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If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

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If you would like to join this exclusive community and have your own WarBlog where you can post your personal stories about your experiences in the War In Angola, also known as the Border War, please go to the host site (www.warinangola.com) and register as a user.

Only Registered Users of War In Angola that have subscribed to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP will have access to their own WarBlogs. For more information on the Premium Membership, click here...

 

 

 

 

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Author: Tony Savides Created: 2015/06/16 06:05 PM RssIcon
Stories, information and photos relating to personal experiences in the War In Angola.
By Tony Savides on 2015/06/24 08:58 AM
FROM THE OTHER SIDE: PART 2/6Please remember that, as stated in Part 1 and throughout this series, the views and comments herein are my own and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person or organisation.Lest anyone think that the foregoing (or anything that follows) is a plea for sympathy for the “plight” of the PFs; perish the thought - we all knew what we were letting ourselves into! We were merely getting what we had proverbially wished for.Of course, with the advent of increased national service, greater numbers of officers and instructors were required and the Junior Leader training regime kicked in. I am of the firm opinion that the finest junior leaders produced anywhere in the world at the time were those produced by the SA Army’s JL programmes in the 1970s and 1980s. These young lads, most of whom had just left school, progressed from boys to leaders of men in the short space of less than a year – from schoolboy to leading a platoon, troop, section or squad into battle under the most trying...
By Tony Savides on 2015/06/23 03:45 PM

Looking at National Service from a PF point of view...


Recent Blog Entries
A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Posted on: 24 June 2015
A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Posted on: 23 June 2015
 

 

 

Recent Blog Comments
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
H iHerr German Volunteer

Firstly, thanks for your response and, especially, for your service!

National Service was pretty much what each individual made it to be John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach once said: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Of course, campers had a different perspective having seen combat, marriage, the birth of their kids, studies, jobs, etc (or all of the above) - plus, as the years passed, the added advantage of hindsight and the maturity of years.

When I look back on the 80s, I ask myself "what would have happened" or "what would things have been like today had we not done those things?" and then I feel quite contented - but then again, I did not suffer as some did.
By Tony Savides on: 16 October 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
H iHerr German Volunteer

Firstly, thanks for your response and, especially, for your service!

National Service was pretty much what each individual made it to be John Wooden, the famous UCLA basketball coach once said: “Things turn out best for the people who make the best of the way things turn out.”

Of course, campers had a different perspective having seen combat, marriage, the birth of their kids, studies, jobs, etc (or all of the above) - plus, as the years passed, the added advantage of hindsight and the maturity of years.

When I look back on the 80s, I ask myself "what would have happened" or "what would things have been like today had we not done those things?" and then I feel quite contented - but then again, I did not suffer as some did.
By Tony Savides on: 16 October 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Let me write from the perspective of the child of a german immigrant, who perhaps as an outsider can cast a neutral perspective, and later met senior officers when I myself turned senior in years and by civilian occupation.

I did not hold any rank as a national serviceman or camper, and I never experienced any mistreatment from any officer. Nor from any NCO exept one, but that was not an instructor, it was just a person in charge of the infantry support which accompanied our armoured cars. He did not undergo any NCO nor instructors course (JL's), he just received rank because he was in charge of the support troops. The same with some of our armoured car commanders. The corporals who got rank through JL's (junior leaders course) were of a different caliber.

There were some corporals that got demoted, and where hated, but my experience was that it also was a two-way relationship. I did not challenge their authority, I tried to act sensible and educated, and tried not to act childish, and perhaps that caused that I was treated in that manner by people of rank. I went through pretty gruelling punishment PT, but if I, back then a 63kg shorty in my puberty years, could make it, most other person could have made it.

In contrast I have seen on youtube and read some narratives what army life was for troops in the soviet and eastern germany armees - boy was I glad that I wasn't there! That was pure psychological terror, there was extreme racism between the different nationalities that made up the soviet army. I saw on youtube how some of them were beaten to pulp. I read how some east german troops were treated like dirt in a manner that even the new South African army perhaps has not yet descended to.

When things bothered my about the army, it wasn't usually the rank. It was the attitude of some of my fellow troops (during basics some told me I was an idiot to join voluntarily), and the fact that most of the time we were not deployed in action, but just sat around awaiting the end of national service idling around ambitiousless.

When I had to do military camps later on, I thought of all the politicians and decision makers of that era, the military were still the most sober about the situation. But by then I lost my enthusiasm for the whole system, not because I suddenly saw that light that we were defending "Apartheid" and similar bull being sold today by highly qualified academics like Gary Baines from Rhodes university (who himself was a conscript, so he should know better), but because I could see not sense anymore to put ones life on the altar, while behind our backs the very politicians in charge of the country were acting contrary to that we were fighting for.

To put it bluntly - they were selling us out, thus double-crossing our war effort.

Genl. Savides, we never have met, but please enjoy your well deserved pension!
By German volunteer on: 16 October 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Hi Graham and Chris.

1980/81 was the real development year of 1 SAI and mech infantry as we began to produce more and more JLs and mech soldiers (following on the success of the 1979 intake). 1980 was also the terrible year of Op Sceptic (Smokeshell). You guys were thus pioneers in a way.

Chris your visit to 1 SAI was a real blast. Unfortunately though, some other requests and visits of this type at current units have been given short thrift by a new generation of bigots who do not understand the camaraderie of the Soldier. Thankfully, these idiots seem to be few and far between and most of the new guys seem eager to learn from the past - not simply discard it or use it as a whipping block.

I assume that you guys are aware of the book on Ratel that is currently being written and for which we will still accept anecdotes about training, ops and, especially Ratel itself. So, get writing!

Regards

Tony
By Tony Savides on: 17 August 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Hi Chris

Did you do your JL's in 1980 at 1 SAI?
It was called the T&D Wing in those days

Maybe we were in the same platoon. I was in Bungalow 124
Cpl Nel ( Lank Nel) was our instructor.

Cheers and hope to hear from you

Best regards

Graham
By Graham Bowran on: 17 August 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Hi Tony
I was also enlisted at 1 SAI 80/81, did JL's, was part 61 Mech and was involved in a few operations and exercises. Continued my citizen force time at 1 RNT. My entire army experience was a good one. I ended with the rank of Major, which means a lot to me! Pity our youth cannot have what he had. Like to share something. Few years ago we (my wife and son of then 12) were visiting a doctor at the Univ of OFS. We drove around Tempe - I wanted to show them where I had my training. I stopped in front of the 1 SAI gate (how things have changed in 30 years!). I suddenly had a notion and I told wife and son to stay in the car. I approached the gate and asked the guard to take me to the duty room. He obliged. I spoke to a young 2Lt and I explained that I was at the unit 30 years ago and I just wanted to show my son a Ratel and maybe organize a short drive. I immediately also said that I did realize that it was a "out-of-norm" request. He looked at me skeptically and said I must accompany him to the RSM. RSM was very friendly and I told him the same story. He also looked at me a bit strangely and took me to the OC's office (your old office!) I remember standing in the hallway looking at the pictures on the wall of previous OC's. He invited me in and I yet again put my request forward. He offered me tea, we had a long chat and then he picked up the phone and summoned his transport park commander to his office. Long story short, I eventually had a long talk with a few of the officers, them wanting to know how it was 30 years ago. My son (and wife) had a ball. They brought a Ratel, me and my son in the turrets, my wife at the back. We had a lekker drive through the Koeikamp - my son was ecstatic. He even left with a few ratpacks! Thumbs up to 1SAI!
By Chris Schutte on: 17 August 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Hi Graham
Many thanks; I too enjoyed 1 SAI - albeit from the perspective given! I still have a few more bits to add to this series, which I will insert in due course.

Best regards
Tony Savides
By Tony Savides on: 14 August 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Good day Tony
Very interesting article.
I was a NSM at 1 SAI in 1980 when you were the OC.
Went on to do the Mech leader course under Major van Lill and Capt Cassie Schoeman.
It is interesting to hear it from a PF point of view, and we as NSM's really looked up to leaders as yourself.
Really enjoyed my time at 1 SAI and then went on the Army Battle school as a Mech instructor.
Thank you

Regards

Graham
By Graham Bowran on: 14 August 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Tony, I have made your WarBlog available for Public viewing so that others can also read your Entries. For some reason it was not flagged as Public and was therefore not visible to users outside this portal. Now I will be able to share your entries on Facebook on my War In Angola page! Thank you for your excellent posts!
By SuperUser Account on: 15 July 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
"Hate" is a very strong word; and yet, how many kids have said "my Mom/Dad hates me"? Towards the end of any training period NSM and PFs would have become aware that the "hate" was what made them endure; and that in the end it was not hate at all but a type of (I shudder to say this) "Fatherly Love"! I think that I address this in some of my entries, the next of which follows soon. Every course or intake had its particular "baddie", some of whom were really bad whilst others just had this façade. The question was always to what degree does this façade hide true professionalism?

By Tony Savides on: 24 June 2015
Re: A VIEW FROM THE OTHER SIDE
Thank you for posing this entry, Tony! I hope it will be the first of many! Reading this reminded me so much of my own predicament of being PF while on Gunnery Course at the much feared Gunnery Wing ("Skietkuns Vleuel") at the School of Artillery in Potchefstroom in 1980.
I was one of two PFs (of about 25) selected to do the Gun Post Officer's course and promoted to the most honourable rank of "Candidate Officer"! I am SURE you know what this means to a young 18 year old that had decided to make a career out the army... While I knew we were going to face some REALLY hard times and "opfoks", little did I realise how much animosity the two of us would face during especially this phase of our training. The reason was simple, we were the only two PFs and bundled in with about 30-odd National Servicemen (also COs), who really did not seem to like either one of us as they thought us CRAZY to have joined up PF! So while this was bad enough, knowing your "buddies" all hate you, there was a lot more we had to cope with... the junior leaders at Gunnery Wing were practically all NSM... and ALSO HATED us for that very same reason! Even the senior NCO's, the two sergeant-majors especially, absolutley despised us! After all, after we finished that course sucessfully we would be promoted to 2Lt, and after spending less than a year in the army, be "senior" to them despite their 10 or 15 years of service! I remember SM "Sampie" Claassen, who was a LOT shorter than I was (I was 6'1"), would stand very close to me and look up into my face and snarl "Over my DEAD BODY will I ever allow you to become a damn officer!" I was sure I would be found dead somewhere on the shooting range - we were VERY intimidated by this little man, I must confess. Any gunner will tell you about him.... a true MASTER GUNNER, and a FIRE EATER!
Anyway, to make this very long story a bit shorter, somehow I survived the ordeal at that terrible place and became the only PF gunnery officer for that year {I KNOW NOT HOW OR WHY!], but I think the more senior officers of the wing had something to do with it.
The amazing thing was that SM Claassen came up to me immediately after I got promoted to 2Lt, smartly came to attention, saluted, and was the VERY first person to congratulate me on my commission! You could knock me down with a feather! I have SO MUCH RESPECT for that man!
Surviving that course really prepared me for dealing with practically any situation where interaction between PFs and NSM were called for, as it gave me the THICK SKIN that to this day help me cope with bad situations!
By SuperUser Account on: 24 June 2015