Mukumbura: Learning The Ropes (Part 3)

January 30, 2014

Figure 1 in the previous post clearly shows we had three distinct working Rows, namely Row A, Row B and Row C.  Row C was always on the enemy side and Row A on the friendly (or home) side.  Row B by default was the neutral (middle) line and located more or less equidistant from Row A and Row C

Working Row Methodology (I need to start at the end of the working day to make this easier):

At the end of each working day Dannert Coils (also known as concertina wire) were pulled across the entire width of the minefield, just outside the mined area.  In addition to this a small steel pin was driven into the ground at the point where the pulling parties would attach their ropes the next day as their start points.  There would be three of these, one for each Row.  This more than anything else was to let us know where the boundary between safe (no mines laid) and dangerous ground (mines laid and armed) was.  A very simple procedure that made things very clear on the ground.  Remember that we had no GPS units in those days so a physical feature on the ground was very useful when using traditional navigation methods.

Here is a picture of Dannert Coils being emplaced (not on the Cordon and for clarification purposes only).  A really unpleasant job when they get old and lose their shape.  We used a single layer of Dannert Coils.  Shown below is a triple concertina fence that will be used as a Field Obstacle.

4599793405_272x399

In Figure 2 below you can see where the Dannert Coil was placed at the end of the working day.  I know this does not look very neat but you get the idea and in fact some of our Dannert Coils were in such poor shape they actually looked very similar:

Cordon Layout_2

FIGURE 2

Morning Routine:

On arrival at the minefield the first thing to be done was to identify the safe working area and ensure nothing had been tampered with overnight.  I always wondered why the gooks never booby-trapped our Dannert Coils or planted mines where they must have known we would be starting work.  Perhaps they did in some other areas but I never heard of it.  I know if I was a gook I would have had a go at that.  In any case we had to be vigilant each morning.

Other things we needed to be switched on for each morning were the following:

  • Our access roads were a prime target for the gooks and I do know that some of our convoys were hit by vehicle mines on a number of occasions whilst en-route to the Cordon.
  • Wash-Outs:  These were mines laid by us in the cordon that wash-out of the minefield boundary fence during heavy rain or flash-flooding.  They would then often end up on the road we would be driving down and by default debussing on.  This was a particularly dangerous issue for us and a number of our men were seriously injured as a result of wash-outs.
  • Booby-traps on the perimeter fences or mines laid in areas where we would access the minefield.  Unfortunately we once again had people seriously injured by these cunning gook contrivances.

Activities Inside The Minefield

In the next post we will look at how the mines were positioned and armed, and some of the different mine types we used.

2 Responses to “Mukumbura: Learning The Ropes (Part 3)”

  1. Cliff Rochester said

    Hi Fatfox,

    We were the first territorial sappers to lay the cordon in the Nyabanda area. One morning when we returned to the field to carry on laying our commanding officer Chris Blackwell went in to establish the starting point where the dannert coil had been secured during the previous day and detonated an APM and lost his leg. The gooks had presumably moved the coil and markers. Our medic who’s name I can’t recollect did an amazing job preparing Chris for casavac

    • fatfox9 said

      Thanks for the comment Mukumbura. Too many of our boys got hurt in those killing fields we called Cordon Sanitaire. Early morning was always a dodgy time as we could never know what the zipper-heads had done during the night. They were more switched-on (some of them), than we always wanted to believe.

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