As the Crow Flies

My Bushman Experience with 31 Battalion

Delville Linford, Al J. Venter

Col Delville Linford offers us - for the first time ‒ his own ‘warts and all' report, not only of the legendary 31 Battalion but also of his career in the South African Army.
Date Published :
March 2016
Publisher :
Protea Boekhuis
Illustration :
color photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
ISBN : 9781485302681
Pages : 336
Dimensions : 8.5 X 6 inches
In stock


Operation Savannah entered the annals of South African military tradition four decades ago. Few are aware of the significant role played during the course of this operation by a fragmented Bushman unit led by one of the most enigmatic personalities to emerge in uniform.

Until now, Colonel Delville Linford has had very little to say about his role as commander of Combat Group Alpha, or of that played by his Bushman soldiers. In this volume he allows us a peek at not only how this tiny combat force operated, but also at many ‘behind the screens’ machinations which explain how the unit was formed.

About The Author

Cmdt Delville Linford was die South African Army’s last liaison officer at Serpa Pinto from April 1973 to July 1974. Because of his knowledge of Angola and its people, he was tasked by Brigadier Constand Viljoen to establish a base in the western Caprivi to accommodate, equip and train these Bushman soldiers so that they could help to protect the South West African border against Swapo. With the help of six national servicemen and 39 black troops, Linford established Camp Alpha. Combat Group Alpha participated in Operation Savannah from October 1975 to January 1976 after which the company was named 31 Battalion and operated in south-east Angola and Zambia. During his service Colonel Linford was awarded the Southern Cross Medal, Military Merit Medal, as well as a Pro Patria with Cunene Clasp and Southern Africa medals. He also received the SADF Good Service Medals in Gold, Silver and Bronze and the Permanent Force Good Service Medal.

Al J. Venter is a specialist military writer and has had 50 books published. He started his career with Geneva’s Interavia Group, then owners of International Defence Review, to cover military developments in the Middle East and Africa. Venter has been writing on these and related issues such as guerrilla warfare, insurgency, the Middle East and conflict in general for half a century. He was involved with Jane’s Information Group for more than 30 years and was a stringer for the BBC, NBC News (New York) as well as London’s _Daily Express_ and _Sunday Express_. He branched into television work in the early 1980s and produced more than 100 documentaries, many of which were internationally flighted. His one-hour film, _Africa’s Killing Fields_ (on the Ugandan civil war), was shown nationwide in the United States on the PBS network. Other films include an hour-long programme on the fifth anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, as well as _AIDS: The African Connection_, nominated for China’s Pink Magnolia Award. His last major book was _Portugal’s Guerrilla Wars in Africa_, nominated in 2013 for New York’s Arthur Goodzeit military history book award. It has gone into three editions, including translation into Portuguese.

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