Every military unit and every nation has its own heroes who stand steadfast even when the chips were down.
These are men who, faced with possible death, refuse to acknowledge its presence. In times of exhaustion, extreme danger, hunger, and great anxiety, they are able to control their fear and harness it to rally or save their colleagues, and in some instances, even save their countries. Yet, despite their exploits of immense personal courage, dedication and fortitude, these heroes inevitably find themselves abandoned and betrayed by their politicians and generals.
A Handful of Hard Men by Hannes Wessels must rank as one of the most riveting books on contemporary African military history that I have read. It is also a book that lays bare the many misconceptions about Rhodesia’s war for survival and exposes some of the great betrayals these soldiers have been forced to live with. Yet, even when they realised they were being sold out by the very politicians who sent them to war, these men continued to fight on and carry out their orders, not for the politicians or even their generals, but for one another and the unit they held dearly.
The Rhodesian Special Air Service (SAS) produced men of such exceptional calibre.