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Terrorist Incursions into Rhodesia 1966 - 1972

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Laid out below are the bare details of thirty operations which took place from 1966 - 1971 inside Rhodesia. These details have been extracted from School of Infantry lecture notes kindly supplied by Lt. Col. Ian Buttenshaw now serving in the Defence Force of the Sultanate of Oman.

It is possible that they are not completely accurate in all respects and we would be grateful for comments on them and personal experiences of members who took part in them.

The details of Op TEMPEST I and II between Mtoko and Nyamapanda have been omitted. These took place in 1972 and resulted in the recovery of weapons, ammunition and explosives from caches by 1 RAR in support of SB.

Date of crossing!
Start of Op
of Operation
Party Affiliation
& No. crossed
Intended Area of Ops Details of Operation
3 April 1966 Pagoda I ZANU
20 in 4 groups
Nr Chirundu Hartley, Umtali and Fort
5 ters Umtali
2 ters Fort Victoria
6 ters Zwimba Reserve
7 tars Midlands
Well led & disciplined gang. Main aim to recruit locals. First evidence of affiliation to witch doctor. Had a trained cartographer whose maps were very accurate. The Midlands group were eliminated by joint Police Air Force action near Sinoia early in the op. The Zwimba gang murdered Mr & Mrs Viljoen, & were then pursued by SF NW to Karoi & then NE to Kanyemba where one of their number was killed by B Coy 1RAR. This gang turned up in Bulawayo & last two were captured near Mount Hampden.
19 July 1966 Pagoda II ZAPU
group of 11
Nr Kanyemba
Mount Darwin
Attempted to cross Zambezi at Kanyemba. Got swept downstream and landed in Mocambique. Op Pagoda I was in progress and ten captured by SF SW of Hunyani Msn. One escaped to Botswana.
30 July 1966 Grampus ZAPU
Three groups
of about 6 to
8 each.
NL 6082
Nkai, Gwelo and
Two groups eliminated in the Zambezi Valley. Third group evaded SF and made its way into Lupane area (Op Vermin). D Coy 1 RAR accounted for the two groups the first of 6 were captured intact by a 5 man (Coy HQ) follow up of some 30 miles to an area SE of Kariyangwe Mission in the Manjolo TTL.
7 August 1966
(Start of Op)
Vermin ZAPU
One group
of 8.
NL 6082
Lupane TTL Evaded border patrols on Grampus and established themselves in the Lupane TTL. After the murder of a headman they were hunted down and eliminated by 1RAR and B Coy DRR.
17 July -
12 August
2 groups
totalling 13.
MJ 6901
Border SW
Corner of
Wankie Game
Tjolotjo / Kezi Due to disorganisation groups became confused & returned to Botswana. 7 arrested by SF and other 6 goaled in Botswana for illegal entry.
13 September
Yodel ZANU
Two groups
totalling 15.
Nr Chirundu
Sinoia, Karoi and
14 eliminated by 1 RLI after they had murdered an African driver of a pantechnicon. One escaped back to Zambia.
17 May 1967 Glamour ZANU
group of 9.
Midlands/Fort Victoria
and Umtall.
Complete group arrested by 1 RAR with the aid of local Batonkas.
26 May 1967 Pantechnicon ZANU Nr Chirundu Salisbury Ter group hidden in pantechnicon.
Stopped by SB/SAS at lay by near Makuti Eliminated in vehicle This was a Suicide squad who intended to open up with automatic weapons in 1st Street Salisbury on a Saturday morning
13 June 1967 HUSK ZANU PN 9705 Salisbury One shot by his comrades over argument re money One killed and eight captured by 1 RLI/1 RAR
25 June1967 Isotope I ZANU
group of 5.
PN 9705
Nr Chirundu
Midlands / Fort Victoria One killed and four captured
31 July 1967 Isotope II ZAPU
group of 21
Nr Chirundu
Midlands 16 captured I killed in general area of penetration Two arrested in Midlands 3 escaped
1 August 1967 Nickel ZAPU/SAANC
LL 9612
Batoka Gorge
East of Victoria
Figtree, Lupane
First major crossing 79 crossed, 29 killed, 17 captured in Rhodesia, 25 apprehended in Botswana. 8 unaccounted for.
23 Dec 1967 Bonfire ZANU
Total 9.
ON 5159
Mana Pools
Mtoko/nyanga Initial contacts with RLI & SAS whole group subsequently eliminated
29 Dec 1967 Breeze ZANU
2 groups -
total 9.
ML 7307
East of Matepa
Island on
Wankie, Fort Victoria
and Salisbury
Six captured by 1RAR in the Kamativi Tindi areas One each captured at Nyamandhlovu, Bulawayo and Enkeldoorn respectively
December 1967
to March 1968
125 plus.
RN 0971
Sipolilt/Moun1 Darwin
Mtoko, Mrewa.
Second large scale crossing. Five large camps established. 1 RLI, SAS, E Coy 1 RAR and 1 RR deployed 58 tern killed and 52 captured
7 April 1968 COSMIC ZANU
group of 11
ML 7307
East of Mapeta
Aim to attack Skombela
Restriction Centre (ZANU)
and release detainees
D Coy 1 RAR killed 4 and captured 4. Two subsequently captured by BSAP. One unaccounted for.
16 April 1968 Flotilla PAC/CORE MO
South African &
Portuguese ters
group of 17.
VS 9954
Mkota TTL.
South Africa Operated In area of Mazoe River.
Several killed in contact near Vila Pery
in June in combined Portuguese 1RLI
operation. 2 subsequently captured in
Melsetter area.
Extension of
      ZAPU leader Hadebe sighted near Marangora Base Camp. Two ters wounded and captured. Hadebe subsequently captured by Portuguese
13 July 1968 Griffin ZAPU/SAANC
group of 28.
PN 9705
South of
Hartley 1 RLI, E Coy 1 RAR and BSA Police. 25
ters killed, two captured and surrendered
12 July 1968 Mansion ZAPU
Platoon of 25.
ML 9212
Gwaai River
Lupane/Gokwe Platoon fully uniformed & equipped down to steel helmets. Hemmed in on promontory between Gwaai River & Devil's Gorge. All eliminated by 1 RAR and BSAP.
12 July 1968 Excess ZAPU
group of 38.
RN 1669
R. Makuku
Nr Chewore
Mount Darwin.Umtali 13 killed, 18 captured mainly by 3 Cdo 1RLI. 7 unaccounted for.
7 August 1968 Gravel ZANU
group of 14.
ML 7307
East of
Mapeta Island
Gokwe Whole group eliminated by 1 RAR within 3 days of crossing. 4 killed and ten captured
30/31 Dec
Birch ZAPU
group of 22
ST 7969
Mtoko/Mount Darwin
1RLI killed 6 and captured 10. Of the six outstanding two were killed by the Portuguese.
1 Jan
7 Jan
11 Jan 1970
Teak I
Teak II
Teak III
total 21.
ML 9313
NL 6578
LL 8312
Wankie TTL
Attacked Victoria Falls airport & railway line. (Abortive). 5 killed 8 captured and 8 escaped to Botswana.
1 March 1970 Pluto ZAPU
6 man Recce
Farm area
Kariba Abortive bazooka attack on Kariba
airport. No damage. Ters escaped
back to Zambia.
2 Feb 1970 Granite ZAPU
group of 6
NL 6474
Chete Island
Kezi 4 ters to Matopos 10 April 2 captured by BSAP, 2 escaped to Botswana. Of the other two 1 captured by Botswana Police, one whereabouts unknown.
9 Feb 1970 Chestnut ZAPU
group of 7
ML 8712
Lupane 3 captured near Dett, 3 escaped to Botswana. Leader subsequently picked up by BSAP but died in Wankie Hospital.
29 Aug 1971 Lobster Frelimo US 8686 Chikanga Mill
US 8389
1RLI follow up into Mocambique give indications of ZANU/Frelimo tie up.

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