History of Repulse - History

History of Repulse - History


(Xebee: a. 8 guns)

The xebee Repulse, a lateen-rigged sailing vessel, was built for the Pennsylvania State Navy in the summer of 1775 and was loaned to the Continental Navy in 1777. During the fall of that year she assisted in the defense of Philadelphia, but, after the destruction of Fort Mifflin and the evacuation of Fort Mereer, she was destroyed to prevent her capture by British forces.

The WW2 Sinking of Two Mighty Warships – HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse

On December 8, 1941, the drone of aircraft could be heard over Singapore harbor the war in the Pacific had begun. That evening, two ships went on a daring attack against the Japanese. The battleship HMS Prince of Wales , and the cruiser HMS Repulse set out on what would be their last voyage.

Their commander, Admiral Sir Thomas Spencer Vaughan Phillips, could not stand by while the Royal Air Force and British Army were desperately fighting for their lives against a far superior Japanese force. He hoped that by attacking the rear of the Japanese army coming out of Singora, modern day Songkhla, he could cut their supplies and strand them on the beach. To do so, he selected Force Z, made up of HMS Prince of Wales , HMS Repulse , and four destroyers.

The Prince of Wales was one of the most advanced battleships of the time, with radar-guided firing control, 14-inch guns, and a heavy torpedo belt. She also had a new system called HACS or High Angle Control System, which was a radar targeting system for anti-aircraft guns. It gave the Prince of Wales an incredibly accurate array of anti-aircraft weapons.

The Repulse, on the other hand, was an aging battlecruiser. Launched in 1916 she had had an extensive career during WWI and between the wars. From the start of hostilities in 1939, she had patrolled the Atlantic and underwent multiple refits. When she departed from Singapore on December 8, while still an old man o’ war, she certainly had a fighting chance against a Japanese ship.

Philips, onboard the Prince of Wales, knew he was heading into a hornet’s nest, but believed he would be able to fight his way out and strike a decisive blow. The six ships of Force Z steamed out of Singapore, confident of victory.

From the beginning, mistakes were made. The Prince of Wales’ HACS was not operating properly, due to the heat and humidity of Singapore. It left them with limited air defense. Phillips believed that air power was only a minor threat to his force as at that point no active battleship had ever been sunk by aircraft. At Pearl Harbor, the ships had been docked and were caught off guard. Believing there was no significant threat from the air, Phillips declined the RAF’s offer of fighter cover for his sortie.

HMS Prince of Wales pulling out of Singapore

Within an hour of leaving port at 1710 on the 8th, the small squadron was spotted by Japanese aircraft. News of British battleships leaving Singapore spread quickly among the Japanese navy, and a flotilla of battleships, cruisers, and destroyers was assembled to respond. Both forces came within 9 kilometers of each other, but due to foul weather neither spotted the other, and the Japanese aircraft were not picked up on the Prince of Wales’ radar.

Then a Japanese plane dropped a flare over the cruiser Chokai, mistaking it for the Prince of Wales. The flare was spotted by the British, who thought their location had been discovered, so Phillips ordered the ships back to Singapore. On their return journey, reports came in of the Japanese landing nearby, and Phillips believed there might be an opportunity to recoup some of the failures of his mission.

HMS Repulse pulling out of Singapore

At around 1000 on December 10th, while Phillips was searching for the Japanese landings, the destroyer Tenedos, which had been detached from Force Z, reported she was under attack by Japanese bombers. Unfortunately, though, a lone Japanese scout plane spotted the force near Kuantan and reported their position to the bombers. They broke off their attack on the Tenedos and spread out as they headed north.

G3M Nell bombers began the attacks on Force Z

The Japanese aircraft discovered Force Z at 1113, and eight Nell bombers attacked the Repulse . They scored only one hit and caused no serious damage. The crew was shaken, but their day was not over yet.

Around 1140, seventeen Japanese planes appeared on the horizon, diving down to torpedo height. The British ships pushed forward under a full head of steam, attempting to escape the air attack. Nine planes attacked the Repulse, and eight the Prince of Wales. The battleship’s crew fired at the low flying aircraft, taking one out, and damaging three others.

The high-level bombing on HMS Repulse (lower left)

Despite their efforts, eight torpedoes sped towards the battleship, just below the surface. The captain pushed his engines to their capacity, attempting to escape. Taking evasive maneuvers, he avoided all but one of the deadly weapons.

A massive explosion rocked the port engine room. A torpedo had hit them at the point where their propeller shaft exited the ship, an incredibly lucky shot. The shaft, spinning at maximum speed, tore the damaged gasket which prevented the ship from flooding. Engineers fought the initial flooding and stopped the engine. While they attempted to repair the damage, the Japanese aircraft flew back to base, to report the attack.

G4M Betty bombers were the primary Japanese attackers

Finally, the Prince of Wales’ engineers got the prop up and running again, but as she gained speed, the watertight gasket failed completely. 2,400 tons of water gushed through the prop shaft housing, flooding the compartment. The ship slowed from over 20 knots to 16, grinding almost to a halt. As the flooding spread through her port side, she began listing, tilting by over 11 degrees. All but two of her anti-aircraft guns were out of commission, and her starboard guns could no longer protect her against low flying torpedo bombers.

HMS Prince of Wales as she began listing to port

To compound their problems the Japanese returned at around 1220. Twenty-six Betty torpedo bombers swooped down on the floundering battleship. Another salvo of torpedoes skimmed just below the surface towards the exposed underside of the Prince of Wales . Three more hits rocked the ship, sealing its already tenuous fate.

The Prince of Wales listing heavily. Taken from the deck of the Express

At the same time, torpedo planes attacked the Repulse from both sides. The pincer tactic worked, and the aging cruiser, which had so far dodged nineteen torpedoes, was struck four times in a row. She quickly took on water, and while her crew hopelessly tried to escape their sinking ship, she began to roll. By 1233 she had completely overturned, taking many of her 967 man crew with her.

Survivors from both ships desperately swim towards their rescuers

The Prince of Wales , barely afloat, but still fighting back with her two remaining 5.25-inch anti-aircraft guns, was being bombed. One bomb went through her deck amidships, hitting the makeshift hospital which was treating most of her wounded crew. She began to capsize to port, and HMS Express , a destroyer, came alongside to help offload the survivors. As the ship kept rolling, her bilge keel scraped along the destroyer’s side, almost taking her down as well.

The Prince of Wales’s crew desperately tries to escape onto HMS Express before the ship is forced to pull away

By 1320 both the Repulse and the Prince of Wales were under water. The Japanese planes turned back to base while the destroyers desperately worked to rescue as many of the crews as possible. In all, over 1,000 crewmen were rescued, but 840 were lost to fire, explosions or the sea.

The Repulse and the Prince of Wales were casualties of the old world’s reliance on large surface fleets. In WWI the submarine had come of age, now less than 30 years later, the airplane ruled the waves. Even if the Prince of Wales’ HACS had worked, the Japanese air attacks would have persisted, and the outcome would likely have been the same.

Save Repulse Bay's important WWII history!

Too much of Hong Kong's WWII history is slipping away from us. It is a subject that is not included in the local school syllabus, and is rarely discussed with the younger generations of Hong Kong. The reason I have chosen the Repulse Bay site specifically is because there are two important pieces of history that are close together, easily accessible, and are in an area that has a large flow of both locals and tourists.

Pillbox 017 is actually on Repulse Bay Beach - most people are not even aware of it's existence! It is currently almost completely buried under the sand, with only the Commander's turret visible. It is on the west side of the beach, next to the giant LCSD storage facility. It is being used as a storage area with total disregard to the importance that it once played in Hong Kong's history. Pillbox 017 is in the picture above - This picture was taken in approx 2005, ten years ago. The bunker is now often covered in building equipment that could cause it damage. I propose the bunker be dug out from beneath the sand, any restoration works needed be done, be cordoned off somewhat and signs erected to educate all on why it is there.

Pillbox 016's Searchlight position is on the promenade between Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay, opposite Middle Island. It is currently shrouded by trees, and is a raised above the promenade, so most people will walk right past without even knowing that it is there. I propose that the trees and ground around the pillbox be taken care of to allow a better viewing and to prevent any further damage to the pillbox, and signs erected to educate all on why it is there.

I also propose that these buildings are given special status to prevent demolition or redevelopment of both sites.

They can both be a valuable tourist attraction and have huge educational value.

Join our Facebook group and see updated pictures of the two sites now, and hopefully in the future too!

Please sign and help us raise awareness of these two gems of WWII history.


The local Inuit people are Aivilingmiut descendants of the ancient Thule people who lived here from 1000 AD to 1600 AD. This unique group of Inuit moved south into Naujaat from the region near present-day Igloolik and Hall Beach. The Melville Peninsula area of Nunavut has been home to indigenous peoples since 2500 BC.

  • Pre-Dorset Culture ('Saqqaq'): 2500 BC to 500 BC
  • Dorset Culture ('Tuniit' or 'Sivullirmiut'): 500 BC to 1500 AD
  • Thule Culture (Proto-Inuit): 1000 AD to 1600 AD
  • Inuit Culture (Eskimo): 1600 AD to present-day

Europeans visited this bay in 1742 when the British explorer Christopher Middleton was searching for the Northwest Passage. The English name ‘Repulse Bay’ is usually attributed to him. When he discovered that the bay was not a viable route to the East Indies, but rather a cul-de-sac, he is claimed to have called it the ‘Bay of Repulse, the bay where I was pushed away.’

Some people speculate that the English name for this place may instead come from an 18th century British ship called the ‘Repulse’ that supposedly also visited this area, but there have been twelve ships in the British Royal Navy called ‘HMS Repulse’ and the 18th century one sank in a hurricane near Bermuda in 1776. Repulse Bay in Hong Kong has the exact same problem with its English name too! To resolve this ongoing friendly dispute here, most locals just chuckle and call the place ‘Naujaat’ instead. Throughout the 1800s it was a popular destination for American and Scottish whalers, employing many local Inuit hunters who worked aboard the whaling vessels and were expert trackers of the bowhead whale migrations.

The Hudson Bay Company opened a fur trading post in Repulse Bay in 1916. A rival fur trading company called Révillon Frères opened another post here in 1923. The Catholic mission was built in 1932. In 1968 the Government of Canada began a major infrastructure program in Repulse Bay that included construction of the Tusarvik School, plus 20 three-bedroom homes for local Inuit people, three staff houses for government employees, a power plant, a warehouse and two enormous fuel storage tanks.

Repulse Bay was once part of the Keewatin region of the Northwest Territories until 1999 when Nunavut was created and this region became known by its Inuktitut name of Kivillaq.

The first permanent station of Royal Canadian Mounted Police was established in 2002. Most residents continue to rely on traditional seal and caribou hunting, fishing, trapping and carving for their livelihood. Tourism is increasingly popular here and mining exploration is also taking place nowadays.

Visual materials in the Archives do not circulate and must be viewed in the Society's Archives Research Room.

For the purposes of a bibliography entry or footnote, follow this model:

Wisconsin Historical Society Citation Wisconsin Historical Society, Creator, Title, Image ID. Viewed online at (copy and paste image page link). Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research Citation Wisconsin Center for Film and Theater Research, Creator, Title, Image ID. Viewed online at (copy and paste image page link).

A Brief Operational History of the Campaign in Rhodesia1964 - 1978

This was originally compiled as a briefing for VIPs and Visitors in the first person. It has now been revised into the 3rd person, but is otherwise as originally written.

Events are dealt with chronologically to indicate the build up of the terrorist threat.


In 1964 there were three acts of terrorism committed in Rhodesia:

In the Plumtree area (Southwestst of Bulowayo) a white farmer heard his dogs barking one night and went out with a torch and a pistol to be confronted by a group of some seven terrorists. He fired a couple of shots at them and they fled into Botswana where they were arrested and held in prison for some considerable time before being repatriated to Zambia. Most of this gang were subsequently killed in operations some years later.

A Peugeot crossing at Victoria Falls bridge was found, on a routine Customs inspection, to have its boot stuffed with plastic explosives. The occupants were a Russian trained sabotage group tasked with a mission of sabotage in Bulawayo.

A Zimbabwe African Nationalist Union (ZANU) group, (ZANU was then under the leadership of Ndabaningi Sithole), were sent down into the Chipinga area (near the eastern border of Rhodesia) where they carried out the first proper act of terrorism, when they ambushed a Mr and Mrs Oberholtzer and family one night on the main road. The killed Mr Oberholtzer and tried to set his body and car alight in front of the family. However, they were driven off by the arrival of another car on the scene. Most of this gang were subsequently eliminated in follow-up operations.

During 1964 besides these three acts of terrorism, there was a great deal of political in-fighting amongst the black nationalists within Rhodesia. Joshua Nkomo for a long time the only Nationalist leader of any stature, had a revolt within his his own party. Sithole broke away from the Zimbabwe African Peoples Union (ZAPU) and created ZANU thereby effectively dividing the blacks of Rhodesia into two camps, namely, the Ndebele (the main tribe occupying the southern and Western part of the country) element supporting Nkomo's ZAPU and the Shona (the main tribe occupying the Northern part of the country) element supporting Sithole's ZANU. Most of the problems in arriving at any internal settlement have resulted from this split which resulted in considerable intimidation, murders, petrol bombings and acts of political violence in the urban townships of Salisbury and Bulawayo. This eventually led to the banning of both parties and the incarceration of most of the political leaders in detention. From 1964 to1974 Nkomo, Sithole, Mugabe, Chinamano and a host of other Nationalist leaders were removed from the political scene. This heralded a period of development, progress and peace within the townships which was only disrupted in 1972 with the arrival of the Pearce Commission and the emergence of Bishop Abel Muzorewa as the only Nationalist of any standing who was not in detention. We saw here the creation of the African National Council (ANC) as the internal wing of the external banned movements.

1965 was a very peaceful year. There were no acts of terrorism and Rhodesia declared its independence which, contrary to international beliefs, was a storm in a teacup and no acts of aggression were committed against Rhodesia during the period of declaration.

In April 1966 a gang of seven terrorists crossed the Zambezi and made their way to the area of Sinoia (in the North East of the country) where they were contacted by Police and all were killed. In that same month another group made their way into the Hartley area where they murdered a Mr and Mrs Viljoen in front of their three year old son. This gang was tracked down over a period of months and the last surviving member of that gang was killed attempting to cross the Zambezi at Kanyemba on the Northern border of the country). Two other minor incursions took place which were speedily eliminated.

In the first half of 1967 some small incursions took place West of Lake Kariba and East of Lake Kariba all of which were easily dealt with. However, 1967 is highly significant. In August 1967 a group of 90 terrorists comprising half ZAPU and half SAANC entered Rhodesia East of Victoria Falls. Their intention was to move into the Tjolotjo Tribal Trust Land (TTL) and establish bases for the recruiting and training of terrorists within Rhodesia. Once the Rhodesian element was secured the South African terrorists intended to move through Botswana and head for Soweto. However, their presence was speedily detected. In the first major operation of this war 47 of that group were killed within the first three weeks. In excess of 20 were captured and the remnants, many of whom were wounded, escaped into Botswana where they were imprisoned and subsequently released to Zambia. The ramifications of this incursion were many:

a. By the involvement of South African terrorists in Rhodesia's war, Prime Minister John Vorster was able to dispatch South African Police contingents to assist Rhodesia in what was termed border control, namely the patrolling of the Zambezi to prevent incursions by South African or Rhodesian terrorists into Rhodesia.

b. In the actions of August/September 1967 Rhodesia lost their first men killed in action in Rhodesia since the Mashona and Matabele rebellions of 1896/1897.

c. The terrorists had adopted a tactic which they were to continue to their detriment, namely, they crossed in large numbers in inhospitable areas and moved through uninhabited terrain. This was a grave error on their part as their presence was easily detected particularly when they moved into the Wankie National Park.

In March 1968 a further large scale crossing tot place in the Zambezi Valley along the Chewoi river. 123 terrorists of the same affiliation, nearly half ZAPU half SAANC, crossed over a period of weeks. Their presence was undetected. Because of heavy rains that year patrolling in that area was sparse. The terrorists were able to establish chain of bases stretching from the Zambezi river through the valley towards the escarpment. Their intention was to proceed into the European farming areas and recruit and train within Rhodesia. Again, once the Rhodesian terrorists were established, the South African element were to move through the country to Soweto. This course was a grandiose plan which had no chance of success. A game ranger on a routine patrol detected the "four-lane" highway created by movement of this large number of terroris backwards and forwards conveying supplies inland, and a large scale operation was mounted. Within a matter of weeks 69 terrorists he been killed and a large number captured. The remnants fled back across the Zambezi. Again, this operation had important overtones.

a. It reinforced Prime Minister Vorster's stance that if Rhodesia was to be used as a spring-board for attacks by SAANC terrorists again South Africa, then he was legally embowered to deploy South African policemen to assist us. Therefore, in mid 1968 further contingens of South African policemen were sent up assist Rhodesia.

b. The terrorists did learn from this operation not to commit their forces in large numbers remote areas, although it did take a while for this to sink in.

c. It effectively blooded the Rhodesian Army, but may have had a disadvantage in that this operation and subsequent ones, all of which were highly successful, led to an air of complacency amongst the Rhodesian public, namely, that we were so superior to the terrorists that we could deal with any terrorist threat that might develop in the future.

An example of our superiority was in July 1968 when a gang of 30 terrorists crossed the Zambezi just below the Kariba George. One member of that gang, a Rhodesian African who had been working in Lusaka, had been press-ganged into going for terrorist training in Tanzania. He had tried to desert on a number of occasions but only successfully achieved his aim the night the terrorists crossed into Rhodesia. He ran all the way to the Chirundu Police Station where he reported the crossing. Within 48 hours of the crossing having taken place 25 terrorists had been killed and the remainder captured. A number of smaller incursions did take place during 1968. Again these posed no problems to the Security Forces.

A similar pattern developed of small incursions of ZAPU in the Wankie area and ZANU in the Zambezi Valley area. However, 1969 was a quiet year and posed no problems to the Security Forces.

From 1970 onwards ZAPU played no part in the terrorist war. They were in a state of disarray following their decisive defeats within Rhodesia, and they took the opportunity of consolidating their position by sending their terrorists, outside the country, on extended courses to Russia, Cuba and North Korea. This situation as regards ZAPU continued until 1976. ZANU also took time out to rethink the tactical lessons that they had learnt. At this time, there was increasing Chinese Communist influence with ZANU and a number of ZANU commanders spent a long time in Peking indergoing training. The most significant development was that ZANU learnt the lessons of Mao Tse Tung namely, that it was pointless to Operate in remote areas without the support of the local population. They learnt the true art of guerilla warfare, namely, to move amongst the people like fish ib water. There were no incursions in 1970 worthy of note.

ZANU started to put its new operating policy into effect but on a very small scale. They started infiltrating the north-east of Rhodesia through Mozambique but had ill-prepared the ground and those incursions were again easily detected and eliminated. They were, however, significant in that they were the forerunner of things to come. The the North-Eastern area, predominantly occupied by the Kore Kore people who have always been anit-administration, Zanu started to move in clandestinely. The area was remote and administered by a very small staff. The the rainl seasons, the administrators could not travel to the remote areas and therefore the area was ideal for the terrorists to establish themselves.

At this time the Portuguese were already beginning to loose control ofer the Tete Pedicle and FRELIMO started to operate against the Portuguese with a degree of impunity. Because of the tribal groupings FRELIMO were sympathetic towards ZANU and started to give then assistance in moving through Mozambique into Rhodesia. Therefore, although Special Branch had inklings of what was happening we were unable to prevent ZANU from infiltrating and subverting the Kore Kore people. They found a fertile ground and were able to move a large number of recruits out of the country. On the 21st September 1972 the real war started. Anything proior to that date can be considered as falling into the prepartory phase of guerilla warfare and, as already outlined, no incuirsions to this date posed any major problem to Rhodesia. However, on the 21st December 1972 and attack took place on a farm homestead in the Centenary district in which an eight year old white girl was injured.

This attack was meant to be part of a simultaneous co-ordinated attack on five homesteads but one group had its instructions wrong and attacked 24 hours prematurely. This allowed the Army to get into the area and negate these scheduled attacks. However, it was the start of a whole new ball game. Instead of having the tribesmen willingly coming forward reporting the presence of terrorists, we now had the situation where the terrorists had prepared the ground before an overt act of terrorism took place. Generally speaking, the Kore Kore gave passive support to the terrorists by not reporting their presence and by being unco-operative with Government agencies. Within a matter of weeks, it was realised that the war proper had started as more farm attacks took place and more and more terrorists entered Rhodesia in the North-Eastern area.

Operation HURRICANE started and slowly, mainly because of the complacency outlined earlier, Rhodesia's war machine began to work.

July 1973 saw the first major abduction of schoolchildren by terrorists. St Alberts Mission on the escarpment was attacked by a gang of terrorists who abducted 295 pupils and staff and force - marched them down the escarpment into the Zambezi Valley and north towards Mocambique. Luckily, they were intercepted and all but eight of the abductees were recovered. This was the forerunner of things to come, as since this incident there were many abductions, with thousands of schoolchildren being taken across the borders for terrorist training. Because of the involvement of the Kore Kore, it was rapidly apparent that little could be done without an adequate means of controlling the population. Accordingly, the protected village programme was instituted to divorce the tribesmen away from the terrorist, protect him and deny the terrorist a source of food, intelligence and recruits.


In mid 1974 the first protected village programme was instituted in the Chiweshe Tribal Trust Land (TTL) where 50,000 people were moved in a three-week operation into 21 Protected Villages (PVs). Immediately thereafter the Security Forces moved into the Madziwa TTL and did the same exercise. This effectively drove the terrorists, who were well established in those TTLs, North and the Security Forces started to get the upper hand. By being able to concentrate the entire country's resources in a relatively small area of Rhodesia, it was possible to have large force levels deployed, an improvement in the communication network and the construction of excellent airfields. With the assistance of the South African Police who were mainly engaged in border control along the Zambezi, although a number were involved in hot operations, our kill rate increased considerably. In October and November of 1974 we killed more terrorists than we had killed in the total period from 1972 to October 1974. By the 11th December 1974 it was estimated that there were only 70 terrorists left within Rhodesia. These 70 were of course hard core terrorists and included Rex Nhongo amongst them.

On the 11th December 1974 Rhodesia accepted the South African initiated detente exercise or ceasefire. Militarily,this may have been a mistake. With only 70 left it would have been a matter of weeks, possibly months, before they were totally eliminated. However, the ceasefire was accepted which meant that the SAP were confined to their camps and were not to do anything other than patrol the immediate vicinity of those camps for their own protection. The Rhodesian Security Forces were restricted to non-offensive patrolling. What this meant was that the 70 hard core terrorists were able to move out of Rhodesia with impunity, visiting all kraals en route out, stating that they had won the war and had brought Ian Smith to the negotiating table. It must be added that 11 December 1974 also saw the release of all the Nationalist leaders from detention to engage in talks with the Government. Psychologally, therefore, the Government lost a tremendous amount of face with the Kore Kore people who were influenced by the terrorists and of course with the majority of the law abiding black population of Rhodesia who saw the rabid nationalists being released from detention. It was now known that it is unwise to enter into these sort of negotiations with terrorists unless there are guarantees that they will abide by the rules. For example, on the 16th December 1974, five days after the ceasefire had been accepted a group of terrorists, (under the leadership of one Herbert Shungu subsequently a "top" terrorist training commander last heard of at Tembue base camp) sent an emissary to a South African camp with an invitation to them to come and talk surrender terms. The SAP, somewhat naively, accepted the invitation and were ambushed on the Mazoe high level bridge where six of them were killed. So much for the ceasefire.

April 1974 saw the coup in Portugal take place. It had no immediate effect on Rhodesia because amore Machel took a considerable timeto move South to Maputo. During this period the Security Forces maintained good relations with the local FRELIMO commanders who pledged their support to eliminate ZANU from Mocambique. However, once Machel was safely installed the attitudes rapidly changed. Late 1974 and 1975 there was a faster turn round of terrorist recruits than had previously been possible. They started to be trained in Mocambique and were assisted in their movement by FRELIMO placing vehicles, railways and ships at their disposal.

The terrorist sectorial commanders became disillusioned with the conduct of the war following spectacular Security Force successes in 1974. Very little re-supply or reinforcements were able to enter Rhodesia. In addition they had learned of the political moves taking place in Lusaka. (Chitepo's murder and the vying for power by Tongogara). They therefore left Rhodesia for Chifombo where they collected other dissident leaders and went to Lusaka. In Lusaka they arrested a number of Commanders with the intention of taking them back to Rhodesia to see the mess they were making of the war. However, they missed Tongogara. In late 1974, 250 terrorists passed out of Mugagao. Tongogara took 200 of these with him to Chifombo where he in turn arrested and executed the dissidents. At least 14 hardcore veteran leaders suffered this fate as their bodies were later located. This set terrorist effort back considerably until 1976. We were able to gain the upper hand in 1975 because of the inexperience of the field commanders.


The SAP were totally withdrawn from Rhodesia by August 1975.
The ceasefire was well and truly over when a group of 60 ZANU terrorists infiltrated Rhodesia in mid January. For the rest of 1975 the Rhodesian Security Forces had to regain the psychological and therefore the military, ground that we had lost during the ceasefire period and it was an uphill struggle. However, with the continuing pattern of protected villages and by again concentrating all our resources in one small area, the Security Forces were able to estimate that by December 1975 there were only three groups of 10 terrorists each operating in Rhodesia. However, there was no time for complacency because it was known that there were still large numbers of trained and semi-trained ZANU terrorists outside Rhodesia.

On the 21st January 1976 a crossing of 90 terrorists took place south of Nyamapanda. We contacted that group the morning after they crossed. Four were killed and one was captured. The story he gave us was that they were part of a simultaneous three-pronged assault on Rhodesia. However, their plan did not work in that the second assault in the Melsetter area by 130 terrorists took place some five weeks later and the third assault in the south-easter area took place seven weeks later ie three months after the first assault. This meant we were able to deploy troops accordingly. In February 1976 Operation THRASHER started and in May 1976 operation REPULSE began.

During this perid there was the creation of the Zimbzbwe Peoples Army (ZPA) a so-called amalgamation of ZANLA and ZIPRA under the leadership of an 18-man Central Committee. The Russians now took over a major control of the war in view of the influence they exerted over Mocambique. ZPA never really worked because ZPRA were numerically inferior to ZANLA and of course had not been involved in the war for a number of years. Therefore, we saw the ZANLA terrorists usurping positions of authority and command to the detriment of ZPRA. The effect it had was that in the training camps in Tanzania, namely Mugagao and Morogoro, inter-faction fighting took place. In one of these clashes 400 terrorists were killed and in another 200 suffered the same fate. It had a side effect that when these combined groups normally consisting of eight ZANLA and two ZPRA terrorists, entered Rhodesia, the ZPRA element would desert and head back for their home areas. Of course the same disunity existed throughout the war with the myth of the Patriotic Front.

In mid 1976 therefore there was athe gradual drift of these ZPRA elements through Rhodesia towards Francistown. The more dedicated of them collected recruits as they went through country and committed various acts of terrorism. At this time, ZAPU had been told in no uncertain fashion by the OAU Liberation Committee that unless they took a more active role in the war they were to be cut off from all sources and funds. As a result ZAPU groups led by Russian trained intelligence agents, infiltrating across the Zambezi. This lead to Operation TANGENT being opened in August 1976. The abortive Geneva Conference took place in late 1976. At this meeting the Patriotic Front became the "force to be negotiated with", in the eyes of the British and American Governments.

The pattern of increasing infiltration from Mocambique continued. A number of defensive measures were instituted one of which was to increase the commitment to the protected village programme which has now spread throughout all operational areas. Recruiting for our own Security Forces was increased but during 1977 ZPRA involvement increased with a number of incursions across the Zambezi.

At this time the situation was that ZANLA were pushing West as far as they can possibly go with ZIPRA reacting by trying to move as far East as possible. The intention of both factions was to ensure the maximum number of tribal lands and, thereby the inhabitants, to be under their influence and not that of the opposing factions. This is as a prelude to any election in Rhodesia. Both ZANLA and ZPRA groups had been given instructions to eliminate the opposing factions if they encounter them. Contacts between these groups took place in the Maranda and Belingwe TTLs and the threat of contact was apparent throughout the centre line of Rhodesia. What was being set up here was a forerunner to civil war unless the Rhodesian Security Forces were able to eliminate the threat.


In November 1977, over 100 black Rhodesians were volunteering for duty with the Security Forces per day. It was not possible to handle this number. However, the increase in the size of the Security Forces was mainly by the involvement of black Rhodesians. It was of interest to note the following figures of black participation in our Security Forces:

Repulse at Hastings

The Battle of Hastings occurred on Saturday 14th October 1066, during the failed Norman invasion of the same year, between the Norman-French army of Duke William II of Normandy and the English army under King Harold II. The battle took place at Senlac Hill, near Hastings, and was a decisive English victory.

Duke William himself was crushed under his horse and died sometime in the evening after the Norman attacks had failed. Although there was some local resistance from the remnants of the Norman army that escaped, this battle is seen as the point where Norman power waned and eventually collapsed on the continent.

The battle was very well documented in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles and King Harold went on to found the House of Godwinson that ruled England until 1209 AD. The battle marked the last great invasion of medieval England, but also the beginning of the slow revolution of cavalry and archery integration into the English military culture that would come to fruition under King Harold's immediate successors.

Harold Godwinson had claimed the throne of England after the death of King Edward the Confessor, on January 6th 1066. Although the sources are unclear as to whether the Confessor had verbally appointed Harold his favoured successor, the Witenagemot (the assembly of English nobles) accepted his claim.

At this time there were various claims to the English throne, including that of Duke William II of Normandy. The dead King's great nephew Edgar probably had the greatest pedigree among the contenders, however, he was viewed as too young. Others claims included those of the Norwegian and Swedish Kings (derived from King Cnut).

Duke William II of Normandy claimed that King Edward had appointed him his successor. More seriously for Harold Godwinson, the Duke furthermore claimed that in 1064 AD the then Earl of Wessex has sworn an oath to uphold William's claim to the English throne when the time came. However, others have speculated that Harold would never have sworn such an oath and that even if he had it was under duress and thus void.

The Norman Invasion of England was precipitated by Harold's coronation on the 6th January 1066 AD. Amassing a Norman-French army of approximately 7-8000 men, the Duke landed at Pevensey Bay on the 28th September, facing no opposition.

Meanwhile, King Harold had been dealing with a Viking invasion in the north. Had King Harald Haardrada not invaded England and forced an English march north, the English King would have in all likelihood have remained in the south and met Duke William earlier on the field of battle.

The English army consisted almost entirely of infantry. The nobles usually rode to battle but dismounted to fight. It must also be noted that in the earlier Battle of Stamford Bridge (25th September, 1066 AD) the Norwegian King, Harald Haardrada, had been killed with an arrow in the throat, which may suggest some use of the bow in the English ranks.

Concerning Stamford Bridge, the English King and his nobles had already fought a ferocious battle in the north, sustaining heavy casualties. Almost as important, although there is speculation as to how many of the Fyrd came back southwards with the King, Harold himself must have been exhausted, along with his professional Housecarl units that accompanied him.

The Housecarls were the elite core of the English army, wielding Danish battleaxes, a shield and wearing a mail hauberk and helmet. The Fyrd were a part-time force of men required to serve their lord in war for a set time. They provided their own weapons and armour and formed the majority of the English force that day.

The English commander: King Harold was already a famed and victorious general before Hastings. As the right-hand man of King Edward the Confessor he had subdued the Welsh in 1062-63 by compelling them to present the head of their leader to him, following a two-pronged land and sea campaign against them. Furthermore, Harold Godwinson was even respected by his adversaries, with accounts of his deeds in Normandy indicating that Duke William even made him a knight on campaign with him. Finally, Harold's daring march and surprise attack at Stamford Bridge must be acknowledged as the actions of an organised and brilliant commander.

The Norman-French Army

The invading army was made up of men from across and beyond what is now modern-day France. Normans made up about half of the force, with men also hailing from Flanders, Brittany and the Ile-de-France region. Many minor nobles and mercenaries joined the ranks following the Pope's recognition and support of William's claim. Modern historians speculate that the invasion was viewed as a crusade against a purgered usurper, as well as a chance for land and booty.

Unlike the English army, the invading force was composed of infantry, archers and cavalry. The Norman knights were reckoned the best cavalry of Europe, utilising a lance and sword. Some accounts also indicate use of throwing javelins as an initial weapon. Infantry were somewhat similar to their English counterparts, most probably wielding spears and swords and wearing mail armour.

The battle was unusually long for medieval battles. William began by using his archers in the front rank to ‘soften up’ the English ranks. He then ordered infantry charges, before finally allowing his cavalry to attack the weakened English lines. These tactics were not successful, however, given the shield wall formation and the elevated ground the English were deployed on. The archers failed to have a significant impact on the English front line and the Norman infantry suffered sever losses under barrage of English missiles.

The two lines of infantry met with a clash of arms in bloody hand-to-hand combat. The English stood firm behind their shield wall and the Normans began to falter. Even the powerful Norman cavalry could not break the English lines, and after a time it became clear that the Bretons that comprised the left flank of Duke William’s forces were breaking. Seeing themselves as exposed the Norman and Flemish contingents similarly fled with the Bretons down the hill. Some undisciplined English followed, but not many, as Harold’s brothers Leofwine and Gyrth were able to hold the line and resist pursuit.

In the confusion and chaos of the retreat, the Norman Duke apparently lost control of his steed and was crushed under it as it fell dead. A rumour quickly spread that the Duke was lost and although William’s half-brother Bishop Odo of Bayeux attempted to rally the disheartened men the rout spread as loyal retainers retrieved the bloody Duke from the hill-side. Anglo-Saxon accounts state that the English shouts of ‘Out!’ pierced the air as the invaders scrambled for the bottom of the hill in confusion. Duke William himself was taken to the rear and played no further active role in the fighting.

Meanwhile, Bishop Odo managed to rally the Norman division, as well as remnants of the Flemish men and mounted various charges against the stubborn English ranks. Later in the day, as dusk approached, much of the invading army had either fled or fallen. Odo, with most of the Norman men still present, pressed on defiantly again and again, but was finally cloven in two by an anonymous Housecarl as he led a desperate charge towards King Harold’s banner. Many crossbowmen remained and had been redirected by Odo to fire straight upwards to hit the interior ranks of the English.

Most sources record the famous arrow strike. The King, standing defiant below the Dragon of Wessex, was apparently struck by an arrow as the Normans readied another infantry charge however, a brave companion had apparently been struck dead in the eye with an arrow while the King was struck in the shoulder close-by. Defiantly raising his sword, the Norman charge faltered as it clashed with the English axes, a clear battle-cry of ‘Holy Cross’ filling the air in response to the arrow that missed.

As night fell the Normans retreated. King Harold had been aware that all he had to do was hold the ridge until night-fall. Through the night hundreds and then thousands of reinforcements arrived, swelling the English ranks with fresh men. Meanwhile, Duke William breathed his last around this time and his broken body was spirited away with riders towards the coast. Legend later has it that Matilda, the Duchess of Normandy, awaited her husband’s remains by pacing the coastline. It was around midnight that the King was informed of the wholesale retreat of the invaders. Victory belonged to the Godwinsons.

Only a remnant of the invading army ever made it back to the continent. The mercenary contingents of the Ducal forces were either cut down by pursuing English, killed by hostile locals who thirsted for revenge following the Norman desolation of their lands, or subsequently died of disease as desperate fugitives. The largest remnant, made up primarily of Normans and led by Roger de Beaumont, formally surrendered to Harold on the 16th October, with the promise that they would never set foot on English soil again.

In Normandy: the invaders suffered near annihilation, with the ranks of the Norman nobility being hit disproportionately hard and most of the Ducal companions slain. Following the failed invasion, the Duchess Matilda ruled uneasily as regent in the name of her son Robert. However, the young Duke was assassinated in 1072 AD which prompted the Great Anarchy period and the eventual collapse of the Duchy in 1079 AD and invasion by the forces of the King of France in the same year.

In England: once he received the surrender of the Norman remnant, King Harold disbanded the Fyrd and headed for London where he was hailed as ‘the greatest king who ever ruled’. A special ceremony was held to reconfirm his kingship on Christmas Day, 1066 AD. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Stigand, apparently declared that no man now stood that could challenge King Harold and that God had decisively chosen the House of Godwinson to rule the realm.

The Battle of Hastings was a defining moment in English history for several reasons. Firstly, it cemented the rule of the Godwinsons over England and provided a stabilising effect that eventually enabled King Harold’s successors to fully subjugate Wales and begin colonising Ireland with the powerful English navy in the mid-1100s.

Secondly, Hastings has come to be known as a symbol of stubbornness and bravery against overwhelming odds. King Harold is consistently voted among the greatest English monarchs, chiefly due to his victory on what the French sources bitterly called ‘Senlac’ hill (or ‘the lake of blood’). That he achieved this without archers or cavalry - and after fighting a previous bloody battle at Stamford Bridge just 19 days before - also adds to King Harold’s prestige and legend.

Third and finally, the Battle of Hastings was a shock to the English elite. Almost immediately afterwards the King began ‘modernising’ the professional English army, using Norman exiles to train the first contingents of English knights that began to be seen by the 1090s. Indeed, Harold’s time in Normandy as one of Duke William’s knights exposed him to Norman military culture and tactics, experience which he was able to act upon once his kingdom was secure.   

Fact File : HMS 'Prince of Wales' and HMS 'Repulse' Sunk

Location: 50 miles off the coast of Malaya.
Players: Force Z (HMS 'Prince of Wales' and HMS 'Repulse' under Admiral Tom Phillips) 88 Japanese aircraft from the First Air Force.

An artillery gun and a gunner aboard the HMS 'Prince of Wales', 1941©

The British battleships should have been accompanied by the carrier Indomitable, but she was damaged, and without her they were vulnerable. Radio silence was maintained with a view to a surprise attack on the Japanese in Kuantan but without contact Phillips could not request the air cover which may have saved the British.

The Japanese had intelligence that Force Z were in the area but it wasn't until 8 December that HMS Prince of Wales and Repulse were photographed in Singapore Harbour. They were sighted again by a submarine on 9 and 10 December.

The Japanese First Air Force, composed of 88 aircraft (27 bombers and 61 torpedo planes), proceeded to the best estimated position of the enemy ships. The striking group was organised into nine flights. At 11am the contact was broadcast to the striking group and headquarters.

The Prince of Wales was crippled after the first torpedo attack. It was hit in the stern, twisting a propeller shaft. Then the main strength of the Japanese air attacks were directed against the Repulse. The Repulse was hit by one or two bombs and about 12 torpedoes. The Prince of Wales was hit by one bomb and ten torpedoes. Only four Japanese aircraft were lost. The escorting destroyers picked up survivors and returned them to Singapore.

The fact files in this timeline were commissioned by the BBC in June 2003 and September 2005. Find out more about the authors who wrote them.

HISTORY – The Long-Lost Haunted Castles of Hong Kong 3

Eu Tong Sen was a well-known tycoon in the late 19th and early 20th centuries with business interests across Southeast Asia. He was also vice-president of the Anti-Opium Society and a somewhat eccentric property owner. Heir to his family’s retail and mining businesses, he took control of his father’s estate in 1898. Over the decades that followed, he multiplied his fortune several times over. By age 30, he was one of the region’s richest men, specialising in the tin mining and rubber industries.

Eu built three castles in Hong Kong – Eucliffe was the most well-known. It was famous for being a social hot spot in the 1930s and was located next door to the Kadoorie’s Repulse Bay Hotel. The folly featured a large collection of ancient western armour as well as stained glass windows.

There was a lush garden, a greenhouse, swimming pool, tennis courts and easy access to the city’s most popular beach.

1971, via Barbara Ann Spengler on Flic

During the 18-day Battle of Hong Kong in 1941, the Japanese took over Eucliffe where they slaughtered 54 prisoners of war. It became “the most ill-omened house in Hong Kong” and – for many years – was used as a TV and movie set.

Named after an ancient Italian village, Sirmio was Eu’s schloss-like country home near Tai Po.

Each of his homes were under permanent renovation as a fortune teller once told him that he would have a long life if he continued to build. Sirmio also ended up being used as a horror film set for movies such as ‘The Ghost Informer’ before its demolition.

Built after Eu settled in Hong Kong, Euston Castle on Bonham Road was home to his five wives and an unknown number of concubines. Eu also had at least 34 children, hence the need for so many residences across the city.

Having survived multiple heart attacks, he finally suffered a fatal one in 1941, aged 63. His many wives and children diluted his fortune and his properties were sold off in the 70s and eventually demolished.

Euston in the 1970s, via The University of Hong Kong Libraries

His traditional Chinese medicine manufacturing company, Eu Yan Sang, remains well known today in Hong Kong. It is run by his great-grandson Richard Eu Yee Ming.

The loss of Prince of Wales and Repulse

The Japanese strategists had a single-mindedness that included the assumption that the enemy would respond the way they, themselves would. The blunting of the American battlefleet at Pearl was considered in the plans as protecting the left flank of the overall assault. The right flank was to hold on, if the British fleet threatened the right, until the striking forces from Kido Butai were able to reinforce.

The sinking of the H.M.S. Prince of Wales and H.M.S. Repulse was as much a pleasant surprise to the Japanese as it was a shock to the British. As far as the strategic plans, it was a bit of opportunism. The drive through the center, into Java, Sumatra, and New Guinea, could now proceed unimpeded.

The newest RN battleships of World War II were the King George V class (King George V, Prince of Wales, Duke of York, Anson, and Howe, not to be confused with the King George V class of 1911–1912). Again, one unit of this class, Prince of Wales, was lost during the war, this time to aerial attack by the Japanese in December 1941. The class was severely criticized for its 14-inch main guns. This retrograde decision (after all, the considerably older Nelson and Rodney boasted 16- inch guns) was made in order to get at least the first two units of the class completed in 1940, by which date conflict with Germany was expected. As it was, only King George V was ready for service in 1940. Like the Nelson class, the King George V class had significant main gun mounting problems. Nonetheless, the Royal Navy generally felt that the class gave good value for the money.

Within days after Pearl Harbor, the Royal Navy suffered a worse disaster with the loss of Prince of Wales and Repulse. Admiral Sir Tom Philips, RN commander of the British Pacific Fleet, was convinced (as was Winston Churchill, apparently) that a well-handled battleship could fight off aerial attackers. Admiral Philips learned the hard way how wrong he was. Japanese aerial torpedoes on 10 December sank Prince of Wales, along with Repulse, off the Malay coast in less than two hours. Admiral Philips was not among the survivors.

The loss of these warships was a greater blow to the British than Pearl Harbor was to the Americans. Although the Pearl Harbor united Americans in their resolve to crush the Japanese, the Malayan disaster unnerved the British. They handed over Malaya-Singapore without effective resistance, even though they well outnumbered the Japanese. In the long run, the loss of the Singapore bastion signaled the end of European colonialism in Asia. Anyone could see that Asians had badly beaten Europeans with their own modern weapons.

Wargame Scenario

The Prince of Wales and Repulse sailed from Singapore in early Dec 1941 looking for the Japanese invasion fleet (heading for Northern Malaya, Southern Thailand).

Seems like an interesting scenario if the British came upon the Japanese either in day or night.

The DD were Electra, Express, Vampire and Tenedos this last was detached to refuel at one point.

Japanese Forces

A heavy cruiser, 10 destroyers, and a handful of smaller craft escorted the Japanese transports. The covering force consisted of four cruisers and four destroyers. 12 subs were deployed in the Gulf of Thailand, and a distant covering force of Haruna, Kongo, two CAs and 10 destroyers were in the area also. The British had 13 Buffalo fighters, the Japanese had 39 Zeros and 6 recon planes at Soktran, and 72 Nell bombers, 28 Betty bombers and 12 Claude fighters near Saigon. All the Japanese pilots were very experienced thanks to war service in China.

That’s a total of 157 aircraft, 24 destroyers, 7 cruisers, and two battleships Versus 2 one battleship, one battlecruiser, and three destroyers (one being sent off to get fuel).

Not good odds for the British, any way you look at it. Churchill and the Admiralty knew it too. They had no idea that Force Z had sailed, and as it was being sunk Churchill was meeting with his advisors trying to decide where he should have Repulse and Prince of Wales retreat to so that they would be out of harm’s way. When he found out they had sailed and were sunk, he claimed he was more shaken than at any other time in his life.

Masanori Ito quotes 15 torpedoes launched at Prince of Wales, and 34 dropped on Repulse.

He credits the British with rather well aimed, if light, AA fire. He quotes three planes shot down, one crashing on landing, two others heavily damaged but landing safely, and 25 more slightly damaged. Prince of Wales was the more effective of the two throughout the battle, hitting 8 of the planes in the first attack and even after being mortally wounded hitting 5 out of 8 planes of the Takeda Group in the last attack.

The cruisers were Chokai, Kumano, Suzuya, Mikuma, and Mogami. Mogami was with the transports, the rest were with the covering force. I-59 was the sub that first spotted force Z.

The Prince of Wales had a Type 281search radar installed in January of 1941, which could detect a battleship-sized object at 10 miles. It could not, however, be used for main gunnery control. Before sailing to Singapore, Type 272 radar was fitted to the two main battery directors and Type 285 fire-control radar was fitted for the 5.25 inch guns. Finally, the four pom-poms were fitted with Type 282 radar. However, the crews were poorly and very briefly trained, and when she was lost many of these sets were not operational. I’m not sure that the British radar would be a decisive factor like it was a North Cape, where Duke of York had newer sets and highly trained crews.

With that said, the Kongos were some of the weakest battleships of the war (second only to the good looking but inadequately armed and protected Italian rebuilds). Prince of Wales’s 14” guns can slice into a Kongo’s vitals at any range under 25000 yards, which is the maximum you are going to hit anything at anyway. Even the best protected part of a rebuild Kongo, the 10″ thick barbettes, offer no protection inside 23000 yards. Repulse’s 15” guns penetrate even better than the 14″ at longer ranges. The Kongos will not last long under fire.

Repulse has no hope of stopping an incoming shell either, but Prince of Wales has a nice immunity zone. Combined with the radar, these factors add up to a victory in a two on two for the British. The Japanese knew it too, that’s why the 2 Kongos were a distant covering force, cruisers and destroyers covered the landing, and aircraft were used for the attack.

The problem is that this is NOT going to be a two on two if the aircraft are removed from the fight. The Allies had no clue that the Long Lance torpedo had the range that it did until well into the war. In the early battles in the Java Sea, Allied crews thought they had stumbled into a minefield when the torpedoes started striking, as they never even imagined a torpedo could have made it that far. The Japanese were not shy about using them either, as they launched them in mass attacks of up to 45 at a time. With 5 heavy cruisers and 14 destroyers carrying dozens of these weapons (plus reloads), the Japanese are going to flood the waters with torpedoes. Repulse has pitiful underwater protection, and Prince of Wales’s did not even hold up to the much smaller air-launched torpedoes, so the British ships will not last long. The British radar might not even detect the launching destroyers and cruisers, so the British will not even know that they are under attack until the Long Lances strike home. One or two should kill Repulse, and 3 should end it for Prince of Wales.

Force Z did not have much of a chance. Churchill was right: the only thing that could have save these two ships was having them fall back to Ceylon.

Watch the video: Malaya 1941: The Sinking of Repulse and Prince of Wales