Fort Doppies was situated in the Eastern part of the Caprivi Strip on the Cuando river, in the former South West Africa, (now Namibia). It was established in the 1970’s and closed down in 1990 when South African forces withdrew from the then South West Africa.
Fort Doppies was named after a Vervet monkey who lived in the area, who had a habit of rushing into the base area to steal spent cartridge cases, (known as “doppies” in Afrikaans), and then rushing away with his booty.
Fort Doppies was the base at which much of the Special Forces training for the bush aspects of warfare was conducted during the time of the Angolan War due to its large training area, the fact that the terrain was very similar to terrain inside Angola, the fact that it was extremely wild and simulated the challenges which Operators would face not only from the enemy but also from wild animals, and there were no local inhabitants in the area who could be affected by the training with live ammunition.
Fort Doppies was also used as a forward base from which Operators would assemble prior to launching operations, and as a location for debriefings after their return from operations.
The facilities at Fort Doppies consisted primarily of pre-fabricated huts and buildings, a small parade ground known as Freedom Square , and miles and miles of bush. Most of the activity training and rehearsals took place in the bush around Fort Doppies, so the structures inside the camp remained rudimentary.
One of the unique characteristics of Fort Doppies was “Freedom Square” – a square marked off in the camp. If any persons in the camp had a grievance or wished to settle a dispute, they would sound the siren on the square to call the personnel in camp. The person/s with the dispute/grievance would then be able to settle it on Freedom Square regardless of their rank or status, as all persons on Freedom Square were considered equal while on the square and could say anything to anyone without incurring any repercussions.
Other than the Operators, support personnel and wild animals, Fort Doppies was also the home of Teddy the Lion about which more has been written within this website on the Teddy the Lion page.
It was also, for a time, the home of Joe the Parrot, who used to sit in the mess, bar or lounge with Operators at night, until he irritated Teddy too much one evening and became his supper.