W3 Company - Operational Timeline
index of individual and service stories
JANUARY 1970 - W3 COMPANY ACTIVITIES
This section has a detailed timeline for W3 Company activities from 1 to 31 January 1970
offer corrections and updates to this detail - send here
glossary: xxxxH is a time in
24-hour clock, if six-digit the first two are date
Coy and 2Pl HQ's - Op NAPIER [6RAR/NZ Book]
Summary. January 1970 found W3 Coy a much changed sub-unit; the nervousness of the earlier operations was gone, the soldiers felt more settled in their abilities and procedures and some personnel had been moved to new roles or had a redistribution of equipment to better adjust to the realities of the theatre and the operational tempo. By the end of the month the soldiers had lifted their game to a higher and more professional level but suffered their first casualties.
US M67 HE fragmentation hand grenade
M26 HE fragmentation hand grenade
3 - 6 January
The W3 mortar section departed on 5 Jan on AMC with 2Tp B Sqn 3Cav for a 4-day independent operation in the XUYEN MOC area operating with local ARVN RF troops. The operation concluded 9 Jan in time for Op NAPIER, detail is at this link.
6RAR adv party took over FSPB PEGGY YS434835 from 8RAR in preparation for starting Op NAPIER in the Courtney Rubber in northern Phuoc Tuy province 10 January until 9 March 1970. The first phase of the operation saw 6RAR/NZ conducting a cordon and search of the major settlement of Ap Ngai Giao [on Route 2 10 Km due north of NUI DAT and halfway between the Binh Ba and Courtney Rubber plantations] as part of the plan to seriously disrupt VC supply, maintenance and liaison routes east to the Nui Mao Tay area.
Outline. W Coy were tasked as part of the cordon, flying into FSPB PEGGY YS434835 before moving close in to the west of AP NGAI GIAO. The Company was to man the south west quadrant of the cordon later stretching north to replace D Coy platoons on the west and north sides [B and D Coy were to do the village search once the cordon was established]. The W Coy mortar section were mounted on AMC as part of the B Coy move in APC and then co-located with Bn Tac HQ atthe SE corner of the cordon near the cage area.
Night location W Coy complete at YS430810
map of cordon operation
1805H W Coy was in position as part of the cordon, SW corner of AP NGAI GIAO. A plan of the village drawn for the rifle company's benefit is here.
At 1830H [the time of the normal civilian night curfew] the 6RAR/NZ cordon around AP NGAI GIAO was in position, with W Coy from the southern Route 2 entrance [6 o'clock] left around the village to the 9 o'clock position, linking with D Coy to the north of 9 O'clock. From 1800H the 1ATF Psy Ops unit ground team were utilised to contact the village inhabitants with these directions. The troops were required to keep the village under observation while preventing any people outside from rejoining the village and people caught inside from escaping. V Coy made contact with the NGAI GIAO guerrilla squad during their movement toward the village to establish the cordon, killing two VC and wounding two others.
Night location W Coy complete YS462791.
At 0856H the security sweep through AP NGAI GIAO was commenced by B and D Coy, locating several detainees and a quantity of stored food. Once the sweep was completed villagers were systematically moved from their homes while these were searched, into and through the cage area where a number of VC sympathisers were arrested by Vietnamese police, other villagers being offered the gesture of Australian medical and dental assistance. The W3 mortar section in AMC was present with other APC in the cordon at the south entrance on Route 2 near the holding pens.
1525H the sweep concluded - nothing of significance was found and the cordon was withdrawn, company's moving into harbour locations slightly away from the village.
W Coy night location complete YS460792, mortar section remained with Bn HQ Tac and near the B Coy supporting APC troop.
1145H W3 mortar section left AP NGAI GIAO with B Coy on APC for NUI DAT to prepare for OP MATILDA in the HAM TAN area in the east of Phuoc Tuy province, arrived NUI DAT 1246H.
Night location W Coy Coy HQ and 3Pl YS414831, 1Pl YS419841, 2Pl YS414828
map of Op NAPIER AO
There were numerous contacts with VC by other companies during the day.
W3 mortar section in AMC accompanied B Coy on OP MATILDA, departed from NUI DAT to marry up with the A Sqn 1 Armd Regt [Centurion main battle tanks squadron]. Op MATILDA was the largest infantry/armoured operation conducted by Australian armoured forces since World War II [a separate timeline for Op MATILDA is on the mortar section webpage].
Night location W Coy: Coy HQ and 3Pl YS396838, 1Pl YS396842, 2Pl YS395830
[in New Zealand United States Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s three-day visit started, sparking some of the most violent anti-Vietnam War demonstrations seen in the country. The presence of a high-ranking American politician was bound to attract the attention of the strong anti-war lobby, with many protestors arguing that the New Zealand government was kowtowing to the US over participation in the war. More than 500 protestors greeted the Vice-President when he arrived at Auckland’s Intercontinental Hotel and police made 15 arrests on the first day of the visit. The following evening protests continued outside a state dinner at which Agnew addressed about 300 guests. Up to 700 protestors were outside shouting anti-war slogans at the guests and scuffling with the 200 police on hand. Around 11.45 p.m. the police moved forcefully against the demonstrators, making a further 11 arrests. Agnew, in response to the protests, told reporters that he didn’t find the demonstrators ‘really worth a great deal of comment’. They represented ‘only a small number of people’ and had ‘nothing constructive to offer’.]
Night location W Coy: Coy complete at YS396838
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ- and 2Pl- YS438870, elm HQ and 2Pl ambush YS439869, 1Pl YS438863, 3Pl YS396838, Pnr Pl- YS442886, Pnr Pl ambush YS442878
1200H at YS450892 Pnr Pl located a rest stop for 5 persons, food and equipment recovered..
Contact: 1400H at YS450889 Pnr Pl searched a house where a local elder informed them of an armed but wounded VC hiding in scrub nearby. At 1432H they captured 2x VC [1x WIA] and detained a female suspect. The old man was also suspected as being VC and was held for interrogation, the PW's being identified as members of BA LONG forward supply council. All suspects were evacuated by helicopter.
Contact: 1715H at YS450866 1Pl contacted 1x VC, VC survived. 1Pl had a clearing patrol scouting thick secondary growth with visibility no better than 25 metres while an ambush site was prepared. The lead scout glimpsed 30 metres away the face of a VC outlined against a dark background and could make out a green uniform. The scout and cover scout fired at the VC who fled back into the dense growth leaving some equipment and food scattered behind. The follow-up at 1726H established that 2x VC were at a well preparing a meal when contacted.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl- YS447862, 1Pl ambush YS449867, 2Pl YS432868, 3Pl YS406838
Contact: 0840H at YS453889 Pnr Pl captured 2x VC, 2x packs and 1x AK47. One VC was from D3, 274 VC Regt, the other from K24 Dispensary 274 VC Regt. [no record of how PW were removed from scene].
Contact: 0930H at YS456893 Pnr Pl contacted 6x VC, 1x VC KIA, 1x VC WIA PW, and perhaps 1x VC WIA. The platoon was sweeping along a ridge when the lead section spotted the VC party. The patrol commander did an immediate contact front, extended in line and pressed a quick assault toward the VC party which confused the enemy party and they scattered without attempting to counter the attack. One VC who returned fire while attempting to withdraw was engaged and seen to fall. The VC KIA was later identified as Coy Comd Rear Service Coy 274 VC Regt.
At 1010H at YS451889 the Pnr Pl located 1x VC body in grave believed to be that of the 1x VC WIA earlier, meaning total for contact 2x VC KIA and 1 VC WIA PW, PW DUSTOFF complete at 1027H.
Contact: 1045H at YS450890 Pnr Pl contacted and killed 1x VC. The gun group was directed to higher ground to cover the remainder of the patrol while they cleared a LP. While moving the gunner trod on a VC lying in a small depression and covered by grass. The gunner threw himself to one side firing on and killing the VC. No other VC were found in a sweep. Documents on body identified the VC as a member of Rear Service Coy 274 VC Regt.
Contact: 1525H at YS452883 Pnr Pl contacted 3 VC. 1x VC KIA. The platoon was part of a cordon on a village. The lead scout heard movement in a stream and without telling others went to investigate. Three VC were observed in the stream and warning shots were fired while they were called on to halt. The VC failed to heed the warning and one was shot. Another VC was not engaged when seen withdrawing, no further contact was made with the 3rd VC.
1635H at YS458900 2Pl received a VC HOI CHANH, sent to 1ATF.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl ambush YS442862, 2Pl YS456895, 3Pl YS420860, Pnr Pl YS454886
Contact: 1410H at YS428874 3Pl contacted 5 VC. 1x VC KIA, 1x VC WIA. The platoon was checking a streamline when the lead scout heard voices like children playing, looked over a small knoll and saw 5x VC sitting in a group playing cards. The VC sighted the patrol and started to scatter in different directions. The lead section commander rushed forward with his section in extended line and opened contact from 70 metres. Documents identify the party as being from CHAU DUC and BINH BA on a resupply task.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl- YS437862, 1Pl ambush YS433856, 2Pl ambush YS451895, 3Pl- YS434868, 3Pl ambush YS429871, Pnr Pl YS454884
Contact: 1720H at YS427883 3Pl contacted 3x VC who were engaged at 150 metres by a sentry. 3Pl used artillery to cut off their escape and conducted a sweep but no VC were found.
1610H at YS444875 Pnr Pl detained 4 females.
Contact: 1910H [after dark] at YS438870 Coy HQ contacted 3x VC, 2x VC KIA. The VC walked across the LZ and track that Coy HQ had kept under observation for five days prior. The sentries fired their claymores and engaged the VC party with M60, M16, SLR and M79 fire. A helicopter had landed on the LZ 2-hours earlier. A sweep at first light revealed two VC KIA, they were identified as belonging to C21 (Sapper/Recce) 274 VC Regt.
1931H [after dark] at YS451865 1Pl initiated their ambush after trip flares close to the killing area were ignited. No VC were sighted but the area was engaged with claymore, M60 and other small arms fire. Artillery fire was also directed into the area. Two M67 HE grenades were thrown into an area to one side of the track under ambush, at least one bounced off vegetation and landed back close to the section in contact. Consequently four 1Pl soldiers were WIA with minor fragmentation wounds, they remained on duty overnight but were casevac'd the next day. The four WIA were Teller, Davie, Caldwell RA, Naughton. Given the lack of reaction from the VC party it could be assumed that animals may have tripped the flares. A cautionary word quickly spread around the Company about the danger of throwing grenades in thick vegetation or after dark.
Teller [top left], Caldwell [bottom], Davie [top right], Naughton [bottom]
2000H [after dark] at YS451895 2Pl in ambush contacted 1x VC who survived.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl- YS445869, 1Pl ambush YS451865, 2Pl ambush YS451895, 3Pl YS437877, Pnr Pl YS453878
map of Op NAPIER AO
1245H at YS441873 Pnr Pl while doing a cordon and search of a village detained an unidentified male later revealed to be VC.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl- YS442886, 1Pl ambush YS436884, 2Pl YS437863, 3Pl- YS443878, 3Pl ambush YS438874, Pnr Pl YS432875
Contact: 0730H at YS443874 W Coy [element not identified] captured 1x VC who had been earlier WIA in contact on 28 at 1150H at YS448867, the site and time of the earlier 1Pl contact. The PW stated that 4x VC in his party of eight were KIA and one WIA in that contact.
1000H at YS431873 Pnr Pl located a bunker and well.
1645H at YS452884 3Pl with assistance from Vietnamese national police detained 1x VC female who was extracted to DUC THANH for interrogation.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl- YS444890, 1Pl ambush YS451892, 2Pl YS438865, 3Pl- YS443884, 3Pl ambush YS453886 Pnr Pl- YS430883, Pnr Pl ambush YS429874
Contact: 1122H at YS438862 2Pl had two patrols about 200 metres away from the main ambush area. The lead scout of Cpl Goodman's patrol Pte Rex Ryan [right] contacted 2x VC moving through thick jungle, after a brief engagement at 30 metres distance both VC were WIA [BT] but fled the scene. Cpl Goodman's patrol tracked the VC by following the blood trail [BT] while the second patrol moved to block the VC withdrawal.
Contact: At 1145H at YS434865 Cpl Goodman's patrol contacted 6x VC, during the fire fight 2 VC were KIA, a further 2 VC WIA [poss]. The VC were identified as being from 74 NVA Arty Rocket Regt. During the engagement 3x NZ were WIA, being Wright, McLeod, Ryan. McLeod [left] and Wright [right], both seriously wounded were CASEVAC'd back to 1AFH at 1ALSG Vung Tau while Ryan with a more minor wound remained in the field. Further detail is here, and the actual contact reports are here - pages 11 to 14 [note the first contact is the 2nd report]
1730H Bn HQ 6RAR advised Rear Details Nui Dat of a requirement for all personnel in rear areas to be issued with respirators [what..! in case of a biological or chemical attack..?], no explanation is found.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1P- YS455890, 2Pl YS438863, 3Pl- YS450879, 3Pl ambush YS451885 Pnr Pl YS426864
Contact: 1945H at YS442878 3Pl contacted an unknown number of enemy with no result.
Night locations W Coy: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl- YS452891, 1Pl ambush YS456892, 2Pl YS429860, 3Pl- YS443884, 3Pl ambush YS442878, Pnr Pl YS419859
Footnote: W Coy remained on Op NAPIER until 12 February - see February 70 timeline for details
References: AWM95/7/6/29 January 1970, 6RAR History Book and AWM95/7/6/31 March 1970
W Coy contact after-action reports for Jan 70 [print and sort to get correct date sequence]
index of service stories