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Operation Meebos, 1982: The airborne attack on Smelling Rat

Operation MeebosThe night of 30/31 July 1982…

As soon as it was dark 61 Mech started bundu bashing 65km northwards towards a selected possible crossing point of the Cuvelai River. The aim was to establish the first HAA for Task Force Meebos at first light. It was to be a touch-and-go thing.

The position chosen by the Task Force was approximately 18-22km due east of Cuvelai on the northern bank of the river with the same name. Aerial photography had indicated an open area alongside the river on the northern bank which could suffice as the first temporary HAA for 31 July.

Dear readers, please bear in mind that the village of Cuvelai was ardently defended by FAPLA’s 11th Brigade. The Techamutete-Cuvelai gravel road served as the axis of command as well as for logistics supply. This route was used by SWAPO for the same purpose. From Techamutete to Cuvelai was approximately 60km.

The vanguard of 61 Mech arrived on the southern bank of the Cuvelai in the dark. As first light was upon us a suitable fording site now needed to be found hastily, especially for the logistics vehicles and the Samil gun-tractors. The Pumas and Alouettes would soon be arriving for the attack on ‘Smelling Rat’.

The ideal crossing site was eventually found approximately 18km due east of the FAPLA Brigade position at Cuvelai. We crossed the river in darkness and soon found what we thought to be an ideal open area, suitable for the HAA – think again.

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