Thursday, 9 May 2013

Jubilaeum Maximum

Ano Santo De 1950, the holy year of 1950, wasn't so holy in 1987 when the bell representing the holy year got entangled in the Bush War. I found this bell at the Hind Memorial, which was named after the 2nd Lieutenant Adrian Hind who lost his life in Operation Modular in southern Angola, during today's Ingress battles.

The inscription at the memorial states "During the campaign in Southern Angola, 61 Mechanised Battalion Group obtained a bell from one of the battlefields. The origin of this bell is unclear except that it was in the possession of FAPLA. The brass bell is adorned with the inscription 'ANO DE SANTO -1950' and decorated with ornate flowers and engravings, with the Christ crucifix. The bell was most probably removed from a church somewhere in southern Angola in the aftermath of the bitter civil war at the end of the Portuguese occupation."

If anyone knows anything more about the origin of this bell please let me know. The inscription continues... "FAPLA's 47 Brigade, advancing south of the Lomba River, used this bell to send signals to their battalions and to activate their stages of preparedness. During the attack in Operation Modular on 3 October 1987, 61 Mech Bn Gp destroyed 47 Brigade. To commemorate this historic event the bell was taken back to Omuthiya, 61 Mech's base in South West Africa (now Namibia). It was placed adjacent to the unit’s cenotaph."

It was during the battle of lightly armed cars against tanks were 2nd Lieutenant Hind lost his life. The logistic officer of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group, Major Maree, told this story to British journalist and author, Fred Bridgland about Hind "I can’t tell you how much courage it takes in a Ratel, driver and gunner, when a tank is charging towards them, to summon up the will to stop still for long enough to stabilise their firing platform and get their round off. A Ratel, like other armoured cars, can only fire from a static position. Of course, as soon as they’d fired, off the sprinted like turbo-charged hares. One of our guys died that afternoon facing down a T-55 in his Ratel. A 100 mm shell from the tank skipped up from the sandy ground and went right through the turret."

The head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Pius XII declared 1950, Jubilaeum Maximun, the great jubilee and all around the Catholic world, 1950 becomes the Holy Year. So now this bell cast to celebrate the Holy Year, used in war, taken with the spoils of war, now stands in a memorial in Johannesburg remembering the unholy Bush War of 1966 to 1989. In the time where war is peace, who will dare ring the bell announcing the start of the new Jubilee?

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