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The soldiers of 32 Battalion were so feared by their enemies that they were called ‘the terrible ones’. This comprehensive two-volume work covers in detail the unit’s 117 documented military operations from 1976 to 1993. Nortje explains how the operations were planned and executed, what went wrong, what went right, and what the outcomes were. It also goes back to the early 1960s, covering events in Angola that would eventually result in the formation of 32 Battalion, and it ends in 2005, when the soldiers of the unit unknowingly betrayed themselves.

This work builds a more complete picture than Nortje’s first book 32 Battalion, published in 2003. It is based on over 10,000 pages of documents in the Department of Defence Documentation Centre, which have only recently been declassified. Because of his security clearance, Nortje had access to these documents before their declassification, and was able to use them to write this book. Complementing the documentary evidence are 233 personal recollections: interviews that Nortje conducted with 32 Battalion members, as well as Portuguese, SWAPO, Cuban and Russian soldiers. These give the perspective of the men on the ground, an element often missing from military history.

Based on rich documentary evidence which has never been available to the public before: military documents that were classified until recently, it gives the perspective of the men in the trenches. 

Hardcover, 1320 pages (2 Volumes) 

Customer Reviews

Based on 12 reviews
Deon van Niekerk
The terrible ones,, the complete history of 32

Puik,,,,, puik,,,,

Costas Lambrakis
The Terrible Ones: The Complete History Of 32 Battalion (Volumes 1 & 2) - Piet Nortje

If you want to know the 32 Battalion and the Angolan / Bush War get this book from this bookshop. Both the book and the outlet are the best deal you can get.

Dirk Wessels

The Terrible Ones: The Complete History Of 32 Battalion (Volumes 1 & 2) - Piet Nortje

Brian Harding
The Terrible Ones


Mara Marx
'Os Terriveis'

The title of this formidable books says it all.

A complete history indeed. The author clearly acknowledges the contributions of authors and battalion members and their efforts in compiling this are clearly visible.
Volume One takes you from the background information through the history of Angola, Ongulumbashe and then straight into the various operations starting with training rough, ill-disciplined soldiers.
The reader is transported to the harsh environment of Namibia and Angola, at times you even get the feeling of being physically present.
The growing pains of the new battalion, the initial contacts and the slow but sure growth in both military and unit sence are evident.
A special touch is the declassified documents i.e. citations for the HC medals which are included.
Colour photographs enhances the reading experience and put faces to the recollections of the various members of 32 Battalion.
1980 drawing to an end also see the end of Volume One.
Can't wait to open Volume Two of this fascinating set: The Terrible Ones.


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