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Mechanised tranport

Macloutsie Camp, Bechuanaland

By Andrew Field 8646

The BSA Police was a mounted infantry unit at its inception and followed military lines of rank, organisation and structure, rather than traditional policing ways. The horse was the primary modus of transportation and, when in column, troopers were supported by ox and mule drawn wagons for logistics. At one time even camels were deployed, principally for carrying supplies, but they were also used for patrols. African police often sported a laden mule for extended rural patrols.

Transit between major centres had been confined to the Zeederberg Coach which established a route into Rhodesia from Pretoria in 1890 and seems to have continued to ply the route to Fort Salisbury up until the early 1900s. Doel Zeederberg, owner of the coach company, died in 1907 and from there on the business went down. Police transportation would appear to have been confined to horseback, horse drawn buggies and the bicycle.

As an aside, the line of rail first reach Umtali, on the eastern border, from Beira in then Portuguese East Africa in September 1892 and another line reached Bulawayo from the south in May 1893. It took some time for the line between Umtali and Bulawayo to be linked.

The first reference to a vehicle of any sort in the history of the force seems to point to the use of bicycles. This is hardly a motor vehicle in the true sense of the phrase, but clearly the first, non horse-drawn, wheel apparatus to be used by the BSA Police, chiefly by the town policeman and African Police. (photo pg 168 B&OG). Richard Hamley makes mention in his book, The Regiment, of a BSA Police Despatch Rider utilising a bicycle circa 1900 between Salisbury and Marandellas.

The first motor car to be brought into Rhodesia was in 1902, by Charles Duly. It was a French built Clément-Gladiator, an eight horsepower vehicle originating from a bicycle manufacturer of the same name. It was a two stroke engine. Little is said about fuel supplies. The first vehicle in Salisbury only appeared in about 1906 and was a Chenard-Walcker another vehicle evolution by a French bicycle manufacturer. By 1910 there were many more vehicles on the roads and vehicle licensing had been introduced.

Spurling, in his history of the BSA Police, suggests the first official mechanised transport initiative had taken place in 1910, when Sgt W A Hollick 1373 had been involved in the offloading and supervision of an English manufactured Belsize car and two Maudsley cars, from Coventry, acquired by police on an experimental basis. In 1911 the force was equipping with Model T Fords, one of which had been railed to Umtali and two had gone to Bulawayo. (Photo pg 196 Model T Ford)

Further attempts were made in 1913 to introduce mechanised transport to the force, but the recommendation to acquire two Colonial Noiseless Napiers and a motorised tractor were turned down. The regiment was to remain a mounted organisation for a little longer. Colonel Edwards had at this time managed to obtain authority for the purchase of two FN Motor Cycles, but there is little evidence to suggest they were actually acquired.

The advent of World War I was probably saw origin of police transport in Rhodesia. Much of this initiative was the result of the formation of Murray’s Column, mobilised to counter the advances of German interests in Tanganyika. By this time Duly & Co was a prime importer of the famous Ford vehicles of the time. In August 1917 the BSA Police Mechanical Transport Section was first formed which mustered some 90 vehicles for the troops on the Tanganyika border.

Murray’s Column had been responsible for moving 50 light Hupmobile and Ford lorries from Lupembe to near Malangani. Murray sent the vehicles back to Buhora for supplies.

Vehicles Used by the BSA Police

Peugeot 404 4-Door 1,600cc Sedan – 1971 to 1982;
Deployed: Information Rooms; Traffic Section; Criminal Investigation Department

Mini Review: In 1971 the CMED introduced a Peugeot 404 4-Door 1,600cc Sedan into the B-Car fleet and this vehicle was used by both Traffic Section and Information Room. It was intended to replace the Austin Westminsters that were slowly phased out in the early 1970s. The hegemony of British manufactured vehicles in the BSA Police was dented, a consequence of trade sanctions on Rhodesia. The French assembled vehicle, which was first on the production lines in 1960, was probably a construction of the 1967 design which retained the bumper with over-riders. The source of the vehicles will no doubt remain a mystery, being the product of sanctions busting at the time. They were produced in both Argentina and Kenya, aside from Europe. The vehicle was a popular buy with civilians in Rhodesia and many of them came onto the market. The pickup truck version of the Peugeot was also deployed in Rhodesia, on suburban stations. They was also specially fitted for use by dog section as a patrol vehicle. The Peugeot continued to serve the force into the first Zimbabwe Republic Police era and was eventually phased out in 1982. Peugeot 1974 – pg 426 (B&OG).

White, Henry Frederick
; (1859-1901) DSO – Lt. Colonel– 1 August 1895 to 1 October 1896

Mini Biography: Born 1 April 1859, the son of the 2nd Baron Annaly of Annaly and Rathcline, and older brother of his predecessor, Charles James White. He was educated at Eton and later attended Sandhurst. Fought in the Sudan Expedition (1884-85) and appointed a Lt.Colonel in the Grenadier Guards in 1900. He fought in the Boer War (1899-1902) during which he was wounded. White was present at the Siege of Mafeking as part of the relief force. He took part in the Jameson Raid, during which he was captured and subsequently convicted and sentenced to a term of imprisonment. White received the mercy of the Home Secretary and was released after 5 days, but lost his commission in the Army (later restored). White was at one time Mayor of Bulawayo. Henry White died 17 August 1903 at Pietersburg, South Africa. Awarded DSO 1901.

You can help

The Web Administrator is presently working on a mini thematic history of the BSA Police for the webs site and the chosen subject at the moment is vehicles of the BSA police.

If you are the owner of any photographs of BSA Police vehicles, or have any special knowledge of such vehicles, when they were introduced to the force, their purpose or any interesting recollections of vehicle usage in the force, these would be most welcome.

Fort Victoria, 1903

The historians have been pretty sparse with their information on police motor vehicles, particular the mighty Landrover, in which most policemen learned to drive, did patrols and used as general service vehicles in the force.

Send any material you may have to the Web Administrator.

Fort Victoria, 1903

BSA Police dog handler
The BSA Police Dog Section was first a part of the CID.


Images by Dick Hamley
author of
'The Regiment'