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Nairobi, Kenya
I an ex member of both 7 and 8 Squadron's of the Rhodesian war spending most of my operational time on Seven Squadron as a K Car gunner. I was credited for shooting down a fixed wing aircraft from a K Car on the 9 August 1979. This blog is from articles for research on a book which I HAVE HANDED THIS MANUSCRIPT OVER TO MIMI CAWOOD WHO WILL BE HANDLING THE PUBLICATION OF THE BOOK OF WHICH THERE WILL BE VERY LIMITED COPIES AVAILABLE Contact her on yebomimi@gmail.com The latest news is that the Editing is now done and we can expect to start sales and deliveries by the end of April 2011

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Monday, August 24, 2009

THE BUFFALO INCIDENT


THE BUFFALO INCIDENT

Possibly Air strike 907 - 7/12/1978.
Fire force was called out from its temporary base at the junior school in Karoi to a sighting of 10-12 terrorists by a Selous Scout O.P. in the Tribal trust lands adjoining the commercial farming area.
The group of terrorists was reported to be armed with AK47 rifles an RPD machine gun and an RPG 7 rocket launcher; they were dressed in blue denims and were relaxing in the river line after having been fed by local village women.
There was a kraal about three kilometers away and this is where the women had brought food from a few hours previously.

Our K Car flew overhead of Scout O.P. and pulled into an attack pattern with the Scouts speaking the gunship onto the target area. As we pulled over the river line the terrorists began to bombshell into the thick vegetation on both sides of the river line.
I threw smoke (Smoke generating grenade to mark the target) and began engaging the Terrorists with 20 mm cannon fire killing two in their camp while the remainder of the Terrorists who had managed to survive the initial contact took cover and ran into thick riverine vegetation and began to give us a serious snotsquirt (return fire) from a heavily overgrown reed bed on the left hand bank of the river.
I returned fire with the cannon which did not have any effect of suppressing the enemy fire as the 20mm HEI rounds burst on top of the reeds and did not penetrate into the thick reeds.
We were taking a lot of hits from small arms fire and had to pull in to a wider orbit to avoid being shot down.
Whenever we tightened our orbit the Terrorist return fire became more intense.
At this stage the RLI fire force commander called for plan Alpha (this is when the supporting G Cars drop their troops at pre determined positions which gives the K Car crew time to sort out their immediate problems) the G Cars orbiting the contact area turned in to drop their stops on both upstream and downstream of the contact area as planned.
There was no need to put stop groups on the sides of the river because the surrounding bush was open other than the line of riverine vegetation, any break out would have been quickly stemmed by 20mm HEI rounds fired into the open by the K Car.
The FF commander (RLI) was worried about his fire force troops sweeping into the reed beds ahead of their drop off positions and got them to sit tight in an ambush position while the Lynx was called on to drop frantan. (Frantan is the Rhodesian version of napalm)
Nigel pulled the K Car into a wide orbit to give the Lynx an opportunity to attack the Terrorist position and the Lynx immediately swooped in firing .303 Browning’s and Sneb (68 mm unguided rockets) rockets followed by frantan, which unfortunately went a little high and caused a huge fireball followed by a plume of sooty black smoke in the riverbed but failed hit the Terrorists their secure position in the reeds.
A G Car was called into the orbit to assist by putting down flushing fire with its twin .303 Browning machine guns, we could see the tracer streaking into the reeds which just caused the Terrorists to return intense fire at the aircraft in the vicinity from this position.. These gooks had found a really secure position and we were going to have a job at hand to rout them without taking any casualties on our side.
Earlier I had noticed some old Buffalo Dagga boys wallowing in some swampy ground (Dagga boys as we called solitary old buffalo bulls who had been ejected from the herd due to their advancing years) in an open area to the left of the river as we were pulling up into the initial attack pattern.
These two old buffalo were now milling about in the vicinity of the reed bed close to the contact area and by now it was obvious that they had become very agitated by all the activity, noise and smoke emanating from the contact in the area.
I had devised a plan which seemed out of ordinary but could just swing things our way and discussed it with the K Car crew over the intercom.
This plan was to attempt to drive these old Dagga Boys towards the Terrorist position with me firing the cannon close to the Buffalo without killing or wounding them in the hope it would scare and drive the Buffalo into the thick reeds; which in turn would drive the Terrorists out into the open where we would be able to take care of business.
Plan accepted which resulted in me firing a round at a time of 20 mm near the two old buffalo.
As the dust from the strikes settled the Dagga boys charged for the nearest cover, in that loping, bouncing run that only buffalo can do, with their tails in the air.
As they entered the reed bed in which the CT’s were hiding the Terrorists began to fire at the buffalo which incensed them more, all we could see from overhead was the reed bed swirling as the buffalo charged at the pop, pop of the AK fire.

Stop 1 reported hearing gunfire from that area and thought the second stop group was in contact with the enemy.
A few seconds later I saw three Terrorists running towards Stop 1 at the top of the river line with one of the Buffalo in hot pursuit. These three Terrorists were shedding themselves of their packs as they ran.
I opened fire with the 20mm cannon double tapping at the fleeing Terrorists in the riverbed and dropped one, as they tore away from the reed bed in an attempt to escape the enraged Buffalo.
The 20 mm fire had unnerved one of the Buffalo and he crashed back into the reed bed once more and he remained there.
Stop 1 called on the radio to say that they had shot two of the terrorists attempting to run down the riverbed about 200 meters from the initial contact area.
I don’t think these Terrorists even knew or cared about the Stop groups in their attempt to escape those Buffalo.
The old Dagga boys were now milling in the reed bed and it was decided that it was not a good idea to sweep through the reed bed and suffer the same fate as the Terrorists.
The stop groups swept the area surrounding the reed bed and the river line and dragged the five bodies out for pick up together with one RPD machine gun two AK47 rifles one RPG 7 Rocket launcher with three rockets and an SKS rifle.
A few days later we flew over the contact area on the way to another call out in the area and saw the Dagga boys lying in the river line chewing the cud as if nothing had happened.
The Scouts who had a grandstand view of what must have been one of the strangest Fire force contact ever seen.
I wish that I had marked more information about this incident in my logbook but one did not think of the future in those days.
(This incident happened in the TTL about 45minutes flying time from Karoi and my attempt to work the date out makes it to be 6 December 1978 and 1 was in K Car serial numberR7509 with Nigel Lamb and was probably on the Angwa river)

1 comment:

  1. Great stuff!.........which guy from RLI had a closer encounter with a rhino?

    ReplyDelete

I welcome comments from everyone on my book Choppertech.
I am interested especially on hearing from former ZANLA and ZIPRA combatants who also have thier story to tell.