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What a Mess!

“Kom, kom, kom! Vyf Rand elk. Brings your money! Five Rands. I’m going to town. E’ gat do’p toe”. Town being Ellisras or Thabazimbi. The civilian staff sergeant from the Cape was shouting in that well-known accent – or eccent, ek sê. He was organising a whip-around to augment the army rations he had been issued as mess sergeant on our Commando camp out in the bush near Pretoria.

He returned a few hours later with a big sack of onions, cooking oil and a vark of cheap white wine – a 25l plastic spug-spug. So instead of plain bully beef and spuds we had a varkpan full of fried bully-beef-spuds-n-onions and a fire-bucket filled with over half a litre of semi-soetes for our supper. Much better.

Not the one on the left:

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One of the civvies on camp was Rod Mackenzie, trainee-ophthalmologist from Durban who I would meet again and work with for years later, first in hospitals and then in private practice. That was after the weermag in their wisdom sent me to Durbs as adjutant to the medics in the various KwaZulu hospitals.