1961: Angola: The war between the Portuguese and Blacks: The big operation Pedra Verde
[This is an English translation of a Portuguese article. This was in 1961, the first year of the war. Jan]
In Angola we were like nomads, always from land to land. The first eighteen casualties in 28 months were in Operation ‘Pedra Verde’
September 30, 2012 at 3:00 pm
On the 12th of August 1961 I left for Angola on the steamer ‘Vera Cruz’, integrated as a radio cable in the 261th Special Hunters Battalion. Eight days after arriving in Luanda we went to Grafanil, from where we left for the North. Always as nomads, once our Battalion was operational. One of the worst moments we experienced was Operation ‘Pedra Verde’, where we suffered the first of eighteen casualties over the 28 months we stayed in Africa. Even after we took care of it, the terrorists, infiltrated in tunnels, seemed to be reborn.
My Transmission comrades nicknamed me a ‘fakir’: not for sleeping on nails, but for doing telegraphy services. Even on top of water tanks to make better use of the radio waves, since the listening conditions were very poor, due to the density of the bush. After the great operation of ‘Pedra Verde’ I was seized by a patriotic feeling; I can’t help expressing it: I’m Portuguese, what does color matter! White or black, dark or mestizo, if my heart vibrates with the same faith, love and loyalty. Portuguese people spread across the four corners of the world over eight centuries of history.
FROM LAND TO LAND
A few days after the ‘Pedra Verde’ operation, the great and late Artur Agostinho appeared for us to send messages to our families through television. It is a pity that relatives sometimes saw these messages when they had already been notified of the death of their relative.
The first time we had fixed installations was in Carmona, where we slept on the floor of a school. Until then, we slept in tents, since we were always moving from one place to another. I remember that, in February 1962, we received orders from the National Feminine Movement that were packed to be delivered at Christmas and arrived two months later. Still, it felt good to read the paper; the preserves escaped because we were already used to the reserve rations that were assigned to us daily and the biscuits were already soft, but those who give what they have, don’t have to. From operation to operation, we walked through Ambriz, Ambrizete, Quitexe, Bessa Monteiro, Quibaxe, Negaje and many others. I remember that we arrived at a town close to Bessa Monteiro and there were white people buried only with their hands out,
On Christmas 1962, I committed an infraction. I got in touch via morse code with a brother who was also a radiotelegrapher. I had another brother in Mozambique, but we reassured our mother through the aerograms.
Later we went to the East Intervention zone, Teixeira de Sousa, crossing the entire Angolan province from Lobito where we arrived by boat and by rail, to alleviate the causes of the war in the Belgian Congo, welcoming the fleeing mercenaries. We returned to Luanda, where we took the ‘Vera Cruz’ again, which brought us to Lisbon on the 1st of December 1963. The family was waiting for us, but we were only able to be together after returning from Chaves, from the Companhia Mobilizadora dos Caçadores Especiais.