With the 1960’s closing and the success rate of incursions into Rhodesia from Zambia dropping to practically zero, both African Nationalist groups ZANU and ZAPU looked for alternatives. To the East of Rhodesia lay the nation of Mozambique. Both countries had established a good relationship and many Rhodies went to the beaches along the African coast on Holiday. Yet, Mozambique became gripped by Russian inspired anti-colonialism and FRELIMO sprouted to fight its Portuguese masters. The SAS was instrumental in helping their government learn to fight against the insurgency.

With its recent experience in the Zambezi Valley, it dispatched troops to help hunt down FRELIMO and to keep the war inside Mozambique’s borders. The SAS men were paired with mainly conscript troops whose only desire in life was to get out of the Army and not get killed. Though the SAS men were there as Advisors, it usually ended up in the Operators chasing down the Communist Terrorists themselves.

This was good experience for the men as the terrain was vastly different and required enhancing their skills in rainy, mountainous and jungle environments. ZANU and ZAPU were looking to operate in the North of Mozambique and flow down into Rhodesia. Initially FRELIMO wanted to work with the Soviet aligned ZAPU but the offer was not acted upon. As the action intensified, FRELIMO wanted someone to work with them and in turn, they would allow access to Rhodesia. ZANU acted upon the offer and the war began to take on a higher and more violent tempo.

As ZANU gained more recruits and an easier infiltration route, the SAS spent the majority of its time in Mozambique, hitting the Terr’s bases, supply, and infrastructure hard. ZANU began to gain steam in Mozambique mainly due to their Maoist ideology. Rather than the ironfisted ZAPU way, they mixed with the locals, gained their trust and turned them into guerrilla fighters. ZAPU was still persistent to the North and the vigilance and daring of the SAS was necessary.

Time and experience was mounting for the senior men of C Squadron. Rather than shock troops, the officers instilled into the men that they were the eyes and ears of the Army. Missions involved Deep Range Recce’s, infiltrating through HALO or chopper, building a picture of what they were dealing with. A game of cat and mouse began to emerge with recce missions that helped build a support plan for larger groups to assault Terrorist camps, supply lines and other patrols. They developed the skill of the Ambush very well. With a tradition of tracking in the heart of the Army, they used their knowledge to run the enemy in circles until they made a mistake. Harassment of the enemy heightened as intelligence grew. Rarely did they go External without leaving presents for pursuers or the random patrol to step on and blow their limbs apart.

External missions followed a proven pattern. An area was decided on and pathfinder units would locate an acceptable Drop Zone. The numbers of men dropped varied dependent on the area covered. At night, the Operators would HALO into the DZ and then store their parachutes in plastic bags to be picked up on extraction. The Sabre would split up into small patrols, usually 4 to 6 men and fan out to their assigned areas. The teams would not see each other again for up to 6 weeks. If all went well, they would be resupplied every 14 days by helicopter with food, water and ammunition. This was the rotation that lasted throughout the war. Six weeks in the bush with 10 days back in Salisbury.

This took a heavy toll on the men. Often times a fit soldier might lose up to 20 pounds over the course of a trip. Working in the northern bush of Mozambique was slow and rough. From malaria to scrapes turning septic, great care was taken with their personal health. Few married men sustained the tempo as it was brutal on relationships.

Once in the bush, the patrol would cover their AO with precision and patience. They were constantly discovering new camps, supply lines and civilians who were unable to be trusted. Along with wearing the kit of the enemy, it was mandatory that they wore a black colored cream called ‘Black is Beautiful’ on all of their exposed skin. From a distance, they could be passed off for ZANU or FRELIMO patrols but would never hold up to close interaction.