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South Africans Abroad~Exploits of South Africans abroad~~~11889~11890~~
Barrel of a Gun: Misspent Moments in Combat - Al J Venter~Sequel to '
War Dog: Fighting Other People's Wars - The Modern Mercenary in Combat - Al J Venter
' (Listed below)
Al Venter has spent most of his adult life covering wars. From these 40 years has emerged his latest book which, for want of something better, he has called
Barrel of a Gun.
This book covers many of Venter's exploits, starting with his first real experience of conflict after he'd landed in Nigeria following the Ibo-led putsch that eventually led to the Biafran Civil War. From there he went on to cover the wars that the Portuguese were then fighting in a desperate rear-guard series of guerrilla conflicts to retain their African colonies in Angola, Mozambique and Portuguese Guinea (today Guiné-Bissau). Then came Beirut, Rhodesia, the Congo, huge dollops of the Middle East, South Africa's border wars in Angola and the consequential overflow into Zambia, Uganda, Liberia, El Salvador, the Balkans - where he went in twice - once with the United States Air Force over Kosovo and afterwards with mine-clearing teams in Croatia, Executive Outcomes (twice into Angola and once in Sierra Leone) as well five weeks with mercenary South African helicopter pilot Neall Ellis in the subsequent Sierra Leone war against the RUF rebels. There he flew combat in an antiquated M-24 Russian gunship that leaked when it rained. Since then, Al Venter spent a lot of time covering some of South Africa's security problems, including more than a month with para-military units active against drug elements along the Tugela River in KwaZulu/Natal. One recent phase in South Africa involved a brief spell in the mountains on horseback, and not the first time either. He was attached to a mounted unit along the Angolan Border in earlier days, not long before one of the soldiers was blown up by a Soviet TM-57 anti-tank mine. Venter has been twice injured in combat, once when a TM-57 detonated under his APC while with a long-range penetration group deep behind enemy lines in Angola and another time, through his own stupidity, that destroyed all hearing in his left ear ......
October 2010. Hardback 228 x 156 mm 352 pages 16-pg photo section~"Anybody who believes that the pen is mightier than the sword hasn't spent time in Somalia, or in Beirut in its bloody heyday." So begins this fascinating memoir of a journalist, filmmaker and raconteur who has made a career of examining warfare, on the ground, at sea and in the air, at the Sharp End. While the average citizen is aware of violent conflicts broiling all around the globe, Al J. Venter-from some strange compulsion unexplainable even by him-has felt the need to see them all in person, preferably from the centre of the action.
Born in South Africa, Venter has found no shortage of horrific battles on his own continent, from Rhodesia to Biafra, and Angola to Somalia. He has ridden with the legendary mercenary group Executive Outcomes, jumped into combat with South Africa's crack Parachute Battalion - the Parabats - at Cuamoto during the Angolan War, where he and several others became casualties, and traipsed the jungles with both guerrillas and national troops under whichever strongman in the country then held power.
During Sierra Leone's civil war he flew in the government's lone Mi-24 Hind gunship as it blasted apart rebel villages and convoys, his main complaint being that the Soviet-made craft leaked when it rained. In the Middle East he went into southern Lebanon with the invading Israeli army, and spent weeks at a time in war-torn Beirut. Through all this, Venter never lost his lust for action, even though he sometimes had to put down his camera or notebook to pick up an AK-47.
In his journeys, Venter associated with an array of similarly daring soldiers and journalists, from "Mad Mike" Hoare to Frederick Forsyth, as well as elite soldiers from around the world, many of whom, he sadly relates, never emerged from the war zones they entered. The creator of many documentaries and books, on such diverse subjects as warfare, shark diving and nuclear proliferation, Al Venter has here offered the reader his own personal combat experiences in all their multifaceted fascination.
October 2010. Hardback 228 x 156 mm 352 pages 16-pg photo section~Select version||Barrel of a Gun|ISBN 9781935149255 EB|Barrel of a Gun - Autographed|ISBN 9781935149255 Auto|~11889~13361~~
Beaufighter Over the Balkans - Steve Stevens DFC~This is the wartime autobiography of one of South Africa’s most famous pilots. Steve joined the SAAF at the outset of World War II with the desire to become a fighter pilot and to fly in Europe to destroy the Nazi’s ambitions of power. However, he was too good a pilot and having gained his wings was posted to become a flying instructor in his native country. After two years he finally arrived in Europe and joined the RAF’s Balkan Air Force flying rocket-firing Beaufighters in support of the partisans who were endeavouring to evict the Germans from their homelands. He joined No 19 Squadron under the command of the legendary Don Tilley and flew many missions against enemy shipping, gun emplacements and tactical targets in low-level, surprise rocket attacks. After the war he returned to Africa, flying light aircraft in a variety of roles, but when Berlin was blockaded by the USSR he returned to fly DC-3 Dakotas throughout the Berlin Airlift. This is a story told with a compassion that belies the author’s bravery and piloting skills. Throughout the story, his strong Christian belief, as with Leonard Cheshire VC, occasionally surfaces from the heat of battle and narrow escapes from death.
ISBN: 1844154874~~Beaufighter Over the Balkans|ISBN 1844154874|~11889~11894~SAAF~
Cops Cheating Death: How One Man (So Far) Saved the Lives of Three Thousand Americans - Al J Venter~Thirty adrenaline-infused stories of police putting their lives on the line in pursuit of justice. The author interviews cops who had been shot and lived to talk about it. This book offers graphic and profound details about how some of these men and women survived due to body armor (bullet-roof vests).
The Lyons Press, 2007. Hardcover 290 pages.
These are Autographed copies~~Cops Cheating Death - Al J Venter|ISBN 9781599211077|~11889~13187~~
Eighth Army in Italy 1943-45: The Long Hard Slog - Richard Doherty~Eighth Army, Britain's most famous field army of the twentieth century, landed in Italy in September 1943 and fought continously until the defeat of the Germans in early-May 1945. This book studies the experience of Eighth Army in the Italian campaign, examining how a force accustomed to the open spaces of North Africa adjusted to the difficult terrain of Italy where fighting became much more a matter for the infantry than for the armour. It also compares the qualities of the commanders of Eighth Army in Italy: Montgomery; Leese and, finally, McCreery. The book uses official records at various levels, personal accounts - some never before published - and published material to present a picture of an army that, although defined as British, was one of the war's most cosmopolitan formations. Its soldiers came from the UK, Canada, India, Ireland, Nepal, New Zealand, Poland and South Africa as well as from Palestine - the Jewish Brigade - and from Italy itself.
ISBN: 9781844156375. Hardback~~Eighth Army in Italy 1943-45|ISBN 9781844156375|~11889~11891~eighth army~
Gunship Ace: The Wars of Neall Ellis, Gunship Pilot and Mercenary - Al J Venter~A former South African Air Force pilot who saw action throughout the region from the 1970s, Neall Ellis is the best-known mercenary combat aviator alive. Apart from flying Alouette helicopter gunships in Angola, he has fought in the Balkan War (for Islamic forces), flown Mi-8s for Executive Outcomes, and thereafter an Mi-8 fondly dubbed "Bokkie" for Colonel Tim Spicer in Sierra Leone. For the past two years, as a "civilian contractor," Ellis has been flying helicopter support missions in Afghanistan, where, he reckons, he has had more close shaves than in his entire previous four-decade career; twice he turned the enemy back from the gates of Freetown, effectively preventing the rebels from overrunning Sierra Leone's capital. Nellis (as his friends call him) was also the first mercenary to work hand-in-glove with British ground and air assets in a modern guerrilla war. This book describes the full career of this storied aerial warrior, from the bush and jungles of Africa to the forests of the Balkans and the merciless mountains of today's Afghanistan. Along the way the reader encounters a multi-ethnic array of enemies ranging from ideological to cold-blooded to pure evil, as well as well as examples of incredible heroism for hire.
The days of Congo and Angola when you had the image of mercenaries as drunken guys going around shooting up the place... has gone - the people you find now... are well-trained, professional soldiers, special forces trained.
" -Neall Ellis
Praise for Al J. Venter: "
A disturbing insight into the ever growing world of unconventional private armies. Like it or not, Venter tells it to us the way it is.
" - John Le Carre
Hardback. 229 x 152 mm, 432 pages. Illustrated throughout.
Planned release date:
(ITEM CODE -
)~Former South African Air Force pilot who saw action from the 1970s onwards, Neall Ellis is the best known mercenary combat aviator alive.
Apart from flying Alouette helicopter gunships in Angola, he has fought in the Balkan War (for Islamic forces), tried to resuscitate Mobutu Sese Seko's ailing air force in the final days of his rule in the Congo, flew Mi-8s for Executive Outcomes, and thereafter, an Mi-8 fondly dubbed 'Bokkie' for Colonel Tim Spicer in Sierra Leone and finally, with a pair of ageing Mi-24s, Ellis ran the Air Wing out of Aberdeen Barracks in the war against Foday Sankoh's RUF rebels.
Twice, he single-handed (without a co-pilot) turned the enemy back from the gates of Freetown and prevented them from overrunning the capital, once in the middle of the night without night vision goggles. Nellis (as his friends call him) was also the first mercenary that worked hand-in-glove with British ground and air assets in a guerrilla war in modern times (if you discount British SAS efforts led by Colonel Jim Johnson using French mercs - including Bob Denard - to successfully harass Egyptian forces in Yemen in the 1960s by laying mines, setting ambushes and destroying their aircraft on nighttime raids on their airfields in the remote desert interior).
In Sierra Leone, Ellis' Mi-24 'Hind' ('it leaked when it rained') played a seminal role in rescuing the 11 British soldiers who had been taken hostage by the so-called West Side Boys in Sierra Leone: his chopper ferried in a contingent of SAS troops in the initial stages of the battle with the South African involved in much of the initial planning for the simple reason that no other pilot knew this West African country as well as he does. He also used his helicopter - numerous times - to fly SAS personnel on low-level reconnaissance missions into the interior of this diamond-rich country on which the Leonard diCaprio's film Blood Diamond was subsequently based.
As Al Venter tells it in an earlier book published recently in the United States and Britain,
, flying with Nellis was a tough, risky affair.
There were moments, he explains, 'such as when we hovered over enemy positions or towns under their occupation, places where we'd been told by the British military contingent under whose auspices Nellis operated - that there were significant numbers of anti-aircraft weapons. While most of it was old Soviet stock, recent events in Afghanistan demonstrated that some of this hardware is a match for anything fielded by the West.'
Such occasions, reckons Venter' marvelously exercises both the imagination and the sphincter muscle.
'Occasionally we returned to base with holes in our fuselage, though once it was self-inflicted: in his enthusiasm during an attack on one of the towns in the interior, our portside side gunner swung his heavy machinegun a bit too wide and hit one of our drop tanks. Had it been full at the time, things might have been different,' Venter recounts.
The upshot was that the two helicopters operated for the Sierra Leone Air Wing by Nellis and his boys had probably been patched more often than any other comparable pair of gunships in Asia, Africa or Latin America.
While hostilities in Sierra Leone lasted, Nellis had a price on his head: some reports spoke of a $1 million reward dead or alive, others double that.
This new work will deal with all of Neall Ellis adventures that spanned three decades. It is of interest that he was never wounded once, though on one sortie along the Angolan border in the 1980s, he dodged three SAM-7s fired in succession at his Alouette.
Planned release date:
(ITEM CODE -
)~Gunship Ace|ISBN 9781612000701|~11889~13701~~
In All Weather - Peter Chapman~No. 2 Squadron, South African Air Force served in Korea from late 1950 until late 1953. During that time they saw extensive active service, and were considered a valuable member of the United States Air Forces 18th Fighter Bomber Wing, to which unit they were attached. A number of books and articles have been written about the Squadron and its exploits in Korea, but almost all of these have been from the point of view of the pilots, and operations flown. This book is an attempt to redress that balance. It is the story of some of the men who served so faithfully, and without reward or renown, to see that the aircraft flew, and that the pilots returned safely to base whenever possible. This is the story of the ground crew. A brief history of events leading up to the war, and the war itself, are included, as well as an account of No.2 Squadrons exploits in Korea.
JDPublishing 2006. 141 pages.
Softback - ISBN-13 978-1-920169-16-9
Hardback - ISBN-13 978-1-4116-5430-3~~In All Weather (S/B)|ISBN-13 9781920169169|In All Weather (H/B)|ISBN-13 9781411654303|~11889~11900~No. 2 Squadron, South African Air Force, Korea~
Jack Malloch: Tango Romeo: The Life and Times - Alan Brough~
(Title not finalised. 'Cover' on left is not the book, just a picture & painting we have selected pending the official cover design from the publisher)
This biography is a true life action adventure story of incredible human achievement set against the backdrop of Africa's bloody and turbulent past - a past which has been largely forgotten by the rest of the world. Jack Malloch was a pioneering aviator who ran numerous clandestine airlines in Africa in the early post-independent years where he was involved in gun-running against the encroachment of Communism. He actively fought against the UN, yet was in the pay of both the CIA and the French secret service. He is most well known as the arch Rhodesian sanctions buster who almost single-handedly kept Rhodesia alive through a steady supply of consumer goods, arms and ammunition throughout the years of Rhodesia's UDI.
Planned publication date:
ITEM CODE -
NOTE - If you have memories of Jack Malloch and can contribute stories, we will gladly pass onto the author. Signed Limited edition copies of Jack and his Spitfire's 'Last Moments Together' painting by William Sykes available - please let us know.
(Title not finalised, 'cover' on left is not the book, just a picture & painting we have selected pending the offical cover design)
World War 2 Spitfire pilot, erstwhile CIA agent and participant in a dozen African wars, coups and revolutions.
It is a classic series of tales about one man's determination to help those whom he believed needed assistance during a period when many of Africa's conflicts were fuelled and abetted by Cold War politics. Africa was not only the battleground of Moscow and Washington, it was also a remarkable cauldron of intrigue, violence and power play that often overflowed national borders.
Jack Malloch was closely involved with Rhodesia's Special Air Service regiment, including having direct involvement in some of that unit's long-range cross border operations.
The CIA also enters the picture, from their initial involvement with Jack in Katanga, through the civil wars in the Congo right to getting US Senate approval to sell him DC-8's in the early/mid 1970's with jet conversion training for his crews in America - which was sponsored by the wife of Claire Chennault, the founder of the CIA's Air America!
Malloch was also involved with the British Military at about the time of Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration of Independence (UDI) and was subsequently involved in some military support flights into the Sudan for Whitehall. There were also clandestine military flights into the Aden desert in the early 1960's delivering weapons for the British SAS in their fight against the Communists. While in the mid-1970's it seems that the British bases in Sharjah were facilitating the sale of second hand equipment and parts for Rhodesia's British built Hunter strike aircraft, subsequently used against the guerrillas who were invading Rhodesia from Mocambique and Zambia.
But most of the 'secret' work that Jack did was with the French Secret Service. The Elysees Palace was linked to a series of events in Katanga and in the Congo (once Tshombe took over) and the French appear to have financed much of Jack's support for the break-away Nigerian enclave of Biafra.
As a result one of Malloch's good friends over the years was the French mercenary Bob Denard. In fact it was Malloch that airlifted Denard and his group of fighters into both Dahomey (Benin today) and the Comoros archipelago the second time he invaded and took the country by force.
Into that mix arrives Jean-Louis Demage, who was in Jack's employ, and who was Bob Denard's second-in-command in the Congo - and apparently Africa's first hijacker. Soon after one of Jack's aircraft was shot down by the U.N. forces invading Katanga, Jean-Louis commandeered a DC-3 on the runway at Katanga's Elizabethville (Lubumbashi today) and forced the pilot to fly a group of wounded mercenaries who had been captured by the U.N. to safety in Kariba along Rhodesia's northern border.
For much of the 1970's Jean-Louis ran the Libreville office of Affretair, Malloch's aviation company which was used to very successfully break the UN's embargo against Rhodesia as well as ferrying cargo, arms and equipment into numerous other African countries.
Jack's flying career started with flying Spitfires in the Italian campaign during WWII, where he was shot down behind enemy lines. In the early 1950's he then flew a Spitfire Mk XXII all the way from the UK to Rhodesia for the embryonic Southern Rhodesian Air Force, and it was in that same Spitfire, after the Rhodesian bush war, that his flying career (and his life) came to an abrupt end in 1982.
He was a very secretive, remarkable and patriotic man who had a major influence on the military history of not only Rhodesia, but of many African countries throughout the 1960's and 1970's. He also had a rare 'flying intuition', which is summed up in the words of one of his WWII comrades: "In terms of ethics, character and flying ability I would compare him to Chuck Yeager".
This biography of Jack Malloch is indeed a true-life aviation 'epic'.
Planned publication date:
ITEM CODE -
TRJM~~11889~12922~Jack Malloch, spitfire pilot~
The Iraqi War Debrief: Why Saddam Hussein was toppled - Al J Venter~The Iraqi War Debrief takes a searching and critical look at Iraq and related Middle East developments - particularly the huge armory of weapons of mass destruction that Saddam Hussein was said to have accumulated over the past twenty years. The book provides an intrusive and pertinent insight into how a small country like Iraq - with deceit, guile and duplicity - could accumulate enough chemical, biological and nuclear assets to threaten the security of millions of people across a huge region east of Suez. It also casts a critical eye at what appears to be similar developments shaping right now in Iraq's traditional enemy, Iran. The twenty chapters include:
How Saddam Almost Built His (Atom) Bomb
Iraq's Chemical and Biological Warfare Programs
The Gas Mask Imbroglio
Iraq's Missing Weapons of Mass Destruction
Chemical Warfare in the Iran-Iraq War
Some Fearsome Possible Newcomers to the Fray: Smallpox, Anthrax and Novichok.
Spies: Why American Intelligence Was Caught Short
Earthbound Publications, 2003. Hardback 340 pages.
NB - autographed copies only~~The Iraqi War Debrief|ISBN-13 9780620307352|~11889~13190~~
Tunnel-master & Arsonist of the Great War - Tony Bridgland & Ann Morgan~Sir John Norton-Griffiths was one of a breed of adventurer, pioneer, entrepreneur and soldier whose like is very seldom seen. From mining rich seams in South Africa he went on to lead the gallant miners who burrowed deep under enemy lines during the Great War. Always a controversial figure, he died in mysterious circumstances. This is the story of a true maverick, a formidable force and legend wherever he went.
ISBN 0850529956. Hardback~~Tunnel-master & Arsonist of the Great War|ISBN 0850529956|~11889~11887~tunnels, tunnel master, tunnelling~
War Dog: Fighting Other People's Wars - The Modern Mercenary in Combat - Al J Venter~
deals with mercenary action in a score of wars: Angola, Sierra Leone, El Salvador, the Congo Republic, Ethiopia, Lebanon and others. One of a handful of correspondents that saw action with the South African 'guns for hire' group Executive Outcomes, Al Venter's revelations about this organisation are remarkable. So are many of the 150 photos in this book. Having personally visited every locale he describes throughout Africa and the Middle East, Venter is the rare correspondent who had to carry an AK-47 in his research along with his notebook and camera. To him, covering mercenary actions meant accompanying the men into the thick of combat. In this book you get up close and personal with hardened pro's on the ground, joining them for missions where quick thinking and a will of steel are the only things separating them from success or failure, life or death.
664 pages. 32 pages color photos, maps.
ISBN-13: 978-1932033908, Apr 2008. Softback. With Introduction by Frederick Forsyth
ISBN-13: 978-1932033090, Jul 2003. 1st Edition Hardback, autographed. (Now out of Print, few copies remain)
- see sequel of this book
Barrel of a Gun: Misspent Moments in Combat - Al J Venter
above on this page~Casemate Books, USA
Cover photo on this page.
With Introduction by Frederick Forsyth
Cover photo on Catalogue page
644 pages. 32 pages color photos, maps.
Mercenaries have been with us since the dawn of civilization, yet in the modern world they are little understood. While many of today’s freelance fighters provide support for larger military establishments, others wage war where the great powers refuse to tread. In
, Al Venter examines the latter world of mercenary fighters effecting decisions by themselves. In the process he unveils a remarkable array of close-quarters combat action.
Having personally visited every locale he describes throughout Africa and the Middle East, Venter is the rare correspondent who had to carry an AK-47 in his research along with his notebook and camera. To him, covering mercenary actions meant accompanying the men into the thick of combat. During Sierra Leone’s civil war, he flew in the front bubble of the government’s lone Hind Mi-24 gunship—piloted by the heroic South African chopper ace “Nellis”—as it flew daily missions to blast apart rebel positions. In this book the author not only describes the battles of the legendary South African mercenary company Executive Outcomes, he knew the founders personally and joined them on a number of actions. After stemming the tide of Jonas Savimbi’s UNITA army in Angola (an outfit many of the SA operators had previously trained), Executive Outcomes headed north to hold back vicious rebels in West Africa.
This book is not only about triumph against adversity but also losses, as Venter relates the death and subsequent cannibalistic fate of his American friend, Bob MacKenzie, in Sierra Leone. Here we see the plight of thousands of civilians fleeing from homicidal jungle warriors, as well as the professionalism of the mercenaries who fought back with one hand and attempted to train government troops with the other, in hopes that they would someday be able to stand on their own.
The American public, as well as its military, largely sidestepped the horrific conflicts that embroiled Africa during the past two decades. But as Venter informs us, there were indeed small numbers of professional fighters on the ground, defending civilians and attempting to conjure order from chaos. In the process their heroism went unrecorded and their combat skill became known only to each other.
In this book we gain an intimate glimpse of this modern breed of warrior in combat. Not laden with medals, ribbons, civic parades, or even guaranteed income, they have nevertheless fought some of the toughest battles in the post- Cold War era. They simply are, and perhaps always will be, “War Dogs.”
Al J. Venter has made a career of covering other peoples' conflicts. As a long serving Africa and Middle East correspondent for Jane's International Defense Review his reports over the past thirty years have spanned four continents. Twice wounded and now well into his sixties, he recently flew combat in Sierra Leone alongside Neall Ellis in an aging Russian Mi-24 gunship (that leaked when it rained) . He has also produced documentary television films on subjects from the wars in Africa and Afghanistan to sharkhunting off the Cape of Good Hope.
"A disturbing insight into the ever growing world of unconventional private armies. Like it or not, Venter tells it to us the way it is."
- John Le Carre
"In this work, Al Venter has delved into the real-life exploits of the War Dogs... to illuminate how the privateers have continued to conduct battle in the wake of the Colonial Age. The true stories in this work are more impressive than fiction, and in terms of Africa, this book should be on the must read list for the U.S. State Department and British Foreign Office."
"…a gripping and hugely informative read. …highly recommended. …impressive and enlightening."
- The Herald, 07/2008 ~Select version||War Dog (Softback)|ISBN-13 9781932033908|War Dog (Hardback, autographed)|ISBN-13 9781932033090|~11889~12156~~
War Stories by Al Venter and Friends - Al J Venter~Al J. Venter's new book 'War Stories', has strong South African links, but includes forays into other countries. Comprising of 35 chapters, most of which were written by well-known people who were there in various operational theatres. The book starts off with Neall Ellis's chapter on his flying the Russian Mi-8s on supply missions in Afghanistan. Some excellent Rhodesian material is covered by SAS Colonel Brian Robinson, RLI troopie Hannes Wessels, Selous Scouts Lt Col Ron Reid-Daly. Former Selous Scout Aubrey Brooks, a section leader in Colonel Mike Hoare's invasion force that tried to take the Seychelles by force, covers that aborted operation including his own arrest and subsequent sentencing to death. South Africa's Border Wars are covered, to list a few, a chapter written by Paul Els on the first battles that started it all, Graham Gillmore on the 44 Parachute Brigade, Al Venter's experiences during Parabat's Charlie Company's attack on Cuamato where their Pumas were ambushed by RPG-7's. Combat correspondent Willem Steenkamp writes on what it was like to report on wars in those days. There are chapters on Portugal's African campaigns which today's generation know very little about. Venter aims to put the record straight since Lisbon was fighting guerrillas in Africa twice as long as America remained active in Vietnam. Other pieces include a story on experiences with a private military company in Iraq, Myke (Hawkeye) Hawke own exploits fighting drug gangs, US Colonel Lester (Les) Grau compares Soviet 1980 efforts with whats going on in Afghanistan today...... and many more. A very interesting compendium of military writing that will be thoroughly well-illustrated throughout, with plently of photos.
Nov 2011. Paperback 430 pages. 22 x 15.7 x 3.1 cm~Al J. Venter's new book 'War Stories' is due out 2011. It has strong South African links, but includes forays into the Balkans, Chad, the Sudan, two Somali episodes (including a secret US Marine chopper rescue of American Embassy staff from Mogadishu immediately prior to Gulf War 1). Aditionally, there's also a bit of history on the Zanzibar Revolution by former Newsweek correspondent Peter Younghusband, some excellent Rhodesian material (including an SAS backgrounder by that unit's last-but-one comander Colonel Brian Robinson) as well as a chapter on the RLI by former troopie Hannes Wessels. Venter's old pal Ron Reid-Daly also gets a look in.
Former Selous Scout Aubrey Brooks was a section leader in Colonel Mike Hoare's invasion force that tried to take the Seychelles by force (and ended up with most of the mercenaries hijacking an Air India passenger jet back to Durban. Aubrey's exploits make for one of the most interesting chapters, including his arrest and subsequent sentencing to death...
South Africa's Border Wars are there in force and include an extremely instructive section on the battle that initiated those campaigns by veteran militaruy author Paul Els as well as a great vignette by Graham Gilmore on 44 Parachute Brigade. Also included is Parabat's Charlie Company (89/91) attack on Cuamato where Venter almost bought the farm when he went in with the the initial strike force onboard Puma choppers when a bunch of gooks were waiting for them on the ground with RPG-7s. His group was headed by former British SAS operative Peter MacAleese (then serving as an NCO in the SADF).
Combat correspondent Willem Steenkamp has a contribution on what it was like to report wars in the days before cell phones, faxes and the web. As he says, it was tough work and a scoop really was a scoop that waited until you returned to civilization, unless you were prepared to lose exclusivity by using party lines with half the country listening.
There are four chapters on Portugal's African campaigns which today's generation know very little about. Venter aims to put the record straight since Lisbon was fighting guerrillas in Africa twice as long as America remained active in Vietnam and proportionate to population (9 million to 220 million) the Portuguese Army suffered far worse casualties. Cumulatively, Lisbon deployed less choppers in their three theatres of African military activity - Angola, Mocambique and Portuguese Guinea - than you would find today in any big city in the United States. That tells tells you a lot...
He also has a strong chapter from an American pal who served with a private military company in Iraq and is hoping that Myke (Hawkeye) Hawke will come up with his exploits fighting the drug people in time to be included. If he can manage it, he intends to include a chapter on professional hunting in an African war zone by his mate Giorgio Grasselli who remained active in the Matetsi area almost until the end.
One of the highlights is a strong piece on comparing Soviet efforts in Afghanistan in the 1980s with what is going on there today. That's something that involves Colonel Lester (Les) Grau, who is still serving in the US Forces and wrote what is arguably the most instructive book on the subject. He was able to work closely with his Russian counterparts following Perestroika and comes up with some astonishing figues (Moscow lost something like 300 helicopters to enemy action during the course of the war in that harsh land)
Other chapters include several of Venter's experiences in the Middle East, including a brush or two with Hizbollah, two chapters on clearing landmines (one of which takes place in the Balkans and involves rthe dreaded Yugoslav PROM-1 anti-personnel 'bouncing' mine) as well as time spent with Congo mercenary chopper pilot Dave Artkinson now training pilots in the mountains of Lesotho.
The work kicks off with Neall Ellis's contribution flying Mi-8s on supply missions in Afghanistan, which he is doing right now.
There is much more, but there is not the space to mention it all including some of the choicier bits, except that this is going to be a rather interesting compendium of military writing that will be thoroughly well-illustrated throughout.
'War Stories' is a working title and comprises 35 chapters. It will include scores of on-site action pix.~War Stories|ISBN-13 9781869194109|~11889~13840~~
Warriors of the Sky - Peter Bagshawe~This is a collection of fifty exciting short stories written by pilots of the South African Air Force. The majority concern World War II when, along with other Commonwealth air forces, the SAAF fought alongside the RAF in the war-torn skies over Europe. The book captures the esprit de corps that existed between all the nationalities that fought on the Allied side and creates a splendid record of the many heroic actions in which the Springbok pilots fought. Some of the other stories relate flying in the border wars that South Africa fought in post-war years, often against vastly superior and better equipped communist inspired regimes.
Pen & Sword 2008. ISBN 1844153371, hardback. ~~Warriors of the Sky|ISBN 1844153371|~11889~11902~SAAF, South African Air Force~
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