Operation Karton

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Operation Karton was a secret military operation during August 1983 by the South African Defence Force (SADF) during the South African Border War and Angolan Civil War.

Operation Karton
Part of South African Border War
Location Angola
Operation Karton is located in Angola
Cangamba
Cangamba
Operation Karton (Angola)
Target Support UNITA's attack on Cangamba by means of artillery training and fire support.
Date July – August 1983

Background[edit]

Cangamba is an Angola town in the province of Moxico. It was garrisoned by FAPLA's 32 Brigade and forty to sixty Cuban instructors and due to the conditions of the roads in the region, was supplied by air from Menongue.[1]:166 During late July, UNITA had briefly raided the town but FAPLA failed to strengthen its defences.[1]:167 UNITA sought the help of the SADF for mortar and artillery training as well as fire support in the next attack against Cangamba.[2]:Ch8 A SADF artillery team was formed and flown to a secret special forces base in the Caprivi where they met to train the UNITA artillerymen in captured Soviet 120 mm mortars and 76 mm artillery before moving northwards into Angola.[2]:Ch8

Battle[edit]

UNITA attacked on 1 August with between 3000 and 6000 soldiers with the SADF team assisting the next day with artillery observation.[1]:167 The FAPLA troops in Cangamba called for reinforcements which were assembled in Huambo, Menongue and Lubango but would take a week to cross UNITA territory to reach the garrison.[1]:167 The FAPLA garrison was bombarded by UNITA artillery for three days before attempting frontal assaults which incurred high casualties.[1]:167 UNITA then resorted to digging trenches driving them closer to the Angolan positions.[1]:167 The UNITA artillery attack continued and by the 7 August the FAPLA and Cuban troops were short of ammunition and water.[1]:168 By this time the UNITA troops were being subjected to FAPLA/Cuban air attacks and took casualties.[1]:168 On the 10 August, the FAPLA relief columns arrived covered by a FAPLA/Cuban air strike on UNITA positions.[1]:168 The Cuban troop were said to be airlifted out while garrison and relief columns had to fight their way out.[1]:169 Two days after the relief columns arrived, the South African Air Force (SAAF) was called in on 12 August to assist UNITA.[1]:169 Canberra bombers and Impala aircraft were used to flatten the town and by 14 August the battle was over.[1]:168

Aftermath[edit]

UNITA was said to have lost 1100 soldiers and possibly the same amount wounded while the FAPLA forces lost several hundred men and 20 Cubans.[1]:169

Further reading[edit]

  • George, Edward (2005). The Cuban intervention in Angola : 1965-1991 : from Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale (1. publ. ed.). London [u.a.]: Frank Cass. ISBN 0415350158. 
  • Wilsworth, Clive (2010). First in, last out : the South African artillery in action 1975-1988. Johannesburg: 30 ̊South. ISBN 978-1920143404. 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m George, Edward (2005). The Cuban intervention in Angola : 1965-1991 : from Che Guevara to Cuito Cuanavale (1. publ. ed.). London [u.a.]: Frank Cass. ISBN 0415350158. 
  2. ^ a b Wilsworth, Clive (2010). First in, last out : the South African artillery in action 1975-1988. Johannesburg: 30 ̊South. ISBN 978-1920143404.