14 NOVEMBER 1970, Page 19

Fighting Stock

Sir: It would be charitable to as- sume that it is in innocent igno- rance that Mr Rowcliffe in your issue or 31 October quotes but misinterprets the 1961 Rhodesian census figures. True, a large num- ber of the post-war immigrants to Rhodesia were born in the Repub- lic of South Africa. But that the great majority were of British and not Afrikaaner stock is shown in the next column which tabulates religious denominations. It is fair to correlate Dutch Reform Church with Afrikaaner. and this shows them to have been 9.1 per cent of the White population (a decline of 2.3 per cent of the 1956 figure). Similarly it is fair to correlate the 11.2 per cent Presbyterians with Scots. and the 2.4 per cent Hebrew with Jews. It is a strange lapse on the part of this seeker after truth not to have noticed this column.

His sneer at Rhodesians fighting for us is similarly distorted. When I arrived in Rhodesia in 1948 there was still such strong feeling against the six young men who had refused to join up that there was a popular demand that they should be de- prived of citizenship. So far from any need for conscription an Act had to be passed creating reserved occupations to prevent the econo- my being brought to a standstilL Of the 12 members of Mr Smith's cabinet at the time of urn all but one, who was totally unfit had at once joined the colours. Mr. Smith himself (sat' fighter pilot, wounded, shot down and fought with the partisans) may be contras- ted with his 23 year-old contem- porary Mr Harold Wilson, who promptly dodged into the Ministry of Food.

W 1Cmdr Sir Archibald James Champions Farm, Thakehatn, Pul- borough, Sussex.