The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - Battle of Quifangondo

2 months ago
in war

With South Africa and UNITA advancing rapidly from the South the FNLA decided to make one last push for the capital on the 10th November.

The eve of independence day.

The route was treacherous, with the sea on one side and marshes on the other.

Against all advice, the FNLA leaders decided to push ahead with the plan and asked South Africa to provide artillery and bomber support.

This was a logistical nightmare but eventually SA was able to fly in two archaic artillery pieces and their ammunition, that would have the distance.

By Skaarup.HA , CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They had to be disassembled and reassembled in order for them to be transported from SA by transport plane.

On the MPLA side, Cuba flew in special forces, arriving at the last minute, to operate the BM- 21 multiple rocket launcher vehicles.

By Dmitry A. Mottl , CC BY-SA 3.0, Link

They had not been used up till now and would prove devastating in the coming hours.

SA bombed the MPLA positions overnight and began the artillery barrage to pin the MPLA and Cubans down as the more than 1000 FNLA fighters and two Zairian Army battalions were supposed to be making their way across the 10 km open valley.

The FNLA troops set off late (due to having breakfast) and before they were completely across, the now over extended artillery barrage, ran out of ammunition.

Whether due to that or if the opposing forces had just been waiting for the entire force to be boxed in the killing zone is not fully known; but when the advancing forces were nearly across the valley, they were attacked with mortars and the BM-21's .

Witnesses estimated the Cuban-led force shot 2000 rockets at the FNLA. Cubans then drove forward, launching RPG-7 rocket grenades, shooting with anti-aircraft guns, killing hundreds.

The effect was devastating on the advancing column and became known as the FNLA road of death.

The advancing force was effectively scattered or wiped out.

By the next day the remainder were retreating northwards since the independence day fireworks, at midnight, had made the troops that had never seen fireworks before, think it was the Cuban rocket launchers attacking them all over again.

img source

After this major defeat and a few more that would follow, in the north of Angola, the FNLA, with its CIA backing, would cease to exist as a major player in the Angolan Civil War.

The battle of Quifangondo would also ironically signal the start of the Angolan Civil War and the end of the Angolan War of Independence.

Meanwhile, the 50 or so SA artillery troops would be left stranded, unable to get through to their own forces further south and would later be evacuated via the coast in a Super Secret mission by the SA navy.

img source

It is just as well that the heads in the navy didn't even know about Operation Savannah, since Commodore Dieter Felix Gerhardt had been working as a Soviet spy at the time.

Only when their own ships were were called in to assist did they even have a hint of Operation Savannah, but further details other than the name were never given.

This defeat, led by Cuban special forces and BM 21's, was but a hint of things to come later that month.

Quote inserted above from Wikipedia page on battle of Quifangondo.

Other posts in this series

The piece of the cold war nobody told you about - Africa's forgotten war

The Air Battles
The SA Fighter Aircraft
The SA Bomber Aircraft
The conflicts deep roots and start
Regional Tensions
Africa's forgotten cold war - Angolan War of Independence.
Africa's forgotten cold war - Mozambican War of Independence.
Africa's forgotten cold war - Rhodesian Bush War
Africa's forgotten cold war - The Angolan War of Independence transitions to the Angolan Civil War
The South African Border War - The start of Operation Savannah and Large scale South African involvement.
The South African Border War - Operation Savannah - the wheels start coming off.

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Thank you for the information, very interesting article. It's interesting for me especially because I have been checking out their culture, economics, property values, etc. totally interested in possibly moving there one day.


You should definitely come check out South Africa @jstajok, we can organize a lekker braai! Although our political situation does not look too promising we have nice weather haha

Amazing .....
That is the great post...
That is machine the best for battle
I am like this post, because i like war..
I @viqral really sure like your post @gavvet..
Please upvote mine @gavvet.
Because i support your post..
Thaks :)

So much of what happens is forgotten or distorted. Good job of keeping history real!


History is (re)written by the victor

@gavvet you are doing a great job telling us about the African forgotten cold war unedited..thanks and waiting for the next episode


Good Information @gavvet
come to my blog , nice to meet you :)


imamaii if you are interested in another immoral case... !!! please share this immoral case @ spain - check this for population freedom:

thanks for sharing these african wars, didn't hear anything about them in the European media

Very nice post i like those war ships awesome! :)

Good job...

Again you are active with a very good post master @gavvet
I am so amazed at what you have in mind that you can make a post like this, I think you are a genius

Thanks for sharing @gavvet many of this story are passed under silence and it is good to dig it up to the world. Resteem

I also just wrote about the same subject and how the media is creating this "race war" via fake news and propaganda. Divide and conquer 101.

good post

thank you for the news update.. nice post.. have a great day

Give me some of that fire power. Makes me happy.

Nonono, I refuse to read about war in these nervous, volatile days.
Let's better talk about puppies and sunshine!

Join Steemit Upvote Exchange Group

Learnt alot today!

Your post today very nice @gavvet, and its tools are also very sophisticated. We both know that the war had an impact on a country, and hopefully there will be no more war that happens in this world. I had previously also been reading a bit about the cold war, so thanks for the explanation, now I already knew far more than before.

Sad to see that something as simple and unadorned like breakfast would have such a devastating toll on the men and their position.
Seems like the Cubans with the help of the Soviets gave it there all sending as many special forces men to man the rockets as they can.
Another great post about the war in Africa that no one seems to remember @gavvet

That is some war, another proxy war from the Soviet-US era.

woow. amazing.

the FNLA, with its CIA backing, would cease to exist

The CIA apparently learned something from this, they've managed to keep their proxies in the Middle East & Afghanistan going for over 2 decades now.

I guess it's easier when they can openly give them training, weapons & money.

World without war

Ahh yes, this is when we still had an army... Actually if i remember correctly this is when our ground forces were ranked up with the best. I doubt we could even take on Zimbabwe these days never mind Lesotho

Interesting post, sad but a lot to learn off these, thanks for sharing #keepsteemin

This is a very important topic, can you come up with more news on these topics?

great post . .

some heavy gun fire amazing


Spain need some of that guns to solve some problems !!! please share this immoral case @ spain - check this for population freedom:

hehe. good :)
vote my blog too please, thx :)

Nice information on Africa war front @gavvet

Great article @gavvet it's clear you put a lot of time and research into it. It's remarkable that something as small as taking time for breakfast can cause an entire sqaudron to run out of ammunition.

I want to see more from you, I am going to follow.

Nice post @gavvet

A very good post very good achievement greetings from me @ abupasi.alachy

Very nice post i like those war ships awesome! :)

how long will this continue? when will common people be at peace

Did you like this book?
images (1).jpg

good post
plise followback...

"The FNLA troops set off late (due to having breakfast) "

This is amazing to me - right before a crucial battle, with their own lives and the fate of their homeland at stake... they run late due to breakfast.

@gavvet Excellent post! I subscribed to your blog

Very interesting article. Vote

Nice post friend @gavvet

t is just as well that the heads in the navy didn't even know about Operation Savannah, since Commodore Dieter Felix Gerhardt had been working as a Soviet spy at the time.

Only when their own ships were were called in to assist did they even have a hint of Operation Savannah, but further details other than the name were never given.

I am new comer ! I have followed you, please follow back to me

thanks for the information @gavvet. this is an historic info

I would like to nominate @kyawkyawnaing for this post
It is about interesting places, history, nature and supernatural.

Wow! You did good post my friend @gavvet and interesting article! Look on my post ! I write very interesting story!

Great posts and useful :)

Awesome my man! All these posts about these South African war weapons are really interesting. Keep the quality coming :) Talk soon.

nice gavvet

War...war never change

i hope not have war in any part of the world

And Nigeria's Biafra War, still brewing at the moments hopefully there won't be another one like that of 6 Jul 1967 – 15 Jan 1970


This is important information about war. Before, i do not know much about the war in Africa, apart from what I read in the news and documentaries. I suppose, the war in Africa is more complicated than what happened in the Middle East. Thank you for sharing information. Greetings from Aceh, who just finished the war.

Ita a shame ya know. I could only imagine the amount of manipulation and misguided power invilved in this. War is a twrrible terrible thing.

@gavvet this is a very good research work.

We are probably going face another African war in Nigeria if things continue the way they are now.


Congratulations @gavvet!
Your post was mentioned in my hit parade in the following category:

  • Pending payout - Ranked 8 with $ 263,67

@gavvet check this out, was a couple photos we took at Swartkop airshow.

great weapons


Is this the one where PW Botha made the call to fly the tanks over?