Sunday, Bloody Sunday
A Soldier’s War in Northern Ireland, Rhodesia, Mozambique and Iraq
Author: Jake Harper Ronald as told to Greg Budd
372pp; size 242 x 168mm,
32 pages of black and white pics, 16 pages of colour pics
Plus in-text illustrations, cartoons and maps
Trade paperback; Barcode/ISBN 978-1-919854-35-9
Jake Harper-Ronald wanted to be a soldier from childhood . In 1966 his ambition was fulfilled when he was conscripted as a National Serviceman into the Royal Rhodesia Regiment. He afterwards moved to the UK and passed selection for the ultra tough Parachute Regt — the famed red berets. The Paras were regularly deployed in Northern Ireland where a raging war was ongoing between IRA Provos and Protestant militants — with the security forces like piggy in the middle. On Sunday 30 January 1972 1-Para was deployed in Londonderry to combat an IRA inspired ‘peace’ march. Jake was the official photographer. The situation deteriorated and elements in the crowd fired on the Paras who returned fire. The bodies of 13 dead marchers were recovered. That day lives on in infamy as ‘Bloody Sunday’. Jakes photographs of this are reproduced in this book.
When Jake returned to Rhodesia in 1974 UDI was nine-years-old and the Bush war was relentlessly raging. He passed selection for the Rhodesian SAS — sister unit of the British 22-SAS, and later transferred to the famed Selous Scouts. He took part in daring cross-border raids into external hostile countries while with both units. The Lancaster House Conference in 1999 and the British supervised elections in 1980 spelled the end of Rhodesia and resulted in a takeover by the Marxist dictator, Robert Mugabe, and his ZANU-PF. Jake transferred to Special Branch for a short time before accepting an appointment in Zimbabwe’s Central Intelligence Organisation’s counter-intelligence division. In 1981 he was unjustly accused of spying for South Africa, beaten and imprisoned in the infamous Goromonzi Political Detention Centre. But after several months it was decided that he was innocent and he was arbitrarily released and reinstated in his CIO job.
This flagrant injustice prompted Jake to use his position to begin espionage operations for the benefit of South Africa, the United States and Great Britain. He finally cut loose from the ZCIO in 1989 when, in view of his British Army service, he was recruited by Britain’s MI6 to run militia’s to protect commercial developments in Mozambique by Lomaco — a sister company of Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho — from RENAMO rebels. He did this very effectively, even training a special forces unit for Lomaco which was eventually absorbed into Mozambique’s army.
Leaving Mozambique Jake returned to civilian life in Zimbabwe for several years but he slowly began to sicken from cancer. After two spells working for a Private Military Company in Iraq, Jake was forced by his deteriorating medical condition to move to the UK where he died on 5 August 2007, aged 59.
An amazing coverage of Special Forces Service in
Rhodesia, Northern Ireland, Mozambiqueand Iraq.to the Paras. The Book is named for Sunday the 30th of January 1972 when he was deployed as the official photographer for 1-Para in
It is not often that we get TWO superb offerings from Galago Publishing at the same time......as is the case here. Jake Harper-Ronald wanted to be a soldier from childhood. In 1966 his ambition was fulfilled when he was conscripted as a National Serviceman into the Royal Rhodesia Regiment. He later moved to the
U.K. Londonderryto combat an IRA inspired 'Peace' march. Elements in the crowd fired on the Paras who returned fire killing 13 marchers. That day lives on in infamy as "Bloody Sunday".
"Quartermaster's Comment":- And that is just the beginning. What follows is a wealth of modern history. The S.A.S. and Selous Scouts follow. Unlike most books which stop at the end of the Rhodesian conflict Jake went on to serve with M I 6 to run militia's to combat Renamo guerrillas in
. He worked with 'Private' Security in Iraq and sadly died of cancer aged only 59 on the 5th of August 2007.This book is a MUST and a very 'Up-to-Date' report on recent history. Mozambique
Jake Harper-Ronald had no quiet life, and as the title of this autobiography suggests, he was indeed present in Derry on Sunday, January 30, 1972, when British paratroopers opened fire on a pro-Republican protest march, killing at least 13.
Lance Corporal Harper-Ronald was at the time an intelligence clerk and photographer with the 1st Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, and was deployed there that morning to photograph events – and photograph them he did – many of the shots are reproduced here.
Harper-Ronald was born in Potchefstroom into a military family that later migrated to Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) where he later did his national service. He then migrated to Britain, joined the “Paras” and “enjoyed” several years of strife and trouble in Northern Ireland – including the events later immortalised by the rock group U2.
He returned to Rhodesia in 1974 in order to join the Special Air Service (SAS), serving there for several years before barracks politics pushed him towards the Selous Scouts, the British South Africa Police's Special Branch and the counter-intelligence division of Robert Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO). After being accused of being a South African spy, mainly on the basis of his race and former Selous Scouts affiliation, indeed became a double agent for SA's National Intelligence Service. He also moonlighted for the British and the US, who in the early 1980s seemed to have had a very close relationship with the CIO, so much so that the latter helped British intelligence bug the new Libyan embassy and assisted their American cousins in acquiring photos of Cuban intelligence operatives posted to Harare. This was an exciting time for Harper-Ronald and an eye-opener for the reader.
In 1989 Harper-Ronald left the CIO and went to Mozambique to work as a security contractor for Lomaco, on a British SIS pay cheque. There he ran a company militia fighting RENAMO and other unidentified “bandits”. Among the farms he protected was that of Graça Machel.
In 1993 he started a new business with a new wife in Zimbabwe, but this died in 2002 as Mugabe's thugs destroyed the country's agrarian and tourist economy. This led to the last dramatic episode in is life, two stints as a private military contractor in Iraq.
By then he had suffered and recovered from an initial bout of cancer. It returned in 2006 and Harper-Ronald lost the fight in August the next year. He was 59 and had just completed a draft of this book.
Harper-Ronald was no Eisenhower or even a Ron Reid-Daly. He did not loom large in history. But he has told a story, the story of his life, with pathos and a great sense of humour – and that makes for an easy and great read.
Leon Engelbrecht - Defence Web - www.defenceweb.co.za
This story of a "soldier's war in Northern Ireland, Rhodesia, Mozambique and Iraq" is sharp-end stuff.
The (somewhat stroppy) author served with the British Paras in Londonderry (hence the title), the Rhodesian SAS and Selous Scouts, later Zimbabwe's CIO (while spying for the UK, US and SA).
Two scatological anecdotes give the flavour. One describes a parachute drop when a participant elected to "dump" the moment he landed: "the most perfect defecation under fire that I have ever seen."
The other, a Selous Scout - claiming to be the lone survivor of a guerilla band - would latch onto a genuine group. Each day, seized with the urge, he'd head for cover after grabbing the nearest weapon ... and render it inoperable.
With all his "comrades" eventually disarmed, he'd bring them in. Unusual but effective modus operandi.
James Mitchell - www.tonight.co.za
This is the first book about our war that I have read. Up to now I have just not wanted to be reminded of those times.
However I read this one as Jake’s Dad was a friend of mine. Incredibly our friendship started when his Dad was my company sergeant major during first phase at Llewellyn Barracks. By the end of the first phase I think all of his trainees regarded him with a great deal of respect and some affection. A very professional soldier.
Jake’s Dad also emigrated to the UK, to Middlesborough, but returned to Rhodesia to follow his sons. His return was during sanctions and his first attempt to ship his household and personal effects to Rhodesia was stopped. He went to see UK Customs and was asked; where exactly is this Heany Junction, he told them and they said no you have got it wrong mate, Heany Junction is in Zambia. Papers were stamped and his effects allowed to proceed. They arrived safely at Heany Junction and I helped him Custom clear them back into Rhodesia.
The bottom photograph opposite page 64 in the book is taken inside one of the huge hangars at Llewellyn and Jake’s Dad is fronting the parade.
The sketches on pages 253 and 4 are accurate, in my time I occupied the cell marked “Hartlebury” (later joined by John Austin), and Makatini Guduza was in Jake’s.
The unlabeled room next to the shower was where prisoners were tortured – when my lawyer came to visit he spoke with me in this room, pretending not to see the instruments of torture lying around.
I had my daughter’s watch hidden between my toes so I was never disoriented by time but fear and cold were quite enough. During my time in Goromonzi the bus from Harare was parked overnight in the Police Camp, it was so noisy that we all got a time fix when it arrived in the evening and when it was started up in the morning despite the cell sound proofing.
I like to joke that the first time I was put in solitary, in an upstairs cell at Harare Central, I sang and whistled as loud as possible all day. In consequence the next time I was to go into solitary, for six weeks, I was put in a cell in a Township Police Station, where the noise would not disturb the senior cops, but obviously even this was too much for them, hence the third bout of solitary was in a light and sound proof Goromonzi cell.
Later in Chikurubi I was spokesman for detainees (after Dabengwa was released) and I took statements from all new arrivals. I discovered that some of them had spent nights at Goromonzi, not in the cell, but crushed between the inner and outer cell doors!
I note that Jake was a spy for SA and was well paid for his efforts; not being spies meant that John Austin and I had no one to claim from after our ordeal, however Amnesty International gave us £700 each on arrival in England.
I am most impressed with Greg Budd’s work.
A magnificent tribute to a man who lived a very full life of action, bravery and conviction. Beautifully written, erudite, articulate, descriptive and involving, clean and sensitive. The author has done an incredible job and created a moving paean to an unlikeable guy and has created it in a totally masterly manner.
I admit to really not being on the same page as the subject of this substantive book, despite probably having met him as we were in many of the same places at the same time. His numerous failings as a bit of a braggard, a military subordinate, a traitor and a husband have not been sanitised but the author has succeeded in humanising him and invoking an incredibly sympathetic response in the reader. By the end of the book one is left with a complete life story and an emotional reaction.
That noted, there will be more than a few sleepless nights brought about by the detail presented in the different parts of the book. I am not at all certain that his colleagues in the British Paras or in the Zimbabwean CIO and South African NIS will appreciate his revelations, either of their activities or of the names, dates and places readily identifiable if not actually specified.
The photographic section is extensive and well reproduced, and one wonders again about the revelations contained in the images.
I look forward to further works by the same writer. His style is easy, flowing, and consistent, and his evocative use of words is reminiscent of engrossing works of suspense fiction that ensures an enjoyable and engrossing experience of literary as well as historical merit.
Wow. Amazing book - couldn't stop reading it. Photos are fantastic. What a man - what a life. Thanks.
Claire - Australia