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In Memoriam - Missionaries, Nurses and Red Cross

Photo of headstone for victims from the Elim Mission massacre by ZANLA in Vumba in Zimbabwe formerly Rhodesia on June 23rd 1978

A record is presented of missionaries who were killed during attacks on the Church and the International Red Cross:

During the Bush War over the space of 19 months, 39 missionaries and their families were brutally killed together with three Red Cross staff. Another 16 were butchered ten years later.

At the height of these massacres, a lot of criticism was directed towards ZANLA and their leader Robert Mugabe. In response, he claimed that Rhodesian Security Forces were in fact responsible - specifically the Selous Scouts.

However, a cable, sent from Cyrus Vance, US secretary of state, to United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, under the US Freedom of Information Act is very compelling. It includes a report by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, a unit in the US state department, which says a source close to Mr Mugabe had said “a ZANLA field commander had carried out the massacre on his own initiative and ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) was considering how best to take disciplinary action”.

A book, reviewed by the The Sunday Telegraph on 21st May 2017 has claimed that the British Callaghan government turned a blind eye to compelling evidence that Robert Mugabe may have been responsible for the slaughter of British missionaries in Rhodesia because it was reluctant to disrupt peace talks.
The massacre, which unfolded on 23rd June 1978 in the picturesque Vumba mountains at Coffins at funeral for Elim Mission masacre victims in Rhodesia 1978the height of the Rhodesian conflict, shocked the world with its sheer brutality.
Nine British missionaries and their four children were hacked to death by guerrilla fighters and then dumped on a cricket pitch outside their secondary school for black children. Several of the women were raped, while others were found with axes buried in their skulls. All had been battered or stabbed repeatedly in the face. Among the dead was a three-week-old baby and three other children.
Mr Mugabe has always denied his ZANLA (Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army) unit was responsible. He blamed the Selous Scouts, a special forces unit in the Rhodesian Army.
Stephen Griffiths, son of former Elim mission leader Peter Griffiths, unearthed a secret diplomatic cable which suggests troops under Mr Mugabe’s command carried out the atrocity.
In his book 'The Axe and the Tree', Mr Griffiths said the cable from Cyrus Vance, US secretary of state, to United Nations ambassador Andrew Young backed up his father’s account of a conversation with Patrick Laver, a British Foreign Office official who claimed Mr Mugabe “unofficially” apologised for the killings, and a local inquest conducted at the time.
Mr Griffiths also made contact with a ZANLA guerilla with the nom de guerre Garikai who confessed to the atrocity and said he met many times with Peter Griffiths and begged for his forgiveness. There is no suggestion that Mr Mugabe, who did not respond to The Sunday Telegraph’s request for comment, personally ordered the attack.
The book criticises Prime Minister James Callaghan, former foreign secretary Lord Owen and Mr Laver, who died in 2006, for not backing calls for a UN-led inquiry despite material pointing to Mr Mugabe’s involvement. That included physical evidence, eyewitness
accounts, and an inquest ruling.
“Seeking the truth through an inquiry following the massacre was never seriously pursued by the British authorities,” said Mr Griffiths, a 52-year old father of two and medical doctor.
Lord Owen has defended his actions to The Telegraph, saying that at the time he was engaged in top secret talks to prevent Mr Mugabe from taking power which he could not discuss with the victims of the Elim massacre or the British Cabinet. He added that he stood firmly by his actions, which he said aimed to prevent further bloodshed in the war-torn country.
Mr Griffiths obtained the cable, sent from Cyrus Vance, US secretary of state, to United Nations ambassador Andrew Young, under the US Freedom of Information Act. It includes a report by the Bureau of Intelligence and Research, a unit in the US state department, which says a source close to Mr Mugabe had said “a ZANLA field commander had carried out the massacre on his own initiative and ZANU (Zimbabwe African National Union) was considering how best to take disciplinary action”.
Mr Griffiths claims the cable supports suspicions his father harboured about US and British officials knowing more about Mr Mugabe’s guerilla units than they let on. Mr Griffiths said his father, who survived the massacre as he was on leave in the UK at the time, had a meeting with Patrick Laver, the Foreign Office’s Rhodesia desk head, in 1979.
“At this second meeting, Laver told my father that Robert Mugabe had ‘unofficially’ apologised for the Elim massacre, acknowledging that it was men owing him allegiance who had carried it out, and that the platoon commander responsible had refused to return for discipline,” he wrote.
The book claims Mr Callaghan’s Labour government chose not to investigate further as it feared disrupting the Anglo-American peace plan which was at a delicate stage. The Labour government believed if Mr Mugabe was excluded from the talks because of the behaviour of his guerillas, peace talks sponsored by Lord Owen would fail, according to Mr Griffiths.
However, Lord Owen told The Telegraph he considered Mr Mugabe a “dangerous zealot” and had been engaged in secret diplomatic talks aimed at sidelining the Patriotic Front leader.
Labour lost the 1979 election and Margaret Thatcher won, replacing Lord Owen with Lord Carrington. After a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Lusaka in August 1979, Britain invited the Rhodesian government and the leaders of the Patriotic Front to peace talks at Lancaster House.
Mr Griffiths inspected records of the inquest which ruled they were killed by “members of a terrorist gang belonging to ZNLA forces [sic].” Witnesses told the inquest the killers identified themselves as Mr Mugabe’s troops, while a diary of a dead Patriotic Front guerrilla which described the killings was presented as evidence.
The cables which revealed Lord Owen’s decision not to pursue a UN-led inquiry – despite his concerns of Mr Mugabe’s possible involvement – were unearthed by Mr Griffiths in the UK Public Records Office.
The Labour politician faced criticism from British and Rhodesian MPs at the time, who accused him of ignoring evidence against Mr Mugabe in order to smooth over the negotiations.
Lord Owen’s decision was backed by Mr Callaghan, who said the killings were deplorable but should not “divert us from our efforts to achieve a settlement [with the Patriotic Front].” Lord Owen told The Sunday Telegraph the true nature of the negotiations had to be kept secret at the time. “I and Mr Callaghan, who was aware of this secret diplomacy involving two very important African countries, believed that this was the best way to deal with the situation on the ground,” he said.
‘Seeking the truth through an inquiry after the massacre was never seriously pursued by the British authorities'.

Missionaries and their families that were killed during the Bush War:

Mashawasha Purchase Area, Fort Victoria, November 1976.

Father George Jeorger (42) from Switzerland, Roman Catholic Order of Bethlehem, was working as a missionary at Bondofolfi Mission in the Fort Victoria area. He was last seen on 25th November, 1976. A ZANLA leader is reported to have related that Father Jeorger had been abducted and murdered after trial by a kangaroo court. His remains were never found.

Lupane, December, 1976

Former Roman Catholic Bishop of Bulawayo, the Rt. Rev. Adolf Schmitt with Father Possenti Weggarten, priest, and Sister Maria Francis van den Berg were ambushed and killed on a lonely dirt road.

St Paul's Mission, Musami, February, 1977

The following seven were gunned down in the grounds of the mission on the night of 7th February, 1997: Sister Joseph Wilkinson (58) from Lancashire, and West Germans - Sister Epiphany Schneider (71) and Sister Ceslaus Stiegler (59) both from Bavaria, and Sister Magdela Lewandowski (42) from Kiel. Jesuits, Father Christopher Shepard-Smith (33) British-born in Kenya, Father Martin Thomas (45) from London, and lay Brother John Conway (57) from Tralee, Ireland also died.

Father Dunstan Myerscough (65) from Preston, Lancashire was shot but survived the onslaught. Sister Anna Victoria Reggel (75) who was suffering from arthritis, fell as a terrorist tried to push her from her room to the killing ground. She was then ignored.

Bangala Mission, February-March, 1977

The battered body of Father Jose Manuel Diaz (58) from Spain was discovered after he had gone missing on 28th February, 1977.

St Paul's Mission, Lupane, March 1977

Roman Catholic missionaries, German Dr Johanna Maria Decker (59) from Munich, and Sister Ann Ploner (45), Austrian born but South African, were shot dead on 10th March, 1977. ZAPU were active in the area and took Dr Decker from the dispensary where she was treating patients and Sister Ploner from the maternity ward. They were beaten then killed.

Gokwe ambush, October, 1977

Reverend Andries Louw Brand (40), from the Dutch Reformed Church, and his wife Tabina Metjie Brand (41) were killed in an ambush while returning to their home in Que Que.

Abduction near Salisbury, January, 1978

Father Desmond Paul Donovan (50), Jesuit. Abducted on 15th January, 1978. The motor cycle that he was riding was found buried, but no trace of Father Desmond has been discovered.

Embakwe Mission School, June 1978

Roman Catholic Brothers, German Pieter Geyermann (36) and Swiss Andrew von Arx (45) were killed by gunfire at the mission on the night of 2nd June, 1978.

Salvation Army Usher Institute, June 1978

Another attack occured five days and 50 kilometres away from Embakwe Mission. Two British women mission teachers, Miss Charon Faith Swindells (25) from Bangor, Co Down and Miss Diane Barbara Thompson (28) from Newcastle-on-Tyne died on 7th June, 1978 at the Salvation Army Usher Institute near Figtree. A ZAPU gang of 15 were rounding up staff and headed for the principal's house. Something appeared to disturb them as they started to disperse back into the bush but fired indiscrimately at the group and killed two and injured another two before scattering.

Sanyati Mission, June 1978

A Southern Baptist evangelist from USA, Mr Archie G Dunaway (58) was murdered on 15th June, 1978 at Sanyati Mission.

Emmanuel Mission School, June 1978

12 missionaries from the Elim Pentecostal Church were bayoneted, killed with an axe or beaten with wood on the night of 23rd June, 1978. No shots were fired. Mary Fisher, the thirteenth, died in intensive care a week later. Those who died are: Mr Peter McCann (30), his wife Sandra (30), son Phillip (6) and daughter Joy (5); The Rev. Phillip Evans (29), his wife Suzan (35) and their daughter Rebecca (4); Mr Roy Lynn (37), his wife Joyce Grace (36) and their baby daughter Pamela Grace (almost three weeks old); Catherine Picken (55); Elizabeth Wendy Hamilton-White (37) and Miss Mary Fisher (28).

The Sunday Mail published this account which was written by Terry Blocksidge.
WARNING, contains graphic content:
Body of Pamela Joyce with three month old baby killed at Elim Mission on 23 June 1978Eight British missionaries and four young children - including a three-week-old baby - were bayoneted to death by terrorists on Rhodesia's Eastern border on Friday night in the worst massacre of whites since the six-year-old war began. Three of the missionaries were men and the others women. A sixth woman was stabbed and beaten and left for dead. She staggered 300 m into the freezing Vumba bush to spend the night before being found semi-conscious by security forces yesterday. Despite intensive care in a Salisbury hospital she subsequently died. The gruesome murders, by a group of eight to 10 terrorists, happened at Emmanuel Mission School - 15 km south-east of Umtali and 8 km from the Mozambique border - once used as the Eagle boarding school. The dead belonged to the Elim Pentecostal Church.
Most of the women had been sexually assaulted, and one mutilated. The children had been dragged from their beds. Two children were in yellow pyjamas, one with a red dressing Body of Pamela Joyce with three month old baby killed at Elim Mission on 23 June 1978gown, and a third in a flowery nightdress. Mr. Brian Chapman, director of the Church in Rhodesia and South Africa, visited the scene yesterday. He said: "We saw no humanity here." The massacre began shortly before 8.30 p.m. when the white families were forced by the terrorists from their homes and classrooms, and marched to a playing field. Near the sports pavilion, about 400 m from the main school, they were split into groups, then beaten with lengths of wood and logs, and stabbed. A mother, beaten to death, lay with her young baby. The baby had also been savagely beaten. The mother had a hand squeezed tightly around her engagement ring, turned into her palm, as she reached for her baby in her dying moments. Nearby, another woman had died from an axe-wound - the weapon still protruded from her shoulder - and two men, one with his hands tied behind his back, lay beaten and slashed to death. A blood-soaked chunk of wood had been dropped near to them. Three children lay in a pitiful huddle, with two women's bodies next to them.

Guerillas crossed the border, from their base in Mozambique,
Cowardly satanic whores, trained well to kill the meek.
Christendom, the word of God, was communist’s enemy.
From this land Rhodesia, they wished His Word to flee.
In the dead of night these ‘freedom fighters’ surrounded Eagle School,
Wild animals from the depth of Hell, their intensions foul and cruel,
Condemned to death thirteen souls, by Pharisee Kangaroo court.
Elim’s Missionaries forced onto a field, to witness Satan’s ‘sport’
Three men five women, and four young children slain,
Twelve meek and gentle souls, enduring untold pain,
Hacked to death and mutilated, beyond all recognition,
A three month baby torn asunder, ended this abhorrent mission.
Bayoneted, beaten, left for dead, only one dear soul survived,
So traumatized and beaten; later from her wounds she died.
Martyred Soldiers of the Lord; humbly proud and brave;
Butchered by the very ones, whom they were called to save.
When we look upon Zimbabwe, at the setting of the sun,
Let us nere forget the way their ‘freedom’ thus was won,
Satan’s ghouls now sitting on their stolen thrones of power,
Cheering the death of missionaries; doubtless their finest hour.
Surely Angels wept aloud, on that darkest night of seventy eight,
The twenty third of June…Satan broke through heaven’s gate
How do we ever come to terms with such heinous savagery?
We remember our dear suffering Lord… nailed to Calvary’s tree.

St Rupert's Mission, Hartley, June 1978

Two German-born missionaries were murdered on 29th June, 1978. Father Gregor Richet (48) and Brother Bernhard Lisson (68) died near their quarters at St Rupert's Mission, 60 km north-west of Hartley.

Survivors from ambush, Cashel, November 1978

Missionaries Jim and Georgia Dearmore worked for 8 years in Rhodesia. During the last 6 they were working under daily terrorist danger. On 28th November 1978, after many escapes from mines, Jim was ambushed and nearly killed by 40 or 50 terrorists in a "double ambush." God performed many miracles to save him. Badly wounded, he spent 6 weeks in hospital and 3 months Physical Therapy to restore near normal use of left shoulder, arm, and hand. Picture shows Jim sitting in hospital smiling a few days after ambush.

Read an account of the incident by clicking here.

John Bradburne, Mtoko, September 1979

John Bradburne Memorial Society in honour after shooting by ZANLA forces in 1979 after abduction after living in rural community for eleven yearsJohn was a martyr from the Rhodesian Bush War who was killed by ZANLA between Mtoko and Mrewa on Wednesday 5 September 1979. He was former warden at the Mutemwa Leprosy and Care Centre and was providing care to recovering leprosy patients, physically handicapped and destitute people in the community. Site where martyr John Bradburne was shot by Mugabe ZANLA forces at Mtoko in September 1979He was a lay member of the Order of St Francis.
John Bradburne was a well-educated, upper middle-class Englishman, who had fought as a Gurkha officer in the Second World War. He was religious and, in the late 1940s, became a Roman Catholic. He wandered the world doing odd jobs – teaching, caretaking, forestry – but never settled to anything and was very musical. John came across the leper colony in 1969 at Mutemwa, nearly 150 km east of Salisbury. The 80 or so lepers were appallingly neglected, dirty and hungry. John Bradburne lived among the lepers, driving out the rats that gnawed them, cutting the nails of those who had fingers and toes, attending them when they died. He helped build their small church, organising its music, even teaching the lepers Latin for the Gregorian plainchant. Charles Moore recalls: “I saw them at Mass, banging drums with the stumps of their hands, making the music which Bradburne had taught them.”
The single-minded loving care he gave the residents eventually brought him into conflict with the Leprosy Association which ran Mutemwa and he was sacked. He went to live in a tent on the mountain above Mutemwa. Then a farmer gave him a tin hut, with no electricity or water, just outside the perimeter fence.
For the remaining six years of his life, Bradburne stayed there, and continued to help the lepers as much as he could. When not attending to the lepers, he lived the life of a hermit and eating very little. As a lay member of the Third Order of St Francis, he obeyed its rule, singing the daily office of Our Lady. He lived its hours, rising at dawn for Matins and ending the day with Vespers and Compline. This discipline provides the context for many of his poems. This one has more relevance since his needless passing:
"We want to make it very clear
And easy for you all.
The casting out, by Love, of fear
Is Terrorism's fall."
Shrine for John Bradburne shot by Mugabe's ZANLA forces during Rhodesian Bush War while helping lepers and locals in the rural community at Mutemwa in 1979Robert Mugabe's forces kidnapped the former warden and took him into the bush and subjected him to mockery in front of a crowd, offering him girls to sleep with, trying to make him dance and to eat excrement.
The next day, their leaders interrogated him. He said little, but knelt and prayed. The militants had received local reports that the man was harmless, but they became fearful that, because of his abduction, he now knew too much. Eventually, they marched him out of the bush to the main road. Their leader told him to walk ahead and turn and face him. He did so, and again knelt and prayed. When he rose, he was shot. His half-naked body was left by the roadside.
Many pilgrims come to his shrine at Mutemwa, and some claim to have been healed by his intercession. A recent miracle in Scotland has been attributed to his aid. He is a candidate for canonization, but he has not yet received the official title of “Servant of God”, from the Vatican. The Episcopal Conference of Zimbabwe unanimously gave its support for the beginning of the Cause of Canonisation of John Bradburne.


Missionaries killed after Independence

Umzingwane, November 1987

Missionaries were targetted by dissidents with 16 deaths documented at Umzingwane on two farms early on 26th November, 1987. All victims had been hacked to death.
Those killed at the Olive Tree Farm were Jerry Keightley (40), and his wife Marian Keightley (39), their daughters Gay Deborah (16) and Glynis (14), and their 18-month-old son, Barnabas. Another Zimbabwean, Penelope Sarah Lovett (28), and two Americans, David Emerson (35), of Osakis, Minn., and Karen Sharon Iversdahl (32), who was reported to be from Montana, were also killed.
Those killed at the New Adam Farm were David Marais (35), a South African; his wife, Katherine Marais (34), and their son, Ethan (4). Also killed were Robert Hill (38), and his wife, Gaynor (27), and their 6-week-old-old son, Benjamin; Hazel Russell (46), and Jean Campbell, a Briton. Laura Russell (13) escaped.


Nurses and Red Cross murders

Sister Joseph Wilkenson, 6th February 1977

A Dominican nun, Sister Joseph Wilkenson, was working in the mission hospital at St Paul’s during the Rhodesian Bush War. She was an English trained nurse and midwife from Lancashire, England and since leaving England in 1937 she had given nursing and midwifery care in Rhodesia for 37 years. Sister Joseph cycled to the hospital everyday from the convent as she was determined that war would not stop her from carrying out the work she loved. The

Dominican nuns at the mission station believed that there was "no cause to fear that anyone would want to harm five women, who between them had given 185 years of unselfconscious service to the Black people of Africa”.

On the evening of 6 February 1977, the Head of St Paul’s Community, Father Dunstan Myerscough, was confronted by a young ZANLA terrorist with an AK-47 rifle and was taken to the dining room where other missionaries had been rounded up. Sister Joseph, still in her white hospital uniform, stood among the frightened and confused group. Father Myerscough, the only person who survived the attack, said that the priests were told to remove their trousers. Without warning, three CTs suddenly broke away from the group and, kneeling down, raised their guns and fired. When the wounded Father Myerscough regained consciousness he found the blood covered bodies of his fellow missionaries on the ground next to him. The following day the army and police found one hundred and eleven spent cartridges from RDP machine guns and AK-47 rifles on the ground. A month later, in a subsequent attack, a note book which described the attack on St Paul’s was found on the body of one of those involved. The last lines recorded read "We shot four Europeans who were Priests. Sisters were five and altogether there were nine, eight dead. No comrades were injured in action".

Joyce Lynne née Pickering and Wendy White, 23rd June 1977

These two nurses were members of the Elim Pentocostal Church which ran a hundred-bed hospital at Caterere in Northern Rhodesia. The mission had been started by Dr Cecil Brian and his wife in 1946 and by 1971, apart from the hospital, it ran a school, a church, and numerous chapels in the outlying bush.
Joyce Lynne, a trained nurse from Yorkshire, England was the Matron of the Hospital at Caterere. The Rhodesian Bush War had been going on for some time before the threat of the Patriotic Front became a reality to the people at Elim. The first contact came one night in April 1976, when Terrorists approached the mission hospital and demanded medicine and food. A nursing sister, Joy Bath, was disturbed by the barking of her dog and, looking outside, she saw the figure of the matron, Mrs Lynne, being escorted from her house by a group. Both nurses were then taken to the hospital where they reluctantly gave medicine and drugs. The decision was then made by the Elim authorities to move the mission to what had been a Preparatory School at Vumba, twenty kilometres from Umtali.
It was at Vumba on Friday night, 23 June 1978, that Matron Lynne and a nursing colleague, Wendy White, were among the group of nine adults and four children who were massacred. Wendy White, a nurse, teacher and qualified social worker, had not been long with the mission when she was killed. The two nurses and other adults, along with the children, were taken into the bush and slain. Ian McGarrick, a Pentocostal missionary who was sleeping in his quarters at the school, discovered the mutilated bodies early the next morning. Matron Lynne, her face battered beyond recognition, lay with her left hand touching the battered head of her three-week old baby, Pamela. A few feet away from the other missionaries, Ian McGarrick found the corpses of the single women, including that of Nurse Wendy White.

International Committee of the Red Cross, Eastern Districts, May 1978

The Red Cross vehicle was ambushed in the Eastern Highlands on 19th May, 1978. The IRC delegates, Mr Andre Tieche and Mr Alain Bieri, both Swiss and in their 30's were shot in the head. Mr Charles Chatora, an interpreter, had been shot in his back in the kneeling position.

The following account was published by Van der Spuys Rhodesia Information Centre, P.O. Box 138. Crows Nest, N.S.W. 2065 and produced by C.A. & Associates, Box 146, P.O. Roseville, N.S.W. 2069:
"The International Committee of the Red Cross is an organization respected and admired the world over for its humanitarian work. Its emblem - a red cross emblazoned on a white background - is internationally recognized as a badge of neutrality, affording its delegates free and safe access to any war zone in their mission of mercy.
But this means little to a Rhodesian terrorist. No rules of war to adhere to. No Geneva convention to uphold. Hit and run tactics are the order of the day. Go for the "soft" targets. Intimidate and subvert the bewildered tribal people. Destroy their property, murder, rape and maim. Rob buses, stores and clinics. Kill the "white settler" in isolated farmsteads. Go for the defenceless, aged and weak. Follow the communist doctrine and undermine the system.
And so it happened that when a conspicuous white vehicle with red cross emblems prominently displayed on the front, sides and rear, came bumping down a rough mountain track in the remote eastern highlands of Rhodesia recently, yet another "soft" target had presented itself to the hidden gang of terrorists.
As the first burst of automatic fire slashed across the windscreen and rifle grenades smashed into the front and side of the vehicle, there was no return fire from the three occupants.
None was expected. Red Cross workers never carry arms, even for their own defence, as a matter of principle. The two ICRC delegates in the vehicle, Mr. Andre Tieche and Mr. Alain Bieri - both in their early 30s and both from Switzerland - and their African translator, Mr. Charles Chatora, had no chance of escaping the murderous fire. They were quickly cut down by the hail of bullets and shrapnel, their bodies scattered like rag dolls in and around the vehicle.
It appeared as if Mr. Bieri died at once. His body, face down, was lying next to the open door of the Land-cruiser. He had been shot in the head and elsewhere. He had been in Rhodesia for little over a week.
Mr. Tieche lay on his back - also shot in the head - on the other side of the vehicle. From the blood spoor in the grass it was possible he had been dragged into the ditch. He had been head of the Red Cross office in Umtali.
Mr. Chatora's body was found in a kneeling position, half in and half out of the driving compartment. Security Forces on the scene said it was possible he had been executed, as he had been shot in the back.
Jubilant at the case with which they had eliminated their victims, the terrorists moved in to complete their despicable work robbing the bodies of valuables watches, money, even shoes. Their pockets had been pulled inside out. Nothing was missed.
When Mr. Francois Peraz, Chief delegate of the ICRC in Rhodesia, arrived on the scene some hours later, he was aghast at the scene of slaughter. "It's awful, it's pure murder," he said after inspecting the bodies of his colleagues
Questioned by journalists at the time, he said that all parties to the Rhodesian war, the Government and the Patriotic Front of Mr. Nkomo and Mr. Mugabe, had been informed that the Red Cross was working in Rhodesia.
Assurances that the Red Cross staff's neutrality would be respected in the operational areas had been given by all, he said. Mr. Peraz said that despite the tragedy, his delegates would still not carry weapons . "to do so would be to deny our own principles". He said the murdered delegates were returning from a nearby clinic after assessing the medical needs of the local people. In the back of the truck was a bale of blankets for distribution to clinics and needy people.
"Our help is for the population, with no discrimination," he said. Back in Geneva, the Red Cross Board called for "the fullest details of the incident" in which the three Red Cross workers were murdered and to "take immediately, all measures for ensuring the absolute observance of the sign of the Red Cross." But perhaps the most significant aspect of the report is the suggestion that "this vile and cowardly act was possibly deliberately aimed at crippling the humanitarian mission of the Red Cross" in Rhodesia.

Francina M. du Toit, 23rd July, 1978.

Mrs Francina du Toit lived on Amatula Farm, Gutu, and was a nursing sister in the clinic in the village nearby. She was gunned down and killed in an ambush on her way to work.

Jennifer Hebe Boyd, 22nd September, 1978.

Jenny, or Jen to her family, was born in 1945 to Alan and Ada Boyd, and was raised and Meomial plaque to nurse Jennifer Boyd nurse shot by ZANLA forces while on duty in Rhodesia in 1978educated in Gippsland near Stratford, Victoria, in Australia. Her parents were sheep and cattle farmers. Alan, her father was President of the Avon Shire Council in 1978. Jenny had a sister Elizabeth, and three brothers John, Alan and Colin.
After schooling she trained as a nurse at the Mercy Hospital for Women and at the (Royal) Women’s Hospital in Melbourne. Qualifying as a specialist nurse Jenny worked in Alice Springs, Australia, and then travelled for some time through Europe.
She arrived in Rhodesia in 1971/2 and accepted a post as a community health nurse in 1974 from the Ministry of Health working in the rural areas of Mashonaland. She visited isolated outposts and as the war progressed and the risks increased she accepted armed guards, despite her misgvings. She purchased a a pistol for protection during her last visit to her family in February 1978.
Jenny had only just got engaged to be married to an American lecturer based in Salisbury and after their planned marriage on 28 November 1978 they were intent on emigrating to West Virginia in the USA.
Tragedy struck two months earlier while Jenny and her four armed escorts were travelling in a mine-proofed landrover to an outlying clinic in the Mrewa TTL when the vehicle hit a landmine. Escaping relatively unharmed from the blast they were cut down in a hail of fire from a ZANLA gang lying in ambush at the site. The District Security Assistants from Internal Affairs that died instantly with Jenny in this targetted attack were Clemence Chipanera, Chawawona Hukuimwe, Tambudzayi Mushani and Samukute Tazviziva.
Sister Boyd (aged 33) was posthumously awarded the Order of the Legion of Merit (Civil) in May 1979, the award given to her parents at the Mercy Hospital in a brief but emotional ceremony. Her name was also placed in the Nurses’ Bay of the Anglican Cathedral in Salisbury.
“She loved Rhodesia and its people and felt she was helping” said her brother Colin.
“She was very brave and had great faith. She had a lot of friends and no fear for her own safety,” said her mother Ada.
Mr. Alan Boyd, her father, wrote in a letter to the Gippsland Times, December 21st, 1978: "My late daughter Jenny who in her vocation of caring for the underprivileged of all creeds and colours in Rhodesia always told us never to give any money or donations to the World Council of Churches as it is being used to support the terrorists to murder and plunder." Mr Boyd concluded his letter by quoting from one of the hundreds of letters he received at the time of his daughter's death - it was from a doctor who had made two trips to Rhodesia during those terrible times: "They (the Rhodesians) are fighting the whole world on the question of whether armed communism will be allowed to overrun Rhodesia. If this should happen it will be due to the blindness and or lack of courage of politicians in England, in America and here in Australia."


John Bradburne Memorial Society

Ministry of Information, July 1978. 'The Murder of Missionaries in Rhodesia'.

Pera, S.A. 'They gave their lives - A tribute to the known and unknown nurse martyrs of our time - Part 1'

Tess Keeney communication

Thornycraft and Rothwell, May 2017. 'Britain "ignored" Mugabe links to massacre'. Sunday Times, 21 May 2017.

Communications and media.

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