Saturday, July 17, 2010

Writing letters

The early 1980s were very different to the world today. People actually wrote letters to communicate. While I was stuck in the army for two years, first in Ladysmith, Natal, and then from late 1979 till mid-1981 at 1 Intelligence Unit in Kimberley, I was among the many who wrote home to family, wives, girlfriends. I also got to draw other okes writing.

I suspect this drawing was, in fact, made during a three-month "camp" I was forced to do with the Kaffrarian Rifles, an East London regiment, in mid- to late-1983. My drawing technique seems to have improved somewhat.

Another sketch of a letter writer, probably also done on "the border", of which more later.

This was one of my earliest army sketches, done in that lined notebook I used soon after arriving at 5 SA Infantry Battalion, Ladysmith, in July, 1979. I like the way the guy, clearly myopic, has his face almost touching the page.

This one I'd date to the Kimberley period, possibly drawn while standing guard.

I've mentioned that man Selkerk, who was very thin but had a huge heart. This seems to be him again, writing home.

I'll increasingly include documents that somehow are linked to my drawings. This is the reverse side of the sketch above and it offers an interesting insight into the sort of people the army was dealing with. Zoom in and read some of the questions being asked.

This drawing takes me slap back into that massive former hangar at Kimberley. The unit was formerly known as 11th Commando, and the story doing the rounds when we arrived was that the previous intake had burnt down one of the former hangars used as bungalows (the floor was still visible) when national service was increased from 18 months to two years and these ous had to stick around for another six months. A lot to write home about, indeed.

The old "kas" often provided the only hard surface to write on, which is what this guy is doing, captured in a handful of lines over possibly two or three minutes.

I recall this guy as having been on that "border" camp, possibly the same oke I drew sleeping, which can be seen on an earlier posting.

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