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Ian Smith
Ian Smith served in the British Royal Air Force during the Second World War. The future Rhodesian Prime Minister was posted to No. 237 (Rhodesia) Squadron, then stationed in the Middle East, in late 1942. He flew in the Western Desert in 1943 until a crash during a night takeoff resulted in facial disfigurements and a broken jaw. Following reconstructive plastic surgery to his face, other operations, and five months' convalescence, he rejoined No. 237 Squadron. In June 1944, when his plane was shot down by flak in northern Italy, he parachuted into the Ligurian Alps, behind German lines. He spent three months working with the local resistance movement before trekking westwards across the Maritime Alps to join up with the Allied forces that had just invaded southern France. He continued to fly combat missions until Germany surrendered. In 1965, Rhodesia's long history of military support for the mother country was one of the factors that led to the Smith administration's Unilateral Declaration of Independence. (Full article...)