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18 June 2014
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Immigration and Emigration
Church service on board HMS Fearless at the crucial talks between Ian Smith and Harold Wilson
What were the prayers for at the HMS Fearless talks?

© Brian Oliver
Zimbabwe – or was it Rhodesia?

Brian Oliver was born in London in 1924, but after his father was called to work in Malaya for the Post Office he spent much of his early life abroad. After schooling in Scotland and England, Brian had a short enlistment with the Indian Army,
Brian(R), brother Kenneth(L) and sister Pauline(M) with Amah in Kuala Lumpur, Malaya, 1930
Early days abroad in Malaya, with my brother, sister and Amah
© Brian Oliver
before an impulsive action in London took him into a life in the Civil Service; not with the British government, but with Ian Smith’s government in what was Rhodesia, East Africa.

"My schooling followed the route of many military families in the Far East, being shipped back to Britain, at the age of seven to the Edinburgh merchant school - George Heriot's. I then went on to Brentwood School, Essex, continuing my diet of adventurous reading in Boys Own Paper, the exploits of Nelson, Livingstone, Wellington, Cooke, Gordon and Rhodes of South Africa - imperialists and patriots all. “I joined the army straight from school at the age of 17, and was eventually commissioned in the Madras Regiment, Indian Army. My service took me to India and Burma but I spent the last 18 months, until the Partition of India in 1947, on the North-West Frontier in Baluchistan. Eventually, after an offer of a commission in the Malay Regiment, I decided that the army did not really suit me.
Brian Oliver in George Heriot's, 1935
School at Ediburgh was filled with adventurous reading
© Brian Oliver
So I returned to England in May, 1947."

On track for a new life

Being disillusioned with the relative tedium of England and always one for adventure, Brian decided, purely on impulse, to take a leap into the unknown, with a decision that was to change his life.

"While leaning on the railings one day, waiting for my girlfriend to finish work, I looked along the road and saw 429 Strand, Rhodesia House. I thought I’d drop in to see if they had any Civil Service posts available in Rhodesia. I was quickly offered a job as a clerk in the Rhodesian Government, earning the princely salary of £198 per annum!" After a Union Castle liner took him to Cape Town with no more than £2.00 in his pocket, he was set for his new life in Africa.


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