31 Battalion

31bn was initially commanded by Colonel Delville Linford and was
incorporated into SWATF as 201bn. They were Bushmen with white
SADF/SWATF NCOs and officers. There is a pretty good book about them
titled IIRC Bushmen Soldiers, From Alpha to Omega. This refers to their
beginnings as Battlegroup Alpha and the fact that their base in Caprivi
was called Omega. After the "fall of SWA" they were brought down to SA,
renamed 31bn and based at Schmidsdrift in the Northern Cape. They
refused to stay in Namibia because the Bushmen peoples have
traditionally been subjugated by the other more powerful tribes in the
area and used as slaves. They believed they would be persecuted for
joining with the "Boere" and were afraid to be left there.

They operated one half of Romeo Mike (the Ovambo 101bn operated the
other half) and I served with them as a driver in 1983.

Steve Crane - 8th May 2000

Steve, I think it was a touch more complicated that that. When I first
served in the Caprivi in '73, the bushman trackers were not in uniform.
They were barely intelligible and only half-breed Bushman and Owambos,
as well as some that used to lead hunting Porra and farmers hunting
parties could speak some Afrikaans.They had to be 'baton-charged into
nutria' (I jest). As the years went by and attrition built up, the
trackers were no longer hunting wild game to survive and were a shadow
of their former selves. They were drawing pay, food and ratpacks along
with the rest of us, and had grown to enjoy alcohol and getto blasters.
I think they moved to the northern cape for some of the reasons you
mentioned, but also because they could no longer survive in their
tradional manner.

Errol - 8th May 2000

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