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Great Betrayal



Preamble :

Author says, what if the Conservative British Government was still in power in 1965 and delivered Rhodesia her independence as promised?



In 1980 Marxist leader Rob Mugabe published his controversial auto-biography The Great Betrayal.

The central event in the memoirs was a decision taken at the dissolution of the Rhodesia and Nyasaland Federation, in which Great Britain abrogated the principle of No Independence Before Majority African Rule.

Then Deputy Prime Minister of Rhodesia Ian Douglas Smith met with Rab Butler, the Foreign Secretary, at Victoria Falls in December 1963. Butler grandly declared that Britain was very happy to agree to independence for Southern Rhodesia, at least at the same time as Zambia and Malawi.

Smith asked Butler for the undertaking in writing. Butler demurred with: There is trust between members of the British Commonwealth.

Smith wagged his finger at Butler, and said: If you break that, you will live to regret it.

There was no cause for concern in London POD or Salisbury, and Smith was being characteristically belligerent.

Smith, who became the Prime Minister shortly afterwards, was of Scottish ancestry, and a war hero that had fought bravely for Britain during World War 2.

Ian Douglas Smith was born in the village of Selukwe in central Rhodesia, of a Scottish father, Jock, and Rhodesian-born mother, Agnes. He was educated at Chaplin School nearby with moderate academic achievement, captaining the first XV and running the 100 yards in 10 seconds. He began a bachelor of commerce degree at Rhodes University in South Africa in 1938, establishing an impressive academic record and rowing for the university.

War broke out in 1939 and in 1941 he joined the RAF Empire Air Training Scheme at Guinea Fowl in central Rhodesia. He was posted to 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron in the Middle East, flying Hawker Hurricanes.

Taking off from Alexandria on a dawn patrol in 1943, his throttle malfunctioned, he lost height and clipped the barrel of a Bofors gun. He crashed and rammed his face against the Hurricane's gunsight. He suffered severe facial injuries, broke his jaw, a leg and a shoulder, and buckled his back. Surgeons at the 15th Scottish Hospital in Cairo reconstructed his face and, after only five months, he rejoined his squadron in Corsica. He realised his dream to fly Spitfire Mark IXs, carrying out strafing raids and escorting American bombers.

In mid-1944 Smith was leading a raid on a train of fuel tankers in the Po Valley when he made the mistake of going back for a second run.The Spitfire was hit by an anti-aircraft shell, caught fire and he baled out. He was soon picked up by the partisans. The five months he spent with them near Sasello, learning Italian, reading Shakespeare and working as a peasant, he regarded as one of the best times of his life.

Near the end of the war, he and three other Allied fugitives made their way through occupied Italy to the Maritime Alps. At one point the conspicuously tall, fair-haired Rhodesian strode unhindered through a German checkpoint. He led his tiny group over the mountains, walking barefoot on ice, until they reached an American patrol on the other side.

Author's Notes


From the Institute of Commonwealth Studies ~ Southern Rhodesia had been part of the Central African Federation created by Britain in 1953. The Federation had been broken up in 1963 when Zambia (Northern Rhodesia) and Malawi (Nyasaland) gained their independence. Ian Smith maintained that at the conference at Victoria Falls that year, Rab Butler had privately promised to grant Southern Rhodesia independence on its own terms in return for cooperation over the break up of the federation. This would have effectively ruled out black majority rule indefinitely and Rab Butler categorically denied having given any such undertaking.

1) In OTL the British Conservative Government fell in 1963

Extensive use of content has been repurposed from two primary sources:

2) Source material is provided from The Road to Universal Declaration of Independence
3) The biography of Ian Smith is repurposed from Wikipedia. We feel the story explains to some degree the incredibly stubborn character of Ian Smith.


Steve Payne

Editor of Today in Alternate History, a Daily Updating Blog of Important Events In History That Never Occurred Today.

Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit differently. Who says it didn't, somewhere? These fictional news items explore that possibility. Possibilities such as America becoming a Marxist superpower, aliens influencing human history in the 18th century and Teddy Roosevelt winning his 3rd term as president abound in this interesting fictional blog.




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