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The War In Angola Remembered - This Month, 29 Years Ago...
 
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PREMIUM CONTENT - FOR PREMIUM MEMBERS ONLY!
 
This month, 24 Years Ago, In South-East Angola...

 

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LAST month, 28 Years Ago, In South-East Angola...

Sunday, 1 May 1988: Smaller force deployed
Unita deployed three battalions east of the remaining Fapla toehold on the east bank at Tumpo to guard against a break-out attempt, and to protect the engineers laying a barrier minefield between the Dala and the Tumpo. When the time came for 82 SA Brigade to withdraw, a rather smaller force was deployed in support of the Unita battalions and to continue the mining....

Monday, 2 May 1988: Combat Group 20 formed for Operation Displace
The specially formed Combat Group 20 was commanded by Commandant Piet Nel of 1 Parachute Battalion and consisted of the Anti-Tank Squadron of 32 Battalion under Major Hannes Nortmann; C Company (motorised infantry) of 911 Battalion SWATF under Major Louis Harmse; Quebec Battery (G-5s) under the command of Major Cassie van der Merwe; Two engineer troops of 24 Field Squadron under Captain Piet Kock....

Tuesday, 3 May 1988: First meeting between South African, Cuban, and Angolan diplomats
From the South African point of view, the purpose of the campaign to stop the offensive and ensure that there would be no resumption during 1988, had been achieved. Both Havana and Moscow decided that the time for negotiations had come. After some discreet contacts through the Americans, this led to the first meeting between South African, Cuban and Angolan diplomats in London on 3 May...

Wednesday, 4 May 1988: 82 SA Bde arrived at demobilisation camp
The units of 82 SA Brigade arrived at the demobilisation camp near Calais about midday on 4 May....

Wednesday, 4 May 1988: Cuban force clashed with 101 Bn
Another clash on the western front took place on 4 May, when a Cuban force engaged elements of 101 Battalion carrying out an area operation south of Humbe. One man was killed and one captured....

Thursday, 5 May 1988: Deployments west of the Cuito
West of the Cuito, elements of 32 Battalion moved up to suggest to Fapla that an attack on Cuito Cuanavale was intended from the south. One part of this force was Papa Battery, using 120 mm mortars, under Major Pierre Franken...

Friday, 6 May 1988: Deception measures
Commandant Nel initiated deception measure designed to suggest to Fapla that 82 SA Brigade was still in place. The 82 SA Brigade radio nets were kept open and active and vehicle movements were simulated over much of the front. Mine incidents were simulated, dummy targets were set up, and his 81 mm mortars joined the G-5 battery in keeping Fapla busy. Unita joined in this activity with their 120 mm mortars. This programme culminated between 6 and 10 May, but was continued in changing form over the full period of Operation Displace....

Saturday, 7 May 1988: Another 101 Bn force attacked by the Cubans
On the western front, another 101 Battalion force was attacked by the Cubans during a follow-up operation....

Sunday, 8 May 1988: RPU crossed the Kavango
Regiment Potchefstroom University began crossing the Kavango into South West Africa at 08h00 on 8 May, the first element of 82 SA Brigade to enter Angola for Operation Packer and also the first to leave....

Monday, 9 May 1988: Artillery kept Fapla busy
The 81 mm mortars, G-5s and Unita's 120 mm mortars kept Fapla busy with the bombardment of random positions....

Tuesday, 10 May 1988: Artillery kept Fapla busy
The 81 mm mortars, G-5s and Unita's 120 mm mortars kept Fapla busy with the bombardment of random positions....

Wednesday, 11 May 1988: Aggressive reconnaissance
The anti-tank squadron and C Company had deployed on the western edge of the Chambinga high ground south of the former 21 Brigade positions. From there they began aggressive reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance patrolling. The squadron then moved to the former 59 Brigade positions and then those of 25 Brigade, to drive out Fapla reconnaissance patrols that had been noted there. Unita infantry accompanied the Ratel-90s on these sorties....

Thursday, 12 May 1988: 82 SA Brigade arrived at demob centre
82 SA Brigade arrived at the 7 Division mobilisation centre at De Brug, near Bloemfontein, on 12 May at 16h00....

Friday, 13 May 1988: Troops released
The troops of 82 SA Brigade were released from duty on 13 May....

Saturday, 14 May 1988: Papa Battery 'revved' Baixa Longa
West of the Cuito, elements of 32 Battalion moved up to suggest to Fapla that an attack on Cuito Cuanavale was intended from the south. One part of this force was Papa Battery, using its 120 mm mortars, which moved up to Baixa Longa and 'revved' it on 14 May....

Sunday, 15 May 1988: Fapla begun probing from Tumpo
Fapla had meanwhile begun probing from their Tumpo foothold. The South African observation officer deployed north of the Cuito-Dala confluence was the first to be affected; he had to move out of his position after a contact with Fapla elements. He had to move far to keep ahead of his pursuers, and was eventually picked up near the Cuatir source. The observer on the Tumpo high ground also had to abandon his position. He crossed the Chambinga and was picked up at Viposto. On 15 May a Fapla patrol crossed the track running just inside the eastern bush line, and went on towards the Chambinga high ground....

Monday, 16 May 1988: Combat Team 1 formed
On 16 May Commandant Nel integrated one platoon of C Company with the anti-tank squadron to form Combat Team 1 under Hannes Nortmann, with the task of clearing Fapla off the high ground north of the Dala - '61 Koppie' as it had been called during Operation Hooper. A G-5 troop was placed in direct support....

Tuesday, 17 May 1988: Anti-personnel minefields to be laid
Once Fapla had been driven off '61-Koppie' by Combat Team 1, an accompanying engineer troop would begin laying an anti-personnel minefield on the north bank of the Dala, west of the Lupire road....

Wednesday, 18 May 1988: Artillery forward observation officer reinstalled
The artillery forward observation officer was also to be reinstalled in an observation post north of the Cuanavale-Dala confluence....

Thursday, 19 May 1988: Combat Team 1 covered the engineers
Combat Team 1 was to deploy on '61 Koppie' to cover the engineers and remain there until relieved by Unita. Nortmann's men developed forward and reverse slope positions for their Ratel-90s and then settled down to their task of covering the engineers....

Friday, 20 May 1988: Fapla paid '61 Koppie' attention
While there was no direct action, Fapla gunners did pay Combat Team 1 and the engineers considerable attention. '61 Koppie' was soon renamed BM-21 Koppie....

Saturday, 21 May 1988: Troops of 201 Battalion arrived at Mavinga
On 21 May the troops of A Company of 201 Battalion arrived at Mavinga by air. Their vehicles had left Rundu and were expected on the 25th....

Sunday, 22 May 1988: Fapla reconnaissance of forner 21, 59 and 16 Brigade positions
Another development was a warning from the intelligence staff that two Fapla reconnaissance patrols had been ordered to check the former 21, 59 and 16 Brigade positions....

Tuesday, 24 May 1988: SA Engineer commander injured by mine
On 24 May, the engineer commander, Piet Kock, stepped on a mine himself and lost a foot. He was replaced by Major Frans Hanekom....

Wednesday, 25 May 1988: Mining procedures modified to prevent accidents
Commandant Piet Nel took steps to ensure that there should be no more accidents by modifying the mining procedures used to suit the terrain and the situation....

Thursday, 26 May 1988: Minefields shortened to save mines and time
Commandant Piet Nel decided to shorten the minefield, and take it over open ground from the Dala source across the Anhara Lipanda, to join the field laid by 82 SA Brigade astride the old Portuguese road. That would save both mines and time, compared with the planned field inside the bush line....

Friday, 27 May 1988: Fapla patrols busy
On 27 May, Commandant Nel found the five-day old tracks of some thirty or forty men going east just inside the eastern bush line almost due east of the Dala source. Tracks two or three days old of between five and eight men going east were also found, and also the tracks of the first group moving back west. Freshly dropped propaganda pamphlets aimed at Unita were also found in the area. The Fapla patrols were obviously busy....

Saturday, 28 May 1988: Deception operations continued
The various deception operations meanwhile carried on, including yet another simulated crossing of the Cuito. An Electronic Warfare team deployed to give early warning of air attacks and to eavesdrop on Fapla communications....

Sunday, 29 May 1988: The G-5s continued their work
The observer north of the Cuito-Cuanavale confluence spent much of his time engaging targets that Fapla thought safe behind the high ground of the west bank. With him and the other forward observer on the Tumpo high ground, the South Africans in fact now had observation over most of the area. He shelled the Fapla headquarters at Nancova and the radar at Lucosa, and put it out of action for a time. This had the effect of keeping the MiGs out of the air for a few days....

Monday, 30 May 1988: More tasks for the G-5s
The G-5s also continued to prevent work on the Cuito bridge in daylight. Cassie van der Merwe employed one G-5 as a roving gun to engage targets from various positions north of the Cuatir, mostly under the control of the observer north of the Cuito-Cuanavale confluence. Thought was also given to having a G-5 fire airburst rounds set to explode near MiGs flying overhead to simulate a self destructing SAM, to convince the Angolans that there were still air defence elements deployed. No suitable opportunity occurred....

Tuesday, 31 May 1988: The Cuban 50th Division deployed in the South-West
By May 1988, Cuban units had deployed throughout the area north of a line drawn from Namibe in the west, via Chibemba, Cahama, Humbe and Xangongo in the south, to Cuvelai and Cassinga in the east. Towards the end of the month Cuban troops began to deploy around Ongiva....

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Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET
Images from 'Grensoorlog' series, produced by Linda de Jager, reproduced with kind permission from MNET

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