Ambush (2)

February 20, 2019

After the ambush described in my previous post, we continued to patrol the general area with a new vigor and attentiveness as we now knew that we were being targeted by the resident gang of gooks.  However, nothing more was seen or heard of them, nor were any tracks or evidence of temporary camps found and we were eventually given the order to return to base.  After a quick map appreciation, we set a course and continued our patrol which would now eventually terminate at the Engineer base camp adjacent to the District Commissioners camp.

Our departure from the patrol area was uneventful and the closer we got to base the more relaxed one became which in itself is a dangerous attitude to take and the patrol commander continuously reminded us to stay alert and not to become complacent.  Fair enough and we all understood that any slip in security now could at the minimum cause casualties, and in a worst-case scenario, fatalities.  Sweaty palms tightened on our FN pistol-grips, eyes scanned more intensely to see through possible cover where gooks could be lurking……shadows playing tricks with our eyes, the cicadas continuously transmitting their high-pitched whining that punished our ears………and when they suddenly went silent the question was always…..why?

It had taken us a day and a bit to arrive at a position where it would be a good idea to let the base know we were getting close to our destination and from which direction we would be approaching from.  The trusty but rather heavy TR48 was set up and due to the short distance between us and the camp, only the whip antenna was required……no unwinding miles of coaxial cable this time.  There was no reason to assume that the guards were expecting us and might shoot first and ask questions later…..that’s fair enough but no reason to needlessly get a lump of lead in your belly.  We quite rightly chose to mitigate this possibility by making it absolutely clear where we were going to approach from, how many of us there were and our estimated time of arrival.

About thirty minutes out we stopped to make a final brew and have a smoke……this would also give the patrol commander a chance to make any final adjustments to course and accurately pinpoint our position to ensure our angle of approach was correct and as reported earlier.  I lay back and enjoyed the cigarette, looking up at the clear blue sky that had the occasional small cloud slowly drifting in whatever wind there was up there, its edges slowly evaporating by the heat.  It was good to be almost there, and it had been a fair old slog from start to end.  I looked forward to a hot shower, cold beer and a decent cooked meal, hopefully one of those famously huge army T-Bone steaks with chips and fresh salads.

The camp was situated beneath a long stretch of very high terrain and on the other side of a very well used dirt road.  I have done my best to illustrate the position from memory in a Visio drawing……..I believe it to be as accurate as possible given this all took place over 40 years ago.  I will release this amazing work of art in the follow-up post to this one as this is where it is needed.

We were almost there now, taking the final few steps to take us to the summit of the high ground mentioned in the previous paragraph….once there we would be in a good position to observe the camp from above and ensure we were seen by the sentries during our approach.  Once we had confirmed our presence we began the slip and slide descent to the road, which was made even more difficult by loose rocks and soft sand.  Much cursing and far too much noise accompanied us all the way down and it was a welcome relief to finally reach the flat surface of the road, despite being covered in dust from a passing bus travelling at the usual needle-off-the-clock speed.  Once safe to do so we crossed the road in single file, the patrol commander waiting patiently on the other side until we all arrived in one piece.

The camp was approached by a long track that stretched from the road to the base main entry point which was manned by one of our Sapper muckers.  As we filed through the gate, the usual derogatory remarks were made in his direction, accusing him of being a REMF and a waste of fresh rations….him firing back that we were shit shots and couldn’t hit a gook even with them running away from us….a fair one indeed.  All good banter and the type one can only find in the military.  There would be much of the same in the bar tonight for sure.

We were back in the main base…….finally.  All the stress of the patrol was quickly forgotten.  It was good to be here with all our mates, and that we could finally relax in the knowledge that we were safe, secure and being protected by the reinforced camp perimeter, sentries and a substantially large military force in presence.

There was, on the face of it, nothing more to worry about………however this was an extremely poor assumption as what was to follow was even more brazen and chilling than the ambush we were caught in a few days ago…..and an event that still haunts me even to this day.

Copyright

© Mark Richard Craig and Fatfox9’s Blog, 2009-2019. Unauthorised use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

Please also have a look at my website dedicated to both the Rhodesian and South African Engineer Corps.  You can join us by using the following link:

http://www.sasappers.net/forum/index.php

3 Responses to “Ambush (2)”

  1. donald munroe said

    Another good one but too short. I thought you had retired ha ha

  2. Chris said

    Missed you, so glad to read another story. I was hoping for more…you left us hanging!!

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