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NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

THE REGIMENT (article first published : 2001-09-7)

The Regiment - a history and the uniforms of the British South Africa Police by Richard Hamley is mainly of interest to collectors of militaria and Rhodesiana.

Published by Covos Day Books, it is a complete history of the British South Africa Police Force (BSAP) and its uniforms. This is charted from the force’s creation in 1890 as a military wing of the piratical British South Africa Company (proprietor C Rhodes) to its dissolution after the creation of Zimbabwe in 1980.

From its somewhat dubious beginnings, this paramilitary force was to gain respectability to the point that it has arguably been described as the world’s best police force. In the last ten years of its existence, the BSAP was to play a major role in the bitter war between the white minority government of Rhodesia and the guerillas of ZIPRA and ZANLA.

The book is broken up into chapters providing a potted history of the BSAP. Each is followed by a well-researched chapter describing the uniforms and equipment of the various arms of the BSAP during the period just covered. The uniforms and equipment are handsomely illustrated by Richard Hamley himself through watercolour plates.

Despite the high quality of the book, the lack of anecdotal material will reduce its attraction for the casual reader. It is best described as a specialist book.

The author’s varied and distinguished military career includes nearly 30 years in the BSAP and his bias is obvious when dealing with Rhodesian history – the foreword is provided by the incorrigible Mr Ian Smith himself.

For all that, there must be many Zimbabwean of all races who now remember this proud and essentially honourable force with wistful regret. – David Wood

The Regiment is a softback 164-page publication retailing at R265 with a deluxe edition at R650. More information on Covos Day Books from www.mazoe.com




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