So young and yet so old

Three members of the SADF’s 61 Mechanised Battalion Group take a rest during the fighting on the Lomba river in Angola in 1987.

These young SADF national servicemen – most of them having just written a High School matric a year or two before and barely 18 or 19 years old – have just shattered the Angolan/Cuban coalition’s mechanised offensive, turning the tide at the height of this “cold war” in what was arguably one of the fiercest and most decisive mechanised battles fought on African soil since the Second World War.

These men – fighting in Ratel Infantry fighting vehicles against Russian T 55 Tanks knew that victory would boil down to strategy, innovation, decisiveness, leadership, teamwork, discipline and training – and not superior equipment or numbers.

Notice the presence of the “thousand yard stare” brought about from fatigue and extensive exposure to combat, ageing them well beyond their years.

Thank you to the 61 Mechanised Battalion veteran fraternity for the image.

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