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Russian Spies Print E-mail
Written by Kenneth Miller   
Monday, 26 January 2009 15:22

My Scouting career in Lusaka, although short lived, 1957 -1959, was nonetheless an exciting time. When there was no organized excitement, I created my own, resulting on two occasions with me being ignobly drummed from the troop.

The most exciting time was when a distressed Hank Bussink, a Dutchman, who was the manager of the local Bata Shoe Store, and a dedicated Scout leader rushed into the Woodlands School Hall, and called the multitude to order.

The assembled Scouts, in their patrols were a spectacle to behold, dressed in their khaki uniforms, badges worn proudly on their sleeves and their hats worn at the correct angle, even I made the grade. We listened intently to Hank, as he excitedly told us in his thick Dutch accent that he had reason to believe that Russian spies were operating near the Woodlands Post Office.

Hank produced a wallet that he had found. The wallet contained Russian money and a note concerning secret information that was to be exchanged at the post office around 19:00 hours ( 7:00 pm for those lacking a Scouting background) The troop went into action immediately. Northern Rhodesia had to be protected from the Red Menace and we were the boys to do the job.

The troop burst out the doors of the hall and faster than speeding bullets ran towards the Woodlands Post Office. Their bush skills were utilized as the Scouts hid up, trees, behind trees, in ditches and even on the roof of the Post Office awaiting the arrival of the dreaded Red Menace.

Hank, in his wisdom delegated me to lead a group of three scouts to go to the Northern Rhodesia Police, who were located just down the street from the Post Office and inform them of our mission and ask them to provide backup support if need be. The fact that the I was personally known to the officer in charge, did not seem to help our cause, as we were shown the door and told not fabricate any further stories or they would have to incarcerate us.

Undeterred by the lack of support from the NRP, we scouted on. As we approached the post office, a Morris Minor raced into the parking lot, two burly men got out, looked around and headed towards the building. The tension was heavy in the moonless African night as twenty or more scouts waited the signal to pounce. Hank our fearless leader, broke cover and single handedly approached the arch enemy, only to be thrown like a sack of mealie meal into the back of the Morris Minor..... all hell broke lose as the troop to a man, rushed the car, only to be left in a cloud of dust as the car sped away.

The troop needing reinforcements ran to the NRP Station, this time we convinced the officer in charge that there were indeed Russian Spies in the neighbourhood. Two Land Rovers loaded with policemen, were dispatched in the direction that the fleeing vermin were last seen heading. The troop was ordered stay back at the station.

We listened intently to the police radio....then over the crackling air waves came the message that the vehicle was found abandoned at a near by park. This was our signal to get back into action. Fleeing the safety of the police station to the bilious shouting of the officer in charge ordering us to come back immediately, we headed towards the park.

On arriving at the park, we soon found the car, however, the NRP were no where to be found nor were the enemy. Every sinew in our bodies were taut, as we approached the parked car under the tall trees with their branches swaying and leaves rustling in the gentle evening breeze. The tension filled quietness was broken when a cough was heard coming from a nearby bush. Turning as one, we faced the bush and detected one then the second spy, and before you could say Baden Powell we rushed them and brought them to the ground giving them a hiding that they so richly deserved.

Out of no where Hank appeared with an escort of the NRP's finest yelling at us not to beat up on the captured spies.

Being the finely disciplined troop we were, orders were obeyed, then to our astonishment, Hank and the police officers helped the spies to their feet, laughed and thanked them for participating in the evening’s event and confessed to the troop it had all been a hoax.