1st Battalion Rhodesian Light Infantry



Formation of No. 1 Training Unit (precursor to 1RLI)
Formation (resurrection) of C (Rhodesia) Squadron SAS
Belgium grants independence to its Congo colony, resulting in chaos
Formation of ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People's Union) under Joshua Nkomo


1RLI formed on 1 February
Congo Emergency and collapse of Katangese secessionist government


1RLI move to new barracks in Cranborne, Salisbury
Her Majesty, The Queen approves RLI's regimental badge
Nationalists begin campaign of civil disorder, resulting in banning of ZAPU
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Her Majesty, The Queen, approves RLI's regimental colours in July
Operation Zephyr and other minor operations initiated to counter increasing intimidation by nationalist agitators
Rhodesian Nationalists split - ZANU formed by ZAPU dissenters led by Ndabaningi Sithole
First ZANU (ZANLA) recruits undergo training in China
Break-up of the Central African Federation in December
RLI strength reduced to 200 men as a result of Federal 'golden handshake' and morale plummets


First insurgent (ZANU's the 'Crocodile Gang') infiltration into Rhodesia in July
Ian Smith becomes Rhodesian Prime Minister
ZANU banned and Robert Mugabe detained
Malawi and Zambia attain independence


1RLI reformed as a commando battalion
Lt-Col. G. P. Walls (CO 1RLI) introduces RLI green beret
RLI receives colours from governor of Rhodesia, Sir Humphrey Gibbs in June
RLI successfully 'commando-tested' in exercises Flick Knife and Long Drag
Britain applies oil embargo on Rhodesia


Harold Wilson, British PM, persuades UN to violate its own charter (Article 41) and impose sanctions on Rhodesia in April
Op Pagoda - ZANU's first serious military infiltration into Rhodesia in May
Op Yodel - RLI's first contact with ZANU insurgents at Chirundu in September RLI parachute club formed
Smith and Wilson meet aboard HMS Tiger off Gibraltar in December. The talks end in failure
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Op Nickel - first major ZAPU incursion into Rhodesia in August
Start of clandestine Rhodesian operations in Mozambique
Arrival of South African Police (SAP)


Op Cauldron - ZAPU's second major incursion and the blooding of the RLI in March
Op Glove and capture of Moffat Hadebe in June
Op Griffin - ZAPU's third major incursion in July
Op Excess - ZAPU's fourth incursion in July
Rhodesia hangs three insurgents for murder despite Queen's reprieve
Talks between Wilson and Smith break down aboard HMS Fearless in October


Rhodesia becomes a republic
Samora Machel (Frelimo) grants Josiah Tongogara (ZANLA) permission to operate against Rhodesia from bases in Tete Province, Mozambique
Sithole imprisoned for plotting to assassinate Smith


First and only Trooping of the Colour by 1RLI in June
Op Birch - ZAPU's fifth incursion in December


RLI celebrates tenth birthday with a special tattoo at Glamis Stadium, Salisbury in January
Smith and British PM, Alec Douglas-Home, agree on ill-fated settlement proposals
Bishop Abel Muzorewa forms UANC to oppose settlement proposals


RLI in classical war exercise at Ngezi during March - April
Pearce Commission reports rejection of settlement proposals by Rhodesian blacks
ZANLA begins massive infiltration to 'politicize' the tribespeople by torture and intimidation prior to
beginning final phase of 'The Zimbabwe Armed Struggle'
Op Sable - RLI's first cross-border operation into Mozambique in September
Attack on Altena Farm and start of the Chimurenga War, ZANU's 'War of liberation'


Start of Op Hurricane in January
Rhodesian border with Zambia is closed in January
First major abduction of black schoolchildren from St Albert's Mission in July
Laying of border minefield, the cordon sanitaire, commences
Protected Villages (PVs) scheme initiated to deny insurgents access to tribespeople
Smith begins negotiations with Muzorewa in July
Formation of Selous Scouts in November


National Service period extended from 9 to 12 months
Coup d'etat in Portugal opens up Rhodesia's vulnerable eastern flank in April
Vorster, South African PM, enters into détente with so-called African Frontline states in a miscalculated attempt to solve the 'Rhodesian question' and forces Smith to release the detained Nationalists
Mugabe usurps leadership of ZANU from Sithole
ZANLA rocked by internal 'Nhari rebellion'
Rhodesian Security Forces kill 345 insurgents in this year, including 75% of the insurgent leadership within the country
RLI forced to accept National Service conscripts to bolster dwindling numbers and embarks on a vigorous foreign recruitment campaign
Portugal hands over Mozambique to unselected Frelimo government


Rhodesia imposes dawn-to-dusk curfew in border areas
ZANLA regroups under Tongogara and launches its war of attrition
Mugabe appointed leader of ZANU
Deaths of Maj-Gen. John Shaw, Col. David Parker and Capts. John Lamb and Ian Robinson in helicopter crash


Opening of Op Thrasher area in eastern border area in February
Samora Machel closes Mozambique's border with Rhodesia in March
ZANLA usurps military status from ZIPRA as superior liberation movement
Insurgent infiltration from Mozambique intensifies
Extended National Service increased from 12 to 18 months
Opening of Op Repulse area in southeastern border area in May to counter increased ZANLA infiltration
Selous Scouts initiates cross-border warfare on ZANLA in Mozambique in August by surprising ZANLA at Nyadzonya and killing hundreds of insurgents
Kissinger and Vorster pressurize Smith to accept principle of majority rule
South Africa withdraws SAP from Rhodesia
ZAPU, threatened by OAU funding cut, re-enters conflict and deploys ZIPRA through Zambia and Botswana
Opening of Op Tangent operational area in Matabeleland to counter ZIPRA's infiltration.
Patriotic Front alliance of ZAPU and ZANU formed at abortive Geneva Conference in December
Rhodesian Security Forces' kill rate rises significantly


Extended National Service increased from 18 months to 2 years
Smith rids his party of radicals by calling early election
The RLI becomes a parachute commando unit
Formation of Ministry of Combined Operations (ComOps)
Lt-Col. G. P. Walls appointed military supremo in March
Smith rejects Anglo-American proposals
Op Dingo - massive external attack on ZANLA's Chimoio/Vanduzi camp by Rhodesian Security Forces in November results in thousands of enemy casualties


Smith and moderate black leaders agree on internal settlement leading to interim Government of Zimbabwe - Rhodesia with Muzorewa as Prime Minister
Internal settlement snubbed by Britain and UN
Fireforce tactics reviewed in May
Elim Mission massacre of british missionaries by ZANLA in June
RLI memorial statue 'The Troopie' planned
Op Turmoil - Security Forces attack ZIPRA's Kavalamanja base in Zambia in March
Integration of Muzorewa and Sithole supporters as Security Force Auxiliaries (SFAs) to assist Security Forces in combating ZANLA and ZIPRA
Ceasefire Circular issued by ComOps on 19 August
ZIPRA shoot down Rhodesian civilian Viscount aircraft and massacre survivors
Op Splinter area opened to cover entire length of Lake Kariba to counter ZIPRA's Northern Front region


Rhodesia's 'one man, one vote' election takes place on 21 April. Two million black voters turn out (64% of eligible voters). UANC are the victors; Muzorewa appointed Prime Minister
Britain and US refuse to grant recognition to Muzorewa's government
Second Air Rhodesia Viscount shot down by ZIPRA
Thatcher wins British elections but reneges on her promise to recognize Muzorewa's government
Op Uric - Security Forces attack on Mapai, Mozambique results in highest single disaster of the war but forces Mugabe to the negotiating table
Lancaster House Constitutional Conference in September - Muzorewa duped into another general election
Formalization of Ceasefire Proposal on 28 December, resulting in cessation of hostilities and movement of all insurgents into 16 national Assembly Points (APs)


Mugabe emerges as general election victor on 4 March
Former insurgents to be integrated into New National Army
State of Zimbabwe proclaimed on 18 April 1980
Disbandment of Rhodesian military commences
Op Quartz - Security Forces plan to destroy ZANLA and ZIPRA elements in APs is aborted
'Troopie' statue removed to South Africa
RLI colours laid up on 17 October

Source: Alex Binda