32 Battalion – controversial to this day – yes, but the fact still remains – it is considered to be one of the best fighting battalions the South African Army has ever fielded in battle and of that there is no doubt. This powerful image of Peter Williams from 32 Battalion is testament to its fighting nature.
32 Battalion was pivotal to the SADF successes during the Border War, but it came at a massive cost. Today 21 May is known in 32 Battalion and veteran circles as ‘Savate Day’ and known as such as the Battalion experienced its greatest loss on this day.
21 May 1980: A very sad day for 32 Battalion when 15 of their members were Killed in Action during heavy close-quarter fighting against a vastly numerically superior force of FAPLA and SWAPO troops in order to successfully neutralise an enemy base complex at Savate in Southern Angola during Operation Tiro a Tiro. Despite being heavily outnumbered by the enemy, this 32 Battalion element accounted for nearly 600 enemy troops killed with many more wounded and captured. This Operation was launched in support of UNITA Forces.
The 32 Battalion casualties were:
67280552PE Captain Andre Erasmus. He was 28
72419369PE Lieutenant Charl de Jongh Muller. He was 23
77316404BG 2/Lieutenant Timothy Simmons Patrick. He was 18
76490556BG 2/Lieutenant Johannes Mattheus Heyns Muller. He was 19
76487503PF Corporal Eduard Coetzee Engelbrecht. He was 19
80016520PP Lance Corporal Andrew Jeremy Falkus. He was 20
76910528SP Lance Corporal Joao Kaumba. He was 21
76919099SP Rifleman Rodrigues Alberto. He was 27
76908029SP Rifleman Benedito Albino. He was 25
76907641SP Rifleman Sebastiao Angelo. He was 22
77880912SP Rifleman Manuel Augusto. He was 26
79830965SP Rifleman Antonio Caliango. He was 31
76926674SP Rifleman Abel Livingue. He was 23
7692666SP Rifleman Casto Marcelino. He was 24
76910611SP Rifleman Joaquim Matamba. He was 22
Lest we forget. Rest in Peace brave warriors.
Thank you to Graham Du Toit for the roll of honour and summary and to the 32 fraternity for the image.