|Active||July 1975 – November 1980|
Republic of Rhodesia (1975–79)|
Zimbabwe Rhodesia (1979)
United Kingdom (1979–80)
|Branch||23px Regular Army|
|Colors||Maroon & Grey|
|Engagements||Rhodesian Bush War|
Grey's Scouts were a Rhodesian mounted infantry unit raised in July 1975 and named after George Grey, a prominent soldier in the Second Matabele War. Based in Salisbury (now Harare), they were known for their participation in the Rhodesian Bush War. The unit was disbanded in 11 November 1979 (following the conclusion of the Bush War in 1979) and then became a regiment of the Special Forces of Zimbabwe in June 1980. It was totally disbanded in July 1986 because of lack of resources.
Use in the Rhodesian Bush War
The creation of the unit was probably inspired by the Dragoons of Angola, a Portuguese Army mounted unit, raised in 1966, during the Portuguese Colonial War, to combat the guerrillas in Eastern Angola. A similar unit was being raised by the Portuguese in Rhodesia's neighboring Mozambique when the war ended in 1974.
Like the Dragoons of Angola, Grey's Scouts were used for tracking, reconnaissance, pursuit, and, most prominently, patrol in the Rhodesian Bush War. With measured variations in horse speed for training purposes, they would cover an area of over 65 km (40 mi) on the average day. Their routes often took them through active minefields, which they were to inspect. In addition to this, the small stature and manoeuvrability of the crossbreeds they rode on was of repeated benefit to the Rhodesian forces in the construction of border defences; the Scouts could transport materials and supplies over terrain impassable to vehicles. The horses themselves were mostly given in charity by sympathisers of the Rhodesian effort from South Africa and elsewhere.
Constitution and training
Initially, the unit consisted of around 200 men, but this would eventually grow to over 1,000. It conscripted soldiers from other infantry regiments of the Rhodesian Army, who were then instructed in equestrianism. Craftsmen such as farriers, horsebreeders, smithers and manufacturers were employed internally.
Grey's Scouts were trained as mounted infantry rather than cavalry, and were prepared for engagements on foot rather than on horseback. A tactic of rushing and fronting with their horses was implemented to significant success by Grey's Scouts and they were noted for their skill in launching shock attacks. The number of casualties Grey's Scouts suffered during the Rhodesian Bush War is known, and is recorded to be nine.
- Abbott, p.20
- CANN, Jonh P., "Counterinsurgency in Africa: The Portuguese Way of War, 1961-1974", Hailer Publishing, 2005
- Stringer, p.98
- Beckett, p.175
- Stringer, p.99
- Abbott, Peter; Botham, Philip (1986). Modern African Wars. Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0-85045-728-9.
- Frederick William Beckett, Ian; John Pimlott (1985). Armed Forces & Modern Counter-insurgency. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0-7099-3236-7.
- Douglas Stringer, Kevin; John Adams Wickham (2006). Military Organizations for Homeland Defense and Smaller-scale. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 0-275-99308-6.
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