A large circle in front of Battalion HQ had be tradition, been christened “The Holy Ground”. On the original plans of the barracks, an open-air pulpit was designed in the centre of the circle for Battalion Church Parades but, this was later dispensed with due to lack of funds. On the appointment of Lt. Col. R. EDWARDS, DSO., MC, as Commanding Officer he, accompanied the then RSM WO1 R. REID-DALY, MBE, stepped out to the centre of the circle and pronounced the area “unholy”.
Paths were then constructed across the circle. In keeping with the original concept of “HOLY GROUND” no bicycle or wheeled transport was allowed to be ridden or driven across it and the paths were to be strictly adhered to.
The occasion took place at Makuti where Battalion HQ was deployed, not Kariba, as previously thought. All the Commandos were deployed elsewhere, for example 3 Commando which was commanded by the late, then, Capt. H. J. Rowley, was deployed to Thornhill Air Base in Gwelo. The occasion did not take place on 11 November 1965, it was a week or two later when Battalion HQ moved to Makuti from Kariba. It was a impromptu and for obvious reasons a very low key affair, where all the officers, warrant officers, sergeants, junior NCOs and ORs got together under a tarpaulin.
The CO, Lt.-Col. G.P. Walls, addressed us. He then toasted Rhodesia and then the Battalion.The RSM, WO1 Tarr O. R., then followed this up with leading in the singing of The Saints, with the volume kept right down. Maj. P. A. Conn was the 2IC, the late Capt. D. G. Parker was the Adjutant. and the late Lt. H. Meyer was the RSO. This is how that tradition was initiated. Thereafter the occasion was celebrated on 11 November every year on the anniversary of UDI.
a. CHRISTMAS MORNING: An officer from each sub-unit is to be appointed by the Commanding Officer to dispense the traditional “GUN FIE” ie: rum & coffee to all troops in bed at 0700 hours on Christmas morning.
b. DUTIES: CHRISTMAS DAY: The Adjt. And ORQMS are to fulfil the duties of Orderly Officer and Orderly Sergeant on Christmas Day and are to supervise the “GUN FIRE”.
c. TROOPS CHRISTMAS LUNCH: As near as possible to Christmas the Troops Christmas Lunch is held in the Main Dining Hall.
A V.I.P. guest is invited to propose the toast to the Regiment and Officers and NCO’s then commence the time honoured tradition of serving lunch to all ranks below Sergeant. On completion of the lunch, the Officers and NCO’s are called forward one by one to drink a pint of beer to the loud accompaniment of crashing cutlery on the tables. The V.I.P.s are escorted by the Officers and NCO’s to the Corporals Dining Room for a buffet lunch. Over the years a practice of the RSM opening his Mess to all “Servers” at the Christmas Lunch had become traditional.