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Battle Group Alpha advances to Benguela

Battle Group Alpha had in the meantime been ordered to resume their cautious advance to Benguela. Even though the MPLA had prepared strong positions, the defence of Benguela was not nearly as comprehensive as believed in Luanda and suspected in Pretoria. The task force’s surprisingly rapid advance had unnerved the enemy and, despite all their technical preparations, undermined their morale. On top of it all, they had lost seven infantry companies and a number of Cuban commanders during the battle at Catengue. Many FAPLA members had fled into the bush.

Because of the poor intelligence network it was impossible for the commander of Task Force Zulu to ascertain exactly how much his opposition had been disrupted. Vigilance was therefore still his watchword, but also because he had intercepted a report from Sà da Bandeira (Lubango) the previous day which revealed that the ship Martana had offloaded 50 armoured cars and 700 Cubans at Baia Farta, just south of Benguela. It was a false report but at that stage he did not know that.

While Task Force Zulu was logistically replenished at Catengue by plane on 4 November 1975, the demoralised enemy informed Luanda by 11h00 that morning that, due to the heavy casualties suffered, they would not be able to defend Benguala. It was therefore decided to fall back to a new line of defence at Novo Redondo (Ngunza).


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