Early Rhodesian Bush War Uniforms 1965 – 1969

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Early Rhodesian Bush War uniforms.

It can be seen from the evidence that the Rhodesian army in 1965 was still equipped along British lines with old O.D. uniforms, as was the rest of the Federation forces.

Note RRR members in light Khaki trousers, green shirt, floppy hat, gaiters and boots with 44 pattern webbing. Two ammo pouches and metal water bottles. It seems RRR were still wearing this uniform as late as 1969.

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It was found that the old uniform showed up clearly at night and this was a great disadvantage during night operations. The metal water bottles also made noise and squeaked when opened.

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The new Rhodesian disruptive pattern was issued initially in two shades, which the greener shade finally taking over. The new camouflage was issued from about 1967 and still being issued until about 1969/70 as all units received the new camouflage. This uniform was initialy combat trousers with old green shirt, with later a camouflage combat shirt added and later camouflage combat jackets. The combat cap was in the new camouflage pattern but camouflage floppy hats were usually made by battalion tailors. I believe this new Rhodesian camouflage scheme was based on the old British camouflage smock but with a different pattern.

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I believe I have evidence for RAR wearing British Dennison Smocks in the early days as well as the Rhodesian designed smock in an overall light Khaki colour.

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The new Rhodesian webbing was introduced gradually from 1969 as the old British 44 webbing was now considered not suitable for African operations and the Rhodesians due to sanctions could not order more. I believe the Rhodesian design was based on South African and Israeli designs of that period.

By 1969 1RAR were still wearing the old 44 pattern British webbing but with camouflage trousers, green shirt and combat cap.

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The old 44 pattern large ammunition pouches soldiered on throughout the war as they were treasured by MAG Gunners of all regiments, and also the Rhodesian SAS. These pouches could carry numerous ammo belts.

Apparently during this early period Rhodesian military vehicles were painted gloss dark green and when operations started a matt dark green. In 1966 it was decided to introduce a disruptive pattern of matt dark green with ochre patterns to a specific standard.

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6 thoughts on “Early Rhodesian Bush War Uniforms 1965 – 1969

  1. Hi Ash Yes they were using 44 and I think 56 pattern probably right up until 1969. See the photos with Butch Zeederburg and his AS lined up for inspection. Green shirts and camouflage combat trousers and combat caps. Early webbing. There is another photo where the officer is wearing the new webbing and all the AS are still in the 44 pattern webbing. I think a lot of this kit would have come back from Malaya in 56.

  2. Eilis Martin

    Hi, I am a fourth year student in UWS in Scotland and for my final year film I am making a film about the different cultures in Scotland today. One woman that I interviewed grew up in Rhodesia and had to move around alot because of the war so i am looking for photographs to include in my film. I just wondered do you own the rights to these pictures or do you know who I would contact to get permission to use them?

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