I Was Nearly Killed Getting This Shot

Double Garratts Operating In A Remote Location

It was 1975, and Mozambique was in the process of being handed over to local rule. The FRELIMO who had been fighting a guerrilla war for years, had just been granted the reigns of government.

It was at this time that I entered the country with a mate to photograph the remaining steam action in the country. We either didn’t care, or didn’t understand the delicate political situation we were walking into.

The ultimate steam power in that country was in the form of double garratts operating on the line from Beira to Machupanda, the trains continuing on into white separatist Rhodesia, a country that was in a blockade at the time.

This rail link was a lifeline for the country, and a means to circumvent the embargo. As such it was very sensitive politically.


Double Garratts Cross A Bridge With Disused Guard Post In The Background

You can see in the picture above that wherever there were bridges, just weeks before our arrival, guard posts would be manned with observers looking for terrorists trying to blow up the line.

In Angola, on the other side of the continent, the Benguela railway line was all but destroyed through bombing.

 

Another Double Garratt Combination Near The Rhodesian Border

On arrival in this part of the world, we set up camp in the only place we could find which wasn’t teaming with people. As we started cooking the evening meal, 2 trucks arrived full of soldiers. They surrounded us and pointed their guns at us.

It was very scary. As we couldn’t communicate, things got worse. They made us throw all of our camping equipment in the back of our station wagon, and provided two armed guards to ride in the back seat as we were directed to the military base at Manica.

When we got there, a bunch of soldiers signalled us to take off our shirts, lined us up against the wall, pointed their guns at us and then laughed! It wasn’t’ funny.

We managed to get a permit to go photograph in the area, which enabled a few more shots of double Garratts, ones I treasure. Many of them have never been published.

I hope you enjoy these are phtographs, obtained at risk of life and limb!

 

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