Ronald Reid-Daly


Ronald Francis Reid-Daly CLM DMM MBE (22 September 1928 – 9 August 2010) was a Rhodesian military officer who founded and commanded the Selous Scouts special forces unit that fought during the Rhodesian Bush War.[1]

Ronald Reid-Daly

Birth nameRonald Francis Reid-Daly
Born(1928-09-22)22 September 1928
Salisbury, Southern Rhodesia
Died9 August 2010(2010-08-09) (aged 81)
Simon's Town, South Africa
BranchRhodesian Army
Years of service1951–1979
RankLieutenant colonel
UnitC Squadron 22 SAS
Commands held


Reid-Daly, who was born in Salisbury, then capital of the British colony of Southern Rhodesia, entered military service in 1951, and served with the all-Rhodesian C Squadron of the 22 Special Air Service in counter-insurgency operations in the Federation of Malaya. He became a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 1963.[2] Reid-Daly rose to the rank of regimental sergeant major in the Rhodesian Light Infantry, and was later commissioned and achieved the rank of captain. He retired from the army in 1973.

In late 1973, he was persuaded by General Peter Walls, then chief of the Rhodesian Army, to return to active duty in order to form the Selous Scouts, an elite special forces unit to combat the growing threat posed by communist guerrillas. Drawing on his Malayan experience, Lieutenant Colonel Reid-Daly built a skilled and highly professional regiment from scratch. Although the Selous Scouts achieved many of their military objectives, their unorthodox methods created tensions within the military hierarchy. Reid-Daly had several brushes with the Rhodesian authorities.

In 1979, rumours surfaced in Salisbury that the Scouts were poaching ivory along the Zambezi valley. Reid-Daly dismissed the allegations as ridiculous.[3] In the process of defending himself against them, Reid-Daly verbally attacked Major General John Hickman.[4] For this he was charged with insubordination and sentenced to a reprimand. Disgusted, he resigned as the commander of the Scouts in August but continued to fight a legal battle against the judgement, proclaiming his innocence even after Rhodesia transformed into Zimbabwe Rhodesia, and only stopped doing so after he was forced to flee to South Africa in 1982.[5]

In South Africa, Reid-Daly became commander of the Transkei Defence Force, and he was subsequently the leader of the private security firm Security Services Transkei. For the final decade of his life, he resided near Cape Town. In his retirement, he authored several books on his wartime experiences. He was survived by his two children and two grandchildren.[6]


  • Selous Scouts: Top Secret War. Galago Publishing. 1982. ISBN 978-0-620-05771-4. with Peter Stiff
  • Staying alive: a Southern African survival handbook. Ashanti. 1990. ISBN 978-1-874800-09-5.
  • 'Pamwe Chete: The Legend of the Selous Scouts. Covos-Day. 1999. ISBN 978-0-620-23756-7.


  1. ^ The Telegraph 2010.
  2. ^ "No. 43017". The London Gazette (8th supplement). 31 May 1963. p. 4845.
  3. ^ Reid Daly & Stiff 1982, p. 421.
  4. ^ Beckett 2001, p. 140.
  5. ^ Reid Daly & Stiff 1982, pp. 422–423.
  6. ^[bare URL PDF]
  • Beckett, Ian F.W. (2004). Modern Insurgencies and Counter-Insurgencies: Guerrillas and their Opponents since 1750. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-55394-5.
  • "Lieutenant-Colonel Ron Reid-Daly". The Telegraph. 20 September 2010. Archived from the original on 7 September 2015. Retrieved 28 August 2015.

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