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A conversation with the Founder of Boshoed Dag - Veteran Phillip Nel

Veteran Belinda Van Fleet (SAMVO Director of Communication Operations) interviews Founder of Boshoed Dag - Veteran Phillip Nel

The Story behind Boshoed Dag ( Bush Hat Day ) , as seen from the South African perspective.

Compiled by Veteran Tony Macquet & Veteran Joe

Boshoed Dag is a Remembrance Day, recognising the beginning of what South Africans call the “Border War”, which started on the 26 th August, 1966 and concluded 23 years, 6 months, 3 weeks and 2 days later, following the signing of the Three Powers Accord, also known as the Tripartite Accord on 22 December 1988. The Accord had three major

components, namely that the South African Forces would leave Namibia before elections take place, secondly that Cuban forces would not attempt to enter Namibia before elections take place and the withdrawal of Cuban forces from Angola within 30 months and lastly, assurances that a multi-party election would occur in Namibia under the auspices of

the United Nations Transition Assistance Group (UNTAG), as opposed to the One-Party State that SWAPO had in mind. This of course must be seen together with previous accords such as the United Nations Security Council Resolution 435 of 1978 and the Lusaka accord of 1984 to name a few.


This war led to full conscription in 1967 for every South African young, white male, with many volunteering for military service from all race groups. It was obvious to us that the communists under direction of the USSR and Cuba, who was very active in Africa, were taking advantage of African independence struggles, continent wide, replacing colonial

governments with one-party states that support Russia. South Africa and its protectorate Southwest Africa (now Namibia) were the last bastions of colonial power to be replaced by a Russian orientated one-party state. South Africa’s isolated position, due to its apartheid policies, meant that we had to endure this struggle alone without the help or support of the United States or Great Britain, our former colonial power.


During this time, Cuba deployed soldiers all over Africa, with the aim of supporting anti-colonialism in Africa and at the height of their deployment in Angola, they had 55,000 troops deployed in country fighting against UNITA and South African forces. The Angolans were

also supported by advisors, pilots, logisticians and other specialists from Russia, East Germany, China and North Korea. Sophisticated military hardware and equipment was employed, to such an extent that Southern Angolan airspace was at one point considered to be the most protected airspace in the world and some of the battles fought between South

Africa and Angola/Cuba/SWAPO was the largest tank battles in Africa since Rommel and Montgomery locked horns during WW2 in North Africa.


The South Africans were forced to developed a major home defence industry, producing unique but well adapted weapon platforms in terms of mine protected Armoured Personnel Carriers (Buffel), Infantry Fighting Vehicles (Ratel) and the G-5 artillery system, along with upgraded air assets including different Aerospatiale helicopters and fighter jets such as the locally produced Italian Aermacchi MB-326 (Impala), Blackburn Buccaneer, Mirage III, Mirage F1 and the home-produced Atlas Cheetah. In the process South Africa produced the world’s first helmet-mounted display systems, which was used in downing of at least 2

Russian Mig 21’s in air-to-air combat.


South Africa managed to fight and keep a numerically superior military force at bay, with better tactics, better discipline, and well-trained troops.

Our exploits are still being remembered today with respect and pride.

During this conflict, the South African loses, taking all situations into

account, amounted to 2,284, of which 751 were listed as KIA.

Today we remember our own and, in the spirit of reconciliation, we are in

contact with the RAVU, (Russian Angolan Veteran Union), with

exchange visits of good will and remembrance.



‍Lest We Forget






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