Facebook Post by Veteran Rich Hurt on 31st October 2022
SAMVOA Canterbury members got together yesterday evening to remember those who participated in Ops Firewood 35 years ago. Photo inset of Sean Froude who joined us from the Taranaki via a Zoom link.
On 31 Oct 1987, a Battle Group consisting of 101 Battalion, 5 Reconnaissance Regiment, D Company 1 Parachute Battalion, 2 Reconnaissance Regiment and other SADF support elements, attacked SWAPO/PLAN positions at Nindango in Southern Angola.
The Operation was known as Ops Firewood, and the key objective was to destroy a PLAN HQ base. The base was set in a densely wooded area, and was attacked from the west by the recces and parabats, while 101 Battalion covered the base from north, east and south, the direction PLAN forces were expected to flee.
From the onset of the Operation it became clear that SWAPO/PLAN had been expecting such an attack as they were in well prepared defensive positions and supported by a Cuban Tank and Artillery element with a FAPLA Motorised Infantry Unit in support. The base was not successfully taken by the SADF forces, who withdrew when PLAN reinforcements were understood to be on their way.
The South African forces incurred 15 killed, while at least 150 PLAN soldiers were killed. All the SADF dead and wounded were casevaced to AFB Ondangwa during the night of 31 October / 01 Nov 1987, with the last Puma helicopter departed at about 03h30.
In the aftermath, five Honoris Crux (South Africa’s highest bravery decoration) were awarded to 101 Battalion members for gallantry in action.
The Battle Group casualties who we remember were:
“D” COMPANY, 1 PARACHUTE BATTALION 82513110BG Rifleman Hughes Norbert De Rose. He was 21. 82437369BG Rifleman Wayne Valentine Ewels. He was 21. 81033292BG Lance Corporal Raymond Mark Light. He was 21. 83219139BG Corporal Nico Smith Olivier. He was 19. 83247502BG Rifleman Dirk Willem van Rooyen. He was 20. 83271031BG Rifleman Jean Marc Schuurman. 5 RECONNAISSANCE REGIMENT 83561928BG 2/Lieutenant Dylan Chevalier Cobbalt. He was 20. 101 BATTALION ROMEO MIKE 76330893PE Captain Andries Hercules Du Bruyn Rademeyer. He was 27. 83587345BG 2/Lieutenant Deon Botes. He was 20. 84533793BG Sapper Erasmus Albertus Steyn. He was 19. Rifleman W. Abraham Rifleman P. Epafu Rifleman V.Petrus Rifleman T. Sheepo Rifleman M. Uusshona
Their names and Sacrifice have not been forgotten. We will remember them.