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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...

Tuesday, 1 September 1987: Impala Mk II's on standby at Rundu
The first combat aircraft to be deployed were four Impala Mk IIs based at Rundu for close air support work at the beginning of September. These were increased to ten by 24 September....

Wednesday, 2 September 1987: Main body of 61 Mech Bn Gp arrived
61 Mech had moved to the north in packets, the main body arriving at the Lugengue forward refuelling point on the 2nd of September.....

Thursday, 3 September 1987: FAPLA 21 Brigade shot down SAAF Bosbok on 3 Sep 1987
3 September 1987 saw the first South African casualties when a SAAF Bosbok spotter plane was shot down by a SA-8 missile deployed by FAPLA's 21 Brigade....

Friday, 4 September 1987: Six Mirage F-1CZs deployed at Rundu
A fighter element of six Mirage F-1CZs of 3 Squadron arrived at Rundu for air defence and interception tasks. Another seven were placed on standby at Air Force Base Waterkloof for deployment if needed....

Saturday, 5 September 1987: The G-5s and MRLs bombard 21, 47 and 59 Brigades
The rocket launchers and the G-5s engaged 47 and 21 Brigades respectively during the early mornings of 2 and 3 September, and placed observed fire on 47, 59, and 21 Brigades during the night of 4 to 5 September, the shelling continuing until 03h00. The rocket launchers deployed into independent troops during 5 September to allow one troop each to engage 47 and 21 Brigades simultaneously. The bombardment was then resumed during the night of 5 to 6 September, the G-5s firing 108 rounds at 21 Brigade....

Sunday, 6 September 1987: Actual First Contact 6 Sep 1987
The first contact between South African ground forces and Fapla conventional forces took place on 6 September 1987 during Operation Moduler. For a historical account of the events, See the Historical Account Section....

Monday, 7 September 1987: Mirage F-1AZs, Buccaneers, and Canberras deployed at Grootfontein
Twelve Mirage F-1AZs of 1 Squadron, four Buccaneers of 24 Squadron, and three Canberras of 12 Squadron were deployed to the airbase at Grootfontein....

Monday, 7 September 1987: 20 SA Brigade deployed
Combat groups Alpha and Bravo were deployed ten kilometres south-west of Mavinga waiting to be committed, should Fapla's 47 and 59 Brigades succeed in linking up. All dispositions were completed by the evening of 7 September....

Tuesday, 8 September 1987: Busy day for the SA Artillery
21 and 47 Brigades were the main targets of the SA Artillery on 8 September. 47 Brigade received a full battery ripple from the rocket launchers, fired from nine kilometres south-west of the Lomba-Cunzumbia confluence. The artillery observer deployed north of the Lomba to monitor 21 Brigade, brought fire on to seven tanks which promptly withdrew. The G-5s engaged three other tanks in the brigade area, and four other vehicles were set on fire in the process....

Wednesday, 9 September 1987: First Clashes: 21 Brigade on the Lomba, 9-10 September 1987
Combat Group Bravo clashes with 21 Brigade as they try to cross the Lomba river. First time the Ratel ZT3 is used in action. For a historical account, see the Historical Accounts Section....

Thursday, 10 September 1987: First Clashes: 21 Brigade on the Lomba, 9-10 September 1987
Combat Group Bravo clashes with 21 Brigade as they try to cross the Lomba river. First time Ratel ZT3 is used in action. For a historical account, see the Historical Accounts Section....

Friday, 11 September 1987: Permission for SAAF air strike withdrawn
Recces from 5 Reconnaissance Regiment pinpointed the positions of Fapla's 47 Brigade during the night of 9 to 10 September and marked them during the following night for the air strike planned for 03h15. Permission was, however, withdrawn at the last moment, because of the critical stage of the negotiations for the POW exchange involving Captain Du Toit, who had been captured in Cabinda in 1985. The artillery bombardment of the positions - both G-5s and rockets - was carried out, but an attack by Unita was cancelled by them, in the absence of the air strike....

Saturday, 12 September 1987: Armed reconnaissance by Combat Group Bravo delayed
Commandant Hartsleif was ordered to take his Group Bravo to carry out an armed reconnaissance in order to intercept a Fapla force which had deployed and dug in some six kilometres east of the main 47 Brigade positions. Difficulties with replenishing Combat Group Bravo, and several minor breakdowns caused the operation to be delayed until the next day - 13 September....

Sunday, 13 September 1987: First Clashes: 47 Brigade, 13-14 Sep 1987
Combat Groups Bravo and Charlie clashed with 47 Brigade on 13 and 14 September 1987. For a historical account, see the Historical Accounts Section....

Monday, 14 September 1987: First Clashes: 47 Brigade, 13-14 Sep 1987
Combat Groups Bravo and Charlie clashed with 47 Brigade on 13 and 14 September 1987. For a historical account, see the Historical Accounts Section....

Tuesday, 15 September 1987: Quebec and Papa batteries shell and rocket 21 Brigade
Teams from 5 Reconnaissance Regiment went in during the night to mark the targets for the air strike with white phosphorus. Quebec and Papa batteries shell and rocket 21 Brigade through the night of 15 to 16 September, to prevent it from interfering in the attack on 47 Brigade on the 16th....

Wednesday, 16 September 1987: First Clashes: 47 Brigade, 16 Sep 1987
Combat Group Alpha engaged 47 Brigade on 16 September 1987. For a historical account, see the Historical Accounts Section....

Wednesday, 16 September 1987: First SAAF air strike
The first air strike of Operation Moduler was flown on the morning of 16 September against 47 Brigade. The Mirages struck at 06h23, dropping pre-fragmented 250 kg bombs, followed by Buccaneers. Canberras, which were to have attacked after them, were recalled when it became clear that they have been acquired by Fapla's radars....

Thursday, 17 September 1987: Importance of psychological operations stressed
General Geldenhuys stressed the importance that he attached to psychological operations - particularly aimed against 47 and 21 Brigades. Elements considered for this function included pamphlets distributed by means of 155 mm cargo shells and 120 mm cargo mortar bombs, harassing fire, and nighttime use of 'groundshout' systems. ...

Friday, 18 September 1987: First two members of the psychological operations team
A small psychological operations team was hastily formed, and the first two members were flown into Mavinga on 18 September, to be joined by a third on the 20th....

Saturday, 19 September 1987: Teams from 5 Recce infiltrate positions of 59 Brigade
Teams from 5 Reconnaissance Regiment were tasked to infiltrate the positions of 59 Brigade during the night of 19 September, and a photographic reconnaissance mission by the SAAF was requested for the afternoon....

Sunday, 20 September 1987: SAAF air strikes against 47 Brigade
An opening strike by Canberras was cancelled because of low cloud, but three other attacks went in. Four Buccaneers attacked with ten 250 kg pre-fragmented bombs each at 08h54, four Mirages with eight 250 kg pre-fragmented bombs each at 13h00, and again four Buccaneers with ten 250 kg pre-fragmented bombs each at 17h50....

Monday, 21 September 1987: SAAF RPV shot down by SA-8
A 'Gharra' Remote Piloted Vehicle of the SAAF was shot down on its second sortie over the four Fapla brigades. It successfully overflew the positions of 16 and 21 Brigades, but was shot down by an SA-8 - the seventeenth SAM fired at it - at 14h34, while over 47 Brigade....

Tuesday, 22 September 1987: 21 Brigade's Lomba crossing stopped again - 22 Sep 1987
21 Brigade's second attempt to establish a bridgehead across the Lomba river was thwarted by the deadly fire from G5's of the SADF Artillery on the night of 22 September 1987...

Wednesday, 23 September 1987: Generals Demosthenes and Ben-Ben arrived at Brigade headquarters
UNITA Generals Demosthenes and Ben-Ben arrived at the SADF Brigade headquarters to join in detailed planning with the brigade staff and the combat group commanders. It is confirmed that the main objectives of the South Africans should remain the isolation of 47 Brigade and the attrition of 59 and 21 Brigades by artillery fire....

Thursday, 24 September 1987: 21, 47 and 59 Brigades bombarded
Several artillery and air strikes were conducted over the next few days in addition to the routine harassing fire. 21 Brigade was bombarded during the morning of 24 September, and several of its trucks were destroyed. In the evening there was some degree of activity from some Fapla BM-21s, which drew a reply from the G-5s and quickly stopped. 47 Brigade was treated to an hourly artillery harassment at the request of the psychological operations team, and 59 Brigade was also harassed....

Friday, 25 September 1987: Fapla worked out the position of the G-5s
In the course of 25 September, the forward Fapla elements worked out the position of the G-5s quite accurately and transmitted it to their headquarters....

Saturday, 26 September 1987: 5 Strikes by SAAF on 21 Brigade - 7 Soviet advisors wounded
The SAAF flew five strikes against 21 Brigade on 26 September, at 07h20, 07h25, 10h20, 11h40 and 16h40, dropping 470 kg high-explosive and 250 kg pre-fragmented bombs. These strikes were interspersed with artillery strikes by Quebec Battery's G-5s, two of the Brigade's SA-8 launchers being destroyed by the guns. Seven of its Soviet advisors were also wounded in the day's strikes...

Saturday, 26 September 1987: FAPA air strike against the G-5's
An air strike against the G-5's, located by forward Fapla elements, was flown by Mig-23 and Su-22 aircraft, but went 2 000 metres wide....

Sunday, 27 September 1987: Mi-25 helicopters sent to extract Soviet personnel
On 27 September, three Mi-25 combat helicopters were sent from Cuito Cuanavale to extract some of the Soviet personnel deployed with the forward brigades, including the seven wounded on 26 September in the attacks on 21 Brigade. Forward observers of the SA Artillery called fire on likely landing zones, destroying one helicopter upon landing. The helicopters that escaped carried out the Soviet advisers, leaving these brigades virtually bereft of their command element....

Sunday, 27 September 1987: Mirage F-1CZs and Cuban-piloted MiG-23s clash briefly
Two Mirage F-1Czs of 3 Squadron had been scrambled from Rundu to intercept a flight of Cuban-piloted MiG-23s which were flying cover for the helicopter extraction. The fighters clashed briefly, a head-on long-range air-to-air missile shot damaged one of the Mirages, flown by Captain Piercy. The Mirage crash landed at Rundu, and Captain Piercy suffered serious spinal injuries....

Monday, 28 September 1987: 21 Brigade vacated its positions
21 Brigade vacated its positions opposite Combat Group Bravo during the night of 27 to 28 September, moving several kilometres to the north-west. They withdrew very quietly indeed; the first sign of their withdrawal came when a SAAF team launched two modified remote-controlled aircraft, and flew them over the 21 Brigade positions in the hopes of attracting the attention of a SAM or two. There was no reaction: 21 Brigade had stolen away in the dark....

Tuesday, 29 September 1987: Senior visitors visited the 20 SA Brigade headquarters
The night of 28 to 29 September brought a collection of senior visitors to the Brigade headquarters, including President P.W.Botha, the Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence, General Geldenhuys, General Liebenberg, the Chief of Staff Intelligence, the Chief of Staff Finance, and General Len Meyer. They were fully briefed on the operation thus far and on the current situation, then went on to consider further action....

Wednesday, 30 September 1987: 47 Brigade passed seriously wounded to 59 Brigade and received some supplies
On 30 September a small detachment from 47 Brigade made contact with 59 Brigade, passing over their most seriously wounded, and receiving limited supplies of food and critical ammunition....

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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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