Nothing quite beats that rawness of military humour. It’s the same the world over. This hilarious collection of South African military anecdotes will—for the less sensitive reader—have you doubled up with mirth. Here’s a taster …
… If that is what it feels like to be blown to smithereens, then it’s not too bad. The noise of the explosion was horrendous and I lay on my back and gazed at my shredded shirt. When will the pain start? I thought, or will I die before that? I think I’d prefer to die than have the agony. I wiped my stomach and expected see copious quantities of blood. There was none, so I sat up. Van was already sitting. He too studied his body for mortal wounds and found none. We looked at each other and grinned. It was so silly. But where was Samil Venter?
We stood and began dusting ourselves off as a groan caught my attention. Then we saw him: Sergeant-Major Venter was stalking around clutching his one hand. His thumb had been blown clean off, but so too had his trousers and underpants. His shirt was shredded and bits of material that used to be his combat pants hung from his webbing belt. Then there were his bare, long sinewy legs and finally his boots. The tops of his socks were also gone.
He looked up at me, his face full of anguish, his teeth AWOL. His mouth was once again a maw: “Brookth, jou poeth! Kom hier!”
I went to him immediately. “Yes, sergeant-major,” I stammered.
“Ith my jewels nog daar? Ith my fokken jewels nog daar?”
I lifted my hand and felt, probably the way a doctor does when he asks you to cough. His genitalia were burnt black as were his inner thighs, also his leg hairs, but his precious jewels were there, intact. I smiled up at him. “Hulle is a betjie gebrand, sa’majoor, maar hulle is nog daar,”
“Okay, then, get out of my sight, jou poeth,” he said quietly.
I was hurt. We have this … this moment … and he tells me to get lost!
AJ Brooks matriculated, surprisingly, in 1978 and was called up in 1979 to 14th Field Regiment in Potchefstroom for his two years’ compulsory national service. He was transferred to the School of Artillery where he became an instructor as he felt he’d rather shout at people than be shouted at. It was here that his interest in guns and vintage artillery pieces was nurtured.
He later served with 7th Medium Regiment for his first Citizen Force, or territorial, duties. In 1993 AJ was transferred to the Transvaal Horse Artillery where he was promoted to the rank of warrant officer and BSM of 9th Battery. Further tours of duty to the Army Battle School and Potchefstroom ensued before his resignation in 2003. AJ is married to Brenda and has two children. He lives in Johannesburg. His first book, The Border, was published in 2007 and is being made into a major feature film.
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