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Operation Daisy: The Operation Continues... Part 1

Operation Daisy D+1 (5 November 1981):
The mechanised forces spent the day re-organising and mopping up the target areas. Air Force operations in the Daisy target area were confined to Road Recce missions, Casevac flights, and Fire-Support and Close Air Support for the ground forces.

Combat Team 1 of Battle Group 61 and elements of 201 Battalion exploited the area up to the Bambi river, while Combat Teams 2 and 3 initiated stage one of the mopping-up operation of target Alpha. The 32 Battalion company maintained the safety of the landing strip at Ionde. The parachute companies started area operations in the immediate vicinity of the target area. Two 12-man recce teams from the 201 Battalion Tactical HQ were deployed to the north of the objective as early warning against interference from that direction.

The main event of the day took place in the West, where a Mirage strike against the Cahama radar installations was carried out with great success. At 07h00 four Mirage F1’s took off from Ondangwa for the Cahama area, attacking the Sidenet radar sites. At 07h02 another four Mirage F1’s took off to attack the fuel dump complex at Cahama. At 07h05, four more Mirage F1’s took off to also attack the fuel dumps and the radar sites at Cahama. These three strikes were escorted by two pairs of Mirage F1 CZ’s, which took of at 07h08.

By 09h00, five Puma’s and six Alouette gunships had redeployed from HAA 2 to HAA 3 which Major Penhall had established closer to the target area. The helicopters remained here on fire-support and Casevac standby.

Between 09h00 and 11h00 reports were received from the ground forces that an enemy armoured convoy was moving about to the west of the DZ. Three missions of impala’s and Mirage F1’s were scrambled to intercept the reported convoy. On arrival over the target area, however, the enemy convoy could not be located. This was not surprising, because, as it turned out, two own convoys had heard each other passing in opposite directions, mistakenly reporting each other as an enemy convoy. All in all a rather embarrassing and expensive fiasco!

During the offloading of captured enemy equipment from a Buffel at HAA 3, there was an explosion (probably caused by an unsafe RPG-7 projectile) in which three members of the Security Forces were hurt. They had to be evacuated as Priority 3 casualties. The Buffel burnt out completely after Major Anderson jumped into the burning vehicle and drove it out of the HAA to a point where it would pose no danger to equipment and vehicles in the HAA. For his brave action, Major Anderson subsequently received the Honoris Crux.

At 12h10, following the accidental explosion at HAA 3 when the Buffel blew up, Major Penhall sent all the helicopters back to HAA 2 for fear of them getting damaged.

At 12h34, MAOT ZULU received a report from the ground forces of an unidentified twin-engined aircraft flying high over the Daisy target area. Two Mirage F1 CZ’s were scrambled to intercept the aircraft which was suspected to be an Elint (Electronic Intelligence) or AWAC type being used by the enemy. By the time the Mirages arrived, it had disappeared.

General Lloyd, Brigadier Badenhorst, Commandant van Graan (SO1 Army Operations) and Commandant Foote left Ionde for the Daisy target area at 12h55 in two Puma’s. They were to meet with the Army Commanders on the ground to plan the future direction of the operation.

Elements of 3 Parachute Battalion encountered and killed three SWAPO’s moving in an east-west direction. This was reported in a Situation Report sent to the Chief of the Army at 14h00. Included in the report was an incident with a personnel mine encountered in the Bravo Battalion area, involving four Engineers, one of which was killed. The Buffel incident was also reported. Two Puma’s arrived at Ionde at 13h16 with the one dead and three wounded Engineers.

Later that afternoon, a DC-3 took Generals Genldenhuys and Lloyd back to Ondangwa, leaving ionde at 17h35.

The Cahama strike was very successful and virtually flattened the entire town and installations. The MiG’s were again active during the day, but they remained on the defensive. No targets could be located within the Daisy target area for either the Alouette gunships or the Close Air Support standby aircraft.

D+2 (6 November 1981):
The ground forces continued with the mopping-up of the target area and designated area operations. Stage two of the mopping-up operations were performed by Combat Teams 2 and 3, while Combat Team 1 continued exploiting up to Bambi along the Bambi River. Both 201 Battalion and 3 Parachute Battalion initiated area operations in their respective sectors of the target area.

By far the most exciting event of the day was the shooting down of a MiG-21 by a pair of Mirages sent to intercept them. The F1 CZ pilots involved were Major J. Rankin and Lieutenant J. du Plessis.

The shooting down of the MiG was an exciting event since it was the first enemy aircraft shot down by a SAAF aircraft since the Korean War. Nevertheless, in retrospect the incident could have had serious implications, especially in view of the fact that it was by no means certain that the MiGs were on an offensive patrol. Given the increased MiG activity in the area, however, a clash of this nature was bound to take place sooner or later. If nothing else, the incident served as a warning to the MiG pilots to be more circumspect about how far south they approached while SADF operations were being conducted in Southern Angola.

Puma’s and Alouette gunships flew some trooping and fire support missions in support of 32 Battalion conducting their “Butterfly Ops” 15 kilometres northwest of Ionde. Puma’s also re-supplied the Parachute companies with water and re-positioned troops within the target area. Three Road Recce missions by F1’s and Impala’s in the Bambi area failed to pick up any vehicle movements on the roads in the area. DC-3 re-supply sorties were flown between Ondangwa and ionde, which were escorted by Mirages in view of the increased MiG threat. Four Bosbok Voorloper/Telstar missions were also flown in support of 32 Battalion and Battle Group 61.

D+3 (7 November 1981):
Battle Group 61 attacked a suspected SWAPO base at Bambi and the Air Force effort was concentrated around providing air support for the ground forces involved. As it turned out, once again, very little was found in the base at Bambi and the stand-by air support was not needed except for two Alouette gunships. Earlier that morning, at 07h17, two Alouette gunships had joined the four already at HAA 2 and they all flew to HAA 3 to support the attack. Two Puma’s were withdrawn from MAOT ZULU’s allocation of aircraft, leaving the MAOT with five Puma’s. These Puma’s flew to HAA 2 at 08h00 where they remained on trooping and casevac stand-by for the Bambi attack.

Two Mirage F1 AZ’s on a Road Recce mission of the roads in the Bambi area found no vehicles. Two Mirage F1 CZ’s circled around Cuvelai as an air defence measure, but no enemy aircraft were sighted. Another two Mirage F1 AZ’s were flying a holding pattern to the west of Ionde, acting as Close Air Support stand-by for the Bambi attack, but they returned, unused. When the Dayton radar station reported aircraft movement to the north of Cassinga, two Mirage F1 CZ’s were scrambled at 10h53, but they did not encounter any enemy aircraft.


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