Episode 33 – SA Parabats are in Cassinga but SWAPO fights back, while Juliet raids Chetequera

This is episode 33 and we’re inside Cassinga on the 4th May 1978 with the SADF paratroopers and SWAPO who are going toe-to-toe.

Episode 32 outlined the detail of the jump – now we’re going to follow the action inside the town which was SWAPOs HQ in southern Angola. We’ll also hear about the mobilisation of the SADF mechanised battalions far to the south, just against the cutline – the border between South West Africa and Angola. They were heading for Chetequera and other bases and this force was going to face its own set of challenges.

Remember there were different groups of SADF paratroopers doing different things at Cassinga that cool morning in May. Charlie Company had settled into its assigned stopper position East of the town - but they were already 45 minutes behind schedule. The entire attack was supposed to take two hours and this was a bad sign.

Even more of an issue was the Alpha and Bravo main assault groups which had landed almost two kilometers off their assigned dropzone south west of Cassinga. This was mainly because the C130 and C160 pilots had waited a few extra seconds as they flew over the town because they couldn’t see the zones – the wind had blown dust and smoke from the Canberra and Buccaneer bombing runs over these points and confused them.
While the critical battle for this strategic position would continue, we need to shift our attention almost directly due south of Cassinga to the join the men of Battle Group Juliet.

That was the second third of a three phased attack into Angola set for May as part of Operation Reindeer – and overland assault just over the cutline.

That plan was to the advance on Chetequera and the various mechanised units began rolling out of their training bases at 22 hours 40 on May 3rd.

That’s when columns of emerged from Juliet’s training camp into a bitterly cold semi-desert night. But there were three separate combat teams involved starting from different positions.