All About The Rhodesian SAS

The British Special Air Service is a legendary outfit even when compared with the world’s elite military units. However, there were a lot of components that made up the SAS including what was once known as the Rhodesian SAS. This refers to a unit that hailed from the region that is now called Zimbabwe, which was primarily composed of volunteers.

Plenty of stories surrounds this fabled group of soldiers, especially with regards to their years of service during an event called the Malayan Emergency. Although disbanded, there are plenty that one can still learn about the Rhodesian SAS.

What Is The Rhodesian SAS

Formed back in 1951, the Rhodesian SAS was officially called C Squadron and served during the Malayan rebellion against British control. From then until 1953, the unit that was composed of volunteers from Southern Rhodesia was sent to help with the conflict. They were initially referred to as the “The Far East Volunteer Group” but were promptly known as the Malayan Scouts during the uprising.

After two years of service, the group was disbanded, but it wasn’t completely finished. Instead, it was turned into the C Squadron, which started serving in 1961. The group grew in number and performed admirably during several conflicts until Rhodesia was finally changed to Zimbabwe in 1980.

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Service Record

Since its initially formation in 1951, soldiers belonging in the Rhodesian SAS. During the Malayan Emergency, for example, the group were instrumental in gathering intelligence and suppressing hostile intent that would have cost the lives of soldiers. After that, it wasn’t until 1959 that the actual group would finally be called the Rhodesian SAS when training for parachute missions by the military was being considered in the region.

It turned out that the test was a success and those who underwent the training were then given their wings to become actual serving members of what was officially known as the European Special Air Services Squadron. Even after several bumpy developments that divided the unit, it still proved a powerful force during the Rhodesian Bush Wars.

You can actually visit the Madame Tussauds Wax Museum in  Amsterdam the Netherlands for some wax figures of this piece of history.

Rhodesian Bush Wars

Also known as the Zimbabwe War of Liberation, the Rhodesian Bush Wars was basically a rebellion that involved three groups at the outset. There was the actual government under British rule, and then there were the two rebel groups called the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army and the Zimbabwe People’s Revolutionary Army.

The rebellion was basically intended to end the rule of the minority white residents in favour of the takeover of the black majority. Bloody and desperate, the conflicts were only ended after several attempts at actually getting all sides on the table for a settlement. The Rhodesian SAS played a crucial role in fighting against the insurgents.

Operation Dingo

Perhaps the most famous mission that the Rhodesian SAS participated in, Operation Dingo also became known as the Chimoio massacre. Despite going up against thousands of enemy troops, 96 SAS soldiers teamed up with 48 Rhodesian Light Infantry paratroopers to attack the headquarters of the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army.

That day, 3,000 rebels were reported to have been killed and over 5,000 suffered injuries. In the government’s side, only two perished and the wounded only amounted to six.