SAS war vet writes his memoir
Jackson relates bush war experience in tell-all book
A SEPTUAGENARIAN from Kleinemonde has written his first book – memoirs from his time serving in the Special Air Service (SAS) during the Rhodesian bush war.
Brian Jackson titled his book, Hot and Cold, to sum up the bush war experience – long hours of gruelling patrolling and waiting for signs of the enemy, followed by mere seconds of fierce fighting.
“I’m old now and all the guys in the book are also old,” Jackson told TotT. “I thought it’s best to get my stories down while I still have time. Many of these are stories that have never been told.”
Jackson is a South African citizen who said he joined the SAS for the adventure. “I was in the parachute battalion in South Africa, and was advised if I want a tough challenge, join the Rhodesian SAS. As a youngster the politics behind the conflict was not on my mind.”
He served in the SAS from 1970 to 1975. The Rhodesian SAS was based on the old 22nd SAS in Hereford, England. They worked together, then Rhodesia formed their own C squadron SAS.
After his service was up in 1975, he returned to Johannesburg.
“I have written it in a very light-hearted fashion, but there were painful times. It’s something that in that context you come to accept,” Jackson said.
He said he had lost a very good friend in the fighting, from school days.
He was about 20 years old.
“Come 1980, when Robert Mugabe came to power, we did wonder what it all was for. You must remember we didn’t lose that war militarily, we lost because of politics. And South Africa [under John Vorster] put the biggest pressure on Rhodesia,” Jackson said.
“I speak very little about the politics behind the fighting. “There have been so many books about the politics,” he said.
“I’m still in touch with some of my fellow soldiers. I told the one guy I was writing something, and he corresponds with the world, with everybody.
“The memories stayed with me over time. Some of the other SAS guys said, ‘I can’t believe you remembered this and this’. They remembered the operation but not the details.”
Jackson and his wife Colleen moved to Kleinemonde nine years ago, after he retired. After the army he joined the Parks Board in Limpopo, where he was a game ranger for 30 years, keeping in touch with nature.
“I’ve always liked being out in the bush, he said.
“It took me about three years to write the book. It was on and off. “I sent it to my brother-in-law who was in the printing field for 30 years to edit and check, and he send back to us,” he said.
“I didn’t actually write it down, I spoke into a tape recorder, then my wife typed it out. It’s self-published. The idea was not to make money, I just wanted to get the stories down.”
He said he had six different friends helping edit the book and chuckled that there were still mistakes with punctuation and spelling.
It’s a short read at 125 pages and costs exactly R100. He initially printed 50 copies, but it’s also available on Amazon – both Kindle and hard copies.
“My wife wanted to have a launch, but I don’t know,” he said.
He has negotiated with two places in Bathurst to display the book, as well as CNA and Bargain Books. You can also order the book from Jackson on 072-655-0803.
RECALLING THE PAST: Brian Jackson has written his first book at age 70, called ‘Hot and Cold: Memoirs of a Rhodesian SAS Soldier’