Helion produces books on many aspects of Military History from the Late Medieval period through to the present day. Helion was established in 1996, and since then they have published almost 1,200 books, with 100 or more new titles coming out every year. The 'Africa@War' series covers African military history since 1945.
Peter Baxter is an author, amateur historian and heritage travel guide. Born in Kenya and educated in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe), he has lived and traveled over much of southern and central Africa. Peter lives in Oregon, USA. His interests include British Imperial history in Africa and the East Africa campaign of the First World War in particular. He is the author of Pen and Sword's Gandhi, Smuts and Race in the British Empire. You can find out more at peterbaxterafrica.com
Helion’s latest book in the Africa @ War series is a square back soft cover includes 72 gloss paper pages. This revised edition is an update of Africa @ War Volume 4. This updated edition includes vehicle and aircraft color profiles. The cover background features an enlarged black and white photograph of Pete Clemence and Sergeant Dzingai inspecting a possible insurgent track (Page 19). The lower cover depicts a color side-view by Tom Cooper of a Reims-Cessna FTB.337G ‘Lynx’ that was the primary air support the Selous Scouts received. I counted 24 color pictures and 146 black and white photographs. There are also four aviation color side profiles by Tom Cooper and three armor color side profiles by David Bocquelet, along with two black and white maps and three-color maps.
Peter Baxter starts off with a nice introduction to Frederick Courteney Selous, the inspiration for the Selous Scouts. Frederick was apparently an inspiration for the series of books and movies on Allan Quartermaine of King Solomon’s Mines fame. Then it’s off to understanding the history of Rhodesia from 1890 up to the beginnings of the Selous Scouts. Peter Baxter provides a lot of insight into how the Selous Scouts were created and the selection of Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Reid-Daly to lead the unit. The Selous Scouts operated as a Special Forces unit of the Rhodesian Army from 1973 until the ending of the Rhodesian Bush War in 1980. Peter Baxter covers the major operations, both inside Rhodesia, as well as externally, as in Mozambique. The Selous Scouts were responsible for some 68% of the Chinese-backed guerilla deaths. Essentially a war between the British colonialism and Mao’s communist manifesto, the end result was the destruction of a country considered “The Jewel of Africa”. Zimbabwe has become just another example of the destructive policies of the Marxist Socialism that was delivered by Robert Mugabe. The sections include:
- Glossary & Abbreviations
- Prelude: A Brief History of War in Rhodesia
- Chapter One: The Formation of the Selous Scouts [Page 12]
- Chapter Two: Operations Commence [Page 27]
- Chapter Three: External Operations – Terrorizing the Terrorists
- Selous Scout Operations in Manica Province, Mozambique, 1976-79 [Map]
- Color Profiles [Page 32viii]
- Chapter Four: Intelligence and the Reconnaissance Troop [Page 44]
- Chapter Five: The Selous Scout Spies
- Chapter Six: The Mud Begins to Stick
- Chapter Seven: Operation Miracle [Page 59]
- Chapter Eight: The End
I found many sections of this story very interesting, but one stood out. Ron Reid-Daly set up the Selous Scouts to be bi-racial squads at the outset, as opposed to the rest of the Rhodesian military that was not integrated. The Rhodesian SAS had no black members of their unit, the Selous Scouts were very dependent on their black members to accomplish their mission. Ron Reid-Daly was initially not for external raids, but finally an opportunity came up to attack the enemy in Mozambique. The Selous Scouts were essentially welcomed into the middle of the ZANU/ZANULA camp in August 1976. Ostensibly a refugee camp, the Selous Scouts found no refugees, but plenty of ammunition, weapons, and “Red Cross” supplies. Roaring into the middle of the camp in Unimogs, the Selous Scouts stopped in the middle of the terrorist camp and began proclaiming that Rhodesia had suffered a major defeat, propagating slogan after slogan. Finally, as the convoy had collected a huge crowd, the Selous Scouts opened fire. Over a thousand ZANU/ZANULA terrorists were killed. It ended up being a public relations nightmare as Mozambique argued to the pro-communist UN and the liberal world press that refugees were slaughtered, despite the photographs of the engagement. The action also cost Ron Reid-Daly the support of the Rhodesian SAS whose leadership was furious that he had succeeded.
Peter Baxter is a very good writer and his impassioned perspective led me to read this tome in one night, although it was a late night. I have to admit that I really had not heard of the Selous Scouts before and that I was attracted to this book review because of the Reims-Cessna FTB.337G ‘Lynx’ on the cover. Although the FTB.337G does not get heavily covered in this book, there is a nice Roden 1/32 Reims-Cessna FTB.337G ‘Lynx’ available to try your real modeling skills on. Helion does have another Africa@War volume on the Rhodesian Fire Force (Volume 20) that may better address the ‘Lynx’, which will be next on my list to acquire. The contemporary photographs support the text, and they certainly give you a good perspective of the events described. If you own one the previous releases in the Africa @ War series, you know what you are getting. If this is your initial entry into this series, you will be quite pleased.
My thanks to Helion & Company, Casemate Publishing, and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.