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.'
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
be one of the respectable people there. 'That's
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.'