Home Articles Tales of Zambia Life at ZAF Livingstone - Page 3
Life at ZAF Livingstone - Page 3
Monday, 23 November 2015 10:32
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Life at ZAF Livingstone
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A few months after arriving, I was sent on a detachment with two or three other guys and one pilot – all in a Pembroke aircraft. We landed at a small airport at Mpika, near Chinsali in the northern province. The Luangwa Valley Game Reserve was a short flight away. There had been a local uprising involving a religious sect known as the Lumpas, led by one Alice Lenshina. Neighbouring villages had been attacked and wiped out, in the name of religion. With the independence elections on the horizon, the european authorities were quite concerned to quell this revolt and stabilise the region. Our role was to act with a local detachment of the Army, carrying out either photographic low level sorties over and around the Lumpa village, or with the Army on board carrying out intelligence gathering flights. We three or four air force guys were accomodated at the Crested Crane Hotel in Mpika, the Army were under canvass in the bush close at hand. A few days into our detachment Ted, the Pembroke pilot, told us that he had to fly into Shiwa Ngandu between Mpika and Chinsali and deliver some goods to Lt Col Sir Stewart Gore-Browne DSO at his residence. He went on to say that we had been invited to lunch, and asked if we were interested in going. I jumped at the chance, and we were given a splendid tour of the house and grounds by this somewhat eccentric english aristocrat, followed by a fine lunch on the house balcony. Shiwa Ngandu estate had been built by Sir Stewart and he was regarded by his (african) staff as a father figure. He died in 1967, and was given a state funeral by Kenneth Kaunda. After his death, the estate was taken over by his daughter and her husband. Both were slaughtered by three members of the ANC (who you will have heard of) in 1992 – Africa triumphs again. It is worth looking up the history of Shiwa Ngandu on Wikipedia. We also had a day on foot patrol in the Luangwa Reserve with the Army, but at that time of the year there was little game to be seen. By any other name, it was a fantastic jolly.

My original posting to Livingstone was for twelve months only. With three months left to serve, I was asked if I would like to extend my posting for a further 18 months. I agreed to remain in Africa until Jan '67. This meant that rather than continue my correspondence with several female acquaintances in the UK, I would need to bring these relationships to a conclusion. I mentioned this to a mate Harry, who suggested: „Leave it to me, I'll soon come up with something“. The following afternoon he passed me several photocopies of a letter he had penned. It went something like:

Dear (fill in name as appropriate),

Being Mike's best mate, it unfortunately falls on me to me to write to his correspondents and tell you of his sad demise. We were at a riverside restuarant one afternoon last week, when several of the party decided to cool off in the water. This area was well known for its crocodile population, and this was usually accounted for when taking a dip. For some reason or other Mike and a few others headed out for deeper water when without warning Mike disappeared in a flurry of foam. He showed once more, but by now the water was red with blood and we realised the situation. As his head came once more above the water Mike had time to call; „Tel -------- I love her (fill in name again as appropriate). He disappeared with a final wave and these words on his lips, never to be seen again.

Please accept my deepest sympathies.

Harry S.....

I would like to think that the several girls who received a copy of this were able to raise a laugh.