Today, dear reader we take a break from our Old Masters to remember a small group of people…..
Many people in the civilised world wear the poppy as a token of respectful and grateful acknowledgement to soldiers and to honour their fallen comrades. Others wear poppies simply because they’re pretty or go with their outfit. Yet others refuse because they say it glorifies war.
Today is a special day for some – as they remember 21st May 1980.
To those who were not with them in body, spirit, or sentiment; no amount of explanation of history will suffice. To the rest, little explanation is necessary. To the true Buffalo Soldiers, please accept these respectful and heartfelt words; penned to honour your day, and to pay respects to the survivors and the fallen – black and white.
Today there are no poppies worn,
At the going down of this sun, only a few will remember them,
Even less will acknowledge that these are they
Who saw the northern threat for what it was,
Lost all, and joined the brave, anonymous few.
Today, our people have no protectors,
Our land has no backbone.
There might not be a war here today,
But there is also, most assuredly, no peace.
As we soften, sink and crumble,
From cancerous rot within.
The only heroes we learn to see,
Are on a stage, in a boardroom or on TV
We laud the actors, fools and jesters,
Put thieves and rapists on a pedestal.
Today ‘Love’ and ‘Peace’ are only charms or perfumes,
Not hard won jewels,
Bought with the lives of men.
Today, empty heads echo empty slogans.
Peacemakers are politicians or pretty princesses,
And love is a soft furry kitten.
But they have forgotten, “No greater love than this…”,
“Than a man lay down his life for his friends.”
Os Terríveis [The Terrible Ones].
I did not rank among your numbers,
But I rise in respect,
In hope to fill your footsteps.
I walked with you then,
I shall stand for you now.
War is futile, we know this far better than they.
Blood is neither black nor white – it’s red.
But in the dark, dire din of battle,
From the terror, sweat, blood and thirst,
Emerge the noblest of hearts.
But not of men,
It was You – who won the battle,
against Doubt and Fear,
Odds and Exhaustion.
Death is final, so they say
Wounds do heal, so they say
But the wound of denial and betrayal,
Hurt the most and heal the slowest
Lives and country
So cheaply sold
Pieces of silver?
So easily squandered.
Os Terríveis – Eu vos saúdo
The following is an extract from the South African Legion and Graham du Toit’s tribute on a Facebook page.
32 Battalion – as all effective soldiers do – attract some controversy.
“but the fact still remains – it is considered to be one of the best fighting battalions the South African Army has ever fielded in battle and of that there is no doubt. This powerful and iconic image of Peter Williams from 32 Battalion is testament to it’s fighting nature.”
“Today 21 May is known in 32 Battalion and veteran circles as ‘Savate Day’ and remembered as such as the Battalion experienced it’s greatest loss on this day.”
“ On 21 May 1980, fifteen of their members were Killed in Action during heavy close-quarter fighting against a vastly numerically superior force of FAPLA and SWAPO troops in order to successfully neutralise an enemy base complex at Savate in Southern Angola during Operation Tiro a Tiro.”
“Despite being heavily outnumbered by the enemy, this 32 Battalion element accounted for nearly 600 enemy troops killed with many more wounded and captured. This Operation was launched in support of UNITA Forces.”
The 32 Battalion casualties were:
67280552PE Captain Andre Erasmus. He was 28
72419369PE Lieutenant Charl de Jongh Muller. He was 23
77316404BG 2/Lieutenant Timothy Simmons Patrick. He was 18
76490556BG 2/Lieutenant Johannes Mattheus Heyns Muller. He was 19
76487503PF Corporal Eduard Coetzee Engelbrecht. He was 19
80016520PP Lance Corporal Andrew Jeremy Falkus. He was 20
76910528SP Lance Corporal Joao Kaumba. He was 21
76919099SP Rifleman Rodrigues Alberto. He was 27
76908029SP Rifleman Benedito Albino. He was 25
76907641SP Rifleman Sebastiao Angelo. He was 22
77880912SP Rifleman Manuel Augusto. He was 26
79830965SP Rifleman Antonio Caliango. He was 31
76926674SP Rifleman Abel Livingue. He was 23
7692666SP Rifleman Casto Marcelino. He was 24
76910611SP Rifleman Joaquim Matamba. He was 22
Lest we forget. Rest in Peace brave warriors.
Thank you to Graham Du Toit for the roll of honour and summary, and to the 32 fraternity for the image.