Operation Carpet June 26th 1979
Nkomo’s Russian advisers had convinced him to put his army on a more conventional footing. Thus intelligence gathering became of great importance and ZIPRA’s NSO (National Security Organisation) needed to be expanded and improved . Thus the NSO was completely overhauled and improved.
Dumiso Damengw headed up the organization and thus he became a target for the RhSAS and his capture would be a significant intelligence coupe.
The new HQ complex for the NSO was called ‘the Vatican’ and was very secure with high barbed wire fences and secure gates. The complex was in the Roma Suburb of Lusaka.
At one time this target would have been out of range for Rhodesias Allouette III helicopters but the AB 205 ‘Cheetah’ had the range and capacity to carry fuel and enough troops to do the job of taking out the ZIPRA HQ.
8 Sqn RhAF was tasked with the job and Squadron Leader Ted Lunt was to lead the four AB 205s in. 28 RhSAS operatives would be carried in with bunker bombs (called the hulk) and stop groups with a 60mm mortar to ward off any reaction force.
In the mean time the guards had been increased at the complex to 24 guards and various positions for machine guns set up round the complex. Initially the guards did not react to the helicopters believing them to be Zambian Air Force. Once they reacted a hail of fire came up at the choppers but the machines were orientated to bring their machine guns to bear on the targets round the perimeter. The ZIPRA machine guns and guards were quickly neutralized and the cheetahs landed and the RhSAS deplaned moving to their allotted positions.
Once the troops had deplaned the Cheetahs lifted off to a holding position preselected in the bush, seven minutes flying time away, to wait for recall. While waiting the helicopter crew refuelled the Cheetahs with barrels of Avtur they had brought with them.
Martin Pearce in the first Cheetah deplane and advance to their breaching site. Breach achieved.
Mike Bailey’s group in the second helicopter deplane and make for their breaching site. The breach fails so they move to Martin’s breach.
Command group with 60mm mortar and medics moves back into an empty allotment to oversee the op.
One RhSAS man hit during the breach and entry phase and taken away by the medics to be treated.
In the forth Cheetah Rich Stannard’s group moves to their beaching site, breach fails and group moves round to front gate and blows that.
Stop groups guard the road in case of interference or Zambian Army reaction.
All groups entering the compound wipe out all the guards.
Groups advance on house and offices. Bunker bombs go in unfortunately Martin Pearce is killed by the poorly built building collapsing on him.
Operation continues houses are cleared and huge amounts of intelligence material gather in canvas sacks to be up lifted in the Cheetahs.
Once all the buildings are cleared the vehicles are also bombed and destroyed going up in flames.
The stop groups stop an African who says he is a garden boy but it later turns out he is a high ranking officer in the ZIPRA intelligence organization.
Once the operation is completed the Cheetahs are recalled and fly the RhSAS troops straight out over Lusaka back to Rhodesia.
Two Rhodesian Hawker Hunter Jets fly top cover in case of interference from the Zambian Air Force.
The paper back book The Elite (The story of the Rhodesian SAS) by Barbara Cole has a lot of information on these operations if you can get your hands on a copy.
All figures 20mm Underfire Miniatures apart from the 60mm mortar which was 28mm Underfire Minatures RhSAS 60mm mortar. I have still not made up my 20mm Underfire 60mm mortar.