Col. Tim Wright - Current Chairman

Col. Tim Wright – Author

The Northern Rhodesia Police passed into history when the Republic of Zambia came into existence on 24 October 1964.  The ‘Story of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment’, published in Lusaka in 1953, did not neglect the civil side of the Force in the years up to 1 April 1932 when the old Northern Rhodesia Police split into what was to become the Regiment, and a more conventional colonial police force.  The Special Edition of the Northern Rhodesia Police magazine, ‘Nkhwazi’, in April 1964, contained a short history written by Paul Speich.  My contribution to the ‘Northern Rhodesia Record’ in 1992,  was written under the impression that it was to be annexed to a history of the Provincial Administration and highlighted links with that, the most prestigious and probably most important, part of the Government Service.  My researches since then have revealed much new material so that I believe I can fairly claim that this work is not merely a consolidation of what has been previously written about the NRP, including my series of articles in the Journal of the Police History Society, but the first full history of the NRP from its roots in the last decade of the Nineteenth Century.

Some may question why so much space has been devoted to the campaigns in which the Military Branch of the Force took part between 1914 and 1918 and to military aspects over the following thirteen years.  Firstly I believe I have been able to provide a more comprehensive account than that in “the Story of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment”,  of the part played by the NRP in the conquest of what is now Tanzania.  Secondly from 1911 until 1927 there was no direct recruitment of Africans into the Town and District police.  Candidates had first to serve four years in the Military Branch.  Capt Percy Wardroper, the Commissioner of Police in 1932, had himself served with the Service Battalion in the Field from 1915 until 1918 and been Adjutant of the Force for several years thereafter.  Commissioned officers in the 1920s might find themselves serving a tour of duty with the Town and District police at Livingstone or Broken Hill before returning to the Military Branch.  At least one Town and District constable, Ronald Howe who went on to become Chief Inspector, had a spell at the Front.  The Northern Rhodesia Regiment rightly inherited the Battle Honours and colours but could claim no higher proportion of veterans in its ranks than the purely civil NRP of 1932.

In Peace the purpose of the old Military Branch was to deal with any major disturbances beyond the capabilities of the civil administrative officials and the Town and District Police.  In fact the role of the Military Branch was identical with that assumed by the Northern Rhodesia Police Mobile Unit in 1949.  When there was a real danger of armed incursion from Zaire in the early 1960s platoons of the Mobile Unit were deployed on the border alongside regular infantry units, as indeed, A/Insp Bernard O’Leary and a police detachment were deployed alongside the Northern Rhodesia Regiment on the same border in 1939.  One cannot properly separate the military and police history of pre-1932 Northern Rhodesia.

The members of a police force serve in diverse detachments at full stretch 365 days a year in peace and war.  Even on a small station the investigation of one particular crime or a public order operation will seldom involve the whole staff.  Patrols and other investigations will continue though the heavens may fall.  Small parties or individual police officers are engaged in separate battles and skirmishes in the war against crime, the protection of life and property and maintenance of the Sovereign’s peace.  To write the history of a police force is, therefore, a very different undertaking to writing that of a battalion of infantry operating as a body or in a handful of sub-units or detachments, with periods of action interspersed with peacetime routine and training, or even of a regiment with battalions serving in different theatres.  Whether involved in great events or small a police force is engaged on a myriad of fronts and can never be taken out of the line to retrain, rest or reorganise.  Of course major events and investigations will dominate its written history but the reader should bear in mind that in “other corners of the Field” life was not without its dangers, frustrations and successes.

It is some 15 years since a challenge in the Northern Rhodesia Police Association Newsletter led me to assemble my old Force magazines and other papers from my service with the NRP and Zambia Police, L H Gann’s “Birth of a Plural Society” and  Moyse-Bartlett’s definitive history of the King’s African Rifles, both purchased many years before in Lusaka, and sketch out my first draft of this work.  In the late 1960s I had foolishly lent out my copy of “The Story of the Northern Rhodesia Regiment”, which had not been returned.  In 1990 the book was republished by Galago but this was the 1980s and I was in Germany.  Happily I was able to borrow copies of that work and Colin Harding’s three books from the Ministry of Defence Library (Central and Army) in Whitehall the staff of which served me well in this and other matters.

My thanks are also due to the staffs of the Public Record Office, British Library, Rhodes House Library, Oxford, Imperial War Museum, the National Police College library, Bramshill, the  Commonwealth War Graves Commission, my good friends at the Prince Consort’s Library, Aldershot, Dr Peter Liddle and his staff at the Liddle Collection, Leeds University and Sir Peter O’Sullevan, the son of an officer who served in the Barotse Native Police and the North-Eastern Rhodesia Constabulary and was a founder member of the Northern Rhodesia Police, Alan Walker, Peter Silk, Mike Faddy and Brian Taylor.

I am grateful to the committee of the Northern Rhodesia Police Association, Michael Mylod OBE, our Chairman, Jeremy Hawkins, Chris Lyon and Priscilla Flower-Smith who read my draft, corrected errors and made helpful suggestions.  I am especially grateful to Jeremy who lent me his full run of the Northern Rhodesia Journal and other publications, some of which he had previously lent me at Livingstone in 1958.  I have also received assistance from many other old friends and colleagues including John Coates CPM, Bob Barkley CPM, Denis Bird MBE CPM, Don Bruce QPM, Fred Buckton, who lent me his almost full run of Nkhwazi, Wally Clarke, Roger Heckford, Nick Hulette, Joe Joseph OBE, Iain Mackintosh, Alan Marginson, John Maybank, David (Chiefie) Oliver CPM, David Deptford QPM CPM, Malcolm Flower-Smith, A St John Sugg CMG, Paul Wheeler, David Williams, the late Ross Collett CPM and “Compol” himself, the late Col J P I Fforde CBE QPM CPM.  Mention must also be made of L A Heatlie, David Mkankaulwa and B D (Chunky) Powell and Edward Deane Simmons MBE and Eddie Raubenheimer from whose contributions to Nkhwazi and the NRP Association Newsletter I have quoted or drawn material.


Click the links in the table below to select each chapter which can also be downloaded for printing as required. The chapters are Adobe PDF files embedded in the web pages.


                    By  TIM WRIGHT


Chapter One       “THE LOQUS IN QUO”




Annex to Ch 4     Roll of Officers & British Other Ranks BNP


Chapter Five      “THE NORTHERN RHODESIA POLICE” 1911-1914

Chapter Six       “ON ACTIVE SERVICE” 1914-1916

Chapter Seven     “A LONG, LONG TRAIL A’WINDING” 1916-1918

Chapter Eight     “SOLDIERS FROM THE WARS RETURNING” 1919-1924

Chapter Nine      “POLICE & MILITARY UNDER THE CROWN” 1924-1932



Chapter Eleven    “PURELY POLICE” 1932-1939

Chapter Twelve    “ON THE HOME FRONT” 1939-1945

Chapter Thirteen  “POST-WAR RECONSTRUCTION” 1946-1953

Chapter Fourteen  “TOWARDS A NEW DOMINION” 1953-1959

Chapter Fifteen   “INTERIOR ECONOMY” 1957-1960

Chapter Sixteen   “RETREAT FROM FEDERATION” 1960-1963

Chapter Seventeen “END OF EMPIRE” 1964



2.FATAL AFRICAN CASUALTIES 1914-1918 – click here to see the Livingstone Police Camp Memorial page

3.AWARDS TO AFRICAN POLICE – click here to see the Honours page

4.ALPHABETICAL LIST OF OFFICERS APPOINTED 1.4.24-23.10.64 – not included

BIBLIOGRAPHY- not included

INDEX – not included