Category Archives: Bush War

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The Death of Staff Van Rooyen

The Death of Staff Van Rooyen

Graham Du Toit of Facebook Honour Roll fame wrote :
“FOR THEM THE LAST POST HAS SOUNDED – 16 Aug 1988: 78458197PE Staff Sergeant Gideon van Rooyen from 2 Special Service Battalion was killed when his Armoured Car overturned at the Rooisloot Training Area. He was 26”

To most this is just another entry in Graham’s daily record. For many of us Medic Veterans or fellow ranks who read these entries we realize that we were there, often first on the scene. We were the kid that stepped into the drama and took responsibility. To me it was my first serious blooding in the field as an Ops Medic after the experiences of A&E in the East Rand Townships. When I read this excerpt it didn’t bring back any fresh memory because this is the one incident that is never far from the surface. Most are thankfully hidden deep in the psyche or forgotten. They may yet bleed out from the pen.

Tuesday 16th August was a regular hot and red-dust day on the firing range at Rooisloot training ground nearby 2 Special Service Battalion in Zeerust. 2nd phase training was ongoing for D Squadron, the Squadron I would accompany to the Border later in the year. Young men training on the big guns; 90mm, assorted incendiaries and the .50 Browning. I was alone on duty and expecting an incident. There was a lot of scope for injury and worse amongst these kids. My stomach was tight at the prospect and from dawn to dusk my temper was short. Perhaps another hand mangled by a piece of old ordnance picked up by a foolish troopie or a secondary detonation from a shell inside a turret. God forbid there should be a fatality.

My Glasgow sense of humour had failed after two weeks on duty in this dust bowl amid an atmosphere of severe discipline and presbyterian fatalism.

“58 Juliet-58 Juliet / 30 Alpha oor…..medic….” The alarm call came across the radio as I sat daydreaming and deafened on the range. But for the noise and burning wrecks of targets in the distance this could have been a pleasant spot to sit and view Springbok and Kudu or just scratch your balls. It may be just that almost 30 years on. I was rushed away in a Samil 20 to the area where driver training was ongoing further into the Marico bush. It had taken some time to locate the incident. Why had nobody stepped in yet ?

The Eland 90 lay on its turret on a 45 degree slope with a group of troops huddled up the slope directing us in. The facts remain unclear to this day but it would appear that the driver stalled on an incline, allegedly kicked in the back for his poor performance, and the Noddy slid back and tipped down the slope. A fatal kick. One complete roll with Van Rooyen unable to duck into the turret and then a partial roll coming to rest at an angle with just enough space to crawl under the turret. I was under the Eland after a sprint down the hill, pausing only to check I still had the adrenaline, solu-cortef, sosegon and drip stuffed into my pockets. The bare minimum required which already appeared optimistic. I was soon covered in leaking fuel that had mingled with the smell of Staff Van Rooyen’s vomit and the red dust. I can still recall that odour. He was half out of the Commanders hatch and crushed beyond recognition. After a swift assessment and an attempt to find an airway to clear, more from habit than any hope of saving him, it was now time to concentrate on saving myself. Not for the last time. And not under fire.

Here lay what remained of a Zeerust legend, a very popular man. A legend on the rugby ground and in the Mess Bar. Death had probably been instant and he was now beyond the call of his pregnant wife waiting at home. It was their wedding anniversary. I had viewed him as an old and experienced hand, physically imposing, balding and wise beyond my ken. In reality he was a young man of 26. I was aged 20 but there may as well have been another 20 years between us in terms of the experience of war, life, death and the machinery of war.

There was nothing to be done except haul myself to safety. The driver had struggled free and departed the scene. My medical bag sat useless at the top of the slope.

Waiting at a safe distance was his friend, Lt ???. My words to him sound daft now but my Afrikaans was limited and all I could say to him was “hy is dood…..baie dood”. He couldn’t stop himself and, despite the danger, ran down the slope to confirm that his close friend was beyond my help, tears flowing. The incident didn’t affect me that afternoon and I ate a hearty meal after finishing my stint at the range. There was hardly a pause and I was back on the evening’s night firing exercise. The Marico sunset was stunning and reliable as ever. We might yet have a war to catch up with if the recent peace failed. It came for us in April 1989.

Years later I reflected that one more roll or twitch of that Noddy car and I would have been dead, or a stray spark could have seriously ruined my good looks. I puzzled over fact that I had ran in while others stood like statues. It wasn’t bravery, it was the result of conditioning and a sense of responsibility thrust upon my young shoulders. It would have been bravery if I had paused to consider the consequences and still ran in. But I was just plain stupid.

This incident was a minute echo of earlier conflicts, Boer and the World Wars, and the attrition of training and battle on a young generation. 1988 had been a grim year for 2SSB with nine members lost, ranging from the Caleque attack to accidents at Rooisloot and deaths on the road trip home for a weekend pass.

Nobody ran in – but the cry went out, not for the last time – “Medic !! Where is that fucking soutie medic ?”

Author: B.J. Taylor – April 2018

 


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Ex ZIPRA fighter regrets downing Rhodesian Viscounts

 

By Shine Moyo, Special Correspondent

Mapotos: A former member of the Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army (ZIPRA) who was part of the gang that shot down tow Air Rhodesia Vickers Viscount planes in 1978 and 1979 says he regrets the two incidents which resulted in the death of 107 people.

Nkululeko Norman Mabhena (61) told Zimbo today.com this week, just before the commemorations to mark the 38th year of the downing of the second Viscount (Umniati) in February 8th, 1979 that he regrets the two incidents – which he was both involved in – and that the whole war effort was not worth it.

“With age and looking at what has become of this country, i can say the whole war effort was not worth it. I personally regret the incidents. In hindsight, I realise that I should not have been involved in these acts in the first place…. acts that resulted in more than 100 innocent people losing their lives, but that is what war is like, young people are used to do stupid things… I was young and I was used, when I look at what we were fighting, I realised that this is not it. It makes me very sad,” Mabhena said.

 

Mabhena and other members of ZIPRA shot down two Air Rhodesia civilian planes – the first one on September 3rd 1978 and the second one in February 1979 killing 48 and 59 people respectively. It was these acts – together with the torching of the fuel tanks in Salisbury (now Harare), aldo done by ZIPRA – that contributed to forcing the white minority government of Ian Smith to agree to give up power. However, people like Mahbena now regret having fought int he war in the first place after witnessing the wanton destruction that Robert Mugabe and his government have done to the independant ZXimbabwe. Zimbo Today was able to to talk to Mabhena at Matopos National park, the venue of President Mugabe’s lavish 93rd birthday bash, where he has gone with other war veterans to protest against the event that is planned to take place there later this month.

(Republished with permission from the Editor of Zimbo Today.)

 

 

 


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DHL and The South African Legion step up to the mark to deliver prosthetic limbs to veterans in need

 

DHL and The South African Legion step up to the mark to deliver prosthetic limbs to veterans in need.

Pete Hall with his new prosthetic leg.

 

In 2015, as part of the Project Gemini exchange programme blind veterans from South Africa and the USA joined their peers in the United Kingdom for a week of socialising, learning and camaraderie.  Little did they know that a real opportunity to dramatically improve the lives of two military veterans would arise from it.

 

Colin Williamson, a blind veteran himself from Blind Veterans UK said, “This year, at our Brighton centre we had two South African blinded veterans who were both right leg below knee amputees as well as having sight loss. Their prosthetics were World War 2 era and literally dropping to bits.”

Peter Hall and Renier Heyns, the two South Africans in question, are members of St Dunstans Association for South African War Blinded Veterans, and they were both injured in the “South West African/Angolan Border War” as serving members of the South African military.
Following the event in Brighton, Mr Mark Cornell, Past President of the US based Blinded Veterans Association acquired two sets of prosthetics donated to Peter Hall and Renier Heyns by an American hospital.  Problem was, the prosthetics were a long way away at Mark’s home in San Antonia, Texas, and they where needed by St Dunstans in South Africa.

 

To get these much needed prosthetics to South Africa; Colin Williamson sent an email to Cameron Kinnear of the South African Legion of Military Veterans (UK branch) looking for advice on how he could obtain some assistance in covering the rather significant cost of shipping prosthetics from the USA.

 

Cameron quickly kicked into action obtaining much needed shipping information and briefed his peers in South African Legion, some shipping quotes were obtained, but it was immediately apparent that this would be unaffordable to the charities and veteran associations concerned, and would take many months to raise the monies.

 

Peter Gillatt took the reigns as Project Coordinator on behalf of the South African Legion to make contact with the donor parties and act as liaison. Peter also put out a message to the members of the Legion calling for skills and assistance and Wayne Stockton, (a military veteran himself), quickly responded.

 

As it turns out Wayne works at East Midlands Airport, and made an appointment to see Peter Bardens, Operations Director of DHL. It became immediately clear that DHL were very capable and very enthusiastic to assist.  DHL then very generously agreed to sponsor the delivery much to the appreciation of all concerned.

 

Scheduling and logistics planning kicked off immediately with Peter Gillatt and Wayne Stockton coordinating the activities between the various parties, ensuring the correct documentation was in place and keeping everyone appraised of the progress that was being made.

 

Due to the Christmas closure of the recipient organisation, St Dunstans in South Africa, it was decided to postpone the delivery until after the holidays.  So, on the 4th of January the DHL collected the parcel of prosthetics from Mark Cornell in Texas, USA and delivered it safely to Andrea Burton at St Dunstans in South Africa on the 8th of January 2016.

 

A job very well done all round, now all that remains to be done is the process of modifying the prosthetic legs to fit two very appreciative veterans.

 

This very successful operation was a wonderful demonstration of the kindness of the human spirit and the will to overcome challenges for the greater good. Charity is not just about just donating money, it’s about engaging all sorts of resources and skill sets to actually deliver aid and support to people in need.
The South African Legion would like to extend a huge mention of appreciation to DHL for the magnificent and generous assistance they provided in making the start of 2016 a very special occasion for two old Veterans.

Mark Cornell handing over the package to the DHL driver in Texas, USA

Unpacking in South Africa


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Your SADF Insurance Buddy

Category : Articles , Bush War

 

Remembering the days during South African National Service “ inklaar “, when if you arrived without having a bank account for your princely SADF pay, moenie worry nie….these good bankers from “Volkskas” (amalgamated with ABSA now) were right on hand to help you, with table and tannies (aunties) to sign you right on … and there’s more:-

At the same time you were also sold life insurance policies and asked to write a last will and testament. Can you imagine that in today’s youth – 18 or 19 years old and you operated a current account, had life insurance and a current will.

It also says a lot for the veterans today, whether they wanted to or not (National service was not voluntary), they signed their lives away to serve their country for the princely sum of R0.00 (zero), that’s quite a concept for someone whose never served to get their heads around today.

Other banks, insurance companies and building societies – like Sanlam and Allied Building Society (now also part of ABSA) also assisted with National Service banking and insurance requirements, this was a very different time when National Service was part of the social and cultural fabric for white South Africans.

You can argue that banks like Volkskas Bank operated a “cradle to grave” marketing philosophy and this was a “get them in when they are young” and keep them to retirement (selling appropriate banking along he way throughout ones life) ploy – a common marketing tactic for financial institutions world over.

However they did perform a vital service – as pay had to be paid in somewhere – meagre as it was. Pay by way of incentive was also increased when servicing on the Border as “danger pay,” as well as “short service” options for National Servicemen to stay on a little longer at the end of their two years national service – and many a returning serviceman where able to use the savings to buy their first cars or motorbikes.

Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens


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Major Arthur Walker HCG and Bar SM

 

It is with deep regret that we announce the passing this morning of a true South African military hero – the highest decorated South African Defence Force member and the legend that was Major Arthur Walker HCG and bar SM. You will be missed by many in the veterans circles and beyond, may your family be embraced by the love and tender care of your heavenly father.

Major Arthur Walker HC and Bar SM was a South African military hero of which there will never be an equal, he was South African Air Force helicopter pilot who was awarded the Honoris Crux Gold decoration, not once – but twice, during the South African Border War.

The Honoris Crux Gold was the highest military award for bravery awarded to members of the South African Defence Force at that time – so his feat of obtaining two of them can never be repeated again.

Born 10 February 1953 in Johannesburg he matriculated from King Edward VII School in Johannesburg and went to the Army in 1971.

He obtained his pilot’s wings in 1977 and flew for 7 Squadron, Rhodesian Air Force, before re-joining the South African Air Force in 1980.

While flying Alouette III helicopters based at AFB Ondangwa in 1981 he was awarded the Honoris Crux Gold for risking his life during a night operation in Angola, by turning on the lights of his helicopter to draw enemy fire away from another helicopter.
The citation for the Honoris Crux Gold reads:

“During January 1981, two Alouettes, with Lieutenant Walker as flight leader, carried out close air support operations resulting in the Alouettes coming under intense enemy artillery and anti-aircraft fire. He only withdrew when ordered to do so. Later Lieutenant Walker returned to the contact area to provide top cover for a Puma helicopter assigned to casualty evacuation. Again he was subject to heavy enemy anti-aircraft fire. During the withdrawal the second helicopter developed difficulties and called for assistance. Yet again Captain Walker returned to provide top cover, drawing virtually all the anti-aircraft fire to his Alouette. His courageous act prevented the loss of an Alouette and crew.

Lieutenant Walker’s actions were not only an outstanding display of professionalism, devotion to duty and courage, but also constitutes exceptional deeds of bravery under enemy fire and makes him a worthy recipient of the Honoris Crux Gold”

In December 1981 he was cited for landing in enemy territory to search for and rescue the crew of a helicopter that had been shot down.
An Alouette III of the SAAF

The citation for the Bar to his Honoris Crux Gold reads:

“During December 1981 Captain Walker was again requested to provide top cover for the evacuation of a seriously wounded soldier. On take-off with the evacuee his number two helicopter was hit and crash-landed. Without hesitation and with total disregard for his personal safety, Captain Walker landed near the wrecked helicopter and immediately searched for the crew. Eventually the situation became suicidal, compelling Captain Walker and his crew to withdraw. When he was airborne he spotted the missing crew and yet again, without hesitation and despite the fact that virtually all enemy fire was now [aimed] in his direction, he landed and lifted the crew to safety.

Through this courageous deed he prevented the loss of two men. His distinguished actions, devotion to duty and courage make him a credit to the South African Defence Force in general, the South African Air Force in particular and makes him a worthy recipient of the Bar to the Honoris Crux Gold”

Posted for The South African Legion by Peter Dickens – with sincere thanks to Arthur for sending us a full colour image of himself in uniform only just a month ago – Rest in Peace Arthur, the world is a poorer place without you, and the South African Legion salutes you sir.

Our most sincerest condolences to his family and friends in this very difficult time.

At the going down of the sun …we will remember him.


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Ek kan nie meer nie Korporal

Category : Articles , Bush War

Ek kan nie meer nie Korporal!!! …. (I can’t take it anymore Corporal).


Music to a Physical Training Instructor (PTI) Corporal’s ears telling him a simple stress position holding a rifle (in this case the R1) is going its job.


Note some of these “Roofies” (scabs), as you where referred to whilst new to the army doing basic training, are wearing “overalls” (boiler suite) which was the standard issue wear most the way through basic training (your “browns” i.e. combat fatigues remained neatly ironed in your “Kas” (cupboard) most of the time.


For the real old timers who remember these stress positions and who argue that they had it harder on them because the R1 assault rifle was heavier than the later (current) R4 assault rifle – the truth is “unloaded” there is almost no difference. The R1 weighed 4.31 kilos and the R4 weighed 4.3 kilos.


The purpose of such agonising stress positions was to build up weapon familiarity, strength required to carry them for long periods of time and at times to deliver a little corrective punishment.


Post for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens

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The Stress Position

Many of the National Servicemen veterans will remember (or quickly try and forget) this “stress position” used during various phases of “Punishment” Physical Training – commonly known as a “Oppie” (colloquial military term meaning “op fok”).

This stress position was designed to build strength and familiarity when carrying an assault rifle, however what most of us will remember is the sweat, dust, heat and just how heavy a 4.3 kilo R4 assault rifle can become when held in this position for a long time.

This is not the average image you would find in a magazine or newspaper of the time, but it in many respects drives home exactly what basic training in the SADF looked and felt like.

Story for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens


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The Brigadier

 

Christo our driver – he who successfully retreated from a Russian T-34 tank – was the most reluctant soldier in the Border War. The army didn’t want him to fight as he couldn’t handle pressure, and he didn’t want to fight anyway. Why? – because Jesus said turn the other cheek.

Once we stole his Old Brown Sherry and quickly owned up. Then tried to make him open us another bottle, on religious principle. Instead he cocked his rifle and gave us some Old Testament vengeance.
The bunker after sunset was our preferred drinking hole. Here we’d open the first bottle next to the machine gun. And open the last in darkness long after the generator had killed the power.

Sherry had the effect of converting Christo to other faiths. After one bottle he suddenly believed in Buddhism, and told you so. After a second bottle he became an Atheist, and told the Dominee. Most times he couldn’t find where the Dominee was hiding.

As punishment for this wavering religiosity, fate led Christo towards that Russian tank. Later he drove our troop carrier over a landmine. Christo the pacifist survived both encounters but he’d had enough.

Back at Base, he drank himself through Atheism into a new phase, Bravery. This helped him steal ratpacks from the store, pack them in his Buffel and attempt to drive home from the Border.

He hit another landmine.

For these colourful adventures and many more, our mate Christo was much liked. When he transgressed, Christo’s older brother gave our Captain bottles of brandy to drop the disciplinary charges. So the rank looked forward to Christo’s antics.

Yes, Christo’s GrootBoet had a Milky Way of pips on his shoulders. He was so important he only moved by Helicopter. Christo said he even flew to the GoCarts on the other side of his Base.
And he would swoop in regularly to haul KleinBoet out of our Kas, and then fly back to wherever again.
Wherever was very far away. I know that because, where we were, I never saw GrootBoet Brigadier fighting the enemy.

I suppose that’s not unusual because Brigadiers aren’t allowed in combat. Even the enemy went to primary school. Brigadiers worry wearing so many gold stars.

Anyway, it wasn’t GrootBoet Brigadier’s job to get Kills on the Operations Board. That was our task. Problem is, we weren’t getting enough kills, as he often told us.

It wasn’t through lack of trying. These were SWAPO guerrillas we were hunting in Owamboland, real insurgency specialists. We wanted to fight them. They wanted to hide.

Mao Tse-Tung taught them that. Sleep during the day somewhere in the thick bush. It’s such a big country they’ll never find you. Then at night let the army sleep in the bush – while you drink beer and talk freedom in the kraals.

They won a country like that, those freedom fighters.

Not that we lost – don’t dare suggest that! We just had nothing more to fight for. In ’89 the Berlin Wall came down and the Communists suddenly wanted Democracy. It was such a shock that PW Botha had a stroke. And gave them one man one vote, just like that.

Or maybe he had his stroke later – after realising he’d given away the country we fought and died for. I forget which came first.

That’s why I’m really scared of having a stoke when I’m old. You get confused and do stupid things and feel terribly guilty and die. Somewhere between all those ‘ands’ the stroke hits you. If you’re old and confused and doing stupid things, you should be worried, like Zuma is.

Anyhow, back to the Border War. None of us could have predicted it’s outcome. In the days of GrootBoet Brigadier, we were too busy looking for sleeping guerrillas to worry about winning or losing.
Winning was everything, for sure, but that was the Brigadiers’ problem. They saw the big picture and designed strategies for our victory. They had massive responsibility considering all the planning, logistics and execution involved.

Then they still had to criss-cross Owamboland by Chopper to wherever their brothers were in DB, or hunt ivory.

One time GrootBoet Brigadier flew in, unlocked the DB and stayed the night with us, drinking with the officers. But he had to leave early the next morning, he said. 32Bn was on Ops in Cuvelai and he needed to organise fuel columns.

I guess Zambia was far away which meant much more aviation fuel. During heavy fighting up north the elephants always fled there.

Before leaving the next morning he inspected us on Parade which was nerve-wracking for all, especially the Sergeant Major.

Not for Christo. GrootBoet Brigadier spent a long time looking through KleinBoet’s barrel for that elusive speck of dust. Eventually Christo smirked and offered him some advice.

“You’ll see the sun come up through that barrel, Brigadier”

The Sergeant Major exploded and threw him back into DB for insubordination. And you stay there until you klaar out, Troep!

GrootBoet Brigadier sighed and climbed into his helicopter. My faith in military discipline was restored. You can’t just chirp a Brigadier like that on the parade ground.

After supper the Captain ordered a bottle of brandy delivered to the Sergeant Major’s tent. He was so happy he reached into his kas for a short glass and downed two doubles, straight.

I always respected our Sergeant Major. You could rely on him to uphold military discipline regardless of a man’s rank or family connection. In the army you can’t let the Christo’s get away with murder.
Hell he could drink, that Sergeant Major. And get angry too, especially after downing doubles. I remember how shocked the MP Sergeant was when confronted in the bar. He stood rigidly to attention as the Sergeant Major shouted obscenities into his face.

“Who the <NuweVloekerei> do you think you are, locking up the Brigadier’s brother!”


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Visiting a T-34 Tank

Category : Bush War

 

Decades ago we came barreling around a corner in Onjiva and drove into a T-34 tank. We were just a SAI section in a Buffel. This was a seriously unequal encounter. Like when Bismarck concussed himself bouncing off Eben Etzebeth.

You get two kinds of leopards, Oom Schalk Lourens said, one with more spots and one with fewer spots. But when you come across a leopard in the bush you only do one kind of running. And that’s the fastest kind.

The same applies to a T-34 tank. If you’re in a Ratel I guess it’s different. I hear they knocked out quite a few T-34s. If you’re an NSM BokKop in a Buffel, there’s nothing you learnt in bush-alley shooting that can help you.

You become acutely aware of your shortcomings when facing a Russian tank. A bunch of R4’s, an LMG and a shotgun don’t get you far. I suppose we could’ve used our pikstel knives as well but this wasn’t the time to check inventory.

They said don’t volunteer for anything in the army but in that moment your body commits treason against you. Your anus volunteers to open right there and then in the Buffel.

That’s a secondary and unimportant reaction. Your first response is to scream at the driver to Reverse! All of you, screaming the same thing simultaneously.

At the same time you duck down behind the steel plating. A T-34 cannon is pretty intimidating when you’re facing it from the front. And when it’s job is to erase you from the planet.

Not that ducking down helps much. There’s also that little round bubble on the T-34 with a short barrel poking out. You don’t know if it’s a 7.62 or a 20mm or even a 30mm cannon. Whatever, you suspect it can fire big chunks of Siberian lead right through your Buffel.

Christo, our driver, was now under severe pressure. He had a bunch of screaming, sh*tting maniacs behind him and a Russian tank in front.

Pressure wasn’t Christo’s thing. He was everyone’s buddy but had cracked in Basics. They were chasing us around with bed frames at 1am when Christo gave in. Sat down, lit a cigarette and told the Instructors to f-off. THAT was something to witness. Another story for another day.

Point is, he couldn’t take the punch, they said. Let’s keep him away from contacts. Make him a driver. So much for that theory. But now Christo had the chance to redeem himself. Pretty easy, you might think. Just hit reverse gear and back up around the corner.

Maybe his hesitation was influenced by 10 infantryman and a sergeant yelling at him in 3 languages – English, Afrikaans and NuweVloekerei. The last is when you spontaneously construct sentences consisting only of swear words. Bad ones that make you cry when confessing to the Dominee. He also cries.

Some of the swear words are old, the stock ones in your vocabulary. When they don’t work and Christo is grinding the gears trying to find Reverse, you spontaneously invent new words. These involve a combination of the driver’s, your own and everyone else’s mother, including the T-34’s.

The amazing thing is that this new language works. Christo hammered us into Reverse, popped the clutch and we shot backwards faster than a T-34 projectile goes forwards.

Straight into a line of Buffels behind us that veered left and right to avoid a crash. This caused Onjiva’s biggest traffic snarl-up since Antonio the Porto arrived with fresh veggies from Lubango.

On top of the skidding and sliding Buffels a company of BokKops jumped up shouting What’s Your Problem!?

Kak vraag sit. Go round the corner and see for yourself.

… So last month I walked around London’s Imperial War Museum looking at nice war things like Spitfires and bent steel girders from the World Trade Centre and suicide bomber vests and stuff. Relics from other people’s wars.

Then you walk around a corner straight into the barrel of a T-34 tank. Deja vu. Instinctively I ducked and shouted out the same NuweVloekerei I’d used many years ago. I didn’t know those words were still in my vocabulary.

A museum guide smiled and helped me off the floor. He told me the tank fought at Stalingrad where they defeated the Nazi Panzers. I told him I know this tank. And asked him to take the picture.

We don’t get many visitors who fought against a T-34, he said. I had to correct him. You don’t get many visitors who ran away from a T-34, I said.”

Steve De Witt


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Captured Bush War Artillery

Tags :

Category : Bush War , media

 

Bush War in Angola, now here we have a serious piece of captured Soviet artillery, taken by the SADF during Ops Hooper in 1988.

One can only appreciate the size of this weapon when one stands next to it. The hardware in question is the Soviet manufactured 130mm M-46 Artillery Towed Gun is manually loaded and was used in the Soviet Army since the 1950s. The M-46 was first seen in public in May 1954 and originally was known in the West as the M1954. Operation of the M-46 towed gun revolves around a crew of eight personnel. The M-46 is no longer in service with the Soviet Army but is still used by many armies in the world, mostly in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

The M-46 has a barrel with a tied jaw horizontal sliding block breach with a ‘pepperpot’ muzzlebrake. The M-46 was developed from the M-36 130 mm naval gun used on ships and for coast defence. Ammunition included High Explosive Fragmentation, Armour Piercing Solid Shot, Smoke, Illuminating and Chemical shells. The High Explosive shells weigh some 33 kg. The maximum rate of fire for this gun is between 5 and 6 rounds per minute and about 70 rounds per hour over a maximum distance of 27,1km.

The barrel is mounted on a split-trail carriage, with deep box section trails and foam filled road wheels on the ground when firing and 50° (25º left and 25º right) of top traverse. The barrel can elevate from -2.5 degrees up to +45 degrees. The carriage is of the split trail type and is provided with a two-wheeled limber. The small armoured shield protects little more than the sights from the effects of muzzle blast and also provides a limited amount of protection from machine gun fire in anti-tank engagements. The gun has long and robust trails to provide stability when firing and a large detachable spade is fitted to the end of each when the gun is brought into action.

The gun is mounted on a two-wheeled split trail carriage with large sponge-filled rubber tires on each of the single wheels. For travel, it is provided with a two-wheeled limber and can be towed by a truck or armoured vehicle. The length of the gun is 5,4m, width is 2,2m and height is 1,8m. When travelling, the 130 mm barrel is withdrawn by a mechanism onto the right trail from battery to the rear to reduce the overall length of the weapon which can be safely towed by truck at a maximum speed of 50 km/h. The weapon weighs 8 450kg in the traveling position and 7 700kg in the firing position.

The M-46 towed gun has the OP4M-35 direct fire sight with a field of view of 11º and a magnification of ×5.5, as well as an APN-3 active/passive night sight. The M-46 fires case-type, variable-charge, separate loading ammunition.

Photo and caption thanks and courtesy to Graham Du Toit.


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