Page 11 - index
P. 11

We spent all of 1988 going through basics, second phase, indivdual, crew and finally unit training. In
1SSB that year there were 2 training squadrons, E and F squadron, destined to go to different parts of
the border.

Our training was mostly on Eland 60’s and 90’s, but once border duty came along application was
shifted. There were men who went to 61 Mech but since 61 had long since abandoned use of the
Eland (Noddy car) they were provided with Ratels. The Squadron that was destined for Oshakati and
10 Armoured Regiment was effectively neutered to the roll of schoolbus escorts, roadblocks and
chasing bakkies. Not really what you spent a Gunner’s Eve for. (Gunner’s Eve happens after everyone
in the group qualified to be a gunner - not the artillery type that toss long “hope it hits” shots from
afar over your own troops’ heads, but the type that stares down the sight of a T-55 tank and then only
presses the tit).

Some time during the beginning of November 1988 the squadron was called together; and this is the
very first time that I saw actual democracy in the Army. The question was asked: “How many of you
by show of hands like being near SAWI?” As luck would have it a certain troop had just finished guard
duty at the SADFI in Tempe, and they upped hands. Lucky idiots; they were allocated to go to Oshakati.
The rest of us were secluded and sent for “special training” - and heaven knows how that would turn
out. Vir ‘n klomp opgepompte troepe oppad grens toe het die romantiek van The Deer Hunter ons
beide stywe menere en swak asems gegee. Let’s face it, it’s hard to talk rough if you’re still a virgin,
and most of us were. We were trained to be probably the most efficient killing machines but (due to
age-restricted movies and censored magazines) we were not allowed to see a woman’s nipples?

Ok, now I need to explain how an Armoured Car Squadron is constituted.
In a single vehicle you have a driver, gunner and crew commander; 3 guys. A troop has 4 such vehicles;
12 guys in total. A Squadron normally has 4 troops of vehicles; 3x4x4; 48 fighting men, with assorted
echelon and leadership component; grand totalling about 60 bodies. Just short of a busload full of
fighting and supporting troops. Average age about 19 and some months. Paul Hardcastle had a hit
(“19”) with much of the sameness.
Toe die Flossie dié dag wiele lig op LMB Bloemspruit was dit vir basies almal van ons die heel eerste
keer wat ons in ‘n vliegtuig was. No offence to the meat bombs, but it’s just not that big a deal being
in an aeroplane. Get over yourselves; greatness does not come with Toney Red-polished boots.

Daar was egter 3 dinge wat ons daardie heilige Sondag soos in glad nie op voorbereid was nie, en dit
het alles te doen met die vlug Grensfontein toe. Eerstens, Bloem in die somer is glad nie so warm soos
Grensfontein nie. Tweedens, die deurgangskamp op Grootfontein, en derdens, Kpl Willem Laubscher.
Kpl Willem was ‘n baie interessante mens. Hy was gedurende opleiding altyd redelik oopkop met ons
gewees. He was always fair and honest. He wasn’t my cpl, but he was amicable nevertheless.

The whole scene with leadership revolved around the fact that those that cleared in for their first year
get those JL’s that start their 2nd year at that time. That means that by the time you hit Year 2 (and if
you go to the border) you get the Cpls and Lt’s who cleared in with you a year previously; and that in
reality means that they are in exactly the same boat as you, but they are just not as well-trained as
you who have had specialist training. Yes, they can sound like a duck, and walk like a duck, but when
it rains they don’t float. That placed Cpl Willem in a kinda tough spot, since he did not get to go to the
border with the troops he had trained and all he had to look forward to was to “wish me luck as you
wave me goodbye” at Bloemspruit that Sunday morning. En vir Kpl Willem was dit nie genoeg nie.
Hieride dude het die guts gehad om as 19-jarige destyds die Brig, wat die Kommandement Oranje


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