Over the years, much has been written about individuals and the forces and their operations in what became commonly known as South Africa’s Border War, or Grens Oorlog, but never before has the human spirit of this 23-year-old conflict been so graphically and unashamedly captured and chronicled as in this book.
Over the years, much has been written about individuals and the forces and their operations in what became commonly known as South Africa’s Border War, or Grens Oorlog, but never before has the human spirit of this 23-year-old conflict been so graphically and unashamedly captured and chronicled as in this book. Equally unique, was the exclusive use of social media to invite and encourage individuals to tell their personal stories, without apology or recrimination, and so provide an indelible oral history of the war.
Over a period of three years, 21,000 of them spoke: national service troopies, permanent force officers, aviators, aircrew, medics, submariners and padres. Erstwhile antagonists also stepped up to the plate, placing their own personal first-hand experiences amongst those of their enemies of yesterday: Russians, Cubans, Angolans and SWAPO. The story is further enriched by the inclusion of a rich plethora of hitherto unseen ‘unofficial’ photographs of stolen memories, in a war situation where the taking of any such photographs was strictly prohibited.
Veterans unabashedly wear their hearts on their sleeves, speaking of the psychological impact of untold tragedy and grief; of bravery and unmitigated fear; of shenanigans and mischievous escapades to relieve the pressures of war; of miracles and fate; and of camaraderie.
Hanlie Snyman Wroth & Gerry van Tonder
Hanlie Snyman Wroth is a former teacher who spent some time teaching refugee learners from Angola and Mozambique. She has been a Sales Manager at Oxford University Press, and later International Sales Manager at Juta, but now retired and painting full time at their beach home in St Helena Bay. She is a prolific reader, who believes that she has a serious dose of ‘abibliophobia’: the book lover’s greatest fear: running out of reading material. She is an ex-air force wife, and her husband Charlie ‘Backseat’ Wroth spent sixteen years in the SAAF, as a navigator on bombers and transport aircraft. He also spent time on the ground in Angola. As the mother of a soldier in the British Parachute Regiment, she is also well read in the modern war in Afghanistan, seeing that her son and husband had spent a number of years there. She has a great interest in the causes and results of worldwide wars through the ages.
Gerry van Tonder was born in Bulawayo in 1955. He joined the Ministry of Internal Affairs (Intaf) in January 1975, stationed at Karoi. He was then posted to Mt Darwin as District Officer. He was the Returning Officer for Rushinga during the Zimbabwean elections, liaising with election supervisors and returned guerrillas. He administers his own website, The Rhodesian Soldier and is webmaster of the Facebook page, The Fallen. He has co-authored Rhodesian Combined Forces Roll of Honour 1966-1981, Rhodesia Regiment 1899-1981, and Rhodesian Native Regiment/Rhodesian African Rifles Book of Remembrance. Gerry has a column in the monthly Rhodesian Service Association newsletter, Contact! Contact! and is the administrator of the Face Book memorial page to Rhodesian armed forces, The Fallen. He has his own website, http://www.rhodesiansoldier.com. He lives in the UK.