You know you've arrived when you are mentioned in the "South African Military Yearbook 1997". Email: ""

John Dovey kindly posted me the following extract from:

"The writing of military history in South Africa, Lt Col I.J. van der Waag" (page 22)


The first official history of the Southern African War appeared in 1989. This was Prof F.J.du T. Spies' Angola; Operasie Savannah 1975-1976."' This work was finally published in 1989, eleven years after the start of the project, when the then SADF realised that if their side of the story was to be heard, Spies' still classified manuscript had to be made available to the public."'

Many other operational accounts have appeared, with something of an emphasis on Savannah. Sophia du Preez's history of the same operation, entitled Avontuur in Angola,"' also appeared in 1989. This was followed by the publication of an operational diary generated during the same operation, in Militaria."' Operations Reindeer and Sceptic have been covered by Willem Steenkamp;"' while Fred Bridgland and Helmut Heitman have concentrated on the final operations of the campaign."' From the mid-1980s, a number of historians have worked on operations Askari, Protea and Daisy; but nothing has been published as yet. More recently, Leo Barnard has used Cassinga (Operation Reindeer) to illustrate typical problems facing the military historian."'

A number of broad overviews have also been produced. The most important is undoubtedly Willem Steenkamp's South Africa's Border War"' but mention must also be made of the articles published by Leo Barnard and Neels Nothling."" On more of a micro scale, the vicissitudes of the former South West African Territorial Force have been recorded by Piet Snyman and Tap du Plessis, Jan Breytenbach has produced a good unit history of 32 Battalion; and Barry Fowler has commenced a series entitled "Sentinel SADF Monographs". The first volume of this series, titled Pro Patria and published in York in 1995, contains personal accounts of South African national servicemen who did operational duty in South West Africa (later Namibia) and Angola in the 1970s and 1980s.

[Thanks, John!]

Published: 1 July 2000.

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