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Sep 5

Written by: Johan du Preez
2015/09/05 02:10 PM  RssIcon

I was the engineer troop commander when we advanced into Angola by road – destination Cela – in November ‘75. It was a mix of all sorts. All of us in green uniform. None of us were South Africans (of course!). No SA Army dog tags (only dog tags with our blood group on them). All markings referring to South Africa even scratched off our toothpaste tubes. And our Bibles. Do you remember the Bibles we received in Grootfontein (in Afrikaans, nogal) with those first pages where one normally reads where it had been printed, totally blank?


Apart from Unimogs and other paraphernalia , our convoy included armoured cars and, very import, those big artillery guns that the South African forces already in Angola were eagerly waiting for.

We drove without stopping, exchanging drivers often while on a roll. Time was of the essence.

Breakfast, lunch and supper – all the time ration packs! (Did you also get the impression that those early rat-packs could have been left-overs from WW2?) How we longed for something fresh to eat!

It felt like having been on the road for weeks when we arrived at Sá da Bandeira. We slept at the airport, or what was left of it, that night.

Commandant Dolf Carstens (if I remember correctly) who was in charge held an order group upon arrival. He had good news for us. A local Portuguese butcher who was still in Angola was so overjoyed by our arrival, that he fetched us a couple of beef rear quarter, enough for everyone in the convoy.

“Fresh meat!” Our spontaneous reaction sounded like a well-rehearsed chorus.

But the commandant also had bad news. The meat was solidly frozen.

“Does anybody perhaps have a saw?” he asked. A hand went up and someone actually brought a saw along for the expedition!

But alas, the little hand saw didn’t even make a mark on the rock-hard meat.

Entered the Sappers!

I instructed a few of my guys to fetch the chain saws that were part of our engineering equipment from our Unimogs. We put the meat on the low wooden airport benches, adorned ourselves with some plastic sheets that were lying around to keep blood, bone and meat off our clothes, and started to cut stakes the size of tea trays (and just as hard as it was still frozen) with the chain saws.

That night we feasted on tough steaks without salt, thought flavoured lightly to heavily with chain saw oil, depending at what stage of the cutting process one collected one’s meat.

… and the Sappers were the heroes!

(Pictures: Michael Llewellyn Wild)

 

1 comment(s) so far...


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Re: Supper in Sá da Bandeira

Thank you for that steak story, Johan! I remember when we started withdrawing from Angola in 1988, one of the Senior NCO's of the battery (no names! LOL), brought in a massive Rooiwildebees strapped across the front of the Ratel. Incredibly, it just "appeared and jumped in front of the moving Ratel", with the obvious result that the entire artillery battery's ratpack diet was about to be supplemented by some really fresh meat! No one seemd to notice the small bullethole behind the animal's ear, though! Be that as it may, the "poachers" of the battery were soon revealed as the animal was skinned and cut up in record time. We were thus able to issue every member of the battery with a huge chunk of steak, which, without salt and proper preparations, and with the animal not having been allowed to bleed out first, turned out to be rather tough and not at all as tender as we would have expected. However, it was a steak, and thoroughly enjoyed as it was, after been grilled over open fires in our shovels using every spice and soup/cooldrink powder pack from our ratpacks. It was the first fresh meat most of us had seen for almost three months! While we were demobilising at Rundu, we, the officers of the regiment, went to the Rundu Hotel with the CO for some real, well-prepared steak, of which we could not eat a quarter because our stomachs had shrunk so much!

By Johan Schoeman on   2015/09/11 05:10 PM
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Recent Blog Comments
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Die beste is maar om vir my die fotos en jou stories per epos aan te stuur na johan@warinangola.com. Die WarBlogs is 'n heeltemal aparte portaal van die www.warinangola.com een, maar as jy daar geregistreer is kan ek altyd hier ook 'n rekening met dieselfde besonderhere skep... Laat my maar net weet. Ek kom net so eenmaal 'n maand hier om gou op te vang, terwyl ek elke dag op die War In Angola portaal is.
By SuperUser Account on: Friday, October 25, 2019
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi johan ek het probeer regestreer.Kan nie inkom nie was ook daar saam vegroep 3 ons bev was j Jacobs het ook n paar fotos wat ek graag sal wil opsit het ook n foto van ons bev. laat weet wat ek moet doen is nie rekenaar vaardig nie kan my sel net net help. groete
By A H Du Plessis on: Monday, September 30, 2019
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
41years later. Remember Lorry Lesch my driver, Erasmus Alpa gunner. Scary and prepare us for more later.
By Danie Rousseau on: Friday, August 23, 2019
Re: Operation Savannah
Will there be another reunion .?
By Jack on: Thursday, April 04, 2019
Re: 23rd of August 1978 01h15 I remember it distinctly.
Was a gunner in that attack . Was in 1SSB and slept in the isle on that night, in the bungalow .Ran out of the bungalow after first red eye was shot
Slept in a bunker after that attack.Still have nightmares about that attack.
By Barry Callaghan on: Tuesday, April 02, 2019
Re: An SADF Conscript Remembers the Early 70s – Part One
hi to all
just wandering if any of you served with my dad , Derick Anthony Beard on the Angola border in the 70s .
he was in the Kaffrarian rifles unit according to my mom
My Dad passed away in 2016 August and would like to find out more about his amry days
thanks
By Bruce Berad on: Thursday, January 10, 2019
Re: The outbreak for the border war
This is a great information about the history you put in here. thank you go to website
By Chris on: Sunday, December 16, 2018
1980 camp in katimo
My last 3 month camp in Katimo in 1980 after doing stints all over swa was the best of all. Slept in a bunker next to the river spying on the pont that was crossing over the zambesi river.cathing tigers in the river .
Would love to return to that erea of the world.
By Gordon Rudman on: Tuesday, October 16, 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: Saturday, September 08, 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: Monday, August 06, 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: Thursday, May 17, 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: Wednesday, May 16, 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: Monday, April 30, 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: Sunday, April 29, 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: Monday, April 02, 2018