Rhodesian African Rifles

Discussion in 'Southern Africa' started by harareboy99, Feb 17, 2010.

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  1. Have been trying to ascertain a bit of family history - both my grandfather and father served in the RAR, and also the British South African Police.

    Ive found some interesting sites on google, but i wondered if anyone had any memories/info on the RAR at Suez? Fairly sure my father said grandfather served there, but not clear.

    Also wondered if there was anyone on here that knew anyone who served in either the RAR or BSAP, or had parents/grandparents that did? (more likely).

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  2. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    A good mate of mine served as a Coy commander with the RAR (I believe 2nd Bn) circa 1978 till endex under the new regime sometime after the Bulawayo insurrection when the regiment was binned and he was purged. He was ex-RGJ and decided he'd prefer the blue skies of Africa to the pssing wet and cold of yet another Ulster tour. He even bumped into some of his old Green Jacket battalion when they deployed to Zimbabwe-Rhodesia as part of the Commonwealth Monitoring Force.
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  3. Wow, didn't expect a reply so quickly! Thanks.

    Very interesting. Do you know of any other Brits that left Blighty for the African bush?

    As you say, probably better than stagging on in Ulster or waiting for Ivan to kick off, and guaranteed some action.
  4. Yeah mate my uncle was RAR (during the bush war). There is book by Alex Binda called 'Masoja'. It is one of the largest books on Rhodesian military history published to date and covers everything the RAR have done since inception. Alex also wrote the book 'The Saints', a history of the RLI. Quite expensive but good for any Rhodesian military history collection. Failing that Contact I has a fair bit of generic info on the RAR. Google Alex Binda and you may find a site where you can buy his book. They may be out of print already. I have never heard of the RAR at Suez to be honest but good luck finding your info.
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  5. Examination shows the RAR served in the Suez Canal zone in 1952, not the Suez crisis 1956. They did serve in Malaya as well however.
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  6. Ah right, thought you ment in '56. Yeah they did manage to get around the world.
  7. There were many Brits, a large percentage of them ex-forces, in the Rhodesian security forces.

    One book anyone interested in the RAR should read is The War Diaries of Andre Dennison edited by Dr JRT Wood. Major Dennison was an extremely experienced officer; originally from Bradford he had spent 20 years in the British Army. He was commissioned into the Yorks & Lancs in 1955 but also served with the Parachute Regt, 22 SAS (in Borneo), the Ulster Defence Regt and periods of loan service with the Malaysian and Malawian Armies. After joining the Rhodesian Army in 1975 he was OC A Coy 2RAR until his death in 1979.

    More info on these links:


    More biographical information here, remember to click "expand" on the page linked to:


    Group Captain Peter Petter-Bowyer on Dennison; he achieved a somewhat mixed reputation as an aerial fire force commander (see below) and was not afraid to court controversy but no-one ever doubted his courage and professionalism on the ground:

    http://books.google.co.za/books?id=J9aD ... AR&f=false

    More info on the book and some of the stories in it:

  8. Another interesting character was Sergeant Clive Mason, who had served with the Royal Marines (in 42 Commando in Borneo) and with the Australian SAS (in Vietnam) before moving to Rhodesia. He was killed in action while serving with the Selous Scouts in Mozambique in 1977.

    As I wrote above there were quite a lot of Brits in Rhodesia, as well as some Aussies, Kiwis, South Africans, Portuguese, Frenchmen, a few Canadians and (mostly later on) Americans. You could write a whole book on the subject of foreign volunteers in the Rhodesian Army, Rhodesian Air Force and British South Africa Police.
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  9. 'Masoja" is the book you need .A good book , not as interesting in regarding the Bush war but the information within it is exellent.

    The chapters and photos of the RAR in Malaya as well worth the price IMHO .

    I have not seen as many good reference photos showing kit and conditions
    during the conflict as in this book.

    Don't bothe with Contact its 1. too expensive and 2. its a coffee table type book with even photos misidentifed in the fist and second books.
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  10. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    By the bucket load. As one of the others said already, it turned into quite a foreign legion by the end. The use of the word 'Gook' to describe the enemy is proof of the American influence. The RLI especially was renowned for being something of a 'foreign legion'.

    I wouldn't describe NI tours as "stagging on in Ulster". There was plenty of action then, especially in the early 1970's, but it wasn't the most appealing of conflicts for all sorts of reasons.

    As well as all the literature mentioned already, a book you might want to read for a bit of depth is 'Mukiwa: A White Boy In Africa" by Peter Godwin. He was conscripted into the BSAP, but worked with a platoon of RAR and formed a close friendship with one of their SNCOs who he maintained correspondence with after finishing his service and going to study in England. It's not a detailed battle or unit analysis, but does give something of a wider perspective on the war.
  11. @RP587 - From my knowledge (having been born and brought up out there) the word 'gook' was in use a long time before the Americans became a regular fixture

    Harareboy - my Dad was in the BSAP from 1962 - 1980, PM me if you want specific answers and I'll ask him
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  12. RP578

    RP578 LE Book Reviewer

    Just learned something new. Every day a school day!
  13. "Gook" originated in the Korean War I believe. It's a transliteration from the Korean "Han Guk" meaning "Han (ie Korean) People".
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  14. All Alex Binda's books are available at www.30degreessouth.co.uk - he's a cool guy! Part portuguese, served with the Selous Scouts. Ace!
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  15. Hope this is the right place to ask a real spotters question, but why did the RLI not follow Light Division drill? I've seen the disbandment parade and it seems to be almost standard British Army drill although the arms only seem to raise to waist height. Why was that?