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About Hannes Wessels
With roots in Africa going back over 300 years Hannes Wessels was born in 1956 in what was then Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia (now Harare, Zimbabwe) but grew up in Umtali on the Mozambique border. As a young boy school holidays were spent with Rangers in the Rhodesia Game department but time in his early teens on safari in Mozambique with the late Wally Johnson were a big influence. During this time Wessels met Robert Ruark, whose love of Africa, its people, politics and the written word left a lasting impression.
After leaving school he joined the RLI (Rhodesian Light Infantry) and saw action in the bush- war waged against the forces of Robert Mugabe’s Patriotic Front before acquiring a law degree and working as a prosecutor for a brief period of time. Leaving law, he hunted big game professionally in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania in a twenty-year career. In 1994 he was severely gored by a wounded buffalo 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), ‘P.K. van der Byl; African Statesman’, includes a revised history of the Rhodesian political imbroglio. His first book on the SAS and the Rhodesian war titled ‘A Handful of Hard Men’ is rated by many to be the best book written on the conflict and the political context in which it was fought. He then wrote, ‘We Dared to Win’ with Andre Scheepers and has just published ‘Men of War’ to complete a trilogy on the fight to save Rhodesia.
He has also written and published ‘Guns, Golf and Glory’ about the great golfers that came out of Rhodesia and later Zimbabwe, which he co-wrote with close friend and former world number one golfer, Nick Price.
He is married to Mandy and has two daughters; Hope and Jana and lives in Darling in the Cape Province of South Africa. While no longer directly involved in hunting he retains business interests in this sector and remains keenly interested in all matters relating to African wildlife and conservation.
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Books By Hannes Wessels
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 skillful and courageous than Capt. 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 valor in the face of such daunting odds and with resources so paltry. A bush-lore genius, blessed with uncanny instincts and an unbridled determination, he had no peers as a combat-tracker—and there was plenty of competition. The Rhodesian theater 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 neighboring Mozambique. After twelve 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 biography we learn that in his later years, he turned to saving wildlife on a continent where animals are in continued danger, devoting himself to both the fauna and African people he has cared so deeply about.
Andre Scheepers grew up on a farm in Rhodesia, learning about the bush from his African childhood friends, before joining the army. A quiet, introspective thinker, Andre started out as a trooper in the SAS before being commissioned into the Rhodesian Light Infantry Commandos, where he was engaged in fireforce combat operations. He then rejoined the SAS. Wounded thirteen times, his operational record is exceptional, even by the tough standards that existed at the time.
He emerged as the SAS officer par excellence—beloved by his men, displaying extraordinary calm, courage, and audacious cunning during a host of extremely dangerous operations. Here, Andre writes vividly about his experiences, his emotions, and his state of mind during the war, and reflects candidly on what he learned and how war has shaped his life since.
In addition to Andre’s personal story, this book reveals more about some of the other men who were distinguished operators in SAS operations during the Rhodesian War.
“Andre was the best of the best and the bravest of the brave.” —Capt. Darrell Watt, ex-SAS and subject of A Handful of Hard Men
Serving in both the SAS and the Selous Scouts, before joining the South African Recces, Stannard fought alongside the best and the bravest black and white soldiers of the Bushwar including legends of the conflict like Chris Schulenburg, Martin Chikondo and Darrell Watt. In the process, he carved a name for himself as one of the greatest fighting men of his generation.
If you have read “A Handful of Hard Men” by Hannes Wessels, then you will thoroughly enjoy “Men Of War”. Strong stuff, based on the experiences of some extraordinary soldiers. One of the best in
a long time. - Al J. Venter
This account is likely to give offence to some because it portrays him as bluntly as he was in real life. Much can be contested about PK van der Byl but few will dispute he was an extremely colourful character with a devilish sense of humour.
This memoir covers his life with a full flourish while doing nothing to detract from the seriousness of the international political and military conflict in which he was engaged. The reader will glean new information on a highly controversial subject and emerge with a more sympathetic understanding of what PK van der Byl and his colleagues did and strove for. The human tragedy that has followed the removal from power of Ian Smith and his Rhodesian Front party will almost certainly force the reader to deal with some uncomfortable conclusions, of value to anyone sincere about grappling with the volatile and deeply troubling challenges that confront all Africans today.