A litany of incidental slaughter …
This searing account primarily covers Ed Bird’s Special Branch (SB) service in the Beitbridge area of southern Matabeleland, 1976–1980, encompassing Operations Repulse and Tangent of the bitter Rhodesian ‘bush war’.
Joining the British South Africa Police (BSAP) in 1964, Bird cut his teeth on Selous Scout ‘pseudo’ operations during Operation Hurricane in 1974–1976, so was well equipped to deal with the insidious escalation of the ZANLA and ZIPRA campaigns in the south of the country.
A meticulous recorder, Bird implemented and maintained the Beitbridge SB incident log, and it is this diary of terror and death upon which Bird’s account hangs, interspersed with detailed accounts of firefights, ambushes, landmine blasts, ZANLA executions, traitors and assassinations, SB ‘dirty tricks’ and ‘turning’ terrorists.
Although first and foremost an intelligence-gatherer, Bird thrived on combat and against all protocol inveigled his way onto Fire Force operations and as an airmobile MAG machine-gunner on converted Police Reserve Air Wing aircraft. Highly decorated for gallantry but overlooked for promotion, Bird’s BSAP career became victim to spurious political expedience.
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