South Africa at war along the Angolan frontier
This book from the prolific South African author Al J. Venter covers the 23 years of the Border War between South Africa and various enemies in Angola and Mozambique, but in bite sized chunks also covers a variety of associated subjects. The author draws upon his own experiences in the conflict, but also has contributions from the many friends he has made in the defence world of South Africa and elsewhere. In the prologue the story starts with a brief history of South African participation in the Battle of Britain and beyond, describing the careers of fliers such as Sailor Malan and ‘Pat’ Pattle.
Chapter one describes the end of the Portuguese empire in Africa from the 1960’s to the Portuguese Revolution in 1974. From there the author takes us to the Border War and discusses many of the circumstances of the conflict. He adds to the historical notes with references to reminisced after-action reports, and the whole book is stuffed with interesting photos of men and machines. Among the chapters are very interesting pieces of the South African combat divers who caused mayhem to the opposition during raids on facilities and vessels in Angolan ports. Chapter 4 discusses the development and use of the Ratel wheeled APC, again supported by photos and personal accounts.
I was unaware that the South Africans operated their own version of ‘Puff the Magic Dragon’, a heavily armed C-47 Dakota used in the ground attack role, and inspired by the USAF in Vietnam. The author provides photos of the original ‘Spooky’, the type used in El Salvador, and the South African ‘Dragon’. Further chapters cover the rest of the South African Air force, and also the Special Forces of 32 Battalion, which included Portuguese troops who had elected to volunteer. The South Africans also trialled trackers on motorbikes operating in what was then called South West Africa, who became excellent in their role of chasing terrorist teams that crossed the border.
Perhaps the most surprising chapter covers the South African atom bomb project, which design, development and manufacture till terminated in 1990.
The final chapters cover Shackleton operations, the Olifant tank, the RPG-7, radio intelligence gathering and helicopter operations. In the centre of the book are several pages of excellent colour photos.
This book covers a wide range of subjects from the period of the Border War and makes a very interesting read, as well as providing a resource of photos of the military vehicles and equipment. Recommended.
Review copy kindly supplied by Casemate UK www.casematepublishers.co.uk