Pamwe Chete! ‘Schulie’ the Legend of the Rhodesian Selous Scouts

CAPTAIN CHRIS SCHOLLENBERG (affectionately known as ‘SCHULIE’) by Sally-Ann Lowe drawing on the book “Selous Scouts: Top Secret War” by Peter Stiff.

Some Men Are Morally Opposed to Violence
They Are Protected By Men Who Are Not

A British ex-General Sir Walter Walker, in a letter to ‘The Times’ January  1978, wrote of the Rhodesian forces:

Their army cannot be defeated in the field either by terrorists or even a much more sophisticated enemy. In my professional judgement based on more than twenty years’ experience from Lieutenant to General, of counter-insurgency and guerrilla type operations, there is no doubt that Rhodesia now has the most professional and battle-worthy army in the world today for this particular type of warfare.

Even our enemies didn’t disagree. An unintended compliment to the Rhodesian forces was given by an official of the Marxist Mozambique government who claimed that they had destroyed a vital bridge deep inside his country. ‘It must have been the Rhodesians,’ he insisted, ‘because it was done so well!’ (source: Hannes Wessel’s “A Handful of Hard Men”).

It is with great appreciation, respect and gratitude that Reclaiming Rhodesia publicly honours all our Rhodesian Bush War warriors by selecting some of the most outstanding individuals as examples of the caliber of our soldiers for recognition. We want to reiterate that we honour all our awesome Rhodesian fighting men – including our African soldiers in the RAR (Rhodesian African Rifles), the famous (infamous to our enemies!) Selous Scouts as well as both Special Branch and Support Unit of the BSAP.

It is not generally realized throughout the West that African Rhodesians made up over 70% of our military forces , all voluntary soldiers. The money power’s international propaganda media including the BBC (derisively termed the British Bolshevik Corporation) and the anti-Rhodesian pro-communist Guardian, kept and still keep this information to themselves as it does not sit well with their anti-white stance toward the ‘rrracist rrrebel rrregime of rrrhodesia’ and the more recent ‘white privilege’ meme pathogen. (The latter term attempts to erase the incredible historical achievements and capabilities of the white race in general.)

Reclaiming Rhodesia honours CAPTAIN CHRIS SCHOLLENBERG G.C.V., S.C.R. (affectionately known as ‘SCHULIE’)

Captain Schollenberg, an Afrikaner South African, first joined the Rhodesian RLI as a Sergeant, then subsequently commissioned as a second-lieutenant. He then volunteered to join the elite unit the SAS. He fast became a legend among his military peers for his daring  reconnaissance  work. This included numerous types of missions and achievements leading 4-man reconnaissance (recce) teams infiltrating over the borders deep in enemy territory, searching for the presence of enemy camps, then into the “lion’s den” to collect intelligence on these camps, such as number of terrorists, layout and size of the camps and much more, all the while avoiding detection. 

For a particularly fine specialist piece of recce work for the SAS Schulie (first left) was awarded the Silver Cross of Rhodesia for Valour, the second highest award for gallantry in the Rhodesian Security Forces.

Individualist Schulie considered the compulsory 4-man recce system to be too cumbersome, inefficient and unnecessarily dangerous regards being detected so at the end of his contract with the SAS he returned to his native South Africa to civilian life. Fortunately he was ‘reclaimed by Rhodesia’ for he could not stay away and returned to re-join the Rhodesian forces though, typical of independent minded Schulie, he now had new, unprecedented demands such as contract on a monthly basis and a one-man recce unit! This was a bridge too far for the SAS but General Hickman informed Lt Col Ron Reid-Daly of the more flexible and leading edge Selous Scouts of his availability and to snap him up before he could change his mind.

Hickman admitted Schulie ‘had an unusually independent turn of mind for the military yet he was still an officer of exceptionally high calibre and it was unthinkable the army should turn him away’ according to Lt Col Ron Reid-Daly in “Selous Scouts: Top Secret War” (by Peter Stiff).

Reid Daily stated:

‘Although reconnaissance had from time of formation been an integral part of the Selous Scout operational duties, a troop specializing in this only came into being with the arrival in the Regiment of an officer named Chris Schollenberg.’

Encouraged to grow beards to break up their Caucasian features, one day a pilot eyed his Selous Scout passenger and exclaimed “My God, An armpit with eyeballs!”. The name stuck. “Selous Scouts: Top Secret War”, page 245.

The Selous Scouts insisted always on a minimum of 3-man teams – 2 could carry 1 wounded but less could not. A compromise was agreed – a minimum of a 2-man recce team. Initially Schulie requested a European team member as that is what he trusted, felt comfortable with and was used to in the all white SAS. It is to his credit and flexibility of attitude that he changed his mind later, when he realized the advantages of having instead an African team member – such as familiarity with the enemy’s language, blending in with the enemy if spotted, cultural awareness, tracking skills etc.

The culmination of Schulie’s efforts in the Selous Scouts was the highest award, the Grand Cross of Valour, Rhodesia’s highest award for bravery, the equivalent of the Victoria Cross or the Congressional Medal of Honor and his partner Steve Mpoto was awarded the Silver Cross of Rhodesia for Valour bringing well deserved recognition to the ‘Scouts’ who had previously received the Rhodesian Army’s first Silver Cross award.

There had always been speculation in the Rhodesian Army as to who would be the first to win the coveted and rare prize, the Grand Cross of Valour but one point agreed upon was that: ‘the first recipient would be very, very, brave but also … very, very, dead!’

Ron Reid-Daly:

“Schulie was without doubt the foremost exponent of reconnaissance in the Rhodesian Army … perhaps in the world … and the techniques he had developed had enabled the Selous Scouts‘ Reconnaissance Troop to carry out incredibly detailed reconnaissances of targets deep inside Zambia and Mozambique. The 2-man reconnaissance concept, which I had initially viewed with the utmost doubt and concern, had proved to be such a success that we did not consider any target on the African continent, that was within Dakota range, to be beyond our capabilities.

Perhaps, though, Schulie’s greatest contribution to the concept was his now concrete hard faith in the qualities and abilities of the African soldier in Special Force techniques … hitherto considered in military circles to be beyond his capabilities. It was Schulie’s personal example, high qualities of leadership, expertise and ability to survive in circumstances of extremes of physical and mental pressures in which most men would give up, that inspired the African soldiers working with him to produce the splendid results they did.

Schulie was always regarded with awe and held in the highest regard by the African Scouts, a feeling incidentally, which was wholeheartedly shared by the European element of the Selous Scouts, from their Colonel down to the newest joined ranker.”

Schulie with ‘black-face’ eating in the bush. “Selous Scouts : Top Secret war” page 356.

On being informed by Reid-Daly over the phone that he had been awarded the highest military honour in the land and his partner Sergeant Mpoto the Silver Cross,  there was a stunned silence as the news sunk in.

“Sir, tonight I am going to get drunk … in fact, I’m going to get very, very, drunk!”

Wrote Reid-Daly:

And so Captain Chris Schollenberg, in his own quiet and self-effacing manner, stepped forward to join the ranks of those other heroes of military history, who also never really believed they had done anything to earn a high award either.

Captain Chris (Schulie) Schollenberg, Selous Scouts, the first of only two Rhodesian soldiers to ever be awarded the Grand Cross of Valour, after receiving it from the President of Rhodesia, the Hon. John Wrathall, on the 16th June, 1978. “Selous Scouts: Top Secret War” page 356.

Yet there was even more honour and recognition to come, this time directly from the African Selous Scouts and the manner in which it came about illustrates one of the differences in logic and perception between black and white thinking. 

Lt. Col. Reid-Daly requested they compose a new regimental Shona song for the official ceremony to honour Schulie, yet nothing happened. Finally, “Where the hell is this song?” he demanded at the final rehearsal. Very gingerly, “There is no new song, Sir.”

“What exactly do you mean by this?”  Reid-Daly glared, working himself up into a lather. At which point the African Regimental Sergeant Major anxiously explained the African soldiers had long discussions about this and insisted they must sing the regimental funeral song.”The funeral song!” he repeated, absolutely aghast. “Why?  He’s not dead!”

Ishe [Sir], it is the African way of paying him honour and respect. The long term bravery of Captain Schollenberg means he should have been killed in action twenty times over. That is why the funeral song is the only appropriate song when he is awarded his medal.” 

And so it was approved. Fortunately Reid-Daly had a quiet word of warning to Schulie in the last minutes before the parade so as not to alarm him!

After receiving his award Schulie about-turned and faced the Regiment:

…and he stood there, a great bearded giant of a man, gazing out over the heads of one and a half thousand men who all thought he was just about the greatest, bravest soldier they had ever met, or would ever meet. The poignant and measured words in Shona of the funeral song rolled out from the regiment and rang away in echoes to the distant hills beyond. To translate the words means the loss of something intangible, the least being the harmony, but to paraphrase it, the words went something like this:

Come all you soldiers of the selousi … Selous Scouts; We search for the men who rebel against our country; We live in the bush; We live like homeless ones; We seek the enemy; Who wish to destroy our country … Rhodesia.

There were few eyes not wetted by tears amongst the spectators as the haunting harmony rang out.”

A ‘flying’ column of Selous Scouts.

Yet, we live in a thought world of perception and this is evident in Schulie’s awe, admiration and horror of the ‘flying’ columns of Selous Scouts who traveled across borders into the enemies’ lairs to take the fight to this enemy. He absolutely refused to be a part of any such dangerous and ‘crazy’ missions. This was indeed a great compliment to the men involved regards their bravery and ‘can do’ attitude against incredible odds.

Ron Reid-Daly:

“He made it crystal clear he had no wish to go on a column. He didn’t want to be a hero … he just wanted to do his own thing in his own solitary but totally safe way where his life would not unreasonably be endangered.”

Another moving display at this parade was the introduction for the first time of the newly acquired Selous Scouts Regimental Colours in a uniquely African design.

Outsiders can never grasp the significance to warriors of their ‘Colours’.  ‘Colours’ was an alien concept to Africans, not part of their tradition so, to add meaning for them, the ‘Colours’ incorporated and melded the customs of both races.

Created by Reid-Daly, with the normal osprey stylised in silver at the top, but adding a pair of horns of a bull below bound in elephant hide to symbolise strength, with a boss of zebra skin between the horns to signify the multiracial nature of the Scouts, and a wildebeest tail hanging from each tip of the horns ‘traditionally used by witchdoctors to banish evil spirits’ and the words:

Pamwe Chete” …

Translates as “together only” embroidered on a satin background.

‘Reclaiming Rhodesia’ salutes Captain Chris Schollenberg and our elite warriors, the Selous Scouts. Role of Honour.
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5 Responses

  1. Drou says:

    This was a wonderful time to be in Africa, nothing has changed for the better Rhodesia was more than Zimbabwe will ever be. Just in passing, the Africans living in Zimbabwe did not build the Great Zimbabwe Ruins. The edifice was constructed before the Negroes reached southern Africa by the ancestors of what is now the San Koi or Bushmen.

    • gino says:

      i read they were constructed by trades from the north east of africa or the middle east who sailed down the coast for gold ivory and slaves. i dont recall where i read it but the author also said that there were river systems lined with foreign trees to mark a river highway system from the coast to the inland areas and these people constructed the ruins????

    • Tony Newlove says:

      No way did the Bushmen build the Zimbabwe structures. Their way of life would have absolutely no need for it, they would not have the motivation to build it. It was built some hundreds of years after the Negroes arrived in that area by the Monomatapa Kingdom, who were by all accounts Shona.

  2. A motivating discussion is worth comment. I do think that you need to publish more on this subject matter, it may not be a taboo subject but generally folks don’t speak about such topics. To the next! Cheers!!

  3. mark taha says:

    I’m glad I discovered you.

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