Boys in the SADF

Men & Boys in the SADF

Memories are not always golden.  Reading through a post about the boys in the SADF who never did make it home is a harsh reminder of the duty required of all South African men during the bush war years.

Certainly they were boys when they went off to do their bit, but many young lives were cut short & so very many more were changed forever.  For better or worse?  That answer may vary depending on who you ask, what they got or lost from their military days & on personal opinion.  Change was, however, pretty much universal.

Boys in the SADF

All war is harsh on the people fighting & supporting the operations, as well as on the loved ones they leave behind.

In a different time, the African Bush Wars would have been headline news worldwide.  They went on for so long, & conscription affected nearly every young man.  Had the geography or the dates been different, movies would have been made about these men, their enemies & their battles.

Grey areas – Nobody likes them, but life is lived in them.

There is a lot of information available on the internet for anyone interested enough to look for the facts & the figures around these wars.  Sadly, battles are not fought by mathematics.  They are fought by fathers, mothers,sons, daughters, brothers, sisters & friends of blood & bone.

Memories & remembrances of the price paid by these men & their families in these now unpopular wars is getting harder to find.   The numbers of people searching for these stories is already dwindling. The memorials stand, but the people in front of them are thinning out.

It is sobering & sad to think that the wars that shaped society for such a long time are forgotten all too soon. The same is true for the everyday people who lived in & through these times.

Cost & loss cannot be fairly measured in numbers & percentages.  Whether you regard these people as heroes or something else, they were once part of the everyday people who formed a nation.

Here is the contents of the post (by Mr Du Toit) that I read earlier.  Will you do as he asked & pause for a minute to remember the following young men from our Generation who answered the Final Roll Call?  This relates to losses in just one day of a year.

09 Mar 1977: 71412837PE 2/Lieutenant Gerrit Keulder from 32 Battalion was Killed in Action whilst on patrol in Henombe area of Southern Angola. At Henombe, approximately 200 cattle were found and driven towards the SWA border, the idea being to take these cattle to the cattle farm at Omauni. A small PLAN force led by Denga Ndaitwah (recently retired Chief of the Namibian Defence Force) spotted the 32 Battalion patrol and hastily laid an ambush south of Henombe. In the short firefight, Lieutenant Keulder was mortally wounded and the PLAN force immediately withdrew. His body was carried out of the contact area before being airlifted back to South West Africa. The 32 Battalion Patrol abandoned the cattle and returned to South West Africa on foot. He was 21.

09 Mar 1977: 81951193HK Rifleman P. Katanga from 202 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a Contact with enemy forces in Southern Angola. He was 19.

09 Mar 1982: 77246502BT Lance Corporal Errol Carl Moolman from the Rand Light Infantry was accidentally drowned in a rowing boat accident while serving in the Operational Area. He was 20.

09 Mar 1982: 80589773CK Rifleman John Verrooy from the South African Cape Corps attached to Wenela Base was accidentally drowned when he fell off a pont near Wenela Base in Eastern Caprivi. He was 21.

09 Mar 1984: 82911710SWK Rifleman W.K. Matende from 202 Battalion SWATF was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN insurgents. He was 20.

09 Mar 1985: Two members from 6 SAI were killed when their Buffel Troop Carrier overturned in Grahamstown. The casualties were: 79350401BG Rifleman Shaun Patrick Atkins. He was 21 ,  82532581BG Rifleman Orlando de Portugal Goncalves. He was 19.

09 Mar 1985: Rifleman Eduardo Jonas from 101 Battalion was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN Insurgents. He was 23.

09 Mar 1987: 83412064BG Corporal Matthew William Wallace McGregor from 2 Field Engineer Regiment attached to 25 Field Squadron was critically wounded in Action during operations in South Western Angola. Shortly after leaving their TB to sweep for mines, his five-man sweeping team walked into a perfectly laid out FAPLA killing acre, marked with rocks in the trees. Two soldiers were out ahead walking recce, two soldiers were walking protection on the left and two soldiers walking protection on the right. They were just setting off when there was a loud explosion from the right hand side of the road and the team came under heavy small arms, RPG-7 rocket fire, mortar fire and rifle grenades. He died from his wounds before he could be evacuated. He was 20.

09 Mar 1988: Special Constable Fransiskus Lukas from the South West Africa Police Counter-Insurgency Wing: Ops K Division (Koevoet) was Killed in Action during a contact with SWAPO/PLAN Insurgents in Northern Owamboland. He was 25.


Next: Experiences of the SADF soldier

Source: Roll :  GRENSOORLOG / BORDER WAR 1966-1989 / (site down so I have not added a link)          Image  is Public Domain