Special Forces Narratives(1) Gerberekis, (2) The Yellow Bomber
Here we share stories and anecdotes of people, things and events that stand out in the memories of members of the SA Special Forces.
Gerberekis was the brain child of the seaborne operators during the days of Capt Kinghorn at Salisbury Island in Durban.
He got his name from Johan Kloostersiel (RIP), nicknamed Kloos and Alex D. Gerberekis loved driving with Kloos in his Willis Jeep and had fun in the NCO's bar till late on many a night.
From the onset his career was well planned and Vingers ("fingers") Kruger (RIP) got Johan BD involved to see to it that Gerberekis got free fall qualified at Oribi air field near Pietermaritzburg. Naturally this joyous occasion was well celebrated at Oribi club house!
Considered to one of the strongest Recces ever, he completed no less than five selection courses, just because he wanted to.Sadly his younger brother failed selection, but he was still allowed to attend rugby matches and appear on team photos with Roy V.
After mastering the air, Gerberekis deservedly earned his submarine badge and went on several submarine deployments. The yacht, Compass Rose, was a favourite of his and he did many trips at see on it.
His uniform was made by WO Walla Walla (RIP), who was on detached duty at 1RR from 1 Parachute Battalion and the female companions of Kloos and Alex D. Gerberekis has his own dog tags and even a SADF (at the time) military ID card. His blood group is indicated as Rum+.
For many years he was the official mascot at the legendary rugby games played on the Bluff.
Once he jumped into the V8 Capri with Spik B and Roger "Loopy" M for a joyride to Benoni to go and visit a few girls.
After Vingers sadly passed away, Gerberekis went to stay with WO Ouboet Kruger in the pub in Langebaan, where he had a place of honour.
After one festive evening, Gerberekis woke up the next morning with a signed cheque in his pocket, a donation from Willie V, who looked after Gerberekis for some time. Apparently copious amounts of the product of fermented red grapes was involved the previous evening!(Photos courtesy of Douw Steyn and Wessel Maree)
(2) The Yellow Bomber
Yes, the Yellow Bomber was a yellow Audi 100 L and it was our pride and joy for a while whilst we were based at 1 Reconnaissance Regiment.
It was used as the "common vehicle" - whoever had funds for fuel had use of the Yellow Bomber as one felt appropriate - I purchased the car in JHB during a pass late during 1982/83.
John M, Cornell, Tallies, Herkie du P and Garry Y, as well as a few others, had use of the car as they deemed appropriate.
The Audi was stationed at the Bluff for its lifetime, which turned out to be a pretty shortened existence as things transpired. One fateful night it was used communally to assist eight unit members on an excursion to the Athlone Hotel (The Barn).
On this night I, as the driver, energetically supported by the crew, became involved in an incident en route to the Barn. This Involved a VW City Golf. The occupants of the Golf and our crew started exchanging hand signals which lead to a hot pursuit! To cut a long story short, on uphills the Golf was quicker in its escape and evasion tactics, due to the weight ratio and payload being unfairly tipped against us in the Audi. However, on a suitable downhill section, we gathered momentum - spurred on by the motley crew - and then with much determination and focus we ran down and caught up with the now fast fleeing VW Golf. We rammed it from behind, allowing both the vehicles to exit the roadway and experience the respective 4x4 capabilities of both cars.
Needless to say, upon stopping all parties did exit drills and approached the now stationary VW, with its occupants now barricaded inside! A short exchange took place with "Tallies" forcing entry through the sun roof of the Golf and I through the front windscreen!
After the altercation settled the issues at hand, we did a tactical withdrawal! Unbeknownst to us, the front number plate of the Audi remained firmly embedded in the rear of the VW Golf following our earlier ramming maneuver. This later came back to haunt us when AA Insurance traced the Audi back to yours truly and co!
The news reached me via Durban and RSM "Pep" who had been approached by the investigators handling the insurance claim. Needless to say, at this time we were all based in South West Africa (now Namibia) at Fort "Doppies", having departed from the Bluff for a while!
The above was made worse due to the condition of the Audi - now deteriorating rapidly, as it stood rusting for some weeks where it was parked near the HQ in the open parking area next to the parade ground. You could not miss it as you walked past when going to the NCO's Mess and Living-in Barracks.
Due to the length of time we were away from the unit, many sitrep (situational report) messages passed back and forth in an effort to have the unsightly eyesore removed from this exposed location. The front of the Audi, now resembling a Boxer without teeth, was deemed inappropriate in its location near the Parade Ground.
On our return to the unit the first priority was a stop order being signed to effect payment against the AA insurance claim. This was effected through the pay master and seconded by the Law Officer on direct instructions from the powers that be.
Secondly I proceeded to move the eyesore - only to discover someone had kindly assisted and done this for me, much to my relief! I then started inquiring where the Audi had been stored as we had intentions of using it again!
This is where I hit another obstacle. Everyone pleaded the 5th amendment and the locality of the Yellow Audi became a mystery, paramount to the Bermuda Triangle sagas.
I was transferred to 4 Reconnaissance Regiment and the missing Audi became a distant unsolved file!
Many years later during a Dems (demolitions) refresher course held at Fort Scorpio, we returned to Hell's Gate and Johnny De G and I started chatting. He tipped me off to approach RSM Pep regards the Yellow Audi saga.
After many Red Heart rums and coke the following came to light :
The Yellow Audi, having not being removed fast enough, had apparently outlived its free parking status.
An order was issued to remove the eyesore, in any manner deemed appropriate! The story recounted to me was that my pride and joy became a Dems Target. The Yellow Bomber was sent to a higher calling after having a double TM - 57 anti-tank mine with a platter charge detonated under it for effect during a cycle dems course. The final feedback received was that "it was spectacular"!
Thus a lesson was learned: when instructed to do something, take the first instruction as final - don't expect a second request.
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