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A Whisper In The Reeds

'The Terrible Ones' - South Africa's 32 Battalion at War

A Whisper In The Reeds : 'The Terrible Ones' - South Africa's 32 Battalion at War

Author : Justin Taylor

Paperback Helion & Company and GG Books 234mm x 156mm 224 pages 24pp colour photos, 77 b/w photos, 7 b/w maps

£19.95 including FREE UK delivery

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This amazing work relates the experiences of Justin Taylor who served as the Signals Officer for the South African Defence Force's infamous 32 Battalion - the 'Terrible Ones'! As a young officer he trained in the intricacies of Signalling before volunteering for Border Duty and service with 32 Battalion - a request that was met with astonishment - 'you want to work with 32 Battalion!?'  This book takes you into the discipline of military communications as never before, delivering a new perspective on the work of 'Nine Charlie'; the Battalion Signals Officer with his mantra of 'check, check and recheck!' It illustrates how a unit's Signals Officer sits at the core of military operations, allowing Command elements to control and co-ordinate war-fighting, whilst countering the never ending failures of equipment and communications. What is more, it emphasises how the Signals Officer needs to remain abreast of enemy eavesdropping. Little is known of 32 Battalion - a unit that drew its origins from the Angolan Civil War of 1975 - most of its troops were black Portuguese-speaking soldiers; the remnants of Holden Roberto's FNLA guerrilla army that had fought against the Portuguese colonials. Established by the legendary Colonel Breytenbach and barracked at 'Buffalo Base' in the Caprivi Strip, 32 Battalion was to develop a reputation for military prowess that was second to none. A Whisper in the Reeds takes you into the heart of this elite unit and its military capability. It relates how black and white worked together with a mutual respect forged in the cauldron of combat.  Taylor was placed to take part in one of 32 Battalion's most spectacular operations - the Battle of Savate. Here, the Battalion undertook an aggressive assault on an entrenched enemy brigade that was positioned deep in Angola. Thrown into the chaos of combat, Taylor experienced the intensity and horror of close quarter battle. Working close with the Officer Commanding he saw first hand the difficulty of command and control in a kinetic assault environment. In addition he saw close friends killed and was himself wounded. His account of this historic battle is one of the most comprehensive ever and should be read by every student of military history.  Tasked to train new signallers in the skill of military signalling, Taylor designed and delivered a training programme that earned him the respect of both his superiors and the students under training - a Chief of the SADF Commendation medal acknowledging his skill and professionalism.  Justin Taylor was the consummate soldier, utterly professional and dedicated to the trade of military signalling. Read this work and learn why 'a whisper in the reeds' will always carry the story of 32 Battalion.


“Justin Taylor writes with uncommon feeling about his duties, the slog, the heady combat, and friends and comrades who fought together, and then the pathos and bewilderment as shock, tragedy, and loss strike home amid all the courage and boldness.”  Lt. Colonel Willem Ratte, former Rhodesian SAS, Commanding Officer 32 Battalion Reconnaissance Group


"This account is now a valuable part of the 32 Battalion story and by writing this memoir Justin is preserving valuable history.” Regimental Sergeant Major Piet Nortje, formerly 32 Recce Group member, RSM 32 Battalion


"Gripping and gritty, this is first and foremost a soldier’s story, told without self-aggrandisement and just as the author experienced it. I can honestly say that this book is the best personal account of bush warfare as experienced by a soldier that I have read, since Granger Korff’s 19 With A Bullet. Author Justin Taylor has truly done for 32 Battalion what Granger Korff did for the Parabats, and this latest account by Taylor, at least in this reviewer’s opinion, is every bit as good as Korff’s memoir ... An amazing read that will keep you turning pages long into the night. Absolutely outstanding!" Peter Chapman, South Africa

Additional Information

Helion & Company and GG Books
Date of Publication
July 2013
Book Size
234mm x 156mm
224 pages
24pp colour photos, 77 b/w photos, 7 b/w maps
English text
Helion Book Code
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