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Seaborne Raids and Sabotage

A Look at South African Army Special Forces Raids

against Angolan Oil Fields

473 pages in paperback

July 27 Cover.jpg

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.

Book Review

Code Name July 27 (GMJ 49) The South African Way of War
In this book the author once again returns to the subject of covert and special forces operations in Sub Saharan Africa, the new counter-terror battleground where he is an expert. And he again asserts that his own nation, South Africa, has one of the world's finest Special Forces Units. I wonder how his readers react to that. Does the American reader dismiss that claim as mere baseless boasting and say they surely can't be better than the SEALs? Will the Briton dismiss that statement with his own patriotic defense of the SAS? And I ask myself if our rush to judgment is a simple dismissal of anything African being of lesser quality. If so, that would be latent racism. Let me remind the reader here of the undisputed reputations both the white Boers and the black Zulus have in warfare. Both gave the British Empire one hell of a go long ago. And now both groups, among others, constitute the present Republic of South Africa.

And let me also remind the reader that South African warrior skills were further honed by their long (1966-1989) Border War as well as the Rhodesian Bush War where South African Army Special Forces, Air Force pilots, and Police Counter-Insurgency Units learned the tricks of the trade. The fact is that the South African Army has not lost a battle since Tobruk, under British Command, in 1941. In 1978 they conducted the largest parachute operation since World War Two and in 1987-1988 won the largest tank battle in Africa since World War Two. And they did so with homegrown equipment that was and are superior to what the West or the USSR could produce. They still lead the world in many fields as is explained in many GMJ Books.

As an American Vietnam Veteran, I recognize that my own nation was deeply affected by the Vietnam War but it was of short duration and far away. For South Africans their war was long and at home, virtually an existential event for them. Surely every middle-aged man today can say he did his obligatory service. We all know of far too many exemptions certain American classes obtained (Bolton, Biden, and others) during our war while I doubt that many exemptions were given in South Africa, and shameful if indeed received.

I think we can accept the author's claim that his nation's Special Forces, and indeed its entire military, are proven to be far superior to any other on that continent. The same can be said of their covert teams roaming around in secret fighting in the shadows about which nothing is written or known. Let's read this book with an open mind and learn something of the South African way of war. If you read between the lines you will see the reality that the author warns about. There is much knowledge gained from reading the GMJ Series, knowledge that will save American lives if implemented.

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