On The Boats: Personal Account By Hannes Botha

April 3, 2015

What a fitting Personal Account to compliment my previous posts of my time on the boats.

Hannes Botha served in the Infantry at 1 Independent Company, Wankie (1 Indep).  Part of their ground patrol area was parallel to the area I patrolled by boat and our paths have in all probability, crossed.

As one of my leading supporters mentioned to me only yesterday, we must never let this part of our history disappear.

Thank you for letting me use this Hannes.  Your contribution is spot on and there was more than one occasion I helped the Infantry out…….we were all Brothers.

Hannes now takes up the post:

“I remember losing a FN off one of the engineers boats into the Deka river in February / March 1974. We were on patrol from the Deka army camp.My corporal couldn’t read a map so we were going round in circles like the “fakwe bird “. We were to patrol a few klicks away from the river.I eventually said to him that i had fished in this area since i was a kid and that we should walk down to the river and get a lift to the Deka Drum fishing camp. While walking along the Zambezi towards the Deka the engineers came past us in their boat.We called out to them and they came over to us .We asked them to give us a ride to the fishing camp, they refused saying that if the brass found out there could be hell to pay. They took off with the boat and we carried on walking to the Deka river. When we reached the Deka river and walked up-stream we had to walk a short distance from the river due to the mud along the river bank after the flooding. We then heard a boat coming up-stream, it was the engineers who came back to pick us up as they felt sorry for us.As we made our way to the boat i lost my footing after stepping into a hole covered with mud and fell onto a rock. I asked my corporal to pull me up. he put his FN on the bow of the boat , took my MAG and put it on top of the FN and pulled me up. We both climbed into the boat and as we moved away from the bank into the stream he handed the MAG to me .The boat tilted to one side and all we heard was something sliding and then “”ploep “. The FN had fallen into the river. We got our ride to the fishing camp where we had beers, and hamburgers after thanking the engineers for the lift and telling them that we would report the loss the next day. Well the next day the s##t hit the fan. There was a lot of noise when we got back to the Deka camp and an inquire once we got back to 1 INDEP in Wankie. That FN is still lying in the Deka river. Hannes Botha”

Please also have a look at my website dedicated to Rhodesian and South African Military Engineers.  Please join us on the forums by using the following link:



© Mark Richard Craig and Fatfox9’s Blog, 2009-2015. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

6 Responses to “On The Boats: Personal Account By Hannes Botha”

  1. D.R. Tharp said

    Wow, this is a great find. I look forward to reading all of your posts. It is priceless to have first person accounts in a war that it is very difficult to get ahold of official records. Thank you

  2. fatfox9 said

    Thanks for the kind comments Sir, and also for following me on my journey. I trust we will not disappoint. All the best. Mark

  3. Hi Mark, our intake 132, also did some boat training at Deka Drum (November 1973????). Betty was the bar lady and after much drinking etc, Terry Bowers (the rugby player) would call out, “Betty, you beauty” and she would dish out a fresh round of drinks. Once every one was happy, the guys then decided to swim across the Deka river, possibly near the place where Hannes Botha had his mishap. Those sappers who were not too sozzled stood guard against any crock attacking the swimmers…but thankfully no crocks were involved; only silly and happy innocent sappers. Keep up the good writing. Basil.

  4. I dont think these stories could get better but they do ta.

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