Thursday, April 23, 2015

15 April revisited

I normally do a small write up for the 15th April every year, this year I tried, I just could not come up with something that I was satisfied with, so I started to scratch online..

The following comes form Eye of the Firestorm, written by Roland de Vries. I hope he wont mind me using some of his excellent writing here.

"This was how Captain Jan Malan told me his story and how it was written in his report (translated from Afrikaans):
“With my arrival at Tsintsabis I met the tracker team of Lieutenant Daan van der Westhuizen for the first time (the husband of the legendary Tannie Pompie) and his son-in-law, Rifleman Hendrik Potgieter. There were five Bushmen trackers in his team.
After a quick marrying-up and a motivational talk to my platoon, we left for the area were the enemy tracks had been found. Just before we left Tsintsabis, Hendrik Potgieter still remarked how joyful it was to work with such motivated and dedicated men.
The trackers travelled with us, mounted on top of our Ratels. As we moved along the Bravo cut-line, the Bushman maintained close watch for signs and tracks of the enemy. We proceeded westwards along the Bravo.
As we approached the alleged enemy crossing site we observed numerous sheets of white paper strewn about, alongside the cut-line.
When we reached the suspect area I instructed my men to dismount from the Ratels. We approached in open formation on foot. Closer inspection revealed that the white papers lying around were typical SWAPO propaganda pamphlets.
The next moment one of the Bushman trackers came to an abrupt halt. He pointed to a suspect area in the sandy track. I halted our search and marked the suspect area with a mine marker I had on me. I then tasked the trackers to do an all-round search of the area. The trackers reported that there were three enemy tracks leading in a southerly direction.
We found shallow trenches alongside the northern edge of the cut-line, which had been prepared by the enemy. The signs on the ground indicated clearly that the enemy had evacuated their positions hastily the previous night. We found a clear path of approximately twenty tracks left by the enemy. The tracks lead in a north-westerly direction.
After a brief discussion with Van der Westhuizen and Potgieter, we decided to do a 360° search of the suspect area. This was to determine exactly where the enemy tracks were leading to. All of us were in agreement that the enemy tracks would most likely swing back and cross the cut-line in a southerly direction. The reason for this was that the infiltration direction obviously, should lead in the direction of the farms to the south.
It was now about 10h45 and the trackers indicated that the tracks were approximately twelve hours old. At this stage I gave feed-back to Commandant Roland de Vries at the Tsintsabis tactical headquarters by radio. My suggestion was to carry on with the search. My battalion commander agreed with me.
The plan was now for one infantry section to move to the south of the cut-line and to search for enemy tracks 200m in a westerly direction. At the same time Lieutenant Daan van der Westhuizen, with the remainder of the trackers and another infantry section, continued with the search to the north in a westerly direction for 200m.
The terrain alongside the cut-line, in both directions, was extremely dense. From the moment Ratel 12A, with van der Westhuizen on board, left, they were out of my sight.
Daan van der Westhuizen, apparently occupying the Ratel turret, reported that the enemy tracks were leading in a westerly direction. The next moment there were maddening explosions and rippling small-arms fire coming from the receding Ratel’s direction.
I immediately recognised that the fire was not coming from the Ratel’s 20mm quick firing gun. I tried to call the section on the radio, but there was no answer. I immediately deployed the remainder of the platoon and started moving in the direction where the fire was coming from. The bush was dense and our movement was slowed down considerably. At one o’clock from our position in front of us we observed two 300m signal flares bursting in the sky. By now the small-arms fire had ceased.
I instantly reported our dilemma to my battalion commander at Tsintsabis and requested the gunships. Without more ado the Alouette gunships were airborne and flying towards us. We then sighted our burning Ratel. My troops dismounted into an open formation as we moved forward. We did not fire for fear of hitting our own people – those soldiers who could possibly be in front of us. At that same moment two of our soldiers came running anxiously towards our left-front. They were streaked with blood and totally shocked.
The two soldiers reported to me that they had driven right into an ambush with their Ratel and that many of their section members had been killed.
Massive black clouds and flames were erupting from the Ratel. I deployed two of our sections and moved them to the other side of the burning Ratel where they took up a defensive position.
There were no signs of enemy. Accompanied by the platoon commander I quickly moved towards the burning Ratel. We peered inside and it was obvious that nobody was alive. At this stage the ammunition inside the Ratel started exploding and the roof-hatches were blown sky-high.
All around the burning Ratel I found our remaining soldiers of the section. They were all wounded and shocked. The medical orderly, company HQ and platoon HQ personnel removed the wounded to a safer area, away from the dangerous explosions. They rendered first aid to our wounded fellow soldiers.
At that moment the Alouette gunships arrived. I indicated to them the assumed direction the enemy had retreated. Approximately one kilometre further west of our position we heard the gunships firing at the ground.
In the meantime I had requested the HQ at Tsintsabis to dispatch the two Puma helicopters for casualty evacuation. The Puma’s were on their way without delay.
We had by now adopted an all-round defence and started preparing a helicopter landing zone while the Ratel was burning profusely. The tyres were causing columns of black smoke and internal explosions ripped large pieces off the hull. The Pumas landed and our dead and wounded were taken on board and flown south to Grootfontein.
The gunships were still firing into the bushes to the west of us.. One of the gunships evaded a SAM-7 which had been fired in retaliation by the enemy from the ground. The crews reported three possible terrorist kills.
I then followed up with two sections in the direction of the contact. We found the three bodies as well as the SAM-7. One of the dead terrorists was later identified as a section leader.
I had lost a total of eight men killed in this one ambush.
It was later confirmed that one enemy platoon had been tasked to lay an ambush on the cutline to serve as deception for the other enemy groups to infiltrate across into the farming area. Five mines were later lifted by our engineers in the area where the ambush had been sprung.
The enemy had left a clear trail for us to follow. The ambush had been carefully planned and cleverly set up. It was in the form of a horse-shoe. It was located in a thicker part of the forest on the verge of a more open area. The enemy had prepared shallow trenches for their RPG-7s, SKS rifle grenades and machine guns. We found the position for the SAM-7 and a 60mm mortar as well.
Our Ratel was allowed to approach to within 15-20m before the enemy opened fire. It was later found that the Ratel had been penetrated by seven RPG-7 rockets and rifle grenades.
The enemy platoon returned to Angola after they had completed their mission.”

This was a sad story, was it not? Sad stories happen to own and enemy alike…
I felt deeply for Jan Malan, his soldiers, their loved ones, even myself. I could never describe to anyone what I felt that one tragic morning in the war…
…If you can meet with triumph and disaster… If you could risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss… with sixty seconds worth of distance ran.
We had now lost ten of our young in one day, eight of them taken in one fell swoop…
Yours is the earth and everything that’s in it… Which is more…? You were men, my sons!
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew, to serve your turn long after they are gone, and hold on.
What more was there to utter?
What was heart-rending was that Tannie Pompie van der Westhuizen, close by on their farm Koedoesvlei, was monitoring the crisis over her radios. She was calmly relaying Jan Malan’s radio messages to me to help with the dispatching of the helicopters and the evacuation of the dead and the wounded. Only then could I hear that she was at her tethers. I asked Padre Koos Rossouw, our chaplain, to console her over the radio. Koos Rossouw and the Van der Westhuizens had become good friends, as all of 61 Mech were. As soon as one of the Pumas returned from Grootfontein I had Koos Rossouw flown to her farm.

The ambush of 15 April 1982…This was how Operation Yahoo for 61 Mech and the community began.
When I found some quiet in the night the following week, I wrote a citation for a brave man. This was for the Honoris Crux Decoration of Lieutenant Daan van der Westhuizen. He had died under the banner of 61 Mech. The decoration was long outstanding; he should already have received it for Operation Carrot in 1981 – undoubting service to others under extremely dangerous situations.
In memoriam, the names of eight brave soldiers…
Second Lieutenant D.R. van der Westhuizen, HC.
Corporal M.J. van Jaarsveld.
Lance Corporal J.J. van den Berg.
Rifleman M. Peterson.
Rifleman J.H. Potgieter.
Rifleman B.J. Wolfaardt.
Bushman Tracker, Jan Kouswab.
Bushman Tracker, Unknown.
The intense burning of the stricken Ratel only allowed us to recover the remains of our men two days later and move the wreck to the Tsumeb airfield.
That particular morning in the war had been heart rendering for the soul. It is hard for any commander to lose soldiers in combat, for their comrades it is the same. What about the loved ones in South Africa and SWA. Those who did not know yet…?
This was only the first day. The battle was not over yet!
Fortunately friction de guerre visits the enemy too. Finesse lies in making it happen more to the foe. This implies wresting the initiative from the enemy and keeping it. This was what Operation Yahoo was all about…
Let us successfully complete Operation Yahoo now – first things first. Let the Winter Games commence and be successfully completed once again.
There was work to be done, Giel Reinecke, Gerrie Hugo! What is next on our action list?
The closing of 15 April 1982 was upon us. There will be no 15th of April 1982 again. Only the memories and the aching remained.
It was time to move our small command team to the Tsumeb airfield, brief the incoming forces, take control, deploy the plan, and carry on – swiftly. Seek forward ground (when you can keep your head…)"


Sunday, March 15, 2015

Terug na my wortels... Koedoesvlei.

Ons ry op die Tsintsabis pad Koedoesvlei toe.. Alles lyk bekend, maar tog ook nie... die motor is doodstil binne, daar speel nie eers musiek nie. Ek is baie besig met my eie gedagtes. Ek sien bekende name, Concordia, dit was Hendrik se plaas waardeur die Omaramba geloop het. Ons het baie daar gaan piekniek as daar water was. Pa hulle het n vlot gebou en so het ons oor die rivier gekom by die pos om te sorg vir water vir die diere.
n Entjie verder het die pad n T aansluiting gemaak... NOU is ons naby. Die plaas Vaalwater le regs. Oom Rassie Erasmus was ons buurman en is ook vermoor in 82 toe hy n landmyn afgetrap het. As ons links draai le Platsak regs van ons.. Daar het Oom Dicky en Tannie Baba van Reenen gebly toe ek n kind was, voor my pa hulle se dood. Daarna was dit oom George en Tannie Santjie Thomas.
Ons ry reguit aan... en dan sien ek hulle... die doring bome aan die linkerkant... snaaks hoe hulle dan nie groter geword het, ek wonder of n boom ook soos n mens en dier net groei tot op n sekere lengte en daar gaan stilstaan vir die res van sy lewe.. ?
Alles lyk so bekend, maar tog ook nie... dis n baie snaakse gevoel... Ons ry en ek onthou ek het n paar nagte terug gedroom van hierdie stukkie pad, snaaks genoeg het ek oor die jare baie drome gehad oor juis hierdie stukkie pad, die stukkie vanaf ons hek by die grootpad tot by die afdraai by die T aansluiting.. en in my droom was alles net soos dit nou is.. voel so half soos deja vu...
Daar is n bord links.. ons hou stil, dit se Kudusvallei A. Praat van n "cultivating project" en nous ek erg deurmekaar... Maar ons gaan kyk , en raai wat?  Die hek is oop!!! Ons ry deur, Danie bestuur en vra my of die pad dieselfde is.. ek se ja.. net baie breer... maar ek wag vir die draai, en dit kom nie.. skielik is ons by die landerye... groter... en hulle besproei!!! Op die horison begin my oe soek na die huis... maar daars niks! My moed sak in my skoene... net asb nie DIT nie... asb laat die huis tog net erens wees... Ons ry nader... oral is daar landerye, "hot houses" en alles lyk redelik nuut en goed opgepas, by elke hot house staan daar instruksies van wat en wat nie mag gebeur nie... Nou is ons daar waar die huis moet wees, maar oral is daar net werkers huise... die bees  krale regs van huis is ook weg.. NIKS is oor van wat ek onthou nie!!! Ons sien mense by n vuurtjie sit, ry nader, ek klim uit.. onseker wat om te se, se nou hulle jaag my van die plaas af? Ek vra vir Danie wat moet ek se.. hy se se ons het verdwaal... ek klim uit..loop nader.. en besluit ek praat maar die waarheid...
Ek vra die man waar die huis is, se vir hom ek het hier groot geword en wil net weer graag die huis sien... Hy vra op Kudusvalley? ek se nee.. op Koedoesvlei... hy kyk my snaaks aan... ek verduidelik en hy se nee eks nou op die besproeiings projek se kant, en verduidelik vir my hoe om te ry om by die ander een uit te kom. Ons ry... nous ek verdwaald, maar ons ry soos hy gese het, kom by n pos, baie beeste, Danie vra of ek onthou... ek doen nie! Hy se jy moet, dis n ou pos, maar ek kan net nie die pos onthou nie. Nou ry ons verder, al langs die draad af. Dan kom ons by n opstal wat regs van ons le.. en dit lyk glad nie bekend nie..ons ry deur n hek.. en ek se vir Danie ons het te ver gery ons is nou op Rentia. Ons kruie nader... en dit wil bekend lyk, maar onthou Rentia is ook vir my baie bekend, se ek vir myself.
Minder as 100 meter van die opstal af weet ek... DIE IS KOEDOESVLEI! Hoe kon ek nie weet nie... kyk daar staan dan nog die groot antenna wat die weermag gegee het!!!!
Die huis lyk netjies en vars geverf... Al die venstes is heel... Daar staan n bakkie reg by die voordeur se trappe getrek.. Daar woon mense!!!
Die beeskrale is nog daar.. my pa se sink dam staan nog... Dis 1:03 in die middag... dis warm en die son brand net soos ek hom onthou.
Ons ry by die groot hek in en ek sien iemand loop voor die groot kombuis venster verby , daar is geen gordyne voor enige van die vensters... Ons hou stil, klim uit en hy kom uit, loop nader, ek gaan stel myself voor se ek het hier groot geword, na 30 jaar weer terug hier en sal graag wil rondkyk. Hy is baie vriendelik, se enige tyd, en vat ons die huis in. Hulle bewoon net die 2 slaap kamers, die res van huis is dol leeg behalwe vir die generator wat in die kombuis staan. Die stoep is kleiner, seker die vorige eienaar, het daar nog n kamer aangebou. Die kombuis/sitkamer muur, die een waarteen my ma se radio's gestaan het is uitgeslaan... so dis nou een groot vertrek.. dit lyk snaaks. Leeg... net die sink staan daar.. ons loop agter uit... die agterstoep staan nog.. en daar is my swembad... :-( Nou bitter vuil en verwaarloos... hy se dis n' fishpond'.. Maar ten miste is dit nog daar... van die bome is nog daar maar meeste is weg.. Die donkie is nog daar...voorsien steeds die huis van warm water... Die groot flamboya wat by die voordeur gestaan het is weg... Die franqipanie by die voordeur staan nog...hy het groter geword!
Ek vra almal om foto's te neem.. soveel soos hulle kan.. van alles.. eks bang ek mis iets... Ons kry hom weer buite, hy vra of ek weet die plaas het 2 huise.. ek se natuurlik wou vra oor die ander huis.. hy se ek is welkom om te gaan kyk... en daar val ons weer in die pad na die boonste huis..
Die pad lyk die selfde.. al verskil is waar ons eers afgedraai het na Rentia het hulle nou toegespan en daardie pad is toegegroei... dis jammer, dit was ons verbinding met mekaar... ek het daardie pad selfs een keer geloop om te gaan swem by Olivia.. was amper dood... het glad nie daaraan gedink om water te vat vir die pad nie..
Die pad na die boonste huis is nog dieselfde... effe breer dalk.. maar presies dieselfde, eindig in n mooi flambojante draai voor die huis en krale voor jou verskyn. Die huis lyk nog presies soos dit gelyk toe. Hulle het niks aan hom verander nie, ek bly buite die omheining want daar is motors onder die bome and n hond wat blaf. Ek neem foto's van die huis, buite geboue.. by daardie stoor het ek die eerste ordentlike pakslae van 2 gekry wat my pa my ooit gegee het... altwee was vir dieslefde rede... ek het diere met oor ryp tamaties gegooi... my pa het gese hou op en ek het nie... :-)
Ons ry terug na die onderste huis... ek vra Danie om te stop by die vee krale. Skielik weet ek waar kom my "infatuation" met bome vandaan... help nie ek gaan vir julle vertel nie, woorde kan dit nie beskyf nie, ek sal foto's opsit, dan sal julle beter verstaan.
In kort en om af te sluit... ek was daar.. ek het vrede. Was nie soos ek dit onthou het nie, maar was ook. Alles wat van belang was was nog daar, maar die belangrikste element, die mense, my ouers... het gekort en sal nooit weer daar wees nie.. Die plaas is daar.. maar die boer nie.. en wat is die plaas sonder die boer, dis net n stuk grond... met n Ingelse naam nou.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Koos le Roux writes about my Mum.

Goeie more,
My naam is Koos le Roux. Ek was nooit in die Weermag nie, maar in die Polisie te Rundu Veiligheidstak en dan later in Koevoet Kavango.
Ek het ongelukkig nooit jou ouers ontmoet nie, maar ek het Hendrik ontmoet  die oggend van die dag waarop hulle gesterf het. Ek het Jan Kaka ook geken.
Maar eers van Tant Pompies. Ek wou haar vreeslik graag ontmoet en net n soen en druk gee vir die ongevraagde hulp en aanmoediging wat gekom het op die tyd wanneer ek dit die nodigste gehad het. Daar was ongelukkig nooit n geleentheid om dit te doen nie. Vandag besef ek dat ek net eenvoudig tyd moes maak, maar.....
Dit was tydens die infiltrasie twee jaar voor jou Pa-hulle se tragedie. Daar was oral opvolge aan die gang en die radios was besig. Ek was saam met A/O van der Westhuizen en twee swart kolegas van die Veiligheidstak op Rundu besig om tien spore te volg noord van die Mangetti.. Ons het met n Land Cruiser en n Hilux bakkie gewerk, een agter elke stuurwiel en een met sy geweer agter op elke bak, n Boesman op die spoor. Duidelik was ons glad nie ingerig om kontak te maak nie en het dringend die hulp van  n vegspan van een of ander aard verlang.
Ons radio vermoens was beperk tot n TR 28 wat eers opgeslaan moes word en ingestel moes word voordat daar na ons kantoor geroep kon word. Koms was baie swak en ons was reeds vir die tweede dag op hierdie spore sonder dat ons koms kon bewerkstellig. Ek moet weer beklemtoon dat ons nie gereed was om met hulle kontak te maak nie, maar net die spoor gevolg het om n vegspan se werk makliker te maak.
Teen die middel van die tweede dag, terwyl ek weer pobeer het om met enige Polisie-roepsein kontak te maak, het hierdie engelstem op die lug gekom en gevra ek moet my identifiseer, sy ken nie die roepsein nie. Ek het met dankbaarheid gese wie ek is en wat my posisie was en dat ek hulp soek. Haar antwoord was: "Jaag hulle, Boetie, jag hulle, ek sal hulp by jou uitkry!" Sy het.   Daardie aand het Chris de Witt se Koevoetspan, Zulu Whiskey, by ons oornag en die volgende oggend vroeg was hulle aan die hardloop. Weens die baie opvolge wat aan die gang was, kon ons nie lugsteun in die vorm van "gunships" kry nie, maar het Tant Pompies wat uit haar eie na ons frekwensie oorgeskakel het, vir ons n vastevlerk met n wakker vlienier gekry. Met sy hulp het twee van die vyand vroegdag al gegroet. Tant Pompies was gou met gelukwense en weereens n "Jaag hulle boeties, jag hulle"
Ten tyde van jou Pa-hulle se dood het ek my eie Koevoetspan gehad. Ons was die eerste om met daardie groep vyand kontak te maak. Eers binne die Mangetti-plase en toe op n plaas wes van Tsinstabis. Ek onthou die plaas se naam was iets met Kalk..... Ons het geen verliese gehad nie en was dankbaar om met hulle te kon afreken.
As ek reg onthou het nie een van daardie infiltrasie-groep Angola weer lewendig gehaal nie.
Ek kan jou verseker dat jou Pa in al die manne, Weermag, Polisie en boere wat daardie tyd daar was, se herinneringe as n held voortleef. Dieselfde geld ook vir jou Ma, wat as gevolg van haar besondere toegewyde diens  met die radio-komunikasie aan baie meer manne as die "onbekende" Tannie Pompies bekend was.
Groete .
Koos le Roux.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Die Swart Pan

Die Swart Pan Februarie 2015
Waar begin ek? Seker by die begin ne?
Deon Lamprecht het my gekontak, Riana die boek is by die uitgewer. Hulle sal hom middel Februarie in die winkels he. Maar daars nog iets wat ek jou wil vra... Kyknet se Kwela program wil n insetsel maak van die boek op Tsumeb, met jou.
Ek dog eers hy maak n grap maar toe gaan hy aan met praat.. en ek besef die issi n grap nie... NEE, eks nie n Kamera mens nie... nog minder n TV een... eks n "behind the scenes outjie" . Lang storie kort, hy praat my om.
Toe begin dit... hulle wil gaan waar die skermutseling was op 15 April 1982, hulle wil plaas toe... hulle wil skiet waat my ma gewerk het in Tsumeb, waar ons gelby het... in die begrafplaas...hulle grafte..
Ek sit die wiele aan die rol... begin reel... hoe reel ek vir n plek bo die bravo kaplyn waar ek net een keer was as kind...??? Hoe reel ek vir die plaas, ek weet nie eers aan wie dit nou behoort nie...Maar ek sal my beste doen bedoel ek..
En ek doen ook... ek maak my planne.. daar waar ek nie kan reel nie besluit ek om self te gaan reel as ek daar is..
Woensdag voor ek Saterdag ry kry ek n mail van die die vrou wat se alles is af.. hulle het gekanseleer.. ek wil kwaad raak omdat ek so baie moeite gedoen het.. en toe besluit ek dis mos eintlik beter so.. doen dit vir JOUSELF Riana.!!
Saterdag 14 Februarie vertrek en n vriendin hiervandaan... Tsumeb toe. Ons is gelukkig, dis mooi groen, dit het al goed gereen daar... Ek maak my siel propvol van groen en boom.. ek pak in... maak elke liewe gaatjie vol.. want ek mis dit SO!!!
Sondag oggend 8 uur kry ek vir Danie, my broer se seun en sy kinders.. en ons val in die pad Tsintsabis toe, waar ons vir Robert moet gaan kry. Robert was deel van my pa se groep spoornyers, hy sal weet waarheen om ons te neem en te wys waar my pa en swaer 33 jaar gelede gesterf het...
Ons kry hom redelik gou... ek het my foto album saamgeneem om hom te wys wie ek is... Robert se net op alles Ja... ek begin wonder.. Hy laat ons ry, noordwaarts op die teerpad oos van Tsintsabis. By die bek en klouseer stop punt draai ons skerp links... dit was die bravo kaplyn, maar ons ry noord van hom... Wamboland se kant... nie Tsumeb of ONS kant nie... ons ry en ry, hy se ons moet kyk vir n hek. Uiteindelik kom ons by die hek, ons maak oop, ry deur, maar ek vra of dit ver is, want dis baie ruig.. en hy se nee.. ons klim af, vat water en kamera's en begin loop. Deur hak  en steek en gogga's en miggies. Skielik staan ons op die skouer van n MASSIEWE swart pan... so iets het ek nog nooit in my lewe gesien nie! Ek roep vir Robert maar hy loop onder my uit... ek roep en roep... maar hy hou hom doof en bly aan loop...
So loop ons oor hierdie pan wat niks minder as n kilometer of dalk meer in deursnee is op daardie punt... na die kante toe le hy nog groter... elkeen met sy eie gedagtes.. ek soek... soek vir IETS om bekend te lyk... Die kinders begin doppies en stukke skrapnel optel en ek begin wonder... is ek verkeerd?? Ek begin twyfel, ek was klein.. dalk onthou ek verkeerd..
Uiteindelik skree ek vir Robert om te stop.. en hy doen... soos ek aaloop begin hy weer loop.. en weereens skree ek om te wag.. nou wag hy. Ek begin weer met my vrae... ek kan sien hy is ongemaklik...maar ek hou aan...hy se uiteindelik hy was nie saam nie..hulle het vir hom gese dis in hierdie pan, maar hy kan nie se WAAR presies die ratel gestaan het toe dit gebrand het nie.. Ons loop rond... ek en Danie praat... ek loop, ek skop in die swart grond.. dis los, asof die miere dit opwaarts uit gewerk het... as jy daarop loop maak dit grrritss. Ek kyk na die bome aan die soom van die pan... hulle is te klein... 33 jaar terug was hulle al groter as wat hierdie nou is... die grond was rooi... nie swart soos hierdie pan nie.. Ek praat weer met Danie..  )Robert het pad gevat in tussen die bome in )vertel hom alles wat ek kan onthou... en hy se onthou die plek kan baie verander in 33 jaar.. ek stem saam.. ja... maar SOVEEL???
Daar was gras in die pan... die gras het mooi gestaan.. hier is niks gras in hierdie swart massa nie.. alles is net swart!
Ons begin terug loop kar toe.. vrek warm, die son brand al is dit nog nie 11 uur in die oggend. Die kinders dra al wat n doppie en ding is wat hulle opgetel het saam... ek wonder nogsteeds...
Die terug ry gaan vinniger, nou soek ons nie meer nie.. ons ry net.
Op Tsinstabis besoek ons Jan se graf. Ek onthou nog sy begrafnis asof dit gister was.. ek het van Jan gehou, was hartseer oor hom. Of was ek net eenvoudig harsteer... harseer in murg en siel? Die graf is verwaarloos, lyk nog erger as ons grafte in Tsumeb op tye. Jy kan sien dit word min besoek.. Eerste ding wat ek oplet is Jan se datum van afsterwe is verkeerd.. Ek vra daarna vir Robert. Hy se Reinhard Friederich het die bord gesweis, die muur omgebou. Ek is hartseer.. Jan verdien beter. Ek voel sleg dat ek nie eers n blommetjie saamgevat het nie... maar dis Sondag.. waar kry jy blomme op n Sondag in Tsumeb?? Ek vertoef n wyle.. praat met hom, soos ek maar altyd doen as ek by n graf staan... se eks jammer...
Ek en Danie betaal vir Robert. Se dankie vir sy tyd.. hy se ons moet hom by die winkel langs die pad aflaai...Ek let op dat die "bar' langsaan ook oop is...
Ons ry aan... by die volgende T aansluiting draai ons die cruiser se neus wes... Ek gaan Koedoesvlei toe... Is ek bly of is ek bang???


Monday, April 14, 2014


Liewe Pappa,
Dis 32 jaar later, elke jaar word dit meer en tog voel dit steeds soos net gister.. en sommige dae voel dit weer soveel langer.
Dit was vir my bitter swaar om Pa te verloor, want my hele wereld het dan om Pa gedraai. Ek was jou skaduwee en Pa mag niks gedoen het sonder my nie, wat ook seker soms n pyn in die agterwereld was, maar nooit het Pa my dit laat agter kom nie.
Ek en Mamma het mekaar leer ken na Pa se dood, skielik was dit net ons, en ons moes maar leer om in vrede saam te leef... die vrede weet ek nie so mooi van nie, want ons het lekker kop gestamp! Retha het altyd gespot en gese ons is soos n ou getroude paartjie, ma het altyd opgecheck op my. Ek het altyd gekla daaroor, maar as sy bel het ek maar huistoe gegaan. Pa weet mos hoe ons altyd kon stry as Pa nie by die huis was nie, ek dink die kere was min wat Pa weg was en huistoe gekom het en ons nie in mekaar se hare gevind het nie.Onthou Pa die baie kere wat sy met haar slipper geslaan het en dan het ek seep aangesmeer dat dit moet opswel, sommige kere het ek vergeet of dit seep of uie is, dan het ek sommer altwee aangesmeer. Daarna het ek gewoonlik weg geloop en vir Pappa gaan soek, sodat ek kon wys hoe sy my geslaan het. Tog ons het baie lief geword vir mekaar, al wou ons mekaar soms nog vermoor!

Ek het groot geword... (met moeite sou Mamma seker se) en toe nooit getrou nie... Pa het mos altyd gese ek gaan nie trou nie, ek gaan vir Pappa oppas as Pa die dag oud is. Ek het vir n rukkie vir Mamma opgepas, so baklei baklei.. maar ons het mekaar verstaan. Ek is haar dankbaar vir al die stories wat sy so lief was om te vertel. Ek het soms net met n halwe oor geluister.. maar tog onthou ek alles goed. Sy het Pappa so baie gemis, dit was soms moeilik om te aanskou.
Intussen het ons famielietjie groter geword in die hemel, eers Pa se kleinseun Neels, toe Mannetjie en laasjaar ousus Retha en kort daarna Duppie. Nog net ek en Olivia oor hier.
Ek onthou hoe ons dae lank in die veld gesit het by die houtkappers onder die lorrie en Pappa vir my goed geleer het soos die fonetiese alfabet. Ek ken hom steeds uit my kop uit... Alpa, bravo, charlie.. .... ! Net soos ek Pa se kommando nommer nog steeds onthou... 74846544 KV.
Ek onthou hoe ek net 2 ordentlike pakslae's by Pa gekry het, en elke keer was daar oor ryp tamaties en diere betrokke. N oor ryp tamatie ontplof dan so lekker op n bees of hond se boud! Ek is vandag nog lief vir tamaties, my hele tuin is vol van die goed. Pa sou seker nie baie trots op my gewees het nie, want ek is lui om hulle op te lei! Ek onthou hoe ek die siektes van tamaties boekie uit my kop geken het nog voor ek kon lees of skryf. Dis al wat ek gehad het om te lees in die ure en dae en maande wat ons vier uur in die oggend opgestaan het om tamaties te pluk en sorteer en was en pak... Pa het my alles geleer, met baie geduld.
Die jare het aangestap, en Pappa, ek het vrede gemaak. Met die hulp van wonderlike mense wat Pa en Ma na al hierdie jare nog nie vergeet het nie. Vir soveel jare was ek in die donker en het ek gedink dis net ek wat julle onthou, toe ontdek ek die internet, en daar gaan n nuwe wereld vir my oop. Pappa en Mamma is die held en heldin van soveel wonderlike mense, wat vir julle soveel respek het. Julle werk hier is nie vergete nie, en sal nooit wees nie. Daarvoor sal ek sorg.
Pappa en Mamma sou nou oud gewees het, en julle is nie hier dat ek vir julle kan sorg nie, maar ek sal sorg dat julle nagedagtenis behoue bly, en dat dit nooit vergeet sal word nie.
Ons sal julle nooit vergeet nie. We will never forget.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

My gedagtes

15 April kruip weer nader, sommige jare gaan dit beter as ander... hierdie jaar is weer een van die minder goeies. Soos ek ouer word verander my gedagtes en gevoelens ook.

Ek mis die plaas, ONS plaas, bome, reen en donderstorms.Ek mis die stap saam met my pa en die honde en ape na die reen, ek mis die op de stoep sit en na die reen kyk saam met my pa... meeste van alles mis ek MY PA!

Die jaar het ek so effe gaan vashaak by die wonder oor HOE my lewe sou wees as hy bly leef het daai dag. Die plaas sou nie verkoop word nie, daai is ek seker van. So ek sou seker dan nie in Swakop gebly het nou nie. Ek sou hom soveel meer jare nog kon he, by hom kon leer want hy het die wereld se geduld met my gehad en nooit sommer net n antwoord gegee net om van my ontslae te raak nie.

Ek is nie meer n kind nie maar besef as dit by my gedagtes oor hom kom ek regtig nie baie volwasse dink nie. Seker maar omdat ek daar gaan vassteek het waar ek maar net 11 jaar oud was. Hoe sou my lewe uitgedraai het? Sou ek een of ander tyd besef het hy is net n gewone mens, man? Dat hy nie alles is en was wat ek vandag nog dink hy is nie. Die verpersoonliking van die perfekte man en geen man nog by hom eers NAASTENBY kon kersvas hou in my lewe nie. Sou ek besef dat hy foute gehad het, karaktertrekke waarvan ek dalk nie veel gehou het nie? Ek glo nie, maar dis moontlik!!! Sou my maatstaf van mans anders wees?

Sou my ma langer geleef het as die skamele 63 jaar wat sy vir ons geleen was? Daarvan is ek amper dood seker ja, want sy het van dag een wat hy gesterf het tot die dag wat sy ons verlaat het konstant gese sy verlang hom en wil na hom toe gaan. Dit beteken ek sou nie op 25 sonder ouers gesit het nie, ek sou ouers he by wie ek raad kon vra, dis die ding wat ek die meeste mis, en al male sonder tel het ek gewens ek kan net vir n paar minute met hulle praat om raad te vra oor groot besluite, en probleme.

My broer, susters, sou dit hulle lewens beinvloed? Watse mense sou ons wees HOE sou ons anders wees sou hy nie 15 April 82 gesterf het nie? Maar meeste van alles, hoe sou dit my lewe anders gemaak het?

Ek weet meeste mense dink nie in soveel detail aan dit wat kon anders wees as een enkele ding in hulle lewens anders gebeur het nie, maar ek moet se ek fantaseer nie oor dievmoontlikhede hiervan  nie, ek bepeins dit, soos die Engles man se.. ek "dissect" dit... trek dit uitmekaar, bestudeer dit in die fynste detail.

Ek glo ek sou die mens wees wat ek vandag is, net ryker emotioneel en in karakter want ek sou HOM he om my te lei en begelei deur die moeilike dele.

Ek gaan Tsumeb toe hierdie naweek, ek wil grafte toe gaan, gaan skoonmaak, nie net die grafte nie maar ook my siel.

Tog as nagedagte is ek bly en voel ek geerd om sulke uitstaande mense gehad as ouers. Ek moet berus dat alles lessies en skoolgeld is, ek het n les gehad om te leer in hierdie leeftyd.

 After all life treated me kindly, I lost a lot but i didn't lost everything, I got such fond memories that I can carry with me for ever.

Life is a journey, enjoy the ride!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Ek onthou

Ek vang myself dikwels dat ek aan die aand van 11 Mei 1978 dink. Ek onthou die datum omdat dit die aand voor my 9de verjaarsdag was.

Daar was weer infiltrasies, wat meen my Pa en Hendrik was uit op spore. Ja dis wat ons dit genoem het, of hulle het gaan terries jaag.

Iemand, kan my pa wees, het my ma laat weet dit lyk of die terrs in die rigtig van ons huis beweeg. Die generator is afgesit, die werkers is gese om nie vure te maak nie en ons het die gordyne toe getrek in die huis.My ma het voor die radio gebly en die groot en baie swaar ystertafel wat Hendrik daar in die kombuis vir my ma aanmekaar gesweis het is na die hoek van die kombuis langs die venster gedra. Daaronder is daar bed vir my en Louis gemaak. Ek was amper 9 en hy was dan so 3 of so.

Die army ouens en Olivia het om die tafel by kerslig gesit en kaart gespeel na ete. Ons moes stil wees. My ma het soos altyd half gebukkend voor die radio gesit en baie aandagtig geluister, nou en dan gepraat en dan weer geluister. Dit was asof sy ons nie gehoor het nie, net die radio's. Sou ons bietjie harder begin praat is gou vertel ons the sjuuuut!!

Ek was bang.. want my ma het reg voor die venster gesit, en ons was uit die vuur uit, maar sy was reg in die lyn van vuur. More was my 9de verjaarsdag, ek het gewonder of my pa daar sou wees.. ek het gewonder of ek sou 9 word.

Ek kan nie onthou of ek daar aan die slaap geraak het en of ek in my bed gaan slaap het nie. Dit was n lang aand, dis al wat ek kan onthou.

Die volgende oggend het ons soos gewoonlik wakker geword, en dit was n normale dag. Toe se my ma sy het n groot geskenk vir my... ek wou dadelik die geskenk he... maar sy het gese ek moet wag, dit kom later.

Daar was n helse lawaai, en sy het gese ek moet gaan kyk. Daar kom n helikopter en kom land voor die huis in die land!! Ek het nie mooi geweet wat aangaan nie.. maar die nuuskierighied van n kind het my by die deur uitgehelp. Ek het nader geloop aan die omheining wat om die huis was, en daar sien ek hom.. MY PA!!!

Hy het huistoe gekom vir my verjaarsdag!! Die grootste en beste verjaarsdag geskenk, dit het my 9de verjaarsdag vir ewig in my geheue vasgebrand,

Ek onthou n ander keer wat hy die hele naweek wat ek van die koshuis af huis toe was nie by die huis was nie. Sondag oggend vertel my ma my dat iemand my sal kom optel en koshuis toe vat.. n Huisvriend van ons.. ek het hom geken. Alles was OK tot ons moes ry... toe weier ek botweg om te gaan. Ek het myself gaan inwurm in n klein spasie tussen n yskas en kombuis kas en daar het ek gebly, gehuil en gesmeek dat ek my pa wil sien. Dit het my ma gekos om hom te radio en te se ek weier om saam met die oom te gaan. Ek het daar bly sit totdat die oom later gery het. My ma was glad nie gelukkig met my nie, maar het vir my gese my pa is oppad. Ek het gaan slaap en is vroeg, nog donker die volgende oggend wakker gemaak deur my pa wat gese het ek moet opstaan en regmaak dat hy my kan skool toe vat.

Ons het 80km uit die dorp gebly.. gruis pad al die pad. Ons het gery en hy was stil. Ek ook maar, want ek het geweet hy moes bitter ver ry.. en net omdat ek halstarrig was en nie saam met die oom wou ry nie. Dalk was hy kwaad vir my.. en ek het gesit en wonder hoe ek nou die geslskap aan die gang kon kry.. toe se hy iets soos: Jy is darem vol stront.. weet jy hoe ver moes ek ry?

(Nie net moes hy nou in en uit dorp toe, maar hy moes ook weer terug ry na van waar hy gekom het die vorige nag, waar dit was weet ek nie, maar dit was ver, anders sou hy nie reelings gemaak het dat iemand anders my vat nie, hy sou dit self kom doen het)

Ek het hom geantwoord dat ek hom net wou sien, seker maak hy lewe nog. Hy het niks gese nie,,, want ek dink hy het dit geweet, daarom het hy terug gekom, om my te wys hy lewe nog.

Monday, April 15, 2013

15 April 1982 - 15 April 2013

31 Years later, and I still miss you everyday

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My dad celebrated his birthday on 27 December... this is for him

30 Somers
30 winters
30 Kersfese
30 verjaarsdae
30 jaar..

Dis hoe lank ek jou mis Pappa

En sou ek nog 30 jaar lewe
Sal ek nooit ophou

Jy is op n beter plek
Verenig met Ons Ma
daar waar niks kan pla.
Hoop ons loop ook deur daai hek

Om eendag verenig met julle te wees
nie in liggaam, maar in gees.
Tot daardie dag kom
Bly klou julle aan my hart soos gom.

Beter ouers kon ek nie vra
Al voel dit soms julle was net hier vir n paar dae..
Op hartseer dae soos die
Weet ek julle vergeet ons ook nie.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Written by Evan Davies.

Halfway into April 1982 an incursion of 300 SWAPO fighters threaded their way through the dense vegetation of eastern Ovamboland and were predicted to be heading for the area around Tsumeb. They had passed 61 Mech to the east and were somewhere in the vast trackless wilds the north of the first row of private cattle farms.

Tsumeb was to be the HQ for operations, and many units were to be gathered there. We were informed briefly of the state of affairs, the number of terrorists, that they were well armed and still travelling in a single large group.

Alpha Company drove south to Tsumeb in the late afternoon. Ratpacks had been issued, the ratels loaded to capacity with ammunition, tons per vehicle, and we drove south through swarms of white ants in the low gold sunset. The company stretched for about 5Km along the road.

Now came a time of surprises; we found things out as they happened. At Tsumeb, a pleasant treed town with many jacarandas, we parked outside 61 Mech’s Tsumeb admin office. This was where our post was sent to. It was our known address. We were told of a variety concert to be given that evening by entertainers who travelled around the fighting units. It may have been a front for the mobilisation. Anyway, it was pretty terrible.

The hall was filled with officers and their wives. Kommandant De Vries Se Vrou was there in the front row, as well as Captain Malan’s wife. Sitting in their groups were also some clerks and some fighting units. All were as bored as each other. The show seemed to go on for hours. Finally there was an interval, during which we rudely scrambled for cooldrink and chips. After we were darkened the stage lights came on and three costumed lady dancers came on, as well as Captain Malan. They looked at him in surprise, and he announced that a group of SWAPOs had just been seen and their position confirmed. Alpha Company was to form up outside at their vehicles, and if anyone knew of someone missing they were to find them. “Word gereed vir orders in tien minute. Loop nou asseblief ordelik uit”.

Captain Malan was always impeccably polite… but we were terrified of him angry.

We filed past the enquiring faces of women and other troops and out into the darkness. The orders were simple. We were to drive to the Charlie Cutline at Tsintsabis. There we were to deploy along its south side, concealed over 6Km of its length until morning, in the path of the oncoming insurgents. If contact occurred at any point in the line, reinforcements would quickly arrive from either side and a battle would follow. It was hoped to contain them north of the cutline, and the bush there would be saturated with SADF units.

We organised ourselves at Tsintsabis, a small bermed fort, and from there drove slowly along the cutline, ratels at the back stopping one at a time every couple of hundred metres. The troops then disembarked and spread thinly between the vehicles and hid. We listened like bat eared foxes all night. The gunners and drivers stayed in their seats, the gunners scanning the opposing bush through their magnified optical sights.

We lay under bushes in the growing day and heat, waiting.

Finally an order came to group into platoons and move down the cutline to receive trackers, deploy separately, and search. But at about 10 a.m. an urgent message from Platoon 3 said they had landmine casualties and needed assistance. As Platoon 2 had found and was following tracks, we went. We drove west from our position in the centre of the three platoons until we came upon the distraught group. On seeing tracks on the cutline several troops had dismounted to loosen the game fence wires and cables for a follow up to the north. The detonation of a black widow had removed a troop’s leg entirely. 5 others had been less seriously wounded. We helped with bush clearing for a casevac, but when the puma came it accepted only 3 patients. Something serious had happened to Platoon 2 several kilometres away.

The Captain and Platoon 2 had joined up with a contingent of territorial force members and trackers, and the group of 5 ratels loaded with extra passengers had come upon a clear trail of debris on the cutline – empty cans, AK-47 rounds, sweet papers, as well as many footprints. This they followed for several hundred metres until it turned off north into the thick bush. The trackers led and it became obvious to those following that something was afoot, something not right. The insurgents made every attempt contrary to concealment.

I believe the intended plan was to put stopper groups in place to the north and flush the insurgents. “1-2-Alpha”, the Platoon Sergeant’s vehicle, was sent ahead with trackers to confirm the direction of the trail so that stoppers could be accurately placed. A radio message said that the tracks led across a wide shona. Such a feature was completely unexpected in this thick bush. It was unique there. The section was directed to follow across, enter the bush on the far side for not more than 100m to make sure there were no changes in the trail’s direction or composition, and return.

Across the shona they drove with extra people making 17 on board, into the dense growth, and then into a small open space. The tracker started running back to the ratel. An RPG-7 hit the ratel’s sight block. The driver, Lenny Hough, caught the blast on the back of his head. Before he lost consciousness, with marvellous grace he operated the pneumatic door opening levers to let the others escape the bruising noise – first left, then right. An older farmer who was standing in the command hatch and his son, Territorial Force members, and a bushman tracker, died immediately. The gunner, Cruywagen, was seriously wounded in head, neck and elsewhere. (On 13.11.82 I visited him in 1 Military Hospital in Pretoria. He couldn’t move or speak, but his hospital friends got him to open his eyes. Once as blue as the sky, they were now the colour of slate).

In the following seconds, 6 other RPGs exploded into both sides of the ratel. Petersen, killed outright, had red blotches all over his face and body from the searing copper droplets and screaming steel chips. Wolfvaard’s remains were collected later. It is easier to pick up bits of blackened, shattered bone than the fresh flesh sprayed over the inside of the ratel. An RPG-7 detonated on his chest as he emerged from the door. Corporal Van Jaersveld, who had trained us at 1 SAI, lost his legs, his arms, his lower torso, and his head.

A local woman, Tannie Pompie, who operated a radio relay in the area, reported the news and thus learned that she had lost a son and husband.

After the RPGs were done automatic fire intensified. With a shoulder wound, crawling through the long grass with bullets for a ceiling, Lance Corporal Scheepers found a remaining tracker, grabbed him, shook him out of his terror, saying, “Kry net die ratels, die ratels!” and forced him to backtrack. The others leopard crawled through the long pale grass of the clearing and in a loose group, found visual cover.

Pietie Pienaar had been sitting on the spare wheel when an RPG went into the edge of the engine covers. These blew open, hurling him unhurt to the ground, where instants later an exploding rifle grenade took a chunk from his backside. Piet Swarts, sleeping on the ratel floor and protected from serious hurt by the central seating console, escaped over the remains of Wolfvaard, but took two AK-47 bullets in the left arm once outside.

De Villiers escaped miraculously. An RPG was aimed at his middle. It went through the only solid towbar in the entire battalion (the rest being made from pipe sections; this towbar was well known for it was given as punishment during opfoks), though the ratel’s side and into the diesel tank whose far wall it failed to penetrate into the service passage where he sat. But his eardrums burst and he was deaf afterwards. Mostert was bleeding through many holes. Corporal Viljoen was also wounded by shrapnel.

The section leader Corporal Du Toit went back to the ratel under fire and collected a shirt-front of full magazines and brought them to Corporal Viljoen who fired 14 of them empty on automatic on the section’s only surviving rifle until it jammed. Its hand-protector had been blown off in the RPG attack.

Nearly 2Km away, the crews of the other four ratels clearly heard what sounded like a firefight between platoons. Deprived of radio comms with 1-2-Alpha, the Captain ordered an advance along the tyre tracks leading to the noise. Scheepers and a bushman presently appeared running towards them and blurted the worst news.

Drawing up in a line the vehicles crashed through the dense bush and emerged on the wide, circular shona known as Olifantspan after the thousands of elephant footprints imprinted there in the dried mud. Crossing this at speed and reaching the bush on the far side the troops disembarked and firing high, the line advanced. The ambushing group vanished into the greenery but with the increase in noise the survivors cowered in an extremity of fear. The first thing Mostert saw was a tracker with an AK-47, an image of impending death.
Platoon Medic Piet Spreeuwenberg saved Cruywagen’s life while the Company Medics and all their frantic helpers struggled in vain wit the unrecognizable Lenny Hough. I am told they gave up when his brain fell out. The first puma to arrive contained badly wounded friends. No one amongst the troops knew clearly what was going on.

The trackers counted 42 shallow trenches arranged in L-formation and confirmed the presence of 42 ambushers from tracks and spent ammunition including that from 4 machine guns. The group split up immediately into individuals or groups of 2 or 3. Later in the day one fleeing ambusher was shot by a gunship above RPG height. Another of the trackers had run through the ambush and turned up that evening with an SADF unit far to the north.

The event ended in fire when the shot vehicle erupted in flames and explosions and glowed like a furnace for two days.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Letter to honor my Mother

Hello Riana,
Ek het terloops op jou blog afgekom waar mense praat van Tsinsabis en Tsumeb en dit het so n vloed herinneringe op my neergedaal dat ek vir n lang tyd net hier gesit het en gedink, waar is almal nou, waar is daardie klomp stout seuns. Ons was ook by Tsinsabis vir n lang ruk, as ek reg onthou omtrent 7 maande. Ons het vir Tannie Pompie se stem en roepsyn leer ken en sy was vir ons n 'local Ma', wat baie dinge betref. Ek het een aand op n skerpioen getrap en die ding het my tussen die tone gesteek, ek het amper gevrek van die pyn. Toe ons engelse synertjie vir Tannie Pompie op die lyn kry vir raad se sy vir ons van die ui wat gesny moet word en tussen die tone ingedruk word. Dit was amper soos n wonderwerk, hoe die pyn skielik verminder het en ek was weer die volgende oggend uit op die kaplyn. In Januarie/Februarie 1981 was dit my en Wessels se beurt om plaas op te pas by julle einste plek. Ek het begin grieperag word n dag voor die tyd en het die kaptein naderhand iemand in my plek gestuur saam met Wessie. Intussen het ek toe begin sporadies bewussyn verloor na twee dae en weer het Tannie Pompie vorendag gekom met raad (Wessie was ons Medic, nou juis by julle op die plaas terwyl ek le en vrek op Tsintsabis) - ek het swartwater koors en moet onmiddelik hospitaal toe in SA, die prognose is reg gewees en teen die tyd dat ek in 1 Mil beland het 4 dae later was dit al amper te laat. Ek het weggeraak vir 4 weke en toe ek wakker word hoor ek dat nog n dag in Tsinsabis My laaste sou gewees het. Ek het nooit weer vir Tsintsabis gesien nie en die rumours het dik gele dat ek omgekom het in die vliegtuig. Weer moes ek dankie se vir mense soos jou Ma hulle, hulle het sowaar my lewe gered.
Sedertdien is ek weer terug SWA toe elke jaar met RNT en 61Bn van Etale tot in die Kaokoveld, vir die volgende 6 jaar. Ons het intussen familie gebou, ek het geswat en meestersgraad bereik, ons het 5 kinders wat na Tsintsabis se dae gebore is en wat nou klaar groot is en wat bou aan n nuwe land.
Met Groot Dankie aan Tannie Pompie,
Rhodesier John, Oman

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hi Ross Thank you for your mail, I have posted it on the blog and on some of the SADF groups on facebook that I belong too. Thank you so much for writing to me. That is the nice thing about the blog, when you least expect it, you get a mail from some one.. that to me is very special. All the feedback I get from my blog is honestly very precious and dear to me. When I started the blog 7 years ago... it wasn't "cool" yet to talk about the army and what happened there. Since then quite a few books have been published and the media have also started to talk about it. Now people are talking about it openly. What really got me back then, was the stories of despair I got to hear. Men who was in such a state that they were not fit to work.. who could not live normal lives, all thanks to Border Duty. That made me realize that I could actually do some good with my blog.. but I ran myself into a brick wall over and over again with this topic. I am glad to say things have changed... guys are talking bout their experiences.. and they are catching up with other guys that were with them on the border. At least they are not bottling it all up no more.. they are venting.. talking... letting it all out. its not anymore something to be ashamed about, once again they can be proud of once being a member of the SADF 30 years ago. Due to my experiences as a child I was diagnosed at a PTSD sufferer. Like you, I started to write, as it was impossible to remember and relay in 30 minutes what i felt and experienced in a week. I started to write, and then read back to my psychologist in that 30 mins i had once a week. I of course kept my writings, and sometimes read it over again after a month or so I was astound at what i felt at that very moment when writing it. I realized later that the writing did me more good than the shrink. So that have been my advice to everyone who had problems.. WRITE. And that is how the blog started... but this was much better.. I GOT FEEDBACK. YAY!! The blog has given me a much better idea of exactly what happened that day my dad and Hendrik died. I was only a child of nearly 12 when they died, and I was told nothing. or only the bare essentials. It helped me to come to terms with what happened that day. But most of all, it made me very proud and extremely humble. Warm Greetings Riana v d Westhuizen
This was a letter to me I found under the comment segment of this blog today. I thank the writer for making my day. Dear Riana, I was the Signals NCO for Group 30, later Sector 30 in Otjiwarongo in 1978 and 1979. On the Ccommando radio network the Tsumeb Commando call-sign was 91, Outjo 81, Grootfontein 61 and so forth. Early in 78, returning from patrol near Etosha, one team's unimog crashed. The radio batteries were completely empty, so the signaller made a fire to warm up the batteries enough to get one whisper of a signal out to call for help. He sent out an sos which we picked up at our HQ, but the signal rapidly decreased in strength as the batteries burst of power faded, and the coordinates in slidex only your Mother could hear. And relayed to us, this was enough to find and recover the patrol. This alerted us to the unique atmospheric situation at your family farm, (We could sometimes even hear New York City taxi cabs! when we came over) So we cut several antennae for the different frequencies, and after testing various cuts and yagi's found that nothing beat the inverted "V" that mother used. We kept 91 as your Mother's call-sign for all networks, a large security risk, but really, your mother need no callsign, her voice and character were identification enough! Your family deserves a monument in stone, but let me assure you, you have a monument of memories based on all the warm recollections of your family and the gratefullness for all the lives and misery your family has spared. For this we thank you. Steffen Gentis October 2, 2012 11:11 AM
Hi Riana, I came across your blog today quite by accident. My name is Ross Hesom and I was a National Serviceman at 101 Workshop Unit in Grootfontein from July 1984 to December 1985. Although based at Grootfontein, I travelled extensively between Ruacana and Katima Mulilo to all the artillery bases and smaller mechanized camps to service the field guns and also Ratel and Eland 90mm guns and turrets. I also did some camps on the border during the SADF withdrawal. We were based at the gates of 61 Mech and I was tasked with looking after the Olifant tank guns and turrets since I was a "Gun Tiffie". I read your blog on PTSD and I also have a story to tell. In May 2006 I had a complete breakdown and ended up in therapy being treated for Combat Related Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What a shock after all that time back in divvy street to be given a diagnosis like that! Although I never saw actual combat, I was exposed to the trauma enough to carry the scars for 20 years before actually being able to deal with them. As a release for the stories and memories causing daily flashbacks over those 20 years, I started writing everything down exactly as I remembered them. I showed the transcripts to my therapist who asked if I had told any of this to my wife or family. The official secrets act forced us to bottle everything up and having shown the transcripts to my wife and parents, they were shocked at what I had written. My parents who waited and worried while I was on the border for 18 months as a NSM and then during the camps had no idea what we were doing. As a result of the reaction from my family and the lack of knowledge of what we went through, I cleaned up the transcripts and have had them published under the name "From Boys to Men" - by Ross Hesom - A Victim of Conscription. Writing the book was very easy as I remembered every incident in crisp, clear detail as if it had happened an hour ago. I now have to go back to the book to recall a lot of the stories. Writing is wonderful therapy and I recommend that every veteran sit down and write his stories. I know that this is not realistic to expect. The other reason for writing and publishing the book was to hopefully reach as many of the SADF veterans who 'Knew that they were different" when they returned home and "didn't know why". I put those two comments in inverted commas because there is a whole generation of South African men out there who are feeling the way I did for 20 years. It is not a lost or forgotten cause and recovery is possible with the right help. The book, "From Boys to Men" is available for download through Google Books as an e-book for Canadian $7,99 at If you would prefer, send me your address and I will mail you a paperback copy for free. Thank you for taking the time to create the blog. It is something that is sorely needed. Regards Ross Hesom

Monday, August 13, 2012

This is a photo of my parents, middle and 2nd from right.. far right you will find Roland de Vries.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

15 April 2012, 30 years later.

Vandag is dit presies 30 jaar later. Op 15 April 1982 het my held gesterf. Die feit dat hy vir baie ander mense n held was het nooit by my opgekom toe nie. Al wat ek geweet het, was dat my kaartehuise inmekaar getuimel het. Dit wat ek altyd meer as enigeiets op aarde gevrees het, het nou gebeur. My Pa is dood.

Ek wou dit eenvoudig nie glo nie. Toe ek agter kom hier kom nou slegte nuus het ek hulle dadelik voorgespring met die vraag of Hendrik ( my swaer) iets oorgekom het. Dit sou ek nog kon hanteer... maar toe ek hoor ons het altwee verloor was ek in stukke op die grond.

Vra enige iemand wat so n beproewing deurgegaan het, en hulle sal jou se jy sou sekondes voor dit nog nie eers kon droom in jou wildste drome dat jy sal kan staan met sulke skokkende nuus nie.. tog... HY gee krag. Op daai oomblik... en in die dae .. jare wat kom.

Nooit sou ek kon droom in watse from ek oral krag vandaan sou kry nie... en vandag is dit 30 jaar later .. en ek kry dit steeds... van mense soos JULLE!!

Baie dankie vir die mense wat oor die jare vir my die lig op my donkerste uur gewerp het.. wat my opgelig het, gedra het, met hulle pragtige woorde oor my ouers, PA!!

Most of all, for keeping the memory alive. Not for me, but his grand children, their children and children to come. When i started my blog 6 years ago I would never have imagined for the wonderful responses, stories, and just general outpoor of love and admiration i received from strangers, people I will never meet, but we have a strong unseen bond for ever, for the simple reason that two wonderful human beings have touched our lives.

On this day I think of all the families who lost a loved one on 15 April '82. I honestly hope you found the closure I did. And once again I want to thank every one who made a contribution towards my healing.

They lived to INSPIRE, let us never forget.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


The soldier stood and faced God,
Which must always come to pass.
He hoped his shoes were shining,
Just as brightly as his brass.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
How shall I deal with you?
Have you always turned the other cheek?
To my Church have you been true?"

The soldier squared his soldiers and said,
"No, Lord, I guess I ain't.
Because those of us who carry guns,
Can't always be a saint.

I've had to work most Sundays,
And at times my talk was tough.
And sometimes I've been violent,
Because the world is awfully rough.

But, I never took a penny,
That wasn't mine to keep...
Though I worked a lot of overtime,
When the bills just got too steep.

And I never passed a cry for help,
Though at times I shook with fear.
And sometimes, God, forgive me,
I've wept unmanly tears.

I know I don't deserve a place,
Among the people here.
They never wanted me around,
Except to calm their fears.

If you've a place for me here, Lord,
It needn't be so grand.
I never expected or had too much,
But if you don't, I'll understand."

There was a silence all around the throne,
Where the saints had often trod.
As the soldier waited quietly,
For the judgement of his God.

"Step forward now, you soldier,
You've borne your burdens well.
Walk peacefully on Heaven's streets,
You've done your time in Hell."

"They shall not grow old as we who are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, we will remember them..... "

Monday, January 2, 2012

A Letter that took my breath away...

Dear Riana,

I don't normally comment on Facebook pages, but after reading your
story and the story related about how your father died in a SWAPO
ambush, I feel I should share something with you. Back in early 1979 I
was commanding a company of paratroopers from 1 Para Bn. B-Company had
been doing operations almost continuously since early 1978, and in
March 1979 we were flown up from Bloemfontein to take over the Fire
Force at Ondangwa. My soldiers were weary after more than a year of
repeated deployments and we had been back in Tempe for less than a
week since our previous deployment in the Rundu area. They had just
been presented with their Pro Patria medals when we were sent back to
SWA, but they were as anxious as ever to get to grips with the enemy
again. When we landed, we realised that we were at Grootfontein, not
Ondangwa! We had been diverted. I was immediately sent up to the HQ
and briefed by Brig Bosman and Col Eddie Webb from SWA Command in
Windhoek. There had been a big infiltration by SWAPO and they had
penetrated into the so-called "White Farmlands" south of the old Red
Line. It was the start of Operation CARROT, which was to continue for
several years. There were elements of SWAPO known to be in the
mountains within a triangle formed by Tsumeb, Grootfontein and Otavi.
The Ghaub Mission Station in the mountains was suspected of providing
them with support. My company was tasked with searching for these
elements and flushing them out of the mountains. I had to find a way
to enter the mountains unobserved with my company, and settled for a
plan whereby we were infiltrated in the cattle-trucks of local
farmers, who would drop off sections at various points at night,
without stopping, so that they could climb different peaks and
establish temporary bases from which to operate. The plan was
presented to the big shots and they approved it. All went well and the
next day all nine sections of the company were in place and the Coy HQ
was hidden near the top of one of the highest peaks, where we hoped to
establish good radio communications. It was a very demanding time that
we spent in those mountains, and the stories of what happened before
the terrs were finally driven out of their hiding places and we were
able to continue the hunt in the flat farmlands do not belong here.
Suffice to say we had blisteringly hot days to contend with in the
mountains, freezing nights, howling winds, mopani flies and a severe
shortage of water. But our biggest problem throughout was to maintain
radio communications!

The terrain and the atmospheric conditions played havoc with our
signals, and we struggled to keep in touch with our sections on VHF,
but lost all contact with our higher HQ on HF. Then 91 came on the
air! It was like a ray of light to us! This woman with the most
beautiful voice who seemed to be able to make contact with us at all
times! She was in contact with our higher HQ and she was able to relay
messages for us. We made contact with her at scheduled times and were
able to send our SITREPS and to receive fresh instructions. We could
hear her talking to our higher HQ, but could not hear them, and she
always relayed every message meticulously accurately. But she did far
more than that. During the extended period that we operated in those
dry, bush-covered, densely forested and rocky mountains we needed
resupply, and she arranged that for us, with surreptitious deliveries
at predetermined spots at night by local farmers from the Commando. I
made a note in the Company Diary at the time: "There is a woman
signaller on one of the relay stations who really is good! She grasps
situations rapidly and relays messages accurately - in sharp contrast
to many of the men manning sets!!" The barren rocks that the troops
had to clamber across were razor sharp and cut their boots to ribbons.
We had to request new boots and the Quartermaster at Grootfontein was
reluctant to comply to our request. But he had not bargained on Tannie
Pompie! We heard her sort him out on the radio in no uncertain terms
and we rolled around laughing at the way she put him in his place and
reminded him that we were the ones doing the fighting while he sat in
his comfortable, air-conditioned store! She spoke to our senior
officers about "My seuns daar bo in die berge", told them she would
not allow them to neglect us and she adopted a motherly ownership of
us. My paratroopers adored her and thought she was the greatest! A
real angel from heaven with their interests at heart. If you had asked
any one of them over that period who was the best chick in the world,
there is no doubt that 91 would have carried away the prize. Sadly,
none of those soldiers ever met her, as we went from the mountains
straight into the hunt on the plains and those brave men cleared out
of the Army at the end of their National Service in June of that year.
It was only in 1982 that I was able to meet Tannie Pompie - your
wonderful mother. Unfortunately, it was a sad time, as it was during
Operation YAHOO and your father had just been killed in that terrible
ambush. At the time I was commanding E-Company, 1 Parachute Battalion
and we were attached to 61 Mechanised Battalion Group. My own Company
2IC, Captain Leon van Wyk, was also killed in a contact with SWAPO
during that operation. Your dear mother will not remember me, as she
was understandably very emotional when I spoke to her, but I want you
to know what a wonderful job she did and how deeply she crept into the
hearts of the paratroopers she helped so very long ago.

God bless you.

McGill Alexander

Monday, October 24, 2011

My Little Blog

It's been a long time since I have made a posting here, after I have tried to get help for the veterans of the war and I got so little positive response i was very discouraged with everything.

But I am doing the happy dance since yesterday, and I just have to share with all of you a wonderful story.

About just more than a month ago I received a mail from a man called Deon Lamprecht, he is a reporter for Rapport and he made the 61 mech Veterans tour with them last year. He contacted me to say that he plans to write a book about the PEOPLE of Tsumeb and that he have read my blog and want to see me and my family.

We had contact for a while exchanging mails etc. Thursday night I met him. I introduced him to my family and Saturday and Sunday I spend time talking to him.

He wanted to know about my experiences as a child, how the war effected me, US..our family. We had a lekker chat.

Yesterday he came around to take photo's, and I bribed him not to with a good plate of curry... :-) But we had a good chat and without me asking him how it came to him wanting to write this book, he told me how it all came about, and here follow the story of how my little blog started all of this.

One of the 61 Mech Vets contacted Rapport to ask if they would not be interested in sending a reporter with on the tour they did last year to write about it. Attached to this email was the link of this very blog. I can remember receiving a mail from a lady saying she was with some paper in SA.. I replied, how many mails we exchanged I cant be certain of. This Lady had read my blog, liked it, contacted me and decided the Rapport will foot the bill and send Deon on the tour. When they came to Tsumeb they met up with locals and it was there that Deon decided he want to write a book about the people of Tsumeb and how the war affected them.

A book will be written.. and I am sure, after meeting the man who will write it.. and talking to him, that it will be good book, other than the other books, this one will be about the people.. not the war as such, but the effect the war had on the people... the facts, the stories and heartache.

I am pretty proud of myself and my little blog to have started such a great sequence of events. And.. most of all.... it feels to me as if I might have found a foothold to start with my big plan of getting help to the veterans of the war, the ones who are still living, in pain! I feel like saying "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind "

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Family hardships

Danie van der Westhuizen (jnr)

ek het so pas deur my sussie se blog gelees , en is baie dankbaar vir julle almal se bydraes hier. ek was op daardie staduim toe dit gebeur het in ruacana in die artillerie, so sal graag van mense wil hoor wat direk met my pa en swaer in kontak was

groete Danie

September 23, 2007 3:16 PM

This comment was left on my blog post named "Newspaper clips from 1982", it was written by my brother, D.R v d Westhuizen Jnr.

He passed away on January 2 2010. A massive heart attack took him away from us at the tender age of 47. May he have peace and harmony where he find himself today. We all love you Broer.

61 Mech memorial photo's

Hi Riana,

Just wanted to send you these for your blog, and your own memories. We unveiled the memorial today on the 12th of June at the National Museum of Military History in Johannesburg. And it was a very moving occasion, I remembered you when I read those names, and I know you would have liked to have been there.

best wishes

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

15 April 2009

Life goes on.

As I look back on the last 27 yrs, I wonder what it would have been like if he was still alive 2day. So many times did I wish I could just hold or hug him. More times I wished I could call him. This became worse once my mum passed away. I think its really unfair that we never get to ask them any advice no more. Who would give you better advice than a parent?

I wonder what they would have made of modern day living. (Both my parents passed away before we had mobile phones in Namibia for instance).

I wonder if they would approve of the life I'm living. My mum was so sure I would get married that she even had a wedding present for me already. I have been moving that with me for the last 13 years since she passed away.

I'm very proud of the parents I had, they have left a heritage to be proud of for us to keep safe and to keep alive. Would they approve of the way I'm doing it. Thinking of it.. there was no Internet in Nam then too. But... if I can choose.. even as a 38 yr old woman, I would have rather have my father in my life than the hero who died.

27 Years later, and I can still cry for him. I love you Dad. I hope we will live up to your expectations of us.

My thoughts are with all the families from 61 Mech Btn GP that lost a loved one on that sad day in 1982.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

A Letter Neels Raulstone wrote me about 61Mech and my mum, Tannie Pompies.

Beste Riana

My naam is Neels Raulstone. In 1982 gedurende ops Meebos was ek deel van Transvaalse Staats Artillerie ‘n burgermag eenheid wat die artillerie battery vir 61 Mech gedurende die operasie opgemaak het. Een nag het 61 ‘n hinderlaag gelê op die pad tussen Mupa en Cuvelia. Die manne met die dik brille en baie airials op die ratel het gesê daar is ‘n konfooi op pad om die FAPLA basis by MUPA te hervoorsien.

Ons OP pos was maksimum 4 kilometer vanaf ons maar ons kon op geen manier met mekaar koms kry nie. Ewe skielik was daar ‘n damestem op die radio. Tannie Pompie naby Thumeb het begin om al die radio verkeer te herly tussen die mortier battery en die OP pos. Wat sy daardie tyd van die nag by ‘n radio gedoen het sal nugter alleen weet. Die vuur leidings bevele het 100% reg uitgekom en sy het die nag vir ons gewen. Die konfooi is uitgehaal van die eerste tot die laaste voertuig en ons het eweskielik baie pap, spagetti en vis gehad om saam met die ratpacks te eet.

Na afloop van ops Meebos was ons op pad tussen Ondangwa en Omatia. Die manne het op die radio bespreek wat ons die aand gaan doen om die terug keer na 61 se basis te vier toe Tannie Pompies weer op die lug kom. Sy het baie duidelik geen vertroue gehad in die Army se vermoë om ‘n party te reel nie. Sy wou weet wat het ons om te braai en het in geen ontsekere woorde vir ons vertel dat dit glad nie genoeg was nie en dat die troepe gaan honger ly. Sy het gesê ons moet haar net ‘n paar minute gee om iets te reel. Binne ‘n halfuur was sy weer op die lug en gesê ons moet ‘n voertuig stuur om ‘n bees en twee Koedoes te kom haal wat sy gereel het.

As ek vandag vleis braai dink ek nog altyd terug aan die Tannie wat die lewe vir ons net so ‘n bietjie beter gemaak het sonder om iets terug te gevra het.

Jou ma was defnitief ‘n besondere persoon.


Neels Raulstone.

Monday, September 29, 2008

A painfull walk down memory lane for Jacques Nel.

Wat ons van daardie tyd aan mekaar koppel het begin toe die eenheid opgedeel in twee en ons sou ‘n “opvoering/konsert” wat deur die “dankie tannies” gereel is op Tsumeb bywoon. Almal het mooi gesit en wag vir die tweede helfte van die vertoning om te begin toe die RSM Killer Smit ons uitjaag en beveel om buite aan te tree. Ons almal het gedink hy maak ‘n grap, maar kon sien aan sy tweede opdrag daar is moeilikheid. Dis hoe die operasie vir ons begin het. Ons is in groepe opgedeel en met ratels, kwe-voels op plase afgelaai, 3 of 4 op ‘n keer vir paasbeskerming. ander het eenheid toe gegaan. Op die plaas waar ons afglaai was het die boer net 2 koedoes geskiet, ons moes toe die aand help slag….

Daarvandaan is ek Tsinsebis toe waar my bev my nodig gehad het. Iemand anders is toe in my plek afgelaai.

Ek het nie jou swaer en pa geken nie, maar kan die Ratel wat deur Rpg’s uitgeskiet is en dae lank gebrand het met net twee oorlewendes, die boesman wat voor by die drywer gesit het en die een wat op die spaarwiel agter op die ratel gesit het en landmyn insedente baie goed onthou aangesien ek die dag in Tsinsabis was. Hulle het die kaplyne vir spore gaan vee en ek het die ratel sien wegry uit die basis. Die skok en ongeloof daarvan, die operasie en intensiewe soektog na die sowat 80 Swapo's, die kontakte wat Koevoet en ons magte hulle splintergroepe toegedien het, die Tsumeb vliegveld wat as tydelikke basis ingerig is. Die ratels met groot luidsprekers wat gevangenes se boodskappe uitgebulder het en 120mm mortiere wat die hele nag lank verligting mortiere geskied het om hulle uit te put en aan die beweeg te hou. Die Dakotas wat thunderflashes op lae hoogte uitgegooi het om spore wat net weggeraak het op te spoor. Die allohette gunships wat boom hoogte gevlieg het. Pumas wat vooraad soos ammo,diesel, ratpacks en water ingevlieg het.

Jou verlies was, soos dit deel was van jou, was dit deel van ons almal wat daar was, ons het dit almal aan ons gevoel, maar het dit destyds weggepraat deur weg te kruip agter die frase, “dit was nog nie my beurt nie”

Behalwe die operasies Angola toe kan ek die in die driehoek van die dood goed onthou, paasbeskerming gedoen en in daardie donker Suidwes nag allen waggestaan op die plase, die wonder of jy ooit weer jou familie gaan sien. Dit laat diep merke wat nie uitgevee kan word nie, woede wat nie gemeet kan word nie, wraak wat nie tot uiting kom nie, maar dit verstaan jy beter as ek.

Ook die sihestas van 11 tot 2 in die somer. Die donderweer en reen in die laat middag om alles af te koel. Die vuurwarm stort wat met donkies warm gemaak is. Die eetplek(daardie lekker Suid Wes steaks en koue Windhoek biere en fliek, sokker / rugby veld aan die noorde kant, hek aan die suidekant, wagtorings wat ons self gesweis het en opgerig het……..snaaks hoe jy die swaar dele uitwis en die lekker dinge onthou…

Baie jare nadat ek van Grootfontein terug gevlieg het republiek toe, het ek en my familie in die mooie Namibia gaan vakansie hou. Ons het in Windhoek die museum besoek en vir enigiemand wat daar was en my ervaring op die grens deel sal ek dit nie aanraai nie. Swapo stal dit daar uit asof hulle die oorlog teen ons gewen het. Die woede kan ek nie hier beskryf nie, net dat my vrou 'n week later, toe ons in Etosha vakansie gehou het, skaars 70km van die 61Meg Basis, vir my gese het sy ken nie die mens wat ek op daardie tydstip was nie. Al die emosies, beelde van die oorlog, en die belediging van 'n museum in Windhoek wat se ons het die oorlog verloor.....

Ek kon myself nie sover kry om die basis te gaan besoek nie, ek dink nie ek wou die verval van die eens trotse en effektiewe veggroep ervaar nie.
Een ding sal altyd by my bly en dis ons leier van daardie tyd, Col. De Vries - beste man om voor te loop in 'n oorlog, vra my ek weet. Generaal De Vries is ‘n legende in my oe.

Ek het die vooreg gehad om ‘n paar jaar na die tyd met Visi Admiraal Dries Putter(In my tyd Hoof van die Vloot) te gesels en vrae oor strategie tydens operasies waarby ons betrokke was te vra, oor dinge wat destyds nie sin gemaak het nie. Hy het my 61Meg bevelvoerder persoonlik geken en hom gereken as een van die heel bestes en dit het my met nog meer trtots laat swel diep hierbinne my.

Ek moet net die volgende ook noem van daardie tyd, 61Meg se Infanterie, Pantser en Artillerie , Tiffies, Shefs en Admin se mense en amal wat aan ons kant was, soos jou pa en ma hulle die boere van die driehoek van die dood, was en is van die beste wat daar was en het diep spore in my hart getrap en dit sal vir altyd spesiaal vir my bly.

Een ding is seker, ons het “Generaal De La Rey’s” in eie tyd gehad en ervaar, almal wat daar was en help seker maak die meeste van ons kom terug en vir die wat dit nie gemaak het nie sal ek vir ewig dankbaar wees dat ek en my makkers wel hier is om die storie te vertel en helde soos jou pa en swaer te eer vir hulle opoffering. Lank lewe hulle legende! ! !

Dit bring my terug by die hede: Ek het die voorreg gehad om saam met my seun van 14jaar verlede Sondag na die Ysterplaat lugskou te neem en vir die eerste keer kon ek hom in ‘n ratel laat inklim(drywers sitplek, Bevelvoerder sitplek, Gunner sitplek) en presies verduidelik waarvoor al die 1000 knoppies was, snaaks hoe vinnig als weer terugkom al is 30jaar al weer verby. Vir die omanne, net die wapentuig het verander, die res is nog dieselfde, behalwe die nuwe ratels sal flikkerligte, sirens en spiels stukkend ry die eerste keer as hulle moet visgraad of bundu bach…….

Ek kon hom ook die lidtekens op my vingers wys waar die 61 Meg ratel se drywers hatch wat teen die 20mm kanon geleun het en toe, toe geval het toe ek die turret draai om in te klim om die radio’s aan te skakel een oggend in Angola en dit alles oor opofferings wat mense soos jou pa en swaer en ander helde selfs die wat nie gesneuwel het nie vir ons gemaak het.

Riana, dankie vir jou en jou familie en die opoffering wat julle moes maak ek en die ander troepe wat daar was waardeer dit elke dag.

Aan al my 61 Meg makkers wil ek net se, manne dit was 'n voorreg, dankie.

Jacques Nel
Kaapveld Artillerie
14 Veld Regement

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Help for those who survived..

Hello guys,

I hope this wil find you all well. The topic im gonna bring up today is something we would rather not talk about.

For a long time now Im in a bit of a struggle with the blog. I feel we can honour our departed loved ones and we are doing that here! But what about the ones that survived?? I feel I want to help the very people who have made this blog as great as it is today. We are left with scars and wounds, and now im not talking bout the kind we can see, Im referring to the phychological scars and wounds we r trying to cope with on a daily basis.

Through this blog I've met many men who have been on the border. Many of them writing to me telling me about how hard this blog have hit them for the sole reason that they have been trying for so long to block out and forget about the stuff Im writing here.

I have been a sufferer of PTSD, thats Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I dont say I can help, but what im saying is this: Ive found that writing about its all made it better for
me. In a way that is why i have this blog. I've done some reasearch on the net and have chatted to other war veterans who are suffering from this, and from many of them I've heard the same. Writing HELP!!

So this is my plan, im going to open up the blog for anyone who want to share. I will stil go on with the blog in the way ive done so far, but I want anyone who feels that they need to write about any experience, to do it here. I know it is not easy for men to talk about these stuff face to face, but even if you dont post it here under comments, or you dont mail it to me to post it on here, WRITE!!! YOU dont have to add your name, as long as you write!!

I have found a forum, I will leave you the url. Maybe some of you would rather use that.

This is just may way of helping, if any of you have better ideas I would be very happy to hear from you.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Picture of Mum receiving the HC from Magnus Malan

As we all know Dad died doing his duty to his country and not like the article state, defending his family. This was mailed to me by Derek Walker. Thank U Derek.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

61 Mech getting disbanded, The Last Parade

This is the link to a video ive found on UTUBE about the disbandment of 61 Mech..
I found it touching.

Monday, December 17, 2007

61 Mech Blog is one year old 2day.

Good evening friends

Its a year today that the blog is online. Once agian I want to thank Neville for his help and I want to thank every single one of you that have been here and a very big thanks to all the guys who have mailed me.

Ive had so many responces and Im glad to say I know much more now about the day we had our big loss than I did a year ago. It came at the right time, I was ready to learn the full story. Im glad to have made contact with Oom Roland de Vries again. Im glad to have made contact with every single person who have mailed me.

I hope to get more input in the year to come and that we could get the blog to be a place where old friends meet and exchange stories.

Mech greetings and a wonderfull festive season for all of you.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Great picture of 61 Mech in action.

This picture of 61 Mech during an excersize just before disbandment was sent to me by Jaco Marais.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

6 July 1995

Hello Friends

We all know about 15 April '82, but I have not told you about 6 July '95 yet.

That is the day my Mum( Tannie Pompie) passed away. She was a diabetic for a very long time, and those of you that met her would remember her being a chain smoker too.

We moved to the coast Jan '94.My sister Olivia and her family went to live in Hentiesbay and I came to live in Swakopmund. On Olivia's invite and insistance she went to live with them in Hentiesbay. I cant recall how long she lived there, but it wasn't very long, I dont think 6 months, when she moved back in with me. We came a long way and understood each other best of all.

She moved in and shortly after that she started to fall into diabetic comas. After one very bad one where she was in the coma for quite a long time she just stopped walking. I tried everything to get her to walk, so did my sisters, but to no avail.

She spent a long period in the hospital over new years of '94.
She deteriorated very fast after that, and became totally bedridden. She lost a lot of weight and her health became worse by the day.

The night of the 5th of July was a nightmare. When I came from work I could see she was not well. My eldest sister Retha and her family came around to visit her. They live in Swakop aswell. We all sat in her bedroom, she was laying down, she allways sat up in bed when she had visitors, but that night she was too poorly. We all tried to make jokes, that's allways been our way of dealing with stress and hardship. She didnt say much in all the time they were there, all I can remember her saying was to tell my sister to look after me.

After they have gone I tested her glucose levels, and it was even higher than earlier that evening. We didnt sleep that night, she was restless and I brought myself a matress in and tried to sleep but couldn't. By 5 the next morning I had her ready to go to hospital. I called the docter who told me to take her to hospital. The ambulance came to pick her up and by 7 she was in hospital and I felt better, even relaxed a bit.

Around 8 I left her in the capable hands of the hospital staff and went home, and then to work. I opend up my business and saw that everything was going well and went back to hospital. When I arrived there she was in a coma again.I sat with her until my sister arrived and the doctor took us out to tell us this was to be the end. The hospital sister came rushing in to call the doc and he told me sit with her and hold her hand. At around 9.30 the morning of the 6th of July 1995 I lost my mother and the world lost a legend. I can't bring her flowers anymore, but I can make sure she lives on in our hearts and memories forever.

I love you Mum!! And miss you everyday.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Sktr. I.J.Visser, ook bekend as Izak Visser

Ek het gisterand met my swaer gesels, dis nou Izak Visser. Baie van julle sal hom onthou, hy was altyd saam met met pa en Hendrik. Hy het nie baie van skoene gehou nie, en was altyd kaalvoet. Hulle (hy en my suster Olivia) het my blog gelees.

Hy was ook die dag saam met Hendrik en my pa toe hulle die noodlottige skermutseling gehad het. Gelukkig vir ons was hy in die ander groep en nie in die ratel waarin Hendrik en pa was nie.

Hulle onthou baie beter as ek en hy het gese hy sal ook graag n bydrae wil lewer tot die blog, waarvoor ek ek baie dankbaar is.

Hubie, jy sal hom seker onthou, hy dra 'n baard en brille.

Hy se baie van dit wat hy gelees het is honderd persent korrek, en het veral gepraat van jou brief Hubie.

Die blog is nou n bietie stil en ek sal maar weer begin gesels met julle tot ek weer bydraes kry van mense.

Ek wil ook weer van die geleentheid gebruik maak om vir julle almal baie dankie te se vir dit wat ek reeds van julle gekry het, en vir die mense wat graag wil bydra vra om my assbelief te kontak by my adres: (vervang die at met 'n @).

Vriendelike groete

Riana van der Westhuizen

Friday, June 15, 2007

Nostalgiese brief van Ferdi

Hi Riana

Oom Daan en Tannie Pompie was so deel van 61 Meg soos almal van ons. En die van ons wat in daardie tyd deel van die bataljon was, onthou hulle met agting en respek.

Ek het heel per ongeluk op jou blog afgekom, en dit het 'n vloed van herinneringe wakker gemaak -- dinge wat ek eintlik al wou vergeet, of hard probeer het om te vergeet. Maar 'n mens kan nie, dis deel van jou... vir altyd.

Ek was saam met Hubrecht van Dalsen (het gesien hy was al in kontak met jou) en Ariel Hugo (ek het sy bydrae ook gelees) van November 1980 tot Oktober 1981 by 61 Meg. Hubrecht was saam met my (en Etienne Gilbert) die peletonbevelvoerders van Charlie kompanie en ons het onder meer aan Ops Protea deelgeneem.

Daarna het ek nog twee "kampe" saam met 61 gedoen -- einde 1982 (met Ops Meebos), en einde 1983 tot Februarie 1984 (Ops Askari).

Een van my heel eerste operasionele take (dit was in Desember 1980, as ek reg onthou) was om die kaplyne rondom Tsintsabis te patrolleer, en op pad daarheen is ons getaak om by julle plaas aan te doen (ek dink dit was om 'n spoorsnyer op te tel en voorrade af te laai).

Dit was laatmiddag en ek onthou nog die groot heinings en die antennas en 'n jong meisie onder die bome speel (waarskynlik jy). Ek onthou ook ek het baie respek gehad vir hierdie mense wat te midde van die gevaar steeds op die plaas gebly het.

Ook onthou ek hoe verbaas ek aanvanklik was om 'n vrou op die army radionetwerk te hoor, maar later het ek menige boodskappe deur Tannie Pompie laat herlei terwyl ons met kaplyn patrollie besig was.

Snaaks genoeg, ek het jou pa 'n paar keer vlugtig op Omuthiya gesien, maar nooit werklik ontmoet nie. Daaroor is ek nou nog jammer, want ek het eers einde 1982 met my eerste kamp verneem wat met hom (en die res van die Ratel bemanning) op daardie dag in April gebeur het.

Terloops, soos ek dit het, was die boer met die vliegtuig 'n Duitser (kan ook nie sy naam onthou nie) wat vir hom twee AK's onder die vlerke van sy Piper Cherokee laat aanbring het, en 'n gat onder die stuurkajuit gemaak het sodat hy handgranate daardeur kan gooi.

Ek wil jou geluk wens met jou blog. Dis 'n wonderlike manier om nagedagtenis aan twee wonderlike mense lewendig te hou, asook om herinneringe te kan deel oor 'n tydperk in ons lewens wat verreikende gevolge vir ons almal gehad het.

Ferdi de Vos

* Hier is n foto van die vliegtuig, Ferdie Pieterse was so oulik om dit vir my te stuur.