Thursday, June 3, 2010

Out there

Okay, so what were we there for? In the army, I mean. Well, those little A6 note books I was drawing in surprisingly, and interestingly, contain a few pages where I actually made some notes of a military nature. One that puts it all into perspective has the heading, "Aim of weapons training", and states: "To produce a soldier who, under any circumstance, can kill the enemy with any platoon weapon." Really? What a fine objective in life. I suspect I translated this from Afrikaans, though this was in the then Natal and, despite have a Commandant Van Schalkwyk as company commandant and Lt Kritzinger as company commander, some of the officers and NCOs were, in fact, English-speaking. So complete had been the co-opting of English-speakers in Apartheid South Africa.

Part of the training process obvious entailed route marches and going to the shooting range. These are some of the drawings I made on such occasions.

The top image is a scene that became all too familiar over the coming months and years. A neatly parked row of troop-carrying vehicles - Bedfords, I think they were - and soldiers plodding across the veld. The bottom picture is a view from behind a line, probably at about 500 metres, of trainees on the shooting range, with the targets in the distance.

The top drawing here I recall doing during a rest period on one of those lengthy route marches through the foothills of the Drakensberg. The one below is a typical pose on the shooting range, where your "staaldak", or steel helmet, made an ideal seat. If I recall correctly, these had to be worn when you worked in the pit beneath the targets, where tallies were recorded and the bullet holes covered with little round stickers, each the appropriate colour for the part of the figure hit.

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