Fireforce - One man's war in the Rhodesian Light Infantry

Van der Waag-Cowling, N. (1998)

The original publication is available at http://scientiamilitaria.journals.ac.za/pub

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"They have the faces of boys but they fight like lions" The history of the Rhodesian Light Infantry is an illustrious one. The RLI produced many of the senior brass who led the Rhodesian Army including Gen Peter Walls. It was arguably Rhodesia's premier fighting unit (if one excludes Rhodesia's two special forces outfits, the Special Air Service and the Selous Scouts). The spirit of the RLI runs deep in Rhodesian military lore, it was to all intents and purposes a unique Regiment. The RLI was a regular unit, which absorbed many young conscripts. It was also one of the Rhodesian Army's premier frontline regiments alongside the Rhodesian African Rifles, the Scouts and the SAS. The fundamental difference between the RLI and these other units was that the RLI was a mixture of conscripts and regulars whereas the remaining three units made use of regular volunteers and territorials. The author of this book, Chris Cocks, was a teenage conscript in the RLI and this is his story. This book is a challenge to the straightforward writing of Military History, where so many historians choose to focus on prominent personalities and battlefield tactics. This is the story of a soldier's war - it is a gripping and bittersweet look at Army life. Cocks brings the constant thread of death to the forefront of this book. At no time does he attempt to disguise the brutality of the Bush War or hide the atrocities, which were committed by troops and guerrillas alike. The writer's own sense of doubt as to whether this was a just cause adds a further dimension to the book. Many of the young Rhodesian conscripts accepted the status quo without question, others, like Cocks were constantly plagued by the morality of a war that ultimately witnessed a society feeding upon itself.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/49322
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