During the Angolan War between FAPLA, the FNLA and UNITA, the first suprise was the appearance of Cuban troops in that country. But if the Cubans expected to hand victory to the MPLA on a platter, they were bitterly disappointed. The SADF's operation SAVANNAH in 1975 - 1976 was to assist UNITA on a strategic level, and during operation Reindeer in 1978 the SADF surprised SWAPO and FAPLA by launching a very deep airborne raid, refuelling helicopters inside Angola, to enable them to carry out an effective withdrawal. Every commander agreed that it was utterly nonsensical to have troops carrying heavy equipment, attack before the rainy season. But this is exactly what our troops did during operation Askari. Another myth was dispelled when mechanised units traversed dense bush; "That's impossible !", it was said, but our tanks and Ratel Infantry Combat Vehicles did just that. Eavesdropping by our signal units helped during operations - apparently the enemy did not believe that this was possible. Textbooks said that guns should only be deployed behind forward infantry lines, but the SADF did the opposite, siting guns ahead of the infantry, while sending OP's far forward, to report from behind enemy lines. Radio beacons were installed inside FAPLA camps, once again a daring exploit that the enemy did not expect. The enemy knew that the G5 cannon had a range of 45 km, but did not believe that they would fire from close to the forward infantry lines. From 1985 anti-personnel bombs with ball bearings were employed that wreaked havoc, while, from 1987 on, an improved version was able to demolished armoured trucks and tanks
The SA Air Force sent Buccaneers and Mirages against enemy targets and they used smart bombs against bridges. Doing what the SADF was not supposed to do, they dropped Para's in batches of 20 to 30 by helicopter far into enemy territory in so-called "Butterfly" raids. To evacuate them, SAAF helicopters, due to their limited range, refuelled behind enemy lines and then evacuated the Para's safely.
A lot of damage was done by doing unorthodox things, often a tiny force of 3 to 5 soldiers effectively tied down thousands of enemy soldiers to the benefit of our own forces.
It was an unusual, riveting talk that shed light on quite a number of events that had been previously unknown to members and guests and this was greatly appreciated.
Following the Anglo-Boer war, Natal's government decided to introduce a poll4ax to boost their depleted treasury. This move met with opposition from the Black community of the colony, resulting in sporadic violence. The militia were called in and suppressed these incidents with some degree of success.
Then, in 1906, certain chiefs refused to pay this tax, and a minor but influential chief, Bhambatha Zondi, was forced by his izinduna to make a stand. He was supported by many tribes, resulting in the outbreak of "The Natal rebellion" or "Bhambatha rebellion". The rebels introduced some fascinating "hit and run" tactics to modern warfare, and led the military on a number of wild-goose chases. What was amazing, however, was the use of a conventional force in a "guerilla campaign". The rebellion was eventually crushed in the battle of Mome Gorge.
Ken is an authority on Kwa-Zulu/Natal history, and his illustrated talk promises to be outstanding
II Sep 97 THE DUTCH SIGNAL SYSTEM AND THE MUZZLE LOADING
THE WESTERN CAPE
Talk by Cdr G. de Vries, OC SAS Wingfleld
9 Oct 97 THE S.A. WOMEN'S SERVICES - WW II
Panel Discussion chaired by CoI.O.E.F. Baker
13 Nov 97 THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOUR -1941
Talk by Mr. W.C.C. Newton
Dec 97 In recess
Meetings are held on the second Thursday of each month, (barring December), at the SA LEGION'S ROSEDALE COMPLEX, Lower Nursery Road, Rosebank, (off Alma Road), opposite the Rosebank railway station, below the line. Visitors are welcome. Donation R 2,00. Tea will be served.
GET WELL SOON : Our good wishes go to our Honorary Secretary, Paul Lange, who is recovering from major surgery. We hope he will be back with us in the not too distant future
John Mahncke, (Vice-Chairman/Scribe), (021) 797 5167