Request: Colonel Callan's ill-fated mercenary outfit- Angola 1970s
Anyone have any pics of this outfit? There are a few photos in the book "Firepower", but zilch on the net. Hard to find photos of those dirty little African proxy wars.
Last edited by wokajimbo; 02-08-2006 at 02:40 AM.
Callan operated in Angola in 1975-76 timeframe. Search on Callan, Gus Grillo, Daniel Gearhart, and George Bacon.
Also a good read with pictures is NO MEAN SOLDIER by Peter McAleese
Callen wasn't a Colonel, just an ex British Soldier of Cypriot origin as i recall (long time since i read the book)
Funnily enough I had a friend called Terry who claimed to have been there, when i read the book, sure enough there he was, although not quite how he had described god rest his soul.
A great read.
As noted Col Callan aka Costas Georgiou was a Cypriot national and former Pte in The 1st Bn of the Parachute Regiment who was dishonourable discharged. In 1975 he was one of the original mercenaries recruited by John Banksd to fight with Holden Roberto’s FNLA in northern Angola against the Soviet backed MPLA forces.
In a n early operation Georgio ana few other mercenaries and FNLA troops ambushed a large column of MPLA troops and armoured killing some 60 IIRC and destroying several T-34s and other AFVs. Probabkly more dumb luck, a supply of M-72s and the poor quality of the MPLA than anythin else.
Roberto was so impressed he supposedly promoted Georgion who called himself Callan to Colonel on the spot and made him the commander of the mercenary contingent. Another mercenary was sent back to England with orders top recruit a battalion of Brits.
Callan while brave and most likely a competant solider obviosuly had no leadership training or skills. The second continent of mercenaries did include some professional soldiers was mostly made up of WALTs and wannabes (could have recruited from the Internet if it had existed then). The results were obvious.
The MPLA eventually triumphed ( with massive Cuban and Soviet assistance) and several of mercenaries unlucky enough to have not left Northern Angola including Callan were captured, tried and executed.
I haven’t read David Tompkins FirePower in years and no longer have a copy but I do remember it as interesting.
Edit to correct name of book, mixed it up with Fire Force Chris ***** autobiography of his time in the RhLI
Last edited by DANJANOU; 02-08-2006 at 01:12 PM.
Mind you callan was a psycho, who did murder alot of his men in cold blood or ordered it. The book No Mean Soldier, by Peter Mcaleese was a very good book and really showed how the troop quality of the mercenaries and the horrid condition and discipline of the force.
Also as KB mentions George Bacon, he was if youve ever read Secret Commandos the history of SOG, by John Plaster, George Bacon was on one of Johns Recon Teams, who after leaving vietnam went to work for the CIA. In the end of John Plasters book it mentions George being the only american killed in africa serving the CIA. Which in the end of No Mean Soldier it mentions geore bacon and how he died serving with the mercenary force.
I'm very sorry that e was a fellow countryman of mine. I read his story in a military history magazine a few years ago. He was without a doubt a psycopath
I knew I forgot something. He was a couple of fries short of a happy meal, and with a bit of a temper.
Originally Posted by Backwoodshunter
Now thatís an effective military unit. Underequipped Walts with no logistic support in the middle of nowhere lead by a short tempered idiot with no leadership skills and delusions of grandeur.
Interesting little three way war. Spent a fair bit of time studying it when it was going on mainly as I was then just starting my own undistinguished military career.
Some info on the whole sordid little affair:
Also, Fire Power by Chris Dempster is superb read, very real.
As I recall and a quick check on Amazon confirmed Dempster and Dave Tompkins co-authored the book.
Originally Posted by Andy S
can anybody remember clifford oram? he was one off the 11 that got killed by callen at maquela...if so please get in touch.he was my dad i have never seen my dad and dont know nothing about him. photos of him or a description of him would be nice. he was married to marion and had 4 kids diane niki brett and me dane... i have just read "fire Power"......
thats the only info of hes death i have...please shed a light,.
rather post a reply or e-mail me= (dane2490 @msn.com) (no spaces)
I was researching the Angolan war when I saw your request for information on your late Father. Firstly let me offer my condolences to you and your family at his loss to you all. I served under Callan at the time your Father passed through San Salvador en route to Maquela. Unfortunately I can not tell you anything about him as the group heading there stopped only for refuel and refreshments before heading off. I had been in Maquela up to the time of my injury and was waiting to be casevacced out for an operation in Zaire. I know of no-one from those days that might be able to help you that I am still in touch with. I lost contact with most of those that I went out there with, in fact most of those that I got to know were killed or executed after the trial. I have not seen Chris Dempster for years, Peter McAleese is in Iraq but he would not have met your father as he was in San Antonio at that time. There are no known photographs taken of that time as no one had the foresight to take a camera; except Douglas 'Canada' Newby' and he was killed in an ambush and any un-developed film was with him at that time. I can only imagine what a dreadful impact your fathers death had on you and your family,particularly in view of the manner in which he died was reported. Many years have passed since that insanity, but I have remembered every moment of it and never forgotten those that did not come back. Nothing I can say will ever compensate you for his loss and I am sorry that I have no pictures or memory that I can share with you of him. What I can say is that those who recruited your father and others, along with the two survivors of Callans original foursome did not lead happy lives after their return, maybe a small piece of poetic justice for lies that were told to get people there under false pretense. I hope you have done well in your life to date also the rest of your family, good luck to you all in the future.
Regards, David Tomkins.
my dad clifford oram
what a shock.....
just want to say thanks for getting back home and telling your story.
wish i could meet you and shake your hand.
Firepower, an exc. book you guys wrote.
Whatever happened to Banks?
FYI everyone, not all the mercs were executed, Gary Acker was imprisoned in Angola for some years and released some time ago, dropped out of site.
John Banks dropped out of site some years ago, his credibility was shot to bits here in UK so he went back to Africa, South Africa to be precise, claims he was going to breed lions but who knows with John anything is possible. Glad you enjoyed the book, I am in process of completing another one that will be published middle of next year. I have never used one of these forums or blogs before and not quite sure how to use it so excuse any mistakes, I got notified by email that Dane had replied, is this how it always works?