National Service in the S.A.D.F. and the Ops Medic.

Introduction to the Site.

This site reflects on the history of and personal memoirs about National Service in the South African Defence Force prior to 1994, including duty in South West Africa / Namibia during the Border War.

One can travel through the two year period of conscription for a National Serviceman in the S.A. Defence Force to discover the lifestyle, events, problems, and other experiences which would have surfaced during each person's term of duty. The site will reflect on the good and the bad aspects of service in any Force in the world.

During National Service each person coped with different events in a different manner, and this site aims ultimately to allow the participants, and non-participants of National Service, to learn from the experiences of those who progressed through "the system". We wish to show members of the Defence Forces that it is acceptable and normal to talk about what you may have gone through. There should therefore be a mechanism whereby one can "release the pressure valve", and this then results in the person making sense of any prior events and thereby reaching closure. While, as with any war or military action, there are things that the human mind blocks out, this "blocking out" is never permanent and memories of these events can recur for long periods of time afterwards. In some cases they have recurred at periods of ten years later, or even longer. In one way many members who did service in SWA/Namibia use a mental block of "they hated the border", and yet on a return there they find that the place has a natural beauty, and is very tranquil. It perhaps wasn't the place that they hated but some other stimuli.

We also aim to show the "other" side of the country that gave many of us a chance to go to a place that we never intended to visit.

One should also remember that the purposes of a country's Defence Force are to defend the country and to serve the government of the day, and when such a "Master" changes then it is still required to be loyal to the new Master - even if the members of the Defence Force disagree with the methods, mechanisms, or policies of the new Master.

While this site is designed from a historical perspective, its content is just as apt today in terms of the effects on the human psyche, whether the conscript is in the South African Defence Force, or any other Military Force in the world.

We aim to encourage people to share their memories, and in this manner we hope to improve the lives of the many participants of any form of military action throughout the world. We do not aim to pursue any form of judgement via this site nor do wish to influence any person as to pro-conscription or anti-conscription, and likewise pro-war or anti-war sentiments.

Remember:
If you put two people together in the same situation, their reactions and opinions may differ.

Thanks for joining us. Enjoy your visit.

National Service.

National Service Commemorative Booklet:

        Foreword 1987

        Foreword 2000

        3 SAI Coy Commander Message

        7 SAI Coy Commander Message

        7 SAI CSM Message

        Company Members

        Did You Know

        Basics

        Platoons and Sections

        News Reports of Border Trips

        NSM Committee

        "Societies"

        Sport

        InFamous Quotes

        Nicknames

        Legends

        Funny Bits

 

 

 

 

 

National Service / Diensplig.

Foreword - 1987.

July 1985 to June 1987 is fast becoming history and unfortunately it is so that all good things must come to an end. Everything recorded in this book speaks of success and the goodwill among the members of BRAVO/ECHO COMPANY. It is always good to look back and know that the years were not in vain.

Dat die afgelope twee jaar, jare is om op trots te wees, blyk uit die prestasies wat opgeteken staan in hierdie boekie.

A big thank you to all who gave a helping hand with the production of this brochure, especially : Messrs Posthumus, Kerr-Phillips, Schutzler, L. Bezuidenhout, Winchester, Burnett, Cpl Strydom, Marais, Cpl Steyn, Lavers, Ryke, Henry, Le Roux, and Webster. Thanks also to the guys who helped with the photography.

Dit was 'n voorreg om hierdie boekie saam te stel. Aan almal wat gehelp het met artikels, foto's en skryfwerk, 'n groot dankie. Sonder julle sou die publisering van hierdie boekie nie moontlik gewees het nie.

Lastly, to those who got hurt during the unexpected attack at Oshigambo, especially A. Prollius and M. Schutte, we wish you a speedy recovery.

To all members: perhaps our paths will cross again someday.

L/Cpl W. Ghirlanda
1987 Editor/Redakteur


 

National Service / Diensplig.

Foreword - 2000 Internet Edition.

It is now 13 years since National Service ended for the members of this particular company of 3 SAI / 7 SAI. Conscription no longer exists in South Africa, and the country, society, and individuals have changed a great deal in the past decade. It is perhaps fitting that we now publish the Internet version of this commemorative booklet. This is done from not only a perspective of recording the history of life in South Africa and the S.A. Defence Force at the time, but also because the original edition was quite unique. It was very rare for such an item to be published by the members concerned, and indeed we have not found anything similar.

Permission was granted at the time for the booklet to be published, and likewise authority was also granted for the taking of the many photographs which you see published here. We thank the authorities in question for their foresight at the time - in particular with regard to the taking of photographs due to the restrictive circumstances that we found ourselves in at the time.

Enjoy your trip down memory lane. Should you wish to contribute any memories or information to this site, or you knew the people mentioned herein and wish to make contact with former friends, then please feel at liberty to contact the WebMaster (see the bottom of the page).

S/Sgt S. Le Roux
1 Medical BN Gp
2000 Editor/Redakteur (Internet Edition)


 

National Service / Diensplig.

3 SAI BRAVO Company Commander Message.

Boodskap van BRAVO KOMPANIE Bevelvoerder.

By die eerste aanskoue, een winters oggend in Pretoria gedurende Julie 1985, het hulle soos enige ander verwarde groep dienspligtiges gelyk. Hierdie groepie manne was "oorbodig" by PD Skool en het op 'n reisweiser beland na 3 SAI Opleidingseenheid toe. Die gevreesde Infanterie het vir hulle voorgele en by baie was daar twyfel of hulle dit ooit sou maak. Min het hierdie rekruite geweet dat hulle nie net met basies nie, maar ook in die binnelandse stryd ware infanteriste met 'n spogrekord sou word.

At the end of their basic training, evaluation results showed that the record for the previous three 3 SAI intakes was broken in all the aspects of basic training. This was followed up by an excellent performance during the external evaluation of COIN URBAN. The company was now ready for urban operations.

Die grootste prestasie wat BRAVO KOMPANIE bereik het, sou nou volg. Die effektiewe en suksesvolle bekamping van onluste in Ikageng, Tembisa, Alexandra, Soweto, KwaNdebele, en Suid-Lebowa het hierdie groep soldate saamgesmelt tot 'n gehegde eenheid waarop 3 SAI Opleidingseenheid trots kan wees. Probleme was daar ook, maar die kompanie het kerngesond gebly en kan met selfvertroue getuig van 'n vrugtevolle dienspligtydperk.

Later, gedurende 1986, het BRAVO KOMPANIE ontplooi vir operasionele diens in Suid-wes Afrika. By hulle terugkoms moes hulle verneem dat hulle na 7 SAI Opleidingseenheid verplaas is, waar hulle tans die taak aan hulle opgedra met welslae uitvoer. Die eer van hierdie indrukwekkende rekord kom die lede van BRAVO KOMPANIE toe en weerspieel 'n karakter van paraatheid.

It was an honour to have known and to command BRAVO COMPANY. I think that you have achieved your military goals in a splendid manner and the mere fact that this booklet has been initiated by the members themselves is proof of the success. An Infantry company which treasures their National Service will commence their civilian life as an asset to the SADF.

Well done BRAVO COMPANY.

J.J. Wessels
Kompanie Bevelvoerder BRAVO KOMPANIE : Kaptein

National Service / Diensplig.

7 SAI ECHO Company Commander Message.

Boodskap van ECHO-Kompanie Bevelvoerder.

'n Unieke kompanie. Ek glo nie 'n mens kan jou boodskap op 'n ander manier begin nie. 'n Groep met wie se aanpassingsvermoe teen die tyd al goed beproef is, seersekerlik so, dat hulle teen die tyd umien daarteen behoort te wees. Nie net is hulle van een plek na 'n ander geskuif nie, maar ook het hul leierelement so gewissel dat hulself seker nie meer kon tred hou nie.

Met hul aankoms op 7 SAI Opleidingseenheid het hulle 'n "warm" ontvangs op die klein paradegrond gehad. Die aand voor die, 22 Desember 1986, is hulle in 7 SAI verwelkom met 'n heerlike verwelkomingsete. Die orkes wat vir 'n bietjie musiek gesorg het, was na die ete die toppunt.

Net voor Nuwejaar het die kompanie SWA toe gevlieg vir grensdiens . Vir drie maande moes die kompanie bo-magspeil gewees wat beteken dat die kompanie nomadies is en geskuif kon word net waar daar troepe benodig is, weer is hul aanpassingsvermoe beproef, want vir die drie maande was ECHO KOMPANIE op drie verskillende basisse.

Groot was die verassing toe 7 SAI laat weet dat ons vroeer teruggaan Suid-Afrika toe vir verlof. 'n Welverdiende ruspose van vier-en-twintig dae is aan die kompanie toegestaan. ('n Paar troepe se gewaagdheid het hulle toe 'n paar Rand gekos !).

Met die laaste fase, weer in Suid-wes Afrika, het 'n mens gou agtergekom dat dit 'n klomp mense is wat mekaar kan ondersteun as dit moet. Die "droogmakers" was daar wel, seker soos in elke kompanie, maar die positiewe punte is soveel meer dat 'n mens die "droogmakers" hul sondes kan vergewe.

Dit was 'n plesier om saam met 7 SAI ECHO KOMPANIE te werk, nog meer om hul aantevoer as Kompanie Bevelvoerder. Definitief 'n unieke klomp troepe bymekaar wat beslis hul taak met groot welslae voltooi het.

Sterke en alle voorspoed voorentoe.

A.J. Combrink
Kompanie Bevelvoerder ECHO KOMPANIE : Kaptein

 

 

National Service / Diensplig.

7 SAI ECHO Company Sergeant-Major Message.

Boodskap van die KSM van 7 SAI ECHO-Kompanie.

Die kompanie wat ontstaan het uit ander eenhede se weggooi troepe. Dis nie noodwendig slegte troepe nie. Die woord weggooi is nie geskik of toepaslik nie. Dis hoofsaaklik troepe wat te veel was om produktief aangewend te word in die eenheid, wat verplaas is na ander eenhede, waar daar 'n tekort aan troepe was.

Die eerste dag was vir my 'n verrassing, dis min dat 'n mens 'n kompanie sien wat soos een man staan. Na die verskillende leiergroep elemente waarmee die kompanie te doen gehad het, is dit duidelik dat, die enigste manier om te oorleef, is om saam te staan deur dik en dun.

Soos in enige gemeenskap kry jy die goeie, die middelman, en die slegte. So is dit geen uitsondering by die kompanie. Maar die goeie element is baie hoer hier as in ander gevalle. Dit is ook geen wonder nie die gemiddelde ouderdom van die kompanie is 21 jaar, en is in die opvoedkundige gebied nog beter met 94% van die kompanie wat Matriek het, wat baie hoog is vir 'n vegkompanie.

Die verplasing van die kompanie moes vroeer plaasgevind het, dan sou die opleiding beter gewees het en die kompanie sou reg wees. By reg word bedoel : operasionele welslae kon 80% hoer gewees het, en 'n KSM kon baie trots gevoel het om KSM van die kompanie te wees. Nie dat dit nou nie die geval is nie, maar kon hy soveel meer daarop geroem het dat hy KSM was van ECHO-KOMPANIE !

Dankie vir julle samewerking en voorspoed vorentoe !

Staff Sersant J.C. Botes
KSM E-KOMPANIE April - Junie 1987


 

National Service ECHO/BRAVO Company Members.

June 1987 Clearing-Out / Junie 1987 Uitklaar .

Members of 7 SAI ECHO Company who finished their National Service in June 1987 were as follows :

Abrantes

PCR

Aitken

DW

Allen

AA

Allen

MC

Behrens

TJL

Beynon

JB

Bezuidenhout

AE

Bezuidenhout

PJLR

Botha

L

Boys

VA

Brink

AN

Britz

WJ

Bronkhorst

FJ

Broodryk

R

Brown

RL

Buckley

AR

Burlo

JS

Burnett

IW

Butler

SD

Buys

JFF

Ceronio

J

Cizlak

L

Cloete

CJ

Coasby

IM

Coetzee

JHG

Coetzee

MF

Correia

RM

Davel

WJI

Davidson

PD

De Almeida

JM

De Beer

JE

De Klerk

WAC

De Lange

ZAW

Doherty

DA

Driessel

GJ

Dunn

CSS

Du Plessis

AS

Du Preez

ML

Du Toit

JPS

Du Toit

TBF

Erasmus

WE

Eygelaar

PJG

Faught

DL

Ferguson

A

Forshaw

CA

Fusco

M

Gardner

W

Gatto

A

Geldenhuys

AH

Ghirlanda

W

Gorton

AR

Graham

B

Greyling

FJD

Greyvenstein

DM

Grimbeek

MJ

Grobler

IJ

Hahn

R

Hart

SM

Henning

J

Henry

SB

Herselman

JC

Herselman

JW

Higgs

TD

Hills

A

Holt

CG

Holz

PJB

Human

WA

Joubert

A

Joubert

AB

Kemp

PA

Kennedy

IJ

Kerr-Phillips

GL

Koekemoer

CR

Koekemoer

L

Lange

JB

Lategan

AM

Lavers

JS

Law

ME

Leamy

VR

Le Roux

SD

Liebenberg

HJ

Lindeque

P

Lourens

HAJ

Mack

WG

Malherbe

JS

Marais

A

Marran

D

McConnell

CB

McIvor

SW

Meyer

JP

Meyer

MJ

Morris

DB

Murphy

GC

Naude

D

Nel

SJJ

Nuns

SG

Oehely

RM

Olivier

SH

Oosthuizen

CJ

Oosthuizen

WW

Page

RF

Peens

D

Perry

CT

Peterson

BC

Philipson

ND

Pienaar

MR

Poacher

DJ

Pool

RJ

Posthumus

JJ

Pozyn

MC

Prollius

AB

Redelinghuys

GM

Redelinghuys

PM

Reyneke

ADJ

Rost

FM

Ryke

H

Sachs

EU

Saunders

DN

Scheepers

CP

Scheepers

WJ

Schoeman

D

Schutte

MA

Schutzler

DE

Siegers

SW

Stenvert

HV

Smit

ZM

Smith

JB

Smith

WLL

Smithers

DH

Snyders

C

Solomon

MT

Steyn

PJM

Steyn

S

Steyn

WW

Strydom

L

Strydom

PJS

Turner

BB

Uys

SJV

Van Der Linde

GP

Van Der Merwe

M

Van Der Merwe

PJ

Van Der Merwe

WHC

Van Der Westhuizen

JHP

Van Rooyen

AP

Van Schalkwyk

CJ

Van Schalkwyk

HL

Van Wyk

CE

Van Wyk

HLL

Van Zyl

GL

Van Zyl

HA

Van Zyl

W

Venter

C

Victor

WW

Viljoen

PD

Viljoen

A

Visagie

PJ

Voogt

RD

Webster

JB

Welding

JA

Williamson

MJ

Winchester

RJ

Zeeman

MA

Zumerle

G

NB : This list does not include members who left the unit prior to June 1987, eg those on transfer to other units, or who joined up Permanent Force.


 

National Service / Diensplig.

Interesting Facts.

Did you know that ........

 


 

National Service / Diensplig.

Basics 1985.

Wat is Nasionale Diensplig ?

Nasionale Diensplig moet beskou word as 'n geleentheid vir elke jong Suid-Afrikaner om lewenservaring op te doen, wat nerens anders verkry kan word nie. Dit is ook 'n voorreg om militer opgelei te word om 'n positiewe bydrae tot die beskerming van ons land, Suid Afrika, te lewer.

Waarom is Nasionale Diensplig Nodig ?

Dit is die onbetwisbare voorreg en plig van elke burger om in tyd van nood beskikbaar, en in staat, te wees om sy land te verdedig. Dit is die Weermag se plig om, met die oog op die aard en omvang van die moontlike bedreiging, elke weerbare man op te lei, om sy plek militer te kan volstaan. Slegs hierdeur kan ons 'n parate weermag opbou wat as 'n afskrikmiddel in vredestyd kan dien en wat, indien 'n werklike aanslag op ons land gemaak word, behoorlik rekenskap van homself kan gee.


The Beginning/Die Begin.

One has probably come across the above words in many pro-Army books and magazines. You realise your time has come nearer, and soon you will be joining thousands of other young men, for two years National Service. Your friends fortunate enough to have completed their two years, sketch the most unimpressive pictures from their recent experience. Stories abound, such as : "You'll probably get this over-weight sergeant-major, who enjoys watching guys push Buffel tyres all day long." , "The corporal has fun messing up your almost perfect inspection, and expects it to be ready in minutes.", and "Boy, do not even try to GYPO or you will ....... ". Listening to them describing their experiences one realizes that if they lived through the Holocaust, then you will make it too. Two years is a long time, but if one has to go, then you go ! !

Die eerste kennismaking met enige Weermag dokumente, vir die meeste van ons, was in 1984. 'n Groot bruin "AMPTELIK" koevert het in die posbus beland. Geadresseer aan : JOU. Versigtig is die koevert oopgemaak en na die inhoud daarvan gekyk. Onmiddelik was daar 'n verandering op die gesig en die oe het so groot soos pierings geword.

The instructions were for the elite unit : Personnel Services School (aka P.D. Skool) in Voortrekkerhoogte, for a period of two years commencing July 1985. The call-up instructions were then put away and everyone enjoyed the last few months left of Civvy Street. Towards D-Day a person became more aware of the fact that soon he would be leaving home. The news programme on television a few days before announced that over 20 000 recruits would be clearing out soon, and the newspapers displayed pictures of recruits throwing their berets into the air the day of their clearing-out parade.

Selfs die radio stasies het saam gespeel. "Hierdie plaat word vir Boetie Bester van 7 SAI op Phalaborwa gespeel, wat eersdags uitklaar." 'n Paar minute later besluit die omroeper om 'n plaat te speel vir die manne wat "eersdags" inklaar. Sy keuse is toe, "You're in the Army now !".

By die huis is ma en suster besig om verskillende lekkernye te bak, omdat ma weet dat die 'army' se kos sleg is. Boetie kan nie wag dat ouboet weg gaan nie. Hy wag al maande om in sy kamer in te trek om met ouboet se 'HiFi' te speel. Pa, na die slegte gedrag van die matriek afskeid partytjie, hoop die 'army' sal 'n man van sy seun maak.

That morning in July comes, and everyone arrives at the various departure points. The first thing one notices, is that you are not the only one to be going to the 'pits'. Soon the train arrives and a bellowing voice reminds you that you only have ten minutes left before departure. From the compartments' window you hug and kiss everyone who came to see you off, assuring them that you would be back soon.

Finally after hours in the train, it comes to a screeching halt at Voortrekkerhoogte.

Die eerste paar dae - na die inname en nadat jy by 'n peleton ingedeel is - sal jy egter nie maklik vergeet nie. Jy word medies gekeur (by die SAGD Kollege), saam met 'n klomp wildvreemde ouens in 'n slaapkwartier of tent ingeprop en die hele spulletjie is vir jou maar vreemd en anders. By die huis is ma en pa bekommerd, jy verlang na jou meisie of jou vrou, en boonop moet jy na almal se pype dans. As jy egter eers aan jou nuwe omstandighede gewoond geraak en 'n paar vriende gemaak het, vergeet jy sommer gou van die swaarkry.

The stay at Voortrekkerhoogte was unfortunately short-lived. 239 recruits were drawn from the overflow of P.D. Skool, and were now enroute to 3 SAI Potchefstroom. They were soon joined by another contingent of recruits who were also overflow from 7 SAI. This group of recruits would be 3 SAI's first July intake in many years. The company was henceforth to be known as BRAVO Company.

3 SAI Potchefstroom : Basics/Basies.

After the welcoming speech by the 2 IC of the unit, we were redivided into six platoons. Later that afternoon we received all outstanding kit, bedding, etc., and were allocated to various bungalows. The last bit of administration was attended to, and the new platoon sergeant informed us that BASICS would commence on 15 July 1985.

Die daaglikse roetine het om vyfuur die oggend begin en die res van die program het so gelyk :

5H00-5H45

Opstaan, was en skeer

5H45-6H15

Ontbyt

6H15-6H45

Maak reg vir Inspeksie

6H45-7H15

Inspeksie

7H15-7H45

Administrasie en Siek-rapporteer

7H45-8H00

Bidparade

8H00-10-00

Driloefening

10H00-10H20

Teetyd

10H20-12H00

Lesings

12H00-12H45

Middagete

12H45-16H00

Lesings

16H00-16H45

Ligaamsoefening

16H45-17H00

Posparade

17H00-18H00

Aandete

18H00-21H00

VTB of Nag-opleiding

21H00-21H15

Appel

21H15-22H00

VTB (Vryetydsbesteding)

22H00-22H15

Stiltetyd

22H15-05H00

Ligte uit.

Gedurende basiese opleiding is die troepe op die volgende aspekte opgelei :

1.     Veldkuns

2.     Skietkuns

3.     Salueer en eerbewys

4.     Persoonlike higiene

5.     Basiese Militere Reg

6.     Dril

7.     Makkerhulp

The soldier also had to be fit, so as to perform his task effectively. Therefore the SADF had a fitness programme devised which made you fitter as BASICS progressed. At the end of basic training it was expected that each member of the company be able to do the following five exercises in the relevant times :

BASICS, the horror everyone else was talking about, was not such a terrifying experience after all. There were days when one had had enough and felt that AWOL was the only way out. Amazingly, everyone managed to survive. It was natural for a corporal or luitenant to blame or find fault with you and to give you the necessary punishment. It was usually blamed on "nie genoeg samewerking nie". If there is a lack of "esprit de corps", then the men had to sweat and suffer a bit to rebuild the lost team spirit.

The methods used to achieve this much needed team spirit were at times, very unconventional. One soon discovers that to avoid such experiences one does as one is told. Those who err soon discover that their friends do not like their negative attitudes, and in time they change, or their friends "change" them. One lives for the day and one does not give a hoot about what will happen the next day. It is a case of "vasbyt manne, dit kan nie vir ewig aangaan nie".

Ons eerste ouerdag was op 10 Augustus 1985. Die eerste dag wanneer familielede, vriende, en eggenotes die eerste keer die eenheid mag besoek, is vir elke troep net so 'n aangename vooruitsig soos sy eerste naweekpas. Dan span almal op die besoekers park uit. Party gesinne braai vleis, ander hou piekniek, en ander gesels. Gesprekke soos : "My aarde, leef jy nog?" en "Kyk net na die hare!" word orals in die park gehoor. Maar die besoekersdag is gou verby en skielik vind jy jouself terug in die daaglikse roetine.

Dit is op sulke dae dat jy ver van jou ma, en nog verder van jou meisie af voel - wanneer die sersant-majoor se gebulder erger as donderweer klink en inspeksie en ligaamsoefeninge jou lewe versuur. Maar dit is ook tyd wanneer jy leer wat spangees, samewerking, en dissipline is; wanneer jy selfbeheersing en verdraagsaamheid aanleer, en aan die einde van drie maande besef dat dit amper die lekkerste tyd in jou lewe was !

BASICS was over by 4 October 1985 when we spent the day at the stadium practising the parade. The next day parents, friends, wives, and girlfriends gathered early in the stands. Soon, to the beat of the military band and precisioned marching, we were paraded in front of them. The marching must have been excellent according to the continuous applause from the stands. One was happy to know that it had all come to an end. BRAVO Company could be proud of its performance over the past three months. No other previous company at 3 SAI could boast about its results. The company received the following outstanding percentages for the following sections of training :

URBAN COIN.

After another weekend pass we returned to base and started training in the various methods of URBAN COIN.

Gedurende hierdie fase van opleiding het ons die volgende aspekte behandel en prakties geoefen.

1.     Beheer oor stedelike beweging

2.     Padbeweging

3.     Kordon en soektogoperasies

4.     Oproerbeheer formasies

URBAN COIN training lasted three weeks. The training was intensive and included night training. During the last week of training the company was invited by the Potchefstroom Police to give them support during one of their cordon and search operations. The operation needless to say was perfect and we were praised for our performance. The company was fortunate enough to be filmed for the television show "NETWORK" - footage taken during one of our training sessions was used for the programme which discussed the role of urban coin operations.

Met evaluasie het die kompanie weer nuwe rekords gemaak. Die evaluasie uitslae het soos volg gelyk :

National Service / Diensplig.

Platoon and Section News.

PLATOON 2

2nd July 1985, D-Day in most of our lives. Two years of military service lay ahead, "but not to worry, we're going to Personnel Services School" was what we said. Our luck was short lived, as we were posted out to 3 SAI. Now, if that name conjures up images of lots of guys running around in brown clothes, lots of sweat and hard work, well then you're right !

Our training took place in and around Potchefstroom, after which we were sent to Kempton Park to do riot control in Tembisa. This was something totally new to us and we thoroughly enjoyed it. While on patrol we would indulge in mielie braai's thanks to the farmers in the area who are probably still wondering where their crops went to, and also the occasional watermelon fights at the Power Station.

On leaving Tembisa we completed our training at Modderfontein. This is a period that L/Cpl Webster won't forget as he fired off a shot, narrowly missing the captain. The captain obviously wasn't too pleased and Webster subsequently made acquaintance with Beacon 49 on the horizon. Rfn Buckley found himself in a similar situation when doing safety precautions on the LMG. On declaring the weapon safe, he fired a shot. The captain then vowed that Buckley would not sleep in peace again. Rfn J.B. Smith at that time was dragging an empty polish tin behind him and he said that it was his pet dog "Fuggles". The Commandant of 3 SAI found this quite funny when introduced to "Fuggles". Rfn Winchester and Rfn Schutzler at the same time would like to make it quite clear that they are in no way related to each other, as since BASICS people have not been able to differentiate between the two of them.

Staff Claasen was famous for his 2,4's and Rfn Schoeman took pride in seeing how long he could take to do them as he inevitably came in last. Section 3 were always competing to see who could do the least work and succeeded in their goals. Rfn Abrantes was probably the biggest "gypo". Rfn Kennedy you could say was the "disaster-master". He had the ability to cause the most chaos around him and yet always came out of it unharmed. His favourite was to somehow always break the plastic bags in a Rat pack and thereby spray everyone with milkshake or colddrink. Rfn Grobler, the other extreme, was known for his shiny boots and neat clothes and went by the name of "Paratus".

After completion of riots came the border trips. Oshivelo was a new challenge and milestone in our military careers. One day Rfn Schutzler let off a "Min Day" flare in the tent that subsequently went through the roof of the tent. The Commandant passing by was not amused and this led to Schutzler doing a 20km route march as punishment.

At a later stage, during the evaluation, some of the platoon mortarists decided that the mortar bombs were a bit too heavy and buried them in the sand along the route. The authorities however found out and gave us a speech on our departure that is best forgotten.

Contrary to what it may seem, the border trips went smoothly. The platoon was later split up into the various platoons because of it becoming too small. Platoon 2 was known as the English platoon or the "Souties". Although they may never have been the most prestigious platoon through achievements, it was probably the most closely knit platoon with the best spirit. Rfn. Gatto was the break-dancing champion of the company, an achievement no other platoon can boast of.

PLATOON 3

The platoon formerly known as platoon 5 has also had a mixed bag of fortunes in their two years of national service. Apart from a few bad elements in the platoon they managed to carry out their tasks successfully and effectively.

They were one of the first platoons to be given the task of guarding the residence of the late Chief Minister of the KwaNdebele government, Mr Simon Skosana. Minister Skosana's family on many occasions shared their meals with them while they were on duty. The guys also guarded other key positions within this homeland.

During June 1986, while in Lebowa, the platoon was also sent to Sekekhuneland where they resided on a farm estate. The farm house was theirs for two weeks. While their friends at a temporary base at Malaita (Lebowa) were suffering, they had all the luxuries one could ask for : running water, fridge, stove, hot water, electricity, and plenty of fresh vegetables; not to mention the trips to the nearby telephone and post office. If the food needed a bit of spicing up, trips were made to the Steelpoort shopping centre. It was a sort of holiday while working.

After a well-deserved rest, came the border trips. First Oshivelo and then Okatope. Who will forget the braais in the veld with the number 6 Rat pack (goat, sheep, wild duck, and cows). There were many trips to JPM Wholesalers (the yellow one half way between Okatope and Ondangwa) for the necessary refreshments. On hot days tanning and sunbathing at the Shonas were the order of the day (and you were thinking your hubby/son/boyfriend was having a hard time ?).

After missing another Christmas (at home) we returned to the border with mixed feelings. First we had to share facilities at "Oshigambo Sands" with 5 SAI "rowers" and then we moved on to Ogongo "Ski-Resort" with 1 SAKK "rowers". Ogongo base was known as the "Ski-Resort" due to the vast mud pools in which many members had a tumble or two.

Platoon fashions on patrol varied from day to day. The guys dressed a la code 9 (Browns), code 1 (P.T. clothes), code 2 (underpants), and code 3 (birthday suit). Fashion accessories were headbands for the Rambo's, Koevoet boots, Rhodesian Army camo, bangles made out of Makalani palm leaves, and earrings for those who missed the fairer sex back home.

The platoon had the highest membership supporting the illegal AMM (Anti-Moffie Movement), these guys worked in the dark hours of night, and under cover, trying to stop the activities of the well known VVEK (Vroue Vereniging van ECHO-Kompanie [more about this later]).

The platoon also boasts with the most creative person in the company when it comes to writing. At times he gets so carried away by his fantasy thoughts he does not realise he is actually writing to his girlfriend. In the end she had to hear how he was guarding a bridge in Angola with only his R4 rifle and minimum ammunition. Apart from that he had lifted numerous landmines and escaped from many contacts. Our commander one day confronted and asked him if he was the "grensvegter" of the company. [ Well Cpl Steyn you're a genius when it comes to creative writing (Editor) ]. Here follows another of his masterpieces :

Verjaardag-gedagtes !

Die gekrap-krap van die radio laat jou geirriteerd daarna staar. "Twee-zero, twee-zero, zero" kom die stem weer oor die handstuk en verergd gaan jy aan om die diensboekregister in te vul ... Weet nie waarom die Staf my juis vanaand - op my verjaarsdag - laat diens doen nie. Hier gebeur dan net mooi niks nie ... in elk geval niks waarvan jy hoor of weet want in die basis is alles doodstil met slegs die gekraak van 'n paar droe makalaniboom-takke wat in 'n windvlaag versteur word.

Aan die ander kant van die wal buite die basis is daar ook maar net sand, 'n paar verspreide bossies, en hier en daar 'n Owambomeid wat haar so van 'n plaaslik-vervaardigde reukwater bespuit het dat dit jou na die vars lug van die "states" laat verlang.

Ja die "states". Toe jy daar was, was dit verveeld en het jy gesmag na 'n bietjie opwinding. Die woeste rock-partytjies, die skelm rook gewoontes en laatnag kapperjolle deur Hillbrow se strate het jou nie meer bevredig nie en het jy opgewonde daardie dag jou oproepinstruksies oor en oor gelees.

R4's, Noord Suid-wes, en wilde jaagtogte agter "terrs" aan het jou avontuurlus aangewakker en het jy geweet dat jy elke oomblik daarvan sou geniet. Uiteindelik, het jy gesug toe die trein daardie koue oggend vanaf Sturrockparkstasie af weggeruk het. Weg van pa se alewige gepreek, weg van ma se "gekerm". Nou sal hulle weet wat ek vir hulle beteken het. Ek sal nie bel of skryf nie ... net as ek moet, en die gedagte daaraan het jou laat glimlag terwyl jy nog 'n trek van 'n Chesterfield tussen jou vingers gevat het.

Op 7 SAI het die bombastiese houding van die korporaal jou egter vinnig 'n ander deuntjie laat sing. "Rowers julle gaan .*&@&*%*(& ", het 'n paar van die ou-manne gereeld van hulle laat hoor en kort-voor-lank was jy ongeduldig-wagtend in die lang ry voor die telefoon.

"Ag nee dit was nie so "bad" nie, het jy nog selfvertroostend" oor die telefoon aan jou ma gese. "Klink nie eers bly om my te hoor nie," het jy nog gedink toe jy in die donker terug gestrompel het bungalow toe en skielik het jy verskriklik huistoe verlang. Selfs ma se "gekerm" sou nou welkom gewees het. Ek is tog lief vir daardie ma van my ...

"Korporaal, ek gaan nou my aflos wakker maak," ruk die seiner se woorde jou skielik terug. Jy knik met jou kop en hy verdwyn in die donker waar die laag geel streep van die opskamerligophou.

"Twee-zero, twee-zero, zero," gaan die radio weer af. Kan die vervlakste ding nie 'n "fuse" of iets blaas nie? Stadig, verveeld steek jy 'n sigaret op. Nie meer lank nie, dink jy terwyl jy terugdruk op die stoel en die rook satisfakterend in jou longe afsuig, nie meer lank nie dan is die geraas van 'n weermag radio in jou ore iets van die verlede ...

Volgens Kpl Voogt is die enigste manier om van STRESS ontslae te raak, 'n rustige uurtjie in 'n modderbad !                 �  2000 www.opsmedic.co.za


HQ PLATOON

HQ Platoon, probably the laziest platoon of the company. Well that is what everyone else thinks, but in actual fact the company would not be able to function without the help of these guys. The HQ platoon is made up of clerks, drivers, chefs, intelligence officers, signallers, and medics. Certain of these members have a twenty-four hour job and work very hard. Here now are a few of their interesting stories :

Chefs

The four main chefs were L/Cpl W. Ghirlanda, Rfn J. Ceronio, Rfn D.A. Doherty, and Rfn JJ Posthumus. They were the first group of chefs in a long time to be sent to Catering School in Pretoria for training. It was here that these chefs learnt to prepare the quality meals that the troops were getting since mid-December 1985. Cooking was not the only thing they did at Catering School. They, in the eight weeks of training, became expert guards, gardeners, scrap metal collectors, waiters, and furniture removers. They could have been an opposition for the ECHO Handyman Services Inc if it wasn't for the kitchen obligations. This team of chefs was also given a twelve minute exposure on national television on the "Uit en Tuis" programme.

Walter & Ceronio. � 2000  www.opsmedic.co.za

The chefs however will be remembered for their hard work and dedication with the Christmas meal at Kempton Park, the Easter meals, the various platoon braai's and the 40 Day lunch. No one will forget Posthumus and Ghirlanda's vetkoek den and their tasty hot chips. Three members who today still carry visible evidence of these guys good food is Staff Claasen, Staff Botes, and Sergeant Scrivener. Sergeant Scrivener also agreed that one of the chefs meals always had to be complimented with a "Horri-Borri". This refreshing drink consisted of a tot or two of everything the bar had in stock, added to a Coke.

The chefs worked hard at trying to satisfy everyone, but at times it was quite difficult because of the poor rations. They did their best under the circumstances and no one can actually complain about the food they prepared. Thanks must also be given to all the pseudo-chefs : J.B. Beynon, R.D. Schoeman, C. Lerm, A. Buckley, I. Burns, M. Geeringh, D. Bode, M. Fusco, L. Bezuidenhout, G.L. Kerr-Phillips, and W.L. Smith.

Clerks

Klerke! Ops-klerke, Inligting klerke, Betaal klerke, Pos klerke en Pers klerke - "sleg klerke". Hulle wat niks doen nie, wat skuil in donker klein kantore agter die baas se rug, wat skielik besig is as daar werk uitgedeel word.

So word gese: "Vra die klerke, hulle sal weet, hulle weet mos alles - hulle is mos die kaptein se pel, vra hulle, hulle sal weet wat ons volgende week gaan doen. So dink almal, of : "waarheen gaan ons, ag toe, se tog ek sal vir niemand se nie".

"Wat doen julle, julle lyk so besig?" "Ag, nooit die klerke werk nie, dit lyk net so. Ja, wel ons doen nie veel nie. Elke dag presies dieselfde op die uur, Sondae ook."

"Het jy onthou om die verslag weg te stuur". "Ja kaptein reeds gestuur". "Oppas julle tens my op, julle gatte gaan slae kry!"

Eintlik is ons nie so sleg nie, net keelvol van die selfde werk oor en oor, en elke dag presies soos gister, vandag en soos more s'n ook, vir agtien maande lank al. Maar dis ook oraait daar was lekker tye ook!

Medics

Na 6 weke van basiese opleiding te 3 SAI, is nege kandidate vir die gevegs mediese ordonnanskursus gekeur. Die kursus het gestrek oor 12 weke waarvan 4 weke te Klipdrift en 8 weke te SAGD Kollege Voortrekkerhoogte was.

Die 4 weke te Klipdrift (of te wel Sifdrif) was 'n heel nuwe ondervinding vir ons 9 rowers. Dit het egter nie lank geduur voordat ons gestreep was van die tipiese infanterie dissipline waaraan 3 SAI baie immers vir 6 weke aangewerk het nie. Ons is afgebring tot SAGD vlak. Die vier weke opleiding te Klipdrift het 'n "crash-course" in Basiese Noodhulp, Fisiologie en Anatomie behels. Na suksesvolle voltooiing van die ergste fase is ons sak en pak Voortrekkerhoogte toe om die tweede fase te takel.

Die verwelkoming by SAGD Kollege was alles behalwe vriendelik. Sommer gou gou was dit draad toe en terug, vyftig "push-ups" met jou voete teen die muur, en makeer-die-pas met jou trommel in die hoogvoor posisie. Die verwelkoming was egter van korte duur, want met die aanvang van die tweede fase is ons kompanie in 4 peletons ingedeel. Elke peleton het op 'n rotasie basis praktiese ondervinding by Tembisa, Kalafong en 1 Militere Hospitaal opgedoen.

Teoretiese kennis is verbreed in die klaskamer deur vakke soos Farmakologie, Militere Higiene, Noodhulp en Verpleegkunde. Ons moes deurgans hard gewerk het om die vereiste 60% te behaal - 3 SAI kan opreg trots voel oor die feit dat dit die enigste SAI eenheid was waar al die lede die kursus suksesvol afgele het.

Ops Medic Badge

Op 6 Desember 1985 het nege gekwalifiseerde "tampax-tiffies" na 3 SAI teruggekeer. Agtien maande van diensplig het ons nog in die gesig gestaar, 18 maande van swoeg, sweet, baklei, soebat, lag ...

Signallers

Is it a bird ? ... Is it a plane ? No ! it is a signalman ! We have finally made it through two years of sleepless nights. For some of us there are still feelings of unreality about the whole thing and we can see many of them standing at the breakfast table, bleary-eyed on the first day at home, asking whether he has missed roll-call. Mom astounded whispers to dad "they've driven our son crazy. Did they make them climb trees for breakfast ?"

Platoon signallers of course did just that. On any fine Owamboland morning you could look into the trees dotting the semi-desert landscape and you would see a poor idiot reaching for the sky with a radio in his hand and chanting to some distant god : "two-zero, two-zero". Slightly different from a stateside breakfast show but just as amusing if you happen to be watching.

Communication between HQ and platoons on patrol were on the whole pretty good except perhaps for the time we lost comms with 21 Charlie for five days. The last rumoured transmission was, "but this is a lekker game reserve hey !" Wonder, if the game wardens of Etosha saw this, what would they have said about this new breed of "Buffels" ?

It is comforting to know that no matter where you are in the bush, information like the latest rugby score, or the position of your favourite song on the Top-Twenty is just a radio call away, for signallers are on duty 24 hours a day. If one were to ask if we'll be just a little sad to say goodbye to all those crazy times, places and ugly voices the answer would be : "that is a positive !" But the best of all, if anyone asks if we are happy to be going home it would have to be : "dit is 'n groot papa daai, nogiets ... Dan gaan ons af (vir die laaste keer)."

81mm Mortarists (By J.S. Lavers)

ECHO COMPANY HANDYMAN SERVICES Inc., or better known as 81mm Mortarists (not the pea-shooter type, but 81mm).

This statement sounds very impressive. When volunteers were asked for, a very doubtful section was chosen. Captain Wessels (3 SAI) who had completed the course on the 81s, filled our hearts with pride and great hopes of becoming at that stage the BRAVO COMPANY 81mm Mortar section. What he did not tell us was the side effects of such an achievement. We had to do training at Modderfontein (a few kms outside Potchefstroom), and at the same time achieve one of the highest scores in 3 SAI for mortarists. Rfn W. Mack (Stipper) scored 100%, and the section scored an average of 92%.

Our first border trip came about, and our destination was Okatope. This trip brought about much deflating of our alter egos, and the start of the Handyman Services Inc. Our section of hopefuls were miraculously converted into electricians, pool renovators, kitchen experts, builders, bricklayers, gardening experts, infact the odd-job kings of the company (81 se moer). In fact our reputation, due to an extensive and extremely effective advertising campaign by Captain Hattingh, got so widespread that our services were suddenly urgently needed at 101 BN in Ondangwa. We literally rebuilt the entire base.

101 BN became a milestone in our two year service as one fateful night we were asked to shoot illumination. Normally we would have fulfilled this task without a hitch, but the control post which we were building had no lights, and consequently Rfn Mack made a slight plotting error causing the illumination to open ontop of a helicopter. It was the first time we had ever seen an Allouette helicopter do a complete 360 degree turn.

Next stop was 7 SAI and then on to Oshigambo. Part of the company were at ECHO-Tower. This was probably the most uneventful border trip of the three. Sunbathing was the order of the day.

On the last trip, Captain Combrink with Staff Botes brought us back to Oshigambo, and we doubled with a section of mortarists from Oscar Company 7 SAI; this trip proved to be the best trip as the days grew few.

Well that's all from us mortarists except a last farewell to BRAVO/ECHO COMPANY, and thanks for the good times.

From : Cpl Du Toit, E. De Beer, W. Mack, J.C. Herselman, J.S. Lavers, L. Cizlak, W. Britz, C.J. Van Schalkwyk, G. Murphy, and S. McIvor.

National Service / Diensplig.

News Reports of Border Trips.

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National Service / Diensplig.

National Serviceman Committee.

By L/Cpl W. Ghirlanda

The NSM Committee (better known as the Troop Committee) can be found in almost any army company. The committee which functions like any other committee is made up of a chairman, a vice-chairman, and a secretary. It also has representatives from all the platoons,

The aims of the committee were to resolve problems and collect suggestions that the troops had. These were then brought directly to the Company Commanders attention. This was done by having regular meetings in which minutes were taken and later forwarded to the Company Commander for his remarks. The feedback received from the commander would then be read at the next meeting of the committee. This would then be given back to the troops via their representatives on the committee.

The idea was that the issues discussed on the committee were to the benefit of all the members of the company. To certain members it was easier to bring up a problem at a meeting than going through the various channels, which at times could be a bit embarrassing and too long. Some problems needed immediate attention as well.

The BRAVO/ECHO troop committee held its first meeting on 30 July 1985 at 21h00. The chairman was Rfn D.F.S. Engelbrecht and the vice-chairman was Rfn J. Schutte. There were 14 additional members. The main issue of the opening meeting was that of the food being prepared in B-Mess.

Soon the members for various courses (chefs, signallers, medics, etc.) left and many of the committee members had left as well. A new committee was therefore elected, the reigns going to Rfn Schutte, with Rfn R. Di Giacomo as the new vice-chairman. The main issue during this period was the shortage of passes.

More members were selected to do various courses and on 20 November 1985 a new committee was elected. The new chairman was now Rfn D.J. Wolfaardt and the new vice-chairman was Rfn G.L. Kerr-Phillips. Issues of importance during this period were the long hours spent on patrols in Tembisa, and VTB time (Vryetyds-Besteding).

On 27 May 1986 a new vice-chairman was elected, namely Rfn C.T. Perry. After riots, and the training for border duty, matters which arose in the minutes included : pass, beds and mattrasses, toilets, and the canteen. The most important issue was probably the letter which was sent to the Complaints Office in Pretoria. A certain member decided to use the company's name as a signature. Some untruths were mentioned, and the committee decided to correct this by writing a letter of apology to the Complaints Office to set the record straight.

In November 1986 Rfn Wolfaardt left to join the Navy permanently. L/Cpl W. Ghirlanda was elected chairman and L/Cpl Perry remained on as vice-chairman. Issues that were brought to the attention of the committee were mainly border-related ones : lights bulbs, bad rations, and Rfn Pozyn's compass money. At the same time the committee structure and constitution changed so as to accommodate the company commander and company sergeant-major who could then give immediate attention to the issues mentioned.

The rank promotions, the back-pay for these members, the medics promotion and R10,00 monthly deductions, and Rfn Pozyn's money for the compass he supposedly lost were definitely the main headaches of the committee and each of these issues had at least seven mentions in the minutes. Most of these have been cleared up thanks to 7 SAI, but issues such as that of the medics have still not been resolved.

In the two years that the committee existed it managed to accomplish much, but at times was unsuccessful due to the many walls it walked into. In the two years, the committee met 42 times and has been a strong part of BRAVO/ECHO company. This was mainly due to the dedication of the committee members. THANKS GUYS !

THE COMMITTEE WOULD LIKE TO WISH THE MEMBERS OF ECHO COMPANY A HAPPY RETURN TO CIVVY STREET !!!


 

National Service / Diensplig.

"Societies".

Well they were not legal societies, but they did exist amongst the members of the company and some of them had large membership numbers. Regular meetings were usually held in secret and due to this it was difficult to obtain information of these various societies and a final say from their chairpersons.

The VVEK, better known as the VVBK (Vroue Vereniging van BRAVO-KOMPANIE) was started at Kempton Park and was established to preserve the interests of the companies ladies. Their last known gathering was a tea party held in a tent at Okatope. The second society was the AMM (Anti-Moffie Movement) whose members worked undercover , and in the darkness of night trying to disrupt the activities of the VVEK. Then there was the ERM (English Resistance Movement) which was established to give the AWB members a hard time as there were plenty of supporters.

We tried to get more out of these societies but were bluntly turned down, however one of the tannies from the VVEK supplied us with a farewell message to all their butch friends.

Beste wense van die VVEK (beter bekend as die VVBK) aan al ons troepies wat eersdags uitklaar. 'n Kort en pragtige boodskap van ons voorsitster mev. Dokter (weduvrou) en mev. Dominee visie-president van die VVEK, asook mev. Koster en ander lede.

Outjies van al ons tannies voorspoed vir die toekoms. Julle ondersteuning die afgelope twee jaar was vir ons 'n absolute fees. Ons weet nie wat sou ons sonder julle mans gedoen het nie? Onthou as julle uitklaar om julle tantjies te borsel en dan met ' n fris asem 'n paar arseen pilletjies te neem om die toekoms in te gaan. En outjies, as ons nou uitklaar moet julle nie kommer nie hoor!! Ons tannies van die VVEK sal bly voortbestaan. Ons nuwe projek vir 1988 is 'n vledige opwindende towergroen Dankie-Tannie sakkie met 'n kompakte grimeer reeks van Justine gekombineerd met Sophia (daai mooi Italiaanse tannie) asook 'n mini haardroer en "hotbrush" wat op A53 batterye funksioneer, tog te oulik ! Dan werk Tannie Nora en Hilda van 'n sub-tak van die VVEK aan 'n nuwe Nutria-reeks modes wat van die voorste modehuis uit Parys in OVS ontwerp word. Jannie se bruin broeke en hemde is uit. Wat ons in oog het is 'n nou sluitende klokrompie met 'n gekartelde Nutria geblomde strik in die hare net om die kleur so effens te breek, ne!!

Dis voorlopig al van die bestuur van die VVEK tot ons eerste kamp. Groete van al ons vrouens.

 

National Service / Diensplig.

Great Sport.

ATHLETICS.

Our company is probably not one of the best when it comes to athletics. We have had very few good athletes but probably the best two athletes we ever had were Lt F.A. Nel and Lt W. Van Zyl.

Lt Nel was an excellent competitor in the 3 000 m and 10 000 m events. Lt Van Zyl excelled in the 800 m and 1 500 m track events. During the 1986 Sports Day at 3 SAI , these two avid sportsmen walked off with two of the top prizes . Lt Nel was awarded Victor Ludorum, and Lt Van Zyl received the prize for Best Track Athlete. Both these members were selected for the North-West Command team and participated in the S.A. Army Games held in Bloemfontein.

BADMINTON.

Here we had four good players. These four members were selected for the 53 BN Games and the Sector 10 Games. They were good competitors, but none really excelled. The four players were Rfn L. Botha, Rfn M.E. Law, Rfn J.S. Malherbe, and Rfn R.M. Oehely.

BOXING.

The company had many promising boxers, but they did not really get enough opportunities to show their form. In the only opportunity the company had to show its form, only one member managed to reach the finals of the 3 SAI Championships. Rfn B. Peterson had a tough battle against his Charlie Company rival. In the fight which was to be known as the fight of the tournament, Rfn Peterson was beaten by his opponent who had a height advantage over him; but one can still be proud of his good show and on achieving second place. Well done Brian.

CRICKET.

At the beginning of the season, which started in September 1986, the following members were chosen to represent 53 BN Cricket XI. They were : Rfn A.R. Buckley, Rfn I.W. Burnett, Rfn J.B. Smith, and Rfn D.H. Smithers. A strong side was chosen and continued to excel throughout the half-season. Rfn Smithers and Rfn Burnett were both chosen to represent N-SWA at the SWA cricket trials. Rfn Burnett scored an accountable 96 on the second day and was unfortunate not to be chosen for the SWA B-Team (the Kudus). Rfn W.A.C. De Klerk also played two matches.

At the close of the season Rfn Burnett also represented the Sector 10 team, scoring an impressive 61 against Tsumeb. The 53 BN team was top of the Sector 10 league at the close of the half season.

With the resumption of the season in January 1987, the 53 BN team played in the final against 10 Pantser from Oshakati. 53 BN well deserved the win, which they achieved by six wickets. This put them top of the Sector 10 League.

Rfn Buckley, Rfn Burnett, and Rfn Smith represented the Sector 10 side which resoundingly crushed Grootfontein in the N-SWA league final in Oshakati. Sector 10 won by 135 runs. Mention must be made of Rfn Buckley's neat wicket keeping, in taking an astounding catch and a run out. Burnett and Buckley went on to represent N-SWA till the end of the season. Rfn Burnett was chosen as Captain of this side and must be congratulated on his performance. The team went on to defeat Wanderers (the top club in Windhoek) in the final match of the season. The N-SWA side ended up tying for the SWA League trophy.

7 SAI ECHO Company must be proud of their representatives on the cricket field as they performed to the best of their ability, and so kept the company's name high.

RUGBY.

Weens die beperkte tyd wat ons kompanie by hul tuis eenhede (3 SAI en 7 SAI) gespandeer het, het ons rugby spelers nie veel kans gehad om hulle talente in die Republiek ten toon te stel nie.

Tydens ons derde en finale grens fase het hulle egter die geleentheid gekry om aan die Bataljon-spele deel te neem en ECHO-Kompanie te verteenwoordig. Weens die feit dat die spelers nooit van te vore saamgespeel het nie het die span aanvanklik gesukkel met die eerste wedstryd van die Sektor 10 Spele.

Die span het egter gou op draf gekom, kombinasies is gevorm, en het die span onder ander vir 2 SAI van Okalongo geklop met 22-0. Die span wat ook aan akute-onfiksheid gely het, het hulle in die smorige hitte van Oshakati goed gekwyt van hulle taak en vierde geeindig in die toernooi.

Die hoeveelheid talent wat die span besit is bevestig toe ses lede van die span gekies is om die Bataljon te verteenwoordig na afloop van die Bataljon-spele. Die dan ook die meeste spelers wat uit een enkele kompanie gekies is om die bataljon te verteenwoordig. Die ses spelers wat gekies is om die bataljon op die Sektor-spele te verteenwoordig was LT. De Klerk, Kpl. Strydom, O/Kpl. van der Linde, Sktr. du Preez, Sktr. Lourens en Sktr. Z. Smit.

Behalwe vir Kpl. Strydom wat uit peleton 2 kom, kom al die spelers uit een peleton, naamlik peleton 3. Die spelers het toe vir ongeveer 'n maand in Ondangwa agtergebly om saam met die res van die Bataljon-span te oefen vir die Sektor-spele. In die tyd voor die spele het die span liga-bepalings nagekom wat die span gemaklik gewen het en het hulle nie een keer minder as 30 punte aangeteken nie.

Tydens die Sektor-spele vanaf 22 Mei - 24 Mei 1987 het die span hulle weereens goed van hulle taak gekwyt en aan die einde van die spele is hulle beloon met die plaat-trofee, vir al hulle harde oefening. Ons kompanie se spelers het dan ook 'n groot aandeel gehad in die verowering van die trofee deurdat Lt de Klerk kaptein was van die span tydens die spele en Sktr. du Preez en Kpl. Strydom elk drie gedruk het tydens die spele.

Ons kompanie se rugby spelers het hulle dus met onderskeidings van hulle taak gekwyt al was die geleenthede beperk weens die "nomadiese" aard van hulle diensplig, dwarsoor die RSA en SWA.

SOCCER.

Our company has never really had the time to show its form. Every match played was unpractised and there was not enough time for the team players to get used to their specific positions. In the few matches played, the team had plenty of spirit and showed good control of the ball, but this was not enough to give them a win. Nevertheless BRAVO-ECHO Company had many enthusiastic players, namely : Lt Kruger, L/Cpl Zeeman, L/Cpl Booysen, Rfn Gatto, Rfn Murphy, Rfn Cizlak, Rfn Mack, Rfn Abrantes, Rfn Correia, Rfn Kennedy, Rfn Winchester, Rfn Wolfaardt, Rfn Duffield, Rfn Peterson, Rfn J.B. Smith and Rfn A. Allen.

STOEI.

Die stoei seisoen het vroeg in September 1985 begin. Sktr. J.J. Posthumus en Sktr. A. Viljoen het vir die Weermagproewe ingeskryf. Na afloop van die proewe het hulle die volgende plekke behaal : Sktr. Posthumus 4de plek en Sktr. Viljoen 6de plek in die 66 - 70kg afdeling. Die stoei aktiwiteite is gestaak weens die vertrek van die kompanie na een van die onlus gebiede. In Februarie 1986 is die stoei program weer voortgesit. Kpl. B. Olivier en Sktr. P.D. Viljoen het by die stoei span aangesluit. Die vier lede is uitgenooi na 'n toernooi in Pretoria. Hier het ons manne goed gevaar. Sktr. Posthumus het 2de plek, en Sktr. A. Viljoen 3rde plek in die 66 - 70kg afdeling behaal. Sktr. P.D. Viljoen het 'n 2de plek behaal in die 78 - 82kg afdeling en Kpl. Olivier het 'n 3rde plek behaal in die 74 - 78kg gewigsafdeling.

Daarna het hulle in die Wes-Transvaal proewe te Klerksdorp deel geneem. Sktr Posthumus het 'n tweede plek in sy afdeling gehaal terwyl Kpl Olivier 'n derde plek en Sktr A. Viljoen 'n derde plek in hulle eie afdelings behaal het. Sktr Posthumus en Sktr P.D. Viljoen is vir die B-Span gekies om in die S.A. proewe te gaan deelneem. In Mei 1986 het Sktr J.J. Posthumus 'n vyfde plek behaal in die S.A. Weermag Span.

 

TENNIS.

Unfortunately ECHO Company does not have many tennis players; however, the few that do play have managed to put up a good display whenever they have played. Tennis only really came to life on our second border trip with Rfn Higgs, Rfn Morris, and L/Cpl Webster playing for the Sector 10 side. The team managed a second position against a strong Windhoek side. Rfn T. Higgs went on to play in the SWA Defence Force League where he fared very well.

The above-mentioned players, plus Cpl G. Coetzee and Rfn A. Buckley formed the top half of the 53 BN tennis side, which also participated in the Sector 10 Games. All in all, the standard of tennis has been quite high and it is a pity that chances to play did not present themselves earlier in ECHO Company's two year service.

TOUTREK.

Gedurende die eerste grens besoek het drie van ons lede, naamlik Sktr W.A.C. De Klerk, Sktr S.J. Van Der Schyf en Sktr R.J. Pool by die 53 BN Toutrek span aangesluit. Na baie ure se harde oefening is hulle uitgenooi na die Grootfontein skou waar hulle 'n tweede plek behaal het teen TCL (Tsumeb Ko-Op) en 61 Meg. Die 53 BN span wen op die Sektor-spele en is Walvisbaai toe om teen WP Polisie, Pretoria Polisie, Rundu en TCL te trek. In die toernooi het die span 'n vierde plek behaal. Gedurende die Bataljonspele in April 1987 het 7 SAI toutrek span in al twee gewigsafdelings 'n eerste plek behaal, maar het nie so goed gevaar op die Sektor-spele te Oshakati.


GENERAL.

Apart from the above sports we had many representatives in various other sports such as : volleyball, squash, baseball, pistol shooting, hockey, jukskei, and golf. Other non-Olympic sports practiced were : darts, snooker, pool, chess, bridge, Backgammon, Risk, and Monopoly.


 

National Service / Diensplig.

InFamous Quotes.

"Daar is nie 'n manier wat jy ......"

Kmdt Van Der Walt OC 53BN

"Dis 'n feit soos 'n koei"

Maj Barnard 2IC 53Bn

"I feel horri today !"

Sgt A.B. Scrivener CQSM BRAVO Coy 3 SAI

"Boetman, ek is nou moeg, siek, en sat vir julle nonsens "

Staff Claasen KSM BRAVO Coy 3 SAI

"Roer jou gat !"

Sgt Badenhorst CSM ECHO Coy 7 SAI

"Dit is klaar, finaal, sloosh, uitgedaan....."

Capt A. Combrink Coy OC 7 SAI

"Dingese, waar is dingese ? "

Lt Bennett Pel Bev Pl 2

"Susters, julle moet fippen aantree !"

Cpl Swart Pel Sers Pl 2

" ....regkry en en en en ......"

Capt Combrink Coy OC 7 SAI

"Hills, Devine, Meyer, kom hierso !"

Cpl Gericke Pel Sers Pl 3

"One day I will be Chief of the Army."

Capt J.J. Wessels BRAVO Coy OC 3 SAI

"Ek kom agter die kompanie lag klaarstaan af !"

Capt Hattingh BRAVO Coy 2IC 3 SAI

"Kom hier jou drek !"

Staff Claasen KSM BRAVO Coy 3 SAI

"Human jou TB is vuil, he !"

Sgt Badenhorst KSM ECHO Coy 7 SAI

"Trek jou maag in, stoot jou bors uit, en laat daai tiete blom !"

Staff Claasen KSM BRAVO Coy 3 SAI

National Service Nicknames and Abbreviations.

The Oxford dictionary defines a nickname as a word which is used when a name is jokingly added to or substituted for the regular name. A nickname is often also used to shorten the name or surname, such as Robert which becomes Rob or Schoeman which becomes Schoemies. The nickname can also describe the attitude, character, job, personality, or physical build of the relevant person. Certain nicknames are given to a person due to his resemblance to a television, cartoon, film, or stage character. Objects can also get nicknames such as the hamburger patty which is known as a clutch plate. Here are some of the nicknames which in our company have become a part of everyone's vocabulary :

Capt Combrink :

Madame Fifi

Lt Kruger :

Aasvoel

Lt Lourens :

Human Torch

Lt Nel :

Fiona

Lt Du Plooy :

Noenoe, Snoopy

Lt Van Schalkwyk :

Piet Muis

Lt Wessels :

Wit-tier, Baby Face

Staff Claasen :

Grizzly Bear

Sgt Badenhorst :

Mad Max, The Fly

Cpl Loubser :

Lobster

Cpl Swart :

Foppen Sister

Cpl Erasmus :

Grasmuis

Cpl Coetzee :

Crunchie

Cpl Oberholzer :

Swart Luiperd

Cpl Venter :

Dutch, Dragstrips

Bronkhorst :

The Hulk

Le Roux :

Baby Blue

Herselman, J.C. :

Cujo, Ronde

Geldenhuys :

Stoor Kokkorot

Van Zyl, G. :

Langmoer

Saunders :

Stash

Van Rooyen :

Appy

Van Schalkwyk, C.J. :

Skollie

De Almeida :

Bel-my-nou

Herselman, J.W. :

Tokkie

Britz :

Spekjie

Viljoen, P.D. :

Grease Monkey

Beynon :

Bacon

Ghirlanda :

Major Granadilla

Van Zyl, W. :

Bennie Boekwurm

Bezuidenhout, P.J. :

Evita

Kerr-Phillips :

Flopsie

Burnett :

Gabba

Perry :

Brigadier

Prollius :

Proppies

Hahn :

Hoender

Oosthuizen, W. :

Mishoring

Winchester :

Winnie

Driessel :

Flyspy

Ryke :

Springhaas, Bazilbrush

Gatto :

The Gatz

Ceronio :

Snoronio, Gorilla

Doherty :

Dorothy

Hills :

Vet Kadet

Coasby :

Coasbybusters

Reyneke :

Brakenjan

Zeeman :

Musclebrain

Coetzee, M.F. :

Mieliebrein

De Beer :

Beertjie

Cornflakes :

Olifant Skilfers

Juice Concentrate :

Battery Acid

Viennas :

Owambopiele

Hamburger Patty :

Clutch Plate

Polony :

Elephant Virgin

Toilet Paper :

White Gold

 


 

National Service / Diensplig.

Army Bush (Urban) Legends.

To parents/neighbours/brothers/sisters/relations/friends/girlfriends of
Number : ............................ Rank : .............. Name : ..............................................
who will be returning from the border after ........... months away on special duty.

THE FOLLOWING MUST BE STRICTLY COMPLIED WITH :

1. LOCK YOUR DAUGHTERS AWAY
2.FILL YOUR FRIDGE WITH BEER OR ANY OTHER ALCOHOLIC LIQUIDS
3. GET HIS CIVVIES OUT OF MOTHBALLS
4. SWITCH THE RADIO TO A BANTU STATION
5. BUY DOG BISCUITS

Very soon the above-mentioned soldier will once more be in your midst, dehydrated, demoralized, bossies, sand mad, and eager to resume his place in society as a human being, entitled to human liberty and justice while he is engaged in a somewhat delayed pursuit of happiness.

In making your joyous preparations to welcome him back to civilization you must make allowance for the unfavourable environmental situation which has been his lot for the past .......... months.

Therefore show no sign of alarm if he prefers to sit on the floor instead of a chair, always kicks his feet against the steps before entering the house, has a fit at the sight of Bullybeef, trys to buy beer for 65 cents at the cafe, howls at full moon, pulls the ring off a beercan and hurls the can at a passing car when it backfires, has a braai in the lounge, pulls the wings off flies and watches them for hours on end, tries to conceal his beers as he thinks a PF might spot and arrest him for smuggling beers, wears only a pair of underpants and sandals, visits the neighbours or the girl across the street in a towel, screams at anything that reminds him of the army or insults everyone that looks important, even the postman. If you see him trying to bribe a barman at the backdoor of the bar for more beer, just remind him that there is a bottlestore down the road where he can buy beer freely.

Do not worry if he wakes up at midnight and acts strangely - just give him a broom and tell him to patrol the house. But do remember the password when you come home as a broomstick up the jumper is a fearful thing. Ensure that he is properly dressed before going to bed as he may dash out into the garden when the alarm rings in the morning to perform "STAND-TO". By placing the alarm under his pillow or locking the doors, this may be overcome. He may have a tendency to rush to the window at 05h00B in the morning and look for terrorists in the shrubbery. Don't scream at him when he tears up the lace curtains in the lounge for a Mosquito net as he was used to sleeping under one. He will probably try to zip up his blanket when he goes to bed as well.

Make all his purchases for him, gently establishing in his mind that threatening, arguing, and fighting with the shopkeepers is TABOO in civilization. Be warned that he is used to paying 65 cents for a beer and does not drink WATER/COKE/FANTA etc except when mixing with drinks. Under no circumstances may he be served less than one bottle of liquor or a dozen beers at a time. Liquid refreshments should at no time be served in a glass ....

His civilian clothes should not be ironed or well washed. You may find him at a local building site, dressed in a pair of underpants, holding a bundle of washing, arguing with the builder and shouting that it is his turn to use the concrete mixer to do his washing. If you find him grovelling round in the children's sand pit, don't worry, he is only missing the fine white sand of Owamboland (SWA/Namibia) !

His language may be a little embarrassing at first, but in a relatively short time he can be taught to speak normally again. Never ask why the boy down the road has a higher rank than he does, and never make flattering remarks about the Air Force or Navy, or you will have to start the language lesson again.

A close check should be kept on him when he is in female company. Life-size colour pictures of girls are very useful for reminding him of what women look like. He will be fascinated by recordings of the clear tinkling way they talk and by the lack of swear words. Although his intentions may seem dishonourable, they are good and sincere.

When he goes to the movies and laughs at horrible scenes, or throws popcorn at people, or makes funny sounds, just pretend you don't know him and sit somewhere else.

IN GENERAL.

  • He will prefer to wash his teeth at the garden tap.
  • He will prefer to shave in front of a broken window pane OR not to shave at all.
  • Acclimatize him gradually to warm water and baths, to prevent a deep state of shock.
  • As his usual vehicle was a BUFFEL, he may want to swop your motorcar for a BUFFEL. If such a vehicle is unobtainable he will pack sandbags on the floor and in the boot of your car.
  • If sandbags have been placed in front of the windows and doors of your home, do not be alarmed.
  • When going to the airport distract his attention when the aircraft lands or he will jump up and down making unearthly sounds, which after careful listening, will turn out to be the word FLOSSIE.
  • Ensure that he gets his SCOPE every week, and don't be surprised if he pastes the centrespread on the lounge wall.
  • On Sundays he may have the uncontrollable urge to drive a car to the dam, reverse it into the water up to about boot level and then spend the afternoon jumping off the boot into the water with shouts of wild abandon.
  • If there is no dam available, then he will take the mattrass off his bed and tan in the sun.

NB Keep in mind that beneath his tanned and rugged exterior there beats a heart of gold. Treasure it, as it is probably the only thing of value that he has left. Treat him with kindness, tolerance, and the occasional case of beer, and you have every chance of rehabilitating his hollow shell into the man he once was.

GOOD LUCK.

Geagte Ouers

Dit is vandag ons voorreg om u to kan meedeel dat u seun eersdags van die grens af terug sal keer. Hy sal 'n paar dae in sy tuis eenheid deurbring om noodsaaklike administrasie af te handel. Daarna sal ons hom huistoe stuur. Ek ag dit ook as my plig om u 'n kort lys van voorsorgmaatreels te stuur wat u asseblief sorgvuldig moet nakom aangesien u seun 'n fase van rehabilitasie moet deur gaan.

Moet asseblief nie harder as 2 desibels met hom praat nie (bossies) en moet hom nie onverwags van agter af op die skouer tik nie (bomskok). Dit sal raadsaam wees om u, en u bure se huishulpe te vra om ten alle tye hulle identifikasie papiere (kopkaart) aan hulle te dra, dit kan probleme met opsluiting in die besemkas (KG-hok) voorkom. Verwyder dadelik alle blikkies kos soos "Fresh Garden Peas" en "Meatballs" uit u kaste en vervang dit met skaapboud, hoender, en soortgelyke disse. Dit is van lewensnoodsaaklike belang dat u seun in hierdie tydperk geen blikkies te siene of te ete kry nie. Verontagsaaming van hierdie wenk kan baie skadelike en selfs permanente gevolge he.

Raai u bure en vriende aan om die eerste paar dae hulle dogter goed weg te steek. Onthou gedurende hierdie proses dat u seun teen die tyd al goed kan spoorsny en selfs reuke kan volg. U sal opmerk dat u seun verkies om buite in die tuin onder 'n tuinslang te stort en in 'n spieelskerfie te skeer. Ignoreer hom, dit sal van self reg kom. Moet nie u bekommer as u seun so teen sononder u huis se heining patroleer, hy noem dit klaarstaan, en vermy alle beweging na 20h00 tot 06h00. Ook hierdie is normaal maar sal ook van self reg kom. Moet hom nie keer as hy tydens motorritte in die motor probeer regop staan of op die bagasiebak sit nie, dit sal ook mettertyd reg kom.

En ten slotte onthou dat onder daardie bruin-verbrande vel 'n hart van goud is en dat hy sy welverdiende rus nodig het en wees lief vir hom. Baie dankie vir u tyd en aandag met hierdie uiters gewigtige saak.

Tot 'n volgende keer.

Die uwe

 


 

Military Jokes and Cartoons.

 

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/trimcartoon.jpg

Just a trim, hey ?

Troepie en Offisier

Wanneer ek lank neem om 'n taak uit te voer, DAN IS EK STADIG;
As my offisier lank neem om 'n taak te verrig, IS HY DEEGLIK.
As ek 'n ding nie doen nie, IS EK LUI;
As hy 'n ding nie doen nie, IS HY BESIG.
As ek iets sonder magtiging doen, OORSKRY EK MY PERKE;
As my offisier sy perke oorskry, TOON HY INISIATIEF.
As ek standpunt inneem, IS EK HARDKOPPIG;
As hy homself laat geld, IS HY BESLIS.
As ek 'n etiketreel nie nakom nie, IS EK ONBESKOF;
As my offisier die reels nie nakom nie, IS HY OORSPRONKLIK.
As ek mooi met 'n offisier saamwerk, IS EK 'N KRUIPER;
EN As hy sy meerdere probeer behaag, TOON HY 'N GEES VAN SAMEWERKING !

Shell-shock

Then there was the Army psychiatrist who had a method by which all soldiers could avoid "shell-shock",

To wit : "Never touch an egg with an electric cord coming out of it."

Kamoefleer

In die woestyn moes die troepe toepas wat hulle oor die kamoeflering van voertuie geleer het. Nadat 'n troep 'n groot Bedford gekamoefleer het, staan hy bekommerd en kyk na die groot skadu van die gekamoefleerde voertuig. Die offisier staan nader en vra wat hy omtrent die skaduwee gaan doen.

"Nee, ek weet nie, Kaptein."

"Nou ja, moenie net daar staan nie, gooi sand daaroor !"

Die offisier op 'n uitstappie loop verby 'n soldaat wat hom nie salueer nie. Vasbeslote om sy rang te laat geld, skreeu hy : "Haai jy daar ! Sien jy hierdie uniform wat ek dra ?"

Die soldaat bekyk hom op en af en se : "Moenie sleg voel nie, ou perd, kyk net na hierdie sak wat hulle my gegee het."

The Secret

The more you give, the more you get,
The more you laugh, the less you fret,
The more you do unselfishly, the more you live abundantly,
The more of everything you share, the more you'll always have to spare,
The more you love, the more you'll find that life is good and friends are kind,
For only what we give away,
Enriches us from day to day.

"All right, you pigs, fall-in on the double! " barked the sergeant as he strode into the bungalow. Each soldier grabbed his bush hat and jumped to his feet except one - a troopie who lay on his bed reading a book.

"Well ?" roared the sergeant.

"Well," observed the troopie, "there certainly were a lot of them, weren't there ?"

Diensplig Reels

1. As dit nie beweeg nie, vee dit weg.
2. As dit beweeg, salueer dit.
3. As dit te groot is om weg te vee, tel dit op.
4. As dit te groot is om op te tel, verf dit.

Die jong soldaat gaan na die bioskoop met 'n nooi en loop die sersant voor die deur raak.
"Dit is my suster," stel hy die nooi bekend.

"Ons ken mekaar," se die sersant, "sy was vroeer myne."

Rusland het 'n Staande Mag van Vyftien Miljoen Soldate.
Stoele is glo maar skaars daar !

"Waarom is dit belangrik om in 'n aanval nie kop te verloor nie ?" wil die sersant weet.

Rekruut : "Want dan het jy geen plek om jou pet op te sit nie."

When the announcer on the armed forces radio program finished the newscast, he closed with the correct time.

"For you Navy guys," he said, "it is now eight bells. For you men in the Army, it's now 08h00. And for all you officers," he concluded, "the little hand is on the eight and the big hand is on the twelve."

Die offisier en sy manskappe bevind hulle in die woestyn. Hy kondig aan : "Manskappe, ek het goeie nuus en ek het slegte nuus. Maar eers die slegte nuus. Ons kos is op en ons sal nou sand moet eet. Nou die goeie nuus. Hier is 'n hele woestyn vol sand !"

Troepie (moedeloos na die skyfskiet) : "Ek het lus en skiet myself."

Sersant : "Sorg tog net dat jy 'n vol magasyn het."

 


 

National Service Diary.

July 1985 to 1987

 

When the Sun sets there is no need to forget those that have gone before, for they are the glimmers of hope that make us continue. �  2000  www.opsmedic.co.za    All rights reserved

This page reflects the volume and types of activities that a National Serviceman Conscript was involved in, in the South African Defence Force prior to 1994. These entries reflect the author's memories some 13 to 15 years ago, and yet are based primarily on factual data in the form of letters and other personal documents. �

Diary Entry Date AND Activity or Location

3 July 1985 Started National Service at Personeel Dienste Skool in Voortrekkerhoogte, Pretoria. Haircuts and basic kit issue were the order of the day. It was freezing cold and for many of us from the coast we were not accustomed to the cold. Accommodation was in tents as the base was so full.

10 July 1985 We were transferred to 3 S.A.I. at Potchefstroom as P.D. School in VTH could not handle the volume of recruits who arrived. This was the first time this Infantry unit had had a July intake for quite some time.

15 July 1985 Basics started and we endured early mornings and many a late night. Sports Day was on a Wednesday and I played Tennis. This was at least a few hours of peace.

10 to 11 August 1985 Parents Day at 3 S.A.I. First time we had seen family since the end of June.

18 August 1985 We will be going on pass/leave from 30 August to 4 September. I was one of a number of people who decided to volunteer for specialisation so our group of 9 members had a short pass and returned for transfer to the S.A. Medical Services training camp at KlipDrift for Medics basics. This was held during September and then we moved on to more advanced medical training in Pretoria during October.

1 October 1985 At 1 Military Hospital doing Hospital Phase lectures and practical phase in the wards and Casualty section.

15 November 1985 At S.A.M.S. College, Voortrekkerhoogte. Doing Ops Medics classroom phase. Our group was called the Foreign Legion at VTH, while prior to this at Klipdrift we had been called Smarties (because we looked like a box of Smarties with our different-coloured berets).

6 December 1985 We finish our Operational Medical Orderly course at VTH. All of 3 S.A.I.'s members passed the course and we are now qualified Ops Medics. We returned to 3 S.A.I. to Bravo Coy, and I am back in Platoon 3 as a platoon Ops Medic.

7 to 15 December 1985 As we arrived at 3 S.A.I. on the 6th, we were advised that we are going on pass for this period.

16 December to February 1986 We go to Kempton Park to do township duties in Tembisa.

1 March 1986 Back in Potchefstroom at Fort Malnutrition as it is apparently known. This was actually at Modderfontein in the Bloekombos base. Doing more training. We now gained a company mascot - a Fox Terrier called Tembi.

20 April 1986 Conditions at Bloekombos were pretty bad and so one of the members wrote a letter to the Minister of Defence / Complaints Office about the conditions in the base and the mistreatment of troops.

1 to 2 May 1986 On practice mini-patrol near Modderfontein observing the townships and living off of Ratpacks.

10 May 1986 We then moved on to do a special patrol through Alexandra township in Johannesburg for four days.

15 May 1986 Doing homeland-duties. We are located at Marble Hall near Kwandebele. We arrive there and are given houses to live in while on patrol. We are only in the houses a few days and are then relocated to an old school near Verena - naturally back into tents.

26 May 1986 Our section is relocated to the Chief Ministers house and farm for his family's protection.

8 June 1986 Have been doing patrols in one of the townships of Kwandebele. Some pretty gruesome sights seen. These included necklacing done by locals against their own people. Also had to provide medical support for the injured in a motor vehicle accident. I have never seen eleven people packed into a Ford Cortina, and there were some pretty ghastly injuries. Liquor and overcrowding were naturally involved.

20 June 1986 I had lost my military issue scarf at one of the spots attended to, so went back and found it there a week later.

24 June 1986 We have been in Kwandebele looking after the farm of the Chief Minister again.

30 June 1986 Now we moved on to Malaita in Lebowa, which is NE of Groblersdal. Main camp was at Malaita but our platoon was located in a farm house near Steelpoort. Once again a better situation than the rest of the company as we had access to electricity, running hot water, shops and telephones.

22 July 1986 We leave for South West Africa on 23 July. Exact location unknown.

8 August 1986 We have been training now for two and a half weeks at Oshivelo. This is for acclimatisation and retraining purposes. We are based at the Dolfyn Training Base just North of the main base, which is directly across the tar road from Etosha Game Reserve. As Medics my group went off to the main base and did refresher training for four days. Our Pay was now R285,00 per month and we received R4,00 per day Danger Pay for being on the Border. Post Day was our lifeline and we always looked forward to the post arriving on Tuesdays and Fridays. Parcels and letters from family and friends were always awaited eagerly. We expect that we will return to South Africa two weeks before 27 November. After training we are transfered to Okatope base where we do regular patrols - mostly with Buffels (10 seater patrol vehicles [plus a driver]). Also do a considerable amount of guard duty. Okatope is about 40 kms SE of Ondangwa on the tar road.

25 September 1986 We were at Oshivelo last week for a week's retraining - but only our platoon went so it wasn't too bad.

17 October 1986 The Officer Commanding Bravo Company sent a letter to all parents about the new base which we are situated at in the Operational area. This was Okatope base.

30 October 1986 We expect to return home in approximately 2 weeks time for leave of approximately 14 days.

14 November 1986 At 53 BN in Sector 10 awaiting our return to South Africa. We will be transferred to 7 S.A.I. on our return to S.A. in November. New home will be 7 S.A.I. Echo Coy, Platoon 3. We return to South Africa and have a few weeks leave - leave in the second year was 14 days, plus an extra day for each week spent in the operational area.

24 December 1986 We leave 7 S.A.I. for Oshivelo on Sunday. We arrive at Oshivelo a day later to be told "Oh, we didn't expect you until next week." Everybody is pretty peeved.

1 January 1987 We spend New Years Day in the bush at Oshivelo doing training. New Years Day "special meal" is a Rat Pack as normal.

9 January 1987 We return to 53 BN and are now located at Oshigambo. This is NE of Ondangwa. More patrols and guard duty, but now mostly do foot patrols.

8 February 1987 Went into 53BN to make a phone call to home for an issue of business. This was a rare allowance as one was only allowed to phone home in an emergency. I had to obtain authority from the Captain, the Chaplain at Oshigambo, and the Chaplain at 53BN.

9 February 1987 We moved on to Ogongo base. This base was near the Ogongo Agricultural College to the west of Oshakati. There was a water-purification works there as well.

22 February 1987 We will be going home within 1 month for pass.

25 February 1987 We will be returning to South Africa approximately 11 March.

21 April 1987 After leave we return back to the border where we are located at Oshigambo again. Half the company had flown directly to Ondangwa and the rest to Grootfontein. We all arrived at 53 BN Ondangwa and were posted out to Oshigambo from 22 April. Somebody at 53BN said we should have gone to Oshivelo first, but what with the short period of National Service remaining we weren't sent back there - thank goodness. Most of the company was elated at this development.

9 May 1987 The previous week I suffered an episode where I had to go on to Ondangwa to have a filling replaced as a toffee had pulled it loose. The toffee was from a parcel sent up by the "Dankie Tannies" of the Southern Cross Fund. Needless to say, having feared dentists on all prior occasions this was the first time there was a decrease in fear. New dentist, new techniques !

19 May 1987 We spent some time at Echo Tower guarding the water tower and pipeline. I was medic and chef simultaneously. Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays were Ratpack days, and on the other days I would cook fresh food for the section. There were no lights so all cooking was done during the daytime using the Defence Force's favourite kitchen technique - gas cooking. Fresh meat was kept refrigerated (cooled) in the old-fashioned way - in a cool room (and that was not a COLDROOM ! ). Luckily it was used up within a day or two or it would have gone off.

6 June 1987 22h00 Oshigambo base is revved by enemy mortars. First thought that goes through our minds is that the higher-ranks are drunk and are throwing Thunderflashes around the base again. That was a common ploy to see if we were battle-ready, and how fast we could get to "Klaarstaan" positions (First- and Last-light base defence positions in case the base was attacked - these were the times when a base was most likely to have been attacked). Needless to say we very quickly realized that this WAS an actual attack on the base. It's a most unusual sensation to hear bombs exploding around you - and certainly not an experience I would like to have again. Much activity ensued and thankfully there were no deaths in own forces. The terrorists got away but were apparently apprehended a day or two later.

16 June 1987 We return to Ondangwa for our return flight to South Africa.

20 June 1987 National Service ends at 7 S.A.I.

 

 


 

Short Stories and Memories about National Service.

The following recollections and short stories reflect some of the events that occurred in the lives of our National Servicemen while doing their tour of duty. The images and recollections reflected here may portray lighter moments, but there were certainly many more serious times which were not recorded by photographic or other means. Most of these are only reflected in the minds of the participants in question.

Many thanks go to all those who contributed material for this section.

 

1.     The 24 Hour Military Parking Meter.

 

2.     Risks of Driving in Owamboland.

 

3.     The RSM and the "Elephant".

 

4.     Teamwork & the Day the Bats became our Buddies.

 

5.     Powerplays.

 

6.     Haley's Comet.

 

 

Words recorded in more than one Mind do not Die Off.

 


 

The 24 Hour Military Parking Meter.

Radio signal received one afternoon in September 1986 while on vehicle patrol : "Rendezvous with our section, the Yellow Cuca !!"

There was nothing unusual about this request, we often used to rendezvous in the late afternoon when doing vehicle patrol in different zones. The main purpose was to meet up for the night - a sort of safety in numbers factor. The Yellow Cuca was a code name for the J.P.M. Wholesalers store which was located about half way between Okatope and Ondangwa, on the Tsumeb / Ondangwa tar road.

Well it was late afternoon and the time was right to prepare our final move into the nightly T.B. (Tydelike Basis) so we proceeded to the reference point mentioned by the other section. It took us a short while to reach the yellow Cuca and after passing it we proceeded to the turn-off point. We never used to camp the night out near a point where the locals were known to move, as many of them would have a few drinks into the evening at one of the cucas, and then amble home in a drunken state. There was obviously the risk that we might shoot some innocent person. Hence the idea that we would be at least 1 km away. At the turn-off point we picked up comms again to move in to the correct location, and duly identified that the other section was now quite close. Shortly thereafter one of their members appeared from behind a bush and we moved into their grouping which was where one of the Shonas were.

A shona is a watercourse, something like a combination of a shallow lake and a slow-moving river. They were everywhere as many places in Owamboland were flat expanses. The shonas only used to fill up or flow in the rainy season. One had to drive very cautiously in Owamboland as there were a number of risks to driving in the area. Over and above many non-military drivers having poor driving skills, there was the risk of hitting an animal, getting stuck in soft sand if you moved off the tracks in certain places in the dry season, and getting stuck in mud if you veered off the tracks in the rainy season.

Well we pull up and we see the section has the Buffel parked in the shona - in fact almost in the middle of in the shona. "Eh, whats going on ??" The response was along the line of "Well, we're stuck." We could jolly well see that, as the vehicle was up to its axle in water, and we actually wanted to know a bit more. After a bit more questioning we extracted an embarrassed response from the other section that they had tried to drive through the shona and had gotten stuck. Attempts to reverse out had not helped either. We could see that this was another "brilliant" idea from this section - they often had them - as there was no track going through the shona at this point. And in the watercourses of the shonas you NEVER EVER drove off the track as this was a guaranteed method for getting stuck in mud.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

The soil up there was like sludge or "goo" when it got wet, so to tempt fate and drive through the middle of a shona was pure madness. A bit more coaxing and we discovered that one of them had taken a bet that they could drive through the shona. They then proceeded to get the smallest, and lightest, person in the section to walk in front of the Buffel and he was to "Tell us when the mud gets too soft so we don't get stuck". When you compare his weight of approximately 60 kgs to that of the vehicle which was well in excess of 1 ton, it was only obvious that the idea was sheer lunacy. Well we had a good laugh about this one while they were now starting to sweat. A crowd of onlookers had now arrived to see what the army was doing. Another of our sections had by this time arrived too, and an attempt was made to tow the vehicle out, first with one vehicle and then with a second.

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No luck - the vehicle stayed firmly embedded in the mud. In fact with the weight of it we doubted whether we would ever be able to help them - the final result might have been calling the base and letting the OC know that one of the vehicles was stuck. Needless to say the section in question was not too keen on this as all hell would then break loose, and they would have been having "Oppies" until the day they "klaared-out".

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

At this stage it was starting to get dark and as there was little that could be achieved in the dark we settled down to a night next to the shona. The members of the other section had a rather restless night and by the next morning it was found that the Buffel had sunk even deeper into the mud.

A new day however brought new spirits, and we now felt a little more sympathetic to their plight. Despite the stupidity of the act, we were a platoon, and therefore a team; so if they got an "Oppie" we were also potential candidates for being dragged into this as well. By this time the vehicle had been in the shona for almost 24 hours - and the Parking Meter was still running.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

It was decided that one final attempt would be made to tow the Buffel out with all vehicles linked in tandem. So with 3 vehicles linked up we attempted to get the vehicle out. A short while later with the power of three engines combined we succeeded in getting the vehicle loose. A very relieved section were extremely grateful to all concerned for saving their butts. After reloading all equipment onto their vehicle, and checking the engine had not been damaged, all sections parted ways for the days patrol around the Okatope zone.


 

Risks of Driving in Owamboland.

Driving on the border was always a risky situation. Over and above the quality of maintenance of some of the vehicles - which were more in for repair than out - one always ran the risk of hitting a local's livestock. Should this happen there was always the demand that payment must be effected. There was no question of who was at fault, the army simply must pay. If no payment was effected then a complaint would be lodged with the OC at 53 BN in Ondangwa or at Sector 10 in Oshakati. Many an animal would simply disappear to ensure there was no evidence.

One good thing about the military vehicles was that they were designed in a certain manner to withstand landmines. The underside of the body was in a V-design from front to rear so that should one hit a mine then the effect of the explosion would be deflected sideways. This also helped when one hit an animal at high speed. We experienced this on an occasion in April 1987 while we were in transit from Grootfontein Airport to 53 BN at Ondangwa. As the whole company was in transit we were being transported on the back of KweVoel trucks. These could seat a larger number of troops, and were more effective than the Samil 50s for long run convoys. While on the section of tar road between Tsumeb and Oshivelo gate, the driver was cruising at the usual 80 kms per hour (normal for a convoy) when a cow suddenly stepped up into the road. In this region fences mean nothing and cattle are left free to roam where they wish to graze. The driver had two choices : swerve and risk turning the Kwe over and thereby injuring a large number of troops on the back, or hit the cow and still possibly risk turning the Kwe over on impact. His choice : the latter. All we felt at the back was a bump as he hit the cow, and it felt like the truck hopped as the wheels went over the poor animal. We wondered what had happened as most of us had been snoozing in the afternoon sun. Even with the wind blowing on us as the vehicle moved along it was still hot in the sun, so a snooze was being enjoyed by all. After pulling over a quick inspection was done of the vehicle and the driver ran back to check what had happened to the cow. It was apparently mince meat. There naturally followed a heated debate about payment for the cow, but the local was dismissed after some debate. The vehicle had suffered no damage and we proceeded on to our destination. This proved to be an ominous start to our third and final border trip during National Service.

 


 

The RSM and the "Elephant".

There has always been healthy competition between the various divisions of the SADF; sometimes envy, sometimes friendly rivalry, and sometimes downright jealousy. It often bordered on the issue of Haves and Have-nots, eg. they give their troops too much leave. Individually each believed it was better than the others. What resulted was competition which was sometimes good and sometimes bad. This often also resulted in division, especially when one was from a different Corps and seconded to another unit. An example of this might be when an individual was called a "sleg Seiner", or a "Tampax Tiffie". While most members would ignore such comments or insults, there was often the desire to get even.

One day in June 1987 the medical staff of the 7 SAI Sickbay played a prank on the RSM of 7 SAI. What occurred went as follows :

It was routine practice for the Sister of the sickbay and another member of her team to visit the outer bases on a weekly basis. One of these bases was located inside the Kruger National Park. 7 SAI is to be found at Phalaborwa and is right next to the fence of the Kruger. On one of her trips while she was driving down the road inside the Kruger she saw this huge elephant dung deposit on the tar road in front of the car. She looked at her colleague and one of them got out of the car and fetched it. It would be perfect for putting down on the tar road inside the base at 7 SAI.

For those who don't know 7 SAI of the 1980's - it was a very paraat (prim) Infantry base, and prided itself on its neatness and tidyness. This was a base where the tar roads were SWEPT every morning by the troops.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

On arrival back at the base she walked into the sickbay and told the staff present what she had found. She then proceeded to place the dung deposit onto the tar road outside the sickbay. It was at precisely the point of the T-junction shown in the photo above. This was a main traffic route within the base as it was on the route from the Main-gate down to the Troops Mess. The intention was that it would be seen and the Infantry rank would get upset with their troops about not cleaning the road properly.

At this point one of the doctors decided that the deposit would look more realistic if it was wet. So he proceeded to turn on the hosepipe, and then watered it quite liberally. Now that the fun was over they left the scene. Next to pass the route was some soul who, without looking, proceeded to drive over the deposit and it was subsequently spread all the way down the road - just like such a deposit might appear in a real bush location. The time was now late afternoon so all staff who worked the day shift proceeded to their homes.

Being such a paraat and clean place, it wasn't long before someone noted : "Hey, there's elephant dung inside the base ! ". Put two and two together and the next thing one hears doing the rounds is that an elephant has escaped from Kruger Park and somehow gotten into the base. After dinner the night duty staff in the sickbay hear that the RSM of 7 SAI is looking for the elephant. There were howls of laughter in the sickbay at the thought that the medics could actually have the RSM of such an elite unit driving around looking for something that doesn't exist. As with all rumours, a tail grows and as the evening went by his own troops were unknowingly fueling the situation by commenting on where the elephant had been seen most recently. He was apparently driving from one end of the base to the next in a fruitless search. One has to note that the base is HUGE, so it can be time-consuming to search the entire place. At this time he was not aware of the innocent source of his mad search. A telephone call from the sickbay to the sister highlighted the situation but after a good laugh it was left at that. As the evening got later and later most of the troops headed off to bed, and yet the RSM was still seen driving up and down between the double fence which separated the game reserve from the camp. Time was heading for the dead of night and he was still looking for the place where the elephant had gotten into the base. He did find many openings in the fence but we heard that these were probably the places where the troops used to cut the fence and go out on AWOL. Heading past the bewitching hour he got the rumour that the elephant was now in the Orchard. This was their pride and joy (after the units mascot) and so another mad rush occurred over to the orchard, only to find that there was no action in the orchard. At this point the staff in the sickbay were cautiously checking with the guard room what was happening in the base. The RSM had been on a wild goose chase for a number of hours now, and it was felt the situation could get out of hand if it carried on for much longer. Another phone call was made to the sister, and she was brought up to date on the latest events. She subsequently phoned the guard commander and told him to tell the RSM that there was no elephant in the base.

The next morning we heard that the RSM was not very happy and the Officer in charge of the sickbay was contacted for an explanation. Sister kept a low profile for the next few days and avoided the RSM at all costs. But he did eventually catch her one morning when she was going to Order Group and the two apparently had a good "chat".

And so that was how the Medics got one up on the Infantry at 7 SAI.


 

Teamwork & the Day the Bats became our Buddies.

During National Service all units needed members of their companies with some form of specialization. This was one of the pro's of doing National Service. You could at least learn a skill which you could put to later use whether during your service or in later life. There were many functions to be performed eg. chefs, signallers, drivers, medics, etc. For many of these you needed to go to another unit for specialist training before being transferred back to your originating unit at the end of your course. While some purely provided functional training, others also involved a more complete change of corps, eg the Medics were transferred completely across to the SAMS (S.A. Medical Services), and were simply seconded back to their original units. This apparently had something to do with the Geneva Convention under which the medics operated.

The troops selected to become medics for 3 SAI Bravo Company (July 1985 intake) went across to the Klipdrift base of the SAMS Training Centre to do the balance of their basics with the medics. While the medics had already done 2 months of their basics, this was renowned to be of a much "softer" level than other units basic training eg. that of the Infantry. A number of other units had also sent their own troops to be trained as Operational Medical Orderlies or Ops Medics as we were known. At Klipdrift we were known as the Smarties due to our resemblance to a box of Smarties. This was due the fact that we all wore different coloured berets eg green for Infantry, purple for Parabats, etc. etc. After the first few weeks we then moved on to SAMS College in Voortrekkerhoogte (VTH), Pretoria, where we then became known as the Foreign Legion. They believed that we were akin to a foreign force due to our origins, ie. not having originally been posted to the SAMS from the outset. There was also a belief that we would not be as good as the SAMS Ops Medics, although as with many other things we did our best to prove otherwise. In fact the only difference was that we did not do B&O (Bestuur & Onderhoud) course at SAMS and if our units wanted it done then they would have to attend to this training themselves.

Because we all came from different backgrounds there was quite a lot of rivalry between the different components of the Smarties. In particular some of the Parabats believed that they were perhaps better, stronger, fitter, etc than the rest of us in the group. This did create some friction initially, but it was to work out for the best when we arrived at VTH, for by that time we had built esprit de corps amongst the group.. Despite attempts to give us Oppies, well what the SAMS P.T.I.'s thought was an Oppie and yet we thought was a bit of an afternoon leisure session, we just played along. On most occasions running to the fence or trommel-in-die-hoogvoor was not half as tough as what we were used to so we just "lag-ged it off". It obviously started to really rile the senior management of the College, and that together with a few other offences like not bothering to prepare for one of their inspections, not getting up for breakfast in the mornings, "slyping" down to dinner, or acting in a totally "naafie" mood when required to toe the line, resulted in the threat for one of ours sections to report to the Sports Field that afternoon for a PT session.

Time arrived and they were ranting and raving as we arrived at the field that afternoon. A number of senior ranks were all lined up to watch the Foreign Legion get an Oppie. We took one look at this and a common thought went through our minds as we went off on the first trip to the fence. The usual practice was to get the troops to crack. The session went on and on, with situps, pushups, carry-your-buddy, etc. Eventually they saw that we were not going to crack that easily and the P.T.I. rantings got louder and louder in frustration. At this point we could have folded, but on one of the trips back across the field the Bats in the group told everyone that we won't give in and at this point team work kicked in. Those who were battling were now helped across the field by the fitter members. On the return from one of the fence trips we simply decided that we will run again without even being told and on arrival back at the assembly point we simply ran round the P.T.I. and headed off. This was probably the one that broke the camels back as we suddenly had no more P.T.I.'s on the field to give us the Oppie. On our return we simply sauntered off the field and on up to our bungalows. There was never another attempt to give us an Oppie at SAMS College. From this point on we worked as buddies and team spirit grew amongst all the Foreign Legion.


 

Powerplays

During the Summer season the Border region was particularly risky in terms of getting Malaria, and the Defence Force had strict measures in place to ensure that its troops did not contract this illness. Every week medication had to be handed out to each troop to prevent them from getting Malaria. The tablets had to be signed for in a register and it was usually required that they were swallowed in front of the medic and / or platoon sergeant. Often troops would simply refuse to take them, or would act as if they had swallowed them and then when you turned your back they would spit them out. One has to remember that these tablets were particularly vile so one can't blame the troops for not liking the taste.

After one reported incident when a troop at another base was found on his bed in a comatose state, due to having contracted Malaria, there was an immediate tightening up of regulations and all Malaria Tablet Registers were called in for inspection. The Ops Medic in each platoon was responsible for keeping the register. The Platoon Commanders were given the registers and they had a look at them, and then the registers were passed on to the Company Commander.

At this stage our company was located at Okatope base. One also has to remember the dislike for any medic that was held by certain senior (Infantry) ranks.

What had been occuring in my platoon for at least a month prior to this was that there was a continuous refusal by certain of the troops to sign the register. Despite continuous pleading with them they still refused point-blank in most cases to sign it. One member in particular then had the grand idea that if I wanted the register to be "signed" then he would colour-in the entire block he was supposed to be signing in. There comes a point when one gives up arguing with people who are stubborn, and so the guilty parties were simply left to complete the register in whichever manner they wished, if at all.

Naturally the day arrived when these registers were presented in front of the Company Commander as per his instruction. He duly perused them and came upon my platoon's register. Naturally the artwork of one member stood out in particular. I was summoned to appear before the Captain a day later, and on arrival have him ranting and raving at me that I will get an "oppie" because my Register is a mess, and " ... *%**%* what do I think I am doing with all the blocks coloured-in ?". It didn't take me long to enlighten the brilliant Company Commander that this was not my doing, and if he looked at the artwork he would see that it appeared to all be aligned on one line. He became most astonished at this "discovery" and now that he had the identity of the artist he was placed in a corner as he had explicitly stated that punishment would occur. Not being able to get out of this one he had to call the artist in. The member in question was given an appropriate punishment according to myself. The punishment was to rewrite the register from the beginning, and to get every member to sign for each entry therein. One has to bear in mind that all work was hand-written at bases such as Okatope at this time. There was no such thing as having the use of computers with spreadsheets and word-processing packages, typewriters, carbon paper, etc. To redo the entire register naturally took the guilty party some time to rewrite, page by page, and then to get each member to sign each entry again. I enjoyed every moment of watching this voluminous register being redone.

In one way a medic therefore got an Infantry Captain to back him up on a get-even episode with the wise ones in the platoon over the Malaria-pill register. Needless to say the Register never suffered a work of art again.


 

Haley's Comet.

Many opportunities only come once in your lifetime, miss them and they're lost forever. But then some just aren't meant to be. And so it was with Haley's Comet. We were doing training outside Potchefstroom in March / April 1986 at the infamous Modderfontein camp (also known as Bloekombos). The days were long and hot, and the nights were cold - that's if you weren't doing night training because then you'd be Running on warm anyway.

Having done night training the one evening the Captain has a moment of philanthropy (quite rare) and decides that tonight is the night that he's going to be our "China". Well it just happened to be the time that Haley's Comet was appearing over the Southern Hemisphere. Picture the scene - it's late evening, we're tired, there's another 2kms to go to reach the base, we have to walk the 2 kms, and the Captain tells us to stop and check out the sky above us. All we can think of is our beds.

Perhaps this was the right place to view such a phenomenon, considering that we were far from the glow of city lights, and there were no structures to block our view, but then sheer exhaustion does tell your body to admit : "I've had enough for one day". Anyway, he's standing out front pointing to the sky and telling us about the wonders of this amazing comet. Some are looking up and uttering : "Mmm, I see", which only encouraged the Captain to go round to the others who were uttering : "Where is it, I can't see anything." Needless to say his explanations were obviously aimed at proving his expertise at all things military because he kept on going on about ".... look up at the Southern Cross, and then look a bit that way...". We weren't too concerned with the night navigation bit because we knew exactly in which direction home lay, and besides we usually had a compass with us for the odd "lost-in-action" occasion. This went on for a while with some members saying yes, yes they see it and the rest holding out in ignorance. Eventually the Captain tires of this little attempt at education, gets in his bakkie and drives off to his home.

Where did this leave us ? Still 2 kms from base camp, and even later to bed than usual. I still (honestly) have to admit that I never saw Haley's Comet.


 

Reflections of those we Cherish and Miss.

Many thanks go to all those who contributed material for this section.

In Memory of ....

We would like to honour our fallen Medical Colleagues. Should you have known any of these members of the South African Medical Services, ("the SAMS"), please contact the WebMaster as we would like to complete the "Unknown" sections below as a reflection that we cared enough to at least give them the dignity of a resting place.

Their place is a place in history, for without them there would be no history. In passing, they have joined the landmarks as beacons of hope for a better future...      
� 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za and W Ghirlanda. All rights reserved

One would hope that when meeting your maker, you are at least given the dignity you deserve in your passing. We know that some families have gone to the Border after their family member had passed away and were given the opportunity to visit the place of their son or husband's passing. The Border is a very peaceful place now and the serenity there can be very easing on the heart. Such a visit can be done today without problems or inconvenience. Please contact the WebMaster if you would like more information.


 

Surname

Initials

Rank

Year

Corps

Unit

Place

War

Badenhorst

H.J.

Wrn

1980

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Bartie

C.G.

Lt

1980

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Beard

P.A.

Pte

1983

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Booysen

C.

Pte

1984

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Byrd

A.M.

Pte

1986

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Cogill

J.

Pte

1983

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

De Villiers

D.

2 Lt

1983

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Dockerill

C.G.

Rfn

1985

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Du Toit

P.G.V.

L.Cpl

1988

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Eichholz

L.J.

Col

1988

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Fidler

B.A.

Cpl

1985

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Gerding

H.J.R.

Lt

1988

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Holder

J.R.G.

L/Cpl

1988

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Human

J.B.

Pte

1983

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Jagga

R.V.

L/Cpl

1988

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Kilroe

C.D.

L/Cpl

1987

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Kriel

W.E.

Pte

1983

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Krijger

E.

Pte

1990

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Lagesen

O.J. de V.

L/Cpl

1990

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Lombard

M.S.

L/Cpl

1985

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Maree

H.H.J.

Lt

1984

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Pieterse

H.J.

Wrn

1980

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Plateel

M.A.

L/Cpl

1980

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Ponder

S.S.

Lt

1984

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Redelinghuys

J.J.

L/Cpl

1987

SAMS

Unknown

Rundu

BORDER

Ruthven

G.S.

L/Cpl

1985

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Sheppard

R.S.

WO 1

1989

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Stanley

K.H.

Wrn

1980

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Swain

G.G.

Rfn

1985

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Tamsen

E.

L/Cpl

1987

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Van Zyl

J.

CO

1980

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

Welgemoed

S.W.

Pte

1983

SAMS

Unknown

Unknown

BORDER

 

Thirty-two of our Medical colleagues� souls were left behind in S.W.A.

� 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za   All rights reserved

We would like to thank the various parties who have provided information for this page. Should there be any errors in the information reflected above, please contact the WebMaster.


 

The Photo Album.

The images reflected here may portray lighter moments, but there were certainly many more serious times which would not have been recorded by photographic or other means.

Many thanks go to all those who contributed photographic material for this page. This page is content-heavy due to the size of graphic images in general, however it will be worth the wait for all the pictures to load.

Please remember that all material is Copyright. Please contact the Webmaster if you have any questions.

Sunsets in SWA / Namibia.

Sunset in Owamboland -
The Silence and Tranquility of Dusk, in a Country about to Start a New Day.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Owamboland Sunsets, on Patrol, Border - 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 


 

KwaNdebele Scenery.

Sunset in KwaNdebele - June 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Traditional Form of Transport in KwaNdebele - June 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 

3 SAI members.

3 SAI Platoon 5, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/plat5.jpg

3 SAI Ops Medics, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/medics3sai.jpg

3 SAI HQ Platoon, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/hqplatoon.jpg

3 SAI Mortarists, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/mortarists.jpg

3 SAI Platoon 2, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/platoonx.jpg

3 SAI Platoon 1, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/platoonz.jpg

3 SAI Platoon 4, Dolfyn Basis, Oshivelo Training Centre
- August 1986.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/platoony.jpg

 


 

Angolan Collectors Items.

Angolan Bank Notes.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved
20 Kwanzas.
 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved
100 Kwanzas.
 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved
1000 Kwanzas.
 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved
500 Kwanzas.
 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 


 

SWA / Namibia Scenery.

An anthill in Owamboland. They all appear to face North !

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Lake Otjikoto on the Tsumeb / Ondangwa Road.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Entrance to Grootfontein.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Entrance to Tsumeb.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved


 

On Patrol.

On Vehicle Patrol, Border - October 1986.
A bit of shade was always welcome in the heat of the day.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Traditional Weapon !
On Patrol, Border - October 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 


 

In Base.

We lived for Post Day.
A vital lifeline with the outside world.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

When in base, one often had to perform guard duties; or if at a base next to the tar road, then one would also perform road blocks.

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za and W Ghirlanda. All rights reserved

Sport at Oshivelo Training Centre, Main Base - September 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Sport at Ondangwa Transit Camp - November 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

"Miss Okatope 1986" with one of her prizes.
She was disqualified from "Miss S.A.D.F." - reason unknown.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved


 

Lebowa.

Malaita Base Camp, Lebowa - June 1986.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Washing Day.

Washing was usually done the old-fashioned way - by hand. While the Defence Force did have some "barrel-type" washing machines (similar to the manual ones which campers take with them to camp sites where there is no electricity), these were generally not found at smaller bases or at the outer bases on the border.

Washing at Malaita Base, Lebowa - July 1986.

Not only is the wash "cold water wash with OMO", it is also the middle of Winter and the washing is done as close to midday as possible. Frozen toes !

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za and W Ghirlanda. All rights reserved

Washing on the Border.

It was so hot that if one did the washing at any time of the day, it would be dry in less than one hour.

Image no. 761-6081 � 2001 S.A.N.D.F. All rights reserved. E-mail sandfdoc@mweb.co.za

Mascots, Pets & Other Animals.

While there were generally very few officially sanctioned mascots or pets in the Defence Force, many units or bases did indeed keep mascots, pets or other animals. Such pets included dogs, cats, goats, birds, and even a pig. Certain units were authorized to keep wildlife as mascots, but this was more the exception than the rule.

Pet Goat at Verena, Kwandebele - May 1986.

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Snake, Owamboland - October 1986.
Snake caught by troops while on Patrol.

� 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Ballas, the goat, at Okatope - November 1986.

� 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

 


 

Going Home.

At the end of a tour of duty, troops would fly back home from either Ondangwa Air Force Base, or Grootfontein Air Force Base. This would be either by Flossie, or by SAFAIR 707. The Flossie flight would also include the classic spiral to avoid a ground-to-air missile attack if the flight departed from Ondangwa.

Before departure from the operational area, troops would spend a day or two in Ondangwa or Oshakati clearing-out. The final night would usually be spent in the Ondangwa Air Force Base Transit Camp, also known as the Deurgangs-kamp.

Last Ratpack eaten at Ondangwa Air Force Base Transit Camp - June 1987.

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za and W Ghirlanda. All rights reserved

Boot inspection at Ondangwa Air Force Base Transit Camp - June 1987.

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za  All rights reserved

Inspection of these, and other kit issue, items was done to ensure the troops arrived at the unit in South Africa looking neat and paraat.

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za  All rights reserved

Last Braai on the Border.
Ondangwa Air Force Base Transit Camp - 15 June 1987.

 � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za  All rights reserved

 


 

Odds & Ends, and Other Info.

We dedicate this section to those trivia and other bits of information that gain importance from a historical perspective.

Often one does not take much notice of mundane issues and day to day items at the time. We have included this section as reconstructed from the memory of a number of people. Many thanks go to all those who contributed material for these pages.

Food and Rations.

The Ratpack. Numerous changes were made to the contents of each box during the 1980s, and for this reason the contents depicted may differ from the full list of contents reflected below. � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za and A Scheepers. All rights reserved

A Ratpack was made for a troop's survival for the entire day in the bush or while on patrol. They were numbered 1 to 5 and the number on the box reflected a particular combination of contents. During the mid-1980s there were three tins in a ratpack, however this was changed to 2 larger tins closer to 1990 when the vegetables were incorporated into one of the meat tins. A vigorous trade was done as soon as Ratpacks had been distributed, but one would usually find that Dog Biscuits would be discarded immediately. All food items were pre-cooked, although they did always taste better heated. The rest of the items such as tea and coffee would be mixed with boiling water in your firebucket (like a mug). Colddrink and milkshake was mixed in a plastic sachet akin to an "FL" or as the cultured would say - a condom. And there was always the risk that it would burst ! There was also at one stage a small can opener in the ratpack, but most troops either brought their own can opener with, or used the rifle's bipod to cut a hole in tins.

Another example of a Ratpack. And it is not a tube of toothpaste in the box, simply the tube of condensed milk that was replaced shortly after the photo was taken. � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

One problem that was experienced on the Border was that quite often the Ratpacks had passed their expiry date. But you didn't complain as there would be no alternative - other than starving.

Contents

Flavours/Types

Quantity

Meat

Pickled Fish,
Steak & Onions,
Viennas & Tomato,
Curried Fish,
Corned Beef Hash,
Viennas & Baked Beans

2 Small tins

Vegetables

Peas,
Mixed Vegetables,
Diced Carrots

1 Small tin

Dessert or Milkshake

Chocolate,
Strawberry,
Lime,
Vanilla

1 Sachet

Coffee

n/a

2 Sachets

Tea

n/a

1 Sachet

Colddrink

Lime,
Naartjie,
Orange,
Cola

3 Sachets

Porridge

Banana

1 Sachet

Dog Biscuits

Thin or thick

1 Pack

Cheesies

n/a

2

"Super C" Sweets

Pineapple,
Orange,
Tangerine

1 Roll

Fruit Bars

n/a

2 Bars

Raisins

n/a

1 Packet

Energy Bars

Mint,
Choc Nut,
Rum & Raisin

2 Bars

Chewing Gum

n/a

3 Pieces

Sugar

n/a

4 Sachets

Salt

n/a

2 Sachets

Matches

n/a

1 Pack

Esbits

n/a

1 Strip

The fruit bars and the packet of raisins were sometimes interchangeable though. The "Super C" sweets could also be made into a refreshing colddrink by dissolving them in water. If there were any additional flavours found in any of the above ratpacks, please let us know by contacting the WebMaster.

Insignia, Flashes, and other Unit Emblems.

The collections presented include:

South West African (SWA) units.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/afbgrootfontein1.jpg

Air Force Base - Grootfontein

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/afbondangwa.jpg

Air Force Base - Ondangwa

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/grootfonteinnorthernlogisticsunit.jpg

Northern Logistics - Grootfontein

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/sector10.jpg

Sector 10 - Miniature

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/sector10signalssquadron.jpg

Sector 10 Signals Squadron

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/sector10trgunitoshivelo.jpg

Sector 10 Training Unit - Oshivelo

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/swacomdhq.jpg

S.W.A. Command Headquarters

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/swamedcmd.jpg

S.W.A. Medical Command

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/53bn.jpg

53 Battalion

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/53bnand3sairubberizedflashes.jpg

53 Battalion & 3 S.A.I. Rubberized Flashes

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/61meg.jpg

61 Meg - Miniature.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/91ambulanceunit.jpg

91 Ambulance Unit

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/101bn.jpg

101 Battalion

The S.A. Medical Services (SAMS).

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/samstrgcentre.jpg

SAMS Training Centre - Klipdrift

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/1militaryhospital.jpg

1 Military Hospital - Voortrekkerhoogte

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/samsberetbadge.jpg

SAMS Insignia on Beret

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/sams1.jpg

SAMS Badge

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/swamedcmdbalkie1.jpg

S.W.A. Medical Command - Beret Balkie

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/swamedcmdcollarbadge1.jpg

S.W.A. Medical Command - Collar Insignia

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/1medbngptartan.jpg

1 Medical Battalion Group Tartan with
SAMS Insignia on Glengarry

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/1medtartan.jpg

1 Medical Battalion Group Tartan

Ops Medic Insignia.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/opsmedicbadge2.jpg

Ops Medic Badge for Browns - Rubberized

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/opsmedicbadgesmall.jpg

Ops Medic Badge for Browns - Miniature

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/opsmedicgif.gif

Ops Medic Badge for Step-outs

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/opsmedicnutria1.jpg

Ops Medic Badge - Nutria

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/opsmedicbadge1.jpg

7 Medical Bn - Ops Medic Badge for Browns

Then & Now : Okatope Base.

Okatope base was located on the tar road between Ondangwa and Oshivelo, approximately 40 kilometres from Ondangwa. The map and photos are from a Then & Now series and one can expect to see an element of dilapidation as the base has now been abandoned.

.

Key

Grid Position/ Photo View Direction

Description & Photo Link

G9

Front Entrance Gate to Base

H9

Mortar Pit

H6

Tents

H4/5

Ablutions and Diesel Generator Parking

G6

QM Store

G4/5

Transport Park and Store

F3

Ablutions

B/D3

Tents

E5/6

Troops Mess, Kitchen, & "Koffie Kroeg" Building

E4

Swimming Pool

C5

Troops "VTB" Hall and Bar

C6

Water Tower and Lookout Post

B6/8

Ablutions

C/E9

Tents

C8

Ops Room, Admin, & Sickbay Bunker

D6

Officers & Snr NCOs Mess and Bar

E7

Officers Accommodation

F7

Snr NCOs Accommodation

Click on the Key descriptions for photos of Okatope. These may help you to remember the base.


 

Personal Kit Issues.

Inspection of kit was often done as an Uitpak Inspeksie such as this.  � 2001 www.opsmedic.co.za and W Ghirlanda. All rights reserved

The kit listed below was issued to troops in the mid-1980s. It must be noted that much of this kit had to be returned to the unit on leaving the base. As depicted in the photo above, such items were subject to regular, if not daily, inspections.

Kit Issue Item

Description

Quantity

Clothing :
Boots
Takkies
Plakkies - "Moses Shoes"
Balaclava
Boshoed
Balkie
Beret
Browns Shirts
Browns Shirts
Browns Pants
Overalls
Socks
Underpants
Vests
PT Shorts
PT Shirts
Jersey
Groot Jas
Bush jacket - Bosbaadjie
Raincoat
Scarf
Web belt









Long Sleeve
Short Sleeve













2 pairs
1 pair
1 pair
1
1
1
1
2
1
2
2
3 pairs
3
2
2
3
1
1
1
1
1
1

Other :
Towels
Towels
Mirror
Seep Bakkie
Toiletries Bag
Shoe Brush
ID Book Cover
Dog Tags
Sewing Kit

Large
Hand






3
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1

Equipment :
Rifle
Magazines
Cleaning Kit
Kevlar Helmet - Staaldak
Balsak
H-Frame Groot Sak - Rugsak
Ground Sheet
Bivvy
Chest Webbing
Battle Jacket
Dixies
Waterbottle
Spoegbakkie
Varkpan
Pikstel
Firebucket & Waterbottle
Sheets
Pillowslips
Pillows
Blankets
Pisvel
Trommel
Hangkas
Bed
Sleeping Bag & Inner


R4 or R5










2L



1L









1
2
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1
1 set
2
1
1
1 set
1 set
1 set
2
1
3
1
1
1
1
1 set

SAMS Issue :
Medics - NCO Bag
Medics - Step Outs



Full Parade Uniform


1
1 set

Required Purchases :
Flashes
Putties
Cravate




1 set
1 set
1

Dankie Tannie Sak :
Mirror
Writing Pad
Envelopes
Pen





1
1
1 pack
1

 


 

Base Plan : Sector 10 Training Unit - Oshivelo.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/sector10trgunitoshivelo.jpg

The Oshivelo base was located just off the tar road between Ondangwa and Tsumeb, approximately 100 kilometres from Tsumeb. The base was located just after the veterinary post gate at Oshivelo. Upon crossing this line one was "in the Red Zone". This meant that you were now in the operational area. To the uninformed, it meant you were now officially "on the Border". After crossing the Red Line one was entitled to be paid Danger Pay, in addition to your normal pay as a national serviceman.

The map provided below shows the base as it looked during the 1980s. The base was however dismantled during the withdrawal of South African troops, and the only remaining identifiable part of the base is the lane up to where the HQ was located. The reason for this is that the Bougainvillea are still in place on the wire fence that divided the in and outbound lanes up through the base to the Troops mess at the rear of the base.

We would not recommend people visiting the former base as it is now used as a military base by the Namibian Defence Force. As no structures exist here it would probably not be worth a visit at this point.

We would like to thank all those who provided material for this section. If you have material that you would like to submit to us, or short stories that you would like to relate, please contact the WebMaster on the link below. Furthermore, we would particularly appreciate any photos of the Oshivelo base.

 

Key

Grid Position/ Photo View Direction

Description & Photo Link

A/I10

Tar road between Tsumeb and Ondangwa

A/I9

Electricity pylons between Tsumeb and Ondangwa

G9

Front Entrance Gate to the Base

G3/9

Gravel road inside the base from the main gate up to the Troops Mess

G3/5

Bougainvillea between lanes

H5/6

Vehicle Park

I3/4

QM Store

H4

Technical Stores

H3/4

Parade Ground

H3

Ops Room, Admin, & HQ Building

H1

Troops Mess, Kitchen, & Officers Mess Building

G1

Water Tower and Lookout Post

E3

Sick Bay

F3

Post Office

F3/4

Library, Dominee's "Koffie Kroeg", and "Snoepie" Canteen

C/F6

Tents

C5, E5 and E4

Troop Ablutions

B2 to C4

Permanent Force caravans and permanent accommodation

D2/3

Weapon Store/Magazine

C1

Back gate to battlefields and training grounds

 


 

Base Plan : Sector 10 Training Unit - Dolfyn-basis, Oshivelo.

The Dolfyn-basis was one of approximately 2 or 3 outer bases situated north of the Oshivelo main base. It was also located just off the tar road between Ondangwa and Tsumeb, at an equal distance from the tar road as the main base. The Dolfyn-basis was located approximately 2 kilometres due north of the Oshivelo main base, also just behind the electricity pylons. Many an early morning was spent running from the base, under the pylons, down to the tar road, and back again. This was also repeated in the afternoons for the afternoon PT session.

The map provided below shows the base as it looked during 1986/1987. By the time of our return on camp during August 1988, this outer base had been dismantled, and the only remaining identifiable parts of the base were the slabs where the ablutions and the kitchen/mess building had stood.

We would not recommend people visiting the former base as it is now used as a military base by the Namibian Defence Force. As no structures exist here it would probably not be worth a visit at this point.

We would like to thank all those who provided material for this section. If you have material that you would like to submit to us, or short stories that you would like to relate, please contact the WebMaster on the link below. Furthermore, we would particularly appreciate any photos of the Dolfyn-basis.

 

Key

Grid Position/ Photo View Direction

Description & Photo Link

A/I10

Tar road between Tsumeb and Ondangwa

A/I8

Electricity pylons between Tsumeb and Ondangwa

F6/10

Front Approach road to the Base from the tar road

F6/I6

Gravel road linking the base to Oshivelo main base

F2/4

Gravel road linking the base to battlefields and training grounds

D/E3

Ablution block

D2 to E3

Tents surrounding ablution block

C4 to E4

HQ, Admin, Ops & Logistics tents, & Officers Quarters

D/E5

Troops Mess, Kitchen, & Officers Mess Building

 


 

Base Plan : 53 BN - Ondangwa.

http://www.opsmedic.co.za/53bn.jpg

The 53 BN base was located just off the tar road in the town of Ondangwa. It was the central base for the deployment of troops for Sector 10. 53 BN had a number of satellite bases including Ogongo, Oshigambo, and Okatope, amongst others.

The map provided below shows the base as it looked during the 1980s. The base was however dismantled during the withdrawal of South African troops, and the only remaining identifiable part of the base is the bridge across the canal where the entrance gates were located. Based on the fact that this base was located in what is now the centre of a major town, it is very likely that some other structures will have been constructed on the site since the 1980s.

We would like to thank all those who provided material for this section. If you have material that you would like to submit to us, or short stories that you would like to relate, please contact the WebMaster on the link below. Furthermore, we would particularly appreciate any photos of the 53 BN base.

 

Key

Grid Position/ Photo View Direction

Description & Photo Link

A/I10

Tar road between Oshakati and Tsumeb

A/I 9/10

Cement Canal outside base

B/C9

Front Entrance Gate to the Base

B3/9

Gravel road inside the base from the main gate up to the Transport Park

D8/9

Volleyball court

D9 and F4

Ablutions

C7 to E9

Tents

D3 to F6

Tents

D5

Swimming Pool

B1/2

Transport Park

G2

QM & Technical Stores

G7/8

Ops Room, Admin, & HQ Building

C/F7

Parade Ground

F8/9

Canteen/Snoepie

F9

Army-sized brick Braai - good for making large fires for the whole base

G/H8

Kitchen

G4/5

Sick Bay

G/H 6/7

Officers Mess

G5/6

Library and Dominee's "Koffie Kroeg"

I5/6

Ondangwa Police Station

I8

Ondangwa Post Office

H7/8

Back gate out of base to Post Office and Police Station

 


 

Base Plan : Ogongo.

The Ogongo base was located just to the south of the tar road, approximately 50 kilometres west of Oshakati, on the Oshakati to Ruacana road. The base was situated next to the Ogongo Agricultural College in the village of Ogongo. It was a satellite base of 53 BN, Ondangwa in Sector 10. The map provided below shows the base as it looked during the 1980s.

We would like to thank all those who provided material for this section. If you have material that you would like to submit to us, or short stories that you would like to relate, please contact the WebMaster on the link below. Furthermore, we would particularly appreciate any photos of the Ogongo base.

 

Key

Grid Position/ Photo View Direction

Description & Photo Link

H9/10

Gravel approach road to the base

G8

Front Entrance Gate to the Base

F/G3 and F/G5 and H10

Dwellings of the Ogongo Agricultural College

G/H7

Water purification reservoir

G/H6

Water Tower

E10

Dominee's accommodation, "Koffie Kroeg" and Sickbay

E9/10

Ops Room, Admin, & HQ Building

E8/9

Parade Ground

F7

Fridge

C8/9

Ablutions

D8

QM & Technical Stores

D7

Pub, Canteen/Snoepie & VTB Building

E7

Troops Mess

E6/7

Officers Mess

D6/7

Kitchen

B4/5 and D/E5

Tents

B7/8

Mortar Pit

F3/4

Swimming Pool

 


 

Base Plan : Oshigambo.

The Oshigambo base was located north-east of the town of Ondangwa. It was a satellite base of 53 BN, Ondangwa in Sector 10. The map provided below shows the base as it looked during the 1980s. When the SADF withdrew in 1989, the base was stripped of all available material after the forces left. It is unknown whether the former base has been put to an alternate use now.

We would like to thank all those who provided material for this section. If you have material that you would like to submit to us, or short stories that you would like to relate, please contact the WebMaster on the link below. Furthermore, we would particularly appreciate any photos of the Oshigambo base.


 

 

 

Key

Grid Position/ Photo View Direction

Description & Photo Link

G/H10

Gravel approach road to the base

G9/10

Front Entrance Gate to the Base

C8 to F9

Vehicle Park and General Parade Area

F/G7

Gas Bottle Storage Area

H7

Mortar Pit

G/H5

Army-sized brick Braai - good for making large fires for the whole base

F/G6

Troops Mess

E/F6

Kitchen

D/E6

Officers Mess

B7 and B/C5

Ablutions

C6

Water Tower

B5/6 and B3/C4

Tents

C/D5

Swimming Pool

C/D 3/4

Parade Ground

D/F2

HQ Tents

F/G 3/4

Ops Room, Admin, & HQ Bunker, Sickbay Bunker and QM Bunker

G4

HQ Tent

B2

Back gate out of base

 


 

Radio and Sound memories.

South African entertainment was an "insulated" affair during the 1970s and 1980s. Television was only introduced in 1976, and the radio broadcast network therefore provided the main form of entertainment for many South Africans during this era. In particular, for our National Servicemen, the main form of entertainment consisted of radio, and cassette tapes. A National Serviceman's daily pay was very limited at that time, and hence most NSM simply listened to radio broadcasts when these were within range. An NSM would have had access to the following limited forms of entertainment during his two-year stint in the SADF:

To elaborate further, NSMs were generally in base camp in SA either during basics or when returning to/from the border. Such times were always periods of extreme busyness and hence entertainment time was limited to say the least. Most troops would head off to the pub or canteen in the evening and return to their bungalow a short while later to attend to tasks in preparation for the next day. With limited funds, and limitations as to how much one could drink, most troops were to be found in the bungalow preparing for the next morning's inspection, or else recovering from the sheer exhaustion of the day.

For many of the troops the affordability of a small radio resulted in a common form of entertainment and relaxation being the sound of a radio programme in the background while some of the troops worked on cleaning rifles, others wrote letters to family and friends, and others fell off to sleep. Obviously choice of station was limited as not all radio stations had good signals to all parts of SA. What must be noted was that many of these base camps e.g. 3 SAI, 7 SAI, SAMS Training Centre, etc. were located far from the main cities, and so the variety of broadcasts was in essence limited to a regional station and one or two national broadcasters. While the Southern Cross Fund and other donors provided at least one television set to many of the bases, most troops found that free-time was an issue. Television was also only introduced in SA much later than many other parts of the world. Hence while some of the bases were equipped with a television set in the canteen or entertainment area for the troops, this was not conveniently located in bungalows. As most bases had a lights-out policy of 10.00PM daily, many troops found this a particularly inconvenient entertainment medium. Free-time was limited, and there were always many tasks to do before lights-out.

Most troops had an intensive training period in the bush before being sent up to the border. In the bush a small radio would survive the rigours of living in a tent with no electricity. This medium of entertainment was still available in limited areas of SA, depending on whether a broadcast signal was available. Batteries were a common element of a troop's parcel from home, or were a regular purchase when the troops were taken into town once a month to do banking and shopping for personal items.

The routine on the border was similar, although SABC television and SA radio stations were not broadcast to the northern part of SWA. The SADF did send videos up to the border from time to time for the entertainment of the troops. One could also receive limited broadcasts of SWABC radio and if in a larger base e.g. Oshakati or Ondangwa, then one may have had access to SWABC television broadcasts. This was however the exception to the rule, and one usually spent time with fellow troops in the pub or catching up on well-needed sleep.

While in the bush on the border, one was officially on patrol "fighting the war". The truth of the situation was that there were particularly long periods of inactivity and boredom. During these periods troops looked for any form of entertainment possible. Whether it was swimming in the shonas, playing soccer with the local children, or tuning the official radio network across to a radio station back in the "States", the perception was that no official entertainment occurred in the bush. As with any low-paid employee, the order of the day while on patrol was to do as little as possible, and yet remain sane and alive. Returning to the activity of listening to radio stations back in SA (the "States") one could tune the larger B25 radios onto most frequencies in SA. While the reception was generally better at night or just after it had rained, the sound of "home" always lifted the spirit of the troops, even if one could only listen for a short while before the radio's batteries went flat ! The Comms radio operators in base probably wondered why the radio link to troops in the field was often dead, but then they did have the ability to listen to the same broadcasts in base with the luxury of generator power 24/7.

This page has been created to provide you with the opportunity to listen to extracts from some of the radio broadcasts transmitted on SABC radio during the 1970s and 1980s. In order to set the mood we have recreated a typical environment in a National Serviceman's day to provide you with the opportunity to "live the moment" of the particular broadcast as it would have been experienced during national service.

We would like to thank the PumaMouse web-site for the clips and other information made available to create this particular page. Furthermore, we would like to thank them for having the dedication to collect and preserve a part of South African broadcast history when so many others regard this as irrelevant and not worth the effort. Considering that the PumaMouse web-site is hosted outside of SA, this shows us that many non-South Africans do indeed dedicate much effort to the preservation of our history, even if we as South Africans do not generally do so. What must be said, however, is that there are some dedicated South Africans who do make an effort to do their part in collecting and storing our national heritage. In particular, we would like to mention Mr. Frans Erasmus. Frans is based in Johannesburg, and is one of the team who has gone to great lengths to locate and convert old recordings into a format that can be used and listened to by visitors to the PumaMouse web-site.

We recommend that you visit the PumaMouse web-site as it contains so much material that we could not possibly do justice to describe the variety of content here.

The clips below are a collection of sound recordings from the following radio stations:

Please note that the files are in MP3 format and range in size from 30kb to 430kb. Please be patient while they download. We suggest that if you wish to listen to a clip, that you commence the download by clicking on the link, and then read the accompanying story or text while waiting for the download to occur. Copyright in all of these clips and pictures is held by www.PumaMouse.com . Please contact PumaMouse if you require assistance with any of the clips or pictures.

Springbok Radio - AM Opening with Danie Smuts on Tuesday 14 September 1982.

� 2004 PumaMouse.com All rights reserved. Contact www.pumamouse.com

The sound of an alarm clock has broken the peaceful sleep, and everyone is about to awaken in the bungalow. It is cold outside and we can feel the wind as it blows under the door. The sun has not even risen yet and we can hear the Corporal shouting in the distance. Someone puts his hand out from the warmth of the blanket which is draped over his bed at the far end of the bungalow and turns on the radio. It is Springbok Radio, and the presenter says it is 2 minutes past five. How we all wish the rank would just oversleep for five minutes this morning, and we could get a few more minutes rest. We are all exhausted from yesterday's training and could do with the day off, but there is no chance of that. We all surface in the next few minutes as we need to shower, shave and dress before rushing off for breakfast at 5.45AM. Not much time to get all this done, and then we have 30 minutes for breakfast before coming back to polish boots again, put pegs under the mattresses so the beds look level, and do a final sweep out of the bungalow. Then it's roll-call and inspection to commence a long day of hard training, drill, PT and night training...

Dagbreek Deuntjie.

"Hey, it's Saturday morning, why did the alarm clock go off ? *&~#*. " The radio is playing Dagbreek Deuntjies and we can hear it echoing faintly through the bungalow. Someone forgot to set the alarm for one hour later, so we have been woken an hour earlier than required. More complaints come from around the room as everyone starts to surface. The owner of the alarm clock gets offered a number of expletives which he ignores. "Paraat Piet" is off to the ablution block, while the rest of us crawl out of bed. Saturday morning inspection is going to happen a little later than usual, and the music filtering out of the radio does not help to lift the spirits at this time of the morning.

Radio SA - English Service AM Opening, 1977.

Sombre Sunday - now this is the day that we can lie in bed for an extra hour. Skip breakfast and head straight for Church at 8.00AM. The radio broadcaster pipes out "This is Radio South Africa ..." in military style. Wonder who changed the station. The formality of the tune sounds like the Officer Commanding phoned the radio station and demanded that they play this tune to spite us. Never fear we will demand that the station be changed as soon as we are all up and about ...

Once we are all awake there is no chance of falling asleep again, and we can now hear the birds outside on the trees. They seem so cheery in such a dreary place.

Springbok Radio - Afrikaans Jingle from 1977 to 1985.

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After Church we return to the bungalows as the rank head out of the base to enjoy their afternoon. We have the rest of the day to enjoy the base in peace and quiet. Nobody to shout orders or chase us around the base. It is now time to do washing. No washing machine or laundromat. It must be done with cold-water - by hand. Always the worst in Winter, with cracked hands. Ingrams must have made a fortune selling their products to our fellow troopies over the years. Let�s hope it does not rain later as there is the ironing to be done once the clothing is dry and it is always terrible trying to iron clothes dry. A queue exists at the wash troughs, and eventually the washing is finished. Amazing how heavy wet washing is when you have to walk all that way back to the bungalow. Let's hope no one tries to steal the washing off the line today.

Springbok Radio - Springbok Rendezvous with Esme Euvrard. Saturday afternoon 2.00PM to 5.00PM, December 1977.

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On Saturday and Sunday afternoons we often listen to Esme Euvrard on Springbok Radio. She has a programme dedicated to broadcasting messages to us troopies doing our National Service. Some of the troopies call her Tannie Esme. We hear on the radio that she also receives post addressing her as "Bosmoedertjie." Sounds like she has often visited the border. Perhaps it is not that bad up there ! We can all remember her having done this program for so many years now she is like family. The question is - Will there be a message for me this afternoon ?

English Service - Forces Favourites.

Walking back from the ablution block with the heavy load of wet washing, one can hear the Forces Favourites tune playing on a radio in the bungalow next to ours. This is another programme on the English Service dedicated to us troopies.

Springbok Radio - News Introductions.

During the next few days the news broadcasts are heard regularly as we spend more time in base preparing for tests, and on a few of the days we have heavy rain downpours. We are forced to remain indoors much to the chagrin of the rank. Hear news from the outside world, and have the opportunity to write letters to friends and family. Also speak to the family on the tickey-box near the Snoepie. Queues aren't too bad as many of the other companies have left for the border.

Radio SA - English Service. PM Closing with Rodney Trudgeon, 1986. Followed by the National Anthem.

 

Die Stem van Suid-Afrika deur C.J. Langenhoven

Uit die blou van onse hemel, uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes waar die kranse antwoord gee.
Deur ons v�r verlate vlaktes met die kreun van osewa.
Ruis die stem van ons geliefde, van ons land Suid-Afrika.
Ons sal antwoord op jou roepstem, ons sal offer wat jy vra:
Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe, ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika.

In die merg van ons gebeente, in ons hart en siel en gees,
In ons roem op ons verlede, in ons hoop op wat sal wees.
In ons wil en werk en wandel, van ons wieg tot aan ons graf.
Deel geen ander land ons liefde, trek geen ander trou ons aan.
Vaderland! ons sal die adel van jou naam met ere dra:
Waar en trou as Afrikaners - kinders van Suid-Afrika.

In die songloed van ons somer, in ons winternag se kou,
In die lente van ons liefde, in die lanfer van ons rou.
By die klink van huw'liks-klokies, by die kluit-klap op die kis.
Streel jou stem ons nooit verniet nie, weet jy waar jou kinders is.
Op jou roep seg ons nooit nee nie, seg ons altyd, altyd ja:
Om te lewe, om te sterwe - ja, ons kom, Suid-Afrika.

Op U Almag vas vertrouend het ons vadere gebou:
Skenk ook ons die krag, o Here! om te handhaaf en te hou.
Dat die erwe van ons vaad're vir ons kinders erwe bly:
Knegte van die Allerhoogste, teen die hele w�reld vry.
Soos ons vadere vertrou het, leer ook ons vertrou, o Heer:
Met ons land en met ons nasie sal dit wel wees, God regeer.

 


 

The Call of South Africa by C.J. Langenhoven

Ringing out from our blue heavens, From our deep seas breaking round;
Over everlasting mountains where the echoing crags resound;
From our plains where creaking wagons cut their trails into the earth -
Calls the spirit of our Country, Of the land that gave us birth.
At thy call we shall not falter, Firm and steadfast we shall stand.
At thy will to live or perish, O South Africa, dear land.

In our body and our spirit, For our inmost heart held fast;
For the promise of our future And the glory of our past;
For our will, our work, our striving, From the cradle to the grave-
There's no land that shares our loving, And no bond that can enslave.
Thou hast borne us and we know thee, May our deeds to all proclaim
Our enduring love and service To thy honor and thy name.

In the golden warmth of summer, In the chill of winter's air,
In the surging life of springtime, In the autumn of despair;
When the wedding bells are chiming, Or when those we love depart,
Thou dost know us for thy children And dost take us to thy heart.
Loudly peals the answering chorus; We are thine, and we shall stand,
Be it life or death, to answer To thy call, beloved land.

In thy power, Almighty, trusting, Did our fathers build of old;
Strengthen then, O Lord, their children To defend, to love, to hold-
That the heritage they gave us For our children yet may be;
Bondsmen only to the Highest And before the whole world free.
As our fathers trusted humbly, Teach us, Lord to trust Thee still;
Guard our land and guide our people In Thy way to do Thy will.

The words are imprinted in our minds. Even as English speakers we can sing the Afrikaans version better than the English one. We sing the National Anthem at Church and at parades. The words have such meaning for us, and reflect the hope and faith we have in our country ... It's late and we need to get some sleep. Tomorrow is the start of another week of marching, PT, night manoeuvres and training.

SABC - All Night Radio Service with Rocco Erasmus. Opening of Service.

A few nights later ... Coming in from night guard duty ... the radio has been left on. It appears that everyone in the bungalow was extremely tired last night - no one got up to put it off. Listen for a few minutes more, and head over to turn it off after the introductions are done. The resultant silence is not so silent - the snoring soldiers break the silence. Oh well, my turn to get to bed early tonight when it is their turn to be on night guard duty !

Radio Orion - 9.30PM Opening with Ben Theunissen, 1986.

A few nights later a few of us return from pass one night early - planes and busses are difficult to arrange. Get to bed early and lie in bed listened to the opening of the Orion night service. Mellow music puts one in slumberland pretty soon.

Radio Orion - Opening with Robin Alexander, 12.00AM Wednesday 24 August 1983.

Robin Alexander had the voice that could keep you listening to the broadcast until the start of the day service broadcasts. Stayed up late as we go on pass today until Sunday. Needed to finish polishing boots, etc. and get ready for Pass Parade ... If we are not neat enough our Pass could be cancelled. The last of us head off to bed ... must be up early this morning.

Radio Orion - Opening with Robin Alexander, 12.00AM Thursday 1 May 1986.

In base on the border - we tune the B25 radio to one of the SA frequencies and pick up Robin Alexander's voice. No May Day relaxation for us as it will be a normal working day consisting of guard duty, chicken parade, klaarstaan, and general base maintenance duties.


 

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

 � 2000 www.opsmedic.co.za All rights reserved

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder ("PTSD") occurs in many situations. It often also occurs in combat situations. It has been found that a common pattern of denial exists both from the perspective of the establishment, and from that of the veteran.

The following recollections and short stories reflect some of the events that occurred in the lives of our National Servicemen while doing their tour of duty. Please note that certain of the content may be psychologically disturbing for more sensitive persons. Please exercise discretion when considering reading the pages listed below. Many thanks go to all those who contributed material for this section.

1.     PTSD, Military Service, and the Veteran.

2.     PTSD - The Professional Perspective, by Dr Pam.

3.     "Rock-bottom", by Veteran C.

4.     "Night of the Revv", by Veteran S.

5.     "One Metre from Death", by Veteran S.

 

 

PTSD, Military Service, and the Veteran.

This section of the Opsmedic web site deals with a form of denial that many people live with on a day-to-day basis. In this section we will focus on a negative aspect of military service which can occur in any Military Force in the world. During National Service in the SA Defence Force each person will have coped with different events in a different manner, and here we aim to allow the participants, and non-participants of National Service, to learn from the experiences of those who progressed through "the system". We wish to show members of the Defence Forces that it is acceptable and normal to talk about what you may have gone through.

There should therefore be a mechanism whereby one can "release the pressure", and this then results in the person making sense of any prior events and thereby reaching closure. While, as with any war or military action, there are things that the human mind blocks out, this "blocking out" is never permanent and memories of these events can recur for long periods of time afterwards. In some cases they have recurred for periods of ten years, or even longer. In one way many members who did service in SWA/Namibia use a mental block of "they hated the border", and yet on a return there they find that the place has a natural beauty, and is very tranquil. It perhaps wasn't the place that they hated but some other stimuli.

Military service in the SA Defence Force required one to be a "Soldaat" (a Soldier) - the hidden meaning behind this title was that one had to be "a man and not a mouse". While a soldier may have had certain support systems available to him while he was part of the system, it must be highlighted that on leaving the system, he effectively became a Veteran. It is renowned the world over what problems have surfaced for veterans of any conflict. It is also common knowledge that many governments have after a period of conflict abandoned their responsibilities toward their veterans - this is definitely true despite loud protestations to the contrary.

For many former SA Defence Force servicemen it was an embarrassment to be referred to as being "bossies" (mad). To recognize that one may not be "bossies", but simply be suffering from PTSD, is in effect the first step to recovery. We aim with this site to cover certain symptoms of PTSD and will then comment on the specific symptom. These symptoms are not the equivalent of a daily horoscope in the newspaper where it is so general that ninety-nine percent of people can assume that it refers to them.

While this section of the site is designed from a historical perspective, its content is just as apt today in terms of the effects on the human psyche, whether the conscript is in the South African Defence Force, or any other Military Force in the world. We aim to encourage people to share their memories, and in this manner we hope to improve the lives of the many participants of any form of military action throughout the world.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder -

The Professional Perspective.

So what is a trauma these days?

How many times have you heard people say at a dinner, "thank goodness they only took her purse" or "he says he was affected badly by the army but that is history". Sadly while this may be true, it is no less traumatizing to be involved in a process beyond our control than it is to be involved in the current spate of serious and violent crime. Traumas and their associated pain are not comparable. Each person's experience of a trauma is different and is very real to them. In fact trauma can be defined as "an event that a person experiences, witnesses or is confronted with which happens outside the range of normal human experience". This means that an event can be traumatic even if you just hear about it. More often though trauma involves direct experience of physical and/or emotional injury and the threat or actuality of death. Rape, army experiences, hijacking, suicide, the perpetration of torture, armed robbery, assault, a car accident and natural disasters such as floods or fires are all considered to be traumatic.

What happens to you, your spouse or your friend after a trauma?

After a trauma the body and mind reacts with powerful feelings and thoughts. We become fearful, numb, angry, sometimes aggressive, jumpy, overly-alert, withdrawn and tearful. Our bodies may ache, we get head and neck pain, children may get stomach aches and may refuse to go to school. We get irritable with those we love most and generally we find it difficult to be around others and them around us. Adults and children alike may experience flashbacks and/or nightmares - even our sleep is disrupted. Our waking state is often disrupted too. We may not be able to concentrate or work at all. Our minds and bodies are in shock. These physical and emotional symptoms are experienced vividly and without abating. In books the collection of these symptoms are labelled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD. In day to day living it is unbearable and when left unattended can often result in depression.

How can trauma debriefing help?

Trained trauma debriefers offer individuals and families a safe opportunity to talk about their thoughts and feelings after the traumatising event. This is different to talking to friends and family as the debriefers are trained to work with the client in such a way that they are able to "purge" themselves of the event. Clients can talk freely about feelings of isolation, fearfulness, guilt or even the desire for revenge. Where possible, the debriefers will help clients to find meaning in the event and make sense of what has happened to them. With debriefing, clients are able to see that their feelings are normal and the situation abnormal. Talking to a trained debriefer really can help and usually only requires three or four sessions before marked changes are seen in the individual concerned.

Dr. Pam
Clinical Psychologist

 


 

"Rock-bottom".

I too am a veteran, from one of those "low-intensity" bush wars of the seventies. I think that I might have suffered, or perhaps am still suffering, from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Syndrome, I am not qualified in any medical or professional capacity to comment on the subject with any degree of validity - other than through my own experiences - and those of my closest comrades.

I have had my series of "rock-bottoms" and have flirted with the forces of darkness. Fifteen years after the end of "my war" the horrors came home to roost and exploded inside me. Inexorably, I'd been on the downward slide of self-pity and self-destruction - drinking heavily, feeding on my nightmares and mixing with low-life scum. It all climaxed in an orgy of sordid misery and I woke one day in an Intensive Care Unit, apparently having tried (not for the first time) to take my own life. I'd lost everything - my family, my business, my house, my car - my dignity. I had nothing, save a suitcase of clothes, the shell of a broken body and a dying spirit that was crammed with desolate hopelessness. Other than death, there was only one way to go - up. I chose life and the slow, painful process of healing and reintegration into society began.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, previously known as Shell Shock or Combat Fatigue, or worse - Lack of Moral Fibre, is only something that came to be a little more understood when the Vietnam veterans returned home to the USA to a welcome of vitriolic abuse, scorn and loathing. Where did these veterans turn ? Inwards to themselves and the subsequent plethora of veterans' associations that sprang up.

A generation later in Southern Africa, still suffering the aftermath of a series of grubby little conflicts, the walking wounded, both black and white, still suffer in silence, their scars unrecognized and misunderstood. I am one of the fortunate few, in that the simple act of writing down my experiences has proved immensely cathartic. I have no magical solutions to purge other people's demons - I'm too busy dealing with my own. But the plain act of communicating our pain to one another, somehow strangely, seems to bring a small measure of relief. Perhaps this is what is meant by telling "war stories". It may be the only way we know how to clumsily try and put the ghosts to rest - and at the same time be there for each other. We know, we understand, we care - a brotherly love so deep and bonding that it will last forever, that few can comprehend. In another more ordinary life I probably wouldn't have mixed with these people. We have come from different classes, different backgrounds - in fact many are straightforward idiots - but we still care for each other. Bizarre.

In the same way that only an alcoholic can truly understand, and therefore counsel, another alcoholic, as such can only a war veteran understand and counsel another war veteran - as primitive as that counseling may be. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other professional counsellors all have important roles to play, but unless they themselves have experienced the trauma of combat - or any other such trauma (rape, etc.) - they will never in a million years identify with the sufferer. Guide, advise, comfort, sympathize - yes. But identify ? No.

Like alcoholism, PTSD if allowed to go unchecked, will but fester and eat away at the core of a man's soul, ultimately devouring from inside. It is a condition that does not go away. It does not heal with time - it gets worse. The only way to deal with the past is to confront it - head on. Hiding it away buries it from the world, but does not hide it from a man's psyche.

Like many before me I tried to escape from my nightmares and bury them in various substances, notably alcohol. When I got sober a few years ago, the nightmares began to dissolve - the pain was still there, but not the screaming white-knuckle terror of reliving the slaughter. I thought I had it beat. Trying to intellectualize the whole sordid history, I rationalized that perhaps the alcoholism had caused the PTSD - or was it the other way round? I became so entangled in my own psychoanalysis, and my own all-encompassing self-pity, that I lost the plot. I tried to out-psyche what gratitude I should have had. I ignored the living and dying examples of my comrades who were slowly but surely killing themselves - quietly and unnoticed. I found I could no longer do it on my own. I embraced what little humanity was left inside me and for the first time in my existence I surrendered my will and my life over to a power greater than myself.

The memories of the slaughter shall always be with me, but they no longer haunt me.

I cannot change the past. I am slowly learning to live in the present - not in the past, nor in the future, but for the now. That is what is real, and it's a case of "one day at a time".

Veteran C.


 

Night of the Revv.

Oshigambo, 0622H00BJune87

The Date: Saturday, 6 June 1987
The Time: 10.00PM
The Place: Oshigambo Base, Owamboland, South West Africa/Namibia

Oshigambo was one of the outer bases of 53 BN (Ondangwa). It was located North-East of Ondangwa, although still within proximity of the main centre.

It had been one of those particularly boring weeks, and this was no exception as another Saturday night where the Officers and NCOs were spending the evening in the Bar. One could hear the noise right from the bunker where we were standing guard. Yes, we were to spend another evening scanning the horizon for any movement that could imply enemy movement - although movement usually ended up being some local PB's donkey ambling through the veld to its home.

I spent this evening contemplating what my family back home was doing. It was my brother's 18th birthday today, and here I was thousands of kilometres away in some backwater. There was always the thought of why, why, why. The locals seemed friendly enough, so why did we have to come here to protect them, and from what? Their own people? Perhaps time would provide the answer.

Boredom on guard duty would always set in at about 10.00PM when things got quiet in the base. The worst shifts were from Midnight to 2.00AM or 2.00AM to 4.00AM. At least if you got the shift before 10.00PM you could get some sleep, or the 4.00AM to 6.00AM shift provided you with the opportunity to go out of the base for the morning Minesweep. Away from routines, rank, and cleaning the base.

Most evenings there was nothing to do in base, except write letters, and how many letters can you write in a day to the same person uttering the words : "The sun shone today [it always did], we had great fun [sure], and we did ... [Censored, Censored, etc.]" As the months passed by we learnt to say the same thing in many different ways, after all the SADF required you to write to your family regularly - so your family knew you were OK. Guard duty was usually passed talking to your colleague. Or you would walk up and down and count your steps between two points. It's amazing how many steps and patterns you could create in a square metre of soft white Owambo sand. This particular Saturday evening saw many of the sections out on patrol, so the base was pretty empty when it came to troops, but the senior ranks made up for this in any case.

My colleague and I arrived early for the 10.00PM shift and the other guards left immediately. We checked the radio comms., and settled in to start the shift. By this time the base was getting quieter. We thought it unusual that the rank was going to bed so early. Their loud mouths could not be heard so much from the bar anymore. This was usually a good thing as it meant that they had had enough to drink [meaning they were probably drunk], and would not bother us tonight as they would sleep well. In deference to the rank though, they were not the kind of group that one could be friends with and for many they enjoyed the opportunity to mess the troops around. This probably resulted as much from the same boredom that we experienced. But then as troops we could only drink two beers per day to drown our worries and boredom, whereas the rank had unlimited resources both in terms of liquor and finances. Luckily for us the boredom was about to end permanently, as we would be returning to SA before the end of June when we would be finishing our two years National Service. Civvie Street, here we come. But first, guard duty.

One thing about being a conscript is that despite all the training for military action, both in SA and at Oshivelo, nothing could prepare you for that first contact with enemy action. You aren't too sure what is going on and are a little bewildered at first.

Doof ! Doof !, followed by: Boom ! Boom !

The earth literally moved around us. My colleague and I wandered what it was, then both muttered: "Damn rank, they're drunk, and are throwing Thunderflashes around the base." This was a not-unknown ploy performed by the rank to inconvenience everyone, and to get the troops into Klaarstaan positions. Trust me, if you were asleep in bed and the rank pulled this trick you wouldn't be in a good mood either. Luckily for my colleague and I we were already in a bunker as we were on guard duty. We would simply continue to remain there.

Doof ! Doof !, Boom ! Boom !
Doof ! Doof ! , Boom ! Boom !
Doof ! Doof ! , Boom ! Boom !
Doof ! Doof ! , Boom ! Boom !

Suddenly it dawned on us this is no Thunderflash session. There are people running for the walls. More and more explosions are now occurring around us. Simultaneously to us starting to fire out to any enemy position, it becomes like thunder around us as all the corner bunkers start shooting at anything outside of the base. We start shooting with the LMG, and for a medic and a clerk we seem to get the hang of it pretty quickly. Ears just go numb with the feeling of humming from the loud noise occurring around us. We can't see much out in the darkness, but systematically mow the lawn - anything that's a potential target is aimed for, and shot at. Belt after belt is fed into the LMG and fired. We aren't sure how long the shooting continues as the entire base is caught up in the momentum of its first contact. Before we know it we have the Guard Commander next to us, shouting: "Hulle revv die basis. Waar vuur julle. Reg." We continued firing for a while longer, and it wasn't long before he was back. A sudden scream from the Guard Commander: ''Julle gaan die loop buig, kyk hoe rooi is die LMG se loop." Well what did we know. After all a medic and a clerk aren't your typical Skietpiete. Sudden instructions are given to us to shoot with our R4 rifles until the LMG has cooled down. So we switched to these and started mowing the lawn again [what little lawn there was in the Owambo bush around Oshigambo]. A while later he was back with the instruction: "Staak vuur."

We were now as hyped as any other troop in the base. and didn't at that point realise what danger we had been in, or what havoc had occurred inside the base. Instructions came around: "Alle troepe bly op julle poste. Ons stuur vir julle koffie." We then started to hear that we had been under mortar attack. We were still unsure as to whether the base's defensive bombing had achieved any enemy casualties.

At this point it started to sink into our minds, as to the full effect of the events that had occurred. We had had someone shooting at us, someone trying to kill us. It was an extremely tense time as we realised that there was a risk that the person, or persons, could mount a second attack. There were still enough hours to do this and to reach the Angolan border before sunrise. Thoughts crossed our minds: "What would we do if they came within range of small arms fire". They had mortar-bombed the base from a "safe" distance so we heard later that mowing the lawn had not actually even helped. At this time of the evening the atmosphere was now so electric in the base that we remained on guard for a considerable period after midnight. In fact most ended up sleeping in the trenches and bunkers that night.

We started praying for Koevoet to arrive on the scene, because it was known that they would solve any problem. Koevoet was not as "soft" as the SADF, and they would chase a spoor at night if they had to. Our minds started to play tricks on us in the ensuing silence that covered the base. It was eerie, the silence, waiting for another possible attack. Listening to base comms made us realise that some of our friends had been hit in the attack. We waited for any news to come in as to their condition. Thankfully the Doc and his Medics were in the sickbay to tend to the injured, as we were not to leave our posts. Later we heard that Ondangwa Air Force Base could not send out the choppers to collect the injured because of enemy in the territory; still later we heard the choppers were then coming. Eventually the choppers arrived and our injured friends were casevaced to Ondangwa.

We heard the next morning that we had not had any own forces deaths, thankfully, but some of our friends were quite badly injured. This event was a sobering experience as to what people will do to each other.

I still relive that night in my mind and graphically travel back there in my mind regularly when I think of what I discovered the next day...

Veteran S.

One Metre from Death.

Oshigambo, 0708H00BJune87

The Date: Sunday, 7 June 1987
The Time: 08.00AM
The Place: Oshigambo Base, Owamboland, South West Africa/Namibia

The next day brought with it an even more chilling experience for me personally ...

As with any military force the SADF was very strict about cleaning your rifle or firearm on a daily basis. Once used to fire ammunition, it was even more strict on the matter of performing rifle inspections. Needless to say during Basics we had learnt that it was wise to clean your rifle immediately after using it otherwise the carbon would be much more difficult to remove.

The next morning we all started cleaning our weapons. Normal procedure was to strip it down to component form, and then to clean it entirely. As I started to strip my rifle my hand touched the bottom part of the bipod and I felt a rather strange kind of mark on the rifle's bipod.

For the uninitiated, the SADF regarded your rifle as your wife; you took it to the shower, to the toilet, to dinner, and you slept with it. Leave it laying around and you would get charged, or at least spend a couple of hours enduring some form of punishment for leaving your wife alone. From experience, it was normal to know if your rifle had any dents or paint scratch marks on it.

As a touched the bipod, I looked down to discover there was a deep etch mark on the one side of the bipod. It suddenly felt like "someone had walked over my grave". R4 rifles are manufactured from very strong metal compounds, and there is very little that can etch a deep groove into the bipod of such a rifle. I was stunned, as this could only have happened last night when the base was revved. To think that my rifle had been within one metre of my body at all times during the mortar attack on the base. This discovery frightened me more than anything I had experienced during my National Service to date; and to think that a piece of shrapnel had actually hit my rifle without my even realizing it.

I still have a picture of the mark etched into the bipod. It constantly reminds me of the chance I was given that day when the piece of shrapnel hit my rifle, and not me.

Veteran S.

 

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