New Book on the Rhodesian Light Infantry


I had enjoyed "Fireforce" by Chris Cocks; this one looks like the RLI's equivalent to "Selous Scout: The pictorial"

Book Description
The Saints is a glossy, coffee-table, pictorial format book of the history
of the Rhodesian Light Infantry. Often underrated, but arguably one of the
most effective counter-insurgency units of all time, the RLI brought the
`Fireforce' concept to the world's attention--a devastatingly ruthless
airborne tactic. The RLI was a veritable `foreign legion' with over 20
nationalities represented. They fought the bitter Zimbabwean `bush war' for
15 years and RLI soldiers were recipients of four Silver Crosses and 42
Bronze Crosses of Rhodesia. An RLI trooper holds the world record for
operational parachute descents - a staggering 73 op jumps - most under 500
feet. The Saints contains hundreds of colour photos, maps, rolls of honour,
honours and awards. It includes a host of previously unpublished material
and many former RLI members contributed photos, memorabilia and anecdotes
to the project. Also included is a DVD containing previously unseen combat

At last! This is the history of the Rhodesian Light Infantry. We've seen the stories of the more 'glamourous' Selous Scouts, the SAS and the Rhodesian Air Force, but very little about the RLI, often underrated, but arguably one of the most effective counter-insurgency units of all time. This was the unit that brought the 'Fireforce' concept to the world's attention - the devastatingly ruthless airborne envelopment and annihilation of a guerrilla enemy. The RLI was a veritable 'foreign legion' with over 20 diverse nationalities serving in her ranks. It is a glossy coffee-table, pictorial format with hundreds of colour photos, maps, rolls, honours and awards. It is not intended as a definitive history but, with more of a classic 'scrapbook' feel, the presentation attempts to capture the essence of this fine unit - what it was like to be a troopie. We have accessed a host of unique, previously unpublished photos and illustrative material and many former RLI members have embraced the project, generously contributing photos, memorabilia and anecdotes. Ian Smith has written his tribute in the front and the foreword is by the last CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Aust.

Available on
Definitely on my list of purchases. I have some great memories of the RLI from the early 1960s, and in particular my old mate, then CSM Ro***e T**r. Wonder where he is now?
Looks good, but 47 quid for a book?

I might wait till it comes out in paperback.
Trotsky said:
Fantastic, will be purchasing after pay day!!

Anyone read Pamwe Chete?

Excellent account from formation to ignominious break up of the Scouts. Col Ron Reid Daly's accounts of fighting military bureaucracy to form the unit and get it fully operational have many shades of our own Army About it. Operational accounts are excellent but I got the impression reading them that he had taken the Ops Logs and War Diary with him when the unit broke up and then fleshed out the skeletal account from his own recollection and with accounts given by former scouts.

I was in Rhodesia on leave from OP BANNER for a time during the war and met some of these guys at Kariba and although having the appearance of unkempt walking armpits, they were the nicest blokes you could ever wish to meet and share a few shumba's with. Colonel Ron's book is a tribute to them and certainly a gripping book that I found difficult to put down.

Tartan_Terrier said:
Looks good, but 47 quid for a book?

I might wait till it comes out in paperback.
Many of these books are, indeed expensive and I have a fair collection of them but I can tell you that a great portion of the proceeds from many of these books (although I know nothing of the one under discussion) go to various charities back in Zim and RSA looking after brain damaged and crippled members of the former SF both Black and European who, unlike our own system of welfare which we tend to moan about now and then, simply does not have anything like the funding and resources they need to look after them in their advancing years.


Deleted 20555

is it available on any particular website?

Have some friends who'd like a copy.


Buy it now as when it goes out of print the sceptics will advertise on line for at least £100 a copy!
The post says available on Amazon. My first civvy employer was ex RLI and as a recently ex 1LI I was treated like a son, amazing as i am sure he lost at least one of his in the long war. Me I had just come out of NI and it was like having a mad uncle as a boss. The sort of mad uncle that you suspected was really your dad but you cant get your mum to confess!
Deleted 20555 said:
is it available on any particular website?

Have some friends who'd like a copy.
Available here

Would be grateful for feedback - Fireforce was a great book - not sure about coffee table formats though. Saying that, Barbara Cole's book on C Sqn was same format and that was very good.


Mine is on its way together with fireforce. I was too young really to know much about those days beyond what seemed like pretty good reporting from the BBC back then and a Pln Sgt who when I got to Bn had just returned from the monitoring force.
Having sen what effect being exiled had on my first boss it would be nice to know more about him!
One of the former tutors in the college where I work was ex-Rhodesian Army. He persuaded the college library to buy copies of Fireforce, Pamwe Chete and The Elite, so I've read them all at no cost to me.

God knows how he managed to get such "politically incorrect" books bought, but I'm glad he did. He's left now, so I'll have to buy my own copy of The Saints.
Hi Deleted 20555,

I would certainly endorse Peter Godwin's Mukiwa covering his early life in Rhodesia, his schooling, UDI and his national service with the BSAP. He gives a different and less rose-coloured account of the activities of the RLI in his TAOR! but I would recommend strongly that it be read with his sequel 'When a Crocodile eats the Sun' which picks up where Mukiwa left off. The killing of his sister and her fiance by the SF in a night ambush who mistake them for terrs and rev the car they were travelling in days before their wedding, the descent into squalor of his family who remain living in Chisipiti (which I remember as a pretty upper middle-class area of salisbury when I was there in 1978 - not any more it aint!), the defiling of his sister's grave by the locals who use the cemetery as a toilet and the death of his father. Godwin is the reporter who managed to get into Matabeleland and get a report out to the world on Bob Mugabe's slaughter of thousands of Ndebeli men, women and children and how 5 Bde disposed of the bodies. I found his account in both books pretty compelling reading not only for his descriptive writing but for the sense of detachment in which he manages to accomplish it!

All the best
Yves Debay, former belgian army tank NCO, former member of "Raids" magazine staff and current editor of "Assaut" magazine tried for selection in the RLI; he was caught taking a shortcut with a couple of other guys during a forced march and he was sent to the Rhodesian Armoured Car Rgt instead...he told the story in an old issue of "Raids" about foreign volunteerrs in Rhodesia.
I think he spent 4 years in the unit in their infantry Tp, then transfering to 44 Para Bgde in SA.

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