Picnic in the Matopo Hills Zimbabwe Bird
Aspects of John's life in Rhodesia in his own words

As an impressionable 10 year old, the war was an exciting time for him.

Why did the Royal Air Force choose Rhodesia to train troops?

'... because of the flying conditions, the weather, you had by and large, clear days most days ... and large open spaces for air stations to be put there. ... Southern Rhodesia sent a very large number of soldiers overseas to link up with other forces. ... with all those people going out of the country, they wanted to make sure there were a lot of men in the country so they brought in the flying training personnel. Kumalo was flying mostly Oxfords, twin-engined planes, and they were presumably protegé bomber pilots. ... I can't remember quite what Induna were flying, Heany certainly had Harvards. [Trainees] also started off on Tiger Moths, and then the Harvards, single engined planes that made an awful lot of noise, a sort-of growly noise, were there. ... there was the occasional Spitfire flying over ... they brought a Lancaster bomber out once.'

John went to Milton Junior and Senior schools and whilst doing his Higher Cambridge became very ill with nephritis. His parents refused to give up hope and nursed him back to health. Instead of going back to school he chose to work for 5 years. 'I suppose all that time the idea was gradually festering around, that not "[only] that your life has been saved from death, but has your life has been saved for something?"'. He was accepted to train for the priesthood at St Paul's Theological College in Grahamstown, South Africa.

How did you end up coming to supper on Friday nights [with the Brooking family]?

'It seemed to just happen, the youth club was meeting on Friday nights, ... and when I went to St Margaret's, I was the first time they'd had a second member of staff, and there wasn't another clergy house or car or any of the things they produced for clergy, but there were people there who were connected with Toc H ... and they knew of Toc H house in Sauerstown ... a hostel for young men ... they arranged for me to have a room.'It provided meals and accommodation '... I think it must have been because of that - "well, come and have supper with us and go on up to the youth club afterwards"[in the church hall]'. And be one of the respectable people there. 'That's right, yes.'

He and Brenda travelled to South Africa by ship, and then by train up to Rhodesia. 'I took Brenda back after we got married at the end of '69, and we were going to work in Umtali, but we went back by boat, and as soon as we landed at Cape Town, there we were, we made our way to the station. And to me it was quite natural to catch a train and to be 3 days in the train, but Brenda found that very very different to what she was used to. Beds had to be made up; and we had so much luggage that I think the top bunk was probably full of luggage in the 2nd class, so I think we had the middle bunk and the lower bunk for sleeping.'

Click on the play button below to listen to John talking about the train journey back to Rhodesia with Brenda

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Air Display

Air Display when Queen Mother visited Rhodesia





John's Ordination




Wedding Day

John & Brenda's wedding