In the middle of uncertainty about the Rhodesian situation, with the peace talks having broken down and an escalation of the guerrilla war being threatened, Rhodesia's President John Wrathall has publicly honoured Air Force personnel for battle valour.
SV: President of Rhodesia, J.J. Wrathall out of car and greeted by Air Force officers at Salisbury Air Force base.
GV: Wrathall inspecting guard of honour.
SV: relatives watching.
SV: Wrathall presenting medal to Flight Sergeant/Michael Upton.
CU: medals lying on Rhodesian flag.
GVs: other medals being presented. (3 shots)
CU ZOOM OUT TO MV decorated airmen standing in line.
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Background: In the middle of uncertainty about the Rhodesian situation, with the peace talks having broken down and an escalation of the guerrilla war being threatened, Rhodesia's President John Wrathall has publicly honoured Air Force personnel for battle valour. At ceremony in Salisbury, the Rhodesian capital, on Wednesday (16 February), President Wrathall presented nine medals for 'gallantary and distinguished service' to past and present members of the Rhodesian Air Force for deeds of personal bravery in the war.
SYNOPSIS: The ceremony come within days of the latest Rhodesian Government communique announcing guerrilla deaths -- eleven killed, including three black women travelling with them in a two-day period. This brought the total, according to the Government, to almost 2,500 during the four-year war. The presentations also followed only three days after Defence Minister, Reginald Cowper, resigned from the Government in a row about extending military call-up for Rhodesia's already hard-pressed man-power.
The man-power situation has become critical within the past few months, with leaders of commerce and industry warning the Government that any further extensions of the reserve call-up would cripple the nation's economic base -- which financially supports the war effort. Military chiefs, on the other hand, have ben pressing the Government for more reserves to add to the nations's 12,000 regular forces in all sections, including police. The total man-power, including reserves, is some fifty thousand, almost all whites. Put another way, this includes almost every able-bodied white man between the ages of 16 and 60. Mr. Cowper resigned after a row which followed his announcement of a further call-up.
Meanwhile, the Rhodesian Air Force has suffered equipment shortages since South Africa withdrew military support last year.