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Operation Daisy: The Attack, Part 1

Operation Daisy Before D-3 (1 November 1981):
61 Mechanised Battalion Group had been busy with training and preparations up to D-6, where after they started moving from Omuthiya to the Omauni area between D-5 and D-4. The company from 32 Battalion moved out from Buffalo Base for final preparations at Omauni. Bravo and Delta companies of 201 Battalion, as well as two of their reconnaissance teams, continued with Operation Mispel in the Ongiva area, while Alpha and Charlie companies and two reconnaissance teams were trooped from Omega to Ondangwa to start preparations for Operation Daisy. They moved out from Ondangwa to Ongiva on D-4.

The Parachute Battalion had been busy with training and preparations at Oshivello.

D-3 (1 November 1981):
32 Battalion’s Echo Company secured the area designated for Helicopter Administration Area (HAA) 1 to the east of Ionde earlier in the day. By 19h20 two Pumas, two Alouette gunships and the Mobile Air Operations Team (MAOT) under Major “Knoppies” Coetzer had arrived and started preparing the HAA for the arrival of the mechanised force the next day.

At their Tactical Headquarters at Ongiva, 201 Battalion reorganised and prepared to move out to their hide at the Mulola River.

A C-130 left Ondangwa at 22h00 with eight operators of 5 Reconnaissance Regiment on board. Flying over HAA 1 which was marked by strobe lights for the purpose, the C-130 dropped the Recce’s via static line over a position to the north-east of the Dare Devil (Daisy) target area. They were to mark out a suitable Drop Zone (DZ) for the drop of 3 Parachute Regiment the next day.

D-2 (2 November 1981):
A Recce Team of 32 Battalion under Captain Willem Rätte was trooped in from HAA 1 to the Ionde area by the Pumas. His task was to recce the Ionde area in preparation of the airborne assault on Ionde airfield and its environment the following day (D-1).

By 11h15, the first elements of the 61 Mechanised Battalion Group convoy started arriving at HAA 1. The convoy and the Air Support Operations (ASO) Teams proceeded further north to overnight at a position south east of the target area.

201 Battalion moved out to their hide about 150 kilometres inside Angola at the Mulola River in the vicinity of Dova, leaving one company to continue with operation Mispel.

In the meantime, six more Alouette gunships and four more Pumas arrived at HAA 1 with Commandant D. Foote, who took over command of the MAOT.

D-1 (3 November 1981):
At 06h15, six Pumas, with gunship top-cover, left for Ionde with the 32 Battalion assault team. Ionde was found unoccupied and the area up to Embundo, some six kilometres to the south-west, secured. By 10h45, the MAOT was established at Ionde airfield and the runway was found suitable for the use of Dakotas. Four Dakotas landed at Ionde during the day between 15h00 and 18h00, the first ever SAAF aircraft to land on the Ionde runway! The first one brought Brigadier Groenewald and his COM-OPS Team, the second one brought the Tactical Headquarters and Medical team and their equipment, the third brought 20 Buffel tyres badly needed by Battle Group 61, and the fourth brought in the Tactical Headquarters’ mobile reserve in the form of a Paratroop team. The first of three pairs of Bosboks also arrived, which would remain at Ionde for the duration of the operation.

201 Battalion moved to their final hide south of target Daisy. At 14h20, on request by ASO BRAVO, two Alouette gunships were tasked by MAOT ZULU to lend support to 201 Battalion which had run into a contact just north of Dova on their way to their next hide at the Mulolo River. At 16h00 two Pumas flew to 201 Battalion’s position to pick up four wounded and a captured SWAPO.

While HAA 1 was closed down when the MAOT moved to Ionde, a new HAA was established by Battle Group 61 during the course of the day. The bulk of Battle Group 61 stopped at HAA 2, which was to become the base for Major Coetzer’s ASO X-RAY for the next few days. Three parachute companies (of 3 Parachute Battalion) were ready for deployment at Grootfontein, while a fourth (probably from 1 Parachute Battalion) was transported to Ionde to form the air mobile reserve of the force.

D-Day (4 November 1981):
At 03h00, Battle Group 61 moved out from HAA 2 to their Forming Up Place (FUP) east of objective Daisy. The objective would be attacked at 08h30 (H-Hour).

32 Battalion had to secure the areas around the Ionde airfield, while 201 Battalion would be a cut-off force in the south-western section about 15 kilometres away from the target.

The Parachute Battalion would be dropped to the north-west of the target area, while the air mobile reserve were trooped to HAA 2. Gunships would cover the gaps between stopper groups.

At 03h00, six C130/C130’s took off from Grootfontein with the three companies of 3 Parachute Battalion en route to the Drop Zone (DZ), via Ionde and HAA 2, both of which were illuminated by strobe lights. The Paradrop did not proceed altogether smoothly though, as the DZ was not illuminated in time by the Recce team. 5 Paratroopers got tangled up and did not jump, and the DZ was missed by a few kilometres. Nevertheless, no Paratroopers were seriously injured despite landing in very bushy terrain. By 05h45 the first of four Bosbok Voorlopers was airborne from Ionde to the target area. They played an invaluable role throughout the day a navigational aids, artillery spotters, and Telstar for Battle Group 61, 201 Battalion and the parachute companies.

Six Alouette gunships left Ionde for HAA 2, from where they could fly fire-support missions during the day, as well as four Pumas for trooping and CASEVAC standby purposes.

From 08h15, a series of air-attacks on the targets in objective Daisy was launched: firstly three Buccaneers dropped bombs on the SWAPO headquarters at Target A2; then at 08h16, four Mirage F1s attacked the Bravo Battalion at Target A3. A SA-7 was fired at the Mirages in retaliation with no effect. Thirty seconds later another three Mirage F1s attacked the Bravo Battalion, followed by four more Mirage F1s another thirty seconds later. Again, SA-7s were fired in response but with no effect. And 30 seconds later, another four Mirage F1s attacked the Bravo Battalion positions once again. This time some 23mm anti-aircraft fire was also noticed, exploding at 10,000 feet.

The Bosbok spotters noticed the area that the AAA fire was coming from and at 08h55 ASO ALPHA called in another strike by two Mirage F1s on this position. They noticed 23mm AAA as well as a SA-7 fired at them as they pulled out of their dive.


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