National Geographic (March 2006) by National Geographic Society

By National Geographic Society

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With ever-increasing commercial flights in and out of Salisbury Airport, Group Headquarters decided to reduce congestion at the jointly used facilities by moving all Air Force training to Thornhill. Initially this was only possible for piston operations, using existing grass runways. Two years of work during 1956 and 1957 were needed to build a tar macadam runway with taxiways, concrete hard standings and a modern control tower, incorporating radar, before jet training could commence. In line with RAF practice, the RRAF pilot-training scheme was known as a Short Service Unit (SSU).

Without hesitation I stopped the flow of cattle and dived into the tank. When I emerged from the slippery ramp at the far end I was choking and my eyes were burning badly. The horrified herdsmen rushed to me with buckets of clean water, which they splashed on my face and poured all over my sodden clothing. When I regained control of my sight and caught my breath I went to the stunned old man and demanded his whip. This he gave me, then stood back expecting to be lashed. I smiled and handed the whip back before running off as fast as I could to a nearby dam to clean myself in an attempt to stop the awful burning that was consuming me from my head to my toes.

However, in 1914 at the outbreak of the Great War in Europe, the Rhodesia Regiment was re-established. It served with distinction and remained in force until it was again disbanded in 1920. A Territorial Force was formed in 1927 with 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Rhodesia Regiment based at Salisbury and Bulawayo. At the outbreak of World War II in 1939 the regular members of these battalions, together with a disproportionately large component of volunteers, were absorbed into British units in many theatres.

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