By Alexandre Binda & Chris Cocks
The Rhodesian Light Infantry
A tribute to one of the most effective counter-insurgency units of all time
260 x 215 / 8½ x 10¼
1,800 b/w illustrations, maps
Military / African Studies
The history of the Rhodesian Light Infantry.
We’ve seen the stories of the more ‘glamorous’ Selous Scouts, the SAS and the Rhodesian Air Force, but very little about the RLI, often underrated, but arguably one of the most effective counter-insurgency units of all time. This was the unit that brought the ‘Fireforce’ concept to the world’s attention - the devastatingly ruthless airborne envelopment and annihilation of a guerrilla enemy. Dubbed ‘The Killing Machine’ by Charles D. Melson, chief historian of the US Marine Corps, the RLI was a veritable ‘foreign legion’ with over 20 diverse nationalities serving in her ranks.
The RLI, a truly international airborne battalion, comprising of over 20 nationalities, fought the bitter Zimbabwean ‘bush war’ for 15 years against the overwhelming tide of communist-trained guerrillas. Kill rates don’t win wars, but during its brief 19-year history, it is estimated that the RLI accounted for between 12,000 and 15,000 enemy guerrillas, for the loss of 135 men. RLI soldiers were recipients of four Silver Crosses and 42 Bronze Crosses of Rhodesia. An RLI trooper holds the world record for operational parachute descents - a staggering 73 op jumps - most under 500 feet!
A glossy coffee-table, pictorial format with hundreds of colour photos, maps, rolls, honours and awards. It is not intended as a definitive history but, with more of a classic ‘scrapbook’ feel, the presentation attempts to capture the essence of this fine unit - what it was like to be a troopie, one of the ouens. We have accessed a host of unique, previously unpublished photos and illustrative material and many former RLI members have embraced the project, generously contributing photos, memorabilia and anecdotes. Ian Smith has written his tribute in the front and the foreword is by the last CO, Lieutenant-Colonel Charlie Aust.
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