One of the ugliest episodes of the Rhodesian Bush War (or Second Chimurenga, if you prefer) was the deliberate shoot-down in 1978 of Air Rhodesia Flight 825, a scheduled civilian flight, by ZIPRA guerrillas. The crash killed 38 of the 56 people on board; the attackers then herded survivors together amid the wreckage and machine-gunned them to death. Naturally, white Rhodesians were outraged, particularly when little sympathy came from overseas. The Smith administration put most of the country under martial law, cut off talks with ZIPRA's political counterpart and launched a series of brutal attacks against ZANLA and ZIPRA positions in Zambia and Mozambique, which were lauded by the Rhodesians as great military successes, but came in for criticism as hundreds of refugees, camping in and around guerrilla positions, were killed. ZIPRA subsequently shot down Air Rhodesia Flight 827 in 1979 in a near-identical incident, killing all on board.
This passed GA and A-class reviews over at MILHIST about a year ago and after a period of reflection I think it is now ready for FA. I hope you enjoy looking it over (as much as one could, considering the distressing subject), and look forward to your comments. —Cliftonian(talk) 17:56, 17 December 2013 (UTC)
Beautiful work overall - I always enjoy your writing style, which is clear and concise, and the quality of coverage you give to Rhodesia topics. Just a few comments to make:
Were there any other children on board? If it was just the two girls, it would make more sense to state "four women and two children (or two girls), ages...."
I don't know the full list of passengers, but I believe there were more children on board who died in the crash (there was also four-year-old Tracey Coles, who was part of Dr MacLaren's party that left the site and survived). —Cliftonian(talk) 09:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
You only provide one source for the theory that another party was responsible for killing the survivors of the crash. Is this a fringe theory or one that has some credibility? I think this deserves to be expanded upon.
It seems pretty fringey to me, frankly. Sibanda is very pro-ZAPU and appears to very much want to blame the Selous Scouts for the massacre. He cites the unit commander's statement that they had operated there previously and left the day before the incident, but lacking direct evidence he says only that the massacre "cannot be put beyond them" (p. 192). The version of events described by Nkomo and supported by Sibanda (guerrillas help the survivors and leave them alive, then Rhodesian pseudo-guerrillas arrive, presumably ignoring or missing the real guerrillas, and kill the passengers) seems pretty dubious to me. It doesn't fit the eye-witness accounts at all and it doesn't make sense. If the guerrillas were helping the survivors, why would they have left them alone, strewn around the wreckage? Was it the real guerrillas or the pseudo-guerrillas who looted the wreckage afterwards? Anyway, all of this would be original research so we can't put it in. I'm not aware of any other sources commenting on this theory, I'm sorry to say. —Cliftonian(talk) 09:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Has any monument been erected for the civilians killed by the Rhodesian military around the rebel camp?
Yes, Zambia and Zimbabwe jointed put a monument up at Chikumbi in 1998. I've put this into the article. (As is common with pro-guerrilla sources, this incorrectly attributes regular Army actions to the Selous Scouts) —Cliftonian(talk) 09:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
This is a great addition
is it possible to expand upon the militant nationalist rationale for shooting down the plane when they were in peace talks that were going well? What was their objective, and could it be claimed that the objective was achieved, or not? In general, inclusion of their perspective and motivations could be strengthened throughout the article. Although the public might have abhorred the shooting of the plane, how did they feel toward their overarching political objectives?
I have yet to find a source that properly explains what the motivation was for the attack, beyond the public claim made by Nkomo that they had believed the plane was being used for military purposes (this doesn't explain the massacre on the ground). Sources tend to describe the Smith–Nkomo talks, then abruptly say that talks came to an end because of the Viscount shootdown, as if the two were not linked. Off the top of my head it could be that ZAPU had become tired of the talks and wanted to shock the white community (in this they certainly succeeded), or it could be that a group of ZIPRA fighters shot the plane down without instructions from the regular chain of command, forcing Nkomo to hastily invent a public explanation. I will continue looking and see if I can find anything. —Cliftonian(talk) 09:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
It's a pity we can't know this... The addition of the continued insistence to present on the "military use" explanation helps to illustrate that this is the only reason that's been given
Could you provide a brief explanation near the end for the reason that the majority rule elections led Britain to reclaim the colony and hold another election the next year?
I've put simply "This new order failed to win international acceptance, however". The reason is more or less the same as the reason the 1978–79 transitional government failed to win acceptance; whites were perceived to still have too much power as they controlled the police and the armed forces and had five out of 17 government ministers. Smith was made minister without portfolio, prompting Nkomo to dub him "minister with all the portfolios". —Cliftonian(talk) 09:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
how has this event been characterized since independence by the government and press?
I'll put something in on this later, have to rush out now. Basically most of the press perceives the plane shootdown as an act of war and the Rhodesian retaliation as evil massacres. Attempts overseas to memorialise those who died are condemned as racially motivated. I'll come back to this later —Cliftonian(talk) 09:47, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
I've put a new paragraph into the last section on this now. Two Herald (Mugabe state press) articles. Hope this is good. —Cliftonian(talk) 13:59, 18 December 2013 (UTC)
Support: I was not able to pre-review this article, but it seems to have been very thoughtfully put together and has no doubt benefited from sundry eyes at the MilHist A-class review. It is excellent work; I have just a few minor quibbles, mainly relating to uses of particular words:
Lead: I would omit "deliberately" in the first line. The intent of the operation is clear without this slightly non-neutral emphasis.
"Rhodesian whites turn against blacks": The adjective "caustic" should be removed. The word seems ill-chosen – I don't know what is meant by "caustic fury" (sarcastic fury?), but it suggests the presence of an editorial voice.
Legacy: I suggest you replace the word "actors". Whoever were the people responsible, they were not "actors". Perhaps "forces"?
A sombre story, and well worth reading. Brianboulton (talk) 23:00, 20 December 2013 (UTC)
I'm glad you like the article Brian. Thank you very much for the support and the kind words, I have made all the suggested alterations. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:31, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
Support – Sombre indeed, and scrupulously dealt with. The nominator has a track record of bringing to FAC articles on important topics of which I and perhaps many of us are ignorant. This is no exception. It seems to me to meet all the FA criteria and I have no hesitation in supporting its promotion to FA. I have carefully combed the prose in search of something to quibble at, but have failed. Top marks, Cliftonian. Maybe a less downbeat topic next time? – Tim riley (talk) 00:20, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
Thank you very much Tim for the support and the very kind words. I will try to pick a less downbeat topic next time. —Cliftonian(talk) 08:31, 21 December 2013 (UTC)
File:Ian_Smith_1950s.jpg: how do we know this is by a government photographer? Nikkimaria (talk) 16:41, 27 December 2013 (UTC)
Sorry for the delay in answering, I have a lot going on right now. The photograph comes from the 1954 issue of The Rhodesian Graphic annual ("Federated Rhodesia-Nyasaland"), edited by Sydney Veats and published under governmental auspices in Salisbury. The photograph itself is uncredited. —Cliftonian(talk) 12:11, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Further inspection of the title/contents page credits photographs "except where otherwise acknowledged" to the Central African Archives in Salisbury. (today these are the National Archives of Zimbabwe). —Cliftonian(talk) 13:54, 30 December 2013 (UTC)
Note -- Brian or Nikki, could you undertake a source review if you haven't already? Cheers, Ian Rose (talk) 07:51, 30 December 2013 (UTC)