Breaking Away

Breaking Away

Gervas Hughes had fended off military call-up papers for four years, telling them his son was overseas. One day another letter arrived from the Ministry of Defense requesting Tim attend a medical examination before doing his four months compulsory national service training.

Breaking Away

He had been subjected to ‘cadets’ at high school and loathed it. Four months out of his life to learn to kill people was not his idea of fun. He needed six months to decide if he wanted to live in Rhodesia.  When he was younger he had suffered from sore feet. He persuaded the doctor to give him a six month deferment.

Before Christmas Aunt Joanie flew in briefly from Tanganyika. His sister, Angela, stayed a week at Melrose en route from England to Australia. She asked Tim to shoot a guinea fowl that she’d cook for dinner.

Just before sundown, Tim with a shotgun on his shoulder and cartridges in his pocket took Angela for a walk to the spruit (stream that only flows in the wet season). As anticipated, a flock were perched in a large Makumba tree, making plenty of noise as they settled down for the night. He shot one.  The whole tree erupted.

“How many more do you want?” Angela, somewhat appalled, said  “No more, thanks.” Whenever he needed venison he went out with a rifle just before dawn and shot a buck.

Tim wrote to Eleanor on 8th December 1961 to tell her that he didn’t want to stay in Rhodesia and had decided to live in Queensland.

He told Gervas and Dorothy.  Gervas was upset. He would sell the 3000 acre Melrose Farm of red fertile soil, half of which was under cultivation but keep the 8820 acres that made up Giraffe, Greenham and Glen Arrock Farms.

Tim was unmoved.

The Rhodesian Territorial Army was due to tell Charles T. Hughes to be medically re-examined for his call-up.  Just in case he was deemed an army deserter and prevented from leaving the country, he obtained an official letter to allow him to travel to Johannesburg for a ‘holiday’.

In mid January, 1962, Dorothy and Gervas took him to catch the Que Que-Bulawayo train. “You can hang by your own tail. Don’t expect anything from me.”

Tim never, ever regretted his decision.

Dorothy and Gervas Hughes commiserate on hearing that Tim is immigrating to Australia

Dorothy and Gervas Hughes commiserate on hearing that Tim is immigrating to Australia

Many thanks to Tim Hughes for this excerpt and photo from his unpublished manuscript Matambega and Son written in the 1980’s.

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