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Space:Support Unit - British South Africa Police

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Rhodesiamap
Surnames/tags: support_unit british_south_africa_police rhodesia
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Support Unit Badge

The Support Unit's origins go back to the formation of an Askari Platoon after the First World War. Many of its men had seen action with the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR) in German East Africa and were of alien (to Rhodesia, that is) origins. Their function was mostly ceremonial. With the growth of nationalist unrest in the early 1960's the size of the unit was expanded to three troops and their role became a little more diverse, including riot and crowd control. The counter-insurgency campaign extended the unit into the new role of counter terrorist operations, during which the unit developed its reputation for toughness. The Support Unit was regarded as an autonomous Branch of the force and was based in Tomlinson Depot comprising a dozen 'Troops' of platoon strength. Troops were designated alphabetically A-L, including G Troop which was the Headquarters Troop used for ceremonial and Government House guard duties.

The inflow of National Service members was directed mostly towards the Support Unit. With the escalation of the war the Unit ended up with some 31 Troops, including G Troop, and had, due to its size, moved to new barracks at Chikurubi, on the edge of Salisbury. At Chikurubi the Support Unit barracks had its own armoury, quartermaster stores, transport section, training wing, provost, clinic and living quarters for both black and white members, thus becoming an almost autonomous element of the force. Towards the end of 1978 the Support Unit restructured its Troops along military lines into Company units ranging from A Coy. to L Coy., with a Headquarters Company, by the end of the war. The Headquarters company included a mounted infantry styled unit, which fell under Support Unit control in 1978, and the Ceremonial Troop. The unit was a proud, highly decorated, yet unsung part of the BSA police, and security forces generally.

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