My diary note – a day in army.
Waking up in this army camp, every morning became for me something usual to do, but each day brought something new. Every single morning started very early in this God forgotten place in the south of Africa. Today started for me at six with gunshots and town noise. For some reason, these Africans were very noisy.
I brushed my teeth and started to prepare for the day, put together my camera, took the flash in the bag and joined the rest of the group to go to town. There were always around fifteen of us going to town, fourteen soldiers and me. So we loaded into a big army truck and started out for town. The road was awful; it was not even paved, just ground with lots of potholes in it.
As we were riding down the road, something loudly cracked and lift us up in the air. In several minutes, we all found ourselves on the ground on the side of the road. The truck could not be seen anywhere, just a huge cloud of dust, nothing else. Suddenly I felt Sergeant Johnson’s hand grabbing my hair and dragging me somewhere. I finally was able to get up on my feet and look around. The truck was a mess, we clearly hit the anti-tank mine. Thank God, miraculously nobody from troop got hurt, thunderstruck by the explosion but nothing serious.
However, this was not the only adventure for today as I have found out later. We contacted our base and reported about what had happened to us, they soon were going to send another truck to pick us up. The two trucks appeared in about an hour. The first truck was full of field-engineers; they were going to search the area on the subject of more mines.
Our troop was supposed to back up them while they were searching. So that was what we did. It was a good time for me to make some good pictures. This was going to be a sensational story, the truck was messed up badly, and could not be repaired. Besides there was a chance to find more mines. The search has led to some unexpected results. As it has appeared the mine field was just to side of the road, and it was quite big as far as we could judge. There was a lot of work for the field-engineers. It was not easy to neutralize the mines, since they were quite old ones, lying deep in the ground, hard to reach. That day in army I have made many pictures showing heroic attempts of field-engineers to neutralize the mines. I was happy with the material I got for the report tonight.
The day in army was almost over when we heard the voice of one of the field engineers, he was calling us up. Carefully, not to step on another mine, we approached him. What he has found was truly horrible. While digging around another mine, he found a human foot, it looked like it was child’s foot. We started digging more around the place, and… We could not believe our eyes. It was a mass burial; the human bodies were thrown on one another probably to save room and digging effort. Many bodies lacked arms and legs, and one chief said they were all victims of mines around, which sounded like truth. We dug out about twenty-five bodies, six of which were all children. Many of us were throwing up, and the feeling of disgust did not leave until for another couple of weeks. I wrote a story and made pictures to send them out in the evening. But feeling that I’m not doing everything right, was with me. Did these bodies have the right for privacy? They probably did, but I was just doing my job.