Ian Douglas Smith.

A great leader of men.

He was a man who evoked strong emotions whenever his name was mentioned. Either you believed in him or you despised him.

I like to think that you have to look at things within the context of the times. It’s of no use looking at things which have already evolved and then trying to pass judgement. Or in other words, perhaps someone who went to Africa in 1890 sees things differently to someone brought up in today’s world.

These are just my views on an extraordinary man, a second world war hero. A man who was called upon to defend Western culture and all that it stood for.

The beginning of these strong emotions was when in 1965 as Prime Minister of Rhodesia he rebelled against The Crown with these immortal words;

” To us has been given the privilege of being the first western nation in the last two decades to have the determination and fortitude to say:’So far and no further.’ We may be a small country, but we are a determined people who have been called upon to play a role of worldwide significance. We Rhodesians have rejected the doctrinaire philosophy of appeasement and surrender. The decision which we have taken today is a refusal by Rhodesians to sell their birthright. We have struck a blow for the preservation of justice, civilisation, and Christianity-and in the spirit of this belief we have just assumed our sovereign independence. God bless you all.”

His early years.

Small beginnings?

Born on the 8th. April 1919 of parents of Scottish descent in the small rural town of Selukwe in Southern Rhodesia. Both of his parents were later awarded MBE’s for public service.He was educated at Chaplin High School in Gwelo and was a gifted all rounder playing rugby and cricket at first team level and was captain of the cricket side. Notwithstanding that he was also gifted at athletics.He cut short his studies at Rhodes University in South Africa to join No.237 ( Rhodesia ) Squadron RAF shortly after the outbreak of the Second World War. I hasten to add that this was completely voluntary, like so many of his countrymen. As a matter of fact during the 2nd. world war out of all the countries in the world, Rhodesians had the highest volunteer rate. Don’t you think that’s something special?In 1943 he crashed his Hurricane and was critically injured and is the reason why his face has a distinctive look from skin grafts. His wounds cost him great pain in his face, knees and back ever afterwards. However he rejoined his squadron on his recovery and was shot down in June 1944 over the Po river where he later fought with the Italian partisans and became fluent in Italian before crossing over the Maritime Alps to liberated France.On being demobbed he returned to Rhodes University where he completed his degree in Commerce.

Entry into politics.

‘You Rhodesians are more British than the British.’ So often I heard that during the war years 1939-1945. It was a comment which pleased Rhodesians. To think that we were not British would be ridiculous. After all, what is our history? Rhode’s dream of a British route from Cape to Cairo.

Smith was first elected to Parliament in 1948 whilst still in his twenties when he won the seat of Selukwe where he was busy farming. So began his political career.

He was a natural leader and because of his life experiences he was utterly fearless. Not surprisingly therefore he made steady progress culminating in being Minister of Finance during the Federation years.

The Federation was just a compilation of three neighbouring states in those days, colonies ( Ah, dear old England hey) consisting of Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland. Currently known as Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi.This became more and more convoluted and was dissolved in 1961.

In essence Rhodesia had been self governing almost since it’s inception and had repeatably been promised Independence from successive British governments. Along the same lines that this was granted to Australia and New Zealand. However in Rhodesia’s case they were denied, (read betrayed).

The Sixties, Turbulent Times.

In today’s world the bulk of the population have no idea of the immense changes that were taking place in those times. It was a different era, but very real to people living in those times. The hierarchy of the world was changing. The British Empire was dissolving and being taken over by the Americans with their free enterprise system and the Russians with their belief in the communist system. Not only that but within free Nations people were questioning long held beliefs and promiscuity and hedonism were gaining increasing popularity.For a man like Smith this was against everything he held dear as he had a largely Victorian belief in moral values and British primacy.Make no mistake about it, but the communist ideology was huge at this time. Think of it back then, the Russians had ruthless control of most of Europe only being held back by the Berlin wall largely due to American beliefs. Even so many other countries were flirting with this even Italy, Portugal and France. Then you had China, North Korea,Vietnam, and the list was almost endless.The communists were after world domination and they were going about this ruthlessly. In Africa this consisted largely of trying to convince disenfranchised people of the importance of Marxist/Leninist views and then arming them accordingly. The Chinese were playing the same game and both of them were after the Cape sea route and if they could control that, they could disrupt world trade.The secret of terror is to terrorise.


Testing times.

I have tried to give you a brief outline of events in the world at the time Smith became Prime Minister and have also tried to give you an outline of his character. Therefore for a man like this it must have taken an enormous amount of courage and fortitude to rebel against the crown.Basically within Africa at this time terrorist movements guided by communist ideologies and operating under the premise of black nationalism were the ‘in thing’. British governments of the time prompted by MacMillan’s winds of change speech were falling over backwards in their rush to placate these people and give them Independence and power in their own countries. It reached the stage where now it was Rhodesia’s time and Smith refused to accede to this and consequently caught them on the hop with his own Unilateral Declaration of Independence.This caused shock waves around the world and was mutiny of the highest order. The British imposed sanctions and are on record for saying that Smith’s Rhodesia wouldn’t last six weeks. Unfortunately Smith was branded a racist when nothing could be further from the truth and consequently this earned him a universally hostile press.


The British government had made the mistake of construing Smith as a politically naive person with a schoolboy approach to life. They perceived him as pedestrian and humourless and failed to recognise that he knew his people and had a keen astute mind. The press were quick to ridicule him and print pictures completely out of context with misleading headlines.

Victoria Falls.

An awe inspiring sight?

Mosai au tunya.

Mosai au tunya.

Courtesy of Frankie Kay.

One of the seven natural wonders of the world and on the border of Zimbabwe (Rhodesia) and Zambia (Northern Rhodesia). In the Ndebele language spoken by the Matabele people of Zimbabwe it is called ‘ Mosia au tunya ‘ which simply means ‘ The Smoke that Thunders.’ Very aptly named as if you are on foot, you can hear it and see the mist from miles away.

The Mashonaland countryside.



So different and so beautiful? Rhodesia’s most affluent province.

Pre- Independence Flag.

Still colonial.

 Pre Independence Rhodesian flag.

The Rhodesian Flag as it was prior to Independence, showing the Union Jack on the left and the Rhodesian coat of arms on the right. Very similar to the Australian and New Zealand Flags.

The Smith years.

Great times.

He never could break this stigma and to this day it remains a complete mystery to me how events unfolded and why he was  perceived in this way.I think that Rhodesians were mistakenly aligned by the free world with the apartheid system in South Africa when the realities were so different. It was never, ever, official Rhodesian policy to deny blacks. The Rhodesian argument was that at that time they were not ready for government and more time was needed. In my introduction I tried to say that you had to look at things within the context of the times. Now within the context of the times the indigenous population were still concerned with their own tribal structures and largely were not interested in western beliefs and education. However after the advent of the second world war their perceptions changed and now they were becoming increasingly more interested.By the time Smith attained power this was reaching fever pitch and he was left holding the can over issues which were not of his making amongst these being the African Nationalists taking up arms. Actually this started in 1962, and he only became Prime Minister in 1964,so how could he be blamed for starting a war with his declaration of independence in 1965?As it turned out as fast as Smith could build schools for them the terrorists burned them and true to course this was Smith’s fault and not theirs.


A test.

Clearly, our UDI would infuriate the starry eyed liberals and the frustrated communists, but I was placing my faith in the theory that sudden storms are short. Wilson was dashing hither and thither in London, making extravagant statements. Certain African states were demanding an immediate invasion by British forces. If only they could have had a bird’s eye view of Rhodesia, they would have realised the stupidity of their behaviour, because things were completely normal and calm, an oasis of peace in an otherwise turbulent continent.
I was eleven years old at this time so cannot vouch for the accuracy of that statement but what I can say is that crime was almost unheard of. Nobody locked anything, not your car’s or your house or your workshop. It just didn’t happen. How fast the world changes?

Post Independence Rhodesian flag.

The new flag.


Rhodesian flag.



Beautiful. Oh, when the Saints, go marching in.


So proud to be Rhodesian and I always will be.

Living in Rhodesia during these times unquestionably was the highlight of my life. Times were hard, what with international sanctions and everything in short supply and an increasing terrorist war. More importantly we revelled in the challenge of proving Wilson’s ” they won’t last six weeks ” wrong.I’m so thankful we had such wonderful leadership. Despite most governments derision of Smith amongst ordinary people he was universally admired. His service during the war and his subsequent stand after it made him increasingly more popular and this was to stand us in good stead in breaking sanctions.Wilson sent warships to the Mozambique coast in an attempt to prevent tankers dropping off oil,petrol etc. at their ports which was destined for Rhodesia. This backfired and gave Smith even more support. Oddly enough sanctions were backfiring as well because instead of importing products from Britain we started making them ourselves and whereas we had largely been an Agricultural nation, now Industry was starting to take off as well. I distinctly remember this because initially they were so terrible that people were joking;”if we got to put up with this stuff then bring back the British.”Isn’t there an expression along the lines of politics make strange bedfellows because whilst the Russians were busy arming the terrorists they were desperate for our Chrome?Unfortunately the first white farmer was attacked by terrorists and his daughter injured in 1972 and this brought a sobering effect on all. Up until this time the security forces had managed to keep them in check.

Beginning of the end.

History overtakes. 

On the 25th. April 1974 there was a left wing military coup in Portugal and this eventually led to Mozambique being handed over to Frelimo,  a black led insurgency movement. This quite quickly led to Rhodesia being denied access to it’s ports and left us with no other recourse but to use South African ports which caused logistic problems.More importantly it became a haven for the terrorists to retreat to and to mount more attacks along our Eastern boundary. In other words it amounted to another front and more troops were required to monitor this.

The Kariba Dam Wall.

Completed in 1958 and built to provide hydro-electric power for Northern and Southern Rhodesia now known as Zambia and Zimbabwe respectively.

At the time was the largest man made lake in the world.


Settlement Attempts.

Always trying.

Smith made repeated attempts to settle.In 1966 on HMS Tiger.In 1968 on HMS Fearless. The Home-Smith agreement in 1972.Vorster and Detente in 1974-75.
And,Finally the Kissinger Agreement of 1976.
The Kissinger Influence.

Now I need to make this as short as possible as this is not a History lesson, just a recollection. Funnily enough Ian Smith was Kissinger’s wife, Nancy’s, hero.

The long and short of all this is South Africa had even more trouble than Rhodesia at this time and was the powerhouse of the region. The South African army was trying to control the terrorist incursion in South West Africa, alongside trying to back the pro Western leader Savimbi against the Soviet backed leader amongst the warring factions in Angola. This was causing problems among the super powers of the time, namely America and the U.S.S.R. and Cuban troops were helping the Soviet faction. So Kissinger made a visit to South Africa at which Smith was ordered to attend.

Meanwhile the South African leader Vorster was busy trying to curry up favour amongst newly Independent black led governments in certain African states and was his pet like at the time trying to give South Africa time and breathing space.

Smith was seen as the problem with his uncompromising views. He was a very strong man and as usual everything was seen as his fault, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding.

So Kissinger told him that, if the Rhodesian and South Africans combined forces joined, they could quite easily take all of Africa up to the Equator. However he was unsure if they could defeat Cuban forces. Consequently if they got the better of Cuba, then the U.S.S.R. would have to come to the assistance of Cuba, which meant, America, would have to come in to assist the SA, Rhodesian forces. Now here’s the deal. There is no way America is going to help. Somewhere about this time he got Nancy to come in and shake her hero’s hand.

The price?

Rhodesia had to go.

To sweeten the deal and make Smith toe the line, Vorster cut off Rhodesia’s fuel supplies. A small landlocked country which already had had it’s supplies cut off from the new leadership in Mozambique now had it done again. This after supporting the Western world at all times and taking a lone, courageous, stand against the evils of communism.

John Steinbeck’s immortal words in the Grapes of Wrath sum it up best;

“There is a crime here that goes beyond denunciation, there is a sorrow here, that weeping cannot symbolise.”

A tribute to Ian Douglas Smith.

Despite strong international sanctions and a terrorist war Rhodesia was known as the jewel of Africa.It was self supporting in Agricultural products.It was the largest exporter of beef in the world and the Rhodesian dollar was at a peak. In fact it would buy you US$1.45 so in essence the currency was rated higher than the American $. Don’t you think that’s something special? All this without any foreign aid.The Rhodesian Armed Forces were rated as the best counter insurgency troops in the world. It’s airforce although using outmoded equipment was rated just as highly and they were considered as exceptionally skilled pilots. The police force still went unarmed except when called out on anti-terrorist patrols.Without a shadow of a doubt, it had the best inter-racial relationships in the whole of Africa, if not the World. To my dying day I will stand by that. Furthermore the Rhodesian Army was 80% black which should give everyone pause for thought. How could this be?
Smith was roundly condemned when he passed his,” I have the happiest Africans in Africa” comment. I never could understand the press’s re-action to Smith. All I know is that as Rhodesians we hated them with a passion. This was largely due to them coming to our country where we welcomed them with open arms and hospitality and returning to their own countries and writing pure, unadulterated nonsense. For why, for what reason? Of course there were a few, repeat few, who wrote clear unbiased stories on the situation but you could count them on the fingers of one hand.


Still not good enough?

This was the new name given to Rhodesia by Bishop Muzorewa the new Prime Minister. It was not a bad move to placate the different sections of the countries community.However despite the terrorists always insisting that they were freedom fighters, fighting for black majority rule. Now that this had been achieved they still were not happy and the war continued. I wonder why?Meanwhile despite Bishop Muzorewa making genuine attempts to solve these problems a certain Robert Mugabe was trying to drum up world favour towards himself despite all of his utterings sounding like they were straight out of the worst of the communist manifesto. Lo and behold, the free world fell for this.It became so bad that the British insisted on more talks between parties, although why they insisted is once again, beyond me.This became known as the Lancaster House Agreement and by no means was it the last betrayal.

The Final Betrayal.

A Farce.

The long and short of the Lancaster House Agreement was that the British were still not happy with Zimbabwe Rhodesia. Therefore they decided more talks were needed. Smith was asked by Muzorewa to attend on an advisor capacity.Whenever Mugabe did not get his own way, he stormed out of the proceedings ( a well known communist tactic).Eventually it was decided that new elections must be held. A British led ombudsman would take over the country and a United Nations Peace keeping force would ensure that the elections were free and fair along with observers. The Zimbabwe Rhodesian armed forces had to withdraw from all operational areas and be confined to barracks. By the same token the ‘Freedom Fighters’ were to be held in the protective villages. As throughout most of the war the terrorists largely were killing their own people ( simple tribesman ) and operating mainly at night. The security forces build these so that the tribes-people could have somewhere safe to stay at night protected by them and in the morning return to their land.As it turned out just prior to the election there were 3000 freedom fighters in the protected villages. The vote went ahead and Mugabe got a landslide victory despite there being widespread evidence of voter intimidation. The ombudsman had over a 1000 affidavits relating to this and when questioned by Smith as to why he was not acting on this replied;
” this isn’t Little Pudliham.”A week after the elections there were 30000 freedom fighters in the protected villages, so I will let you draw your own conclusions.
Oddly enough instead of the free world been dismayed by this they were, and I use their own words;
I guess they had finally got what they wanted?  Expediency being the legal tender.

Smith and Mugabe.

Deprived of citizenship.

After Mugabe came to power Smith still turned up at Government House every day to offer his help. Mugabe was delighted with this until one day he announced his plans for sweeping nationalisation. Of course Smith was against this and Mugabe never spoke to him again.Mugabe’s rule quickly became steeped in bloodshed whilst he was ensuing that nobody could oppose him. His history of what he did to the Matabele is well documented and was a disgrace to humankind. Oddly you never heard a word from the free press who were so quick to denigrate Smith.The press could never understand why blacks of all persuasions were constantly seeking Smiths advice and his popularity was ever increasing. Perhaps it was because they had always had him wrong in the first place? But the people knew and a small but beautiful little country in Africa, handed to Mugabe on a plate was being systematically ruined and they didn’t like this.Mugabe deprived Smith of his citizenship in 2002. That is quite beyond understanding.I’m not going to go into too much more detail about Mugabe except to say that nothing no longer really works. The great Kariba hydro-electric scheme is in ruins, the farms no longer exist, the telephones and basic infrastructure are ruined. The population is on the face of mass starvation and you now need around 6 million Zimbabwe dollars to buy one US dollar and inflation is at a million%.Since first penning this epistle, the monetary woes have changed somewhat and Zimbabwe is now using the American dollar as it’s currency.Finally the very same people who were so ecstatic when he came to power are beginning to see the light and are busy trying trying to denounce him.
Isn’t a case of too little too late?
Watching the American Presidential inauguration and listening to Barack Obama’s superb address I was finding it hard to bite back my tears. One of the best things he said in my opinion was when he said;
” You must judge someone on what they build, not what they destroy.”
Truer words were never spoken?

The Last Post.

Ian Douglas Smith died on the 18th. November 2007 aged 88 years in the Cape where he was trying to raise money for poor white pensioners, very close to where Cecil John Rhodes died almost a century earlier.A much maligned man for his unrepentant views, although even his worst detractors knew him as, completely and utterly, incorruptible.He loved his country passionately and at great cost to himself always stood true to this.
As matters have turned out it’s hard not to respect this belief?

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About spookmoor

I'm a 61 year old happily married man with three grown up children. I lost all my hearing as an eighteen year old whilst doing National Service and then had a Cochlear Ear Implant twenty years later. I love trying to explain these things to people and bits about my life. I never thought so at the time, but it was the best thing that ever happened to me. Thus one gets Random ramblings from a man who has seen a lot with a touch of humour underlying all.
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73 Responses to Ian Douglas Smith.

  1. charlino says:

    With all that is going on in South Africa now that is in the news, I often think of you and what you and your family endured. Whenever possible, I share your links, as they are beautifully honest pieces of history written by one who has lived it. Look forward to reading your next installment. Thank you for being here, spook moor. — your friend, charlino

  2. Dave Cooper says:

    I am a South African, but I grew up in Northern Rhodesia, I presently live in the Netherlands. I created a web site for ex-pat Northern Rhodesians in 1996 (The Great North Road). In 2012, I contacted Italian colleagues who were busy locating the crash-sites of Allied airmen who had fallen over Italy. In particular, I wanted to research and visit the 1944 crash-site of Ian Smith. So I visited Liguria and some Italian colleagues took me to the site (near a locale called Vallescura in the Ligurian Apennines, north-east of Savona). I ended up helping with the translation of a book that the Italians had written: « Aerei su Savona: Storie di piloti ed aerei caduti in provincia di Savona ». I translated the English-language title as « Allies shot down over Italy: Pilots and planes found in the province of Savona ». These books are published by Marvia Edizioni. We also made a video of the crash-site. I created the subtitling for the video for the advantage of English-speaking visitors. The video is on YouTube. You can contact me if you want more information.

  3. jake bremner says:

    Spook your research is superb. Smith as said was so courageous and determined. Sold down the drain. I believe he will go down in the History books as the good guy.

  4. Robyn Sumpter (nee Beghin) formerly from Selous says:

    Well researched and written, as usual Kevin. We could do with him now.

  5. Deanne says:

    Hi there! This blog post couldn’t be written any better! Reading
    through this post reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly kept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this post to him.
    Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read. Many thanks for sharing!

  6. RonZager says:

    As the world continues to slide into chaos I keep hearing people say “Where are the Leaders?”. Ian Smith in my opinion was one the last great leaders. He did what was right. I remember him saying when he addressed us on RTV that this little nation has been called upon by God to do what is right even if the whole world should be against us. Strange isn’t it that all those so called Western democracies that betrayed Rhodesia and Mr. Smith are now under siege with immigration problems and jihadist terrorists that they can’t defeat.

    • spookmoor says:

      Well said Ron. What I think is that very few of today’s politico’s are in the game for what they believe in, but, rather for the money. How sad. Then there is this Illuminate lot which I am beginning to believe are behind it all?

  7. George Azevedo says:

    Although the contents of this article are well known to me,I never tire reading the story of what REALLY happened to our beloved country and its great leader,a man with dignity,courage,and heart,betrayed by those that he fought for with unquestionable honour.
    Thank you for sharing this to the world.

  8. Thank you for putting pen to paper on the subject of a truly great man, he will always be my hero.
    A man amongst men in a time when the world was barking mad, He led by example and has left me wary of others and their views of our times. Always proud to be a Rhodesian, something I have instilled in my children. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

  9. Bar de Ness says:

    Outstanding. Comprehensive. Thorough. Written by a man who was there and lived it. Passion tempered with fact. How naive the British were, or how manipulative. At best simply weak and thoughtless – at worst mercenary and ruthless for convenient expediency. This article is an eye opener, and history will justify your words.

  10. Maggi says:

    Thank you Spook. Not easy reading this from a mobile screen in the middle of the Free State … Courageous a man who always had his people first and foremost. How I use to love my birds eye view from my reception at the CAPCO offices, RGM arriving in his bullet proof Benz with a truck in front and one at the back with mounted gun and the wailers. IDS would arrive driving himself, and hand the keys over to the person next to him to park his car. That small gesture alone showed he trusted people more than RGB ever did and will….

  11. Alistair Bushney says:

    Very accurately written my friend. God bless your Matabele friend.

  12. Jamie Wentink says:

    Hi Spook, were you by any chance at Bulawayo Tech Collage in 1977, were you from Que Que.
    i new a Spook Moor then just wondering if it was you.

  13. Reading this while drinking my morning coffee has left me in tears…..Such a great man….He must have closed his eyes feeling so sad for ‘The Jewel of Africa’… May he Rest in Eternal Peace and always be remembered as the “Gentleman’ that he always was….

  14. msasa13 says:

    A hero. Betrayed, maligned, but always his own honest self. Well put, spook.

  15. Maurene Medway says:

    Thank you so much for this beautiful explanation of our believed and wonderful country that was lead by a fantastic man among men.

  16. Gomer Pyle says:

    A lovely tribute to an amazingly wonderful man and country that has no comparison anywhere in the world, Spook .. many thanks for taking the time to share ….. A travesty of justice that words cannot even begin to describe in its entirety …. Suffice to say we all wait with baited breath for the good news that will eventually issue forth from Harare ….. On that day there will be a world wide celebration the likes of which has never been seen … i know for sure that i shall be imbibing in a dram or two or three or perhaps even four of that wonderful amber liquid (note i did not stipulate how many fingers … but can guarantee it will be no less than at least four fingers) whilst braaing my favorite pieces of meat ….. roll on that day ….. SOON !

  17. a lovely tribute to a wonderful man and country Spook .. many thanks for taking the time to scribe these words

  18. Tess Bold says:

    Spook…I have no words….you have said it all…thank you. My wish is that this should be apart of a history book on Rhodesia….that’s how well written it is.

  19. Maggi says:

    Looking at the picture of Lake Kariba. I use to work for Central African Power Corp, their Head Office diagnally across from Parlaiment. It was most, amusing now that I think of it, RGM would arrive with his wailers, in his bullet proof vehicle of the month, vehicle in front and back, with soldiers and mounted gun (cannot recall what type), all this song and dance to let us know he was there. Then IDS would drive himself up to the front door, get out. The chap sitting next to him would take over and go park the car … I saw this from 1982 till 1984 when I left from Byo. Which makes me wonder if RGM knew then he was not exactly flavour of the month, year, if ever in fact and that IDS still even then had more respect and faith in his fellow Rhodesians regardless of colour. Thanks again.

    • spookmoor says:

      George Stewart also used to work for CAPC and took me down the Kariba power station when I was a kid and was enthralled. As to the others, ‘buy a fum’.

  20. Liz Robbins says:

    Hi Spook thoroughly enjoyed your article. What an amazing man. I doubt there will ever be another IDS.

  21. Iris Papadopoulo says:

    You are amazing, Spook! You have covered the whole issue in a concise and amazingly clear way… I think that even the “politically un-aware” (hehehe 😀 ) will get the picture. Well done!
    I wish there was a way of getting your articles on the Worldwide Rhodesian site …

  22. Harry Whitehead says:

    This is all very well, but what happened? The outcome sucks.

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