The Old Comrades Association, the brainchild of the then Commissioner Col Edwards (later Major-General Sir AHM Edwards), held their inaugural meeting on Empire Day on the 24th of May 1913 at the Civil Courthouse in Bulawayo. Rules were framed, membership terms defined, and officers elected including Col. Edwards as President and Maj Nesbitt (VC) as Vice President.
Every man who served in any of the Old Corps from which the modern BSA Police had spung was eligible for membership. Fees were set at half a guinea and Empire Day, circled for all gatherings, with a dinner to follow each meeting. Apart from the fee and the Annual Dinner not much has changed to date and whilst Empire Day is no longer celebrated the UK Branch holds its Annual General meeting in May.
After a pause for WW1 and in November 1926 the framework for the current Association was established. The name “BSAP Regimental Association” as proposed by Commissioner, Lt. Col G Stops was accepted as were two objects: the benevolent nature of the Association and the focus of providing social connection between members. The Association would communicate through the Regimental magazine, HQ would be Salisbury and it would be governed by a committee of seven to include and Honorary Secretary and Honorary Treasurer.
Over 130 Officers and various dignitaries attended the BSAP Association inaugural dinner on the 15th of December 1926 at the Grand Hotel, Salisbury. The room was justly filled with pride and a sense of belonging. Everyone agreed that the helping hand of the Association would grow in strength to do a very great amount of good to support its members – wherever they are in the world.
On the 17th March 1934 the United Kingdom Branch of the BSAP Regimental Association (known at the British Wing) was inaugurated at the First Avenue Hotel, High Holborn in London and attended by about 149 members. It seems that General Sir AHM Edwards KBE CB MVO was again the driving force, having returned to the UK following his retirement from the BSAP in 1923 and he was appointed as the first President. Lt. Col AR Bare DSO MC was the Honorary Secretary.
The UK Branch was inactive during WW2 and at a meeting presided over by Lt Col AS Hickman in Rhodesia House, London on 28th June 1948 and attended by thirty members, it was explained at that previous records of the ‘wing’ could not be traced. However a circular had been distributed to a number of members resulting in 80 replies expressing their enthusiasm to resuscitate the branch.
On the 13th July 1962 a sombre AGM was held at Rhodesia House as the branch had recently lost both the President (Sir Percy Sillitoe KBE) and the Hon Sec (‘Pronto’ Barrett). It was decided at this meeting that the title of Branch President would be dropped and replace by Branch Chairman. A practice continued to this date.
With over 670 members in 2022 the UK Branch of the Association holds a regular schedule of events that can be viewed under the ‘Regions and Events’ section of this site. In addition to the original objects of the Association of ‘Benevolence ‘and ‘Comradeship’ since about 2005 teams of members of the UK Branch have embarked on various projects to gather, record and preserve the history of the BSA Police in various forms.
Motivated by 5483 Dave Blacker’s poem ‘The Regiment’ the UK Branch bye Laws were amended in 2008 to add a further object: to provide “A means of collection, collation and preservation of Force memorabilia, in order to perpetuate the History of the Force”. See the section on this site Remembrance.
In May 2014 the Central Advisory Committee based in Harare recognised the need to revise the Constitution and on 21 May 2016 a new Constitution was adopted by the UK membership and the 3rd Object of the Regimental Association worldwide was recorded as:
“The preservation of the history of the British South Africa Police and its predecessor forces, so far as this is practical and there are funds to do so, and the remembrance of those who served”.
The UK Branch is part of an alliance of autonomous Branches, each being an Association in its own right, but sharing a common Constitution with common Objects. The Association has Branches in South Africa (4), Zimbabwe (2) and Australia and all are coordinated by a Constitutional College where each branch is represented under the chair of the College President.
The Association also maintains contact with other organisations around the world that represent former Rhodesian Forces and Colonial Police.
All of the work the Association does is only made possible through the voluntary efforts of its committees and members and by the financial donations it receives. Many former members of the BSAP have not yet joined the Association and we ask all existing members to do what they can to encourage those who have not yet joined to do so, thereby ensuring that while our numbers dwindle, the Association and the comradeship it provides continue for as long as possible.
Extracts from the brochure of “The Last Parade and BSAP Book 14 “Personalities and Institutions of the BSA Police – compiled and edited by 5584 John Berry. For further details go to the History Section.