VIDEO REVIEW - Rhodesian Forces Part I & II.
"Rhodesian Forces" is a video set currently being distributed by the South African based company, Msasa Enterprises. The videos are a compilation of footage detailing the bush war exploits of some of Rhodesia's most prestigious fighting units.
This collection focuses on the Selous Scouts, the Special Air Service, the Rhodesian Light Infantry, the British South Africa Police, the Rhodesian Air Force and the Chaplain's Corps. In addition, issues such as National Security receive attention. Some footage is actual live footage or news material whilst re-enacted scenes have also been included. The quality of the actual video film and sound is astounding and the producers have obviously gone to great lengths to technically re-master the original celluloid transcripts.
The producers of "Rhodesian Forces" have succeeded admirably in conveying both the military and the civilian side of war. Although the content is essentially concerned with the Security Forces, the total nature of the war in Rhodesia comes through very strongly. One is afforded more than a brief glimpse of Rhodesian society at the height of the war and learns to appreciate the magnitude of the role played by the military and the war in general, in peoples' everyday lives. By the late 1970's the "bush" war was consuming the entire country. Rhodesian Forces Parts One and Two do not portray the sense of despair and war weariness that must have been prevalent throughout the entire Rhodesian population. With the exception perhaps of the feature on the Rhodesian Corps of Chaplains, the commentary is always upbeat and optimistic. This is largely to be expected due to the nature of the footage
included in this compilation. In short this is a video collection which is aimed at former Rhodesians and military enthusiasts wherever they may be. For those who fought for Rhodesia, these videos will provide a nostalgic and powerful record of the past. For the military enthusiast, they provide a rare glimpse into the tactics, terrain and sub-culture of the Rhodesian Security Forces.
Many of the units featured in this series have faded into the annals of history but their legends still shine brightly - for the special forces enthusiast "Rhodesian Forces" is a veritable feast - the SAS, Selous Scouts and the Fireforce Commandos of the Rhodesian Light Infantry are all here. Viewers are treated to an expos頯f their training regimes, weaponry and bush tactics. A point of note here is what Lt Col Ron Reid-Daly refers to as "that baboon" in his book - "Selous Scouts - Top Secret War." Well that baboon, or another one surprisingly similar, is a star attraction in the Pamwe Chete portion of this video - I found it revolting but aspiring bush battlers would probably disagree!
It is essential to point out that not everyone is going to have an equal appreciation for the material on these cassettes. The Rhodesian bush war was a bloody and tragic civil war. There will never be one point of view on the war or even agreement on the issues that faced Rhodesia after her Unilateral Declaration of Independence. Potential viewers need to take note of the fact that these tapes do contain some very disturbing and rather violent images. It is an acknowledged fact that the Rhodesian government believed that by airing "body counts" after Security Force operations it would boost the morale of Rhodesia's population, particularly the supporters of the Rhodesian Front. As a consequence the television news footage is often far more explicit than one would have expected.
Having said that I found these videos fascinating. From the point of view of someone who is student of history and a military enthusiast, they were informative, entertaining and provided a hefty "blast from the past". Few people today can imagine what Rhodesia must have been like, indeed, there are millions of those who are unaware of the fact that a country called Rhodesia ever even existed. These videos will give you a vivid idea, even the music if fitting and thoughtfully rounded off with a Clem Tholet song at the end. For those who have read extensively on the bush war and Southern African history, these videos provide a fascinating insight into Zimbabwean history. In some instances I had the rather eerie sensation of seeing ordinary people whose photographs I had seen in books actually gaining life on celluloid. The point is that audio-visual mediums offer one something completely different to that which books offer. I would recommend that anyone who wants to know more about Rhodesia and experience something of its atmosphere at during the turbulent UDI years, should make an effort to obtain a set of "Rhodesian Forces".