All ex South African soldiers have stories about pranks; some benign and others extremely dangerous and irresponsible.
This blog will cover two such incidents; one that happened to our platoon while on the border at Mpacha and the other taken off Redditt.
Main picture: Eland 90 Armoured Car
“Christmas Interruptus” at Mpacha
Christmas Day on the Border was like any other day. Having been deposited on the eastern extremity of the Caprivi Strip in December 1978, by Christmas Day our unit, Regiment Uitenhage, – pronounced in an Afrikaans accent as 98% of the unit were Afrikaans speaking – was converting us from civilians into troepies again.
We were based somewhere in the bush outside the Mpacha airbase undergoing our herorienteering fase. No fancy dormitories, huts or even tents were supplied as accommodation. Each of us was supplied with a shovel with which to dig a fox hole. Even though weekends on active service on the Border were normal working days, as a concession, Christmas Day was only a half day, if one calls 6am to 10am half day.
After being served Christmas lunch, we trooped back to our warrens to gorge ourselves on proper food and not just bully beef.
While sitting in our burrows contentedly eating our Christmas fare, the roar of an engine could be heard approaching along the dirt road. It screeched to a halt in front of the line of foxholes; its 90 millimetre gun bobbing to-and-fro due to the sudden deceleration. An officer’s torso was protruding from the cupola of an Eland 90 Armoured Car. With a beer in his right hand, he commenced with issuing fire control instruction.
“Draai links met 20 grade”, he shouted in between swigs of beer.
The turret moved left.
“Depress turret by 20 degrees”, he continued, raising the bottle in his hand.
At that point the Sergeant Major came charging through the bush, incandescent with rage.
“Wat dink jy wat jy doen daar, Lieutenant?”
“Moenie worry nie, watch net” theofficer replied before completing his interrupted firing instructions.
“VUUR”, he yelled at the top of his lungs.
Everybody instinctively dived into their foxholes suddenly no longer eager to watch the spectacle unfold.
With an enormous bang, the shot went off with the Sergeant Major still in mid-air in his dive.
“Reverse”, the officer clearly totally inebriated, shouted.
As the vehicle sped off back along the dirt track, everybody cautiously & extremely slowly raised their heads over the parapets to inspect the damage done and hoping feverishly that none of their friends had been hurt in this extremely dangerous drunken prank.
The first thing to greet the eyes was that all the trees & bushes in the area were covered in white. Small bits of white were stuck to everything. Suddenly the penny dropped. The drunken crew of the armoured car has stuffed the barrel full of toilet rolls. The relief was palpable.
Christmas was over. It was now back to the real McCoy. The Bush War!
Low Flying Harvards
This is a story taken off Redditt about the antics of Quentin Mouton.
We were 590 hr pilots at the time and the whole thing was illegal, stupid and needless to say, dangerous. The low flying limit was 200ft (or above, not below). I would have been court-martialled if the SAAF knew. Too late now. These pictures were taken 2nd October 64. I was the pilot. The pictures are original and not ‘touched up’. The ‘Pongos’ were on a route march from Langebaan by the sea to Saldanha. The previous night in the pub one of them had said: “Julle dink julle kan laag vlieg maar julle sal my nooit laat lê nie” (“You think you can fly low, but you’ll never make me lie down”). Hullo!!! I went to look for them on the beach in the morning and was alone for the one picture. I was pulling up to avoid them. In the afternoon I had a formation with me and you can see the other a/c behind me. (piloted by van Zyl, Kempen and Perold) A friend by the name of Leon Schnetler (one of the pongos) took the pics. The guy that said “Jy sal my nie laat lê nie” (“You won’t make me lie down”) said afterwards that he was saying to himself as I approached: “Ek sal nie lê nie, ek sal nie lê nie” (“I won’t lie down, I won’t lie down”) and when I had passed he found himself flat on the ground. Memories from the past. Quentin Mouton (23,000 hrs, everything up to B747-400, presently Chief pilot MANGO Airlines and still actively flying B737-800 at 68)
Source of low flying Harvards
These two photos were actually taken a few hours apart (note the hill in the background of one).