In 2012 the South African Army celebrates its 100th birthday. What started out as a small, ill-equipped organisation grew into the most powerful army on the continent by the 1980s.
Springboks, Troepies and Cadres tells the story of the SA army in telling the stories of the men who shaped it. A divergent group of soldiers, from general officers to ordinary foot soldiers, tells of the tragedies and triumphs of the battles they took part in. Their first-hand accounts vividly bring home the realities of being a soldier, while some of the officers divulge and discuss military strategy.
The book is divided into four eras – World War I, World War II, the Border War and the post-1994 era. Historical battles, including Delville Wood (World War I) and El Alamein (World War II), come alive. The soldiers’ stories have recurring themes: Through the army’s entire history there was as an emphasis on keeping casualties to a minimum and a military ethos that glorified effectiveness rather than sacrifice.
The author also takes a hard look at the state of the SA army in 2012 and the assortment of challenges it faces – from a lack of resources to racial tension and poor discipline. Yet, for the most part, these stories of the army offer a gripping and inspirational historical record.