Secret British Weapon That Took on Robert Mugabe’s First Soldiers Revealed In New Book

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  • Rhodesian SAS, Known as C Squadron, operated in Africa fighting counter-communist missions from 1968-80
  • African nationalist groups, backed by Russia’s and China’s support posed deadly threat to the existing regime
  • Expert SAS unit used bush warfare skills to defeat larger African nationalist factions with devastating results 
  • Secret SAS Missions in Africa, reveals the unit’s compelling story, by its second in command, Michael Graham
    The elite troops of the Rhodesian SAS, known as C Squadron, pose carrying AK-47s in the dense thorn scrub of the Zambezi Valley. The unit operated in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, from 1968 to 1980, fighting nationalist groups that were trying to overthrow the white colonialist government of the time

    The elite troops of the Rhodesian SAS, known as C Squadron, pose carrying AK-47s in the dense thorn scrub of the Zambezi Valley. The unit operated in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, from 1968 to 1980, fighting nationalist groups that were trying to overthrow the white colonialist government of the time

The brutal warfare of the SAS as they battled insurgents in the punishing environment of the African bush has been revealed in a fascinating new book.

The specially formed Rhodesian SAS, known as C Squadron, fought in what was formerly known as the state of Rhodesia, now Zimbabwe, from 1968 to 1980.

Secret SAS Missions in Africa reveals the devastating fighting techniques of C Squadron’s expert troops, by their second-in-command, Michael Graham.

Striking pictures from the book show the bodies of landmine victims strewn across dirt roads, weapon hauls captured at enemy bases and the rugged terrain the troops were forced to contend with to hunt their prey.

But other photos also depict the elite fighters of C Squadron themselves, as they pose alongside their AK-47s in the brush, load up artillery or train for a parachute jump.

The unit first formed at the end of the Second World War, but was temporarily disbanded in 1955 before being made officially operational in 1962.

C Squadron fought alongside the Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) to execute missions against African nationalist factions who were fighting the white colonial government for control of the nation during the Rhodesian Bush War.

The nationalists benefited from backing by Russia and China and posed a deadly threat to the current regime – but were no match for the expert trained troops of the SAS.

One of their most daring missions was Operation Dingo, a raid on the HQ of the Zimbabwean African National Liberation Army (ZANLA), headed by Robert Mugabe, who went on to be President of the nation from 1987 to 2017, in Chimoio, Mozambique, in 1977.

Despite numbers heavily stacked against them, just 96 C Squadron fighters and 48 soldiers from the Rhodesian Light Infantry, as well 40 more helicopter-borne troops, attacked 10,000-strong ZANLA force, inflicting around 6,000 casualties.

The elite troops of the Rhodesian SAS, known as C Squadron, pose carrying AK-47s in the dense thorn scrub of the Zambezi Valley. The unit operated in Rhodesia, now known as Zimbabwe, from 1968 to 1980, fighting nationalist groups that were trying to overthrow the white colonialist government of the time

During an attack on an enemy camp in the bush, the SAS troops picked up a camera and subsequently developed the film. Among the collection was this picture, which shows fighters from the Mozambique Liberation Front, posing with a KPV 14.5 mm anti-aircraft gun that had been aimed at C squadron throughout the night

This sobering photo conveys the brutality of war, with an SAS soldier overlooking the victims of the unit’s ambush while fighting in the bush. The unit was forced to call upon its expert understanding on the landscape in order to defeat the African Nationalist groups

This picture offers an insight into the training methods of the expert Rhodesian SAS unit, with troops assembled in a DC Dakota military transport plane, to practice static line parachute jumping with equipment

Helicopters played a vital role in some of C Squadron’s missions, particularly Operation Dingo in Mozambique during 1977, and here a troop called ‘Fish’ loads up a bazooka on his friend’s rucksack as they prepare to board a chopper

This picture captures the aftermath of a deadly landmine, laid on a dirt road by the African nationalist groups. The front of the lorry has been completely ripped off by the explosion with at least two people killed. In the background two SAS troops can be seen holding rifles as they survey the scene

C Squadron were forced to rely on all modes of transportation to make their way through the African bush and infiltrate the camps of their enemies. Here the unit assembles Klepper kayaks at the start of a mission

The nationalists benefited from backing by Russia and China and posed a deadly threat to the current regime in Rhodesia. Pictured, are landmines supplied by the Russian military to insurgents in Rhodesia

This picture offers further evidence of the nationalist groups’ Russian backing. A recoilless rifle and other weapons lay strewn on the ground of the Moscow-backed base of the Zimbabwe African People’s Union

The mines, provided by Russia and China, were sometimes boosted with the addition of explosives, mortar bombs or grenades. This picture shows the devastation caused by by the landmines, with a lorry completely destroyed and a man’s body lying yards from the vehicle

Mr Graham captured this striking picture of the the Zambezi River cutting through the hills, before using kayaks to cross the river at night,  as he and his troops worked through the African bush to fight African nationalist insurgents

Author Michael Graham, with Rhodesian Minister of Defence Pieter ‘PK’ van der Byl. During their conversation, the minister said: ‘Mick, there are some interesting chaps I want you to meet. Let me know when you are back in town.’

  • Secret SAS Missions in Africa (Hardback) C Squadron’s Counter-Terrorist Operations 1968–1980, by Michael Graham costs £15.99 at Pen and Sword Books

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