CHIT-CHAT ~ 2014

Detached Duties

In October 1956 three platoons of the Police Mobile Force were dispatched to Northern Rhodesia to assist during the Copper Belt Riots there. During their stay they were camped at Ndola and the Roan-Antelope Mine, Luanshya. This picture, surely as fine a body of Colonial Police Officers as you're ever likely to see, was taken at the Luanshya camp. (L-R) Harry Edmunds, John T. Parker, Reg Brill, Jeff York, John Wilkes, Derek Harling and Jim Wilkinson. (Photo courtesy of Mary Brill & details by John Wilkes)

From Zomba Plateau to Rotorua & Beyond
Master angler Ray Punter - how many of you became keen anglers as a result of meeting this man. A great exponent in the art of casting a fly and enticing "the one that got away" from everybody else into his landing net! As Staff Officer at Police Headquarters in Zomba his main beat was the Mulungsi Dam on Zomba Plateau, one of a number of good trout fishing spots in Nyasaland. Although the introduction of brown trout into the country was a failure in or about 1908 the rainbows, introduced a few years later, thrived. Both the Mulungusi and Chagwa dams on Zomba Plateau were stocked and the stream feeding the Mulungusi also provided a natural breeding water for these fine fish. Ray took it upon himself to teach many of his colleagues the art of casting a fly, often practising on the parade ground in front of the Officers Mess, also teaching them how to tie flies and when and where to use them. Was it the lure of big trout then that attracted him to settle in New Zealand, to set up home there and become involved in fishery management at Rotorua? It could be, for pictured on the right he has hold of something the likes of which was never seen in the waters on Zomba Plateau! Certainly it seems he has not lost his touch it being noted that among the Trophies and Awards for 2013/2014 of the Rotorua Anglers Association he won the "Hamills Sports Ltd Trophy" for the heaviest rainbow trout at 4.52 kg - taken on Lake Rotoiti.
Terry Young - December 2014

African Elephant Ivory
How many of you possess one of these? This magnificant example of carving purchased in Nyasaland is the property of Peter Hewitt and given the background of dining-room chairs we can see just how big this tusk is. Such carvings were popular purchases by expatriates particularly in the 1950/60s and grace many a room back home. No one seemed aware at the time that it also cost the life of such a fine animal and African ivory now is very much a banned commoditiy - albeit now involving an illegal but lucrative trade with mainly countries in the far-east. So, what do you intend doing with yours?      
Click here to read a precis of the current law.
Terry Young - December 2014

Peter Hewitt - Member of the HOBB
Peter Hewit was a man with considerable experience having served in the Kenya and Cyprus Police during their days of crisis. So, we can see from the picture (right) that his presence outside Ryalls Hotel in Blantyre on 26th January 1960 at the demonstration there during the visit of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan left him unfazed and, always an understanding man, prepared to listen to a member of that demonstration. However, we all know that the scale of this demonstration was blown up beyond all proportion leading to a judicuial enquiry which completely exonerated the Police against allegations of brutality. In his report Mr Justice Southworth commented that the amount of skin lost would hardly cover an area of "one square inch" and the amount of blood shed would "test the capacity of a mustard spoon". To mark this occasion and the clear vindication of those on duty it was deemed appropriate that those present be initiated into the "Honourable Order of the BOOTLESS BOBBIES
Click here to read all about it
Terry Young - December 2014

Do you remember Arnold Woolley?
Over the years there was quite a number of BSAP members who moved to join the Nyasaland Police. Arnold Woolley was different, he went the other way - having joined the Nyasaland Police in 1961 he left in 1964 and joined the BSAP. He had a varied and successful career there but under political pressure was obliged to leave in about 1984. On his return to UK he was very active in local politics including a term as Mayor of Buckley, Flintshire (pop:15,000 or so). A brief autobiography can be found on the internet -
Click here to read it
Terry Young - December 2014

Tactical Error (or the 'Decade Dash')
KW in his memories above suggested that "we all make mistakes" - the Printer in Zomba (and his proof reader) confirms this. The extract (above right) is taken from the PMF pamphlet 'Tactical Training' printed and published by the Government Printer, Zomba, in 1969. Surely a man running for ten years would be a relatively easy target given that even after two years, say, super fit though he may be, fatigue would have set in to render him pretty well immobile!
TJY - November 2014

Impersonating a Police Officer (or the wiles of SB)
A day or so after the raid on Fort Johnston (Feb 1965) a captured “rebel” wisely decided to “cooperate” and became more or less resident in the Police Station. Some months later the President, Dr Banda, decided to hold a public meeting on the airstrip there. This presented a security problem, in particular to the SSBO, Donald McCarry, of possible disruption by dissidents or, indeed, an assassination attempt. So, the wily Donald decided to dress this man as a Police Inspector and place him in a position where he could identify any of his former rebel colleagues. However, they first encountered the Commissioner of Police, Peter Long, whereupon “our man” who had served in the Army peeled off an immaculate salute. Peter Long wasn't fooled though, he knew “everyone” and enquired of his identity and although it was with with some apprehension he accepted Donald's explanation. Later, at the entrance to the airfield, the president, as his motorcade drove through, acknowledged another very smart salute with a flick of his fly whisk – to think that only a few months earlier our “new friend” had been plotting to kill him!
It was after this rally, in May 1965, that some 150 people, most of them returning from the meeting were drowned when the Liwonde ferry overturned.
For more details including a short video depicting the Commissioner, Peter Long, at the scene the following day - Click here

Food for thought
Seeing that marvellous picture of nkhungu flies rising from the lake like smoke from a steamer in the Don McCarry Collection reminds me that the ever resouceful Nyasalander trapped these flies, generally when they drifted ashore on the wind, in a long handled mesh lined sieve type device, cooked and ate them. Crushed, boiled and dried in the sun they produced the delicious, caviar tasting, "Kungu Fly Cake". Look out for the equally tasty Scottish Midge pies coming to your local store sometime next year.
A. Chirombo - October 2014

Members of the Senior Service
Did you know about HMS Nyasaland? Built in the US as the first USS Hoste in 1943. Intended for transfer to the United Kingdom, the ship was renamed 'Nyasaland' by the British prior to launching on 6 October 1943. Transferred to the UK in July 1944 she was used on patrol and escort duty. In December 1944 she sank the German submarine U-772 with depth charges in the North Atlantic and in February 1945 she shared credit with the British frigates HMS Loch Scavaig, HMS Papua and HMS Loch Shin for sinking the German submarine U-1014 in a depth-charge attack off the north coast of Ireland. In March 1945 she rescued 42 survivors of the British merchant ship SS King Edgar, sunk by the German submarine U-1302 in St. George's Channel (twixt Lands End and Ireland).
The Ancient Mariner - October 2014

Train Spotters United
It was not only a ship that got the name "Nyasaland" but a LMS Jubilee Class steam locomotive. 191 of these engines were built in all and 'Nyasaland', built at Crewe in October 1934, was numbered 45622. Used exclusively in the UK it was withdrawn from service in September 1964. You will see that I have claimed ownership of it (left) and below is the nameplate and as it looked in the 1930s.

                                                                                                Donald McCarry - November 2014

Laughter in Court
Despite risking a charge of contempt the courtrooms of the world has always produced much amusement over the years and those in Nyasaland were no exception. Was it not Zomba's ace prosecuting officer who, in about 1959/1960, had meticulously presented an immaculate case with all witnesses heard only to produce the identifying witness who, when asked to identify the accused, ignored the prisoner in the dock and pointed to a wee man sat at the back of the courthouse! Zomba was also the place, at that time, where prisoners and exhibits were kept in the same locked room. Hence, one accursed on a fairly minor charge and sitting around no doubt bored waiting for his case to come up, found a bottle of kachasu with the exhibits, polished off the contents effectively destroying any evidence in another case but appeared in the dock prepared to plead guilty to anything from parking to genocide!
Would the Ace Prosecutor please identify himself

John Peskett
Do you remember John? He joined in Feb 1960 and was very cheerful man of pleasant nature. Did you know he was a prisoner of the North Koreans? A Royal Marine he was operating with the SBS behind the lines when, in 1951, he was captured with four other marines. They were taken to the bomb shattered town of Wonsan where they were in danger of being attacked by the local populace. On the way John suffered serious dysentery and was left in a village with one guard and lodging with a family of two women and two children. He was generally well treated there but once better he underwent the usual lengthy interrogation, placed in a hole and endured the appalling conditions meted out to all the prisoners at that time.
How did he end up in this unfortunate predicament?      Click here to read his personal account.
T. Young Aug 2014.

Little me aged about two (1940?) and born in Loudon, Nyasaland, pictured (right), probably at Ekwendeni, with elder brother (William, holding pith helmet) and elder sisters (Nan and Barbara), being carried in a single wheeled 'bushcar' with push/pull operators - it was a means to get about the country at that time particularly in the more under-developed area where my Scottish missionary parents were stationed.
Isabel Young Aug 2014

Ah well, I suppose a third class ride is better than a first class walk!

Action on the Lake
With the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of WW1 this year it brings to mind that the first naval action of that war took place on Lake Nyasa. Pictured is the German steamship 'Hermann von Wissmann' which, in the 1890s, was origninally engaged on the lake as an anti-slavery gunboat. Also on the lake was the British vessel 'SS Guendolen', launched in 1899, which plied the lake from Fort Johnston (Mangochi) carrying goods and passengers on a 15-day round trip visiting various ports on the lake. From 1914 the Guendolen was commanded by Captain Edmund Rhoades who, on 13 August 1914, some two weeks after the outbreak of war, found the Wissmann on a slipway at Liuli (Tanzania now but then German East Africa) and attacked it. This took Captain Berndt of the Wissmann totally by surprise having been unaware that war had been declared. As normally friends and drinking partners it is said that Bernt jumped into a boat and approached the Gwendolen accusing Rhoades of being drunk - only to be taken prisoner! The action disabled the Wissmann briefly but in 1915 it was completely put out of action.
T. Young Aug 2014.

Particularly in the Northern Province Nchimi Chikanga could be quite a headache to Police. Based at Tete Village in Rumpi Distict he was a "witchfinder" and healer of some note attracting pilgrims from far and wide. Whole villages would trek to his place seeking reasons why, for instance, a child had died or crops had failed. Invariably he would find a 'witch' amongst those assembled whereupon the 'accused' would undergo 'treatment' to remove this evil which entailed the face being covered in cuts with a razor blade causing much blood to flow. The injured party had to be persuaded that he/she had been possessed without their knowledge and often this was accepted but there were occasions when complaints were made to police. It was, of course, AOABH or even GBH but otherwise the problem had been solved to the general satifaction and more often than not the alleged witch, after the cleansing 'treament', seemed to be happily accepted back into his community. I found Chikanga to be very likeable character, he had an "interesting" museum which included the "ndege" stick (aeroplane stick), an artefact that allowed workers away, in South Africa say, for periods of years the chance to pop back from time to time to impregnate their wives!
TJY Aug 2014.

Tragedy in New Zealand
Pictured left are Stuart and Lucy Routledge. Stuart, ex-RN, joined the the Nyasaland Police in June 1959 and eventually settled in New Zealand. On 22 February 2011 he and his wife were aboard a bus in Christchurch which was hit by falling masonry when the city took the full brunt of the devastating earthquake that day. Sadly they were among the total of some 185 souls who lost their lives. Normally resident in Sumner, about seven miles from Christchurch, they were active in the local community, particularly in the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services' Association (RSA) where they tended the gardens and they held the key to the Community Pool. Clearly the couple were regarded with great affection in the neighbourhood which is reflected in the bench seat placed at the Sumner School pool in their memory.
T. Young Aug 2014.

Ellard & Odrick
Ellard and Odrick, two characters from the Chikwawa District who appeared in the Native Court in connection of a young girl taken, apparently, in the Shire river by a crocodile. That is, until an African CID man on leave in the area, decided it needed further investigation. To read all about it Click here for an extract from the The Spokesman-Review of Aug 29, 1962.
N. Ngona Aug 2014

Trevor Bevan
Trevor Bevan joined the Nyasaland Police in June 1954 after service in the BSAP and Malaya and was stationed variously, initially in Lilongwe and at one time he was OC Police Training School at Zomba. However, his wife Sheila has written a fascinating account of their time in Nyasaland (and elsewhere) called "The Parting Years" (You can click here to read a preview selection). The couple had a daughter Merilyn and, born in Blantyre, twin sons Simon and Christopher. Does anyone know anything of their current whereabouts, it would be nice to see them at our next reunion.
TJY Sept 2014

Professor Colin Baker
Colin, pictured left at the Nyasaland Police Memorial Dedication, has been a prolific writer about a variety of Nyasaland/Malawi topics compiling a veritable cornucopia of interests from politics to humour. Further, he writes from personal experience having joined the Colonial Administrative Service in Nyasaland in August 1954. Spending some seven years in the country before leaving to pursue his subsequent impressive academic career his stations included Zomba, Dowa, Fort Manning and elswhere. However, what one remembers is often that odd and generally irrelevant event and in Colin's case it has to be the occasion during the "emergency" prior to independence when as an ADC at Zomba he was called upon to read the Riot Act because the man responsible, the District Commissioner (was it Mike Leonard?) couldn't do so because he stammered!
T. Young Aug 2014.

Bishop Donald Arden (12.4.16-18.7.14)
Donald Arden was enthroned as Bishop of Nyasaland in the UMCA church (St Peter's Cathedral) on Likoma Island in 1961 and he remained in the country until 1980. Latterly as Bishop of Southern Malawi and from 1971 to 1980 he was Archbishop of Central Africa. For the many of you who knew him Dick Lancaster reports that he attended a Service of Thanksgiving for his life in Romsey Abbey on 20th September. It was in keeping that the Bishop who was born in Austraila (Adelaide) and who had a penchant for singing sea shanties departed the Abbey after the service to the strains of 'Waltzing Matilda' followed by 'What shall we do with a drunken sailor'!
Dick Lancaster Sept 2014.

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