Letters during 'The Emergency'

Dinosaur

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My father had similar flashbacks which he would come up with, but didn't remember when bringing the same conversation up with my friends, especially when involving his time chasing Mau Mau up in the Aberdares. He just didn't like talking about it. He would talk about the good times with all his colleagues during training in the Kenya Regiment, but keep totally silent about being on the field, and now that I am older and wiser, I totally understand.


My father and his mates loved to go to Nairobi Station to buy palm wine from the Africans, which was the local sly grog, and when back at base, and listen to their great singing, and whistling colleague, 'Roger Whittaker', who later became famous. A few of his other regiment colleagues were my mum's brother, Allan Root, Anton Allen, Ian Parker, and a few others, including a couple that were mentioned in Brian Hernes 'White hunter' book. I didn't get their names, as my dad didn't want to talk about it at the time, but apparently they were shot by modern poachers, and he was pretty upset over it, so I didn't ask again.


Anyhow, back to his days in the regiment, he mentioned that he always ended up with the .303 Bren Light Machine gun, it's always the little guy who gets the heaviest firearm, and it would have been hell lugging it up in, and through, the thick jungle of the Aberdares. He said that always had a problem of ejecting the hot empty cartridges down your sleeve, and that the Sten guns were terrible when you dropped them, as they would always fire off when hitting the ground. He loved the 9mm Patchets/ Stirling Sub machine guns, and also the British Lee Enfield .303 Mk V Jungle Carbines.


As they were in thick jungle, it was only short distance firing, so it didn't matter if the rifle didn't group within an inch at 100yards. He also got to use both British & Canadian Lee Enfield .303 Mk IVs, of which he preferred the British version which had more Lands in the Rifling twist.


My father was an excellent mathematics and was excellent at calculating distances, wind etcetera, with the mortar, but he was always jealous at how good my mother's brother was, as he kicked butt during training, he was a dead eye dick.


Dad said that he didn't shoot any Mau Mau,, as the Mau Mau were extremely good at evading them in the jungle. During training one of his colleagues got splashed on his boots from an exploding phosphorous grenade. All the troops had to line up to urinate on the boots to attempt to put the phosphorous out, which give the soldier time to get his foot out of his burning boot.

My dad recalled one mission in the Aberdares which he thanks god that he was unable to attend, as his colleagues had cornered some armed Mau Mau in a hot. The hot was fired upon by the regiment, and a couple of soldiers thinking that nothing would be left alive went charging into the hut to finish the Mau Mau off, and sadly the soldiers were shot dead, as the Mau Mau had climbed up into the ceiling and fired on the soldiers from above.


On the same mission another soldier had to clear another hut containing Mau Mau, plucked the pin from the grenade which he lobbed into the hut, and threw himself to the ground for safety. The grenade went off killing the Mau Mau, but the bolt that retains the Pin on the top of the grenade blew back hitting the soldier in the head , and that was that.


A lot of the farmers used hunting rifles to fight against the Mau Mau, and the Mau Mau didn't have much of a chance against these rifles. But civilians had to use what they had, as they were defending themselves, it was not for sport

Honestly, I had never heard of a 9.3mm Mauser until my dad mentioned the calibre, as his friends farm was being raided, and his friend hit a Mau Mau with the 9.3. As you may guess, it was over kill,

I was fascinated and looked up all my hunting books and magazines trying to find what a 9.3 mm Mauser round looked like.

Dad loved the Africans, as he grew up and worked with them, and was glad when the emergency was over.

After the Emergency everyone went their own way, my Dad's sister husband apparently was flying guns down via the Caprivi strip, as that was a safe haven for pilots, lodged between various countries at war during the times. Planes had a chance to sneak in and land/refill before heading to an unknown destination,, this was during the 1960's to the 1970's. I don't know if he is still alive.

Meanwhile another two of my father's regimental friends flew guns to Uganda for Idi Amin.

Idi Amin was renowned for his sinister and devilish sense of humour, and during their last trip of many, Idi Amin had the plane unloaded, and gave the gun runners a generous gift for services, a fully mounted stuffed lion which they loaded into the plane.

Half way back during their flight to Kenya, the pilots discovered that the gift was a Trojan horse. Their plane blew up, with compliments of the Time bomb inside Idi Amin's stuffed lion.

Regards

Rob
 

Wheels

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G'day Wheels

I have spoken to my mother, she worked for 'Shaw & Hunter Ltd' at Nairobi. It was in a building opposite the Stanley Hotel in Nairobi in the Late 1950s. Within the same building were a few other companies and they all came under the 'TATA Group of companies' that included Shaw & Hunter, and the Gun shop on the Ground Floor below.

My mother worked on the Telephone exchange, mail sorting, book work and other odd jobs. During the quiet periods at Shaw & Hunter she would do the same duties in the gun shop below, or in the other companies within the TATA group.

Her manager, when working in the Gun shop would get my mum to take the weekly cash to the Bank, which was down the road. My mother said that they didn't want the cash delivery to look obvious, especially as she had to walk it to the bank unarmed. Therefore, she would dress up in extra clothing and fill all the internal and external pockets up, and wear over large bras, in order to stow the cash in there too. My mother said it looked hilarious with bulges in the clothing everywhere :ROFLMAO:

After my mother left the business a young African Lady had been doing the same job, and was knocked on the bag of the head and robbed of all the cash.

Mum never understood why an armed man couldn't do the job, as it was the takings of the gun shop & Shaw & Hunter, of all things that she was taking to the bank .o_O

Due to relationship issues at the time, she decided to escape Nairobi and headed to the beautiful coastline of Tanzania, at Dar-es-Salaam, where she took on a 'Nanny' type jobs, including doing the book work in a Tannery at Thika, In Kenya.

Regrettably my mother doesn't have any photos of the period in 'Shaw & Hunter' and her memory is a bit vague so she can't recall any of the hunters names, other than her friends whom were living at Thika at the time (eg: Finn Aagard, and others not as well known). Funny thing , if I bring up a subject she will then get a flashback and tell me all sorts of stuff.

Regards
Rob


Really interesting information you have there about your Mom. I wish @JudyB would show up since she worked at EAPHA next door to the New Stanley Hotel.

It does seem really odd that they would have your mother making the bank runs.

Appreciate the stories! I find them incredibly interesting.
 

Wheels

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............ 'Roger Whittaker', who later became famous. A few of his other regiment colleagues were my mum's brother, Allan Root, Anton Allen, Ian Parker, and a few others, including a couple that were mentioned in Brian Hernes 'White hunter' book. I didn't get their names, as my dad didn't want to talk about it at the time, but apparently they were shot by modern poachers, and he was pretty upset over it, so I didn't ask again.

Meanwhile another two of my father's regimental friends flew guns to Uganda for Idi Amin.

Idi Amin was renowned for his sinister and devilish sense of humour, and during their last trip of many, Idi Amin had the plane unloaded, and gave the gun runners a generous gift for services, a fully mounted stuffed lion which they loaded into the plane.

Half way back during their flight to Kenya, the pilots discovered that the gift was a Trojan horse. Their plane blew up, with compliments of the Time bomb inside Idi Amin's stuffed lion.

Regards

Rob

Interesting information about your dad during the Mau Mau.

Maybe ten years ago I was flying into Dar. I was listening to my I Pod. The map screen on the seat in front of me was showing we were crossing the border from Kenya into Tanzania. A Queen song came on the I Pod and I thought, how appropriate that Freddy Mercury is coming on since I am entering Tanzania. Then I realized the previous song was a Roger Whitaker song when we were leaving Kenya. How surreal that experience was. (I have been told I have an eclectic taste in music.:))

In 1969 we drove the road between the lake and the parked airforce aircraft at Entebbe. As I recall, the Uganda Airforce was made up of three Dakota's and around 15-20 V-tail Bonanzas. Milton Obote was still in power. It would be another year or so when Amin overthrew him. When Israel performed the raid on Entebbe, it was hard to believe that Uganda had upgraded to a squadron of MIG's.

I had never heard of Amin planting a bomb on a flight to Kenya before.

Thanks for sharing your families stories with us!
 

Dinosaur

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Interesting information about your dad during the Mau Mau.

Maybe ten years ago I was flying into Dar. I was listening to my I Pod. The map screen on the seat in front of me was showing we were crossing the border from Kenya into Tanzania. A Queen song came on the I Pod and I thought, how appropriate that Freddy Mercury is coming on since I am entering Tanzania. Then I realized the previous song was a Roger Whitaker song when we were leaving Kenya. How surreal that experience was. (I have been told I have an eclectic taste in music.:))

In 1969 we drove the road between the lake and the parked airforce aircraft at Entebbe. As I recall, the Uganda Airforce was made up of three Dakota's and around 15-20 V-tail Bonanzas. Milton Obote was still in power. It would be another year or so when Amin overthrew him. When Israel performed the raid on Entebbe, it was hard to believe that Uganda had upgraded to a squadron of MIG's.

I had never heard of Amin planting a bomb on a flight to Kenya before.

Thanks for sharing your families stories with us!


Thank you for your kind comments Wheels, yes hearing the songs upon and relating them to the countries was definitely a great pick up, as a lot of people wouldn't even know where Zanzibar is, let alone that Freddy Mercury from the group 'Queen' was born there. As for Roger Whittaker, my father said that he could speak and sing Swahili so fluently that you that if you only heard him that you would think he was a local. He was an expert whistler, and his friends thought that he would be famous for that, rather than his singing.

I sincerely hope that I haven't confused everyone by mentioning the word 'Flight' back to Kenya, as it wasn't an airline that blew up, it was the plane that the gun runners were flying. I myself have searched the internet for the event, with zero success, but Africa is Africa, and there are a lot of events that don't become public worldwide. I am guessing that they must have been good at their job, as their activities were not mentioned in the press. I suppose it's like mercenaries, they only get hammered when they are discovered by the world press, then their names go up in lights for fighting wars that should only involve the local people.

I also envy you, in that you got to see Uganda before it went downhill, when the parks were still full of native wildlife.

It's funny how quickly the air powers have changed, but quick question, did Idi Amin actually get to put his MIGs into action ?

Regards
Rob
 

Wheels

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It's funny how quickly the air powers have changed, but quick question, did Idi Amin actually get to put his MIGs into action ?


Some of Whittaker's whistling ability is in this song.





As I recall, the raid was a complete surprise to Uganda and their MIG's were destroyed on the ground. The only time I know where Uganda used their MIG's was against Tanzania when they tried to invade. Here are a couple of quotes and Wikipedia notes.

"All the hijackers and forty-five Ugandan soldiers were killed, and eleven[5][6] Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda's air force were destroyed.[4]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Entebbe





"By late 1978, the UAAF was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Gore[14] and consisted of several dozen MiG-21MFs, MiG-21UMs, MiG-17s,[15] MiG-15UTIs,[16] and L-29s. In addition, several unarmed trainer and transport aircraft were in service,[17][18] including a single Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo transport.[19] The exact number of Ugandan combat aircraft at the time of the war's outbreak is disputed. According to J. Paxton, Uganda possessed 10 MiG-21s, 12 MiG-17s, 2 MiG-15s, and 5 L-29s,[17] while journalist Dominique Lagarde stated that the UAAF consisted of 12 MiG-21s, 10 Mig-17s, 2 MiG-15s, and 12 L-29s.[18] Some of the available aircraft were not combat-ready, however, and were abandoned during the Uganda–Tanzania War without seeing action.[16][18] The lack of spare parts especially affected the Mig-15s and MiG-17s.[20]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_campaign_of_the_Uganda–Tanzania_War
 

Dinosaur

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Some of Whittaker's whistling ability is in this song.





As I recall, the raid was a complete surprise to Uganda and their MIG's were destroyed on the ground. The only time I know where Uganda used their MIG's was against Tanzania when they tried to invade. Here are a couple of quotes and Wikipedia notes.

"All the hijackers and forty-five Ugandan soldiers were killed, and eleven[5][6] Soviet-built MiG-17s and MiG-21s of Uganda's air force were destroyed.[4]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Entebbe





"By late 1978, the UAAF was commanded by Lieutenant Colonel Christopher Gore[14] and consisted of several dozen MiG-21MFs, MiG-21UMs, MiG-17s,[15] MiG-15UTIs,[16] and L-29s. In addition, several unarmed trainer and transport aircraft were in service,[17][18] including a single Lockheed C-130 Hercules cargo transport.[19] The exact number of Ugandan combat aircraft at the time of the war's outbreak is disputed. According to J. Paxton, Uganda possessed 10 MiG-21s, 12 MiG-17s, 2 MiG-15s, and 5 L-29s,[17] while journalist Dominique Lagarde stated that the UAAF consisted of 12 MiG-21s, 10 Mig-17s, 2 MiG-15s, and 12 L-29s.[18] Some of the available aircraft were not combat-ready, however, and were abandoned during the Uganda–Tanzania War without seeing action.[16][18] The lack of spare parts especially affected the Mig-15s and MiG-17s.[20]"

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_campaign_of_the_Uganda–Tanzania_War


G'day Wheels

Thank you for the extremely interesting link regarding the airforce and the Raid at Antebbe, I recall years ago seeing a movie about it, I will see if I can get hold of the movie to watch again, it's been years.

I assumed that there were only earlier MIGs, but he had some later ones too.

Also thanks for the Roger Whittaker clip too. Here is a clip of him whistling African style, but with an audience, in Canada. He was a pretty good entertainer.

Regards
Rob

Roger Whittaker - Human whistle (Live performance)

 

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