Rhodesia’s 9/11.. a Memorial Service for Umniati

12th February 1979, flight RH 827, a remembrance day for those that lost their lives.

A monument nestled among the acacia, remembering those that lost their lives in two ungodly like acts of terrorism, committed against innocent civilians in the then Rhodesia. Two civilian Viscounts, manned by highly trained people, transporting those that felt at ease, home to loved ones.


A few survived the first atrocity, did they expect to hear a condemnation from the rest of the world? Of this I’m sure I’m right, they did. Did they hear the slightest word? No, they had to sit and witness the leader of the political party being allowed to smile and brag of his success on the TV. This hosted by the very country that enjoyed the assistance of fighting men whom aided them in their war against Germany.

The deed, committed by those that thought the war would end by changing their format of attack, lost their own lives by the hands of the dedicated elite, sent out to track them.

Should the lives lost in the ensuing crashes be remembered in any other way than that of a monument in their memory? Should they be remembered differently from all the others who lost their lives either in battle or as casualties of war? No, but this monument acts to reminder us of those that lost their lives, trying to make a better country for its citizens.


A war of peace, one to bring a country wrought with ideals of power sharing, such as to suit all its citizens. Condemned to have to fight for what was right because politicians in other countries, including their own mother country, felt differently. A country, their mother country had claimed as their own, without thought or compensation to the occupants so many years ago, Rhodes the hero for acquiring it. Who was right?

The war was lost, and the result is there for all to see, a country once blessed with prosperity, now a doyen of how not to do things. A poor country where nearly 50% unemployed, staring starvation in the eye. A country where those that do not agree with the reigning power lose their lives, “agree to vote for the power of the country”, or suffer the consequences. Is this what third world countries envisaged when they pressurised the Rhodesian Government into submission? Is this what they thought the result would be?

Well the crowds gathered at the Monument again today, to remember those that went down in the second Viscount. It was blown out of the sky by a sam7 missile, fired by the enemy, without a care or thought as to who might be aboard. 59 died that day, the 12th February 1979, all civilians, we shall remember them…

The Benoni High School Pipe Band and Choir, aided the crowd by singing the two hymns “Amazing Grace” and “Abide with me”. The Emcee was the ever chirpy Mike Westcott, and the service was led by Lt Col The Rev. Bill Dodgen.



The Choir sang…………


And the Pipe band played….



The drums were beaten … raising the blood pressure in all that listened and remembered.. that day so many years ago…



The service was ended with the laying of wreaths…..





And the roll of names… WE WILL REMEMBER….

Rhodesian Memorial 153

A short sample of what we had to listen to… wonderful…

44 thoughts on “Rhodesia’s 9/11.. a Memorial Service for Umniati

  1. Pingback: Malaysian Flight MH17 Is Not The First Civil Aircraft That Got Shot Down. Check Out These Tragic Unfortunately Shot-down Civil Airplanes In Civil Aviation History. | Thedailytop.com

  2. Another thing that really annoys me is that the Rhodesians that served, my father included, and died for the British in World War ll, are not even mentioned each year at the laying of the wreaths at the Cenotaph. My father was away for five years and did not see me till I was four years old. I still have the original of the “Deafening Silence” after VP-WAS went down, recorded in the Cathedral, by Reverend John de Costa. What a sad day that was.

    • It really does… and I think as one gets older we realise just how senseless it all seems to be… the fighting going on all over the world… is it really achieving anything???

  3. Brings back so many memories of the five crerw on board. Ian Dempsey, was also a crew member but not operating that flight, but boarded the flight at the very last minute. He and Kathy Craig-Smith ( one of the hosties operating) were to be engaged shortly, perhaps a good thing they went together. Quite amazing how few people round the world knew anything about these terrible incidents. Glad it has been brought to many more peoples attention. Can still remember Nkomo laughing on TV about his evil act!

    • Betty thanks again for visiting and given us all a bit more info than we knew…I am going to paste a statement I’ve just received through the post/email that was too late to include in the post…
      U.K. PARLIAMENT – 5th FEBRUARY 2013


      • Session: 2012-13
      • Date tabled: 05.02.2013
      • Primary sponsor: Hoey, Kate
      • Sponsors:
      o Bellingham, Henry
      That this House notes that 12 February 2013 will mark the 34th anniversary of the shooting down of Air Rhodesia Viscount Flight RH827 (the Umniati) by members of the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army (ZIPRA) in the former Rhodesia resulting in the death of all on board; further notes that this was the second such shooting down of civilian airliners by ZIPRA and followed the shooting down of Air Rhodesia Flight RH825 (the Hunyani) by the same means on 3 September 1978; further notes that the 107 victims comprised civilian men, women and children, some of whom survived the crash of the Hunyani and were subsequently murdered on the ground by bayoneting and shooting; further notes that the victims included citizens from Switzerland, Scotland, Belgium, New Zealand, the UK and South Africa; recalls that the failure to officially condemn these atrocities, as articulated in the sermon by the late Very Reverend John da Costa known as The Deafening Silence, was an act of moral cowardice and deplores such failure; and commends the work done by Keith Nell and his Viscount Down Team to ensure that these atrocities are not forgotten and their ongoing efforts to alleviate suffering amongst the pensioner community of Zimbabwe.

  4. Wonderful respectful tribute …. I should have remember this – was old enough, but I don’t so thanks for reminding me. We lost 526 Swedes in the Tsunami – something that hits a country hard … and we had a ferry catastrophe 521 Swedes onboard and 501 of them died. So I understand the impact this have. Thanks for sharing and for me to think about how easy life can be taken.

    • The horrors of war should be forgotten, yet how can one forget the happenings of the past.? Viveka in today’s world, with the media we now have, we are all made aware of whats happening on the other side of the world when it is happening… in those days it was not so.. I wonder even if the 6 Belgians, 6 New Zealands, 1 Swiss and 6 or 7 from the United Kingdom where even reported in their own countries, or did their passing go over quietly on the middle pages of the local newspapers?? .. One thing we do know is that Britain didn’t even condemn the atrocity even though their own citizens lost their lives in the incident… What does that say about the Government of that time..??

      • To be honest with you – I think the UK media is more interested in writing about Posh and David Beckham, then in ordinary people’s faith – because they sell. I’m sure the press had it on their front page in a day or two .. after that it all forgotten.
        The thing is that there is so much shit happening all the time too – 7 lives in air crash just disappear. War has become an everyday thing for us .. and we read about it and move on to something else. Terrible, but we have become blasé – I also think about all the men and women that has died in wars that isn’t really theirs.

        • Viveka.. you hit the nail on the head… because of news coverage we have become just that …blasé… it all now just flows through the mind without bothering to stop and be analysed…

          • That’s why I haven’t bought a newspaper for over 20 years now – first of the news in them are so thin .. and it’s only commericals in them. I watch news once a day – in the morning and also when travelling on our local trains because they show news all the times.

    • Ronnie, I hope that it will, if not end at least slow down in what we see happening every day.. the almost senseless loss of life of soldiers every day all over the world and what for… senseless acts of crime that result in deaths of innocent people… one wonders what is the value of a persons life today, when one reads of people being murdered for a few dollars… senseless…

    • Thank you.. one of those days in history that few know about… I loved what the Archbishop Desmond Tutu said in a message…”Dear Friends, I pray that God has poured the balm of God’s comfort and blessing on your wounded souls and may your dear ones rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen” Now was that not nice…??

  5. I think my first introduction to your blog was in reference to atrocities in Rhodesia, and remarks about the world’s indifference. And I have found the stories shocking. You are correct when you state no one was watching. In the U.S. it was certainly not a world event I was made aware of, and that sickens me. Of course, throughout time, all awareness is painfully selective. I’m deeply touched by this Memorial, and always grateful for posts that instruct me. I still feel amazingly naïve about the larger conflict, but it is my job to learn, BD.

    • Thank you for such a positive comment… the world never had the technology then that it has now… if TV coverage was as good then as it is now… I think the condemnation would have been instantaneous… but that does not excuse the governments at that time that were aware and said nothing… but time is past and it just feels good to remember old friends that lost their lives unnecessarily…

    • Thank you Diana… that was the problem.. in those days the TV was almost non existent… today if your neighbour is murdered in a terrible manner, we will see it on our TV… not so in those days… I remember clearly Americas 9/11.. I nipped home to pick up a book saw it live happening on TV, sat down and saw the second plane fly into the other tower… the world seemed then so small… if it was like that back in the 70’s I think the outcome might have been different…

    • So true Marion… I lost two very good friends on this plane and one on the first that went down… it just seems senseless now.. the war we fought the friends we lost and in the end… for what..

    • Thanks John… a day we that lived there will never forget.. or for that matter the one that happened before it… and all that was gained was their own demise…

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