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During the West’s great transition into the post-Colonial age, the country of Rhodesia refused to succumb quietly and throughout the 1970s fought back almost alone against Communist-supported elements that it did not believe would deliver proper governance.

During this long war many heroes emerged, but none more skilful and courageous than Captain Darrell Watt of the Rhodesian SAS, who placed himself at the tip of the spear in the deadly battle to resist the forces of Robert Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo.

It is difficult to find another soldier’s story to equal Watt’s in terms of time spent on the field of battle and challenges faced. Even by the lofty standards of the SAS and Special Forces, one has to look far to find anyone who can match his record of resilience and valour in the face of such daunting odds and with resources so paltry. In the fight he showed himself to be a military maestro. A bush-lore genius, blessed with uncanny instincts and an unbridled determination to close with the enemy, he had no peers as a combat-tracker (and there was plenty of competition). But the Rhodesian theatre was a fluid and volatile one in which he performed in almost every imaginable fighting role; as an airborne shock-trooper leading camp attacks, long range reconnaissance operator, covert urban operator, sniper, saboteur, seek-and-strike expert, and in the final stages as a key figure in mobilizing an allied army in neighbouring Mozambique.

After 12 years in the cauldron of war his cause slipped from beneath him, however, and Rhodesia gave way to Zimbabwe. When the guns went quiet Watt had won all his battles but lost the war. In this fascinating work we learn that in his twilight years he is now concerned with saving wildlife on a continent where they are in continued danger, devoting himself to both the fauna and African people he has cared so deeply about.

SOFTCOVER, 304 pages.


A 14th generation white African Hannes Wessels was born in 1956 in what was then Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) but grew up in Umtali (now Mutare) on the Mozambique border. As a young boy he met Robert Ruark on safari in Mozambique and was later captivated by his books. He has never forgotten Ruark’s passion for Africa, its people and its wild places.          

After leaving school he was a combat soldier in the bush- war waged against the forces of Robert Mugabe’s Patriotic Front before acquiring a law degree but practised only fleetingly. Turning to a career in wildlife he operated professionally in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania in a twenty year career. In 1994 he was severely gored by a wounded buffalo in Maasailand which almost cost him his life.

He has published ‘Strange Tales from Africa’ in America which is a collection of stories about people and places encountered by him in the course of his hunting days. His biography of PK van der Byl (former Rhodesian Defense Minister) includes a revised history of the Rhodesian imbroglio and he has completed a book about the life and times of Colonel Ron Reid-Daly of Selous Scout fame. 

He is married to Mandy and has two daughters; Hope 15 and Jana 12 and lives in Darling in the Cape Province of South Africa. He retains business interests in tourism and remains keenly interested in all matters relating to African wildlife and conservation.

Customer Reviews

Based on 122 reviews
driekie oosthuizen
Handful of hard men

Excedllent service. Good read. My husband quite enjoyed it.

George Thomson

A very interesting book of some very brave men. Worth a second or severable reads!.


Interesting facts / no long stretched out chapters This needs ti be aded to your collection


Brilliant !! and gives long over due credit to Darrell and others who have been overlooked in the past for their role in Rhodesian SAS

Thys Swart
A Handful of Hard Men

A well informed read. Well worth reading. Was part of this era, having grown up on the family farm in Doma, Mashonaland West and schooled in Sinoia. These were truly men of men. Thank you and well done to Hannes Wessels for putting pen to paper and for the detail provided. Strongly recommend this read.


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