RBW – Cockleshell Heroes operation.


RBW – Cockle Shell Heroes.

The Elite, The Story of the Rhodesian SAS by Barbara Cole. (p116-121)

Capt Bob MacKenna came up with a covert operation to attack ZANLA and FRELIMO in Mozambique. 12 men from A Troop RhSAS  would use 6 Klepper Canoes to infiltrate Mozambique and Cabora Bassa Damn. They would attack enemy targets, barracks, ambush patrols and vehicles, lay mines and booby traps and destroy boats.

They entered the area via the Musengezi River in Northeastern Rhodesia in Mid January 17th 1977. The tactics were to ‘Hit and Float’.

Resupply would be by Dakota 4 boxes at night. The supply would include fresh chickens in tin foil, oranges, bread rolls, milk, mines and ammunition.

Weapons used by the 12 men of A Troop were x6 RPD x2 FN (with Trilux sights), x2 AK47, x1 RPG carried by an individual with an AK. All members had shoulder holsters with a 9mm.

They hid on the islands in the lake and moved out at night to attack the enemy along the shores. Walking in land to attack barracks and ambush vehicles. They wore sandals in camp on the islands but boots during the night operations. Greens were worn to confuse the enemy and not Rhodesian camouflage. Rhodesian camouflage t-shirts and shorts would be worn on their island camps.

They disrupted traffic on the Tete-Maque- Mkumbura Road, harassed ZANLA  and FRELIMO.

The operations were to last 6 weeks in each case and there were three operations.

SAS would not wear kidney pouches or sleeping bags as these items would go in the bergens they carried.


I used some RAR figures from Underfire Miniatures hiding the sleeping bag and kidney pouches with green stuff.

Also used ZANLA figures and FAPLA figures for some of the other SAS figures adding bergens and webbing and new heads in many cases.

I got my Klepper Canoe from the Airfix Commando box but there may be some 20mm detailed versions produced in the future.



6 thoughts on “RBW – Cockleshell Heroes operation.

      • I’d be tempted to do it as a double blind map campaign. You’d need twp players though as well as an umpire. A decent map of the area is a must. Get the players to write out orders for their troops, specific orders for the RhSAS and general orders for ZANLA/ FRELIMO until they are aware of the RHSAS presence. As the two sides maneuver to find each other track it on a map, when they meet fight out the battle on the table top as a small skirmish.

        Sounds good fun actually. Will have to look at doing it myself.

        I could be run as PBEM too with the tabletop skirmish being fought out by one set of players and the decisions made by another and sent through on email.

        Plenty to think on.



    • Thanks Juergen more to follow as I do the various kit they used and the different operations. looks as though Underfire Miniatures are going to produce some more Rhodesians. I have suggested some RhSAS figures plus other stuff

  1. Hi Pete I dont think ZANLA or FRELIMO worked out that the RhSAS were working from the lake. Tended to be a follow up situation but the SAS booby trapped their exit routes and FRELIMO lost a lot of troops that way. Yes interesting idea. Will post photos and map.

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