Regimental Sergeant Major of the RAR – Stephen Machado Banda BEM, CPM
Station Sergeant Stephen Machado Banda, BEM, CPM, British South Africa Police Askari Platoon. Banda originated from Nyasaland and joined the BSAP Askari Platoon in 1927.
In 1940 he was a Station Sergeant when he was seconded to the Rhodesian Africa Rifles as part of the training cadre around which the RAR formed. Banda was appointed Regimental Sergeant Major of the RAR in 1942 and deployed with the regiment to East Africa and Burma in that capacity.
After the surrender of the Japanese and the conclusion of hostilities in Burma he wrote:
‘I am proud to be in this battalion of brave men who fight, even as do the elephants, in this deep green jungle. We met the enemy who shelled us violently with his great guns, but they failed to make us turn away from the fight. We fought on until the enemy was outwitted and defeated, and through bravery and the help of God our losses were not big.
Since the birth of the regiment I have known it. Since it’s formation I have done what I could to teach these men of the Rhodesian African Rifles. I have seen the glorious results of that teaching of mine and of the officers of the regiment.
And today, we all smile together. For, have we not fought and risked our lives side by side to keep our land safe from the horrible things we have seen here? And the war being over, we feel that we may thing of our fighting comrades and – having seen what the war can cause to people and lands – may humbly say, Ishe komberera Africa (God save Africa). We, who have known, sing these words with our thoughts resting on them, and our eyes seeing desolate lands, and the graves of the soldiers of the Rhodesian African Rifles.’
After the war Banda took part in the Victory Parade in London and then returned to the BSAP and continued to serve in the Askari Platoon until he finally retired in 1963. A total of 36 years service during which he was awarded the British Empire Medal and the Colonial Police Medal for Meritorious Service.