The tree of happiness flowers and fruits most abundantly for the creative man
On arriving at Rundu Base on our first trip to the Border between South West Africa and Angola, our company climbed out of the C130 Hercules aeroplane onto the white cement runway. The heat from the aeroplane engines, the blinding sun above, and the heat that was been radiated back from the runway was incredible. For an hour or so I thought that I could not tolerate such intense heat and I felt almost desperate. Fortunately, when we were kitted up and marched off to open-sided tents, I realized the temperature away from the runway was more bearable. The sensible thing to do was to limit one’s movement to an absolute minimum, strip-down to one’s army shorts, and find an army stretcher in the shade to lie down on. The drawing above of a recruit on a stretcher was executed in November 1984.
(above) A watercolour painting of the entrance to the Mortarist’s bunkers, named the ‘Crazy Horse Saloon’ Rundu, Kavangoland. December 1984. We were so excited to be stationed here and quickly made it our home. Everything was new, and teenager that I was, the idea of underground bunkers was exciting.
(below) Glen Watson photographed in front of the ‘Crazy Horse Saloon’.
(above) A ball-point drawing of the entranceway to the ‘Crazy Horse Saloon’ bunker, Rundu, Kavangoland, 4 January 1985. This mortar bunker was constructed of carefully laid sandbags with thick corrugated metal roofing and then covered over with sandbags and sand. This was to protect the men from a mortar ‘revving’ by the enemy. Pathways were smartly cemented or lined with rubber matting.
(below) Glen Watson “parking-off’ in the entrance to the bunker.
(above) Black ball-point pen drawing of the ‘Flying Saucer’ Bunker, Mortar Pits, and ‘Aapkas’, Observation tower, Rundu, Kavangoland.
We stood guard in the aapkas around the clock. I eventually set up a long pole above the aapkas and attached my transistor radio to it so that I could listen in to many of the radio stations around the world. including and extraordinarily, Radio Moscow. There was an occasion, early one morning, when I was on guard duty in the aapkas and fast asleep when I heard footsteps ascending the metal ladder. I shot out of my sleeping bag, rolled it up and quickly sat down on a chair when the Chief of the South African Defense Force, none other than General Constand Viljoen appeared. I shot up and greeted him and he me. He wanted to know where I came from and I told him from Newcastle Natal. He graciously bade me a good day and climbed down and went for a run along the runway, Whew!
Our bunkers and pits were situated alongside the runway. I slept just behind the window displayed in this drawing. The interior to these bunkers were dark and marvelously cool. Sometimes we would take our sleeping bags and pillows and go sleep under the stars atop the bunkers. I have fond memories of the Rundu Base, mostly due to the great food, and that we were left pretty much to our own devices.
(above) The ‘Aapkas’ and below it – our water source.
(below) Photograph of the aapkas and ‘spaceship’ bunker taken from roughly the same position as my drawing above.
(below) ‘The Spaceship Bunker’ – I slept just behind the small window in this image. On particular hot nights we would take our bedding outside and sleep atop the bunker under the the star-studded sky.
(below) This pair of binoculars was located in the observation tower (aapkas) at the Rundu Mortarist pits. We used these glasses for close-up views of all that occurred on or near the runway. I sketched the glasses with a ball-point pen on the 3 January 1985 while on guard duty in the tower.
(above) Ball-point pen drawing of the ‘Crazy Horse Saloon’, observed from atop the observation tower. Most of our two sections slept in this bunker. The Flying Saucer bunker was just below the tower. December 1984. The road behind the bunker ran alongside the runway then around the huge Rundu camp.
A conte’ crayon drawing of the Crazy Horse Saloon bunker, observed from the ‘aapkas’ (monkey cage/ observation tower). The interiors of these bunkers were surprisingly cool on the hottest of days. January 1985. Rundu, Kavangoland.
(above) Glen Watson, Rundu. Horsing-around at the Crazy Horse Saloon.
(below) The 81 mm Mortar Pit at Rundu. The sand had the same composition as beach sand, requiring the sides of the p-t to be secured with sandbags.
A small sketch of the run-way and bush beyond the boundary fence at Rundu Base, just opposite the Mortar pits, Kavangoland, 21 December 1984. This particular large tree stood out because of its sheer size. It is still visible on Google Sat 30 years later.
A ball-point drawing of the Rundu Airbase hangars and a Dakota aeroplane. I sketched this from our observation ‘aapkas’ adjacent to the runway. Bolted to the side entrance to these Dakotas, were large guns that fired explosive rounds. 24th January 1985, Kavangoland.
Dakota flying over Okanguati, Kaokoland, Samil 100 Truck with Avtar bladder and buffel with troops, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF.
A Dakota coming in to land at Okanguati Base, Kaokoland, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF.
A rough sketch of a ‘Flossie’ C130 Hercules Transporter. These were the large troop and cargo carriers that ferried us up and down from the Angola Border. While stationed at Rundu, our mortar pits were located alongside the runway, and we spent many hours watching these aeroplanes landing and taking off. The four props to these transporters made a tremendous roar. The heat eddies up on the Border would some times occasion these ‘planes to drop down too quickly on landing, and they would literally bounce on their large tyres back up into the air, allowing them to re-circle and come in for a better landing.
Rundu Base, Sunset and Flossie C130 Hercules, viewed from the Mortarist’s Observation Tower, 1985, Rundu, Kavangoland, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake.
A quick sketch in ball-point pen of an Alouette helicopter coming in to land at Rundu, Kavangoland. 1 December 1985.
Puma helicopter near Rundu, Kavangoland, 1985, SADF. We could hear the choppers coming in long before we saw them, which was always an occasion that lifted me from general tedium and grab the binoculars for a closer look.
A pen and ink drawing of an Alouette helicopter, Rundu, SAAF, 28 December 1984. I was able to sketch this helicopter in the SAAF hangar at Rundu.
An Impala jet taking-off at Rundu Airbase, Kavangoland, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF, Military, 1985.
An ink and pen drawing of Rundu Base with Samil truck and tree, Rundu, Kavangoland. November 1984. This was the first drawing I done on reaching the border in November 1984. We would walk along this route to the Mess for brunch and supper.
At last we had some free time after 10 months of training. My mind immediately turned to old pursuits. Fortunately, I had taken along a bottle of black Quink ink, a drawing pen and a set of water colours.
If my memory serves me correctly, the building behind the Unimog truck was the Hospital. Whenever casualties came in – the medics would run around looking for blood donors, and O+ blood was in big demand. Those of us with O+ blood unpatriotically hid ourselves away from the vampires.
On a Friday evening at Rundu Base, when we had free time, I would head off with others to the base’s tuckshop. I would buy a chocolate Caravan bar and a bag of chips, or as in this case a bag of tomato Fritos. My friend Gary Kinsey and myself had a standing joke about a request we often heard at the canteen – ‘Een koue Coke en n’ Tex aseblief!” (one cold Coke and a Tex chocolate, Please!).
For some unknown reason I kept the cover to one of my last writing pads. I am glad I did for I had written many of the names of the places I visited during my stint on the Angolan border.These pads were provided by the ‘Dankie Tannies’ (Thank you Aunties) and the Southern Cross Fund in a brown fake leather plastic pouch. Letter writing was a major part of army life. Writing and receiving letters probably kept all of us from going stark crazy. In this age of instant messaging, this generation would find it difficult to imagine the excitement we experienced at receiving post from family and friends.
Umphhh! my estimation of most of the Permanent Force was pretty low. I know this might sound pretty arrogant – but many were alcoholics of note. I drew this image the day after we were placed on standby on New Years Eve at Rundu Base. Evidently, several of the PF’s who lived in the town had got motherlessly-drunk and into some fracas of kind, and were shooting at each other with their service pistols and rifles. Eventually, Op’s Room had us stand-down and we did not get a chance to see them humiliated. In this cartoon the SAB/SAW refers to South African Breweries/ Suid Afrikaanse Weermag (South African Army).
Potgieter, Schwab, Goldstone, De Villiers, Weber, Wessels, Koen, Venter, Platt, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake.
Pieter Wessels, Graeme Pelser, Kevin Goldstone, Eugene Potgieter, Pieter Koen, JJ Bezuidenhout, Pieter Van Der Merwe, , Unknown, Mark Williams, Richard De Villiers.
Eugene Potgieter, Christo Schwab, Kevin Goldstone, Richard De Villiers, Shaun Weber, Pieter Wessels, Pieter Koen, Marius Venter, Miles Platt, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF, Military, 1985.
Richard De Villiers surfing after a heavy rainstorm, Rundu, Kavangoland, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF, Military, 1985.
Pierre Roussouw, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, Rundu, Kavangoland, SADF, Military, 1985.
Celebrating ’40 days to go’ – the last slog to finishing our service. Pieter Koen, Kevin Goldstone and (FJ) Bezuidenhout, Rundu, Kavangoland, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF, Military, 1985.
Pierre Russouw and Kevin Goldstone, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, SADF, Military, 1985.
Two sections of the Mortars , 3SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake, Angolan Border, celebrating with liquid refreshments – Kevin Goldstone (81296055BG), Christo Schwab (81258032BG), Marius Venter (80517667), FJ Bezuidenhout (87210072BG), Andreas Di Castri (8253241BG), Grant Anderson (83033456BG), Pieter Wessels (80219115BG, Pieter Koen , Graeme Pelser (81245987BG), Miles Platt (8122162BG, Mark Williams (82413410BG), Deon Van Tonder (82393620BG), JJ Bezuidenhout (82293424BG), Shaun Weber (81099597BG), Pierre Russouw (81205700BG, Pieter Van Der Merwe (81120834BG).
(above) Shaun Weber, Christo Schwab and Kevin Goldstone, 1985, Angola Border, 3 SAI, O Coy, 1984 Intake. Photographed after an ‘Opfok’. (Below) A photograph of one of these disciplinary sessions.
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