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Operation Sceptic: The attack on Smokeshell, Part 2

Operation ScepticExtracts made from the reports on Operation Sceptic by the Commanding Officer of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group, Commandant Dippenaar:

At this stage the rest of the assault group also engaged enemy elements, so that none of them could immediately receive any orders. According to Commandant Dippenaar’s orders and plan, the battle group second-in –command, Ratel ØA, was sent with Combat Team 2 with further instructions that he was to accompany the fire support group. Commandant Dippenaar was concerned about the application and deployment of the mortar platoon and so expected Major J.N.R. Botha to be able to take control of them. At the setup point, the combat team commander experienced some problems with his Ratel (2Ø)’s acceleration cable. He hastily exchanged vehicles with his second-in-command, Lieutenant Hannes du Toit, and continued with the assault in Ratel 2ØA. After the assault troops moved from the starting point to the oshona, the Voorloper were unable to point out the direction to complex 11 for them, and Captain Louis Harmse had to rely on his own sense of direction to carry on moving through the thick and flat bush to the objective. The predecessor that was supposed to assist him with navigation at this stage was already withdrawn and on its way to refuel. The other Voorloper was busy with fire control and the rest of the attacking force.

The assault group made contact with enemy elements to their right flank before 15h00. The enemy fled and returned fire mainly from small arms. The reaction of the enemy was exactly as predicted during the tactical appreciation that there would not really be any enemy present and that those that were, would flee. This response gave the assault group more momentum with the result that the vehicles started moving further apart.

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