Sunday, April 15, 2007

15 April 2007

Hallo Vriende,

Vandag is 25 jaar nadat 61 Mech n massiewe verlies gely het op die grens. Nie net het ek en my familie n man, pa en swaer verloor nie, maar baie ander mense is ook geraak deur die gebeure van daardie dag.

Ek wil graag hier vra dat almal wat voel om eninge bydrae te maak tot die blog my asseblief sal mail by die addres wat julle by die blog sal vind.

Hulle se tyd heel alle wonde, dis korrek, maar op dae soos die 15 de April en ander spesiale dae in my lewe kom my besige lewe amper tot n stilstand en dan moet ek tyd neem om te dink aan 25 jaar terug.Ek is nie meer die kind wat ek daardie tyd was nie, maar tog op dae soos vandag is dit asof ek al die selfde emosies ervaar wat ek daardie tyd gevoel het.

My doel met die blog is nie net om die dag waarop ons ons mense verloor het te gedenk nie, vir my is dit meer om die lewens wat hulle gely het en die dade wat hulle gedoen het wat hulle vir altyd in ons herhinneringe sal laat voortleef te herdenk en te verewig.

Daarom wil ek n uitnodiging aan almal gee wat die blog besoek en voel dat hulle iets wil bydrae om my asseblief te kontak met hulle stories, of sommer onder "comments" ietse te los..

Aan almal wat al die blog besoek het en vir my gemail het, BAIE DANKIE!!Ek wil julle vra om my asseblief te help om die blog uit te brei, die wat my ouers geken het en wil bydraes lewer..asseblief doen so.Die ouens wat in 61 Mech was en stories het wat hulle graag wil vertel,asseblief stuur dit aan, ek sal dit opsit.Die blog is nie net my blog nie, maar almal wat iets het is vry om dit te vertel.Ons het n geleentheid en voorreg om ons geliefdes se nagedagtenis lewindig te hou..laat ons die beste daarvan maak.



Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A letter from a fellow soldier of 61 Mech and 301Bn

I served at Tsintsabis from the end of 1983 to Dec 1986 before being transferred to Sector 10 ,Oshakati. I started my border duty at 301 Bn (Tsintsabis or previously known as Noord Grens Kompanie) a year after the particular ambush described here and I remember the ambush site very well as we used to drive past it on our patrols between the Bravo and Charlie Cutline close to a place called "Plaas 8" near the "17 30" cutline which ran from North to South. We would sometimes stop at the ambush site and some of the shallow trenches that the PLAN fighters dug would still be visible. We would sometimes find pieces of molten bullet-proof glass and other items from the destroyed Ratel. To us that site was almost holy and we always thought of our comrades that died there. I will one day visit that site again as it is one of my dreams. For three years I closely worked with one of the bushmen trackers who was present during the ambush named "Ou Jan". His brother, Jan KK was also killed during that ambush and we must never forget the big role that these bushmen trackers played and the sacrifices that they made. I also remember Tannie Pompie and you, Riana and Olivia very well. As I said I have a dream to visit Tsintsabis again one day and retrace our steps at 301 Bn where I spent three of the best years of my life in the army between the Aplha and Charlie cutline. I made good friends and I only have fond memories of that time of my youth. Despite all the negative perceptions being distributed about the old SADF, I will always be proud to have served as part of a force which formed a buffer between the threat from those who intended to kill farmers and other innocent civilians and those that we had to protect, regardless of race, creed or colour. It was not in vain! I must end by saying that Tannie Pompie understood a TR-15H and B-25 radio better than any other signaller that I met and I am gratefull for all the times that she relayed messages for us. I am sorry to hear that she has passed away. I last saw her in Swakopmund in 1990 if I am not mistaken. Take care and cherish your memories as you can be proud of your parents. I salute all soldiers and civilians who served at 301 Bn as well as the soldiers of 61 Mech Bn (our neighbours), Etosha AME and other units on our flanks, front and rear. Greetings "Skollie"

All my mothers children

I hope people will have patience with me and understand that I get flooded with memories of my childhood. I try to keep them all in the correct order in which they actually happened but its not always possible..

I don't remember how old I was when 61 Mech started sending guys to live with us. The boys they sent were more there for their own benefit than ours, since some guys just could not cope with the harsh army life so instead of sending them home they send them to live with us.

I remember Kleinjan the best. I don't know who would remember the letters "Kleinjan" sent home to mum and how we all laughed at them. In a way our Kleinjan was much the same...If I remember correctly he wasn't even issued with a rifle for his own safety and those around him. He fast became part of family and soon him and I had the most violent fights over the most trivial things. At one stage my mother complained that if my dad wouldn't do something about us, there would not be a working door handle in the house by the time were finished. What would take place is that a fight would break out between us and then there would usually be a door involved where one of us would try get to the other while trying to escape the impending attack.

I remember Kleinjan in his t-shirt and his "onsedelike broekie" as my mum liked to call it. In the 80' s there were these very shiny and very bright coloured shorts with a silky feeling to it. I think they were actually polyester shorts. That’s what klienjan wore...ALLWAYS, barefoot and too eager to help my mum with anything and everything...he was a good boy, but I hated him then!!! He once tried to kill me with a knife, yeah!!! The fights often got vicious and even bloody.

I also had an older brother and I learned at very early age that my teeth were my best weapon and Kleinjan wasn't quite as clued up about it as my brother was.

My parents felt a great responsibility towards the guys who were living with us and there was always someone there, at times more than one. I don’t remember most of their names, but I remember Kleinjan and Koos.

Koos, I think was not his real name but his surname was van der Merwe and because we thought that hes character very much resembled that of the Koos van der Merwe in the jokes we christened him with the name. Much can be said about us bunch of van der Westhuizen's but no one could ever accuse us of not seeing the humour of a situation and making the most of it, often at the expence of some unfortunate victim.

Koos was the opposite of Kleinjan, since he was extremely tidy on himself and he wore his browns every day, even though it was not required on the farm. They were only to wear it when they went into town or when their officers would come around to see how they are doing.
But Koos was adamant that he would wear his browns everyday, his boots polished to the extent where you could see your face in them.

Koos wore contacts and one day someone thought it would be a good joke to switch them around. Poor Koos came into the kitchen cross eyed and confused as to why he couldn't see today. My mum couldn't understand what was going on with Koos either and was the verge of radioing for help for Koos when we started giggling and spilled the beans.

Just the other day I opened my mums cook book and there was a recipe written down in Kleinjan's child like writing, and I wondered where he was today, would he have gotten married and have a family. Does he ever think of us? He was as much a kid in the house as I was and I think because of the person he was my mother often sided with him. She had such a kind heart. She would tell me to let him be since he is special.

Kleinjan and Koos today I remember you, I hope u r safe and happy.

Due to factors out of my control I will be doing the postings on the blog myself from now on. As im Afrikaans speaking, there is bound to be spelling mistakes, even though I do try to do my best. The way things get put across in writing may differ very much.

I hope to hear from all of you so please do feel free to send any contributions for my blog to me via e-mail or leave comments.