British South Africa Police Support Unit - "The Blackboots"

The British South Africa Police (BSAP) dates back to 1889, when the British South Africa Company Police (BSACP) was raised, as mounted infantry, to escort the Pioneer Column to Salisbury, and then to introduce and enforce a system of law.

The name changed to BSAP in 1896.

The most overtly military unit fielded by the BSAP was the Support Unit (which could trace its roots to the Askari troop which were a ceremonial only unit).Created in the early 1960's as an intervention /fire force unit to assist Districts that were under pressure from civil unrest, it was first deployed to Bulawayo where it was christened the "Blackboots" by the locals who were used to seeing the standard police brown boot rather than the black combat boot of the Support Unit.

The Support Unit operated in all areas, troop members being black and white. The unit was based at Tomlinson depot before moving to a custom-built Salisbury HQ in1979.

Thorough training was given in battle camp, with the emphasis on aggression, featuring a live fire "battle innoculation" - which unfortunately resulted in some casualties. The unit gained a reputation for tracking ability and fitness (as an example the FN MAG (24 lbs/ 12 Kg) was carried without a sling and fired from the shoulder!), running up to 30Km a day was not uncommon.