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Author: Johan Schoeman Created: 2011/01/07 07:05 AM RssIcon
Stories, information and photos relating to personal experiences in the War In Angola.
By Johan Schoeman on 2020/07/25 03:12 PM
Lomba River source, Southeast-Angola, late February 1988…

That whining automatic turbo diesel engine of the Ratel, such a reassuring and calming sound for its occupants, raises in pitch as it accelerates, bouncing through the thick sand, sweeping bush and small trees aside, breaking its own path through the thick, bushy vegetation of the Angolan landscape, right on the edge of the bush next to a huge anharra, a wide, open, treeless band of sucking mud and grass that surrounds any and almost all rivers in southeast Angola.

Ratel with Call Sign G25A during Operation Packer

We are bundu-bashing a new track along the inside of the tree line, the Ratel leading the way to a hide the battery have to occupy for the night, somewhere to the southwest of Mavinga. It’s a rather large number of vehicles, mostly comprising of Kwêvoël armoured and...
By Johan Schoeman on 2017/05/31 12:29 AM
Saturday evenings, southeast Angola, March/Apr 1988... Our SADF forces have settled in for the night in their respective hides in the bush east and south east of Cuito Cuanavale. The descending silence is a welcome respite to the day's fighting, harassment fire missions, bombing and rocket attacks by enemy MiGs. That is when the Brigade HQ signaler gives us the "All clear", indicating that all the brass have left the Brigade Administration Area (BAA) somewhere in the bush northwest of Mavinga, to go and have some well-deserved supper and drinks with the UNITA brass at Mavinga. That is when suddenly the air waves are thrown open for abuse and all the subunits (well, at least the artillery ones that I knew of) in the field would take a chance to tell jokes and have a go at each other over the radio (yes yes I know... we seemed to have been a pretty undisciplined lot!) You have to KNOW someone Afrikaans to appreciate the Afrikaner sense of humour and understand the crude nature of certain words and phrases in Afrikaans...
By Johan Schoeman on 2014/07/22 01:43 AM
Dedicated to the officers and men of 82 SA Mechanised Brigade, who, on this day, lost three of their tanks... call signs 12A, 52 and 53...
By Johan Schoeman on 2013/12/16 03:41 PM
My most nerve-wracking ride ever was when I just arrived at the Brigade Admin Area near Mavinga in the beginning of Operation Packer (Feb/Mar 1988), having just lead all the vehicles of our battery there all the way from Rundu, at least in my Ratel, but without a single map, compass, or any real sense of where I should be going with all this equipment except my sense of direction... Luckily the bush was full of dozens and dozens of tracks of vehicles that had gone there before us, but we were under strict instructions to break our own path through the bush and NOT follow any of the existing tracks. All that map training for NOTHING! The FIRST map I got to finally see was pinned up on the map board at the Brigade HQ when the Commandant took me to it and pointed to a position on the map that seemed surrounded by the little red flags of the enemy positions... a lonely blue flag seemed to indicate where we were at that moment... Before then I had NEVER even heard of a place called Cuito Cuanavale! Anyway... I was...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/11/18 11:52 AM
October, 1981 — Southern Angola

SWAPO had suffered heavy losses during Operation Carnation and Operation Protea which were executed in the western and southern theatres of Southern Angola. Because of this, the situation was as follows:

· The North-Eastern Front (NEF) was cut off from the rest of the SWAPO forces.

· The Northern Front (NF) Headquarters had dispersed and the guerrillas had fled in the direction of the command post.

· The morale of SWAPO was low due to the disruption and an acute shortage of food supplies.

· A battalion SWAPO guerrillas had arrived at the command post in order to lay ambushes towards the south as protection.

FAPLA forces had withdrawn towards the north to join units further north. They were busy with reconnaissance tasks in order to reoccupy towns in Southern Angola.

The on-going process of intelligence-gathering after Protea indicated to the South Africans that SWAPO had moved their command post to a position in thick bush northeast...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/11/07 12:00 AM
It was Friday evening, 30 Oct 1981, at Omuthyia, the base of 61 Mechanised Battalion Group in Northern South-West Africa, the day before the start of Operation Daisy (D-6).

It started off as a quiet evening, with all the “Big Brass” gone for dinner in nearby Tsumeb for their last civilized meal for the next three weeks. Major Schoeman, an infantry officer (I was not sure what his appointment was at this time), the RSM, AO1 Barnard, and the junior officers were left in charge at the base – no one else was allowed to leave so close to the start of an operation …and the NCO’s and troops of Alpha Company and Bravo Company (all from 1 SA Infantry Battalion), Charlie Squadron (from 2 Special Service Battalion), Delta Company (H Coy from 1 Parachute Battalion), and Sierra Battery (from 43 Battery in Walvis Bay). All the training and final “staal parade” (inspections) had been completed and the troops settled in for a final day of rest before the movement out to the Assembly Areas on D-5.

By Johan Schoeman on 2011/05/31 02:37 AM
I was recently reminded of the air observer part of my artillery observer (OPO) training in Potchefstroom in 1984, when I read a few exciting chapters of Mike Brink's book ''On the flightlines'. See the Books and Book Reviews Forum on War in Angola (http://www.warinangola.com/default.aspx?tabid=590&forumid=84&postid=1108&view=topic).

First the instructors took us up in a Cessna to demonstrate and explain how to orientate yourself and how to acquire a target from the air, followed by a lengthy discussion of how to adjust fire from the air. Of course, we were VERY attentive... after a three day and night stint of no sleep doing night infiltration exercises...all four of us in the plane were fast asleep!

Then all hell broke lose when we had to apply the theory in practice as we were sent up individually with the pilot in a Bosbok! Not quite having found my air legs, I seated myself in the back of the Bosbok and the pilot took off!

By Johan Schoeman on 2011/04/20 05:12 PM
Angola had strong Soviet and Cuban backing, and supported SWAPO/PLAN to the extend of providing assistance to the insurgents, co-locating Angolan troops in PLAN base camps in order to help protect them from South African aggression. The continued support to PLAN incursions prompted another strike by the SADF into southern Angola in 1980. This was Operation Sceptic, launched on 25 May, targeting the extensive 'Smokeshell' complex and several other base camps in Cunene province just north of the border. This is a small gallery of about 20 exclusive photos taken by Kobus Nortje during the operation.
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/02/26 02:22 AM
Members of this WarBlog will be able to view this collection of 99 EXCLUSIVE slides have been provided to War In Angola by Jaco van Zyl and comprises of snapshots taken during Operation Protea in August 1981, mostly of Combat Group 20 and their attack on Xangongo and Ongiva...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/01/11 05:51 AM
I was deployed as an anchor observer (call sign 35A) with a 2nd Lt (Lt "Pikkie" Prinsloo) and a Lance-Bombardier acting as Technical Assistant, for the attack of 82nd Brigade on the Tumpo Triangle on 23 March 1988. My position on the Chambinga high ground directly east of Cuito Cuanavale gave me a panoramic view of the entire Tumpo Triangle as well as the Cuito and Cuanavale Rivers and the town of Cuito Cuanavale beyond. I also commanded a good view of the east slope of the Cuito high ground to the west of the Cuito River and my primary task was counter-bombardment of Fapla artillery batteries and rocket launchers deployed there. I was unable to see any of the actual defences of the Tumpo Triangle itself and therefore engaged very few targets of opportunity there. Only when I saw the occasional vehicles dart out between the dense bush did I attempt engagements of targets in the triangle. I could clearly see the high ground in the "Delta" north of the Cuito-Cuanavale confluence, where another anchor observer...
By Johan Schoeman on 2011/01/11 05:36 AM
I had a few 'Close Encounters of the MiG kind', as early as November 1981, during Operation Daisy. I was appointed Battery Captain ("BK") for the 120mm Mortar Battery accompanying 61 Mech into Angola and was responsible for the direct resupply of the battery from the "A Echelon". In the artillery we have an officer doing this job, unlike in other corps where the responsibility usually falls on the Company Sergeant-Major. I was only a young 19 year old "bicycle" (2nd Lieutenant) and I was leading the A Echelon vehicles (mosly Samil-100 10ton trucks - no mine-resistant Kwêvoëls available for us then). Most were loaded to capacity with 120mm mortar ammunition followed by some general supplies (like toilet paper - THE most required personal commodity in the echelon!).

So there I was, despite almost 2 years of gunnery training, stuck in the cab of a 10ton truck, hauling supplies - usually the lot of the youngest PF officer in the battery, although it was supposed to be a Captain's job, hence the title "Battery...
Recent Blog Entries
"Fok net voort maar hou net Noord...!"
Posted on: Saturday, July 25, 2020
"Saturday Night Live"
Posted on: Tuesday, May 30, 2017
The Spirit of 53...
Posted on: Monday, July 21, 2014
A nerve-wracking ride to Cuito Cuanavale
Posted on: Monday, December 16, 2013
Photo Gallery of Operation Daisy, November 1981
Posted on: Friday, November 18, 2011
Posted on: Sunday, November 06, 2011
Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Posted on: Wednesday, April 20, 2011
Exclusive Photo Gallery of Operation Protea added
Posted on: Saturday, February 26, 2011
"Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Posted on: Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Recent Blog Comments
Re: Exclusive Photo Gallery of Operation Protea added
I was at Ladysmith 5 SAI from July 1980 and was a rifleman in OPS Protea went through Ondjiva Xangongo and Pupu And was hoping to get some photos I could recognise I was in Charlie company i
By Steve Emond on: Monday, October 19, 2020
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Die beste is maar om vir my die fotos en jou stories per epos aan te stuur na johan@warinangola.com. Die WarBlogs is 'n heeltemal aparte portaal van die www.warinangola.com een, maar as jy daar geregistreer is kan ek altyd hier ook 'n rekening met dieselfde besonderhere skep... Laat my maar net weet. Ek kom net so eenmaal 'n maand hier om gou op te vang, terwyl ek elke dag op die War In Angola portaal is.
By SuperUser Account on: Friday, October 25, 2019
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi johan ek het probeer regestreer.Kan nie inkom nie was ook daar saam vegroep 3 ons bev was j Jacobs het ook n paar fotos wat ek graag sal wil opsit het ook n foto van ons bev. laat weet wat ek moet doen is nie rekenaar vaardig nie kan my sel net net help. groete
By A H Du Plessis on: Monday, September 30, 2019
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hi Johan
I drove 72C in smokeshell, Kobus Nortje who has put up a number of Photos was in 72A
As you know from Hilton's email above I have written a book that Hilton is editing and I'm looking for good photos. How do I contact Kobus to ask him for permission to use the pictures?
Thanks Brian
By Brian Davey on: Monday, April 02, 2018
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added
Hilton, I could not find the exact reference in my notes, but I suspect it was Lt Paul Louw as I do remember reading about that report. As soon as I pint it down i will get back to you again...As to the photographs, none of them belong to me. Many come from the 61 Mech site and you may be able to obtain high res ones directly from them.There has been too many holdups and issues re the publication (mostly from my side) so I would have to re-approach the publisher to do it "my way" as previously they wanted me to reduce a 200-page manuscript to 64 pages to fit to the standard format of the publisher's series. It was not exactly what I had in mind, so I put it on ice...
By Johan Schoeman on: Friday, March 16, 2018
Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell)
Hi Johan,
Thank you for the wonderful service you provide for Bush War vets.

1. Can you tell me which officer said during the attack on Smokeshell, "My troops are bleeding!" It might have been Maj Fouche.

2. An old friend of mine, Brian Davey, is writing his memoir of National Service, including Smokeshell. He was driver of Ratel Seven-one Charlie. I am doing the editing, and would greatly appreciate permission to use some of the photographs you have here.

3. When do you think your book will be published?

Thanks again
By Hilton Ratcliffe on: Tuesday, March 06, 2018
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Dankie Johan vir insiggewende artikel

Ek was daar saam RPS, moes die volgende oggend n' "tenk gaan recover", diesel refill...met my Samil 20 Lappiespomp. Daar aangekom was die track af aan die regterkant, n' paar jong UNITA "soldate" het daar rondgestaan, Nodeloos om te sê, moes maar omdraai en teruggaan na TB. Die sand was so dik die vooras van die Samil 20 het oppad terug gebuig en dit het my omternd die hele dag geneem om 13km terug te ry.
By Gerhard on: Thursday, December 21, 2017
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Baie dankie vir jou terugvoer, Deon. Jou tenk met die mynvëer was 12A. Kontak my asseblief op johan@warinangola.com. Ek sal graag jou hele storie ook wil laai. Jy sal die volgende video wat etlike dae na die aanval gemaak is waardeer en ook jou tenk sien:

Videos - Cuito Cuanavale after the battle
blogs.warinangola.com /Videos/CuitoCuanavaleafterthebattle /tabid/278/language/en-ZA /Default.aspx (onthou om die spasies uit die link te haal!)

Hier is ook fotos van die tenks, 12A, 52, en 53....
Tank Data
blogs.warinangola.com/Forums /TankData/tabid/266/language /en-ZA/Default.aspx (onthou om die spasies uit die link te haal!)

Dan is daar ook besprekings oor die tenks by War In Angola General Forums - “Operation 53”
www.warinangola.com:8088 /default.aspx?tabid=590 &forumid=3026&postid=11851 &view=topic (onthou om die spasies uit die link te haal!)

Jammer ek sien nou eers jou antwoord... ;-)


By SuperUser Account on: Monday, April 10, 2017
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Dag Johan,
Baie intersante komentaar en het eers vandag die site ontdek.
Ek was die gunner van die tank wat die myn-vee apparaat vooraan gehad het en ook in die mynveld gelos was - Ek kan om die dood nie die roepsein onthou nie. Jy is reg, die eerste tenk het ons in n mynveld verloor gedurende die opmars. Daar is toe - eers onsuksesvol, met plofadders n pad deur die mynveld gemaak. Ons was nog besig om vuur te rig op loopgrawe met ons co-ax en af en toe n HESH as ons gedink het daars bunkers, toe ons die bevel kry om terug te trek. Ons het terug gestoot, nie omgedraai nie. maw die mynveer was nie aan die kant waarheen ons beweeg het nie, ons het afgewyk van die geveede spoor en toe die myn getrap. Die ander tank was ook in die aanval beskadig en is ook gelos. Daar was ook spar tenks wat ons het ook n klein aanval gedoen op dorpie- Bambi as ek reg onthou, met een van die spaar tenks na ons ons sn verloor het by Tumpo.
By Deon Louw on: Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
For those that are not aware of this. Highly interesting, filled a few knowledge gaps for me, and I consider myself well-read:

New analysis on this conflict by mr. Stuart Sterzel, a compatriot of mine (I have never met him), and ex SADF special forces operator:


And a document on this topic by him, to be found on www.academia.edu, search for "South Africa and the Angolan War Stuart Sterzel". It is for free.
By German volunteer on: Wednesday, October 19, 2016
Angola war is a very bad moment when it this is going on there is nothing to save their people. I read a lot of things in the books. The bestessays.com review have great articles but I would love more about these causes of war in the Angola so please share more articles on this topic.
By Ruth L. Bishop on: Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Angola war is a very bad moment when it this is going on there is nothing to save their people. I read a lot of things in the books. The bestessays.com review have great articles but I would love more about these causes of war in the Angola so please share more articles on this topic.
By Ruth L. Bishop on: Wednesday, April 06, 2016
Re: "Trying to destroy the Olifants"
Dankie vir die gesprek, ek maak nou juis die boek deur Roland de Vries klaar en dit is lekker om meer te lees op jou forum.
By Danie on: Monday, December 28, 2015