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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 3 reviews
The Terrible Ones


'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.

Perfectly Done!

I've been reading many different books on the South African/Rhodesian conflicts and have really been trying to get a feel for what these soldiers had to endure during hard times in the bush and i have to say this book makes you feel like you know the members of 32 battalion. The book goes through many of the numerous battles the battalion was in from start to finish and i really liked how the author (32 battalion-officer) didn't shy away from telling the bad things the unit did as well as the many good things. Also own numerous books on 32 battalion and this 1 sum's everything I've read so far into 1 book and it is definitely a complete and extremely well done unbiased account of these young men in combat.