Lt. Ian Douglas Smith (Ret.) GCLM (8, April, 1919 - 20, November, 2007) was a British-Rhodesian farmer, fighter pilot, politician, & veteran of WWII, who served as the eighth Prime Minister of Southern Rhodesia and founder & 1st Prime Minister of the Republic of Rhodesia.

Between 1964 and 1979, Smith oversaw Rhodesia's armed forces during the Rhodesian Bush War against the communist backed, African nationalist guerrilla factions the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army lead by Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe.

Biography Edit

Early Life Edit

Ian Smith was born in the town of Selukwe in the British colony of Southern Rhodesia on 8, April, 1919 to John Smith MBE, a Scottish farmer who acted as Chief of the Southern Rhodesia Volunteers and established the Rhodesian Freemason's Lodge in Selukwe, and his wife Agnes Smith (née Hodgson.)

Smith attended Chaplin Boarding School in Gwelo, remarkable for his passion for sports and commitment to athleticism. During his final year, Smith was appointed head prefect, played as captain of the school rugby and tennis teams, received the Victor Ludorum, and practiced outstanding marksmanship.

In 1938, Smith enrolled at Rhodes University in Grahamstown, South Africa, where he began studying for a Bachelor of Commerce degree. However, his studies were temporarily abandoned after he enlisted with the British Royal Air Force upon the outbreak of the Second World War.

Return to Rhodes University Edit

In 1946, Smith returned to Rhodes University to continue studies for his Bachelor of Commerce degree, and stood out for his involvement in University affairs. He accepted a proposition to coach the Rhodes rowing team and was appointed Chairman of the Student's Representative Council. In the summer of 1946, Smith lead the team to victory in the South African Inter-Varsity Rowing Competition and received national-standard varsity honours for his sportsmanship.

In late 1946, Smith received his commerce degree and began studying farming at the Agricultural College of Southern Rhodesia. During this time he learned the finer points of managing a farm, and for the following two years he worked on a dairy farm at Selukwe and later a tobacco ranch at Marandellas.

Political Career Edit

During July, 1948, Smith was approached by member's of Rhodesia's Liberal Party, requesting he run for MP in Selukwe for the party, and while initially reluctant he decided to run, hoping to defend the value's he fought for during WWII and commit to ensuring sound government. On 15, September, 1948, Ian won the candidacy for the position as Selukwe's Member of Parliament.

Smith's exertions within the government revolved around worker's affairs, particularly farming and mining regulations, and one of his earliest distinctions was during a speech to the Legislative Assembly in regards to the Union of South Africa Trade Agreement. Initially, he was largely unremarkable, however, his efforts in parliament earned him the respect of party leader Raymond Stockil.

Military Service Edit

Second World War Edit

In 1941, Smith was recruited into the British Royal Air Force and underwent training at the Empire Training Programme at Gwelo, Southern Rhodesia before being assigned to Royal Air Force Squadron No.237 and stationed in Egypt. In 1944, Smith's unit was restationed in Corsica, Italy in preparation for a strafing campaign over Northern Italy on 22, June. During the campaign Smith's plane was shot down and he was stranded behind enemy lines, however he eventually joined a group of pro-Allied Italian Partisans, with whom he worked to sabotage German garrisons for the following three months.

In October 1944, German forces withdrew from the region and the guerrilla force with whom Smith fought began the trek to France to join the Allied invasion of the Nazi occupied-territory. His party hiked across the Maritime Alps, marching through the snow until they were recovered by American forces in November, 1944.

In April, 1945, Smith reenlisted with the British Royal Air Force Squadron No.130 and was stationed in West Germany until the Third Reich's surrender on 7, May, 1945. Following the end of the WWII, Smith served with Squadron No.130 until the end of his service, flying in Denmark and Norway until his discharge by the end of 1945.

Personal Life Edit

Family & Relationships Edit

In 1947, Smith met Janet Watt, a British-South African schoolteacher living with her family in Selukwe. She had traveled to Selukwe with her children Jean and Robert, to stay with her family following the death of her husband Pieter Duvenage, and eventually took a job at the local elementary school. In 1948, Smith and Janet were engaged, and Ian decided to purchase land to establish a farm and settle down. They named the land Gwenoro Ranch, after the Bantu name for the nearby stream that diverted into the Lundi & Impali rivers. Smith adopted Watt's children as his own, and on 24, May, 1949, Janet gave birth to Alec Smith, Ian's only biological son.

Trivia Edit

  • Smith was bilingual and fluent in English and Italian.