Today we have another story for you from YBH, The Most Interesting Man in Arizona. In it he takes a quick look at the Fireforce Rhodesian Vest he recently received as a gift from a friend. We fleshed it out a bit, though not by enough to do much more than quickscope it.
Rhodesian Fire Force Vest
Badass gift in brushstroke camo
In 1986 my dear friend Jim Kirmse and I traveled to South Africa with a group of paratrooper veterans from all over the world. After we did our training and subsequent jump in Bloemfontein/Tempe, we traveled to Cape Town. One day while walking around the city, Jim and another Jim and I found an awesome army surplus store called Sgt. Peppers. They had a ton of really cool stuff.We met the owner and he invited us to the upstairs room where various camouflage was displayed. Understand that at that time it was illegal to sell or wear camouflage in public in South Africa because of the ongoing Bush War in Angola. I picked up some Rhodesian brushstroke camo there. Then the owner told us there was another store down the street that had a Rhodesian vest (specifically a Rhodesian Fireforce vest) in the window on display. Unfortunately, we were running out of time and needed to get back to the hotel to catch our bus to go to our next destination.
Jim Kirmse slipped us and apparently went to the store and bought that Fire Force vest — and the cheeky bugger never told me!
Two years ago i was visiting with his son Michael at Jim’s home here in Tucson and I saw this vest hanging in the garage! I almost fainted…
Yesterday Michael gave me the vest. It is a cherished item. There is still dirt in the pockets that I am guessing is from somewhere south of the Zambezi and north of the Limpopo rivers.
Thank you Michael for this.
Rhodesian Fireforce Vest
According to the Blogspot site Webbing Babel, Fereday and Sons of Salisbury, in the former Rhodesia, was the premiere maker of tactical equipment for Rhodie security forces during the Bush War.
As that site puts it,
Due to the short comings with the standard issue webbing the Rhodesian forces began tailoring their own belts as well as taking the better constructed Warsaw Pact chest rigs of dead terrorists. Or buying from Fereday and sons in Salisbury, Rhodesia.
The Rhodesian forces had a lot of freedom when it came to equipment and clothing in the bush. Hence the bush shorts and gym shoes.
The load usually carried on a fire force mission was generally suited to carrying ammunition and water for short fire fights with quick supporter from aviation assets.
Fereday and Sons Rhodesian combat vest manufactured in Salisbury, Rhodesia circa 1970s.Vest shows usual signs of combat wear and tear and has a few period repairs. Owner name and regimental number written on top back pack (sorry, no research conducted into history) along with the name ‘Mitch’ faintly with pen on the inner.
Top back back pouch has a square hole cut in it which I believe was used to accommodate a radio antenna. Made up of 6x FN magazine pouches and 2x water bottle pouches on front and sides and two utility pouches on rear with bag roll straps. No size displayed, but I would estimate it to be a size medium.