W3 Company - Operational Timeline
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FEBRUARY 1970 - W3 COMPANY ACTIVITIES
This section has a detailed timeline for W3 Company activities from 1 to 28 February 1970
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glossary: xxxxH is a time in
24-hour clock, if six-digit the first two are date
Summary. During early February 1970 W3 Coy continued operations to the west of Route 2, enjoying further success in a number of contacts with NVA or VC. Mid month they were withdrawn for their first 48-hour recreational leave in Vung Tau and then replaced A Coy 6RAR/NZ as the garrison at the Horseshoe permanent base SE of NUI DAT and on the outskirts of DAT DO.
Pte Greenaway with radio kit [Rowsell]
Meanwhile back in Nui Dat 6RAR Routine Orders dated 1 Feb made speeding a prevalent offence within the battalion, describing the incidents of speeding as ‘unusual’. Routine Orders published on 13 Feb however neglected to include speeding among the other prevalent offences [see link] – such is war...
6RAR was starting to publish administrative orders in preparation for their relief by 2RAR and return to Australia in May 1970.
Routine Orders also included this notice:
The HQ 1ATF TAOR Patrol schedules indicate W Coy rear details did TAOR ptl and ambushes on nights 1, 3, 9, 14 and 28 Feb, being dropped off and retrieved by truck, or walking out and back through the NUI DAT perimeter wire.
1ATF issued an advisory on the state of NVA/VC food supplies, stating that on the evidence from VC casualties and PW that there was a general lack of food available to the NVA/VC inside Phuoc Tuy Province. The advisory is here.
Contact: 1925H [in dark] at YS449890 1Pl contacted 1 NVA, 1x NVA KIA. 1Pl were establishing an ambush in the vicinity of a house and the VC approached in darkness while a sentry was placing a claymore. The VC was observed by another sentry but the VC fired at the soldier placing the claymore who fired back and a body was found the following morning. A second VC must have been present as no weapon was recovered.
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl YS449890 and ambush YS452883, 2Pl YS418858, 3Pl YS456893 and ambush YS451893, Pnr YS431856.
1520H at YS418864 2Pl sighted 1x VC, VC not engaged.
Contact: 1930H [in dark] at YS445897 3Pl contacted 3x VC who took a shortcut between two tracks and walked into the rear of the ambush. 3Pl engaged at 15m range but all VC survived. Arty illumination was fired to assist the platoon.
Contact: 1930H at YS431856 Pnr Pl contacted x2 VC travelling 30-40m away from the ambushed track, Pnr engaged and heard sounds of dragging, next morning drag marks were found indicating 1x VC WIA [drag marks].
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl YS448882 and ambush YS447889, 2Pl YS418858, 3Pl YS455897 and ambush YS448894, Pnr YS431856.
1030H at YS433857 Pnr Pl located a small abandoned camp with laundry on the line.
1345H at YS436855 Pnr Pl located a cache and rest area, clothing and personal items were destroyed.
W Coy significant locations
Contact: 1755H at 430850 Pnr Pl contacted 2x VC, 1x VC KIA. [TET Truce started 5-minutes later - but Op Summary from 6RAR/NZ records the time as 1810H]. Report says VC approached rear of ambush and initiated the contact. VC KIA was identified as sect comd staff sect 74 Arty Rkt Regt.
1800H TET Truce started, units could take no offensive action but were to ensure their own security.
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl YS456868 and ambush YS447865, 2Pl YS426868, 3Pl YS430873 and ambush YS433885, Pnr YS430850.
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl YS454864 and ambush YS445869, 2Pl YS426868, 3Pl YS419881 and ambush YS433885, Pnr YS437857.
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ YS438870, 1Pl YS450858 and ambush YS453869, 2Pl YS426868, 3Pl YS412878 and ambush YS418880, Pnr YS428853.
Contact: 1600H at YS376857 3Pl contacted 4-6 VC in ‘contact rear’. The platoon was inadvertently moving parallel to a track. When the lead scout paused to report finding the track a VC party moving along the track bumped the rear section of the platoon who engaged them at a range of 10m. 1x VC was KIA in the initial engagement but the machine gun jammed when the gunners sweat rag caught in the belt links and was pulled into the gun mechanism. When the platoon quickly followed up obvious blood trails dead VC were found 30m and 100m away from the point of contact. Five VC packs were recovered, all VC were members of HQ staff and Rear Services of SR4. A fuller account of the contact is here.
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ and 1Pl YS394866, 2Pl YS387863, 3Pl YS376856 and ambush YS375862.
W Coy Night Locations: Coy HQ and 2Pl YS363824, 1Pl YS376820, 3Pl YS379822.
W Coy Night Locations: complete at NUI DAT.
13 - 14 Feb
[13 February 1970 Black Sabbath, arguably the first heavy metal album, was released]
Background to the Horseshoe. The Horseshoe [officially referred to as Horseshoe Hill], a crescent shaped hill [the southern end was open] just north of the village of DAT DO and 8Km SE of the task force base at NUI DAT had been established as a permanent company base by 5RAR early in 1967 [photos of the Horseshoe taken in 1970 are here]. A fortnight after V Coy arrived in SVN [13 May 67] they relieved A Coy 6 RAR at the Horseshoe, remaining until 3 July 67, and their website reports that throughout this time they effectively built the position from a rudimentary defended position to a fully dug-in and bunkered fortified base. It was hard work digging into the cone of an extinct volcano, basically solid rock with no shade, and after nearly six weeks V Coy were glad to leave. The Australian coy that relieved them finished the construction using engineer mechanical plant.
features of terrain and
Due to its height above the otherwise flat plain the Horseshoe
overlooked the approaches to the village of DAT DO on Route 44. It
was supposed to help secure the barbed wire fence and barrier minefield, built by 1ATF in 1967, that stretched from the Horseshoe
south and parallel to Route 44 for 11Km to the coast. However the
Horseshoe position had no control over most of this length, particularly
at night, and the local villagers easily lifted mines from the field for
the VC to mine other areas
where Australian and New Zealand troops were likely to patrol.
Tp A Sqn 1Armd Regt
x15 [people] with three Centurion tanks,
1000H on 15 Feb Comd 1ATF visited W Coy for 20-minutes as part of a series of visits to deployed units. He and [during his absence mid-month on leave] the acting commander returned several times during the month [often daily according to the 1ATF HQ Duty Officers log].
During late February the records of platoon movement outside the Horseshoe are sketchy so unless shown otherwise the W3 Coy night locations are assumed to be 'complete at Horseshoe'.
16 - 18 Feb
US Army 8" propelled artillery at the Horseshoe March 1970 [Stock]
Major John McGuire (V5 Company) visited during the course of his pre deployment reconnaissance.
Night location 1Pl YS554635
Night location 1Pl not recorded.
1Pl leaving Horseshoe for close-by training (no packs visible) [Stock]
1210H 1Pl at YS556618
1330H an element of ARVN [AP1] arrived at the horseshoe to start training. [anyone add any details..?]
1530H a 'Vietnamese national' [ARVN..?] was logged as having blown off two fingers and being transported to Dat Do for processing. [Is this the story here..? some details don't match]
2145H the searchlight sited beside Bunker C [looking east] detected movement at YS515625 which was engaged with .50 cal MG fire from Bunker C.
Gate bunker controlling entrance to Horseshoe [Stock]
The 1ATF duty officer signing the duty officer report for 25 Feb [and several other days] was Capt Bret Bestic RNZIR [later Brigadier and Comd Land Force Command Auckland] .
At 1625H 3Pl at YS572672.
1130H Comd Aust Forces Vietnam [AFV] and party visited Horseshoe for 20-30 minutes.
During the day elements from 18 ARVN Div started arriving at the Horseshoe for a training period with W Coy. ARVN units involved were B Coy 5Cav Regt and 2 Coy 3Bn 48 Regt.
Night Location 3Pl YS571668
Footnote: W Coy continued to operate out of Horseshoe Hill until early April.
References: AWM95/7/6/29 January 1970 [6RAR], 6RAR History Book, AWM95/7/6/30 February 1970 [6RAR], AWM95-7-6-31 March 1970 [6RAR] and AWM95-1-4-180 February 1970 [HQ 1ATF]
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