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The War In Angola Remembered - This Month, 30 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, 29 Years Ago, In South-East Angola...

Sunday, 1 November 1987: A spate of SAAF activity
1 November brought a spate of SAAF activity opening with a photo reconnaissance sortie over 59 Brigade, which revealed additional vehicles and the positions further improved. Twelve Mirage F-1AZs attacked 16 Brigade in two waves of six at 07h11 and 07h50, and hit several vehicles. They also reported a number of tanks and BM-21s in the brigade positions, and at least one SA-8. Two Buccaneers struck 16 Brigade, at 08h24. 16 Brigade was attacked twice more during the day, by two Mirage F-1AZs at 13h07 and by four Mirage F-1AZs at 17h29....

Sunday, 1 November 1987: Fapla made a move to deal with the G-5s
At 16h30 a Fapla force, possibly including tanks, was reported about five kilometres south of 59 Brigade's positions. Shortly afterwards another force was seen moving eastward out of the 59 Brigade position. It began to look as if Fapla was at least making a move to deal with the guns that had irritated it for so long. This came at a bad time for the gunners - one G-5 was stuck, and its tractor could not free it because of clutch trouble....

Monday, 2 November 1987: Fapla regrouped southward
The morning found a battalion each of 59 and 21 Brigades in the Mianei-Cassinue confluence area, apparently reconnoitering positions for 21 Brigade....

Tuesday, 3 November 1987: South Africans redeployed for an offensive
Combat Group Charlie moved off at 19h00 on 3 November, accompanied by the troop of pre-production G-6s. The main body of Combat Group Bravo - B, D and G Companies of 32 Battalion, 902 Company of 101 Battalion and an anti-tank platoon - was deployed south of the Mianei source, covering against any Fapla thrust towards the artillery,...

Wednesday, 4 November 1987: Fapla command reshuffled
The MPLA government issued a statement confirming that 'considerable losses in men and material' had been suffered in the fighting on the Lomba River. It was also announced that Chief of Staff, General Pedro Benga Lima had been dismissed. Estimates of Fapla casualties at that time were about 2 500 out of the original deployed force of some 18 000. Cuban President Fidel Castro was clear in his mind about how bad the military situation in Angola was. He had sent one of his best commanders, General Ochoa Sanchez, to Angola to take personal charge. He also ordered additional forces to Angola, including the 50th Division and additional aircraft and pilots....

Thursday, 5 November 1987: Fapla intended to resume their offensive
A signals intercept confirmed South African feeling that Fapla intended an offensive on the western front as soon as the brigades and Tactical Group 2 had completed their replenishment. Fapla's intention was to carry out two operations simultaneously in a partial replay of the opening manoeuvres of their original offensive. 16 Brigade was again to operate to the east, dealing with the Unita elements that they knew to be there, and advancing toward the Cueio River. It was then to dominate the area between the Cueio and the Cunzumbia. 21 Brigade and Tactical Group 2 were to advance to the Lucaia and Colui Rivers, while 59 Brigade operated southwards to the Cuma source to cover their flank....

Friday, 6 November 1987: 16 Brigade attacked by SAAF
On 5 and 6 November, artillery and air strikes were used to keep Fapla busy. 16 Brigade drew the attention of the SAAF during the day of 5 November, when eight Mrage F-1AZs attacked at 12h15, drawing three SA-7s which all failed to track, and two attacked at at 17h45, killing nine men and destroying a truck loaded with 571 mortar bombs. Two air attacks were flown against that Brigade on 6 November, one at 17h12 and another at 17h45. Five SA-8s were fired at the attacking aircraft without success, and four ZU-23-2s were destroyed in the attacks....

Saturday, 7 November 1987: 21 Brigade resupplied by 59 Brigade
On 7 November 59 Brigade was instructed to provide 21 Brigade with 3 000 litres of diesel fuel, 2 000 litres of petrol, a tanker with lubricants, three BRDMs and two BTR-60s. The 21 Brigade battalion that had deployed in search of the artillery, was brought back to rejoin the main body to prepare for the offensive....

Sunday, 8 November 1987: SA Artillery and SAAF active
During 8 November the artillery shelled every possible target and reported movement. A small convoy left Viposto apparently making for the Vimpulo, but it was immediately shelled and several vehicles were set on fire, bringing it to a stop. This was probably the element that had delivered the TMM bridge to the Operational Command Post. 59 Brigde was attacked by three Mirage F-1AZs at 11h00, drawing some ineffective 23 mm fire. An air attack on 21 Brigade planned for 15h35 was cancelled because of the proximity of friendly forces....

Monday, 9 November 1987: Counter-Offensive: The Attack on 16 Brigade
The attack on 16 Brigade by the SADF's 10 Task Force, comprising of Combat Groups Alpha and Charlie, the first tank vs tank action of South African Forces since 1945, as well as the first shots fired in anger by the G-6s!! For an historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section. ...

Tuesday, 10 November 1987: 16 Brigade redeployed
The morning of 10 November found 16 Brigade with two of its battalions on the high ground between the Chambinga and Hube, the second battalion having crossed east over the Chambinga bridge to join up with the main body. The battalion that had been detached to help move 47 Brigade's wounded to Cuito Cuanavale was ordered to rejoin 16 Brigade at its new position....

Wednesday, 11 November 1987: Counter-Offensive: Objectives A and B
Planning during the night of 10 to 11 November assumed that there were two objectives: One Fapla element with at least six tanks deployed in the bush east of the Hube (Objective A); and a stronger Fapla force south of the Chambinga (Objective B). The SADF set out to attack and destroy these forces. For an historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section....

Thursday, 12 November 1987: No attacks planned
No attacks were planned for 12 November, to allow time for the troops to rest and for equipment to be maintained. The artillery continued to shell Fapla, concentrating on pinning 21 Brigade down in its positions along the Mianei and on disrupting movement over the Chambinga bridge....

Friday, 13 November 1987: Fapla Retreats: The Chambinga Gallop
The G-6s of Juliet troop were meanwhile shelling targets of opportunity and 'strategic equipment' in and around Cuito Cuanavale from their position on the Chambinga high ground just south of the Cuatir. They also prosecuted their priority task, the interdiction Cuito Cuanavale air base. At 13h57 a signals intercept revealed that their fire had damaged an aircraft and injured its pilot, hit four radar systems, and caused several casualties. The shelling of the Chambinga bridge area during the day had damaged or destroyed at least fifteen vehicles by 19h00. Fapla had not been aware of the G-6s in the north, and were quite shaken to find a South African Force with artillery there....

Saturday, 14 November 1987: Fapla Retreats: The Chambinga Gallop
Combat Group Charlie appears to have deployed some six kilometres from where the intended Fapla crossings over the Vimpulo were. Alpha pointed this out to them, but Cmdt. Marais and his navigator were certain that they were correctly deployed, and Fapla slipped past his force in the dark....

Sunday, 15 November 1987: Fapla Retreats: The Chambinga Gallop
Combat Group Charlie, having swung too far eastward in their move from the abortive Vimpulo ambush to the Hube source, now found themselves having to clear their way through a minefield across their approach. Two Plofadders were fired to breach the minefield after no route could be found around it in the dark. This rather defeated the express instructions to take up an ambush position under cover of darkness, that is, with a degree of stealth. Neither Plofadder worked properly. The operation was then further compromised by the use of illumination bombs while moving into position....

Monday, 16 November 1987: Fapla Retreats: The Chambinga Gallop
Combat Groups Charlie and Bravo encountered elements of 21 Brigade south of the Hube source and heavy fighting broke out. For an historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section....

Tuesday, 17 November 1987: Fapla Retreats: The Pursuit to the Chambinga
During the night of 16 to 17 November nearly all the remaining Fapla forces south of the Hube escaped round the Hube source towards the Chambinga bridge. Task Force 10 now had to accept the failure of their plan to trap and destroy 21 Brigade and its attachments, and had to plan how to deal with the much larger Fapla force concentrated east of the Chambinga bridge. At 08h30 Combat Group Alpha started an operation to drive Fapla ahead of them into a concentration near the Chambinga bridge, which the artillery could then engage to good effect. For an historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section....

Wednesday, 18 November 1987: Future of Operation Moduler discussed
The future of Operation Moduler was discussed on 18 November by General Geldenhuys, General Liebenberg, and the Chief of Staff Intelligence. The SA artillery continued with intermittent shelling of selected targets in and around Cuito Cuanavale....

Thursday, 19 November 1987: Continued shelling of targets
19 November was marked chiefly by continued shelling of targets observed in and around Cuito Cuanavale, the Forward Command Post reported to its headquarters that half the buildings in the town had now been damaged. The SAAF also flew several strikes on targets in the area. The proximity of brigades to Cuito Cuanavale also aggravated their desertion problem, some battalions being down to fifty or sixty men. 16 Brigade suffered most in this respect. 25 Brigade was extensively shelled during the day....

Friday, 20 November 1987: SAAF attacks on 25 Brigade
The day was quiet except for SAAF attacks on the 25 Brigade positions in the Chambinga bridge area....

Saturday, 21 November 1987: Unita clashed with Fapla patrols
Elemets of Unita's 3rd and 5th Regular Battalions clashed with Fapla patrols east of the Chambinga bridge on several occasions. Fapla recovery parties crossed the bridge during the day to recover vehicles that had been abandoned on the east bank. These parties were shelled, but continued with their work with some success. The G-5s shelled Cuito Cuanavale and targets of opportunity elsewhere, including a convoy of one hundred vehicles moving from Tumpo to Cuito Cuanavle. At the town itself, a G-5 shell scored a direct hit on a Bar Lock radar. A BM-21 that attempted a counter-bombardment was destroyed....

Sunday, 22 November 1987: SA force began final preparations for attack
General Geldenhuys set 25 November as D-Day for the next attack, and all forces involved began their final preparations on 22 November....

Monday, 23 November 1987: A quiet day
The 23rd was quiet except for an air attack on vehicles near the Chambinga bridge. The Combat Groups spent their day on checking equipment and replenishment, harassed occasionally by MiGs. One attack was flown against Alpha west of the Vimpulo source at 10h10, but it caused neither casualties nor damage....

Tuesday, 24 November 1987: Fapla completed its redeployments
Fapla had by now virtually completed its redeployment, somewhat more quickly than the South Africans had expected. Their first defence line ran from the Cuatir source via the Chambinga source to the Chambing bridge. The second line from the Cuanavale-Cuatir confluence to the Cuito-Chambinga confluence, and the third was based on Tumpo....

Wednesday, 25 November 1987: Last Attacks of Moduler
The South Africans intended to systematically grind down and break up Fapla east of the Cuito River, as well as destroying it or driving it off if possible, and dominating the Chambinga bridge and high ground. D-Day was set for the 25th, when a joint Unita-Combat Group Bravo attack was launched. For a historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section....

Thursday, 26 November 1987: Last Attacks of Moduler
The intention for November 26 was for Combat Group Charlie to move past the flank of the position opened by Bravo the previous day, and then up along the road to Tumpo, advancing approximately half-way and then settling down to cut off Fapla while Unita again attacked the main position.  For an historical account of this encounter, see the Historical Accounts section....

Friday, 27 November 1987: Fapla's morale boosted
For Fapla, the failure of the attacks on 25 and 26 November were a welcome boost to the sagging morale of their troops. For the first time in the campaign they could point to a victory, having beaten off two consecutive attacks. Their determination to hold on to the east bank of the Cuito stiffened accordingly....

Saturday, 28 November 1987: G-6s withdrawn
The G-6 troop now packed up and moved out of its deployment area on 28 November. The guns had been in action almost daily since the 9th. They had fired some ninety rounds per gun per day, all charge 2 or 3, mostly HE base-bleed. They took just over two days to cover the 130 kilometres of bush back to Mavinga, breaking a new logistics route as they went. From Mavinga they went back to Rundu along the existing route. ...

Sunday, 29 November 1987: Fapla's First Defence Line
25 Brigade was deployed just north of the Chambinga bridge, with its defences facing east. 59 Brigade w the north of 25 Brigade, deployed in battalion and company positions dispersed over a large area. It generally faced east, but also had elements facing north-east. 21 Brigade was north of 59 Brigade, and just south of the Cuatir river. It had two outposts deployed to the east, facing north-east and south-east respectively....

Monday, 30 November 1987: Fapla's Second Defence Line
Tactical Group 2 was deployed south-east of Tumpo, north of the Cuito-Chambinga confluence and had at least a company of ten tanks with it. 66 Brigade was deployed in the Tumpo area with other elements, including twenty-five tanks. 16 Brigade was deployed between 66 Brigade and the Dala River, with one battalion on each side of the Lupire road, forming the northern end of the line....

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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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