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Apr 20

Written by: Johan Schoeman
2011/04/20 05:12 PM  RssIcon

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.
  • If you are not a member of this WarBlog, you can view a SAMPLE of 5 photos of the operation here...
  • To become a member of this Warblog, you will need to Register at www.warinangola.com and SUBSCRIBE to the PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP
  • If you are a member of this WarBlog, you will have to log in to view ALL the photos of the operation here...


7 comment(s) so far...


Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

good post!

By runescape gold on   2011/09/05 04:55 AM

Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

Graag sou ek graag van die foto's wil sien.My Boetie GJ Kemp in 61 mech Dink is Ratel 21 is oorlede in die Show.

By Marietha Kemp on   2012/07/13 03:14 PM

Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

Marietha, gaan na www.warinangola.com en Registreer (dit is gratis) en dan na die Gallery... kies 'Photos of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell), 1980' en dan behoort jy almal te kan sien. Laai ook sommer die laaste ten of so Uitgawes van die Nuusbrief af (ook gratis). Dit bevat 'n redelike gedetaileerde beskrywing van die Operasie...Uittreksels uit die boek waarmee ek besig is.

By Johan Schoeman on   2012/07/14 04:03 AM

Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

Would love to see and hear from people who were in operation smokeshell

By Rose Sheard (nee Kruger) on   2013/06/20 07:09 PM

Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

I have loaded information, maps and stories about Operation Sceptic and the attack on Smokeshell on the War In Angola Portal at http://www.warinangola.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1644

By Johan Schoeman on   2013/06/21 05:31 PM

Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

Was in Smokeshell

By Ockert Coertze on   2013/07/16 11:09 AM

Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Sceptic (Smokeshell) added

Ockert, Please send me some of your experiences (and photos) of the operation if you have. I would like to consider it for inclusion in a book on the operation... You can email it to johan@warinangola.com

By Johan Schoeman on   2013/07/17 09:14 PM

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Recent Blog Comments
"when my driver rammed a cocked R1 rifle into my face, threatening to shoot me!"

Goeie genugtig, dis erg (good Lord, this goes over the top)!
By German volunteer on: Sunday, June 29, 2014
Thank you, German, volunteer... your story deserves to be on its own blog! ;-) But it remains VERY relevant to the subject here, and your input is much appreciated. It was a fact of our time in the army that infighting between units existed and sometimes got out of control. Call it stupid, call it idiocy... call it "ESPRIT D'CORPS"... the fact remained that it was ludicrous to be fighting with your own, especially so near to the start of an actual operation! Discipline was sometimes an issue which demanded action... as I subsequently discovered on this same Operation Daisy, when my driver rammed a cocked R1 rifle into my face, threatening to shoot me! But that story is probably worthy of a Blog Entry on its own...!
By Johan Schoeman on: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
"But I remember some people had to be treated at I think it was 2 Mil (inside the Tempe base) afterward".

My mind is slipping with little details after all these years - googled it - must have been 3 military hospital at Bloemfontein.

@Stephan Swart: Ons probeer maar net ons herinneringe neer te skryf, ek het regtig niks teen die Bats nie. Wie gaan ons binneste gedagtes van daardie tye neerskryf, as nie onself nie? Daar word vandag so baie leuens vertel oor die ou SAW deur allerhand geleerdes, dat ek partykeer dink ek was in 'n ander weermag. Die tyd het in elk geval vir ons aangestap, ons raak oud, die diensplig gedeelte was maar 'n klein gedeelte van ons lewe, en vandag stoei van ons met baie groter probleme in die lewe. As ek van "ons" praat, dan is dit in die naam van ons generasie, beide dienspligtiges en die PF's wat ek nog in aanraking mee was of is. Daar was wenners, maar ook verloorders, waarvan sommiges vroeer hoee offisiere was, en vandag van genadebrood lewe. Ons is in elk geval al verby ons middeljare, en dis nog net 20 - 30 of wat jaar, dan is ons nie meer op aarde nie, en hopelik sal iemand ons nog onthou, maar ek weet mos hoe die mensdom is, die meeste mense is bra oppervlakkig en lewe net vir die oomblik. Ek is in elk geval altyd bly om nog van ons manne se stemme te hoor.
By German volunteer on: Friday, June 20, 2014
"I would also like to use this opprtunity to but the balsak and iron story away for good, it is rubbish to say but the least. If a person have to strike anybody's head with a balsak at full swing the person will most probably die, or end up in hospital with seriuos injury".

Your reasoning is correct, for I never saw an duffle bag with an iron. But I saw the guys speeding away for the rumble. It just had turned dark. Some guys bragged about it afterward. But I saw some rough guys there, and I know that there were some "skollie" (shady) types there that would shy away from nothing. But I know some guys put some heavy objects in their duffle bag, but it is too long ago to remember the exact details. Not every duffle bag was filled with heavy objects, not everyone went in with a duffle bag, so the percentage chance that someone would be hit was low. But I remember some people had to be treated at I think it was 2 Mil (inside the Tempe base) afterward. Remember it was national service, the army had to take in everybody, and that included the less civilized part of our population.

Let me tell you an example, where I personally was involved. In my bungalow (I was pantser, 1 SSB) we had the armoured car guys, and then also one infantry squad, in Germany they call them panzer grenadiers (infantry backing up the armour). One of them was a tall guy coming from Cape Town, about the size and looks of the once boxer Gerrie Coetzee, and bragged how he drove in civvy street with chains, moering (hitting) blacks along the road.He was about 6 feet tall, and I as a panzer, more on the short side. I did not like him one bit. He was stupid, but he was strong, so he could control his people, and got stripes for that. He one night got drunk back to base with his friend, and looked for a victim. And that was me, alone in the bungalow that one night. So they started throwing out all my stuff out of my locker, neatly packed for inspection. I lost my temper and started getting cocky, but did not have the body mass in order to defend myself properly. The next moment I found myself being kicked under my bed, and I had to curl up, in order to protect my head. They attacked me for about ten minutes, and then left me alone. That section leader gippoed (shy away from duty) once when we had to run around during punishment PT, and hid in the toilet. I then decided if he does not want to play along, I am also going to hide in the amnenities, just to prove a point. He obviously was very agitated, for he then had to leave the locker rooms, but not before giving me a nasty wipe with his fits against my head, where I saw stars, but thought up yours.

I met quite few chilish idiots like these guys, even some I thought that were not quite "lekker" (straight) in their heads, and some guys suffered quite more than me under their regime.

Even on the border there was this stupid wackhead (he could a stripe afterward, for he got some supervisory responsibilities at the stores) with a standard eight, who listened to rockability songs all day long. He started to grab my whatsisname (private part) down there one day out of boredom, and I threatened him. Then he started attacking me, and I threatened hm with the little scissor in our stitch-and-needle pack. The others stood around, waiting for some amusement. He then punched me in the face, so I walked around with a swollen parrot beak for about two weeks long, much to the amusement of the others. The leftenant (we called him 'old blue eyes') just stood around, did nothing. He was a good guy, but not a tough guy, for later when we had to dig trenches (Katima was shot up one year before I was there) some of our troops threw him with earth clods, and he just took it. I would have ripped those troops apart, if I was in his shoes. Most of our officers were very good, but you here and there had your duds, but that one would expect statistically.

These people would have no inhibition tackling Bats with irresponsible object in their duffle bags.

"You remind me of the guy (more than one by the way) one day that told me how many terrs he killed, and his unit".

I don't know whom in particular you are adressing, but you are speaking the truth. South Africa today is in many cases much more dangerous than the opertaional area back then. I was involved in an armed burglary at my home in 2008 in Alberton, my Rhodesian neighbor, to whom the robbers went afterward, was shot in his knees, and his mother with a shotgun through the glassdoor and both survived, as they say for the grace of God. In my period of 5 months duty at Katima there was no incident. It was not like Vietnam. Most probably because the area was cleaned up after the revenge attack after Cassinga, but those things I found out only many years afterward after the border war literature saw the light. After I left, one of the armoured car commander from the squadron thar replaced us, was shot dead while on patrol. I read it in the SCOPE magazine, while on pass. He apparently tanned on top of his noddy car while on patrol, thinking nothing happened on the border anymore, which was a stupid and undisciplined thing to do. A lot of casualties were because of stupidity, not because of war actions. I know, I saw it, and I heard it. One of our guys killed himself while throwing a handgrenade uphill during exercise (so it was told to us), and it rolled back. In our bungalow this one idiot shot his R1 (FN_FAL) rifle magazine, filled with blanks, empty on automatic. Another one killed himself on guard duty, playing around with his riflemagazine (we had five bullets, the magazine being sealed with a lead seal, which you may only break up in an emergency). The idiot broke the seal, and dropped his rifle, and the shot went off. So it was told to us afterward.

After an exercise on the firing range at De Brug, the unexploded ammunition had to be collected by experts. This one idiot (who landed in DB - detention baracks - at a stage) decided he was cleverer than everybody else. He fetched an unexploded 60 mill exercise mortar (those blue ones) and screwed off the primer cap, and hit it on a rock, like a baboon, just to see what a big bang sounded like. We were explicitly warned against this beforehand. Some people are unteacheable, but the army had to take in everybody, also the mentally challenged. Afterward we had to line up before the ambulance, in order to look at his hand, full of shrapnell. He could have been lucky that he did not loose his eyesight.

When I patrolled on the border, it back then was a very real war situation for us. People were shot. It could have been me. I did not know of all the things which appeared many years later in the border war literature. For me it was a situation where I as a gunner was confronted by the same questions of writing your last testament in blood in the sand (military testament), that we could run in an ambush, and how was I to fire my 60 mil grenade (I mostly was in a Eland 60 on border patrols) without hitting my own people. Nobody told you that. We for all practical purposes were in a mindset of readiness for an incident to happen, during patrols, and that was not a state of relaxation and on holiday.

One day, just before sundown, the generators were on already, there was a huge bang at Katima base. I was at our tents at the one end of the parade grounds, back at the fence of the camp, walking toward the guard room (we had to stand guard that night) at the Katima base entrance. It felt like a huge kettle drum like I never heard again in my life, you could feel the pounding inside your chest, and the ground shortly reverberating. The generator went out, it went dark. I thought now I will get my "vuurdoop" (baptism of fire), and will mortars now fall on the parade ground? Shortly afterward we were told to move to our armoured cars at the car park (which was just a few canopies near the generators, at a radio tower near the guard rooms). The infantry ran to their Buffels, frantically loading ammunition. I hoped that I had listened well enough during our lectures, and that my browning won't get a failure. One could feel the tension in the air, even now, as I write it. We were not scared, perhaps too dumb and inexperienced to be so, it only was a strange situation. We waited for orders. Then we were told over the radio that the RSM (regimental seargeant major) had tested a landmine, but forgot to inform us. We were quite relieved. I told my commander and driver we must sit still and keep quite and enjoy the show, looking how the infantery loeaded their guns and ammunition, obviously having not yet been informed. So we sat back and grinned at each other, we mischievous louts, until they also got the message.

Later on during camps, Regiment Mooirivier was called up for active duty on operations inside Angola. I missed out, due to the exemption boeard, because of my studies. My national service commander, now a business owner, and a Bcomm Unisa degree, did not get off so lightly. I still now and then write him a mail. He was send several times to Angola, it did not even help that he told the court he cannot understand Afrikaans (so he wrote me in a mail recently).

I went there for national service in a period when there was a high casualty rate on the border, according to the justdoneit website. The real dangerous time for all citizens of South Africa was only for a ten to fifteen years period, even when the border war was 23 years long in total, starting off, I reckon, just before the two years national service period was introduced. I met lots of people even of my own age group who never went to the border, or even to the army (e.g. Telkom guys, exempted because it was a national key point. Never knew before this that these guys did not have to go. My brother in law was such a case). Only one of my bosses in the early stage of my career, did national service, the rest were part of the older generation. Camps were a huge disruption to our personal life. If I look here overseas, the people could build their careers in a critical age group and time at work, while we had to battle with an animal of a completely different kind. For all that inconvenience (in my case, perhaps volunteerded inconvienience, for my parents lost all to communism after WWII, so I knew what the danger was) we lost a country, and I sat ten years without work, due to BEE, and nearly landed in a squatter camp, this while having a MINT qualification, and management experience, and will end up in pension without a pension, on the welfare, if I remain unlucky.

You see where I come from when I wrote about this incident.

By German volunteer on: Thursday, June 19, 2014
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Daisy, November 1981
Ek het sy gegewens as dood tydens Operasie Protea... Sien http://www.warinangola.com/Default.aspx?tabid=1596&Parameter=962... ongelukkig geen fotos nie
By Johan Schoeman on: Saturday, June 14, 2014
Re: Photo Gallery of Operation Daisy, November 1981
Ek is opsoek na n foto van my vriend wat dood is tydens ops daisy sktr M Stapelberg
By Danie on: Friday, June 13, 2014
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate your efforts and I am waiting for your next write ups thanks once again.

By rachelle on: Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Re: A nerve-wracking ride to Cuito Cuanavale
Jy is heeltemal reg, German volunteer. Ek neem aan jy is nie in Suid Afrika nie, want hier is nog baie van ons wat wel daar was. Probeer maar inskakel by die plaaslike veterane orgnaisasies(s), as daar is. Dis lekker wanneer die OUMANNE so beymekaar kom en oorlogstories praat!
By Johan Schoeman on: Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Re: A nerve-wracking ride to Cuito Cuanavale
Maar stil hierso. Ek vermis die stemme van ons manne van lank gelede hierso in die vreemde. Wens ek was in die posisie om een van ons mense van ons generasie wat aktief op die grens was weer te kon ontmoet, maar dit sal seker maar net 'n pypdroom bly. So stap die jare aan, ons word ouer en ouer, en minder en minder, en met wat ons daarso ondervind het en met die minste kan deel, laat mens so eensam voel. Die Russe van daardie tyd ondervind seker dieselfde gevoel. So stap ons, nes die ou Rhodesie, stadigaan in die boeke van die geskiedenis in...
By German volunteer on: Friday, May 23, 2014
Why is it that every non bat I encounter always tell me how they used to beat the bats up. I have never met a bat that told me how they beat anybody up. I would also like to use this opprtunity to but the balsak and iron story away for good, it is rubbish to say but the least. If a person have to strike anybody's head with a balsak at full swing the person will most probably die, or end up in hospital with seriuos injury. Go and make your calculation, or ask me to do it for you, take the weight of an iron, put it at the end of 1.5 meter rope and swing it, the centrifical force required to keep the iron in a full arc will be enough to crack a skull on half or snap a collar bone when it come into contact." please do not try it on your dog"

My personal experience is that the night before an ops (or during the built up to an ops) you need to rest and be quiet and rethink your roll in the job, clean your rifle, chek your amunition, re-clean your rifle and re-chek your amunition and kit, when you return you are fustrated, angry and then fights can break out easy especially if alcohol is involved.

What is going in whith you guys?
Why is it that other units always want to steal bat berrets,always proof that you had beaten a few bats up, us bats cannot care about stealing your berrets? Please explain.

You remind me of the guy (more than one by the way) one day that told me how many terrs he killed, and his unit. When I told him that at that rate if everybody who went to the border killed one terr, the full Namibina population would have been wiped out. The kill ratio was actually very lower that we would all admit. The kill ratio was actually so bad at one stage that if they did not introduce, 32 and 101 the South Africans would have lost the war before 1984. Did you know that you rat!!

I am a bat and proud of it, I am still very aggressive but have learned to control and calm myslef down, and you can dream on, you can never be a bat, sorry boet!
By Stephan Swart on: Wednesday, May 14, 2014
Re: A nerve-wracking ride to Cuito Cuanavale
Good grief, I really had to search for the place on google earth with my fast and cheap and flatrate Internet (unlimited, €35 / month, just to make you jealous).

The street names sort of have changed. What happened to Esselen Street? Stayed for many years after the army in Sunnyside, before it turned into Darkside. Stalingrad has been changed back to Volgograd, but in South Africa I guess its the other way around, they would like to change Volgograd back into Stalingrad, or what says I?

Regiment Munitoria, as I remember it, was not much of a deal, and is a dicarded regiment. Its HQ was not much of a HQ, more of a store on a munitoria site, on the corner of Kotze and Skinner,street now Nana Sita street according to the spirit of the times. Just accross the street is Pre-Rand motors (where I bought my second car in life, a 1982 VW Passat - 'pas gekoop, sat gery...').

After national service I got a letter informing me I am now part of Regiment Munitoria. I then highly inquisitive drove to the adress mentioned in the letter. Was quite disappointed with the site, had quite something different in mind when reading the word 'Regiment'. I doubt that even a squad would fit into that site. Perhaps that was just a storeroom of the regiment, I cannot tell. The next letter I received I was informed that I am now part of Regiment Mooiriver.

And there ended my brief encounter with the famous Regiment Munitoria.

By German volunteer on: Monday, April 14, 2014
Hahaha, Varkpan Skutter...! I like your fighting spirit! Just like the Parabats have always been... indefatigable! Your Esprit de Corps is admirable, but as you may have noticed... I was there... and I am NOT afraid to put my name to it! I agree with you 100% that the gunners had a discipline problem... they were MY troops and as a 19 year old 2Lt I was left in charge... and had to take the blame for the entire fiasco! DESPITE the fact that everything occurred within the GUNNER's LINES and not outside! I think we could just ask the then Captain Pale van der Walt, who stood there, a head taller than the rest of you, having to hit some his own troops because they did not heed his admonitions to stop attacking the gunners - and he was a Parabat! This I saw with my own eyes... Anyway there is no need to fight anymore.. as we all managed to stand together and work well together during Operation Daisy! I told the story as I experienced it, and did not intend to tread on sensitive toes...;-)
By SuperUser Account on: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
I too am an ex H Coy member and remember this night well - and my memories are like chalk and cheese compared to the fantasies of the Piksteel Lt.

As has been pointed out in a few earlier comments, everybody wants to tell a story about how they pulled one over on the 'Bats - this story just goes a bit further than most.

Do you honestly believe that 13 'bats ended up with stitches ? There would be many records of that and I can tell you that there are none and that is because there was nobody who required medical treatment. H Coy was on full strength for the loooong drive North which was the start of Ops daisy - while the Arty boys were no doubt still in base licking their wounds and making up grensvegter stories.

The whole episode started when a bunch of poorly disciplined gunners were taught some manners by a much smaller group of proper soldiers - get over it guys, you too had the opportunity to volunteer for the Parabats but chose not to - don't hide your disappointment and jealousy by making up stories of how great you were.

Ex Alto Vincimus
By Varkpan Skutter on: Tuesday, April 08, 2014
Re: Exclusive Photo Gallery of Operation Protea added
I was at that stage in HK 7 Inf Div where the originaly the planning for that Ops had started. I can confirm that it really happened. I have read the the report as it came in.
By Peet v d Merwe on: Monday, April 07, 2014
Re: A nerve-wracking ride to Cuito Cuanavale
Have you got any information on Regiment Munitoria? I have NOTHING on it at all! ;-)
By SuperUser Account on: Saturday, April 05, 2014