A total of 85 troopers graduated into the Rhodesian Light Infantry on Friday (24 June) at their passing out ceremony in Salisbury.
A total of 85 troopers graduated into the Rhodesian Light Infantry on Friday (24 June) at their passing out ceremony in Salisbury. Ranging in age from 18 to their early twenties, the troops had been called into service for Rhodesia's battles against guerrillas in neighbouring countries.
SYNOPSIS: The troopers show snap and purpose as they march onto the parade ground for the passing out ceremony. They will be going into service at a time when Rhodesian leaders are worried by reported build-ups of guerrillas and Zambian troops on their country's western borders. Rhodesian leaders in Salisbury are said to have taken seriously a recent declaration from President Kaunda of Zambia that he considers his country to be in a state of war with Rhodesia. Zambia recently closed its airspace to non-commercial traffic, a move seen as seeking to mask troop build-ups at the borders.
These troopers will go into potential battle locations knowing they are backed by the strengthened resolution of the government, which has declared it will defend every hill, river and village. General Hickman reviewed the passing-out parade gratified that 30 of these 85 troopers had already decided to join the permanent army. These men will join other young white reservists who're been spending up to four months of the year in the bush trying to subdue increased guerrilla activity. Observers say the newcomers will have to contend with lowered morale among the troops, as they are called. Morale has dipped in the wake of the latest Anglo-American peace initiatives to move the country towards black majority rule. Previously the troops had been buoyed up through believing they were fighting a dangerous Marxist enemy in the guerrillas. But reports say more reservists regard fighting as resisting the inevitable black take-over.