Selous Scout Mission: R & R

A continuation of my series on the lessons in mission drawn from the operating strategies of Rhodesia’s Selous Scouts.


1st Marine Division on their Australian R & R break in World War Two.

Over the weekend we had some friends stay and talk turned briefly to this blog and my Selous Scouts series.  My friend (we’ll call him Wally) identified with my article on the pseudo approach to mission, but gave some interesting food for thought.

Wally fits well into the definition of pseudo operative, a lone Christian working in a social welfare field where secular humanism is the prevailing worldview and “proselytization” of anything but secular humanism is strictly frowned upon.  It’s a tough gig, restricting for my friend who at times feels he has to equip needy people with strategies and philosophies that either won’t work, or fail to reference their divine author.

As we talked Wally told me that while it was helpful for him to think of his current calling in life as a pseudo operative in an at times hostile environment, there are a few reflections he had about making it sustainable.

Firstly, the Selous Scouts operated in “sticks”of at least two to three men.  There was one exception to this, a Scout called Schollonberg (Schulie) who sometimes operated by himself and also became the only Selous Scout, and one of only two men, to be awarded the highest award for courage the Rhodesian army could bestow – the Silver Cross of Rhodesia.  His rationale for being a lone operative was this:

I only wish to do reconnaissance … nothing else … and I don’t want anyone telling me how to do it.  Just give me the task and a completely open discretion … and … have someone handle the intelligence I bring in … and … handle the general organisation and administration.  I will thereafter do my own thing as I see fit.”   (Actually I can think of several mission operatives who’d very much like to do things Schulie’s way, especially the organisation and administration part.)

However, if we take Schollonberg as the exception rather than the norm, we see that in the long, lonely and dangerous days of pseudo operation the camaraderie of these tight sticks of men were vital to their success.  It’s tough being one out, a bit easier with others to watch your back.

The second reflection is that the Selous Scout pseudo operatives weren’t always in the field.  In all likelihood a vital part of their long-term sustainability was for them to come out of the field for R & R (rest and relaxation), but more importantly for debrief and a re-connection with their world and the things they were fighting for.

In a mission context this R&R from the frontline probably takes the form of the fellowship of believers, the community of faith.  It may not have been tested by the Selous Scouts, but one would think a permanent existence as a pseudo would be nigh on impossible.  At the very least the connectedness with home and kin would be valuable in keeping the pseudo fires burning stronger and longer.

So thanks to Wally for mentioning this, it’s a good cautionary note – pseudo mission must retain a strong connection to the community of faith for encouragement, teaching and inspiration.


6 Responses to Selous Scout Mission: R & R

  1. Byron says:

    Definitely enjoying this series of posts Andrew. The 2 points today make absolute sense, but yet I think many of us in Christian ministry take them for granted. I’m afraid I would fall into the group back at headquarters who very seldom got out into the field. Even when I do, it’s really pretty safe and thus I don’t get a real feel for what the pseudo operatives are going through.

    • Dave Hodgson says:

      Enjoying the series. Just to correct the record the Silver Cross of Rhodesia (SCR) was not the highest award for bravery. The Grand Cross of Valor (GCV) was. Shullies was awarded both, as was Grahame Wilson of the SAS. The were both awarded the Bronze Cross of Rhodesia aswell.

      • mzilikazi says:

        Hi Dave

        Thanks for the clarification. I knew Schullie was one of only two to get the “highest award” but in my rush I must have put in the wrong name. Apologies.

        By the way, are you speaking at a men’s breakfast in Montville next Saturday (19th)?


  2. MUM SAYS says:

    May I join the chorus…enjoying the series and learning heaps!!!!!

  3. Pingback: The Home Front – Selous Scout Mission « Co-mission

  4. Huckelberry Fynn says:

    Only Wilson was awarded the Bronze, Silver and Grand Crosses. Schullenberg received the Silver and Grand Crosses. He did not get the Bronze Cross.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: