guerrilla colleagues. But that was after a bloody confrontation that cost twenty thousand lives and millions of displaced citizens, including me.

But I hasten to draw similarities between Smith and Mugabe not because I am, as Mugabe would say, a ‘shameless apologist of the West’, but because in the streets of Harare where I live, most citizens have not only silently mourned the death of Smith, but the annihilation of civil liberties in modern-day Zimbabwe. Citizens of my age argue that despite the vicious economic sanctions imposed by the United Nations on Ian Smith’s Rhodesian government, combined with systematic destruction of economic assets by Mugabe and Nkomo’s guerrillas, one could still go to a supermarket and find basic commodities in abundance. Infact, most of Mugabe’s cronies, or at least their fathers; built business empires during the liberation war. Although most were running buses that ply rural routes or owned small commercial farms, their wealth was largely extorted to satisfy the appetite for good food, transport and new clothes for Mugabe’s fighters.

Today, the same shops are almost empty; thanks to Mugabe’s anti-market policies and socialist rhetoric that has cost Zimbabwe dearly on both the regional and global playing field. Old women and men speak fondly of the ‘good old days’ when, even confined to the high-density homes of Mbare, Highfield and Mufakose by Smith’s racial segregation, their lives were a bundle of celebration. Weekends, they say, were filled with parties and sport, while those who could joined the great trek to till their lands. Nowadays they mourn, Mugabe’s hatred of political competition and the ‘blood of the thousands of souls he murdered in Matebeleland has placed a bad spell on Zimbabwe’s rainy season’. During Smith’s iron-fisted rule, as a boy, my father used to send me to till, fertilise and plant his fields in Shurugwi without fail. But these days, fertiliser and treated seeds have disappeared from the shelves, only appearing occasionally under an expensive seed-for-tobacco scheme financed by the Chinese under Mugabe’s ‘Look East Policy’.

Ian Smith ruled under exactly the same conditions like Robert Mugabe’s today, but the former defied the odds and made Rhodesia a leading industrial economy in the Southern Hemisphere. Rhodesian steel, railway wagons, cigarettes, beef, cotton and cheese were well-sought, or rather smuggled in exquisite sanctions-busting schemes clearly documented in a book entitled “Tobacco Spiced With Ginger”. Ian Smith was as foul-mouthed as his successor; having been quoted once vowing Africans would not rule Rhodesia, not in a thousand years! This same suicidal bravado has been associated with Robert Mugabe, who has on several occasions banged the podium with clenched fists that the opposition Movement for Democratic Change [MDC] will “never, ever, assume political power” in Zimbabwe. Ironically, his populist revolutionary counterpart in South Africa, the disgraced and near rape convict Jacob Zuma asserted as late as November 2007 that the African National Congress [ANC] will rule South Africa “till the Son of Man [Jesus] returns”.

Zimbabweans know too well that it is this sort of populist rhetoric that led the Bretton Woods institutions to pull the balance of payments support rug off Mugabe’s government. Zimbabwe’s vital infrastructure has completely collapsed. The country is a high-risk investment destination where citizens spend up to two days without electricity while others queue for petrol.

The analogy between Ian Smith and Robert Mugabe does not end with economics. In Rhodesia, it is only whites, mixed race [coloureds] and Asians who had a semblance of political rights, to the extent where they supported Smith’s Rhodesia Front. The media was barred from discussing politics in a way that portrayed Africans in positive light as Ian Smith controlled every facet of Rhodesian life, including fundamentalist, near extremist censorship laws. Mugabe went one better, affording his cronies and supporters unlimited economic rights, access to land, company shares and calling gays and lesbians worse than dogs! Zimbabwe broadcast and press laws are so vindictive that it is almost impossible to criticize ZANUpf, the ruling party, on state controlled Zimbabwe Broadcasting and the Herald newspaper. Up until recent political negotiations between Mugabe and his political opponents, demonstrators were pummeled and jailed for merely walking silently down the streets. A leading human rights lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa was severely assaulted by Zimbabwe Republic Police for defending the rights of lawyers.

And yet the average Zimbabwean in the street will insist Ian Smith was better than Robert Mugabe. This twisted, sarcastic irony has a nauseating, yet amusing tone to it. During Smith’s time, bread, milk, public transport and housing were abundant and affordable. Nowadays, ‘Giffen goods’ are not only scarce, but if available, either imported by cross-border traders from South Africa and Botswana, or sold at black market prices well beyond reach of ‘poor people’. Smith was smart enough not to tinker around with market forces, while Mugabe’s command and control policies have driven most basic foodstuffs from the shelves. Citizens argue that during Smith’s reign, hospitals, though segregated, had superior facilities and medicines. Today, take a walk around the wards of one of Harare’s largest public hospitals and you are confronted with empty beds, not because there are no sick people in the city, but they have stayed out due to drug shortages and high fees.

The University of Rhodesia was restricted to no more than one thousand students who had access to a quality-learning environment. Robert Mugabe’s mass production of educational institutions, paying very little regard to quality, has turned the University of Zimbabwe into what many parents term an academic brothel. Young female students who have to fend for their nutritional needs are highly exposed to workingmen who supply them with life-support requirements in exchange for sexual favours. The college has been known to go for weeks without running water and electricity while any form of dissent is violently suppressed. So who can blame that village boy from Shurugwi when he joins in the refrain that ‘Smith was better than Mugabe’?

I don’t like to wish death upon people because I sort of believe in what John Lennon called “Instant Karma,” but that old corrupt **** Mugabe can’t die soon enough…

The tin pot African, corrupt dictatorships are generally referred to as “Neocolonialists” in post colonial theory…