Horses and war were intertwined throughout history until the advent of the automobile. Even though the wide variety of Fighting Vehicles now carry the Cavalry into battle, horses have found their utility in 20th century Law Enforcement and War. Although the day of General George Armstrong Custer and J.E.B. Stewart engaging in major battles are pieces of history and only live through re-enactment, mounted troops survived to help today’s U.S. Border Patrol and were a unique tool in the Rhodesian Bush War.

As discussed in other pieces on Rhodesia, manpower was limited and the ground to be covered became larger as the war progressed. Even though the transportation modes of the Helicopter and Land Rover were the primary mover of men, the Grey’s Scouts were used very effectively in the COIN warfare setting. Horses could move through areas that motorized vehicles could not and sped up tracking parties, running the insurgents down while keeping the Rhodesian Soldier fresh for contact.

I would like to introduce Michael Watson, a member of the Grey’s Scouts during the Bush War and in the process of documenting its full history and putting it in book form. He was generous enough with his time to participate in an interview for SOFREP. The Scouts are a vital part of the ingenuity and determination to make due with what they had to meet the enemy head on at full gallop.



SOFREP: Michael, please introduce yourself and your association did you have to the Bush War?

MW: I am the fourth generation of a military family (both paternal and maternal sides) that go back to the Boer War. I was a reluctant conscript in 1974, having spent four years in the BSA Police after leaving school. I decided war and police life was not for me and left Rhodesia, my home and country, for the UK and a more (what I thought) peaceful existence.

I was back home after wandering around Europe for 18 months, finally realising that Rhodesia was the only country I experienced that was worth defending. On my return I was immediately called up and joined the Grey’s Scouts as a volunteer territorial soldier.