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May 11

Written by: The Ancient Armourer
2013/05/11 08:51 PM  RssIcon

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 troepies who weren’t shaping up: outjs who were lazy about inspection, whose hygiene or shaving wasn’t up to scratch, who slacked off during PT or drill, who were insolent and too challenging of authority.
Think of it; the Corporal or Lieuty fucks you all around, but in the process gets you to take it out on the gyppo-ers in your squad! In schools, collective punishment is often ineffective (except caning, of course). In Basics, where they had you 24 hours per day under total control and extreme physical duress, it worked like the proverbial bomb. You can only take so much physical punishment before turning on the guy whom you perceive as the root cause of it all and giving him a solid dose of peer justice. You did the Corporal or Lieuty’s dirty work for him, and willingly.
During Basics, your world really did become very small, so that the biggest priority in your life could be getting through that Friday inspection to “earn” your week-end pass. And perks such as extra week-end passes for best Friday inspection were a massive incentive that you took very seriously – it meant that you went on pass for three successive week-ends! So if one fellow was going to mess it up for everyone else…oh yes, it worked – like a lay-down grand slam in no trumps! This was especially the case when they made everyone in the bungalow except the guilty party do the opfok. They were so very clever about it!
Inspections were a favourite scenario from which opfoks originated. In those days, you were not allowed to prepare your inspection the night before and then sleep on the floor – excepting O.C.’s inspection, of course, when they were suddenly on your side. A troep had to have a “good night's sleep”(!) In our bungalow, only Jaarsie was allowed to sleep on a spare mattress on the floor, since he was too tall to sleep on his bed. Our instructors would come around in packs at 02:00 or 03:00 to check on us. If even one of us was not sleeping on his bed, it was an on-the-spot opfok for us all, up and down the street outside the bungalows pour encourager les autres. This was usually followed by the wet towel treatment for the offender, one hou from each of the others. Some nights, we heard the unlucky outjs from some other bungalow thundering up and down the road. After such an opfok, we still had to get up at 04:45 for PT, of course! Even poor Jaarsie, who was allowed to sleep on the floor, had to take part in these nocturnal opfoks.
Once, in the early days, one of the fellows was caught with his yellow polishing cloth in his hands when the “Aandag!” was given. He quickly hid it in one of the boots on his shelf, despite our protests. The Corporal found it. Opfok. One Friday morning Captain B, inspecting with our lieuty, was not happy with my shave. Massive opfok, after which the other guys, including my 7 buddies, gave it to me in spades. I never felt or witnessed the soap-in-towel routine as seen in Full Metal Jacket, thank goodness, though a wet towel could be eina enough!
As many already existing SADF accounts have told, there was no such thing as a perfect inspection. They could always find something if they wanted to. Most forms of SADF inspection had a nutria towel across the foot of the bed, on which one’s eating tools were displayed. Varkpan with white melamine cup and small stainless steel spoegbak fitting into its circular depressions, pikstel utensils laid out separately; all these were the particular targets of those dreaded words “Vieslik fokken vuil!” though anything would do if an opfok was on the cards. And if you didn’t get an immediate opfok, then one of the favourite rondfoks was repeated inspections every half hour – followed by an opfok anyway. You just couldn’t win unless they decided to let you. In the end, you accepted “bad” inspections philosophically and laughed about them. After a time, you were fit enough so that opfoks ceased to matter that much. Later, as an NCO oneself, one was to do exactly the same. By which point, of course, the logic of the thing had become apparent.
There are a host of other rondfoks associated with inspections, such as slange in the bed – creases in the blanket caused by one’s under-sheet or pisvel not being completely smooth. One had to trampoline on one’s bed and “Maak die slange dood!” Browns trousers had to be ironed to knife-sharp precision. When one inadvertently (or inexpertly) ironed parallel creases into them, they were referred to as treinspore. The preferred army way of dealing with this was to stitch gyppo-nate into one’s trousers – tiny hems where the creases would be. This made ironing a relatively simple affair, and kept the Corporals happy. These, and a myriad of others, formed part of the venerable tradition of army inspections. No one conscript experienced them all, and some were the traditions of specific units.
Then there are the well-known SADF perennials like “Sien julle daardie boom?” from which you would have to run and fetch a leaf and return within an impossibly short time. The rondfok part went something like this:
“Nee, nie daardie boom nie, die ander in die verte.”
“Jammer, manne, verkeerde blaar. Gaan weer!”
“Is julle moeg?” “Ja, Korporaal.” “Dan’s julle nie fiks nie. Gaan nog ’n keer!”
“Is julle moeg? “Nee, Korporaal.” “Dan het julle meer oefening nodig. Weg’s julle!” And so on. The duration of the rondfok was apparently limited only by the creativity of the instructor. I never counted, but I suspect that there was a voorafbepaalde number of times that one had to run. This particular rondfok was more common during later training, when we were fit and they, bored!
Chicken parade was another favourite. One formed a close line and crossed, say, the parade ground, slowly, picking up cigarette butts and litter. After you were done, the Corporal would “inspect” the Parade-ground and “find” a stompie we had “missed”. Result: an opfok, followed by another chicken parade.
Then there was Posparade, with “Sak vir vyftig” for pink envelopes or letters deemed “scented” or “feminine”. Do you think the girls in our lives would listen to our pleas, and stop the pretty pink letters with flowers and scent? Some guys actually enjoyed this particular one, for the visible cachet of receiving letters from women. But when one had done 150 or 200 push-ups, even the studs lost a lot of their main ou houding.
One rondfok beloved of the Corporals in Ladysmith was ruimtevaarder. I do not know whether it was practiced anywhere else. When one of the fellows messed up badly at an inspection, he had to spend 24 hours without his feet touching the floor. We all had to carry him. Whether at meals, lectures, in the showers and in the toilets, where one of you had to crouch or lie down and put your hands under his feet. It doesn’t sound like much, but for both the spaceman and his “bemanning” it becomes really wearisome after a while, because on top of this, you still have to do all your own Basics stuff. I think we all preferred an opfok – at least you got it over much quicker!
And then, every now and then they could not stop us from hitting the jackpot. For me, as it happened, this was also the great turning point of Basic training. I quote from Chapter 7:
During our third week of basics, Rooibaard got married, and some of us rofies played for his wedding reception. Half-way through, in the dry SADF of 1973, we were told to take a break and go round to the back of the NCO’s mess. There was the RSM, Sammajoor Badenhorst himself, with an icy Castle Lager for each of us. And he saw to it that we each got two more later. But after we had downed the third, it was “Sorg dat julle manne onmiddellik in die bed kom! As ek julle dronk binne die kamp vind, gaan ek vir julle die opfok van jul lewens on-the-spot gee!” Then he turned on his heel and was gone, leaving us little guys, fewer than three weeks in the Army, gaping. We scattered, and holled back to our bungalows!
The guys refused to believe the story of the beers, and actually sniffed my breath to make sure I was telling the truth. Castle Lager was correctly identified as the brand consumed. There was much envy expressed, as well as some salacious speculation about the wedding night. A good time was had by all. See how jaded we had already become just three weeks into Basics?
It was too good to last, of course. Next morning at PT, I was deemed to be “slow due to excessive consumption of alcohol”, and given, of course, my own personal opfok at the end. Vasbyt, manne. Dis mos die fokken army, dié.

20 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Haha - very funny on hindsight.

I remember one time when we had to do a first-aid test. We received a stack of reading material, study on or own time (op jou eie tyd gaan aan). We then got quite a lenthy monkeypuzzle exam, and guess what, yours truly and quite a few others managed to fail the exams. So that was an excuse for one hell of a opvok. No weekend pass, tree aan manne (assemble, you men) one morning very early in the morning, with staaldak (steel helmet) webbing and geweer (rifle), and full-kit steel trunk. Phase one was running around for quite some time with this steeltrunk on ones back. Phase two was rolling downhill/uphill/downhill/uphill until kingdom come. That was all a warming up session for Phase three.

Phase three was going to the koei kamp (cow camp), behind the 1 SSB bungalows and before a shooting range wall (where we shot with a point 22 rifle mounted on the noddy cars 90 mm gun for budget reasons at a target at the wall).

Each of us had to bring along a fire bucket, and a tyre, fun and games were about to begin. the firebuckets were aranged in a circle like the courts of a baseball game. Home run was a water tap. So the fire buckets were filled up to the brim with water. And the whistle blew, and we had to start running with the tyre, all in a circle, from firebucket to firebucket. When the whistle blew again, each of us had to stand next to a firebucket, and had to empty (drink) it halfway. Then the whistle blew again and we had to run, and roll, and run, and roll. Whistle blew, empty the remainder and fill 'er up again to the top, and away you go on the merry-go-round. Run-puke-drink, run-puke-drink, the same refrain went on and on for about an hour and a half. And then we were dismissed. End of story.

The only exaggeration to this story was that I cannot remember if phase one and two preceded phase three, that might have been another joyfull occasion.

People that ran to daddy, complaining they could not handle the army anymore, and daddy ran to his privat lawyer? Nah, chicken shit. Back then I weighted 65 kg's and am a shorty (thats why we were allocated to the panzers), not the normal oversized blue bull size Afrikaner, and I made it, so could others.

By German volunteer on   2013/09/17 09:56 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

How true is this? Oldest SADF contractor (ex parabat staff seargeant) in Afghanistan claims he was the person that started the tradition of the annual rumble between the panzers and the bats. Highly interesting:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3k_YtSNenMs

By German volunteer on   2013/12/25 10:42 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

The one part that jars with me is the idea of a panzer TROEP pissing on the boots of a para STAFF. If they were both troepe, the story would ring completely true. I don't know enough about the paras, but would the oom have been wearing his jumpers in such an ordinary, everyday situation? The rest sounds authentic enough, and the he could well have been in the paras. He's got the attitude all right.

By The Ancient Armourer on   2013/12/26 08:10 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Troops can get out of hand at times... like when my troops decided to take on the RSM (yes.. the RSM of the 61 Mech Bn Gp!!) when told to stop drinking on his 21st birthday and go sleep.... This led to a massive clash between gunners and bats that went on virtually all through the night! This was just before Op Daisy... Just read my account of "The Piksteel Lieut" on my own blog on here...

By Johan Schoeman on   2014/01/05 03:46 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Phillip Vietri's blogs are so realistic, they have brought back a flood of memories.
Life at was hard at time, some times unbearable, specifically our officers course at Voortrekkerhoogte. "Opfok" at Elandsfontein bush camp, who could forget Kakhuis Kloof & Saamwerk Koppie ! Then then Paal PT with the PTI's on Gypsy Hill. I also recall sitting in the heat and dust, doing "kaartlees and veldkus, finding it quite interesting, yet thinking when would we ever be required to use it. Little did I know that in less than a year, I would find myself responsible for a convoy during Ops Savanha, in Angola. All those memories are priceless !

By Rocky Marsicano on   2014/01/18 08:36 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Thanks, Rocky; your perception is really appreciated. It's the intensity of feeling that made me write all this down in the first place. Some of the hard times I still feel today. But the totality of it all, and the end product, I have never regretted. I went in a frightened little boy, and, if you will excuse the overworked cliche, came out a strong young man. Without 2 years in the SADF, it would never have happened.

By The Ancient Armourer on   2014/01/18 08:53 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Hallo from Moscow, Philip!

Thank you so much for your great story. One thing attracted my attention. You wrote:

Later, as an NCO oneself, one was to do exactly the same. By which point, of course, the logic of the thing had become apparent.

Could you please explain why? It is not apparent to me, unfortunately.

As a matter of fact, I’d want to learn this to understand how SAW worked on the other side of the front during the Bush War.

Other contributors explanations will also be very welcome.

Thank you so much in advance.

Evgeny

By Evgeny Artemov on   2014/03/25 12:23 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Sure, Yevgeny. We had to do a certain amount of physical exercise. Most of this was given simply in the form of PT, etc., on the programme. Then there was punishment PT. This was given for "bad" inspections, etc. It was called an opfok (Afrikaans), because they "fucked you up" during a session of it.

As new recruits, we believed it to be extra physical punishments. As a result, when a fellow recruit messed up and caused you such a punishment, you might punish him yourself, for example, by lashing him with a wet towel - one hit each by the guys who had suffered the opfok. Later, we realised that we were going to get the PT anyway - only the instructors used it cleverly. They would make sure that someone who needed disciplining was blamed for the opfok - accusing him of dust on his bed, bad shave, badly polished boots, badly ironed trousers, etc. When we disciplined the person later, we were doing his dirty work for him without realising it - until much later in our training.

As an NCO, I and the other NCOs used the same trick to deal with troublesome soldiers. Sometimes we would make everyone except the troublemaker suffer the opfok. But it was in the end a constructive activity - the troublemakers were sorted out by their peers, and we all got fitter.

By The Ancient Armourer on   2014/03/25 06:42 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

O. Baie dankie, Phillip. :-) Ek sien dit nou. Ek het eintlik gedink dat die opset (die logika) van julle NCO’s se sadisties “you’re-in-the-army-now”-behandeling was om julle die troepe af te rig om ALLE bevele (selfs oënskynlik stupid, maar veral dodelik gevaarlike selfs hopelose) DADELIK, indien nie outomaties nie, uit te voer — soos die Amerikaanse seesoldate afgerig word. ’n USMC sersant kan die troepe beveel om een stewel uit te trek en net in een stewel aan te hardloop. As jy daarvoor lag, kry jy ’n opfok.
(’n Russiese grap: “’n Bepaling in die Israeli weermagregulasies: “Terwyl ’n ondergeskikte die bevelvoerder se bevel met die laasgenoemde bespreek, is dit is streng verbode om die laasgenoemde by sy uniformknoop te vat”.)

Ons het niks daarvan hier nie. Ek bedoel die logika. Ons het iets slegters: hazing. Dis is nòg sersants se mishandeling nòg buddies’ peer justice nie. Ouer (veral derdejaarse) troepe, die “oupa’s”, mishandel die juniors, die tweedejaarse “pa’s” en eerstejaarse “seuns”. Sien, daar is drie “generasies” troepe in elke eenheid. Ons sersante is ook dienspligtiges (nie beroeps-NCO’s nie) en is ook “oupa’s”. Dis maak hazing byna wettig.

Weereens baie dankie, Phillip.

Terloops, hoekom weet jy mens spel ook my naam met “Y”?

Groete—
Yevgeny :-)

By Evgeny on   2014/03/26 12:10 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Ek't Russiese fonetiek geleer tydens my musiek studies. Ek haat om meesterwerke in vertaling te sing. Ek't Mussorgsky se Lieder en Danse van die Dood opgevoer, asook Tsjaikovski liedere gesing. Volgens wat ek geleer het, is daar 2 "e"'s in Russies - "yê" en "ê" (soos in "Aeroflot"). Ek't geleer dat die 6de letter van die Russiese alfabet as "Yê" uitgespreek word, soos in Tsjaikovski se opera Yevgeni Onyegin". Is ek dan verkeerd? Jou Afrikaans is darem 1000% beter as my Russies! Groete, Phillip.

By The Ancient Armourer on   2014/03/26 04:01 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

By the way, our training was aimed at producing instant obedience, which was a survival technique. But I do not believe that it was inherently sadistic - just very tough. There were a few sadists as well, but not as part of a systematic practice of sadism as such. I was a 56Kg weakling, and my PT instructor gave me hell, but at the end of it I was strong and fit, and it was his harsh treatment that made it so. I suppose all armies shave that three-fold seniority structure. With us it was roof-blougat-ou man. In the NVA it was Sprutz-Zwischenschwein-Entlassungskandidat. Some of our ou manne could be pretty hard. I had a very tough Panzer-corporal as mine. But though he barked and swore at me and chased me all around - double time - he treated me decently behind it all. Despite the sometimes (for a weakling) unbearable hardness of SADF training, I really have no complaints. I am in fact proud of having served in the SADF.

By The Ancient Armourer on   2014/03/26 04:11 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Dear Phillip,
Thank you again for your lucid explanation.
I would greatly appreciate if you could write me at
e a r t e m o v [aapstert]y a n d e x . r u *verwyder die spasies!*
We could discuss a couple of subjects I am interested in. Thank you so much again.
Best regareds--
Yevgeny :-)

By Evgeny on   2014/03/30 01:25 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

@Yevgeny,

don't know if you are still reading this. Perhaps it is a naive request, I don't know, perhaps I am misreading the situation.

The Angolan War is over, Boer and Russians, once combatants, are today shaking hands, like in an earlier era, where Russians sided with the Boers in the Anglo-Boer War. We are sort of on the same side now. History moves on. In a strange sort of way, the western leadership (not the people) are becoming more and more liberal and leftist, while Russia is returning to its pre revolution values.

The other day I saw a TV program of the old Romanov famliy, how Yelstsin rehabilitated them. Some surving members of that family stay in the UK. President Putin is an incomprehensible figure for me, I don't know enough what is happening in Russia, other than reading. I do not understand who stands behind him, for a president is not like a king in the middle ages, he is just a figurehead. From the face value his actions are admirable, one cannot help to have some sympathies for him, hopefully this is not a wrong analysis.

I am certain you Russian veterans have noticed that South Africa as a country has got into troubled times. The white minority is standing with its back against the wall. The blacks are suffering under the current government, but they do not have enough insight into what is happening to them, they are not that advanced. Now Rosatom wants to sell nuclear power stations to South Africa, but under the current incompetent government with its affirmative action policy, the chances are good these power stations will Tjernobyl into our faces sooner or later, because of incompetent management. Ou national power supplier, Eskom, is already crumbling to pieces due to incompetence.

Do you Russian veterans have any influence with Putin, to show him what is happening over here? Will he be able to influence events in South Africa in a positive way, or does one overestimate the powers he actually has?

Russia has sanctions against her, she sits with the Ukraine problem, and the USA (to be more precise, certain insiders in the USA, that do whatever they want without asking the American people), it is a very difficult situation, so perhaps Russia does not have so much space to manouver. I understand the USA is trying to encircle Russia, so as to force her into a "world republic" envisioned by the money powers.

How do you Angola veterans assess this situation (helping South Africa)? Or is it a topic that should rather be discussed offline?

By German volunteer on   2014/11/29 11:14 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

@Yevgeny,you see, I read this:
http://www.russianembassy.org.za /Embassy/Photo.html
But then I know that diplomacy is not necessary what is playing off behind the scenes.Just for interest sake, some history of my remote connection to Russia. My grandfather on my fathers side was a german engineer in Moscow (under the leasehold system by Catherina, who wanted to attract skills in order to modernize Russia), my grandmother won the first prize at the Moscow conservatorium for the piano. Then came 1917, the Russian revolution, and they had to flee for their lives to Latvia, then again fled under the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact into Eastern-Prussia, then under the collapsing Eastern Front after Stalingrad had to flee again before the end of the war to Germany. My mother (she can still talk some phrases in Russian, had to learn it in school) escaped out of Eastern Germany, which suffered terrible from hunger after the war. Parents emigrated to South Africa when I was a little one. That is how I landed as a national serviceman in South Africa, defending against communism, for we were always on the receiving side of that system, just like your late Alexandr Solzhenitsyn. And now I fled again. What is my true fatherland, where do I belong to...when will it ever end, Destiny landing us between the millstones of higher international politics...

By German volunteer on   2015/01/09 12:10 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

One last serious article before Christmas. Russia seems to be now in the position South Africa was, when the whole world was against it. The world must not forget - when the going was tough, that is when South Africa really grew beyond itself. That can also be the case of Russia.

http://new.euro-med.dk/20141215-putins-confident-putin-to-nationalize-rothschilds-central-bank-and-purge-collaborators-with-west-war-till-one-side-collapses-inevitable.php

Very interesting to be in Europa. Met a Russian the other day during a course, a year younger than me. Many years ago he was a Mig (21 &23) pilot (but not in Angola), left the army in 1984, to study as an engineer. We chatted a bit about the past, as time allows it. I showed him pictures of how the SADF veterans now visit the Russian Angola veterans. Old adversaries that have become friends. Strange how the world has changed.

By German volunteer on   2014/12/17 10:51 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

I don't know if this belongs to this warblog. But it shows "The other side of the hill" (was the title of the book by the military theorist Liddel Hart, which I have read, where he described the German generals perspective of WWII) of Russia, which we knew little off. The Russian Mig pilot told me before glastnost they spoke of the Soviet Union, not Russia.

When the Soviet Union fell to pieces, it was a terrible shock for the people, for it was like an earthquake hit the economy. Before they had a planned economy, where country A had to buy certain items from country B, and country B from country A by decree. This system fell apart with the end of the Soviet Union, and literally millions of people lost their job.

That caused great hardship, and according to this Russian, more people died due to these hardships (e.g. by suicide) than they had casualties during WWII. And then drugs started streaming into Russia. I was quite shocked, this was quite new to me.. South Africa before 1994 was the same, hardly any drugs, afterward it was flooded by drugs.

Today Russia only has recovered spotwise. There are still many areas which suffer terrible under poverty. Russia, like South Africa, is rich in minerals, but many minerals have been exported according to the planned economy system. And the skills are lacking in order to exploit these minerals. I have read an interesting analysis that there are forces at work that want to prevent German technical skills joining up with Russia and its minerals, for that would be a deadly combination for those forces that want to create this new world order.

And while Russia just has managed to recover its feet again after the end of communism, the sanctions against it have now begun. What would happen if the South Africans advise Russia with South Africas experience of managing a total embargo? This brings interesting musings - erstwhile enemies helping each other with help and advice, and perhaps build future bridges for an alliances which might free South Africa and its Boers in the future again ...

As long as it does not send a signal that communism can be revived. I would life much more comfortable with the idea that Russia has to start its history from 1917 again, without the communism part.

By German volunteer on   2015/01/05 08:57 PM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

German volunteer, You posts are always welcome! In fact, I have now opened up the Registration Process on the Blogs so that you can register for free and set up your own WarBlog! ;-)

By Johan Schoeman on   2015/01/09 11:05 AM
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Re: Various opfoks and rondfoks during Basics

Since I posted the link new.euro-med.dk, it started with some analysis about Putin which does not sound correct, so please, as with all blogs, use your own judgement.

Johan, hope you are fine. I received the registration details, but do not know how to start a blog with it. I tried to contact you about this some time ago, but somehow you have disappeared ( I get no reply).

By German volunteer on   2015/10/10 09:28 AM
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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   2017/05/08 08:18 PM
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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   2017/10/27 12:03 PM

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By Chris on: 14 September 2018
Re: BUSH WAR VETERANS!
I used to be able to log in but can’t do so any more.
Johan can you assist.
Thank you
By Rocky Marsicano on: 08 September 2018
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: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Duncan, I remember you well!

Unfortunately I do not know about Maj Kruger. I've made enquiries in the past but wasn't successful.

Take care!
By Johan du Preez on: 17 May 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Hi Johan
You mentioned 1 Mil in your story. I was there 15th Nov 1975 spent 9 mths-also very secretive. Lost both my arms. You mention a Major Kruger -Social Welfare. She was a wonderful person. Would you by any chance know if she is still alive and if so, how to contact her. I last met her in 1980 at 1 Mil.
Great site
Regards
Duncan
By Duncan Mattushek on: 16 May 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
Sorry to reply very late Lukas, but the story of the statue is a sad one. In short the money to make the statue was either stolen... There is lots of infighting in the provincial government.
By Dino Estevao on: 30 April 2018
Re: The Battle of Mongua: From Ondjiva to Preira d’eça
I must say i'm so happy to see my great grandfathers name being mentioned in the books of history. i grew up hearing of his names in stories (folk tails), know i have discovered myself his name and his contribution to the world history and the shaping of the Namibian and Angolan borders of today
By Thomas Mweneni Thomas on: 29 April 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi Johan
I drove 72C in smokeshell, Kobus Nortje who has put up a number of Photos was in 72A
As you know from Hilton's email above I have written a book that Hilton is editing and I'm looking for good photos. How do I contact Kobus to ask him for permission to use the pictures?
Thanks Brian
By Brian Davey on: 02 April 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hilton, I could not find the exact reference in my notes, but I suspect it was Lt Paul Louw as I do remember reading about that report. As soon as I pint it down i will get back to you again...As to the photographs, none of them belong to me. Many come from the 61 Mech site and you may be able to obtain high res ones directly from them.There has been too many holdups and issues re the publication (mostly from my side) so I would have to re-approach the publisher to do it "my way" as previously they wanted me to reduce a 200-page manuscript to 64 pages to fit to the standard format of the publisher's series. It was not exactly what I had in mind, so I put it on ice...
By Johan Schoeman on: 16 March 2018
Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell)
Hi Johan,
Thank you for the wonderful service you provide for Bush War vets.

1. Can you tell me which officer said during the attack on Smokeshell, "My troops are bleeding!" It might have been Maj Fouche.

2. An old friend of mine, Brian Davey, is writing his memoir of National Service, including Smokeshell. He was driver of Ratel Seven-one Charlie. I am doing the editing, and would greatly appreciate permission to use some of the photographs you have here.

3. When do you think your book will be published?

Thanks again
By Hilton Ratcliffe on: 06 March 2018
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
I was 10 years old and went to skool in Katima Mulilo, I will never forget that knight, siting in the bom shelter. Our house was against the Zambezi river next to the gest house.
By Jan Cronje on: 23 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
Thank you for the interesting information, Sandy.
By Johan du Preez on: 03 January 2018
Re: Operation Savannah - The battle of the casualties of the war
It seems we never accomplished anything in Angola you with your foot taken in a slippery place....I was part of 16 maintenance unit ...a soldier escorting convoys all the way to Silver Porto from Grootfontein on many occasions between Dec 1975 and Jan/Feb 1976 . Everytime a truck a truck broke down we were expected to run and take cover in a bush we did not know waiting to be blown away whilst the tiffy's tried to fix the trucks on route ,,,lastly we then had to ride shotgun on a diesel/petrol train up from Lobito on the Benguela train line ,,,up the steep escarpment at a snails pace waiting to be blown away which never happened .We then after two weeks having to guard it whilst daily pumping to trucks was done to fill the underground tanks kept at the monastery abandon the train as is whilst we had to hitch a ride back to the states. A high light was being a barman at one of Jamie Ys's movies beautiful people at Grootfontein. People do not know what a civil war can do and the comfort they have or had living in in SA..For some reason I never was called to do any camps or had made contact with the 9 others who were part of that "escort defence unit" a real mix breed of English/Afrikaners .Unfortunately I but did almost lose my leg from the knee playing soccer up in Jhb lying all tied up for over 2.5 months as they battled to save it in the Mill Park hospital in around 1983.This eventually effecting my whole body.I guess it keeps one humble and the glory be to the One and only God ...regards
By Sandy Carter on: 02 January 2018
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Dankie Johan vir insiggewende artikel

Ek was daar saam RPS, moes die volgende oggend n' "tenk gaan recover", diesel refill...met my Samil 20 Lappiespomp. Daar aangekom was die track af aan die regterkant, n' paar jong UNITA "soldate" het daar rondgestaan, Nodeloos om te sê, moes maar omdraai en teruggaan na TB. Die sand was so dik die vooras van die Samil 20 het oppad terug gebuig en dit het my omternd die hele dag geneem om 13km terug te ry.
By Gerhard on: 21 December 2017