Battle For CassingaSouth Africa’s Controversial Cross-Border Raid, Angola 1978

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Weight 0.500 kg
Dimensions 29.7 x 21.0 x 0.4 cm
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ISBN9781907677397 Barcode9781907677397
Overview
Battle for Cassinga is the first-hand account by a South African paratrooper who was involved in the 1978 assault on the Angolan headquarters of PLAN, SWAPO’s armed wing.

The uncut account of a highly controversial battle

Battle for Cassinga is the first-hand account by a South African paratrooper who was involved in the 1978 assault on the Angolan headquarters of PLAN, SWAPO’s armed wing. The battle, although a resounding success, suffered setbacks which could have proved disastrous to the South Africans had they not maintained the initiative. The improvisations made by Colonel Jan Breytenbach ensured that a flawed jump and inadequate intelligence did not adversely affect the outcome. The unforeseen Soviet-supplied SWAPO antiaircraft guns used devastatingly in a ground role also threatened to derail the attack.

A late appearance by a large Cuban/FAPLA (Angolan regulars) armoured column, from the nearby town of Techamutete, threatened to engulf the lightly armed paratrooper force still on the ground. A fierce rearguard action, together with the almost suicidal actions of the South African Air Force pilots, ultimately saved the day.

McWilliams examines why the South African government took the political risk in attacking ‘Fortress Cassinga’ in a cross-border operation that would clearly attract the ire of the world. He studies SWAPO claims that Cassinga was a refugee camp guarded by only a few PLAN soldiers, explaining why Sam Nujoma, the SWAPO leader, had no option but to perpetuate this falsehood.

He looks dispassionately at all the players involved: SWAPO/PLAN and their commander Dimo Amaambo who fled the field of battle; the Cuban and FAPLA intervention; and the South African paratroopers, led by Breytenbach, who not only had to combat a determined enemy but also senior South African staff officers. Above all, it is a soldier’s tale which pays homage in equal parts to the bravery of the paratroopers and the determination of the PLAN fighters who stood to their guns until annihilated.

Mike McWilliams

Mike McWilliams was born in 1951. He was conscripted into the South African Defence Force as an infantryman and immediately volunteered to join 1 Parachute Battalion, qualifying as a rifleman paratrooper in 1970. He served in 1, 2 and 3 Parachute Battalions until his last operation in 1978, the Battle For Cassinga. He has worked as a television cameraman for Rhodesian Television and the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa.

McWilliams is a championship skydiver and captained the Springbok team at the World Relative Work Championships in 1983 where his 8 Way Team won the Bronze Medal. He also captained the National Canopy Relative Work Team, winning the Deutschland Cup in 1982. Mike is married to Frances and has three sons, Christopher, Nicholas and Matthew.

Additional information

Weight 0.500 kg
Dimensions 29.7 x 21.0 x 0.4 cm
Format

Pages

Size

Publisher30 Degrees South Publishers Publication Date01/11/2011

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