Born in South Africa, Peter Badcock was educated and lived, until 1980, in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) before returning to settle in South Africa. Following a career in exhibition and interior design, public relations and advertising, he turned to fine art and writing in 1978 with the publication of his first book, Shadows of War, in a limited de luxe edition. It was an emotive recording of Rhodesia's savage guerrilla war, and such was its poignancy and its accurate reflection of the country's condition that it sold out, literally, in days. The national clamour for more of his evocative work encouraged him to produce his second book, faces of War, in both limited and standard editions. It encapsulated further moments in the escalating drama, pathos and wry whimsy of Rhodesia at war and, similarly, enjoyed bestselling success.
For the past twelve months, Peter Badcock has researched and worked on Images of War. The result is a unique overview of South Africa's Servicemen caught up in their own simmering border conflict. A reserve force officer during Rhodesia's protracted struggle, his security force experience and his physical and emotional involvement in that country's war lend perspective to Images of War.
PREFACE South Africans are no strangers to war. They are born of Boers who, in defence of their farms and Republics, met and blunted the might of England's armies in a conflict that bred and refined guerilla warfare. And they are born of the English who opposed them. Welded together into a nation homogenised by the influx of a dozen nationalities, and tempered by the displaced white tribes of Africa. Regardless though of this complex heritage, the modern South African is fundamentally of Africa, any tenuous link with other continents dissolving in the drift of time. Allied to her former foe, South Africa has this century fought two world wars, leaving her dead in German Africa, Europe, Asia and beyond. And now it is that she faces yet another war, not this time a global conflict, but in defence of her own borders, her back to the sea, her face to Africa. No simple territorial dispute is this. It is a matter of survival: of a nation, of a people; a defence that transcends all permutations of internal differences, whatever they may be, for South Africa has what others seek - in a shifting game of chess where giants play. Witness to the winds of change through Africa, and also to the force that steers it, South Africa stands caught in the entanglement of a still greater conflict; sandwiched; ostracised. Alone, she is condemned to relinquish or resist. For the men who wear her uniform, the fine detail of this scenario forms a distant background to their task, wider issues losing perspective in the heat and bushveld isolation. Stretched across the breadth of Africa, flanked by two oceans, they stand along her border - a broad band of nutria astride the rivers of the north. For them the border war, sometimes more or less intense, is a daily fact of life - be they National Servicemen, Permanent, Citizen or Commando Force. For most, it is a supporting role in varying degree. For some, though, it is a state of high alert or even combat. But for all, it is an intensely human war where, technology apart, man holds the key, his level of endurance setting limits to the struggle. It is the purpose of this book to explore that experience, examine the spectrum of emotion it generates, and chronicle the days it consumes. White, black or brown, their's is a common experience, but one foreign to those who wait at home, unknown to those who have not served. Through the complementary media of drawing and verse, I have attempted some small insight to that experience, without political position, without conjecture. It is one man's view, I believe an honest one. Regrettably, many units are not included among these pages, but their omission is not deliberate; it would be impossible to provide a balanced coverage of all forces without some sacrifice to depth. If this book serves to bridge the gap of understanding between those who serve and those who love them, then I have achieved my goal. Swakopmund PETER BADCOCK South West Africa August 1981
South Africans are no strangers to war. They are born of Boers who, in defence of their farms and Republics, met and blunted the might of England's armies in a conflict that bred and refined guerilla warfare. And they are born of the English who opposed them. Welded together into a nation homogenised by the influx of a dozen nationalities, and tempered by the displaced white tribes of Africa. Regardless though of this complex heritage, the modern South African is fundamentally of Africa, any tenuous link with other continents dissolving in the drift of time. Allied to her former foe, South Africa has this century fought two world wars, leaving her dead in German Africa, Europe, Asia and beyond. And now it is that she faces yet another war, not this time a global conflict, but in defence of her own borders, her back to the sea, her face to Africa.
No simple territorial dispute is this. It is a matter of survival: of a nation, of a people; a defence that transcends all permutations of internal differences, whatever they may be, for South Africa has what others seek - in a shifting game of chess where giants play. Witness to the winds of change through Africa, and also to the force that steers it, South Africa stands caught in the entanglement of a still greater conflict; sandwiched; ostracised. Alone, she is condemned to relinquish or resist.
For the men who wear her uniform, the fine detail of this scenario forms a distant background to their task, wider issues losing perspective in the heat and bushveld isolation. Stretched across the breadth of
Africa, flanked by two oceans, they stand along her border - a broad band of nutria astride the rivers of the north. For them the border war, sometimes more or less intense, is a daily fact of life - be they National Servicemen, Permanent, Citizen or Commando Force. For most, it is a supporting role in varying degree. For some, though, it is a state of high alert or even combat. But for all, it is an intensely human war where, technology apart, man holds the key, his level of endurance setting limits to the struggle.
It is the purpose of this book to explore that experience, examine the spectrum of emotion it generates, and chronicle the days it consumes. White, black or brown, their's is a common experience, but one foreign to those who wait at home, unknown to those who have not served. Through the complementary media of drawing and verse, I have attempted some small insight to that experience, without political position, without conjecture. It is one man's view, I believe an honest one. Regrettably, many units are not included among these pages, but their omission is not deliberate; it would be impossible to provide a balanced coverage of all forces without some sacrifice to depth. If this book serves to bridge the gap of understanding between those who serve and those who love them, then I have achieved my goal.
Swakopmund PETER BADCOCK
South West Africa August 1981
Friends, mostly alive
Except the ones you held
In that bloodied, urgent room
Where with them died your youth.
And yet, incongruous beside this hurt
Was always laughter, its recollection
Dwarfing the loss,
Assuming with time
A greater part of the memory:
The night we drank,
Washing away our adolescence
With warm beer, missing the train,
Van's suitcase going to Bloemfontein
And quite suddenly,
In perfect anti-climax,
An end to it, and home:
Face washed with mother's tears
While about you
The small ones jump and shriek.
And then, your father's eyes,
Misty with understanding
Of memories shared across the years,
In his first offer of a beer.
And in him too
The images of war.
There is within me a quiet place
Where few may enter,
A private ground of tumbling fragments
Where laughter shares with pain
Moments which shall not be erased:
Some few milliseconds
In a memory
That tracks by the quiet hours we sat
And sprawled, nearly naked,
In the small relief of shade
Whilst around us, in every sand-burnt crevice
Dwelt the heat.
Grey days that meld together
In photostat routine,
Of dusty uniform and bouncing, burning transports
To places I did not know
And cared for less.
Wet with heat, and sleep
That would not come,
And other thoughts
That would not stay away.
Of friendship, almost love
For buddies who ate with you
And shat with you, sharing the shivering
And your last Lexington.
1. The waiting game
"Wonderful thing, National Service,
I remember him saying,
"Teaches one patience, gives you perspective,
A certain respect
For the minds that command,
Into superior thinking. Yes,
Wonderful thing, National Service,
I remember him saying,
As we wait
Here in the sun.
2. Across the pans
Close your eyes,
Lose yourself in the slapping
Creaking rhythm of leather; the cycling
Pulse of lungs and easy muscle
Fluid beneath you, even in
The rare splash and spray
Of water in the pan.
Close your eyes,
Absorb it, your bodies one:
The rich sour-sweet horse smell
And your man-smell one between you.
You are again
Wet-legged in the vleis and drifts
Boundary mountains purple-grey
Above you, and ahead
The suspicion of an evening fire
In the chimney plume above the house.
Drink it in,
In the steady splashing rhythm,
Until it falters at a fence
Bringing you awake,
Into a world of sun
3. Thirst in the throat
Agh no man!
He talk, talk, talk, this bleddy sergeant-major
Well done he say,
We didn't shoot each other.
Still he talk
And all a'time
The beer gets warm, if they leave any
Those bleddy Namas
By the queue.
Agh come on man,
We been a long way already
Thirsty in the throat!
And still he talk,
This bleddy sergeant-major.
4. The sand baggers
In reluctant servitude
By bloated ranks of mutely gaping mouths,
For the liquid weight of sand
Their hessian tunics, drawing from them
A contented burp
5. Learning the ropes
Ah, when the huts are heavy
With breakfast smoke
And there is shade
Beneath the spreading tree
Where men should sit
Is it right I ask you
That a man must run
And swing on ropes, like a young baboon;
Or crawl through dusty tunnels
Like an antbear?
Can it be so
That to make a man a soldier
He must jump and climb,
Cross pits, which are deep,
And blind himself with sweat
Which pours from him
Like summer rain?
Can it be right
To do these things, when the smell
Of cooking mealies
Signals noon, and the women
Stir new beer?
6. Ja, I remember
Ja, I remember old Tom.
He was my mate, you know.
Always we sat together
In that bloody Hippo.
Man, he was full of shit
Always war stories - and girls.
Agh, the girls
You can't believe it, but sometimes
He showed me letters, you know,
Man, he was hot stuff, old Tom.
Always talking about the States,
What he was going to do,
Or who, you know.
Ja, I remember old Tom.
Got a letter from him once,
But mostly, I just remember him
Big, man, and blond
In those torn pants he never fixed.
In that dusty bloody Hippo.
7. Saying goodbye
He was, I remember,
A quiet man.
Thick-set, taciturn and dark
With bull strength, his voice
Deep gravel, coloured
By the cigarettes he used.
He said little, though,
Using his eyes, which were grey,
Like a sjambok.
How odd it seemed, then,
To see him cry, His son on
his shoulders Saying
8. The ritual
What depth of meaning
Has this ritual,
That transcends the need to clean,
To polish and prepare?
All have done it
Who face the test of war:
Filling the waiting hours with preparation,
Check and counter-check.
Hands, in mute rehearsal,
Testing trigger tension
To release their own.
For the boy-man,
Encircled by his rosary of glinting shells,
The apprehension dissipates itself
In this final reverie,
The bombs before him,
Before arcing to destruction
In polished grace.
Snookered you say?
Ha, you wait man
I show you something now, in that corner pocket.
No, I didn't say which one -
You wait, you just see what I do:
With even such a cue, bent like hell.
Now watch, I don't complain
The table isn't level
On those Coke tins there; just watch
How I make it go
Around even that torn patch
In the felt.
Miracles, man, you watch - aah so!
How can that be,
How can I play on such a table?
Bent bloody cue and all!
What you expect man,
10. The vigil
Above the wide Zambezi
That churns and tumbles past, unconcerned
By this vigil
Upon its southern shore.
For whom the river is no joy
But instead a hostile vista,
Perhaps a killing ground,
To be monitored and measured
In a clinical and ceaseless cycle.
Above the southern shore,
How dark the shadows seem
Upon the northern bank.
11. Ground crew
Of a different kind;
He pours the golden liquid, whose very alchemy
Deforms the edges of its stream,
Into the wings beneath him,
Into this man-made butterfly
Whose single perspex eye
12. The crow's nest
Is reawakened by this crow's nest,
Stark against the cumulus
That writhes, in a living sculpture,
Above your ship of sandbags
In its sea of drifting dunes.
While you can,
Alone above your ship of fools.
Deny the heat
That sends warm threads of sweat
Coursing down your spine, to spread
And damp your creased fatigues.
In your own space, for now,
When your watch is up,
To the mortal plain.
Two and thirty times a night,
The experts say,
The body turns, rolls, sprawls
But this one,
Unaware of its somnambulant requirement
Only the shallow rhythm of the chest
And once, in the ebbing light, A
flicker of the lids Betray some
14. Solar images of heat
Arbiter of movement in this thirstland,
The sun slides spitefully
Across its uncontested void,
Reducing, just at noon,
What isolated shade there is
To tiny islands in the yellow light;
Burning on the mind
Solar images of heat.
The changing season
Will bring small relief:
The watery sun
Lying in pools of winter light
On the scrubbed and barren sand,
To a pale splash of sepia
Beneath the leafless trees.
15. The sentry
Is it perhaps the searing strength
Of D. H. Lawrence, or yet,
The noble words of Shakespeare
Or science fiction, sex or socialism?
What web of imagery
Is spun about him, this silent sentry
Lost in the pages
Of another world, far from this place
That binds him.
16. Entry to manhood
Those days are not easily forgotten
That marked your entry to manhood,
Finely muscled and brown,
The full vigour and heat of life
Resting easily upon you.
When the future had no horizon
Lost in the mist of tomorrow,
When the world lay within grasp,
And responsibility, with its fears,
Lay far ahead.
Sure in your strength and your laughter
That cleansed pain
And washed shadows
From your heart.
17. The technocrat
The very word conjures technical delight:
Fundamental to each flight,
It forms the airplane's only link
Its smoothly hinged, hydraulic ease
A prelude to each landing,
Wheel-squealing, black puffs of rubber
Once down, it swarms with life,
A clucking brood of technocrats
In their checks and counter-checks.
They crouch beneath the fuselage
Like chicks beneath the mother bird,
Cooled by her shadow
While they work.
18. Triggered by the siren
There is a feeling,
A certain knowledge of being drawn in
Into a sequence
Triggered by the siren,
That thrusts you breathless, running
Into the artificial calm
And once strapped up, helmet tight,
Into the fidgeting, escalating
Tension of the Dak,
Where you will sit, breathing tightly,
It has begun.
19. Boer blood
The heritage of Africa
Is written in his face.
The highveld haze is his horizon
And night is his friend.
Boer blood quickens in him:
He rides as his grandfather did
In another time,
On a horse descended,
By some quirk of fate,
From those his grandfather rode.
He is born of the land,
Knows and nurtures it
And will, if need be,
Die for it.
20. Each man alone
Each man alone,
Inside the heavy thunder of the engines,
Hunch-backed in harness,
Tight packed in the pre-jump tension.
Examine each face, behind the eyes.
Read there of private things
That need no words, pulsing urgency
Suppressed behind a mask
Of nervous sweat.
Breathe the air inside this steel cocoon,
Thick in the throat, and warm
With body heat.
Each man alone inside himself,
Shoulder to shoulder
But infinitely apart,
Thankful for the booming roar
That seals his silence.
21. One with the shadows
He finds the shadows
And is one with them. He watches,
Cradling in his arm
The chill of bakelite and steel.
As so before him did his father's father,
In the service of Cetshwayo,
Who knew instead
The balanced weight of stabbing thrust,
Broad beaten blade
And ox-hide shield.
He waits, in the brush of leaves.
Beside him, in the liquid gloom
Kneel the ghosts of other men:
The amaZulu, people of the heavens,
Who washed their spears
In the rolling hills where waits his home,
The voice of Langalabalele
In his ears, binding him
To the bloodline
Of his clan.
He slips forward, into the battle that must come,
His officer beside him breathing orders
In a rolling lilt of clicks, his pale blond face
Strangely foreign in the mist of impis
That swirls and melts
Chanting above the turbine throb,
The pulsing file stands poised
To jump, the first of them
Already at the door.
Below, brief seconds distant,
Waits the curving earth
For the first to plunge, wind-plucked
From his circling perch,
Followed in a blur by shouting men
Who leave behind them
A clutch of wind-sucked lines,
And an empty
23. Born of wolves
Born of wolves To a heritage of savagery,
He is acutely schooled
Sensor in a world of shadows,
Where those about him
To the ancient craft of killing,
He is yet
More finely tuned.
24. Jumping in
Into a mad dancing tumult
Of whirling grass and dust
In twos and threes they came
Until all twelve were down,
Crouching, defensive in a ring.
Beyond the scything blades above,
Whose rising whine
Lifted the bird that brought them,
Chattering into the heights.
In moments, they were gone,
Their descent marked only
By a single
In the grass.
Scratched and flickering,
Beyond the clarity of focus,
I replay, re-run behind my eyes
Those telescoping seconds,
Each time Seeming shorter than the last.
The tumbling fragments lie beyond
My reason's grasp:
The landmine's signal blast
And the steady rattle through the smoke -
Or was it dust?
The wild running chase, lacerated
By the clutching thorn,
Before the shout
That brought me down, emptying a magazine
More high than low.
And Van Zyl beside me, standing
Till he spun, spraying pinkness
Across my legs and pack.
Then the chopper,
Or was it first a truck?
Oh God, I just don't know
Don't remember any more.
The walls of my memory
Close against it, blunting the detail
To a dull presence
Behind my eyes.
26. Return fire
Curious it is
That in the heat of fire,
It can suddenly
Of utter quiet
With stark clarity,
A distant birdsong and the tightness
Of a helmet strap
That clones itself
In two perceptive planes.
Real comfort exists,
As assurance underwriting risk,
In the knowledge of support,
The word's compound simplicity
Meaning only that:
For friends - buddies - under duress,
Under fire, unto death.
It is a bond of reciprocity,
A failsafe guarantee
28. Images of war
Six days they ran before us,
Dark with killing, and fast
With the fear of it.
Closer with each dawn
We came, crouched on the spoor
Like hungry dogs, exhaustion
!n our shadow.
And then, at dusk,
We met upon their killing ground,
The dull chatter of their fire
Following the dust
That kicked and stung about us.
There is no measure
Of the time that passed
Before light melted from us,
Cloaking their flight into the sudden black,
With our tracer.
Behind them, silent in death,
They left two men, anonymous, broken
And dark with killing.
29. Stolen moments
The moment is yours
Stolen from a war
That isn't yours.
Draw the rich tobacco smoke
And watch it curl
In a dancing veil around you,
Sitting hot and,
For a moment,
30. The innocents
Innocents about the fringe,
Licked by the tongues of war,
Shocked; statistics in the ashes
Of their huts.
31. The Bushman
How much killing
Have my people seen?
They who ran before it, innocent of war,
Through the course of time, in a thirstland home
Whose very desert promised sanctuary.
How much further can we go,
Before the tide that breaks around us,
Engulfs us finally, leaving only
Of our passing.
32. Reflections on a roll bar
Like burnished Kalahari sand
Through his fingers,
Night ebbs from him,
Leaving him abruptly naked in the dawn,
Washed with a sudden light
That startles and isolates him,
Baring his mind
In the distantly curious gaze
Of a browsing Kudu.
Weapons of War
Eight of the principal infantry assault weapons used by the South African and South West African Forces are illustrated in the list that follows. The composition of the list does not suggest that these are the only or even the most important weapons currently in use, but reflects a cross section of the infantry weapons most often seen in the operational area. Fine technical data is limited to areas of general interest, and is intended to provide a broad picture of Security Force firepower and capability.
1. 7.62mm R1 (FN FAL) Assault Rifle:
One of the most successful of the weapons produced by Belgium's Fabrique Nationale d'Armes de Guerre, the FAL (Fusil Automatique Legere - light automatic rifle) has been adopted by over 70 countries, and remains the principal assault rifle of the NATO Alliance. Manufactured under licence in South Africa, and designated the R1 it is a reliable and robust weapon. Capable of selective or fully automatic fire, the R1 is also fitted with a heavy barrel and bipod thus converting it into a squad-level light machine gun. It delivers the standard NATO 7.62 x 51 mm "long round" from a 20-round magazine, and weighs 4,31 kg unloaded. The FAL was originally available in a selective-fire only model, designated the R3, but this has subsequently been converted to standard R1 configuration. The R1 will ultimately make way for the 5.56 mm calibrated R4, which is a lighter and more compact weapon. Interestingly, the Rl's muzzle velocity, at 840 metres per second, is 125 mps faster than the Soviet AKM assault rifle at 715 mps, but 140 mps slower than the R4 at 980 mps. The R1 has a cyclic rate of fire of 650 to 700 rpm, an automatic rate of 120 rpm, and a single shot rate of 60 rpm over an effective range of 600 to 700 metres.
2. 7.62mm R2 (Gewehn 3A3) Assault Rifle:
Designated the C3 by its German originators, Heckler & Koch, this rifle fires the NATO 7.62 x 51 mm "long round", in common with the R1, and is in use as a standard service rifle in many armies. A development of the Spanish CETME design, which is in turn a development of the German World War Two StG45(M), the G3 is, like the FAL, a reliable weapon, if somewhat less attractive and robust. It is designated the R2 in South Africa. The rifle is made from sheet metal stampings and plastic fitments, making for simple and economical manufacture. Like the R1, the R2 has a grenade launcher incorporated into the muzzle design (firing the same grenade), and fits a 20-round box magazine. In contrast to the R1, however, the R2 has a rotary V-rearsight as opposed to a sliding peep-sight. In the light of the SADF's changeover to the 5.56 mm R4, it is likely that the R2 will play a decreasing future role. With a cyclic rate of between 500 and 600 rpm, the R2 has an automatic rate of 100 rpm and a single shot rate of 40 rpm.
3. 5.56mm R4 Assault Rifle:
The result of international operational study, and a blend of advanced 5.56 mm technology, the South African-manufactured R4 is in all respects an ideal assault rifle. Combining the best features of the Russian AK47, the American M16A1 and the Finnish M62 assault rifles, the R4 integrates many refinements to provide unusual versatility: a folding bipod mount provides for steady, accurate selective or automatic fire - as well as providing wire cutters and a bottle opener. The muzzle flash-suppressor acts as a grenade launcher support, while the sights are luminous for night use. Sufficiently heavy barrelled to double as a light machine gun, the R4 also features a metal folding stock, well suiting it to mechanised, airborne or mounted warfare. Weighing 3,5 kg unloaded, the R4 fits a 35- or 50-round curved magazine, and its stripping and assembly procedures follow those of the AK series. It fires the 5.56 x 45 mm cartridge at a cyclic rate of 600 rounds per minute, or 105 rpm on automatic, and 40 rpm single shot over an effective range of 500 metres.
4. 7.62mm Bren L4A1 Light Machine Gun:
The Bren was developed from the Czechoslovakian 7.92mm 2B27 in the mid-1930s, with production starting at the British Enfield factory in 1937. The Bren was chambered for .303 inch rounds, with a small quantity chambered 7.92 mm. This LMG was used extensively throughout the Second World War and beyond, building for itself an enviable reputation for reliability and accuracy. Following the South African Army's adoption of the 7.62 x 51 mm NATO cartridge, the Bren series L4 was re-introduced, rebarrelled and modified to accept new 20- or 30-round straight-sided magazines. In common with the .303 inch calibre versions, the 7.62mm Bren is still operational all over the world, although in the NATO context it has made way for the Belgian FN MAG, and to a lesser extent the heavy barrelled version of the FAL (FN) as a light squad automatic weapon. Also acknowledging the need for a belt-fed LMG, the South African Army is re-introducing the 7.62 mm MAG.
5. 7.62mm FN MAC General Purpose Machine Gun:
The MAG (Mitrailleuse a Gaz) is yet another product of Belgium's Fabrique Nationale and, like so many other FN products, demonstrates first class engineering ability. This weapon combines the operating system of the Browning automatic rifle with a belt-feed mechanism similar to the German MG42. Developed and introduced in the mid-1950s, it was rapidly recognised as one of the best general purpose machine guns available. Designed to be used as an LMG on a bipod, it is also used as a heavy machine gun when tripod mounted. The FN MAG is gas operated, belt fed, has a quick change barrel and fires the standard NATO 7.62 x 51 mm cartridge from a 50-round disintegrating link belt. Its cyclic rate of fire is adjustable from 600 rpm up to 1 000 rpm, with an automatic rate of 250 rpm. Its muzzle velocity is 840 metres per second, with an effective range of 800 metres bipod mounted and 1 400 metres tripod mounted. At 10,8 kg the bipod mounted MAG is light enough to be carried by an infantryman, while spare 50-round belts weigh 1,47 kg each.
6. Browning Calibre 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun:
Originally designated the .30 inch calibre Browning Model 1919A4, this general purpose weapon was widely used on World War Two armoured vehicles, and as a flexible weapon by the infantry as a company-level machine gun. Re-chambered by many countries, including South Africa, to fire the NATO 7.62 x 51 mm cartridge, the Browning is generally used as a vehicle gun or in fixed defensive positions. Developed from the 1919A2, which in turn was developed from the Browning Tank Gun M1919, the 7.62 mm 1919A4 is fed from a 250-round belt, with a cyclic rate of fire or 400 to 500 rounds per minute, or 150 rpm automatic which, with a muzzle velocity of 860 mps, gives it an effective range of 1 000 metres. The Browning weighs 14,06 kg without its tripod and belt.
7. Calibre .50 Heavy Barrel M2 Machine Gun:
A development of the World War One series .30 inch Browning machine guns, the .50 inch (12.7mm) was produced to match the 11 mm French Hotchkiss machine gun for anti-aircraft use. Appearing in various forms, the M2HB was the most successful of these, being used in fixed, flexible, anti-aircraft and armour-mounted roles. Although over two million were manufactured during World War Two alone, with many still in use, the .50 Browning's excellence may be judged by the USA's decision to resume its manufacture some 44 years after its first appearance. This heavy machine gun is extensively used in various roles by the SADF, and is ideally suited for fixed defensive, mobile mounted and border positions. The .50 M2HB weighs 38,1 kg excluding its 20 kg tripod and 110-round metal link belt, and boasts a cyclic rate of 450-550 rounds per minute, or automatic rate of 120 rpm.
8. Rifle Grenade Type 103:
Developed for use in both offensive and defensive roles, the Type 103 is a highly effective assault weapon, with particular psychological effect in its counter-insurgency role. The grenade itself is a high explosive anti-personnel rifle-launched grenade designed for use on the 7.62 mm R1 and R2 assault rifles, and by the 5.56 mm R4 rifle. The grenade is slipped over a muzzle attachment standard to all three weapons, and is initiated by the firing of a ballustite cartridge. It has a maximum range of 150 metres, achieved with the rifle at 45° to the ground. The grenade has a mild steel notched-wire fragmentation sleeve which is exploded, on detonation of the main TNT filling, into approximately 500 small, high-velocity fragments covering a blast or danger radius of plus or minus 30 metres. The grenade is initiated by a percussion fuse, while an optional long or short trajectory arming delay is selected by the firer. This will be determined by the density of bush and vegetation.
Weapons of War 2
In the list that follows, eight of the principal weapons employed in terrorist and insurgency operations against the South African Security Forces are illustrated. It will be seen immediately that they all originate from Warsaw Pact countries, underlining the reality of Soviet involvement in such operations. Although weapons originating in certain Western countries are found, too, these appearances are rare and are largely restricted to material of World War Two vintage. The object of this list is to provide a broad picture of the firepower capability facing South Africa, and consequently fine technical detail has been limited to points relevant to their insurgency employment.
1. 7.62mm To/carev TT30/TT33 and 9mm Makarov (PM) Pistols:
The TT (Tula Tokarev) 7.62 mm pistol (left) was developed in 1930 from the American Colt-Browning design of the Colt Model 1911, and is found in two versions, the TT30 and TT33. Originally the standard Soviet Army sidearm, it has been replaced amongst the Warsaw Pact countries by the Russian Makarov Pistol (right). The Tokarev has also been manufactured as the Model 48 by Hungary, Poland and Yugoslavia, and by China as the Type 51. Widely distributed among insurgency movements, it is found at platoon command level, or as an additional or alternative weapon for small groups of infiltrators carrying AK assault rifles. The Tokarev fires a 7.62 x 25 mm Type P round, almost identical to the 7.63 mm Mauser cartridge, and weighs 0,9 kg unloaded. The 9 mm Makarov, a scaled-up copy of the German Walther PP, fires the unique, blunt Soviet 9 x 18 mm pistol round, and like the Tokarev fits an 8-round box magazine. The Makarov pistol is in extensive use throughout Eastern Europe and Asia, as well as in several "client' countries of Russia and China, where it is produced as the Type 59.
2. 7.62 mm 5KS (Samozaryadnyi Karabin Simonova) Carbine:
The SKS carbine was developed during the Second World War as a tactical equivalent to the US M1 and M14, although its introduction occured only at war's end. The SKS was chambered to utilise the then new Soviet "Intermediate" 7.62 x 39 mm Type M43 round. It is a simple, gas-operated rifle of conventional design, and is easily recognised by its traditional one-piece wooden stock and blade-type bayonet folded beneath the barrel. The SKS has a pivotal 10-round charger-loaded box magazine, whose platform operates as a hold-open device when empty. No longer in use by front line Soviet forces, the SKS has nevertheless been manufactured in enormous quantities since 1943 by the USSR and its allies, and by China since 1956. This weapon features prominently in "liberation force" arsenals the world over although, in the Southern African context at least, it is making way for the more sophisticated AK47 or AKM assault rifles, and is seldom seen on the South African or South West African borders.
3. 7.62 mm AK47 (Avtomat Kalashnikova) and AKM (Modernizirovannyi Avtomat Kalashnikova) Assault Rifles:
Originated in 1947, the AK47 was the first generation of true Soviet assault rifles. Manufactured by most Warsaw Pact and Eastern Communist nations, the AK, the newer, modified AKM, and the SKM-S (folding metal stock version) have reached a production total in excess of 50 million units - the most extensively manufactured small arm in the world. This highly efficient gas-operated, selective fire weapon delivers the Soviet 7.62 x 39 mm Type M43 round at a cyclic rate of fire of up to 600 rounds per minute, translating to an automatic rate of 100 rpm, or single shot rate of 40 rpm. The AK47 fits a 30- or 40-round magazine and weighs 5,1 kg, as against the AKM's 4 kg. The AKM (illustrated) features numerous changes and improvements, the most salient visual difference being its muzzle compensator, which holds the barrel down in automatic fire. Robust and reliable, the AK's "idiot-proof" simplicity makes it an ideal insurgency weapon, and the distinctive shape of this weapon, with its curved magazine, has long been associated with Communist-supported revolution the world over.
4. 7.62 mm SVD (Snayperskaya Vintovka Dragunova) Sniper Rifle:
The SVD or Dragunov is a comparatively recent addition to the Soviet arsenal, replacing the old bolt-action Mosin-Nagant M1891/30 rifles of World War Two vintage. Firing a rimmed 7.62 mm x 54R cartridge, the Dragunov is extremely unusual in that, as a semi-automatic rifle, it has been specifically designed for sniping. Its action is similar in principle to the AK47/AKM but uses a short-stroke impulsively operated piston in place of the long-stroke of the Kalashnikov, the resultant reduction of internal working movement making for greater accuracy. A four-power telescope sight and flash eliminator are standard features, while a section of the rear stock is cut away behind the pistol grip, lightening the weapon and giving it a distinctive appearance. The Dragunov fits a detachable 10-round curved magazine and can fire up to 20 rpm over an effective range of 1 300 m - although accuracy is reduced over 400 m. Trials indicate one click on the scope adjustment equals a 60 cm horizontal plane difference at 500 m, thus placing considerable dependence on the ability of the sniper.
5. 7.62 mm RPD (Ruchnoi Pulemet Degtyareva) and RPK (Ruchnoi Pulemet Kalashnikova) Light Machine Guns:
Work on the RPD (illustrated) was begun in 1943, but the weapon was only introduced as the Soviet Army's standard LMG in the 1950s. The RPD was intended as a squad level support weapon, complementary to the AK47 assault rifle. Belt fed from a 100-round drum magazine clipped beneath, the feed system will accept only the continuous metal open-pocket type belt unique to the RPD. It has a cyclic rate of 700 rpm, firing the 7.62 x 39 mm Type M43 round, and achieves an automatic rate of fire of 150 rpm. It is interesting to note that in its insurgency role, the RPD frequently has every fifth round removed from the belt, in order to dissuade unsophisticated gunners from emptying the drum skyward. With an effective range under 400 m, the RPD is now obsolete in the Warsaw Pact, being replaced by the RPK -essentially a longer, heavy-barrelled AKM, with folding bipod. Fitting a 40-round magazine or 75-round drum magazine, the RPK also uses the standard AK 30-round magazine, and has an effective range of 800 m, a cyclic rate of 660 rpm, and an automatic rate of 80 rpm. Although both LMGs are used in insurgency operations, the RPK is not often found in South African and South West African border operations as yet.
6. 7.62 mm PK (Pulemet Kalashnikova) General Purpose Machine Gun:
The first true general purpose machine gun to be seen in Soviet service, it replaces the old RP46 and, having a replaceable barrel, is capable of heavier duty than the RPK LMG. The PK fires a 7.62 x 54R rimmed cartridge which has approximately twice the propellant capacity of the 7.62 x 39 mm Type M43 round of the AK series. Yet another variation of the AK mechanism, the PK is an excellent fully automatic, gas-operated weapon with a cyclic rate of 650 rpm (250 rpm on automatic), and an effective range of 1 000 metres. Intended as a company support weapon, the PK can be used in bipod, tripod (PKS), or armour-vehicle mounted (PKB) roles, and is visually distinctive in that, like the SVD Dragunov, its butt configuration features a cut-out. It is conceivable that this instant recognition feature is deliberately designed to underline their calibre compatibility. The PK (its latest service version is designated PKM) fires 100-, 200- or 250-round continuous closed-pocket metallic belts and, complete with the latter, weighs 18,4kg bipod mounted or 25,9 kg tripod mounted.
7.RPG-7V (Reaktivniy Protivotankovyi Granatomet-7) Anti-Tank Launcher:
As the standard man-portable shoulder-launched, short-range anti-armour weapon of the Warsaw Pact countries and their allies, the RPG-7 replaced the RPG-2 in 1962, with devastating versatility. The shoulder-rested launcher fires a 2,25 kg 85 mm calibre projectile (termed PG-7) which, powered by an internal rocket, gives short flight-time and flat trajectory. Accuracy, aided by an excellent range-finding Type PGO-7V optical sight, is possible up to 400 m, given good weather and a stationary target - but still largely dependent on the ability of the firer. Beyond 400 m accuracy decreases, and in windy conditions can be as low as 200 m. It is accurate on moving targets up to 300 m. The PG-7 round is a hollow charge anti-tank round capable of armour-penetration up to 200 mm to 230 mm, while the portability of the RPG-7 makes it one of the world's best anti-tank weapons. However, its support and attack versatility in the insurgency role is of greater interest in Southern Africa: it has been used (in Rhodesia and South West Africa) against homesteads, administrative buildings, civil and military vehicles, and as an ad hoc infantry support weapon with equal effect.
8. Hand Grenades:
Three principal grenade types are currently in use by the Warsaw Pact countries, and therefore by the various terrorist forces internationally. The first of these (left) is the F.1 fragmentation grenade, similar to the traditional British No. 36 Mills bomb. Although widely distributed, the heavy bodied, cast iron F.1 - which uses a UZRG fuse - is gradually being replaced by the newer RGD-5 (centre). The RGD-5 comprises a high explosive charge in a serrated fragmentation liner, enclosed in a smooth sheet-steel outer case. The fuse is again the UZRG type, although the RGD-5 is more compact, half the weight of the F.1, and can be thrown further. The RG-42 (right) resembles the earlier German "potato masher" without handle. This light blast grenade carries the highest HE charge of the three and has numerous layers of rolled sheet metal inside the grenade body to fragment on explosion. Tests indicate an effective fragmentation radius of 10 m for the RG-42,15 m for the heavy F.1, and 20 m for the RGD-5, although the latter is less effective due to the small quantity of fragments spread over the blast distance.
NOTES TO THE DRAWINGS
(All drawings have been executed in the same medium, namely 28 and 4B pencil on Zanders board.)
1. The waiting game: Relaxing against the wheel of a Buffel, or Buffalo, mine-proof personnel carrier, a young National Serviceman awaits instructions, a Bren light machine gun slung across his chest. Now operational as an infantryman, in the second year of his twenty-four month National Service, he is the product of up to twelve months first and second phase training. In common with every medically-fit white male citizen, he would have reported for National Service in his eighteenth year, on completion of high school education, and undertaken a first phase basic training period of eight to ten weeks before embarking on specialist second phase training - in his case as an infanteer. On deployment to the operational area, he will generally fall under the command of Permanent Force officers and senior NCOs, and will complete his service in an active role dictated by prevailing conditions. On completion of his service, he will be attached to a Citizen Force (conventional reserve) or Commando Force (non-conventional reserve) unit for a further eight years, in which time he will complete a further 240 days of service.
2. Across the pans: Crossing a rare and shallow winter pan, a mounted member of 1 SWA Specialist Unit dips his head from the sun's full glare, while his horse relishes the cool diversion. Originated on a trial basis in 1973 with an initial mounted platoon, 1 SWA Specialist Unit has developed apace the escalating war to incorporate mounted, tracking, dog and motorcycle sections. The mounted troops of 1 SWA Spec, begin National Service in the normal way, completing basic phase one training before opting for specialisation as mounted infantry. It should be noted, however, that while the unit is designated SWA, its members originate in the main from South Africa, completing initial selection and training at the South African Army Equestrian Centre at Potchefstroom, before final training and deployment. At Potchefstroom, 21 weeks are spent on basic horsemanship, "mounted" weapons training, and COIN (Counter-Insurgency) mounted tactics - following which the troops are deployed for orientation and evaluation. Perhaps the last operational mounted infantry unit in the world, following the disbandment of Rhodesia's Greys Scouts, 1 SWA Spec, combines a unique blend of horsemanship and fighting skill to perform a wide variety of roles in the operational area (see notes to drawing 19), through all of which an extraordinary bond between horse and rider is achieved.
3. Thirst in the throat: Two Nama members of the multi-ethnic 911 Battalion, core of the South West Africa Territory Force, stand impatiently on parade. Just returned from operational duty on the northern border, their throats are dry with the dust of travel, and their immediate preoccupation is with the iced contents of their mess. Formed in 1977, 911 Battalion (originally designated 41) was drawn from the central and southern areas of the Territory - and is in consequence completely multi-national. Like the SWATF's remaining seven battalions, the recruits are volunteers, signing on a renewable two-year contract basis. In contrast, however, the remaining battalions tend to reflect, in their composition, the local population group of their base area. The Territory is in fact divided into seven sectors, whose designations determine their battalion listing - for instance, Owamboland as Sector 10 (One-Zero) would support 101 (Owambo) Battalion, while Sector 70 would support 701 (East Caprivian) Battalion. Local area defence is entrusted to non-conventional Commando Forces, now designated Area Force Units, and identified by their respective area names. Interestingly, the SWATF have adopted their own rank insignia, and this may be seen in the horizontal bar insignia of the Nama lance-corporal in the foreground.
4. The sane/baggers: It is drily observed in countless training and service manuals that a National Serviceman's operational duties will be determined by prevailing requirements, and by the task allocated his corps. While this is perfectly true, he may rest assured that the fine art of digging is common to all. Whether entrenching, a time honoured military tradition, digging in artillery or other support weapons, or simply escavating new latrines, he will soon become familiar with the operation of a pick and shovel. In the escalating temperature of certain border areas, he is soon assured of a rich, golden tan which, in ordinary circumstances, would only be expensively and slowly acquired on beachfront playgrounds or holiday resorts. He can be thankful, too, for the finely hardened physique that disciplined exercise develops, again at no expense. In the final analysis, though, there is a certain unmistakable sense of achievement in the completion of a deep trench or mortar pit -and no little sense of security.
5. Learning the ropes: Soaked with sweat in the humid summer heat of the east Caprivi, a soldier of 701 Battalion (formerly 33 Battalion) sways precariously on an assault course rope, clinging for dear life lest he falls into the muddy pit below. 701 Battalion is essentially a white-officered Caprivian battalion, reflecting the tribal nature of its base at Katima Mulilo on the Zambezi border of the east Caprivi Strip. It is unusual, interestingly, in that it is the only officially English-speaking battalion within the SADF and SWATF establishment, all others being officially bilingual. Whilst the significance and importance of assault course training may be lost on sweating and exhausted recruits, it nevertheless forms an essential part of operational training. In addition to the diverse variety of hurdles it contains, it should too reflect a cross-section of terrain conditions to be encountered in operational deployment. For example, in the Caprivi Strip (named for the German statesman, Baron Von Caprivi, and intended as a link with German East Africa) terrain training would encompass the dense and often swampy conditions common there, in total contrast to the desert dryness of the west.
6. ]a, I remember: In the hot and dusty interior of a mine-protected Hippo personnel carrier, bathed in the muted, green light filtering through its 50 mm-thick side windows, two National Servicemen exchange a shouted conversation. Employed around the clock on convoy escorts, supply columns and mobile patrols, these and other mine-protected vehicles travel vast distances over rough and sandy bushveld roads, ideal ground for enemy mine-laying and ambush. However, extensive development of mine-protection techniques, and rigorous enforcement of seat belt usage have virtually eliminated fatalities, and reduced injuries to a minimum - thus almost negating the landmine's effect in casualty terms. Designed to carry ten armed and equipped men and their driver, the Hippo was one of the forerunners of South Africa's range of highly effective mine-protected vehicles. Built around a Bedford engine and chassis, it is still in service, but is gradually making way for the newer and more efficient Buffel (Buffalo), also a ten-man mine-proof vehicle.
7. Saying gooc/bye: In consequence of South West Africa's C Class mandate status (issued by the League of Nations in 1920), which envisaged that the Territory could only function as an integral part of South Africa, an independent Territory defence force was not initially considered. All white male citizens underwent military training in South Africa, and on return to SWA, presuming they did not choose a military career, served in either the conventional reserve Citizen Force or the local defence "unconventional" Commando Force. Following the acceptance in principle of SWA's eventual independence, and in cognisance of the Territory's limited population, localised recruitment and training was begun on a multi-ethnic basis. In 1975 the process began with the formation of the Bushman 31 Battalion (now designated 201), the Owambo 35 Battalion (now 101), the Kavango 34 Battalion (now 202), the Eastern Caprivi 33 Battalion (now 701) and the specialist counter-insurgency 32 Battalion. To form the core of the future Territory Force, the multi-ethnic 41 Battalion (now 911) was formed, with its HQ based on Windhoek, and it is from 911 Battalion that this pre-deployment scene is drawn: a SWA officer saying goodbye to his young son prior to departure for the north, on a 90-day operational tour. At the time of writing two further battalions have been formed, the Kaokoland 102 and the second Bushman 203 Battalions - providing the young SWATF with eight full battalions.
8. The ritual: Cool in the early morning sun, and casual in issue T-shirts and shorts, a National Service Eland armoured car gunner crouches to clean his bombs. Perhaps incongruous to the uninitiated, the cleaning is a regular requirement, part and parcel of the stripping and cleaning procedures for the armoured car itself. He is surrounded by 60 mm mortar shells, both HE (high explosive) - one of which he holds - and smoke, seen left foreground. The long cylinder on the blanket immediately below him is a parachute flare - hand fired for illumination or, in colour designations, as a signal flare. He was, in common with the driver and car commander, attached for specialist training after the first phase of his Service to the SAAC (South African Armoured Corps), and will serve the balance of his commitment in the South African-built Eland 60 armoured car. Proved in the demanding Angolan operations, these cars, together with the larger Eland 90, provide highly mobile infantry support over rough and variable terrain.
9. Snookered: Lacking perhaps the shadowed, smoky atmosphere of a city billiards room, this improvised and tented table arrangement nevertheless provides endless hours of leisure for the National Servicemen who use it. Although first and second phase basic training absorbs almost every waking moment in its complex study, a Serviceman will certainly find himself with long stretches of spare time once posted to border operations. Incongruous as this may seem, it is the reality of counter-insurgency warfare, and underlines its present low intensity. The isolation of these operational postings makes the provision of adequate sporting and recreational facilities a priority in every base. However sophisticated their provision, though, man's obtuse nature leads him often to seek the quietness of his own company: long hours of sleep or an insatiable consumption of all manner of reading material, spreadeagled almost naked in the sun. The advent of mealtimes, tea and bar-opening takes on a surreal significance in this environment, although the latter is offset by a two-beer allowance. But for those bored with sleep and reading, taped television, gymnasium and sports facilities abound, offering the gregarious almost as much enjoyment as they require.
10. The vigil: Shaded by an overhanging camouflage net, and secure behind a wall of sandbags, a young soldier on watch scans the northern shores of the Zambezi River. Although in essence a highly mobile and far-ranging war, border security is equally dependent on fixed defensive and monitoring positions. As might be expected, much of South and South West Africa's northern border follows natural river lines, and these form scenically spectacular backgrounds to border duties. All recognised and traditional crossing points are carefully monitored and logged to build a clear picture of localised activity and movement patterns, taking cognisance of daily river traffic and periodic refugee crossings. The latter have been a regular feature as a result of the devastation and strife in southern Angola. In consequence of their 24-hour monitoring procedures, Security Forces in a given area become rapidly familiar with normal activity, and are instantly sensitive to any break in these patterns. On a happier note, the river shores also provide excellent fishing, game viewing and, in less sensitive areas, boating.
11. Ground crew: Perched metres above the runway, a ground crew technician of the South African Air Force dangles his legs over the wing of a Bosbok (Bushbuck) reconnaissance aircraft while refuelling it. A two-seater craft, the Bosbok's large expanse of glass about the cockpit ideally suits it for its role, with an observer sitting in line behind the pilot. Named for an earth-bound but delicate and agile Bushbuck, this aircraft follows in a South African military tradition that names many of its 'planes and vehicles for the country's distinctive antelope and other wildlife. While the Impalas, Kudus and Buchbuck swoop overhead, Eland armoured cars and the Ratel (Afrikaans for the fiery African Honey Badger) Infantry Fighting Vehicles traverse vast tracts of diverse terrain below. Supporting them, Hippos and Buffels (Buffalo) mine-protected personnel carriers ferry troops, patrol and escort. The list goes on, providing, on paper at least, a glossary of game that would gladden the heart of any conservation-minded naturalist.
12. The crow's nest: Fifteen or twenty metres above the ground, a lonely face peers from his elevated observation post, a telephone at hand and an R1 rifle in his arms. In the flat and featureless terrain of northern South West Africa, where no hills or high ground exist, the Security Forces improvise dominating observation points (OPs) wherever possible. Essential to base security and fire-direction, these range from tree-top platforms to the more sophisticated combination of radio mast and observation platform pictured. Extending to airfield perimeter security, they may be large, elevated gun platforms, mounting subtantial fire power for dual-role ground or anti-aircraft defence. Given the landscape's lack of undulation, these seemingly low platforms afford unimpeded observation over greater distances and, in the event of night attack, are invaluable in pinpointing muzzle and mortar flashes and directing the Security Force return.
13. Oblivion: It is history's oft-repeated lesson that the weary, slogging foot soldier is irreplaceable, fundamental to each conflict. The defence of the South and South West African border is no exception to that rule and, in fact, relative to its counter-insurgency nature, brings the foot-soldier into his own. Although the infantry, by way of specialist training, employ a number of rapid-transport methods to reach the point of contact, once there they must rely on feet and feet alone. Aircraft and parachutes, helicopters, horses, motorcycles and personnel carriers may convey them, delivering them fresh and ready, but it is their personal fitness and level of endurance that will decide the day. At the end of it, however, physical reaction to this unprecedented volume of exercise takes its effect, drawing men to the shade, a hastily spread sleeping-bag or, sometimes, a bed. Fit, hard and strong, physically at their young-adult peak, it will take few short hours of sleep to recharge the batteries, re-equip them for another day.
14. Solar images of heat: In the dry and breathless Owamboland heat, sometimes touching 49 or 50 degrees Celsius, a young Serviceman heads for the beckoning shade after attending to the horses in his charge. A member of 1 SWA Specialist Unit, he is attached to the mounted section, but in his shirtless anonymity could equally belong to any one of its component parts. As a specialist unit, 1 SWA Spec, has developed new wings to meet the tactical needs of successful COIN operations, originating with a trial mounted platoon in 1973, and incorporating a tracking section in 1977. In the same year a dog section was added to work in conjunction with the trackers, being joined in September by a motorcycle section, whose evaluation had been begun in 1974. With an operational training base at Oshivelo, the unit is more fully designated 101 Task Force Specialist Unit, and its platoons are widely dispersed amongst operational battalions. Perhaps its best known and most fundamental function is the supply of trackers, all acutely trained volunteers, who are responsible for spearheading the continuing search and follow-up operations that are the bases for effective counter-insurgency measures.
15. The sentry: Contrary to every regulation that enshrines the sentry's role as a sentinel or guard - alert, awake and vigilant throughout his hours of duty - this one is lost in a world of literature. However, given a rear-base situation and the continuing drudge of inactivity, it is perhaps a forgivable, at least common, crime. The soldier is a member of the South African Cape Corps, whose establishment in 1964 followed representations by members of the Coloured community. The Cape Corps Battalion is based out of Eerste Rivier in the Cape, where volunteers are fully trained as both combat soldiers and artisans for a period of two years. This does not suggest, however, that the Coloured community's defence contribution began in 1964; on the contrary, many Coloured citizens saw service with the South African Army in World War Two, and it is this honourable tradition that is continued by their sons. Cape Corps companies regularly perform tours of border duty in the north, are noteworthy for their volunteer status in this regard, and are known too for their high level of discipline.
16. Entry to manhood: Bronzed with sun and dust, smudged with camouflage cream, a National Service infanteer sits atop the turret of an Eland 90 armoured car, conserving his energy in this wind-swept ride. Like most of his fellows, he was destined, on reporting, to serve his commitment in the Infantry Corps or SAI (South African Infantry). With a primary role defined as the destruction of the enemy, in all circumstances, weather and terrain, day or night, the infanteer faces long training and assimilation. Following twelve weeks of basic training, which includes drill, discipline, health, buddycare, shooting, unarmed combat, bushcraft and map reading, amongst others, he will proceed to vocational or specialist training. This entails eight weeks or more of specialisation in a chosen field, which may range from signalman to infanteer, or medic to officer. This leads in turn to eight weeks of conventional warfare training, followed by more currently-applicable training in COIN (Counter-Insurgency) warfare, in both the urban and rural context. Only on completion of this extensive training, sometimes lasting twelve months or more, will he be posted for operational duties.
17. The technocrat: Almost cool in the giant cross of shade astride the tarmac runway, a young technician dozes in a hammock slung between the undercarriage legs of the Dakota in his charge. The tenor of this drawing's accompanying verse does the technician and his fellows little justice, for it is their untiring maintenance and care that keeps the ageing Dakotas aloft. Originating and flying operationally during World War Two, these self-same aircraft are tireless and versatile in their latter day COIN role. Used as transports, they drop paratroopers, ferry freight and casevac (casualty-evacuate) throughout the operational area. This particular aircraft belongs to the South African Air Force's 44 Squadron, based out of Pretoria, with an operational base at Grootfontein in South West Africa. The sleeping technician beneath it wears the one-piece overalls of his craft, an exception to the nutria-drab rule of most in the operational area.
18. Triggered by the siren: This portrait of a "parabat", or paratrooper, records the moments of preparation before finally boarding the aircraft which will lift him to the dropping zone. As a National Serviceman, probably no more than 18 or 19 years old, he would have begun his two-year commitment with phase one basic training, before volunteering at a selection board for para-training. This means, by definition, specialist parachute training as an airborne assault infanteer. Assuming his ability to meet the stringent selection requirements, he would have joined 1 Parachute Regiment to undergo normal infantry training prior to the rigorous parachute course itself. This latter course is initiated with a testing physical training programme, followed by three weeks of simulation training, culminating in eight para-jumps. Of these, one is a night jump, while two are fully operationally equipped. This training, in all its phases, will span the first twelve months of his service before deployment - for the second twelve -to operational duty. (See notes to drawing 20.)
19. Boer blood: Galloping up to a high point, a member of 1 SWA Specialist Unit mounted section clutches his shoulder-slung R4 rifle. With an operational base at Oshivelo in SWA, the unit deploys its mounted section in a multiplicity of roles, including routine patrolling, rapid follow-up operations, and protection for such units as mine-sweeping patrols. Although designated specialist mounted infantry, it must be borne in mind that the men are soldiers first and horsemen second - the horse's role being terrain-versatile rapid transport to the objective, fulfilling in effect the same role as a motorcycle or helicopter. The horses favoured are Arab, Boerperd (hence the accompanying verse) or cross-bred, adapting well to the dry, sandy conditions with great-hearted stamina. Initially trained at Potchefstroom's Equestrian Centre, the mounts originate from either the Army studfarm at De Aar, or SWA itself, and thus the latter often find themselves at home on re-deployment. Rough terrain and arduous conditions demand good saddlery, and it is the Rhodesian-developed McLellan saddle that is most favoured and often used. Interestingly, while a standard bridle is used, its bit is as soft as possible, thus allowing the horse maximum head movement for greater alertness and directional sense.
20. Each man alone: In the half-light of a Dakota interior, waiting "parabats" are profiled in the pre-jump tension of the flight. National Servicemen all, they are led by Permanent Force officers and senior NCOs in a variety of essentially airborne roles. Jumping into combat from the ageing but reliable Dokota (as well as other transport aircraft) they are also helicopter-ferried as a reaction fire-force or airborne assault infantry unit. Armed with the folding-stock 5.56 mm R4 assault rifle, they jump operationally from a height of 240 metres (800 feet) providing the South African Defence Forces with a formidable strike capability. Established as a two-battalion regiment in January 1981, the unit had its roots in 1 Parachute Battalion, originally formed in 1961 by Permanent Force officers trained in England. Based at Tempe, outside Bloemfontein, the battalion received its colours in December 1969, and has seen extensive service since. (See notes to drawing 22.) Although an infantry unit, their speed of parachute and helicopter-borne delivery - and the range at which they may be delivered - makes them a traditional elite amongst their fellows.
21. One with the shadows: A Zulu soldier of the South African Army's 121 Battalion finds the shrouding cover of a well-bushed thicket, pausing there momentarily before moving forward. Following the creation of the first black SA Army unit in 1974, troops from only two battalions have been used operationally. The first of these was 21 Battalion (a training battalion) which posted its first operational company to SWA in 1978, following it with three further companies. The second was 121 Battalion from Natal, which had previously seen semi-operational duties in the north of that province. It is from a platoon of this second battalion that the Zulu is drawn, the verse reflecting the real possibility of his descent from those who fought for Cetshwayo a century ago. 111,112 and 113 Battalions - all regional units of the Northern Transvaal Command - have likewise performed semi-operational local duties and are soon expected to provide operational companies for border duty. These black SA Army battalions should not, however, be confused with the numerous black battalions and mixed battalions of the SWA Territory Force who have long served on that border.
22. Countdown: Poised to jump, framed in the open Dakota door, and held by his dispatcher, the wind sucks at the nutria-clad figure of a National Service "parabat". The final seconds before jumping absorb his concentration, in contrast with the fidgeting and heavy atmosphere of the cramped wait that preceded it. The waiting line of men behind him, charged with electric tension, sway, shuffle and stamp, psyching themselves into a pre-jump peak that will find release in their shouting, chanting leap. Veterans of the escalating counter-insurgency operations against SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organisation) in the north of SWA, 1 Parachute Battalion have distinguished themselves across the border, too. Part of 44 Para-Brigade, they attacked SWAPO bases near Cassinga in Angola in 1978, while in June 1980 they were heavily involved in Operation Smokeshell - a large-scale raid against bases, again in Angola. Six companies of "parabats" saw action there, with several members of the unit winning decorations for gallantry.
23. Born of wolves: In common with most specialist troops, the dog handler begins his military career with basic National Service training. Following completion of Phase One, he will undergo selection and specialist training with a six-week basic dog handling course at the SA Army Dog Training Centre, before continuing to COIN operational study and platoon-level weapons training. Assuming successful completion of this sequence, he may opt, as a dog handler, to join either Security or Operational Wing, where he may further specialise. Given the latter, he has a three-fold choice: tracker section, patrol section, or mine-sniffing and detection section - all of which will be undertaken at the Army Dog Training Centre. Only now, given evaluation and acceptance, will the dog and his handler be transferred to 1 SWA Specialist Unit, whose dog section was formed in 1977, for final deployment. With their specialist training and battalion destination determining their final role, the handler and his dog will find themselves operating at platoon level, tracking, sensing and sniffing, or patrolling - providing for the platoon a unique early warning system. Many breeds of dog are used, with others constantly being tested, but it is probable that the Alsation and Labrador are most commonly encountered in this demanding role.
24. Jumping in: Leaping three metres or more from a hovering Puma helicopter, two solders drop into the scything whirl of dust and grass beneath the craft. Employed as troop carriers and gunships, helicopters play a crucial role in counter-insurgency operations. Ferrying reaction fire-force, sometimes leap-frogging trackers on the ground, these versatile craft enable assault troops to be dropped into combat fresh and fully equipped. Above them, in a supporting or assaulting role, gunships perform the added function of observing and co-ordinating ground operations, in often flat terrain. Dependent on the situation, the chopper can reverse its delivery role to uplift or casevac (casualty-evacuate) where necessary, and in the latter case deliver a doctor for immediate assistance. While any troops may be carried by chopper, it is probable that a standby fire-force will be drawn from the Parachute Battalion, as is illustrated here. The corporal jumping first is again a National Serviceman, while his officers and more senior NCOs will in all likelihood be Permanent Force.
25. Contact: In a drift of dust and smoke, a platoon member of the SAI (South African Infantry) hurls himself groundwards under a burst of enemy fire. Generally operating in twelve-man platoon "sticks", the infanteer is the product of a year's intensive training in his craft. Deployed by vehicle or helicopter, or often by more traditional methods, the platoon is the basic working unit of the Security Forces. These platoons combine to form companies, which in turn join to make battalions and then regiments and so on. The operational success of a platoon, and hence its parent company, is dependent on the cohesion and esprit de corps of its members. So it is that for the duration of his service life, a man will find himself an integral part of one or more platoons, which, in working, eating and sleeping together, makes of itself a "family unit" for its component parts. During the period of his service, the basic training and the three or four operational tours that follow it, the companionship and security of this integral unit serve to smooth the rough passages the serviceman may find. It is this basic concept of "buddycare" (see notes to drawing 27) that gives the assurance of community support under all circumstances.
26. Return fire: As with the mounted, dog and tracking sections of 1 SWA Specialist Unit, a member of the motorcycle section undergoes basic National Service training before specialised selection. Initially trained in South Africa from where most of its members are drawn, the motorcycle section deploys a two-section platoon with HQ support. Its training phases are extensive and, in addition to conventional and COIN warfare and weapons training, the troops are schooled in every aspect of motorcycle maintenance and handling - in all circumstances and conditions. On completion of their preparatory training in South Africa, these troops are transferred to 1 SWA Spec, for further advanced training and orientation before being posted to the operational area for the balance of their service, usually about twelve months. Functioning in exactly the same way as an ordinary infantry platoon, the motorcycle section's advantage lies in its increased mobility over all terrain, rapid reaction time, increased radius of operation and, often, shock psychological effect. Operationally deployed on 500 cc four-stroke bikes, the platoons undertake various roles, notably road-clearance patrols, often over thick sand and thorn-strewn ground. As a result, punctures are frequent, but are repairable in under an incredible twelve minutes. In combat, riders are forced to dismount, often spectacularly, in order to return fire, as illustrated, over their grounded machines.
27. Casevac: In the aftermath of a contact, a wounded serviceman is rapidly withdrawn, dragged by his webbing to safer ground to await evacuation. Faced with this situation, the platoon medic will render immediate first aid, under fire if necessary, to maintain life support systems. Initially ensuring an unobstructed airway, he will arrest bleeding as rapidly as possible, utilising the emergency medical supplies contained in his NCO's medical bag. This done, he will insert a Ringer's Lactate drip to maintain body fluid levels, and inject a pain killer to relieve discomfort. With assistance, he will remove the casualty to a safe area - sacrificing comfort for speed - to await a helicopter-borne casevac. The casevac will bring a doctor, invariably a National Service officer, who will attend the casualty immediately, with a fully-stocked Medical Officer's bag, before airlifting him to the nearest hospital and safety. The doctor involved will probably be in his late twenties, having qualified as an MD -perhaps with post-graduate training - before beginning his National Service with basic training and an officer's course. This high level of medical support is understandably a great source of assurance to operational troops.
28. Images of war: Stained with travel, unshaven and utterly exhausted, a young armoured car driver climbs past his door-mounted 9 mm Uzi sub-machine gun on return to base -his thoughts only of hot water and sleep. With his car commander and gunner, he crews an Eland 90 armoured car - a South African-made and highly modified version of the French Panhard AML90 - originally produced under licence in the Republic. Both its body structure and motor specifications have been revised and refined to meet localised requirements, placing it several generations ahead of its international equivalents over Southern African terrain. The Eland 90 mounts a 90 mm gun and co-axial 7.62 mm Browning machine gun, with a second Browning flexibly mounted above for the commander's use. Like its lighter twin, the Eland 60, which fires a turret-mounted 60 mm mortar (and is based on the Panhard AML60), the Eland 90 also fires electrically-detonated smoke cannisters. The Eland, together with the entirely South African-developed and internationally unique Ratel IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) tank-hunter, provides the Defence Forces with a formidable and ultra-mobile armoured infantry-support capability over their home ground.
29. Stolen moments: Quiet and introspective, a young Serviceman takes time out for a smoke break in the sun, perhaps thinking of the distant family that his wedding ring suggests. He wears, in common with almost every member of the SADF and SWATF, the standard olive-brown nutria uniform and matching "floppie" bush hat. Evolving out of the need for a new and practical uniform in the mid-1960s, nutria battledress is the result of extensive testing and experimentation. Evaluating uniforms from several countries, including Rhodesia, Britain, the USA, Australia and France, test patterns were eventually compared with SA Police and Portuguese camouflage amongst others. This was done in the widely differing geographical conditions of South Africa, where it was concluded that there was little reason to adopt a patterned or camouflage design - hence the unmarked nutria battledress. Ideal in almost all areas, nutria provides consistency in summer and winter conditions, with "underdressing" beneath its conformity compensating for the chill of winter snaps. The soldier's face is smudged with camo-cream to darken the reflective whiteness of his skin - standard practice in operational conditions.
30. The innocents: Although South Africa's border war still simmers at relatively low intensity, casualties, both civilian and military, are nonetheless a harsh fact of life. Insurgent losses are high in relation to their force levels, and, in the SWA operational area for example, average 20 killed for every Security Force loss. However, it is perhaps the local population, daily victims of terrorist-laid land mines, intimidation and gunfire, who suffer most - their casualties four and five times higher than those sustained by the Security Forces. And it is to the Security Forces that they turn for treatment and assistance. Through a unique Civic Action programme, the Army selects qualified or graduate National Servicemen for posting to areas remote from conventional civil service. Nutria-uniformed doctors and medics operate State hospitals and clinics, and serve isolated mission stations, while others provide agricultural, veterinary, technical and administrative assistance. They provide, too, large numbers of teachers who staff State schools for the balance of their post-training commitment, usually as long as 18 months. In effect seconded to State departments, these Servicemen maintain civil administration throughout the operational area, often in the face of great personal risk.
31. The Bushman: Not himself a soldier, but working in a bush-base army maintenance depot, a Bushman is lost in thought, gazing into the west Caprivi bush of South West Africa. In what may prove their last secure domain, large groups of Bushmen, moving south to escape the turmoil in Angola, have settled here - swelling the existing Bushman population to many times its original size. September 1974 saw the recognition of their extraordinary bushcraft ability in the formation of a specialist counter-insurgency battalion designated 31, now 201 Battalion. Small numbers of the enlisted Bushmen had had up to 15 years of experience in the service of the Angolan Security Police (DCS) and, with their fellows, adapted rapidly to Security Force operations. Centred on their Omega base in west Caprivi, the Bushmen live with their families in a full-service community, and are drawn from two main tribal groups: the Barakwenka and Vasquela (both names are subject to spelling variation). Able to survive long periods of minimal ration and water supply, the Bushman has an instinctive, ultra-keen perception of danger, and has proved an astoundingly good "snap" shot. Another Bushman battalion is presently being formed and will be designated 203 Battalion. It will be based out of Tsumkwe in the south of Bushmanland.
32. Reflections on a roll bar: With only two short days of his seven hundred and thirty-one left to complete, a Serviceman pauses in his work, reviewing perhaps the two years behind him: Those first days of stumbling trepidation, when every face seemed to explode into a shouted order, and the world seemed a hostile place. Then the settling discovery that he was not alone, that the experience touched them all, before it faded into the familiarity of worn routine. The waking awareness that his body had shed its awkward adolescence and was now indeed a man's - lean, dependable and strong; harder than he had ever known it, and supple in the physical stress of new demands. And the day his training ended, it brought with it the amusement of a new intake of gangling youths who seemed so young, so nervous and unaware. He recalled his first deployment that stretched till now with its all too short breaks for home - the States, a term new to him on joining, but all too familiar now. And that night, just three ago, when in this very Buffel, a shrapnel shred had found the man beside him. But that was, after all, the irony of it: two days from this it would be behind him. Unreal again. And very distant.
* We decided to post his work on this website for all who were involved in the border war, to partake in the artistic pleasure that he has conveyed in this masterpiece. This, rather than being buried in closed and shelved volumes for all eternity. For these reasons, we hope and trust that Peter Badcock will permit his great work to continue to be displayed as shown here...