The Rhodesian Soldier

Echoes of the Coventry Blitz

Honours and awards for bravery and dedication to duty, with citations, are listed. The main content is the various Rolls of Honour, covering all the major conflicts and areas of operation. A copy of the book is laid up in the National Memorial Arboretum Chapel, UK, the site of the regiment’s memorial. 

From August 1940, Hitler’s Luftwaffe mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed cities and towns in Britain. The historic city of Coventry did not escape the carnage as, night after night, high-explosive and incendiary ​bombs rained down on this production centre of cars, munitions and aero engines.

Straddling the Derwent River, the cathedral city of Derby, its foundations in the Roman occupation of Britain, can directly attribute its contemporary status to the Industrial Revolution. (link)

Available from Amberley Publishing:


Staggering under the immeasurable cost of the ‘good fight’, post-war Britain was immediately confronted with an imploding empire, where overseas territories over which the Crown held varying levels of control clamoured for self-determination. (link)

Released June 2017. Available from Pen and Sword Books:

 Specifically compiled as a lasting tribute to the men of the Rhodesia Native Regiment (RNR) and its successor the Rhodesian African Rifles (RAR) who, during the proud and honourable life of these units, made the ultimate sacrifice. The book briefly looks at the history, with pictorial depictions of uniforms, badges, theatres of operation and colours.  

Mansfield Through Time offers a cameo glimpse of a town whose character and identity has, over the last few hundred years, been moulded, modified and tempered by coal mining and the Industrial Revolution. (link)

Available from Amberley Publishing:

From August 1940, Hitler’s Luftwaffe mercilessly and indiscriminately bombed cities and towns in Britain. The historic city of Coventry did not escape the carnage as, night after night, high-explosive and incendiary bombs rained down on this production centre of cars, munitions and aero engines. Then came Operation Moonlight Sonata, when 500 German bombers sparked an inferno of hundreds of fires. On 14 November 1940, 4,400 homes and most of the city centre buildings were destroyed. Today, the iconic shell of Coventry’s once majestic medieval cathedral (pictured) offers a memorial of remembrance to that dreadful night – a poignant echo of a violent and destructive part of their history. 

With the digital juxtaposing of archival images with photographs taken by the author himself for this publication, and drawing from contemporary press accounts of the Coventry Blitz, this book presents a unique, comparative insight into the Nazi bombing of Coventry.

Due for release by Pen and Sword Books in 2018.

Mention of this Derbyshire market town’s name invariably conjures up an image of an iconic landmark: the crooked church steeple. It does, however, also speak of a military heritage built up over a millennium. (link)

Available from Amberley Publishing:

On 19 November 1940, the shrill whine of air-raid sirens pierced the still mid-winter’s night in the East Midlands town of Leicester. Over the next six hours, the city’s populace cowered in whatever shelter they could find, as tons of incendiary and high-explosive bombs wrought terror and destruction. Many lost their lives. Hundreds of buildings were damaged or destroyed. With the digital superimposition of archival ‘ghost’ images over photographs taken by the author himself for this publication, and drawing on contemporary accounts of the Leicester Blitz, this book presents a unique comparative insight into the German bombing of this city during the Second World War.  

Due for release by Pen and Sword Books in 2018.

Two years after landing on English soil in 1066, William of Normandy erected a strategic castle at Nottingham, thereby creating an enduring military nexus through to the modern era. (link)

Due for release July 2017. Pre-order from Pen and Sword Books:

 The 602-page definitive history of Rhodesia’s territorial force from 1890–1980. Included are 516 pages in black and white and 16 pages of full colour photos and maps. It is packed with a staggering 2,500 photographs, maps and drawings. Comprehensive and very detailed appendices cover Honours and Awards (colour), including citations, Uniforms and Embellishments (colour), four Rolls of Honour covering the full period 1899 to 1981, and Leadership and NS Intake data.

Available in the UK at only £45.00 plus £8.00 P&P from Gerry van Tonder: 

With a pathological hatred of the other’s ideology that had spawned total mistrust, the paucity of belief in a non-aggression pact between Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in a short space of time catapulted the two nations into a bitter conflagration of Biblical proportions. (link)

Released May 2017. Available from Pen and Sword Books:

Echoes of the Leicester Blitz

Detailed accounts and maps of local and foreign conflicts in which Sheffield’s citizens in uniform participated.      Selected honours and awards, together with citations for bravery. Biographies of military personnel. A look at memorials and buildings – silent symbols and custodians of Sheffield’s proud military history.

Due for release by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017. 

From August 1940 – the start of the Battle of Britain – to July 1941, there were numerous Luftwaffe raids on Leicester, each indelibly altering the city’s appearance to some degree.

Revealing accounts of preparation, mobilization and engagement from hitherto Top Secret War Office and United Nations documents. Anecdotal first-hand experiences from the first in the field deployed to save the south from the North Korean onslaught. South Korea, the West and the UN caught totally unawares as North Korean forces swept across the 38th Parallel in a blitzkrieg-style invasion of the south. Exclusive detailed colour plates that include maps, arms and equipment, and badges and insignia from the author’s own personal sources. The is the first of six volumes on the Korean War.

Due for release by Pen and Sword Books in November 2017.

In August, the late former-commander of the Rhodesian Army (1968–1972), Lt-Gen Keith Coster’s son, Steve, and daughter-in-law, Cindy, approached me, wanting to know if I would like to take custody of personal memoirs, photographs, letters, certificates, records and some items of uniform that had belonged to the general. It was their wish that the collection find a permanent home in a Rhodesian museum...(link)

Over the years, much has been written about individuals and the forces and their operations in what became commonly known as South Africa’s Border War, or Grens Oorlog, but never before has the human spirit of this 23-year-old conflict been so graphically and unashamedly captured and chronicled as in this book. (link)

​Available from Casemate Publishing:

The Rhodesian Soldier Rhodesian History the rhodesian soldier rhodesian military research the rhodesian soldier rhodesian history

Welcome to my website.

Since coming to the UK in 1999, my work on Rhodesia’s military history has grown from a casual interest to a full-blown passion for researching and recording elements of this legacy. Along with this has been the acquisition of an extensive library and the establishment of a comprehensive range of on-line and networked documentary sources.

After publishing my first book in 2012 on the Bush War Roll of Honour, I have been drawn into other projects, which culminated in the co-authored publication of a further five books including: Rhodesia Regiment 1899-1981 (released July 2014). I have also authored the Book of Remembrance: Rhodesia Native Regiment and Rhodesian African Rifles (July 2015), and Lt-Gen Keith Robert Coster: A Life in Uniform. These projects have demanded an enormous amount of time over several years as my scope of research has widened dramatically, covering decades of Rhodesian military history from the 1890s to 1980, in widely spread theatres of war, as well as in the defence of Rhodesia.

Since then, I have co-authored North of the Red Line: Recollections of the Border War by Members of the South African Armed Forces (for which I also did all the translating from Afrikaans), due for release in June 2016.

April 2016, saw the landmark publishing of my first UK book, Derby in 50 Buildings. This was followed by Chesterfield’s Military Heritage, released July 2016, and Mansfield Through Time, in September 2016. These three books have been published by Amberley Publishing, and may be purchased from their website:

Following on from this, there was an exciting development when, in late 2016, I started writing for Pen and Sword Books Ltd. All the contracted titles appear below, together with the publication status of each title.  I will be contracted for a further four to six titles for 2018–19.

Unfortunately, circumstances have resulted in the indefinite delay of the publication of Operation Lighthouse, the Intaf book that Dudley Wall and I are working on.

I undertake freelance copy-editing and proofreading work and welcome enquiries. The titles that I have worked on appear in the Books section

I have expanded my research services, whereby I receive requests for information about a certain member who had served with the armed forces, particularly in the two world wars.  In order to cover direct expenses and my own time, I charge a nominal fee. See my Research page.

Finally, I would like to offer my website as a place where your book can be promoted. Under the Books section, we have inserted a sub-section titled Guest Books. We will need a high-res image of the book cover and a 100-word blurb on the book. Preference will be given to books about Rhodesia, and we reserve the right to decide on what we insert. All that it will cost you is a copy of your book for my library!

Enjoy your visit and please contact me if you have anything specific in mind, and I will endeavour to assist where I am able.

Gerry van Tonder