30,000 Watch U.S. Marines "Invade" Woodstock Beach

A crowd of about 30,000 people of all races gathered along the Table Bay seafront yesterday to watch the "invasion" of the Cape by the United States Marines from the visiting task force, using the latest landing techniques and equipment .
For more than two hours up to the launch time the Marine Drive, Paarden Eiland and Milnerton was jammed with traffic in both directions as people came to watch the thrilling spectacle and could not get away again.
For about thirty minutes the Marines turned the beach at Milnerton Lagoon into a bedlam of roaring engines, massive explosions and the barking of machine guns and automatic rifles.
This show of strength and goodwill was watched at close range by the Governor-general, the Hon. C. R. Swart, the Mayor of Capetown, Mrs. J. Newton Thompson, and about 100 other V.I.P's, including South Africa's military, naval and air chiefs.


The landing operation on Milnerton Beach started soon after 11 a.m. with a fly-past of helicopters and an air sea rescue display. By that time, the roadway around the bay was packed with traffic and every vantage point from the Milnerton lighthouse to the High Level Road, Green Point, was crowded with spectators.
At 11:30 a.m., four amphibious tractors [ Amtracs] were launched from the USS Graham County, a mile offshore, and roared into the beach with their machine guns flaming.
The "enemy" on the beach returned the fire and were reinforced by a rifle squad landed from a helicopter. The amphibious tractors, with only their turrents showing above the waters surface, ground up onto the beach like looming monsters and the assault troops poured out and flung themselves on the sands.


Explosive charges were detonated to add to the realism of the display, and for 15 minutes the battle raged. It ended as the advancing Marines hand-grenaded the "enemy strong-point" in front of the VIP enclosure and then seared it with a flame-thrower.
The noise and excitement had attracted more people from the surrounding residential areas, and when the show ended at noon, thousand of people swarmed on to the beach to see the equipment at close hand. Back on the roadway, all traffic had come to a halt as people tried to leave and traffic officers struggled for another hour to clear Marine Drive.

The air display at Ysterplaat in the afternoon was given by the five helicopters of the task force, which did formation and stunt flying and then later dropped fully-equipped paratroop recon sections.
The best summing-up of this day of mock warfare came from a SAAF corporal. "I am glad these chaps are on our side!" he told me, feelingly.

Taken from the 15March61 issue of the Capetown, South African Cape Times, and provided by retired Gunnery Sergeant Rocco Minicone

For a humerous anecdote concerning this same demonstration, read George Bitsoli's "eye-witness and rusting BAR" commentary.

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