‘From Carl von Rosen To Bruce Mayrock’– Chronicles Of Notable Foreign Heroes Of Biafra (A MUST READ)
By Paul Ihechi Alagba,
For Family Writers.
As Biafrans all over the world celebrate our 30th of May annual ‘Biafra Heroes/Genocide Memorial Day’, I decided going into research in my quest to see why almost the rest of the world turned against Biafra sovereignty at a time when Biafrans needed them most. I discovered that it was actually as a result of the hypocrisy and selfishness of the then world leaders, especially the British government that fueled the genocide; while the media blackout by the powerful media outlets in the world, of which media outlets such as BBC were complicit, acted as a catalyst to the ‘ethnic cleansing” against Biafrans from1967-1970.
However, my anger got relieved a little bit stumbling upon these men whose name among others cannot be erased from the history book of Biafra. Most of these men never knew the extent of genocide being executed against Biafrans before they were sent as agents of relief agencies to help the millions of starving children in, while others are mercenaries, who on seeing that what Biafrans were passing through is beyond what relief materials can solve, they decided to join Biafran forces to help save Biafrans from total annihilation from the face of the earth. Some of these brave men are as follows-
COUNT CARL ERICSSON VON ROSEN
Carl Ericsson von Rosen, the son of a Swedish Explorer-Eric von Rosen was born on the 19th day of August 1909 in Helgesta, Flen Municipality, Sodermanland, Sweden. He was a Swedish pioneer Aviator, a Humanitarian Titan and a renowned mercenary pilot who grew up on Rockelstad Castle. He flew relief missions as well as combat missions in several conflict zones across the world, the most notable being his dreaded ‘Malmo Flygindustri MFI-9 Junior’ flights for the Biafra Air Force during the Nigeria-Biafra war.
Count Carl von Rosen in alliance with some of his fellow Swedish compatriots and other renowned Biafran pilots formed a dreaded Squadron popularly known as “Biafra Babies” and struck air fields in Port-Harcourt, Enugu, Benin and others with which the genocidal Nigerian government used in frustrating relief flights coming into Biafraland as well as in launching deadly attacks against millions of Biafran civilians in market places, schools, homes and relief/refugee centers. The ‘Biafra Babies’ caused severe casualties to some Nigerian expensive fighter jets as some of them such as the MIG-17 fighters and three out of six Nigerian Ilyushin Il-28 bombers were destroyed by the clever operations of the ‘Biafra Babies’.
Count Carl Ericsson von Rosen, who is survived with six children died on 13 July 1977 after a relief flight he was flying to refugees in Ethiopia during the ‘Ogaden war’ got attacked in Gode by Somali armies.
ARTHUR ALVES PEREIRA
Many young Biafrans may not know him, but this Portuguese man, Artur Alves Pereira is one of Legendary foreigners who fought gallantly in alliance with Biafran warlords to ensure that Biafrans were not exterminated from the face of the earth by the genocidal Nigeria government and British government during the civil war.Born on February 26, 1942, in Angola, Arthur Alves Pereira joined the Portuguese Air Force in May 1962, serving in both Portugal and Angola as a pilot. He initially flew relief aids to the then war-torn Biafra before he joined the Biafra Air Force, BAF, in 1969, after he couldn’t resist the horrible sight of the genocide being perpetrated against Biafrans, with the Biafran T6-Texans which was among the ‘Biafra Babies’ placed under his command. He also served as a ‘Squadron leader’ in the Biafra Air Force.
The brave Arthur Alves Pereira left the Biafran Air Force on January 10 1970, few days before the war ended. He has four sons and six grandchildren.
Pereira who is still alive have not taken his heart away from Biafra as he is still advocating for Biafra restoration. Arthur Alves Pereira is currently one of the leading advocates of Biafra freedom on various social media platforms.
DAVID HUGH TAFFY WILLIAMS
Born in 1933 in Glamorgan, Wales, United Kingdom, Taffy Williams was the most dreaded foreign mercenary Biafra ever had during the war, rising to the rank of ‘Major’ in the Biafran army. He led several offensives with his troops who were fond of his invisibility in the war front against the invasion of Nigerian troops and their foreign mercenaries into Biafra land.
“Williams was assigned one hundred Biafran fighters in early 1968, and managed to keep two battalions of Chadian mercenaries serving with the Nigerian Federal army at bay for twelve weeks with only antiquated weapons.”-Wrote the British legendary writer-Fredrick Forsyth in his book- THE BIAFRA STORY.
Taffy Williams was known to be always proud of his Biafran troops more than any other troops he has commanded.
“I’ve seen a lot of Africans at war, but there’s nobody to touch these people”
“Give me 10,000 Biafrans for six months and we’ll build an army that would be invincible on this continent. I’ve seen men die in this war who would have won the Victoria Cross in another context”- Fredrick Forsyth quoted Williams to have braggingly said.
Taffy Williams who left the Biafran Army shortly before the end of the war in 1970 was likely the last foreign soldier to leave Biafraland. He died in 1996.
Lt. COL. ROLF STEINER
Born on January 3, 1933 in Munich Bavaria, Germany. Rolf Steiner, born to a protestant father and Catholic mother was a professional and renowned ‘soldier of fortune’. Steiner, a former member of the Hitler Youth had earlier intended becoming a priest for the Catholic Church with the dream of being posted for missionary works in Africa. However, his dream didn’t materialise as he joined the French Foreign Legion at Offenburg when he was 17years of age, where he first served in the paratrooper unit against the Viet Minh during the Indo-China war, and also served in Suez in 1956 during the Suez crisis. He was later deployed to Sidi-bel-Abbes in Algeria where he fought against the Front de Liberation Nationale(FLN) uprising.
While in Paris, Rolf Steiner came in contact with his former colleague, Paul Faulques in 1967, who was organising few mercenaries to help save Biafrans from the ongoing genocide. Rolf Steiner immediately flew into Port-Harcourt(Igweocha) Biafra land, through Lisbon, Portugal and voluntarily enrolled himself into the Biafran Army where he served all through his stay without pay. Due to his bravery and dangerous guerilla skills, He was awarded with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel within a short period of time in the Biafran Army where he commanded the 4th Biafran Commando Brigade.
On May 26, 1968, Steiner through his powerful guerilla method led his troops to a successful offensive against the Nigeria Air Field in Enugu, during which not less than six Russian made bomber and fighter aircrafts were destroyed. He introduced the ‘skull and crossbones’ insignia to his troops and was always proud of his Brigade as he would always describe them as ‘quick learners and ‘highly motivated’.
Rolf Steiner is still alive as he is currently living in his home country in Munich, Germany.
Marc Goosens was a great soldier who sacrificed his life in a bid to save Biafrans from the genocide being executed on them by the Nigerian government. Goossens was among the 3,000 Brigade led by Rolf Steiner which launched an assault on the Nigerian troops in a bid to reclaim the fallen Onitsha. Unfortunately, Goossens was killed two months into the assault in November 1968. Few hours Before his death, Marc Goossens was reported to have made a stunning revelation saying-
“One thing about this war is that we’re fighting the English on the other side!”
Although Bruce was not among those who fought the war, his self immolation in protest against the genocide Biafrans were being subjected to in Nigeria scored him a legendary status in the heart of many Biafrans. Bruce Mayrock, an idealist young American student of Columbia University was born on the 6th of May 1949. In a protest against the international community silence and inaction on the genocide going on in Biafra, Mayrock set himself ablaze in front of the United Nations headquarters in New York City on May 29 1969. He died nine hours after the incident in a hospital. This sacrifice of the 20year old Bruce Mayrock helped draw the attention of some Americans and the rest of the world to the plight of Biafrans. Bruce Mayrock left an indelible mark on the heart of millions of Biafrans ever since.
John Winston Ono Lennon was born in Liverpool, England to Alfred and Julia Lennon on October 9, 1940. Married to Cynthia Powell(1962-1968), and Yoko Ono, who remained his wife till his death in 1980. Lennon had two children- Julian Lennon and Sean Lennon.
The lifetime of the renowned artist and activist is deeply embroiled in his illustrious musical career which he started at tender age. With the help of his friend, Paul McCartney, they were able to form ‘The Beatles’ band group in early 1960s, which also had George Harrison- a guitarist, and Stuart Sutcliffe- a bassist as members, In a short period of time, The Beatles rose to international limelight, as the band group’s popularity increased, even across U.S.A. The group released it first single- “LOVE ME DO” in October 1962, while their debut album- “PLEASE PLEASE ME” was released in February 1963.
The landmark successes recorded by The Beetles band group led to its royal recognition by Queen Elizabeth II in 1965, who honoured John Lennon and his colleagues with an MBE(Member of the Order of the British Empire) award, during the Queen’s Birthday Honours 1965.
However, four years later(1969), John Lennon, notable for his controversial activism; and having seen the gory pictures of starving Biafran kids, and the genocide being perpetrated against Biafrans, returned his own MBE award medal to the Queen accompanied with a letter.
Meanwhile the John Lennon’s letter was recently unearthed by a British citizen who pleaded anonymity according to reports by the British media.
The letter expressed outrage over the British government role in the war crime being executed against Biafrans which Lennon referred to as “the Nigeria-Biafra thing”. It also criticised the supportive role played by Britain to America during the Vietnam crisis, as well as the “Cold Turkey slipping down the charts”.
“I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria- Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against the Cold Turkey slipping down the charts,” Lennon stated in his letter.
The British government were accused of assisting the Nigerian forces led by General Yakubu Gowon with weapons and logistics with which they used in infiltrating the Biafran territories during the war that lasted between 1967 and 1970, resulting to the massacre and starving to death of about 6million Biafrans.
These brave men among others sacrificed it all so that we all might live today. They said no to the conspiracy of the world against our people. They rose against the genocide, suppression and subjugation being perpetrated against Biafrans. We owe it as a duty to celebrate them always as we observe our”SIT-AT-HOME” on May 30. The labours and sacrifices of our heroes can never be in vain.
*THE BIAFRA STORY by Fredrick Forsyth
*THE REAL DOGS OF WAR published by UK Bulletin Magazine- 2005).