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If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

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If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

Only Registered Users of War In Angola that have subscribed to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP will have access to their own WarBlogs. For more information on the Premium Membership, click here...

 

 

 

 

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Author: The Ancient Armourer Created: 2011/01/15 02:58 AM RssIcon
Stories, information and photos relating to my personal experiences in the War In Angola.
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/05/11 08:51 PM
The terms opfok and rondfok were fundamental concepts in the SADF. In the classic definition, an opfok was simply a session of punishment exercise, whereas in a rondfok the emphasis was on the psychological effect. Sometimes it was very hard to tell the difference, sometimes there wasn’t that much difference, and sometimes the two were concurrent. Both were part of a strategy to toughen us up. And it worked; let there be no doubt about that. One of the remarkable aspects of SADF soldiers was their ability to function under high levels of stress, of how relatively few actually cracked up, modern discussions on the topic of PTSD notwithstanding.The PT we received during opfoks and rondfoks was, with retrospect, just part of our Basic training programme. But given in the form of “punishment”, it had all kinds of extra psychological advantages for our instructors, such as promoting vasbyt and samewerking. We didn’t realise this at the time, of course. Opfoks were pretty effective in getting us to put pressure on fellow...
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/05/11 08:14 PM
On our first Saturday morning at 5SAI Ladysmith, after the “disaster” of First Inspection the night before, there is no pack-out inspection, but the bungalow is expected to be tidy and clean, our beds perfectly made, uniforms perfectly ironed, boots perfectly polished, shaves as smooth as a baby’s bottom. Somehow, miraculously, we get through this simple inspection without incident. Perhaps an oppie is not on the cards for this morning.Then we line up outside the QM store, where we are at last to be issued with our rifles. This is a moment of tremendous excitement for us. We have already been told all about the R1: the SADF’s first modern infantry rifle, a piece of precision equipment, the power of its 7,62 calibre and so on. Everything about the R1 is superlative. They have seen to it that we 18-year-olds have become thoroughly worked up about it. We can hardly wait to take into our hands the weapon that will be our constant companion during our diensplig and beyond, without which we can scarcely even call ourselves...
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/04/07 04:55 PM
The shooting range was such an ordinary part of an SADF soldier’s life that few fellows, if any, bother to discuss it in their books. Even at the height of the Bush War, the great majority of soldiers never got to shoot at the enemy. The only time they shot was on the shooting range. Since this is not a Border War blog, where much more exciting things occur, I may as well describe the shooting range in more detail here. The information given here will focus on the procedure and terminology on the range. I have described Boshoek in Ladysmith in another place, so I will focus on Schurweberg, just outside Voortrekkerhoogte, here. Bar the transport arrangements, the actual shooting procedure was very much the same, wherever you were in the SADF.Shooting was usually a whole day affair. It included the usual quota of PT and opfoks, of course. After breakfast, you stood kit inspection in browns with staaldak, webbing en geweer, though in fact you took your bush hat with and wore it on the range. The tiffies checked your...
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/04/07 04:25 PM
Few guys have much to say about guard duty, because it didn’t vary that much from place to place in the SADF. As with shooting, everybody had to do it, though unlike shooting nobody enjoyed doing it, especially in winter. It is neither a good thing nor a bad thing – just something that has to be done in any army.Whether you were G1 or G4, if you were not exempt from shooting, you stood guard duty at the Depot, though G4s received priority as hekwag (opening and closing the gate for vehicles and pedestrians), lucky sods! Across the road from Tekbasis, inside the perimeter of the Military Medical Institute (MMI), was a small building housing the Army’s mainframe computer. G4s who were exempt from shooting did guard duty there, two at a time, behind a thick glass window. All they had to do was check the IDs of incoming personnel against a list of about fifteen authorized officers from 2nd Lt to Colonel. These were then buzzed in through the heavy security gate, their comings and goings being logged in the Diensboek....
By Phillip Vietri on 2013/02/19 08:56 PM
I can’t say that many guys were particularly committed to the political lectures we received at 5SAI during the early 70s. Propaganda eventually palls, and if the person delivering it is not convincing, it often has no effect at all. There were a few real gems, such as our Captain’s description of us as noble soldiers, not "members of the grey, bespeckled civilian mass.” Unfortunately for him, that is exactly what most of us wanted to be! We were doing our National Service, and a substantial percentage of us were quite willing to be there doing it. We wanted have the experience of being soldiers, and we wanted to serve our country. But few of us saw it as our future...
By Phillip Vietri on 2011/01/22 11:55 PM
The exact terminology of the Seventies I no longer remember, but the Infantry Basics was effectively about three months long. The first six weeks of this I have described in Part One. The next six weeks passed relatively quickly and uneventfully, except for the time my wax ear-plug popped just as I fired. I ascribe the tinnitus from which I suffer today to that single shot. Ironic, isn’t it; they wanted to G5 me because of the right eye, and yet it was with a damaged right ear that I came away, my vision intact. The hardest for me during this second period was Buddy PT, especially skaapdra, which isn’t really saying much for most guys. But it all did come to an end.                 I had survived the G1 training. Just. But I had survived. I was fitter and healthier than I had ever been, feeling really good. And my Afrikaans was already beautifully fluent. It was clear that I would never be great infanteris, that my left-eyed shooting was probably more of a danger to the SADF than it would ever be to the enemy....
By Phillip Vietri on 2011/01/18 01:59 AM
This is a blog, not a scholarly paper. I hope that its title is not too misleading. I have written a narrative, rather than a “balanced” article of pros and cons leading to an academic conclusion. But as an Italian South African who grew to maturity between the mid-fifties and the mid-Seventies, my experience of the English-Afrikaans thing has been so markedly different from that of many others that I feel compelled to offer mine as a corrective view. I haven’t a drop of either’s blood in my veins, and therefore no prior allegiance to either group. What I have done, is simply to tell the story of my relationship with both.

But first, I must declare an interest. I regard myself today as an Afrikaans-speaking South African. I made the transition during the course of my army days, as a direct consequence of my personal experiences. I was once told that I am “very pro-Afrikaans”, as though there is something wrong with this. The underlying presumption is that to be “pro-English” is to be objective, whereas...
By Phillip Vietri on 2011/01/18 01:27 AM
Why am I writing this in the first place?

I’m not quite sure why I’m writing this blog. Many of those who have real Angola War experiences to share were involved, right at the Border, during those tumultuous years. My little story is comparatively tame and uninteresting. Operation Savannah happened in the month in which I cleared out, and I did no camps, so that my experience remains in something of a time-warp. My story is full of stops and starts, embarrassing narratives and generally nothing much. What I can tell you is what it was like for a physical weakling to do the full G1K1 SADF training; how even a militarily useless individual can achieve something, somewhere in the army; what SADF life was like during the mid-70s. In short, I can perhaps tell you something about those early years, before our first unofficial official crossing of the Border; and perhaps add to the human legacy of those years. Savannah didn’t happen in a vacuum, and this story will fill in something of what led up to it, and...
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Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
Very interesting read. I was also a Durban 1973 intake ( may 1973 to 4 SAI ) My experience of the whole 'boertjie - soutie ' thing was a little different. Right in the beginning there was a bit of " Wat kyk jy jou blerrie Engelsman" / " What's your problem clutchplate / dutchman" but I would say that by halfway through basic that had gone almost completely. The platoon I was in after basic was probably 70 % English 30 % Afrikaans but in reality there was no distinction at all among us. Our platoon had an Afrikaans lieutenant , the other two platoons in the company had English speaking lieutenants . There was not a man in either of those two platoons who would not have jumped at the chance to join our platoon. It sounds like a stupid war cliche but we really would have followed that man into hell and back. We loved that man and would have done anything he asked. He never shouted at us to do anything . Only ever asked and it was done. Just before we went to the border we lost him. He had to go home on compassionate leave and he never rejoined us. We all felt like we had lost a father. And here is the thing. He was also just a DP like us who started off the year before us and naturally being degreed was older than most of us. Anyway that was my experience. One other little thing. You mentioned that they were not allowed to hit you ?. No-one told the PTI's or PF instructors that at 4 SAL lol . I had the shit kicked out of me on the shooting range so hard I fell beneath the 'skietpunt'. When I clambered back the staff sgt inquired in a faux concerned way ' Het meneer seer gekry ?. Will meneer n klagte afle ?. Moet ek vir meneer n vormpie gaan haal. ??. I just managed to stammer 'Nee staff' to all three questions. I had stood up and turned around after getting a stoppage and got the man's point. Anyway this is your blog not mine. Thanks for your blog.
By john jones on: 06 August 2018
Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics
Have got new info - NATO actions perhaps suspicious, but Russia also has a problem. Need more intel on Russia before helping it. BRICS and Zuma, Rusatom nuclear power (poor whites will pay again), Russian war veterans on the Freedom Park memorial etc. Very complicated topic, with lots of "fake" news.
By German volunteer on: 27 October 2017
Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics
I don't comment much, have enough personal challenges to deal with.

An old Afrikaans proverb: Vra is vry, en die weier daarby/It costs nothing to ask, including the refusal.

I have always wondered...

Is there no way how the old SADF highly experienced officers, that is, those that still are alive (they are heavily chopping in our part of the woods nowadays), can somehow assist in defusing the situation with Nato/USA encroaching on Russias borders? It is just not right what is busy happening there right now.
By German volunteer on: 08 May 2017
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
Thanks, Ian. I was not always as positive, especially in the beginning when I was a sissy and a weakling. But in the end it was worth it, though. Buddies and vasbyt did the trick. I think that pig-headedness and vanity also played a role. Does it matter? I think not, since the upshot was to make me a proud soldier. Thanks again.
By The Ancient Armourer on: 15 May 2016
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
I had a bad attitude going into the Army.Basics at Walvis Bay,the voortrekkerhoogte for Dog Handling then of Lenasia 95 ammo depot.I finished and ended up going to the border twice.We were blown up in a mine at yati strip.Now,looking back I wish that I had met you with that good attitude.I am proud to have served my country.I was rifleman I.D.Chalmers 73420325.I ended up getting one stripe. The border was an experience that most young men should have.
By ian(Duncan) on: 14 May 2016
re:
I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.


edupdf.org
By edupdf.org on: 07 April 2016
Re: The English-Afrikaans thing in the SADF - another view
Mr./Mrs. Ufgob Org,

got your point, now bugger off, you spam robot.

Than Kyou.
By German volunteer on: 18 February 2016
re:
Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful.


ufgop.org
ufgop.org
By ufgop.org on: 14 January 2016
Re: On the Shooting Range
Thank you for putting an effort to published this article. You've done a great job! Good bless!Yong
By Cindy on: 19 November 2015
re:
Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful.
By ufgop.org on: 19 November 2015
Re: On the Shooting Range
I understand that every person has the passion in any aspects or things. If you love something and it came in front of you it completes your day and your mood turns into something you won't expected. I love your work and I want to read more about it.
By hanna on: 19 November 2015
Re: Guard Duty at 81TSD
Thank you for this post. Keep it up. Hope to read more post from you guys.Wendy
By Cindy on: 19 November 2015
re:
Love it! Very interesting topics, I hope the incoming comments and suggestion are equally positive. Thank you for sharing this information that is actually helpful.


ufgop.org
ufgop.org
By ufgop.org on: 24 October 2015
Re: The English-Afrikaans thing in the SADF - another view
"Perhaps the change in the country these past 20 years has caused us to look at each other with new eyes." Thats a fact. And we have matured, moved on. We now are the "old toppies" and tend to look less emotionally at some of yesterdays important questions.

And keep on blogging, it makes one feel young again!
By German volunteer on: 13 October 2015
Re: The English-Afrikaans thing in the SADF - another view
Thanks for all the contributions here, which have made for interesting and enriching reading. As most have noticed, I have never made a sweeping condemnation of English-speakers, just expressed my experience (as a corrective) at the hands of those I knew in Natal. We all have different experiences. The SADF was, for most of us, a leveller, myself included. When I moved to Bloemfontein recently, I was very pleasantly surprised by the level of bilinguality amongst both English and Afrikaans home-language speakers. This is, perhaps, in itself a lesson. Except for the odd, tiny bigoted pockets of both language groups, some of which are confessional in origin, it seems to me that in so many ways, by 2015 we have all grown out of the prejudices of former years. Perhaps the change in the country these past 20 years has caused us to look at each other with new eyes.
By The Ancient Armourer on: 10 October 2015