Growing up in South Africa during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, we were innately aware of the country’s conscription laws – every white male had to serve two years in the National Defense Force. During their last year of school, the call-up papers arrived, and the young lads were to begin their service in a January or July intake. If they were attending University, they would have to complete their National Service after graduation.
That was life as we knew it.
I remember saying goodbye to Ali at the entrance gates of Natal Command. I cried a waterfall and thought my world had come to an end. I remember his first pass after the official six weeks basics; he had a six-pack for the first time in his life – it impressed me to no end. I remember him leaving South Africa to complete the remainder of his service (18 months) in South West Africa, now Namibia. I remember dropping him off at the designated spots on the N3 and fetching him from the bus stop outside the Durban city hall at 1 am. I remember his stories of camaraderie and frustration.
We could not forget those days, even if we tried.
Recently, those memories came flooding back in bucket loads. I laughed and cried as they filtered through my mind – why you might ask.
I edited a book, A Gentleman is Not Always an Officer, by Steve Addison
Steve has recounted his days as an Ops. Medic during his National Service, the Angolan war, and the subsequent camps. His attention to detail, expression, and detail will fill you with immense emotion and nostalgia. He takes you back in time, filling you with the fear, frustration, anger, laughter, mischievousness (boys will be boys), and adventure he felt.
Each chapter is reflected by photos conveying his story visually, enhancing your emotional attachment to his recollected memories.
Steve’s book is not a book to be missed if you lived or knew someone who did during the conscription years in South Africa. You will relate and commiserate with every word. Steve has done an incredible job recounting his days in the National Service and deserves every praise and accolade.
The book is available on Amazon in Paperback and Ebook – https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/1922764523?ref_=pe_3052080_397514860