11 November is packed full of meaning for anyone whose relatives fought in the World Wars, and for all who had the privilege of growing up in Rhodesia. 52 Years ago on Thursday, 11 November 1965, at the most solemn moment of the 11th hour of Armistice Day, Ian Douglas Smith, the Prime Minister of Rhodesia, signed Rhodesia's Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Great Britain.
Throughout the English speaking world, the 11th November is observed as a Remembrance Day to solemnly recall the end of hostilities of World War One at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918. In time, it has come to be observed as a Memorial Day for all who died in both World Wars and in other subsequent conflicts.
Lest We Forget
During my Missionary travels I have been struck by how many hundreds of War Memorials there are throughout the world. Every town and village in the British Isles, and in Rhodesia and South Africa, have Memorials to the fallen of World Wars One and Two. Even at Victoria Falls, close to the new statue of Dr. David Livingstone, erected in 2005 on the Zambian side, there is a War Memorial listing the names of people from Northern Rhodesia, who fought and died for Britain.
At Milton High School in Rhodesia, we would be reminded daily of the vast numbers of past pupils who had given their lives "for King and Empire" in WWI and WWII. There were numerous wooden Rolls of Honour on the walls of our halls engraved with the names of past pupils and the dates of their death.
In Flanders Fields
When I have visited the battlefields in Ypres, Belgium, I was struck by how many Hammonds are recorded in the Rolls of Honour on the walls of the War cemeteries. There are many War cemeteries near Ypres for soldiers of the British Empire. I have by no means visited all of these cemeteries, but I have visited the six largest and counted over 65 Hammonds listed as killed in action, in that one theatre of the First World War. According to the Commonwealth War Graves Commission 480 Hammonds died fighting for Britain in the First World War.
Love in Action
Numerous of the Memorials have this Scripture verse etched into the stone: "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13. Others declare: "…unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain." John 12:24
Blood Swept Lands and Seas
During a 2014 Mission to England, I saw the beginning of the Tower of London Memorial for those who fell in the First World War. Beginning on 4 August 1914, marking the 100th anniversary of Britain's declaration of War against Germany, which launched WWI, 888,246 ceramic poppies were planted by volunteers in the moat surrounding the Tower of London. Entitled Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, this evolving memorial marked the number of soldiers who fell for the British Empire in the First World War. Every evening, Last Posts were played by bugle at sunset and names of those who died in the First Word War were read out to the crowds.
For King and Country
My Father served in the Royal Artillery throughout the six years of World War II. Much of the Second World War, my Father served in the Eighth Army under Field Marshall Montgomery, in North Africa and Italy. My Dad operated a 25 Pounder. He was involved in the Battle of El Alamein. Although my Father was a very patriotic Englishman, and Rhodesian, he had an extremely high respect for Field Marshall Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps. He called them "an honourable enemy", and the North Africa Desert Campaign, "the last gentlemen's war".
On a number of occasions, I remember my Father becoming quite agitated and angry over distortions in Hollywood films that depicted the German Afrika Korps committing atrocities. "Rubbish!" he declared, "The Afrika Korps were gentlemen. No such atrocities ever happened in the North African campaign. This is absolute rubbish!" It deeply offended my Father to see the enemy he so highly respected portrayed in such a dishonest light.
We Fought the Wrong Enemy
On several occasions, my Father explained that he could never understand how Britain had ended up fighting against the Germans and for the French. "The Germans should never have been our enemies", he was convinced. "Historically, our real enemies have always been the French and the Russians!"
Clobber the Communists
There were many other military veterans in Rhodesia who shared the same conviction. A common sentiment was: "We should not have fought against the Germans, we should have joined them in clobbering the communists in Russia!" I have heard similar sentiments from British, Canadian, Australian and South African veterans at MOTH (Memorable Order of the Tin Hats) Shell Holes.
Ian Smith of Rhodesia
The first time I saw Prime Minister Ian Smith, it was as a young boy of 14-years old, standing outside the Bulawayo Club in Rhodesia. I had heard from my Father that the Prime Minister was going to visit. Expecting some impressive entourage, I was standing by the entrance in Eighth Avenue with my cat, Tim. I can still remember my surprise as I saw a rather humble Peugeot 404 park in front of the Bulawayo Club and out stepped Mr Ian Smith. The Prime Minister was completely alone. There was no driver, or adjutant, no bodyguards, or policemen, visible anywhere. The Prime Minister had driven himself alone to the Club. He stroked my cat, who was sitting on the wall and smiled at me, then walked into the Club!
Almost 10 years later, I was in Harare, on Samora Machel Avenue when Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe sped past. The contrast with Ian Smith's arrival could not have been more acute. First came 8 motorbike outriders, then police cars, armoured luxury Mercedes Benz’s with tinted windows, followed by another police car and a truck load of soldiers with heavy weapons, sirens blaring. All vehicles on both sides of the road had to come to a complete stop at the side. This, I was informed by residents, was how Mugabe travelled every day!
Fearing None But God
When I mentioned this to Ian Smith, he laughed and commented that he feared God, he was a life-long Presbyterian, he believed in the Sovereignty of God, and he had survived the Second World War – he did not see what he had to be afraid of! In fact, during the war years, as Prime Minister, Ian Smith would frequently travel alone, without a convoy, scorning the real risk of an ambush, down to his farm near Gwelo. He would also often give all the staff at Independence (the Prime Minister's residence) the weekend off, so that there not be so much as a cook in the kitchen or a policeman at the gate. He and his wife would be alone and that was the way he wanted it. He could not bear people fussing around him.
Honourable Man of Integrity
I have a photograph of Ian Smith cycling to work. Ian Smith was a remarkable statesman. A man of integrity. He said what he meant and he meant what he said. He was an example of an honourable man of his word.
Flying Hurricanes for Britain
Over the last 20 years of his life, I frequently had the privilege of having lunch, or tea, with Mr Smith. We read the Scriptures and prayed together on a number of occasions and I interviewed him for radio. On one occasion, when we were discussing the Second World War, Mr Smith grew serious. He had devoted six years of his life flying in the Royal Rhodesian Air Force. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he joined the RRAF and served in 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron. He flew Hawker Hurricanes, serving in Egypt, Lebanon, Persia, Iraq, and then finally in the North African Desert War. He served at El-Alamein and Tobruk and was severely injured in a crash landing. He suffered a broken jaw, broken leg, broken shoulder and severe facial wounds. It was thought that his back was broken, but it turned out to be, as he put it, "only buckled". After 5 months of recuperating under expert medical attention in Cairo, he returned to active service, flying Spitfire Mark IX's.
Spitfire Shot Down
It was during the Italian campaign in 1944 that he was shot down. He had to jettison his canopy, release his harness and turn the Spitfire upside down, so that he could drop free, pull his ripcord and parachute to safety. For the next five months he evaded enemy patrols, joined up with the local Resistance and later crossed the Alps on foot, to link up with Allied forces in France.
The Benefit of Hindsight
"With hindsight", Mr Smith declared to me, "We fought on the wrong side. The real enemy was communism. We did not realize it at the time, of course, but we were not really fighting for Christian civilisation and freedom, because we were allied to Stalin's Russia. Instead of freeing Europe, we helped Stalin enslave half of it under communism."
We discussed some of the catastrophic consequences of the World Wars, how Europe had been bullied into abandoning their colonies and protectorates in Africa and how the African people had suffered so severely under the dictators who were pawns of the superpowers in the Cold War. "It would have been better if Britain had stayed out of the war and let Germany smash communism in Russia once and for all. Or better still, we should have actually helped free Russia from the communists. That would have spared a lot of people much grief."
Facts Are Stubborn Things
What he said was quite jarring and shocking. As I had taken the Hollywood and textbook version at face value, the idea that we had been on the wrong side seemed too staggering a thought to fully comprehend at the time. However, from conversations with Christians throughout Eastern Europe, I came to the same conclusion. The persecuted Believers suffering behind the Iron Curtain in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Romania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Albania, could not be convinced that the Second World War had achieved freedom, democracy and Christian civilisation!
The Yalta Betrayal
Over 100 million Christians had been betrayed into the hands of Stalin's Soviet Union by the Yalta Agreement and the extremely generous so-called Lend-lease which poured limitless supplies of tanks, trucks, aircraft, weaponry and every conceivable tool and ammunition into the vile Soviet Union to enable it to survive Operation Barbarossa and come to dominate more than half of Europe by the end of the war.
The Katyn Forest Massacre and Operation Keelhaul
Then Polish Christians enlightened me as to the Katyn Forest Massacre, Russians informed me of Operation Keelhaul, which betrayed millions of Russians (men, women and children) who immediately following the war, were forced by the Allies, at gun and bayonet point, over the border, into the hands of Stalin's executioners.
Honour the Soldiers But Do Not Let the Politicians Get Away with Murder
There is no questioning the courage, dedication to duty and self-sacrifice of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who served in their countries armed forces during the First and Second World Wars. However, the wisdom and honesty of the politicians who placed them in the line of fire, should certainly be questioned.
Understanding the Great War and Its Consequences
To this end I have written a number of articles seeking to get to grips with the lessons and implications of the First World War: A Tale of Two Conferences; Britain and Germany – The Best of Enemies; The Causes, Consequences and Catastrophe of the First World War; How Propaganda Changes Perceptions and People; Surprising Facts About the First World War and The Islamisation of Europe – What Can Be Done to Stop and Reverse It.
As I have presented lectures on these to various History Societies, and at universities, several of these are available as audio messages on our SermonAudio.com link on the www.frontlinemission.org website.
Numerous of our audio messages and articles have also been made into PowerPoint presentations, and are available for you to view, or download, through our Slideshare link.
How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World
I also highly recommend Patrick Buchanan's bestselling book: Churchill, Hitler and The Unnecessary War – How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World. This book, published by Three Rivers Press, treats the First and Second World War as one Thirty Years War. I think Patrick Buchanan makes a very compelling and enlightening case.
A Hundred Years War
However, I am also coming to the conviction that while one can consider WWI and WWII as the Thirty Years War, it may be even more accurate to refer to the Hundred Years War. Since 1914 the world has not been at peace. The consequences of 1914 continue to afflict all of us.
Babylon and the Beast
It has also become clear that our real enemy is communism and the secular humanist New World Order, particularly as promoted by degenerate Hollywood, the treacherous United Nations and Apostate World Council of Churches. The New World Order agenda of a one-world government, one-world religion and one-world economy bear remarkable resemblance to the Biblical warnings in Revelation 13. Please see my article: Resisting Babylon and the Beast. This is also available as a PowerPoint.
Recently the tremendous threat of Radical Islam has also become clear. Yet very few understand the clear and present danger of Islam to freedom and civilisation. Our Slavery, Terrorism and Islam – The Historical Roots and Contemporary Threat book, has gone through multiple revisions and expansions and is now three times larger than the first edition.
Recognising Our Friends and Our Enemies
So, as we remember the fallen soldiers and Rhodesia's bold and brave stand against communist terrorism, we should also reflect on how the greatest century of Missions was derailed into the worst century of Persecution. There is no doubt, in my mind, that, if our ancestors could have seen the results that have flowed from the First and Second World Wars, they would not have fought against one another, they would have fought side by side, against the real enemy.
Understand the Times
May God grant that we may understand the times and know what God's people should do (1 Chronicles 12:32).
"Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things… and do not become idolaters… Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition…" 1 Corinthians 10:6-11
Dr. Peter Hammond
P.O. Box 74 Newlands 7725
Cape Town South Africa
Reformation or Revolution
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The KGB, Active Measures, Disinformation and Subversion
The Greatest Killer
War Against Christians Intensifies
How the Greatest Century of Missions Was Derailed Into the Worst Century of Persecution
Zimbabwe and Zambia - A Tale of Two Countries and Three Religions
Mugabe's Tsunami in Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe - A Lesson in How to Destroy Christian Civilisation