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Allan Savory -book review.

Updated: Oct 16, 2023

"As someone who served as a TF officer in the Rhodesian army training police, special branch and SAS volunteers in the original GATU (Guerrilla Anti-Terrorist Unit), and commanding the TCU (Tracker Combat Unit) that morphed into the Selous Scouts, as well as leading one of the four political parties in this tragic and unnecessary war, I have no hesitation in highly recommending Battle For Hurungwe.


I found Padbury’s account of this particular operation refreshing in its honesty. I believe the approach Padbury and those operating with him took was correct although, through institutional opposition, too little too late. Particularly refreshing is his acknowledgement of the blunders and mistakes made by senior commanders who had bought into the Ian Smith racist propaganda after those opposed to UDI had been removed and replaced with compliant officers. Such honesty and candour contrasts with so much that has been written about the war. Where others writing of the Rhodesian war covered up our mistakes and blunders and write in a bragging manner, Padbury tends to tell it as it was, warts and all.


As Padbury describes, this was an unnecessary unwinnable war. It was brought about by Ian Smith who had come to power in an internal coup against Prime Minister Winston Field, who was opposed to unilaterally declaring full independence (UDI). This ill-considered act and racist policies of Smith lost Rhodesia’s status as a self-governing colony similar to the Dominions such as Canada, Australia and Zealand. And, as Padbury describes, the loss of many lives of brave people on both sides of this tragic unnecessary civil war resulting in today’s chaotic and badly governed country.


In my view, and as Padbury describes, all moderate non-racial/tribal Rhodesians were betrayed by their government. In addition, the proud records of fine regiments that had served so well from the pioneer column ending the slave trade in the region through two world wars were sullied by commanders who broke our oaths as officers of loyalty to our constitution in favour of loyalty to a political party – a blight still adversely affecting Zimbabwe."


Photos: (L-R) Allan Savory in a captured insurgent's camp in Mozambique when leading an SAS group; Early days of Tracker Combat Unit. Note the bandoliers for food to avoid packs, noise, etc.; Gen. Keith Coster and Allan Savory (right) on a forward airfield early days; Jack Howman (Minister of Defence at the time), Gen. Keith Coster and Allan Savory .


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Book Review Neil Petrie

Battle for Hurungwe, by John Padbury is essential reading for those interested in the Rhodesian conflict, irregular warfare and national strategy. It is a personal but professionally produced work cov

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