Spirit of a Sniper

14 April 2005
Update: 30 August 2005
By Marius

Cassino, Italy 1944. The Allied 8th and American 5th Armies were engaged in a fanatically contested advance, opposed by elite units of the German Army. In the forefront of the Allied advance was a Regiment of South African Volunteers, survivors of the North African campaign, and sniper, Peter "Isinkwe" McTavish. Protected by the spirit of his childhood mentor, the wise old Zulu warrior Mashona, who 'named' him, McTavish was proving so successful that the opposing German officers, who were his targets, hated and feared this 'invisible' enemy.

Based on real life events, this action packed story of courage and love will exhaust your every emotion and hold you in an unrelenting grip until you turn the last page.

That is off the back of the book.

The custom under the Zulu nation is for a baby to be named once the front teeth are cut. Before that it was unseemly for a man to look at the baby, since it is still an intimate part of the woman who had borne him. This baby was Isinkwe – bush baby. The bush baby sees in the dark. He is always aware what is going on about him. He watches with his whole body – his eyes, his ears, his nose, his instinct...

Until he was 12 Mashona was out in the bush with the boy almost every day, training him to be a scout, because such it had been ordained. Him, and the Zulu boy, five years older, that accompanied him everywhere – Indabushe, the Lynx. The lynx is stealthy and unobtrusive.

When he was 12 his father sent him away to school. Right after school the war started, and instead of going to the Lesotho unit he was drawn into, he deserted to join an Afrikaner volunteer unit underway to Egypt.

With this unit he excelled, but never wanted rank. Then, in preparation for Italy, the armed forces started training snipers. It was to be volunteers only, minimum 35 years of age. At 20 Isinkwe was way too young, but was trained under initial protest of the OIC. He turned out to be the best they'd ever trained.

Then the war moved on to Italy, and for the rest you'll have to read the book.

This book is not about sniper weapons, and although you'll find a little bit of technique in it, that's not what it is about. (BTW, they were still taught "you have to be surprised when the shot goes off."). This book is about the sniper's war, and his adventures – highlighting certain events. And always his Zulu warrior's spirit is there to protect and lead him…

Drawing upon his real-life experiences, Bill Russell writes a very human, and very enjoyable story. He says any reference to anybody living or dead is purely coincidental, but to me this book reads as if it is his life's story.

A must read.

"Spirit of a Sniper", previously published as "The Shield of Mashona", is privately published in South Africa by:
Hendrik van der Schyff
PO Box 820
South Africa
Tel: +27-82-322-7115
Email: schyff@absamail.co.za

212 pages
Soft cover

The book can now also be purchased online via the web at the following two sites:

The War Store

The AviationShop - not listed under "Books", apparently you have to contact them about it.

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