top of page

Seaborne Raids and Sabotage Behind Enemy Lines


South African Army Special Forces are highly rated in the Special Forces Community. Their standards are way above anything that the West can achieve with Selection failure levels of 95% on average and at least once, 100% where not one man made it.

In their first 40 years history, more than 100,000 men (and no women) tried to make Selection, 482 succeeded. The Selection, with all its phases, takes a full year to complete. The training cycle takes three years and in between top secret operations are conducted to earn the operator’s badge which is highly valued.

There is no unit anywhere in the world that is better inside sub-Saharan Africa, not one. Yet, the South African heroic deeds are virtually unknown even within the country never mind the rest of the world. There is no unit anywhere which prides itself more on secrecy than the South African Special Forces Units. They don’t talk and even to meet them is a privilege since they seldom reveal who they are besides refusing flatly to give any details of operations.

In Code Name July 27 I went back to my first love, military history, Special Forces operations, espionage and counterterrorism. I look at two South African Army Special Forces operations, Kerslig (Afrikaans, Candlelight), 1981, and Nobilis, 1984. Both were seaborne sabotage raids conducted against Angola and specifically close or right inside the port of Luanda. Both were highly successful and both have lessons in them that were applied to later operations, especially in the use of explosives which is in no other book which I am aware of.

I based Code Name July 27 on how such a seaborne raid is done, the background, the planning and the execution. Therefore, you may expect to find quite a few additional explanations in footnotes. It is a historical type of book. As always we delved deep into history and Special Operations techniques.

In the background I also wanted to see if a large transport type airframe like the Lockheed C-130J Hercules can be made to disappear from the human eye… as silly as this sounds, there were such systems used with some success in the Second World War and Vietnam. The Americans called theirs “Yehudi” and we find out here if it can be replicated today. If so, it has massive implications for counterterrorism and conventional warfare.


Spymaster extraordinaire, Angelique Dawson is close to Beira harbour, Mozambique. She wants to destroy a warehouse containing items that are considered dangerous to the local population. In order to do so she chooses an unconventional tactic, which involves a seaborne raid. 

We therefore look at the previous successful South African Army Special Forces seaborne raids. Operation Kerslig (Afrikaans, Candlelight) 1981, on an oil refinery north of Luanda, Angola, and Operation Nobilis, 1984, where two merchant vessels were sunk inside Luanda harbour.

There are many lessons to be learned and much revealed that is not in any other book as far as the author knows.

Angelique is, as usual, not explaining much to her future husband and former Police Special Forces Company Commander, Geoffrey Foxtrot, the narrator, who is simply trying to keep her safe. He needs to know what the warehouse that he is being ordered to destroy, contains and Angelique is reluctant to tell him.

If you wish to read about Covert and Special Forces Operations in sub-Saharan Africa, the GMJ Books are the place to start. You will learn about covert operations, Special Forces techniques and military history not known outside the select few. Code Name July 27 is the 49th book of the popular GMJ Series.

bottom of page