Did the Army make “Men” out of us?


I often see statements that the army is the sole reason my generation of South African men are so tough. I do not agree.

Taking an example from my group of friends as a child, city boys all, growing up near  Johannesburg.  After we had survived half the day confined in a classroom, we would rush home and my friends and I would collect my dog. Outside my house in Wychwood was the storm drain, we would pry that open, careful that no parents were watching and climb in. From there we would link up with the main drain and walk, underground, to what is now Geldenhuise Interchange, a good few km away. Here we would pop up into the light, oh, and if we were thirsty we just drank the drain water. From there we were in the veld, crossing that we came to the mine dumps and, most fun,the sludge dams. Supposedly we should all have died, either from drowning, the sludge dams  are very much like the quick sand I see in movies. Or at least cyanide poisoning, as those days cyanide  was used in the process of getting gold out.

While here, we shot each other with pellet guns, built underground forts and generally, like most boys of the time played Cowboys and Indians. Now and then we would get hurt pretty badly. The one time I smashed my knee open, could see the bone, my friends helped me home and then all ran away. When the mothers in Wychwood saw all the boys in their rooms, doing homework, they would panic. So, instead of a quick self patch up job, I got busted. The doctor’s office was just up the road. I did not scream when I got hurt, but boy did I scream all the way to the doc. Once he patched me up my mom gave me a good slug of neat Brandy, for the shock she said and sent me out to play, in the yard. My dad got home and I got a good strapping with a thick leather belt, we were not supposed to go in the drains, never mind to the dumps.

Obviously we did not listen.

This is just one of my adventures, and all the boys had plenty of their own.  The boys growing up on farms were an even tougher bunch, from the stories they told me when I was doing basic training in Phalaborwa.

My conclusion is:

We were very resilient by the time the army got us, and just grew stronger.

I believe that the previous generations were harder, and tougher than us.

I doubt if you take a bunch of cyberspace loving teenagers and throw them in the army, that they would come out anything like our bunch.

For more short stories, some military, some not; please check and like my page:





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One Response to “Did the Army make “Men” out of us?”

  1. Wayne Bisset Says:

    Reblogged this on Section Eight Solutions.

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