The History, Badges and Insignia of the Security Forces of the Rhodesias and Nyasaland

by Mark Radford

Large-format Softback, 238pp, 1,141 b/w photos and illustrations. 2nd Revised edition, 1996

The first edition of this book was published in 1994, and received little attention, perhaps due to the fact that it was published in a limited edition of only 200 copies, as is the case with this second, revised edition.

Most Rhodesians are familiar with Arniel's book on Rhodesian Insignia as the standard reference book on this subject. Radford's book takes the subject several steps further, containing approximately three times as many illustrations as Arniel's volume, and including a fairly detailed history of all the military units ever raised in Rhodesia, from 1890 onwards. Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland are also covered in detail, up to the demise of the Federation. The contents list a total of approximately 240 different units from the three territories, including Cadets and Volunteer units, and of course, all of the regular units from the British South Africa Company Police of the Pioneer Column to the converted terrorists of the Security Force Auxiliaries in the final days of Rhodesia.

Each unit's history is described in a separate chapter, with insignia notes at the end, giving dates, variations, and manufacturers. Charts showing rank and appointment structures are included for the main units, and for the Air Force and BSAP. A large section is devoted to the latter, from the earliest badges known, to the highly unofficial PLAYBOY bunny patch worn by reservists and even regulars in the latter years of the bush war.

Many obscure or little-known badges are illustrated and described, such as the RAR Tracker's arm patch, which was worn for only a very short time before being discontinued, due to its similarity to the Selous Scouts Osprey cap badge! The RLI is covered fully by the author, and he mentions that the first badge used by the RLI was that of the Rhodesian Staff Corps on a black beret. Unofficial badges used by the RLI Commandos (for example, the LOVER'S badge) are all described and illustrated. After 1980 the Grey's Scouts badge continued to be used in the Transkei, with the words GREY'S SCOUTS on the scroll being replaced by the words MOUNTED INFANTRY! This was due to the fact that a number of former Grey's Scouts were among the founder members of the Transkei unit.

After 1980 the ZANLA and ZIPRA factions were integrated into what remained of the Rhodesian Army, and were issued with standard Rhodesian camouflage uniforms. When the two factions clashed in 1980/1981 the RAR was sent in to separate them, and in order to be able to distinguish between them, the RAR had to wear berets or helmets! Later, as the clashes continued, patches similar to the British D.Z. patches were adopted for the RAR troops to facilitate recognition.

The Selous Scouts, up to 1980, were issued with numbered metal parachute wings - at the end of their service the men were advised to file the numbers off, for obvious reasons! After 1980 many of the former Scouts joined the SADF to continue the war against terrorism, and they formed the nucleus of the SADF's elite 5 Recce Commando. The patch they adopted retained the Selous Scouts' motto PAMWE CHETE, together with their parachute wings.

Shiny metal badges are the bane of any photographer's life, and some of the illustrations of these therefore lack detail, but the majority are clear and detailed. Where original badges were not available, illustrations by an expert artist are substituted, and these are far superior to those in Arniel's book.

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