Operation Dingo

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Operation Dingo
Part of the Rhodesian Bush War
Operation Dingo is located in Mozambique
Chimoio, New Farm
Chimoio, New Farm
Operation Dingo (Mozambique)
Date23–25 November 1977
Chimoio and Tembue, Mozambique
Coordinates: 19°07′S 33°28′E / 19.11°S 33.47°E / -19.11; 33.47 (Chimoio)
Result Rhodesian victory
 Rhodesia ZANLA
Commanders and leaders
Rhodesia Ian Smith
Rhodesia Lt. Gen Peter Walls
Maj. Brian Robinson (Ground Force Commander)
Gp Cap. Norman Walsh (Director of Air Operations)
Robert Mugabe
Edgar Tekere
Josiah Tongogara
Rex Nhongo
Units involved

Rhodesian Army

200 soldiers
6 Canberra light bombers
9 Hunter fighter-bombers
6 Vampire fighter-bombers
10 Alouette III helicopters (K-Car with 20mm cannon)
11 Alouette III G-Car (one as command helicopter)
10,000 guerrillas + ZANLA political/civil elements
Casualties and losses
2 killed
8 wounded
1 Vampire crashed[1]
1 fighter-bomber crashed
3,000 dead
5,000 wounded

Operation Dingo was a major raid conducted by the Rhodesian Security Forces against the Zimbabwe African National Liberation Army (ZANLA) headquarters at Chimoio and a smaller camp at Tembue in Mozambique from 23–25 November 1977.


Chimoio was a large ZANLA encampment and training facility, and a launchpad for insurgents infiltrating into Rhodesia. It was located at New Farm, known locally as Adriano's Farm.[3] The old farmhouse, and a number of related monuments and graves, are located some 18 kilometres north-northeast of Chimoio Municipality.(18°57′24″S 33°30′58″E / 18.95667°S 33.51611°E / -18.95667; 33.51611) The positions of the fallen are marked by at least twelve mass graves which are clustered around the main New Farm complex.

The Target[edit]

New Farm was a farm acquired by the Frelimo Government in 1975 from its Portuguese owner, known as 'Adriano'. It was leased to the ZANU/ZANLA organisation of Zimbabwe which made it their (then) forward, or main, operating headquarters for war against Rhodesia. New Farm was a political and military hub rolled into one and would have included some family members of the camp's military and political occupants. Writing in the Zimbabwe government-owned Sunday Mail [4] Garikai Mazara mentioned the existence of 20 mass graves related to the battles of 23–25 November 1977 and detailed the constituent parts of this camp. Namely:

  • Adriano's farm house, or the 'White House'–Zanu Party HQ (residence of Josiah Tongogara and others of the general staff);
  • Parirenyatwa camp hospital;
  • Takawira Camp 1 for general military training;
  • Takawira Camp 2 for engineering and anti-aircraft training (home to hard-core cadres trained in China, Yugoslavia and Tanzania);
  • Chitepo College of Ideology, for political indoctrination, propaganda, etc.;
  • Chindunduma camp–a general school;
  • Mbuya Nehanda A–a female military training camp;
  • Mbuya Nehanda B–a gynaecology and obstetrics clinic for female cadres;
  • Pecy Ntini camp–a rehabilitation unit for disabled and wounded cadres;
  • Chaminuka Camp–an internal security and intelligence unit doubling up as a prison;
  • Zvede Zvevanhu camp–the military stores: ordnance, supply and vehicle pool, inclusive of Mudzingadzi piggery;
  • Pasichigare Camp–a camp for the accommodation of 'in-house' ngangas, mediums, predictors of the future and traditional healers;
  • Sekuru Kaguvi Camp–a care-home for pensioned cadres or their older relatives.

The Operation[edit]

At 0745 in the morning, directly after a strike by the Rhodesian Air Force's ageing Canberra and Hunter strike aircraft, the camps were attacked. 96 Rhodesian SAS, 48 Rhodesian Light Infantry (RLI) paratroopers, and an additional 40 helicopter-borne RLI troops took part. The intent was to exploit the concentration of forces on the parade ground for morning parade. In order to strike as many ground targets as possible, six mothballed Vampire jets dating from the 1940s were brought back into use for the operation.[citation needed]

As part of a deception plan, a Douglas DC-8 airliner was flown over the Chimoio camps 10 minutes before the airstrike; the assembled ZANLA forces assumed a second false alarm, and did not disperse or try to take cover when the bombers subsequently approached.[5] In the first pass, four Canberra bombers dropped 1200 Alpha bombs (Rhodesian-designed anti-personnel bombs) over an area 1.1 kilometres (0.68 mi) long and 500 metres (1,600 ft) wide.[6]

Following the initial air strikes by the Canberras, Hunters and Vampire FB9's, ten Alouette III helicopter gunships ("K-Cars" in the attackers' terminology) engaged opportunity targets in allocated areas that together inflicted the majority of the casualties, while two Vampire T11's flew top cover. The paratroopers and heliborne troops were deployed on three sides of the objective into various stop groups and sweep lines,[7] and were also effective in killing large numbers of fleeing ZANLA cadres. Nevertheless, the small size of the ground force and the lack of a complete envelopment allowed a number of fleeing ZANLA cadres to escape. Two important targets of the attack, ZANLA commanders Josiah Tongogara and Rex Nhongo escaped.[citation needed]

A "stay-behind" force of Rhodesian SAS remained in ambush positions around the area overnight, to wait for any ZANLA who might return; these SAS were then extracted by helicopter in the morning.[8] The Rhodesian force withdrew, having lost one SAS member, Tpr. F.J. Nel,[9] being shot and killed at Chimoio, and one Vampire pilot, Flt Lt Phillip Haigh, killed trying to crashland his jet in a field after his aircraft was damaged by ground fire. The pilot chose to attempt a forced landing rather than execute the dangerous act of bailing out of the Vampire which was not fitted with an ejection seat.[10] 3,000 ZANLA Fighters were reported killed during the operation with a further 3,000 wounded.

Several tons of equipment were captured. The captured equipment was either destroyed where it was found or taken back to Rhodesia.[citation needed]


A similar attack was repeated two days later at Tembue. (14°47′33″S 32°50′10″E / 14.79250°S 32.83611°E / -14.79250; 32.83611 (Tembue)). On that occasion, the morning parade had been cancelled, making the cluster bomb strike on the parade ground assembly ineffective. Though there was a Mozambique Liberation Front base nearby they did not interfere in the Rhodesian force's activities.

A new base was later built in the Chimoio area. The Rhodesians attacked it in 1978 under Operation Snoopy. Operation Dingo was to be followed by a further thirty cross-border raids before the end of the war.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ JRT Wood. "Rhodesia: Roll of Honour". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  2. ^ Winds of Destruction Pg. 446
  3. ^ Zimbabwe Daily, Living in the Shadow of Chimoio, 7 April 2018.
  4. ^ Garikai Mazara in: Good Morning Zimbabwe Daily News, Lest We Forget...Inside Chimoio Shrine, 13 April 2019, reprinted from The Sunday Mail, undated.
  5. ^ JRT Wood. "Helicopter Warfare in Rhodesia: 1962–1980". Retrieved 27 September 2007.
  6. ^ Petter-Bowyer, Winds of Destruction pp. 382 and 439
  7. ^ Cox, Chris, Fireforce
  8. ^ Petter-Bowyer p
  9. ^ 'C' (Rhodesia) Squadron, 22 SAS Regiment, Roll of Honour (http://www.therhodesiansas.com/roll-of-honour/) retrieved 7 Oct. 2019
  10. ^ JRT Wood. "Rhodesia: Roll of Honour". Archived from the original on 13 May 2013. Retrieved 27 September 2007.


  • Petter-Bowyer, P. J. H. (2003). Winds of Destruction: the Autobiography of a Rhodesian Combat Pilot. Trafford Publishing. ISBN 1-4120-1204-X.
  • Geldenhuys, Preller (13 July 2007). Rhodesian Air Force Operations with Air Strike Log. Durban, South Africa: Just Done Productions Publishing. ISBN 978-1-920169-61-9.