Of cabbages—and kings—

Prince Philip and Abe Menashe having a chat at the Victory Services Club

Prince Philip and Abe Menashe having a chat at the Victory Services Club

Of cabbages—and kings

“The time has come,” the Walrus said,

“To talk of many things

Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—

Of cabbages—and kings—

And why the sea is boiling hot—

And whether pigs have wings.”   (Through The Looking Glass)

Once upon a time, a Bechuana chief went to London to meet His Majesty, King George V.   Leaving Buckingham Palace after his audience, the press pressed him for details of the conversation.   he replied, “We kings know what to discuss.”

Of cabbages—and kings

My father, as mayor, received Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, in 1953 at the railway station in Que Que.  The whole town turned out for the event.  The station was newly white washed and decorated in red, white and blue bunting and strings of Union Jacks.  Departure of the white royal train was delayed. (My mother always claimed the train driver and the fireman had slipped away to pick up fish and chips to fuel their own fires for the onward journey.)  The Queen Mother reappeared from the royal carriage and motioned for my father to step forward for a tête-à-tête.

Afterwards, the press and, of course, the family pressed Dad for details.  But he never discussed it.

Abe Menashe, who grew up in Que Que, took a year off from working as an engineer at the Bulawayo Municipality to do his Defense Force Training in 1951.  He bought a one way boat ticket to Venice and hitched to England, living on biltong (jerky) for four months, learning Italian, Spanish and French along the way.  He entered the Advanced Field Officers Course at the School of Military Engineering in Gillingham.  He was gazetted an Officer of the Queen in the Southern Rhodesia Corp of Engineers.  He became mayor of Bulawayo in 1965.

Before Harold Wilson left Salisbury just prior to UDI November 1965, he warned “We have stated the economic, political and constitutional measures Britain would inescapably have to take in the event of a unilateral declaration of independence. I would not wish anyone to be in doubt about our ability and our will to put through these measures, or to be in any doubt about the decisive consequences that would result from them. Financially and economically—for I have said we foreswear the use of force—we would have to do everything in our power to restore constitutional rule”.
This is one of many examples of Ian Smith’s grotesque misjudgments.  Did he think the British Prime Minister would simply forget such a solemn and grave warning after a few months?

Long after UDI, Abe made a donation to the Victory Services Club in London.  A room was named for the 2nd Royal Rhodesian Regiment and No 2 Field Squadron Southern Rhodesia/Corps of Engineers.  Prince Philip is the Patron of the Victory Services Club.  He chatted to Abe at an annual reception.

The Victory Services Club in Marble Arch in London is available to any Serviceman or woman who served in Her Majesty’s forces and their descendants. This includes members of  the Royal Rhodesian Regiment, the K.A.R., the Sea Cadets, and the R.A.R., who served with distinction in Malaya. The Rhodesian Armed Forces (Post UDI) are not eligible.

The accommodation is affordable.  Abe is willing to assist:  email elparadiso@gmail.com 

2 Comments

  • betty

    Reply Reply June 17, 2012

    Wonderful story! And this is where you went for dinner, Diana? What an incredible experience. So sorry Prince Philip was taken ill during the festivities. I would have given anything to be part of all that you witnessed and enjoyed….memories to last a lifetime, for sure! Congratulations!

    • Diana

      Reply Reply June 17, 2012

      Actually Abe arranged for me to stay at the Victory Services Club and I can certainly recommend it. It’s wonderfully situated in the heart of London and its very comfortable there. The flotilla on the Thames was really a wonderful celebration for a really elegant Queen whose served her people through thick and thin. She made her first public speech on hercoming of age in Cape Town in 1947 at the start of the Royal Family’s Victory Tour that passed through our home town too.

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