Author Archives: Cameron Kinnear

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

Sailor Malan – Freedom Fighter

Another inconvenient truth to the current political narrative of the “struggle”, the first mass anti-Apartheid protests where led by this highly decorated Afrikaner war hero – Adolph “Sailor” Malan – and the mass protesters were not the ANC and its supporters, this very first mass mobilisation was made up of “White” war veterans – read on for some fascinating “hidden” South African history.

Many people may know of the South African “Battle of Britain” Ace – Adolph “Sailor” Malan DSO & Bar, DFC & Bar – he is one of the most highly regarded fighter pilots of the war, one of the best fighter pilots South Africa has ever produced and he stands as one of the “few” which turned back Nazi Germany from complete European dominance in the Battle of Britain – his rules of aerial combat helped keep Britain in the war, and as a result he, and a handful of others, changed the course of history. But not many people are aware of Sailor Malan as a political fighter, anti-apartheid campaigner and champion for racial equality.

“Sailor” Malan can be counted as one of the very first anti-apartheid “struggle” heroes. The organisation he formed “The Torch Commando” was the first real anti-apartheid mass protest movement – and it was made up primarily of “white” South African ex-servicemen. Yet today that is conveniently forgotten in South Africa as it does not fit the current political rhetoric or agenda.

Born in Wellington, Cape Province, in 1910 Malan joined the Union Castle Line of the Mercantile Marine at the age of 15, from which service he derived his nickname “Sailor”.

He foresaw the onset of war with Nazi Germany, promptly went off to Britain and learned to fly at a flying school near Bristol, England where he received his pilot’s wings. In 1936, he was posted to No. 74 (Fighter) Squadron (known as the “Tiger Squadron”). It was his first and only squadron, and he is regarded as the squadron’s most famous fighter pilot of all time. In total Malan destroyed 27 Nazi German Luftwaffe planes and damaged or shared another 26 all the while flying the iconic Spitfire.

After the Second World War, Sailor Malan left the Royal Air Force and returned to South Africa in 1946. He was surprised by the unexpected win of the National Party over the United Party in the General Election of 1948 on their proposal of “Apartheid” as this was in direct opposition to the freedom values he and all the South African veterans in World War 2 had been fighting for.

What he and other returning World War 2 servicemen saw instead was far right pro Nazi Germany South African reactionaries elected into office. By the early 1950’s the South African National Party government was littered with men, who, prior to the war where strongly sympathetic to the Nazi cause and had actually declared themselves as full blown National Socialists during the war as members of organisations like the Ossewabrandwag, the SANP Greyshirts or the Nazi expansionist “New Order”: Oswald Pirow, B.J. Vorster, Hendrik van den Bergh, Johannes von Moltke, P.O. Sauer, F. Erasmus , C.R. Swart, P.W. Botha and Louis Weichardt to name a few, and there is no doubt that their brand of politics was influencing government policy.

This was the very philosophy the retuning South African servicemen and women had been fighting against, the “war for freedom” against the anti-Judea/Christian “crooked cross” (swastika) philosophy and its false messiah as Smuts had called Germany’s National Socialism doctrine and Adolph Hitler.

Some of these men had been detained during the second World war as “terrorists” (mainly for acts of sabotage against the South African Union in support of Nazi Germany – Hendrik van den Bergh, Johannes von Moltke, Louis Weichardt and B.J. Vorster to name a couple), and now they where in office running the country as members of the National Party and governing elite.

In the 1951 in reaction to this paradiym shift in South African politics to the very men and political philosophy the servicemen went to war against, Sailor Malan formed a protest group of ex-servicemen called the “ Torch Commando” (The Torch). In effect it became an anti-apartheid mass movement and Sailor Malan took the position of National President.

The Torch’s first activity was to fight the National Party’s plans to remove “Cape coloured” voters from the common roll which where been rolled out by the National Party two years into office in 1950.

The Cape coloured franchise was protected in the Union Act of 1910 by an entrenched clause stating there could be no change without a two-thirds majority of both houses of Parliament sitting together. The Nationalist government, with unparalleled cynicism, passed the High Court of Parliament Act, effectively removing the autonomy of the judiciary, packing the Senate with National Party sympathisers and thus disenfranchising the coloureds. This was the first move by the National Party to secure a “whites only” voting franchise for South Africa (reinforcing and in fact embedding them in power).

The plight of the Cape Coloured voters was especially close to most White ex-servicemen as during WW1 and WW2, the Cape Coloureds had fought alongside their White counterparts as fully armed combatants. In effect forging that strong bond of brothers in arms (which so often transcends racial barriers).

The Torch Commando strategy was to bring the considerable mass of “moderate’ South African war veterans from apolitical organisations such as the Memorable Order of Tin Hats (MOTH) and South African Legion (BESL) into allegiance with more “leftist” veterans from an organisation called the Springbok Legion – of which Joe Slovo, who himself was also a South African Army World War 2 veteran and was a key leader, his organization – The Springbok Legion, led by a group of white war veterans who embraced Communism was already very actively campaigning against Apartheid legislation and highly politically motivated.

The commando’s main activities were torchlight marches, from which they took their name. The largest march attracted 75 000 protesters. This ground swell of mass support attracted the United Party to form a loose allegiance with The Torch Commando in the hope of attracting voters to its campaign to oust the National Party in the 1953 General Election (The United Party was now run by J.G.N. Strauss after Jan Smut’s death and was seeking to take back the narrow margins that brought the National Party into power in 1948).

In a speech at a massive Torch Commando rally outside City Hall in Johannesburg, “Sailor” Malan made reference to the ideals for which the Second World War was fought:

“The strength of this gathering is evidence that the men and women who fought in the war for freedom still cherish what they fought for. We are determined not to be denied the fruits of that victory.”

The Torch Commando fought the anti apartheid legislation battle for more than five years. At its height The Torch had 250 000 members, making it one of the largest protest movements in South African history at that time.

DF Malan’s government was so alarmed by the number of judges, public servants and military officers joining The Torch that those within the public service or military were prohibited from enlisting, lest they loose their jobs – this pressure quickly led to the erosion of the organisation’s “moderate” members, many of whom still had association to the armed forces, with reputations and livelihoods to keep.

The “leftist” members of The Torch where eroded by anti-communist legislation implemented by the National Party, which effectively ended the Springbok Legion forcing its members underground (many of it’s firebrand communist leaders, including Joe Slovo, went on to join the ANC’s MK armed wing and lend it their military expertise instead).

In essence, the newly governing National Party at that time could not afford to have the white voter base split over its narrow hold on power and the idea that the country’s armed forces community was standing in direct opposition to their policies of Apartheid posed a real and significant threat – bearing in mind one in four white males in South Africa (English and Afrikaans) had volunteered to go to war and support Smuts – this made up a very significant portion of the voting public, notwithstanding the fact that there all now very battle hardened with extensive military training, should they decide to overthrow the government by force of arms.

There has also been some speculation that the Torch Commando untimely failed because it could distinguish the difference of being a mass Anti Apartheid protest movement or a political arm of the United Party. One political cartoon of the time lampoons The Torch Commando as a hindrance to the United Party.

Sailor Malan’s political career was effectively ended and the “Torch” effectively suppressed by the National Party, so he returned to his hometown of Kimberly and joined his local MOTH “Shellhole” (Memorable Order of Tin Hats – one of the apolitical veteran associations from which the Torch had drawn its supporters).

Sadly, Sailor Malan succumbed on 17th September 1963 aged 53 to Parkinson’s Disease about which little was known at the time. Some research now supports the notion that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can bring on an early onset of Parkinson’s Disease, and it is now thought that Sailor Malan’s high exposure to combat stress may have played a part in his death at such a relatively young age. Although he fought in the blue sky over England in the most epic aerial battle to change the course of history, one of the “few” to which Churchill recorded that the free world owes a massive debt of gratitude to, he lies today under an African sun in Kimberley – a true hero and son of South Africa.

It is to the embarrassment now as to his treatment as a South African WW2 military hero that all enlisted South African military personnel who attended his funeral where instructed not to wear their uniforms by the newly formatted SADF. The government did not want a Afrikaaner, as Malan was, idealised as a military hero in death in the fear that he would become a role model to future Afrikaaner youth.

The “official” obituary issued for Sailor Malan published in all national newspapers made no mention of his role as National President of The Torch Commando or referenced his political career. The idea was that The Torch Commando would die with Sailor Malan.

All requests to give him a full military funeral where turned down and even the South African Air Force were instructed not to give him any tribute. Ironically this action now stands as testimony to just how fearful the government had become of him as a political fighter.

A lot can be said of Sailor Malan as a brilliant fighter pilot, even more can be said of political affiliation to what was right and what was wrong. He had no problem taking on the German Luftwaffe in the greatest air battle in history, and he certainly had no problem taking on the entire Nationalist regime of Apartheid South Africa – he was a man who, more than any other, could quote the motto of the Royal Air Force’s 74 Squadron which he eventually commanded, and say in all truth:

“I fear no man”

The campaign to purge the national consciousness of The Torch Commando, The Springbok Legion and Sailor Malan was highly effective as by the 1970’s and 1980’s the emergent generation of White South Africans had never heard of them (especially in the Afrikaans community), and even more so to the Black political consciousness who knew even less about these early “white” mass protests against Apartheid.

This “scrubbing” of history by the National Party in aid of their political narrative strangely also aids the ANC’s current political narrative that it is the organisation which started mass protests against Apartheid with the onset of the “Defiance Campaign” on the 6th of April 1952 led primarily by Black South Africans. Whereas the truth of that matter is that the first formalised mass protests in their tens of thousands against Apartheid where in fact led by White South Africans and more to the point mainly white military veterans starting a year earlier in 1951. Another inconvenient truth – luckily history has a way of re-emerging with facts.

Authors note: the purpose of his article is not to have a bash at the politics of the National Party or the ANC, the purpose is also not to drag apolitical organisations like the MOTH or the SA Legion into political debate – the purpose is to set the historical record strait and highlight the veterans role in it, far too much is wrong in the way South African statute force military veterans (then and now) are treated or perceived – the facts and “truth” can yet yield some surprises.

Written by Peter Dickens

References: South African History On-Line (SAHO), South African History Association, Wikipedia ,Neil Roos: Ordinary Springboks: White Servicemen and Social Justice in South Africa, 1939-1961.


Pro Nazi movements in WW2 South Africa

The Ossewabrandwag History is always a three way prism. As with South African statute forces fighting “communism” on two fronts – the Bush War and the internal “struggle” movements in the 70’s and 80’s – so too during the Second World War, this time the “struggle” movement was a little different and South African statute forces were fighting Fascism, Nazism and “National Socialism” on two fronts, both on the international stage and on the domestic front at home.

Little is known of the domestic conflict during World War 2 as it was effectively shielded and even erased from the state’s educational history curriculum – to the point that little is known about it by subsequent generations of South Africans even to this day.

By far the biggest of all the domestic fascist organizations in South Africa at this time was a movement called the “Ossewabrandwag”. The feature image shows a Ossewabrandwag rally and its leadership along with an inserted emblem of the organization. Read on for a fascinating and relatively unknown part of South African military history.

The Ossewabrandwag (OB), meaning in English “Ox-wagon Sentinel” was an anti-British and pro-Nazi German organization in South Africa during World War II. It was officially formed in Bloemfontein on 4 February 1939. As a background to it, in the Second Boer War (1899–1902), Britain conquered the Boer Republics. Germany supported the Boer cause.

After the war, there was a general reconciliation between Afrikaners and Britain, culminating in the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910, under the leadership of former Boer fighters such as Louis Botha and Jan Smuts (who was of Cape Dutch origin fighting on the side of the Boers). South African troops, including thousands of Afrikaners, served in the British and South African Union forces during World War I and again in World War 2.

Nonetheless, many Boers from the ex Transvaal and Orange Free State Republics remembered the extremely brutal tactics used by Britain in the Boer War and remained resentful of British rule. They were especially resentful of the concentration camp and scorched earth policies engaged by the British to bring to bring an end to the guerilla tactics used by “Bitter einders” at the close of the war. In the 1930’s the chief vehicle of Afrikaner nationalism was the “Purified National Party” of D. F. Malan, which later became “National Party”.

As in 1914, the Second World War appeared to a relatively small group of far right wing Afrikaner nationalists as a golden opportunity to establish Afrikaaner nationalist rule and move to make South Africa a republic independent of Britain. ‘We are now ceaselessly on the road to our goal: the Republic of South Africa – the only status under which we can truly exercise the right to self-determination as a country,’ said D.F. Malan on 6 September 1939 at the on-set of the Second World War. Prior to this, 1938 was also the centennial anniversary of the Great Trek (the migration of Boers to the interior).

The Ossewabrandwag was established in commemoration of the Trek. Most of the migrants traveled in ox-drawn wagons, hence the group’s name. The group’s leader was Johannes Van Rensburg, a lawyer who had served previously as Secretary of Justice under Smuts (as Minister) and was an admirer of Nazi Germany. The OB at the on-set of the centennial was loosely associated to Malan’s National Party. There were however sharp differences between van Rensburg and D.F Malan over the right course of action to be followed when South Africa declared war on Germany in 1939. Both believed that everything depended on the outcome of the war, both believed that Germany would win it, however Malan relied on negotiation with Germany to achieve his objectives, van Rensburg on the other hand believed that at some stage freedom would have to be fought for and began to formulate a militant opposition to the South African government to undermine South Africa’s war effort.

At first, relations between the National Party and the Ossewabrandwag were cordial, with most members of the Ossewabrandwag belonging to the party as well. At the higher levels, National Party leaders like P.O. Sauer and F. Erasmus (later to be made Cabinet Ministers when Malan came to power) were members of the OB as were Ossewabrandwag Generals like C.R. Swart (later South Africa’s State President) who was a member of the Groot Raad (Chief Council) of the Ossewabrandwag, whilst Eric Louw (later to become the National Party’s Foreign Minister) was also prominent in the organization.

Even PW Botha (future South African State President) joined the Ossewabrangwag but became disillusioned with the movement and denounced them at the end of the war returning to the more mainstream National Party. Combining the impact of the war and the very dynamic personality of van Rensburg, the Ossewabrandwag soon grew into a significant force, a mass movement whose membership at its peak was estimated to be between 200,000 and 400,000 members.

The relationship between the Ossewabrandwag and National Party at first was very well defined and D.F. Malan even met with OB leaders in Bloemfontein which resulted in declaration known as the ‘Cradock Agreement’. It specified the two operating spheres of the two respective organizations. They undertook not to meddle in each others affairs and the National Party endevoured to focus on Afrikanerdom in the party political sphere, while the Ossewabrandwag was to operate on the other fronts of the volk (Afrikaans peoples).

In 1940 the Ossewabrandwag created within in structures an elite organization known as the Stormjaers – the storm troopers of Afrikanerdom. The formation of the Stormjaers (English meaning: Assault troops) was in essence a paramilitary wing of the OB.

The nature of the Stormjaers was drawn upon the lines of Nazi Germany’s army “Storm troopers”, as were the fascist rituals and salutes, this is evidenced by the oath sworn in a by new recruits (in some instances a firearm was levelled at them whilst they read the oath):

“If I retreat, kill me. If I die, avenge me. If I advance, follow me” (Afrikaans: As ek omdraai, skiet my. As ek val, wreek my. As ek storm, volg my).

The Stormjaers were deployed in variety of military operations ranging from the defence of Nationalist political platforms to pure sabotage, they dynamited post offices and railway lines and cut telephone wires. Van Rensburg even wrote “The Ossewabrandwag regards itself as the soldiery of the (South African) Republic . . . the Ossewabrandwag is the political action front of Afrikanerdom.”

The ideologies of the Nazis were penetrating deep into right wing Afrikaner political identity. In 1940, directly after Nazi German decisive victories in Europe, Otto du Plessis (later to become Administrator of the Cape under the National Party) published a pamphlet – The Revolution of the Twentieth Century – in which he openly espoused the Ossewabranwag’s policy of totalitarianism. Oswald Pirow also publicly identified himself with National-Socialist doctrines and Nazi Germany and established the Nazi expansionist “New Order” movement inside the ranks of the former Hertzogites.

There even existed South Africa’s own Nazi party called the SANP and it’s militant wing the “Greyshirts” led by Louis Theodor Weichardt (who later became the National Party Senator for Natal). This pure Nazi movement had 5000 odd loyal followers. Van Rensburg from the OB had always professed National Socialist, as an open admirer of Nazi Germany and Adolph Hitler, the ideas and rituals of membership put forward by his organization had a distinctive Nazi leaning.

According to OB political thinking, Afrikaans would be the only official language in a free, independent, Christian-National Republic. The English speaking South Africans, regarded as an “un-national” element, would be condemned to an inferior status. Anti-Communism was an important backbone of OB policy in line with Nazi hatred of communism. The emphasis of the OB was also on race and racial purity. Members were exhorted to ‘think with your blood’, and the creed of Blut und Boden was promoted as an OB value. ‘Family, blood, and native soil – that is, next to our religion and our love of freedom, our greatest and our most sacred national heritage’ (Die O.B. 28 October 1942).

The O.B. always displayed an exaggerated interest in physical culture and the need for discipline. “Give us a master ! Give us bonds which tie us to a stable way of life” ‘ wrote van Rensburg. On issues of family value, the leaders of the OB proclaimed that the duty of the man was to work and fight and the duty of the woman to create and tend the home and family. In essence the Ossawabrandwag was based on the Führer-principle, fighting against the British Empire, anti capitalist – they called for the expropriation of “British-Jewish” controlled capital, the communists, the Jews and the system of parliamentarism. All based on the principles national socialism. From the outset of the war a series of violent incidents took place between statutory force South African soldiers and the Ossewabrandwag.

This all cumulated on Friday 31 January 1941, when van Rensburg was due to hold a meeting at the Johannesburg City Hall when a riot broke out between OB Stormjaers and South African Union Defence Force soldiers who were determined not to allow van Rensburg to have a platform for his support of Nazi Germany – with whom they were now at war with. The Stormjaers were armed with sticks,pipes, batons, knives, sjamboks and even bicycle chains, while the soldiers were for the most part unarmed and the battle raged in downtown Johannesburg for two days. Armoured cars were brought in while enraged UDF soldiers set fire to Nationalist newspaper offices and set police vans alight. Tear-gas canisters were hurled in every direction between the two antagonists and the Police. Before a commission of inquiry on the Johannesburg riot, van Rensburg declared that it was only OB discipline and restraint which had prevented reinforcements in outlying areas from being brought into town and broadening the scope of the battle.

In support of OB activities the National Party even came out in direct support of the OB against Smuts’ government resolution to detain and ban members of the OB. Dr D.F. Malan defended the OB in a speech on 5 March 1941, saying:

“The Ossewa Brandwag has been accused of lending itself to subversive activities and also of encouraging them. Now I say: Carry out your threat. Ban it. Prevent it and prevent its meetings. If the Ossewa Brandwag decides to be passively disobedient and refuses to be dissolved . . . I shall share the consequences with the Ossewabrandwag. At this stage I am prepared to say to you that if the government decides upon that act and the Ossewa Brandwag decides not to submit, I shall keep my pledge”.

It was a clear sign to Smuts’ government that unity in the ranks of the Afrikanerdom movements was as unified as ever since the outbreak of the Second World War. One very predominant member of the Ossewabrandwag was Balthazar Johannes (B.J.) Vorster, South Africa’s future Prime Minister and President. Along with likeminded OB colleagues he regarded the war as an opportunity to get rid of the hated domination of the United Kingdom of South Africa and welcomed the Nazis as allies in their fight. The firebrand nature of the Ossewa Brandwag appealed to Vorster more than the National Party, so while South African troops were helping to make the world safe from Hitler’s National Socialism, Vorster was appointed as a General in the Ossewabrandwag for the Port Elizabeth district to promote the National Socialism doctrine back home.

On his politics he famously announced the Ossewabrandwag’s position on Nazism and said in 1942: ‘We stand for Christian Nationalism which is an ally of National Socialism. You can call this antidemocratic principle dictatorship if you wish. In Italy it is called Fascism, in Germany German National Socialism and in South Africa, Christian Nationalism.’

Vorster was eventually arrested under the emergency regulations in September 1942, he immediately went on hunger strike and after two months was transferred to Koffiefontein internment camp as prisoner No. 2229/42 in Hut 48, Camp 1. B.J. Vorster was eventually released on parole in January 1944 and placed under house arrest. Interned alongside BJ Vorster was another Ossewabrandwag member Hendrik Johan van den Bergh who eventually went on to found the Bureau of State Security (B.O.S.S.), an intelligence agency created under the National Party on 16 May 1969 to coordinate military and domestic intelligence.

Van den Bergh was to become known as the “tall assassin” given his height. To give an idea of sabotage and violent attacks, at the height of the Second World War – 1942, Ossewabrandwag Stormjaer activities included: Explosions over a large area of mines at Klerksdorp, Vereeniging, Delmas and in Potchefstroom the OB blew up power lines – 29 January 1942. All telegraph and telephone communication between Bloemfontein and the rest of South Africa were dislocated in one attack in February 1942. Railway, telegraph and telephone lines in various parts of the Free State where destroyed in February 1942.

Fifty-eight Stormjaers were eventually charged with high treason, and a quantity of hand grenades were found. Stormjaers also blew up two telephone poles behind the Pretoria Central Jail, but were never captured. Two other Stormjaers, Visser and van Blerk were convicted of a bombing at the Benoni Post Office, as a result of which an innocent bystander was killed, they were both sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. A few members of the O.B. were shot while trying to escape from internment camps or jails, the most known was the dramatic pursuit O.B. General, Johannes van der Walt, who was shot while on the run near Krugersdorp.

The German Nazis themselves saw the activities of the Ossewabrandwag as very positive to their fight. Van Rensburg was even played up over Zeesen radio as the real leader of the Afrikaner people. In June 1941 Robey Leibbrandt was landed from a German yacht on the Namaqualand coast with 10,000 dollars, a radio transmitter, and instructions to make contact with van Rensburg and investigate the possibilities of joint action with the Ossewabrandwg. His mission, overseen by German Nazi Admiral Wilhelm Canaris was Operation Weissdorn, a plan for a coup d’état to overthrow the government of General Jan Smuts, Leibbrandt was a South African Olympic boxer who later came a fervent Nazi follower. He joined the German Army, where he became the first South African to be trained as a Fallschirmjäger and glider pilot. Leibbrand was trained with comrades of the Brandenburgers at a sabotage training course of Abwehr II (Abwehrschool “Quenzgut”) near Brandenburg an der Havel, west of Berlin. In South Africa he soon made contact with the Stormjaers and was brought to Pretoria to see van Rensburg.

Nothing, however, came of the negotiations. Leibbrandt’s megalomania was enough to deter anyone from cooperating with him, and van Rensburg refused to be drawn. At the same time Leibbrandt’s fanaticism attracted a number of members of the Ossewabrandwag over to his side, and within a short while Leibbrandt was leading his own group, whose members were bound to one another by a blood oath which partly read: ‘All my fight and striving is for the freedom and independence of the Afrikaner people of South Africa and for the building up of a National Socialist State in accordance with the ideas of Adolf Hitler.’ The quite truce between Leibbrandt and van Rensburg quickly developed into open hostility. Leibbrandt, disappointed that the OB did not officially support his mission and its resultant failure began to attack van Rensburg as an agent of Smuts.

This sealed his fate. After a few months in South Africa he was ‘sold out’ by insiders, his location now known he was the arrested, together with a number of leading Stormjaers. Placed on trial he was sentenced to death for treason, but the sentence was commuted to life imprisonment after much lobbying from Afrikaaner Nationalist organisations. The Stormjaers sabotage activities were getting too violent for DF Malan’s National Party policy of negotiated settlement with Germany when (and if) they won the war. Many of these acts of violence were going too far for the majority of moderate Afrikaners, and Malan ordered the National Party to break all ties with the OB later in 1942.

The South African Union government then cracked down heavily on the OB and the Stormjaers, placing thousands of them in internment camps for the duration of the war. Summing up the achievements of the Ossewa Brandwag’s campaign of sabotage, van Rensburg wrote this in his autobiography which was published after the war: “I fought (Smuts’) war effort and I fought it bitterly with all the means at my disposal – which were considerable…. There is no doubt that they (the Ossewabrandwag) seriously hampered the government’s war effort. Hampered it because the government was forced to draw off considerable manpower to guard many strategic points and essential services. A not inconsiderable military element also had to be retained in South Africa as a strategic reserve for possible emergency.”

At the end of the war, the Ossewabradwag was absorbed back into the National Party and ceased to exist as a separate body, many of its members achieving political notoriety as members of the National Party government on their accent to power with the National Party electoral win over Smut’s United Party in 1948. Imagine the sheer frustration felt by the veterans after “The War for Freedom” (as WW2 was known) had been fought with the massive cost in South African lives, to rid the world of Nazism and Fascism in the “good fight” – only to come home in 1945 and within three short years find the “home grown” pre-war Nazi and Neo Nazi politicians swept into government. The very men and their philosophy they had gone to war against in the first place.

By the early 1950’s the South African nationalist government was littered with men, who, prior to the war where strongly sympathetic to the Nazi cause and had actually declared themselves as full blown National Socialists: Oswald Pirow, B.J. Vorster, Hendrik van den Bergh, Johannes von Moltke, P.O. Sauer, F. Erasmus , C.R. Swart, P.W. Botha and Louis Weichardt to name a few, and there is no doubt that their brand of politics was influencing government policy. Also by the 1950’s, this state of affairs led to open Anti-Apartheid protests from the South African military veterans community – in their tens of thousands, led by Adolph “Sailor” Malan and other returning war heroes in “Torch Commando rallies” (Torch) and it ultimately led to the marginalization of South African war veterans, their veteran associations and the ultimate suppression of anti Apartheid movements like the Torch by the National Party. In the interests of consolidating themselves in power and in the interests of securing the “white vote” both English and Afrikaans voters (especially English speaking white South Africans of British extraction) much of this legacy was a political “hot potato” for the National Party.

Nazism, Fascism and National Socialism was purged from Europe with the loss of millions of lives, and exposed for what it is – a crime against humanity. Political careers – especially those of future National Party State Presidents and Prime Ministers would not be helped if their associations to Nazi Germany, Nazi political philosophy and even anti British ideals was openly promoted. Especially when National Service was instituted and the National Party called on English speaking white South Africans (and even moderate or leftist Afrikaners) to rally behind their causes and serve in the armed forces. So it was shielded – in formal secondary education it was at best trivialised if even taught at all and it was never really widely reported on national media mouthpieces.

Little is left in the modern historical narrative on South Africa, surprising since this is all still in living memory of the old War War 2 vets still alive. In the end it disappeared into a politically generated one-sided narrative of South Africa’s involvement in the two world wars, and lost to future generations. It even remains a very dark and relatively unknown topic to this day. The irony is that the future “struggle” of South Africa’s Black people against the political philosophy of these men would emulate the same “struggle” these men initiated against the philosophy of British Parliamentarian rule – and in both instances it carried with it armed insurrection, detention of “heroes,” imprisonment of a future President and the promotion of a political “ism”, albeit that “Communism” and “African Socialism” where diametrically opposite to “Nazism” and “National Socialism”” left and right of the political sphere. The net result is that “centre” balanced moderate politics in South Africa has been completely elusive since 1948.

Article researched and written by Peter Dickens drawing references from South African History On-Line, Wikipedia and “The Rise of the South African Reich” written by Brian Bunting, “Echoes of David Irving – The Greyshirt Trial of 1934” by David M. Scher. “Not for ourselves” – a history of the SA Legion by Arthur Blake


Carpane Massacre

 

In the North Italian village of Carpane on 27 September 1944 the Germans executed 16 Allied soldiers captured fighting with Italian partisans in that area.

Among them were Private W.J. Kinnear (Transvaal Scottish) and Gunner R. S. Kinnear (South African Artillery) who escaped with other South Africans from a nearby POW camp and joined up with local partisans to carry on fighting the Germans.

They became such a thorn in the flesh of the Germans that a special operation was mounted in the Monte Grappa region to capture them.

They were eventually captured and murdered by the Germans.

carpanememorial2

Commemoration

Every year on this day since the end of the war the villagers of Carpane have held a memorial service at this spot by the side of the road where they were killed.

It is very moving that these Italian villagers have been so faithful for so long in keeping alive the memory of these who were really strangers in their midst. For many years the identity of the 16 was not known and the monument was simply inscribed to “16 unknown”.

It was only in 2008 that their identity was uncovered by Sonia Residori, an Italian academic researcher.

Roll of Honour

CHAMBERS, A. G.

BUSH, F

MIRAMAT, S

SMITH, A. M.

DUNNE, W. G.

KINNEAR, R S
Rank:Gunner
Service No:53513
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:27
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery
Grave Reference I. A. 8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William J. and Susan Kinnear; husband of Adelaide R. H. Kinnear, of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

KINNEAR, W J 
Rank: Private
Service No:27529
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:29
Regiment/Service:Transvaal Scottish, S.A. Forces 2nd Bn.
Grave Reference I. A. 10.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of William J. and Francina S. Kinnear; husband of Maria E. Kinnear, of Johannesburg, Transvaal, South Africa.

BUYS, S
Rank:Signaller
Service No:117010
Date of Death:Between 26/09/1944 and 27/09/1944
Regiment/Service:South African Corps of Signals
Grave Reference I. B. 2.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

KING, C N
Rank:Lance Corporal
Service No:12225
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Regiment/Service:Die Middelandse Regiment, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference I. A. 14.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

CHAMBERS, F E
Rank:Private
Service No:93978
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:24
Regiment/Service:Natal Mounted Rifles, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Arthur W. and Cornelia M. Chambers, of Durban, Natal, South Africa.

CRONJE, L N
Rank:Lance Bombardier
Service No:105306
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:21
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Mr. and Mrs. C. A. Cronje, of Ficksburg, Orange Free State. South Africa.

FLACK, B R
Rank:Gunner
Service No:144020V
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:32
Regiment/Service:South African Artillery 2 Field Regt.
Grave Reference Coll. grave I. B. 3-8.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Brian V. H. and Maude E. Flack, of Pietermaritzburg, Natal, South Africa.

HORNE, C. H.

WHEELWRIGHT, D D
Rank: Corporal
Service No:11607
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Age:41
Regiment/Service:Kaffrarian Rifles, S.A. Forces
Grave Reference I. A. 9.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY
Additional Information: Son of Guy and Lilian Wheelwright; husband of Viola Wheelwright, of Lusikisiki, Cape Province, South Africa.


BOTES, A
Rank: Private
Service No:28077
Date of Death:27/09/1944
Regiment/Service: Rand Light Infantry, S.A.
Grave Reference I. B. 1.
Cemetery PADUA WAR CEMETERY

UNIDENTIFIED ALLIED SOLDIER

Carpane 75th Anniversary – Link


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


Air Chief Marshal Sir H.W.L. “Dingbat” Saunders GCB, KBE, MC, DFC & Bar, MM

Category : WW2

Many South Africans achieved high positions of command in British Armed Forces during World War 2 – and this is one of them – Air Chief Marshal Sir H.W.L. “Dingbat” Saunders GCB, KBE, MC, DFC & Bar, MM

Johannesburg-born Hugh William Lumsden “Dingbat” Saunders was educated at the Marist Brothers college in Johannesburg. Upon the advent of the first world war, Saunders initially served with the Witwatersrand rifles and South African Horse, before transferring to the Royal Flying Corps in 1917.

During the Second World War, Saunders was appointed commanding officer of No. 11 Group, Fighter Command (1942-1944), and in 1945 was appointed Air-Marshal commanding the R.A.F. in Burma. After the war, Saunders went on to become Inspector-General of the R.A.F.(1949-1950), being promoted Air Chief Marshal in 1950. In 1951, Saunders assumed the mantle of Commander-in-Chief of the Air Forces in Western Europe.

Post for the South African Legion by Peter Dickens


The youngest recipient of the George Medal

Today we have a heartwarming story of a forgotten heroine of World War 2 which carries with it a South African twist.

1941: Betty Quinn, 17, the youngest recipient of the George Medal, at the Investiture Ceremony at Buckingham Palace, London. She saved seven people from a bombed air raid shelter while serving as an ARP Warden in Coventry during WW2.

Betty Quinn, a St. John Ambulance cadet, was awarded the George Medal for her bravery on 14 November 1940 during the heaviest night of the Coventry Blitz. She was giving first aid at an ARP post when a shower of incendiary bombs fell in the district: “Without waiting for assistance she ran outside. AA batteries were putting up a heavy barrage and shrapnel was falling all round. Bombs began to fall and a man was injured by one. Miss Quinn assisted him to a private shelter.

A report came in of an Anderson shelter receiving a direct hit and although bombs were still falling, Miss Quinn ran there and commenced digging in the crater with a spade. She assisted to dig out seven persons who had been trapped and then attended to their injuries. She stayed until all had been removed by ambulance, although shells were bursting overhead most of the time. She then returned to the post and carried on with her duties.”

Betty Quinn was tracked down in 2005 for an invite to attend the unveiling of the Women of WW2 Memorial, next to the Cenotaph in Whitehall, London. Betty was living in Cape Town, South Africa where she had been living for 63 years, a direct result of what happened in 1940. Following her fame which spread throughout the Empire after her award, she received a marriage proposal from a South African, which was obviously too good to refuse.

Photo by Keystone/Getty Images, reference British and Commonwealth Forces Facebook page. Posted for the SA Legion by Peter Dickens


133 Army Cadet Force

It’s not often that I’m moved to writing a post, but felt that I have to share my thoughts on the Royal British Legion – South African Branch’s affiliation ceremony with 133 Army Cadet Force in London on 2 December 2015.

This was my first interaction with cadets,(since school) and was a remarkable experience

We weren’t 100% sure what to expect on arrival at 133 ACF, but got of to a good start with a warm and cheerful greeting at the gate and directed where to proceed to. (Apologies to the young man on the gate, but his name completely eludes me. Probably because he was directing us to the pub and that information was more important at the time)

A spread of biscuits, cakes and refreshments awaited us and numerous helpful and happy faces to assist. After the niceties were over, and the formalities began I started to realise exactly what 133 is all about.

We were in the company of a good representative group of cadets, from new starters to some old stalwarts of 133. This was interesting as we witnessed the various stages of a youngsters transition from recruit to proud and “Paraat” ouman. To see the pride and unity amongst them was really great. Although unarmed, they are comparable to any Brothers in arms.

While socialising, we had a small glimpse of some of their backgrounds. These young men and women come from all walks of life and have their individual strengths and weaknesses. They also all have their individual home lives full of good luck and misfortune.

It was the sad story of the passing of one of our brothers in arms that was the catalyst to bring the South African Legionnaires and the 133 Cadets together.

This is the “raw” material that Lt Sealy has to work with and from where she tweaks out the best in them.

Such is their enthusiasm ,We were treated to displays of kit and a presentation on their research into the SA military history, with a personal touch by their SA member who’s father was a Sapper in the old SADF.

Lt Sealy and her 2ic, Sgt Reynolds, have done an incredible job in transforming these young men and women into the cadets they are now.

Cadet Cpl Black, who could compete with any RSM on drill, is an amazing testament to what can be done. This young man has already been recognised for his ability and was the recipient of a mayoral award for his work in the cadets. I would happily have served alongside men of his calibre during my time in the military. He has already decided that his future lies in the military, and I wish him all the success he deserves. I’m sure that he will rise through the ranks.

However, as was pointed out in the speeches, not all cadets will go on to a career in the military. What was obvious though, was that they will all leave cadets better for the experience. More disciplined and focused people with a better ability to work within a team. They will have experience that will help them to contribute more positively to society.

As I said, Lt Sealy and Sgt Reynolds are doing an incredible job and the evidence was there for us to see. We can be proud to have 133 affiliated to us, and I look forward to future interaction with the cadets.
.
I would urge all legionnaires to make every effort to engage with our new affiliates when ever combined events happen. These youngsters are part of our future, and I feel they have a lot to contribute.
Legion greetings
Graeme

Many thanks to the Legionnaires in attendance – Russel Mattusheck, the Vice Chairman for inspecting the troops and his fine speech and poem. Peter Dickens, the Chairman for the officiating the signing ceremony as well as Theo Fernandes for the photographs and Cassandra Sealy for arranging the entire ceremony. Also thanks to Steve Moritz, Victor Ho, Simon McIlwaine, Graeme Scott, Tony and Ilona Povey

But most all thank you to the Cadets from 133CAF for such a special presentation and becoming part of The Royal British Legion.

(Peter Dickens)


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!”


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