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754 Squad

Clive Mason in the middle

Roger (Jan) Burstow bottom left

Photo from Roger (Jan) Burstow

Although Clive was a fellow Royal Marine I don’t think our paths ever crossed. While I was in the Marines their strength was around 9000. At that time a Commando unit stayed in one place while the Marines moved around independently from one unit to another. Therefore there is a chance we might have served in the same unit at some time but I have to admit that his name doesn’t ring any bells in the back of my head.

Clive joined the Royal Marines during 1960 and was a member of the 754 training squad, while I joined in 1962 and was a member of the 779 squad. However I have been lucky in discovering that Marine Brian Jewel (climbed to the rank of Major) who was a member of my squad was the best friend of Roger (Jan) Burstow who joined up with Clive and we have become good friends via the internet.

Clive, Roger and myself all served in Borneo during 1963/64. However, Clive was attached to 42 Commando who were in the first assault that took place in Brunie, while Roger and I followed up in 40 Commando.

It was Roger who first alerted me to the actions of Clive serving in the Rhodesian military service. The following is part of an E-mail he sent to me.

Message One  “I also had a quick look at the  mercenary section on your website (out of a certain interest) because one of my 754 Squadies, called Clive Mason, who joined the Australian SAS (2 Squadron) after leaving the Corps and served with them in Vietnam later he went to Rhodesia as a mercenary and was a sergeant and a sniper in the Selous Scouts. He was killed on 15 March 1977 at Malvernia, Mozambique, during an exchange of fire with FRELIMO. Apparently he killed six before being shot.  I heard that he stood up, out of cover, blasting away and then got shot. Attached is a picture of him. It's cropped out of my squad photo (I'm below him on the left in photo).”

Message TwoI can't remember if I told you this in one of my earlier e-mails when mentioning Clive Mason but in 754 Squad we always called him 'Rabbits Mason'. I believe because he told us he did a little poaching before joining up.  He was very well liked in the squad but he was absolute rubbish at marching because he was a little pigeon chested, had a rambling gaite and could never get his arms in the correct sync.  However, he was an excellent shot and the best of us by far at field craft. I don't know if you remember, but we had to do an exercise on Woodbury Common where we had to camouflage ourselves with shrubbery and leaves and crawl towards a building where the instructors would stand and try to spot anyone as they were crawling towards them. If seen too soon an instructor would be directed to the unfortunate recruit and he would get a whack or two with a pick handle for being seen so early.  I remember Clive got to within a few yards of the instructors and then stood up in front of them - much to their surprise. He obviously used these talents to good effect in his post RM activities.  Read the story about him on his medals auction entry (.jpg attached).  I liked the bit about him failing everyone on his sniper courses, and the piece about how he was killed is exactly what I heard about it - so I image that must be accurate to be included in the auction details. Also here’s a couple of links to forum discussions where Clive is mentioned.”

A forum mentioning Clive:-


(This bit by the contributor arhaggett I (Roger) found interesting) I was also interested in the previous posts regarding snipers in the Rhodesian forces. The Selous Scouts had at least one sniper by the name of Clive Mason. He would dress himself up until he looked just like a Mopani tree and crawl into Mozambique. He took out six terrorists on one raid before they opened up on his position and a fluke round hit him in the head and killed him. Dale Collett (Selous Scouts) works in my offices if anyone wants to say Hi.

(While in another post arhaggett comments) Above you'll see a piece I wrote about snipers in the Rhodesian forces. There was no sniper school as such and the one sniper I knew of, Clive Mason (Selous Scouts), did run courses for snipers but, never passed anybody because they were not as good as he was!!

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I find it hard to believe that loved ones of these brave service personnel are not supported by their countries and military organisations when they fall upon hard times and have to sell their loved ones medals, that mean a lot to them. What a crazy world we have created.

Roger (Jan) Burstow and Terry Aspinall 2010


Roger Burstow



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Clive Mason on the far right

41Cdo RM 1965

Photo from Tony Binley

This photo tells me that our paths did cross while I was also a member of 41 Cdo in 1965 Terry Aspinall


 E-mail from ex Royal Marine Patrick Walker. I knew Clive mason in Singapore when he was in 40 cdo and lived in the  block behind `S` coy as a member of a rifle coy. 1966/67 `ish.  I always knew him as `Rabbit` Mason, the rumour was he was a bit of a poacher in civilian life.  He was an excellent shot and I believe shot for his company and maybe even the Corps ? 

In fact I bought from him a Colt .380 special Auto. Where he had got it from I don't know but I paid $200 for it. I went through the routine with the Singapore Police to get it put on a licence and of course they wanted to know where it came from. I told them from a dead guerilla in Borneo and they accepted this. Because it took .380 special rounds none of our 9mm were a very good fit. However it would fire them but the cases tended to expand slightly and of course they were a little short in the chamber. I did buy from a gun smith in Singapore 100 rounds but at $27 dollars it was expensive.

When I got back to the UK I again had it registered and only sold it some years later and bought a Browning which I could use for competition shooting. The gunsmith who bought it down in Kent actually sanded it down and had it chrome plated for some weird reason. I must admit I would not have recognised `Rabbit` from his picture.  It was well known he was very much into field craft exercises at which he was very good. I am not surprised he took to sniper training. I remember asking him what he was going to do when he left the Corps and he said `Go to N.Z and become a government hunter. They used to fly in helicopters to cull certain types of animal. Cant recall whether it was goats or deer or some such.  

I only heard many years later from some source he had been killed in Rhodesia with their armed forces.?

Patrick Walker has a couple of articles on Borneo published on the British Small Wars site.


I lived in New Zealand from 1985/88, during those years the NZ government where hunting Goats, Deer, Chamois, and Thar in the manner Patrick describes above, and had been going on since 1964. Terry Aspinall


E-mail from ex Royal Marine I served with Clive in Recce Troop 40 Cdo. '65 - '66. A thorough, painstaking, professional who didn't suffer fools gladly ! Although he left the Corps in '69 its thought he may have spent a year or so in USA prior to joining the Australian Army in '70. Served in two different Aus. SAS Squadrons before their withdrawal from Vietnam. He next surfaced in the Rhodesian Army, passed selection into Rhodesian SAS and volunteered for the Selous Scouts, owing to his prior service and experinces he was not required to undergo the Selous selection by their CO Reid-Daly. The rest you've got I believe - I've been in touch with Clive's daughter, Heather, over the years and with the help of tom.b. 723 Squad 1959 on the 'Once A Marine Forum', managed to get some photo's of Clive when they were in 41 Cdo's Rifle Team. A former Troop commander from Clive's Aussie days (Brig. Andy Fremantle, now CEO of RNLI) has also been in touch with her as have others from both Aussie and Rhodesian mates. There is also some information and a photo of Clive in Vietnam in a book about the Aussie SAS (can't remember the title but I'll have a look round) Unfortunately I've lost touch with Heather the last few years but will pm you her contact details if necessary. Heather doesn't remember too much of her Dad as he and his wife divorced when she was very young.
Trust this will assist - this is without doubt a very worthwhile project. I often wonder what Clive would have done had he survived the Rhodesian war, I'm sure he would have found another conflict to get involved in.


E-mail from ex Royal Marine I served with Clive in Recce Troop 40 Cdo, he was one of a kind he also lived down the road from me Kim Teng Park Johore Baru (Malaya) . We have our photos in a couple of books, also the photo of Recce at CTCRM HQ. I gave the photo to a Royal who was serving with Recce troop at Taunton. My Son who is now serving with the Canadian Special Forces also has the same photo in his office, so although Rabbit is know longer with us, its surprising how he gets around. We had lots of laughs with him, i returned to the UK, and never saw him again. I met a Royal at the RMA reunion at Lympstone who told me Rabbit had been killed in action in Africa, i was gobsmacked, anyway thanks once again.   Pete (746 Squad).