“It’s Late 1970’s, Rhodesian bush war and the fight against the march of communism down Africa is increasing. Operational area is the Northern boarder with Neighbouring Zambia in the summers oppressively pressing heat off the Zambezi Valley.
We were returning to Salisbury from Kariba, after doing an Instrumentation inspection and repair of all operating units in the area of the boarder town of Kariba.
As the landrover climed the 5 to 1 gradient off the escarpment road at a snails pace, me in the drivers seat of the fully loaded Landrover and my boss WOll, riding shotgun, when he orders me to stop so that he could take some photos of a elephant feeding in a culvert by the road. When you are a mere cpl. the breaks came on with the landy burning rubber into the tarmac and the prompt, ‘Yes Sir’.
My boss hops out and starts to enjoy the moment, one eye shut, peering through the lens with a constant click, click lost in concentration.
Well all the while I’m watching the Elephant get angrier and angrier, mock charging, trumpeting and ripping out small shrubs an trees, all because he could not run up the culvert slope and trample this human disturbing his afternoon siesta.
I had kept the engine running, just as well, as the picture was!
We were stopped on a slight hill rise with the road vearing to the left in the distance approximately 20 yards further on, when all of a sudden that Elephant turned left and headed up in the direction off our escape route. I realised he was going to cut off our escape as the culvert rose gradually to the road height at the bend in the road.
(Our landrovers never had any get up and go, and an even worse turning circle and turning around on a culvert with 4mtr. drop either side, no chance).
I shouted out that we had to go and I started rolling the landy, my boss telling me to “GO, GO, GO!” and the landrover straining to pick up speed on the hill with my foot flat, with that Elephant almost reaching the road, my boss hanging on the back off the rover with his fingers grabbing through the back mesh screen canopy, camera flying from his neck by a safety cord and feet planted on the bumper bar, screaming “Get us the fu*k out of here!”
We reach the bend at the same time as that Elephant, with us getting past only a split second before him, thus allowing him to take a swipe at the boss for disturbing him.
Result, I felt the Landy launch forward a mite faster and the boss had a bruse on his back for months from that Elephants trunk, even though our “speeding” past prevented him getting the full contact and force off its power.
PS. Thanks for the memories Sir”
– S/Sgt. D, Uys Rhodesian Army, Services Corp, Armements and Instrumentation
This story was documented by Battles and Beers (TM) Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.