Orders, Decorations, Medals and Militaria (9 & 10 May 2018)

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Date of Auction: 9th & 10th May 2018

Sold for £7,500

Estimate: £6,000 - £8,000

An extremely rare and important Silver Cross of Rhodesia group of four awarded to Sergeant, later Major, Martin Chikondo, a ‘Selous Scouts legend in the art of close-in reconnaissance,’ who was one of the early pioneers of the Selous Scouts and pseudo-warfare. He helped Reid-Daly implement his initial training programme and selection course for the Selous Scouts, prior to being one of the original members of the Recce Troop, Selous Scouts, with his mentor Chris Schulenburg.

Chikondo ‘had carried out countless missions deep in enemy territory with the master of close recce Captain Chris Schulenburg’, and accounted for innumerable terrorists during those missions and earlier operations for the Selous Scouts. Well versed in ‘long-range external reconnaissance operations in the form of two-man call signs, covering approximately 200 kilometres into enemy territory; introducing and executing last-light as well as night free-fall operations, using a separate provisions box under its own parachute; using World War II techniques for train derailments by command detonation, with slab as well as plastic explosives; external enemy telephone-line tapping; enemy target marking by the use of flares for off-set night bombing; and waterborne operations’, Chikondo went on to gain a commission and make the crossover into the army of Zimbabwe after the change of government in 1980.

Once again a pioneer, Chikondo was one of the first officers of the newly formed Zimbabwe Parachute Battalion. Subsequently serving with those he had fought against, despite most of the Selous Scouts moving en masse to South Africa with the change of regime, he went on to serve with distinction until his retirement from the Army in 1991.

In February 1991, ‘after all the hazardous missions he had gone through, Chikondo was eventually murdered in Zimbabwe: payback time, I assume.’

Zimbabwe, Independence Medal 1980 (35398); Ten Year Service Medal (781499 Maj Chikondo M.R.); Rhodesia, Silver Cross of Rhodesia (R44579 Cpl. C. Martin); General Service Medal (R44579 Pte Martin), mounted for wear, suspension loose on last, otherwise generally very fine (4) £6000-8000

Footnote

The Silver Cross of Rhodesia was awarded on just 30 occasions, and the official citation given in the General Order of 13 September 1974 for Martin Chikondo, Selous Scouts, states:

‘For conspicuous gallantry and leadership in action. During anti-terrorist operations in the north eastern Border area, Corporal Martin, commander of a small patrol of men, was involved in numerous successful engagements with the terrorists. In a number of these encounters, whilst seeking out the enemy at night, Corporal Martin and his men have come under heavy enemy fire at close range whilst in unfavourable positions. On three such occasions Corporal Martin, with complete disregard for his own safety and showing a high degree of personal gallantry, leadership and tactical skill, was able to extricate his men, without loss, from most precarious positions to more favourable ground, where he quickly re-organised his men and remaining perfectly cool, turned what could have been disastrous situations to his advantage, killing a number of terrorists and capturing quantities of arms and equipment. Corporal Martin’s successes have been directly attributable to his acts of personal courage, determined leadership and tactical skill, which have been an inspiration to his men and his unit.’

The original recommendation states:

‘Corporal Martin Chikondo volunteered for operational tracking duties in the north eastern border area in 1973. In September Chikondo was in command of a section of men attempting to locate a group of some four to five terrorists. After making suitable arrangements with the local terrorist contact man, a meeting was arranged for the following night. At the appointed time Chikondo and four others approached the kraal and were met by the contact man who then called the terrorists. As the terrorists approached the group they became suspicious and opened fire. Chikondo, although under heavy fire from close range and with complete disregard for his own safety, immediately opened fire. Under cover of his own and his machine-gunner’s fire, he was able to extricate his men from the open area to a more favourable position. He quickly regained control of his men and saturated the contact area with fire. Later it was discovered that two terrorists had been killed, one of the terrorists being a section leader. As a result of this contact and subsequent interrogation of locals involved much valuable information in respect of terrorist presence in the area was obtained.

In October 1973 Chikondo was once again in command of a small patrol attempting to make contact with a group of approximately ten terrorists. A suitable rendezvous was arranged for the following night. At the appointed time Chikondo quite brazenly approached the terrorists to make verbal contact and attempt to lure them into the planned killing ground. However the terrorists became extremely suspicious and Chikondo, with complete disregard for his own safety and showing a high degree of personal gallantry, opened fire killing two terrorists and wounding one other. Several weapons and other equipment were recovered. Later that same day the captured terrorist indicated a terrorist base. In the ensuing contact security forces eliminated a gang leader and wounded two others.

In November 1973 Chikondo was in command of a patrol trying to locate a group of terrorists. As he approached the rendezvous the terrorist leader came out of the thick bush to meet him. During the initial conversation Chikondo saw a further terrorist nearby with a machine gun trained on him. Realising he was in fact in an ambush he opened fire killing the terrorist leader. The patrol immediately came under heavy fire from close range. Remaining perfectly cool and using his tactical skill to the best advantage, Chikondo extricated his men, without casualty, from a most precarious position. During all these actions Chikondo displayed great personal gallantry, outstanding leadership and devotion to duty far beyond the call of normal operational requirements.’

Martin Rogers Chikondo enlisted in the 1st Rhodesian African Rifles in March 1970. Having advanced to Lance-Corporal, he was one of the early pioneers of the Selous Scouts, and pseudo warfare. On 18 October 1973, Chikondo took part in an operation as part of an African pseudo team complemented by two former National Parks officers (Mike Bromwich and Robin Hughes), which was to have fatal consequences for one of them:

‘After some intensive training by Stretch Franklin and Andre Rabie in pseudo work both Robin and Mike were inserted, along with Basil Moss’s African pseudo team into the heavily infiltrated Chiweshe Tribal Trust Land which was to be their operational area.

“When it was completely dark we [Mike Bromwich’s narrative] moved off in file towards the contact’s village, Robin and I towards the back with an African soldier bringing up the rear. This was normal procedure and afforded the white element of the team protection from any undue surprises of locals. With the village being on high ground it was not long before we could make out the prominent feature; finding cover to cache our packs proved to be difficult in the open and overgrazed land. About half a kilometre from the target area we finally settled on a small patch of scrub where, once everything had been hidden, we gathered around for a final briefing from Robin.

The approach was slow and cautious; particular care was taken some hundred metres out as we moved towards the cattle kraal which was partially hidden by a few trees and a stone wall. We were actually walking on a path of sorts to the village. With the stone wall providing us with good cover from the side and one possible access route, the log cattle kraal protecting our back, and the village some fifty metres to our right on flat high ground, we had only our front to watch. As planned Medhu, the RPD gunner, Robin and I positioned ourselves with our backs against the cattle kraal about a metre apart with weapons resting across our outstretched legs. As the three of us settled down Corporal Martin Chikondo together with the four remaining members of the group made their way up the ‘ruware’ (big granite rock) and into the village; for a while we could hear talking and then only the odd muffled voice.

Out of nowhere there was a sound of shoe scuffling the ground and then to our front, out in the open, some three or four paces from where we sat a group of men appeared. The split-second warning enabled us to raise our weapons and for a moment it would seem our presence in the shadows would go unnoticed. This was not to be and I don’t know exactly what happened other than the fact that they stopped and bunched up and enquired in the vernacular as to who we were. Medhu responded and then, using the known passwords, challenged the group to identify themselves.

Immediately the correct response was given Robin, Medhu and I opened fire on full automatic. Screams penetrated the noise of gun fire and we knew there was at least one wounded terrorist a few metres from our position. I was a little night blind from the muzzle flashes when someone grabbed me by the shoulder and pulled me up saying, ‘Come on.’ As we ran towards and over the bodies I fired two or three short bursts into those lying on the ground.

As we started to move away gunfire erupted and we were fired on from the back some thirty to forty metres behind the wall. I crouched down and found Medhu at my side without his weapon; somewhere along the line he had dropped his machine gun. I cannot recall Martin or any of his team opening fire but someone threw a white phosphorus grenade setting alight a number of huts and, with the flames spreading, the whole area was lit up.

I later learnt that Martin and possibly one other had bayoneted the contact man and perhaps one or two others.’ (Selous Scouts, The Men Speak by J. Pittaway refers)

Robinson had been killed, whilst the remainder of the party, including Martin Chikondo, made it back to the RV. They had managed to kill five terrorists and capture a wounded man.

Selous Scouts - Selection

Martin Chikondo was part of Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Reid-Daly’s initial training programme for the Selous Scouts, as the latter relates:

‘My next battle was about to begin. The commanding officer of the RAR, whom I found a pig-headed, unpleasant individual, did his utmost to hinder my efforts to recruit from his battalion. Eventually I sought an interview with him, and told him that if he continued his obstructionist tactics, I would have no alternative but to advise General Walls, whose orders I was following, about his behaviour. This effectively silenced his bluster and we commenced our recruiting.

I devised a selection course that, although tough, was nowhere near as difficult as the later course, due to the experience we gained. The course commenced with about 120 African volunteers and eight Europeans. As expected, there was a very large percentage of failures but the survivors were in sufficient numbers to form 2 Troop. A troop comprised three sections of eight men. This fitted not only our orbat as laid down by army HQ (each section comprised two 4-men tracker teams) but it coincidentally fitted an insurgent section, which varied from eight to twelve men.

These men were moved to a bush camp modelled on a typical insurgent camp. Intensive training on how to operate as pseudo-insurgents took place under the expert direction of Franklin, Moss, Martin Chikondo, Rabson Maposa (Chipfeni) and some turned insurgents. As I explained to the troop before they started the course, they would have to become better insurgents than the real insurgents because their very lives were going to dependant on this.

Operating as a pseudo did not simply mean painting oneself black (in the case of the Europeans) dressing in insurgent kit and equipment, and sallying forth into the tribal areas carrying insurgent weapons. The insurgents did not have any sophisticated means of communication with their commanders, who generally remained in the safe environs of Mozambique, or Zambia. So in order to preserve their security, they developed a system of command and control which was very difficult to penetrate. Areas selected to become their operational areas were first infiltrated by a small group, led by a political commissar, who would tour the area and subvert the tribesmen. Chiefs, sub-chiefs, and kraal heads were given particular attention.’ (Ibid)

Mike Bromwich recalled another pseudo-operation which he undertook with Martin Chikondo later in September 1973:

‘The last of my pseudo-deployments was again with Basil Moss and out of Mukumbura into Mozambique. We were to walk back into Rhodesia posing as a new group of fighters entering the country. As only one helicopter was available it took three round trips of about forty minutes each to get eight rather heavily laden individuals onto the ground. Adding to our weight this trip were two doctored landmines which we wished to dispose of. Basil and I blacked up quickly before moving off.... An hour or so after last light we crossed the border and made our way inland...

On the fourth day following up on scraps of information we visited a village and learnt of another group in the neighbourhood. After establishing our credentials an approach was made to meet up with the comrades... Early the next morning we positioned ourselves on a slight rise at the edge of our camp and patiently waited for the group. It was warming up when two men from the village came into sight. Martin went forward and spoke to them. There had been a change in plans; we were now to go to their base. This was unexpected and took the initiative away from us. Out of sight of the locals we talked this over and agreed to meet the group on their own terms. Fully kitted up we moved out and followed the two; as usual Basil and I were towards the back with an RPD gunner bringing up the rear.

We walked a fair distance; most of the ground was typical Trust Land, open and almost devoid of cover. Tagged behind the contact men the pseudo-team was spread out over about a hundred metres. We certainly had no idea where we were going. As Martin drew level with a thick bunch of scrub, the only decent cover for miles, a terrorist holding an AK stepped out of the bush and walked towards him. A few paces away he raised the rifle way above his head in some sort of greeting or salute. It was at this point Martin shot him.

Immediately gunfire emanated from bushes and bullets began whistling around. Caught out in the open Martin wisely shouted for the group to withdraw. Under covering fire the first three or four operators ran some distance for a group of trees some 300 metres to the left of our line of approach before dropping to the ground and giving covering fire to the next chaps to withdraw. They had not moved far when there was a cry and our lead RPD gunner went down. Without hesitation Martin and another turned and ran back about fifty metres to the wounded man, picking him and his RPD up before turning around and beginning their run for the trees. It was a remarkable act of bravery. The remainder of the withdrawal was all textbook stuff under covering fire.’ (Ibid)

Recce Troop - Schulenburg and Chikondo, a perfect match.

Martin Chikondo was a founding member of the Recce Troop in the Selous Scouts, set up by Chris Schulenburg and Dave Scales both ex Rhodesian SAS. In 1976, as Scales relates, ‘the modus operandi was to do SAS external reconnaissance operations within the Selous Scouts, which were rather different from the pseudo-operations the unit developed.

The classic four-man call signs as adopted by the Rhodesian SAS would not be used in the new Recce Troop as Schulie considered that it would be better to have a smaller two-man call sign consisting of one ES [European soldier] and one AS [African soldier]. This call sign would be more secure and clandestine and have greater mobility. When lying up in a hide, camouflage and concealment would be easier and each man’s culture would also complement the other. One of the major disadvantages of having only two soldiers was that sharing the load of ammunition, explosives, radio, medical equipment, rations and water meant that we had to carry huge weights. The first operation was done by Schulie and Sergeant Hungwe, and the concept worked.

During 1976 there was a movement with the AS call sign members between the different call signs, but it wasn’t long before Recce Troop settled down with Warraker and I as members of call sing 0W, Schulie and Sergeant Mpofu in call sign W1 and Callow [Lieutenant ex SAS] and Sergeant Chikondo in call sign W2.

Infiltration into operational areas was by HALO or static-line parachuting approximately fifteen kilometres from the target area, on foot or via the trusty Alouette III helicopter, with exfiltration on foot followed by an uplift by helicopter.... Drops were normally done at last light, which was around 7pm with or without a full moon, thus providing the free-fallers with a horizon to work on....

During and after 1977 the structure consisted Kriel [the Troop Commander brought in to replace Major Warraker after his death] and me as call sign 74; Schulie and Chikondo as call sign 55; Callow and Corporal Mlambo as call sign 44 and Mpofu and Sergeant Gartner as call sign 77.

Some operations undertaken by Recce Troop have been mentioned in previous Selous Scot books. However, what has never been discussed is how Reece Troop made a difference in the Selous Scouts. Because we were free to think laterally, we were able to be innovative. The special contributions made by Recce Troop include long-range external reconnaissance operations in the form of two-man call signs, covering approximately 200 kilometres into enemy territory; introducing and executing last-light as well as night free-fall operations, using a separate provisions box under its own parachute; using World War II techniques for train derailments by command detonation, with slab as well as plastic explosives; external enemy telephone-line tapping; enemy target marking by the use of flares for off-set night bombing; and waterborne operations....

Although the main operators were from the SAS, we were all exceptionally proud to have served within the Selous Scouts. The only difference was that ex-SAS operators continued to wear the SAS parachute wings. The main members of the original call sign left by early 1979 and a new Recce Troop was formed.... For a small group of men at the end of the war the medal count was impressive: one GCV, four SCRs and one OLM.’ (Ibid)

Zimbabwe Parachute Battalion, and an untimely end.

Having advanced to Sergeant, Chikondo went for an officer’s potential course at the School of Infantry at Gweru in 1978. On passing out he was commissioned Lieutenant, and in 1980, despite the change in regime, was posted as a founding officer of the newly formed Zimbabwe Parachute Battalion. The commanding officer of this new unit, Lieutenant-Colonel Brian Robinson, reflected on that volatile time:

‘Concurrent with the above activities and in conjunction with the South African government, a political decision had been taken to move the Selous Scouts unit to South Africa en bloc. It was no secret that the incoming government would seek to avenge itself on the unit whose pseudo-operations throughout the conflict had created havoc amongst its guerilla fighters.

My final posting in the Zimbabwe National Army was that of Commanding Officer of the 4th Bn (Holding Unit) RAR, the new name of the Selous Scouts. This would later become the Zimbabwe Para Battalion then the Zimbabwe Para Group. Much to my amazement a large body of the former Selous Scouts had opted to remain in Zimbabwe and take their chances with the new government. My job was to create this unit and be part of the proposed scheme to integrate Selous Scouts and guerilla fighters. I had no wish to consort with the enemy so undertook this task with great reluctance.... In accordance with military convention I was to do a handover/takeover of the regiment....

During this unpleasant administrative period I was offered the opportunity of travelling to the UK to give a series of presentations to the British Parachute Brigade. I undertook this jolly with some enthusiasm.

Lieutenant Martin Chikondo had become a Selous Scouts legend in the art of close-in reconnaissance. He had carried out countless missions deep in enemy territory with the master of close recce Captain Chris Schulenburg. He was to accompany me. Chikondo was a very respectful young man with a great deal of operational experience.

After overcoming a minor logistical problem at the airport with Chikondo losing his boarding pass, we finally got the trip under way. I recall the excitement of his wife and family who had come all the way to the airport to bid him farewell. He had never been out of Zimbabwe before so this was the start of a huge adventure. As we dined, he watched every move I made at the table to be sure he chose the proper eating utensil. Salisbury airport to Heathrow was an interesting transition for him.

It gave me great pleasure to describe the advances we had made in several aspects of guerilla warfare. This included an almost total disregard for outdated operational parachuting regulations and precautions. The look of disbelief on the faces of the audience indicated they thought we were having them on. They were stunned to hear how Chikondo and his mentor Schulenburg would set about a HALO two-man parachute entry, deep in enemy territory. Thereafter they would split and operate as individuals. I resisted giving my honest opinion on the tactical wisdom of a two-man recce and decided rather to bask in Chikondo’s glory. I really do not think the Brits believed us.

I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of sharing his adventure. The person who should have travelled with Chikondo was his partner, Schulenburg. However, Chris had already departed for South Africa so I was just a convenient stand-in. After all the hazardous missions he had gone through, Chikondo was eventually murdered in Zimbabwe: payback time, I assume.’ (Ibid)

Chikondo spent six years with the Zimbabwe Parachute Battalion before being posted to the Llewellin Barracks on the formation of 6 Brigade. He advanced to Major and returned to what was now called Para Group, with whom he was the Officer Commanding of the Training Depot.

Chikondo retired from the army in 1991, and joined the Fawcet Security Company where it was recorded in official records that he was accidentally killed by a fellow member of that organisation. He died of a gunshot wound at Harare Central Hospital, 17 February 1991.

Major Chikondo, as befitting of his status within the Selous Scouts history, is mentioned and appears in photographs in many publications including Pamwe Chete, The Legends of the Selous Scouts by Lieutenant-Colonel R. F. Reid-Daly. He also appears on the front cover with Warrant Officer Dennis Croukamp, of the latter’s book The Bush War in Rhodesia.

Sold with the following related original items: Government House letter of congratulations on the occasion of the award of the Silver Cross of Rhodesia, signed by the President, and dated 2 September 1974; named Zimbabwe Military Academy Company Commanders Course Certificate, dated 29 January 1984 - 25 May 1984; Record of Service, stamped Chief Clerk HQ First (Zimbabwe) Parachute Group, dated 12 September 1998; Carbon copy of standing orders for recipient as Captain, Officer Commanding Training Wing 1 (Zimbabwe) Infantry Training Depot, dated 26 July 1982; 2 sets of orders regarding pre-parachute training schedules, signed by recipient in his capacity as Officer Commanding Training Depot, Headquarters Parachute Group, dated 28 February 1989 and 20 April 1989 respectively; certified true copy of original Outward Bound Mountain School, Melsetter, Confidential Report on recipient, dated 22 February - 16 March 1973; four photographs of recipient in uniform, from various stages of career and other copied research.