W3 Company - Operational Timeline

index of individual and service stories

APRIL 1970 - W3 COMPANY ACTIVITIES

This section has a detailed timeline for W3 Company activities from 1 to 30 April 1970

offer corrections and updates to this detail - send here2Pl noticeboard Horseshoe Hill

glossaryxxxxH is a time in 24-hour clock, if six-digit the first two are date.  YSxxxxxx is a 6-figure map grid read left to right then bottom to top.  KIA killed in action - WIA wounded in action - ROD remained on duty    full glossary here

Summary.  The tempo of operations in PHUOC TUY Province [and elsewhere in SVN] declined in April 1970 after US and ARVN forces crossed into and started to conduct operations within eastern Cambodia, occupying and destroying large communist base areas and sanctuaries along the eastern border with SVN.  Allied operations especially in the Parrots Beak area west of PHUOC TUY meant many NVA/VC operations dependant on support from Cambodian bases were abandoned and small groups of VC were left to scatter or wither, particularly in the distant provinces such as where W3 Coy operated in the second half of their year-long tour.

2Pl notice board Horseshoe Hill

In April W3 Coy continued operations from Horseshoe Hill before joining 6RAR/NZ for the final two weeks of the host battalion’s last operation before 6RAR returned to Australia and V4 Coy RNZIR to Singapore in mid-May 1970.

The available records for April 1970 are confusing as to W3 Coy activities since an activity might be recorded in 1ATF, 6RAR/NZ or a minor unit log depending on who was interested in the activity.  There is no post-operational report online for 6RAR activities in April [meaning post-contact reports are unavailable] 

Unless shown otherwise the night location of Coy HQ W3 Coy and other platoons can be assumed as Horseshoe Hill.

Rear Details.  W3 Coy rear details conducted TAOR ptl as follows [and may have included elements of V5 Coy advance party]:

Night 5 April – ambush YS497673      Night 7 April – ambush YS464667       Night 10 April – ambush YS509668    

Night 12 April – ambush YS467662     Night 15 April – ambush YS463674     Night 17 April – ambush YS508657

Night 19 April – ambush YS491671     Night 22 April – ambush YS461664     Night 25 April – ambush YS463677    

From 26 Apr until 3 May the patrol programme only identifies the ‘Duty Coy’ as doing TAOR patrols

1 Apr
nothing in the logs for this day.

2 Apr
1055H Aust Minister for Defence Malcolm Fraser briefly visited HORSESHOE as part of a familiarisation visit to 1ATF.

3 Apr
The 1Fd Sqn minefield clearing team
extract 1Fd Sqn orders for NDP TIMOTHY [1Fd Sqn Diary April 1970] [MCT] prepared to move their base and equipment from the Horseshoe to a new NDP further south along the minefield.  2Pl W Coy were warned to provide close-protection to the NDP.  Despite the intention mortars were not deployed, probably because the NDP remained within range of artillery deployed at the Horseshoe [although see comment on 9 April about how effective this was].

extract 1Fd Sqn orders for NDP TIMOTHY [1Fd Sqn Diary April 1970]

2110H after lights were observed at the church at YS489651 and a separate location YS505620 the locations were mortared by the W3 mortar section from the Horseshoe, the lights were quickly extinguished.

4 Apr
1501H locstat 1Pl YS509551

The MCT moved from the Horseshoe to their new NDP at YS513548Inside NDP TIMOTHY - modiified MCT APC with boom and loose tyres, the APC was driven at best speed through the minefield to explode mines - lots of extra armour added to chassis [Young] alongside Route 44 near the minefield.  Called TIMOTHY the NDP was guarded by 2Pl, two Centurion tanks, and a section of APC's.  The NDP was established with bunds pushed up to surround the position for protection but 2Pl recollections are of the fine white sand exposed inside the NDP reflecting the sun mercilessly while blowing into all the equipment.  This was the first time any element of W Coy had more than a casual observer relationship with the MCT operation [Op FRANGIMUS III] and there was real respect from the kiwi's for the understated courage of the engineers and the tough conditions under which they worked.

Inside NDP TIMOTHY - modified MCT APC with boom and loose tyres, the APC was driven at best speed through the minefield to explode mines - lots of extra armour added to chassis [Young]

5 Apr
2Pl at NDP TIMOTHY.  The MCT did not commence operations in the minefield until 6 April.

6 Apr
1005H Comd 1ATF visited HORSESHOE

7 Apr
0900H 1ATF CP ordered W Coy elements in the area of the Long Green/Light Green to move west toward the Horseshoe to allow 7RAR units operating from FSPB DISCOVERY to occupy the area.

1005H Comd 1ATF visited HORSESHOE

Contact:  Following the evening stand-down 2Pl stood-to when NDP TIMOTHY was fired on with random automatic small arms fire from dwellings in the nearby village of Ap Lo Gom [1ATF rules of engagement meant fire was not able to be returned due to civilians being in the village].  From the random nature of the firing it was thought the firing might be a diversion but despite flares being fired across the minefield and around the NDP and the Centurions using their searchlights for surveillance nothing of interest was observed.  [it is speculated that the firing might have been to cover a VC party laying a mine beside the minefield north of the NDP.]

8 AprD8 'POWER' December 1969 [internet]
[0100H at YS500572 in PHOUC LOI [between NDP TIMOTHY and DAT DO] a Government regional development cadre [RDC] member was taken by x20 VC from a private dwelling to a village well where he was fatally beaten with a piece of wood as an example to non sympathetic villagers.  The murdered official had just been elected to a council in HOA LONG and was visiting his wife when seized.]

D8 'POWER' December 1969 [internet]

0715H 2Pl from NDP TIMOTHY observed the D8 mine clearing dozer ‘POWER’ move along the minefield perimeter track until it hit an estimated 30/40lb anti-tank mine which disabled it, the explosion created a crater 8’ in diameter x 4’ deep.  1Fd Sqn RAE noted this understatement in their log following the explosion: ‘progress nil on mine clearing’.  [a successful day for local VC trying to stop the removal of mines from the barrier minefield.]  Lt Bob Upton recollects how both he and his MFC told the driver to vary his route from the NDP as 2Pl had their suspicions about the unusual VC behaviour around the NDP the previous evening, but the driver ignored their advice and followed the well used route beside the minefield.  [1Fd Sqn suffered two other mine incidents late on 8 Apr, while no casualties were reported a grader and the other D8 dozer [CRAZY] were damaged.]

MCT mine_boobytap report 8Apr70 [1 Fd Sqn DO log]
MCT mine booby-trap report 8Apr70 [1 Fd Sqn DO log]

Contact:  1010H at YS544583 3Pl contacted 1x VC at 75 metres, 1x VC WIA [BT], the sweep to locate the WIA then found a small bunker system comprising five 2-man bunkers with 2’ OHP, the system was assessed to be a month old but maintained a week prior to contact.

1030H Comd 1ATF visited HORSESHOE

9 AprW3 operations at Horseshoe early-April 1970
It may have been during the afternoon of 9 April that the NDP commander [Lt Bob Upton] requested the 2Pl MFC [LCpl Bruce Young] to adjust an arty close DF [artillery fire adjusted to land close to the position] on the east side of the minefield opposite the NDP position.  The only artillery available at that time was a US Army 8" heavy artillery platoon at the Horseshoe and while close DF was not their role they were keen to try.  The outcome was ridiculously funny, the guns fired at their minimum range table and the closest safe distance for the huge 8" HE rounds proved to be 800 metres [close DF would usually be 250 metres] at which range shrapnel the size of a fist plummeted spectacularly into the NDP.  The troops had to take cover in bunkers or behind the Centurion tanks and  Pte Philip received light burns to his hand after picking up a large piece of still smoking shrapnel that landed beside his position.

[1615H 1Fd Sqn reported that they had been able to cut two slots across the minefield in sector 9D and bury the earth  from both sides of the slots into them, no mines were detonated.  There are reports on other days of 20,000 sq yards of minefield being bulldozed with no mine explosions]

W3 operations from Horseshoe early-April 1970

10 Apr
0115H the RF compound in DAT DO just outside the HORSESHOE received x20 rounds mortar fire, no casualties.

1030H Comd 1ATF visited the advance party of C Coy 7RAR at the HORSESHOE

11 Apr
0820H the HORSESHOE CP requested a DUSTOFF for Ptl c/s 51Z at YS522577 for a sitting NZ casualty [no further details available, possibly a visitor]

1001H locstat 1PL YS526582

2020H at YS500552 3Pl engaged movement to their SE with unknown results.

12 Apr
nothing in logs for this day.

13 Apr
[0110H the RDC compound at LANG PHUOC HAI was attacked by two platoons of VC from three directions.  The VC fired 50 RPG rounds into the compound and followed up with a ground attack.  As a result the RDC had 1x KIA, 5x WIA, and afterwards one RDC soldier two radios and all the RDC ammo and medical supplies were missing.  772 RF Coy in their compound 70 metres from the contact fired 60mm mortars in support of the RDC but did not leave their compound to assist until after the VC party withdrew.]

0110H 2Pl at NDP TIMOTHY could hear the fire fight in the RDC compound but were unable to move to the Compound to assist [because of 1ATF travel restrictions on moving at night] but directed continuous artillery illumination over the area in an attempt to provide some assistance.

1000H Comd 1ATF visited advance party C Coy 7RAR at the HORSESHOE

14 Apr
C Coy 7RAR arrived to relieve W Coy of responsibility for Horseshoe Hill the following day.  W Coy maintained two platoons deployed on operational tasks, with 2Pl relieved at NDP TIMOTHY during the afternoon by 3Pl.  2Pl were happy to leave the hot, dry and dusty map spot after their two week stint.

1020H Comd 1ATF visited C Coy 7RAR at the HORSESHOE.

Night Locs W Coy: 1Pl YS529603, 2Pl Horseshoe, 3Pl NDP TIMOTHY.

15 Apr
Contact:  0100H at YS528601 1Pl ambushed a VC party using a track, a first light sweep located 5x VC KIA [two were female].  A small number of weapons and a quantity of documents were located and returned to NUI DAT.  Intelligence subsequently identified the party as being a resupply group from C2/D445 and LONG DAT Rear Services.  On their return to the Horseshoe W3 was complete at one location.  During the afternoon W Coy handed the Horseshoe over to 7RAR and moved by road to NUI DAT.

Night Loc W Coy NUI DAT in company lines.

16 Apr
At this date 6RAR/NZ operations in AO AUCKLAND were being supported from FSPB PAT in an abandoned military post beside Route 328 at YS612817, NW of XUYEN MOC. 

1026H W Coy departed NUI DAT in APC's to join 6RAR/NZ on Op TOWNSVILLE in AO AUCKLAND.  While doing his appreciation of the company task in the new AO, Maj Torrance noted from previous contact reports that a lot of contacts in the Province took place routinely in the same areas over a period of time, and thinking previous contact locations in his AO might be worth looking at again directed operations in the W Coy AO accordingly.  The number of contacts over the next few days proved his assumption correct.

1430H locstat W Coy with 2Tp APC YS790688, to the east of XUYEN MOC and near the coast.  From here W Coy moved on the APC 8Km north to intersect the disused Route 331 which crossed the provincial boundary NE of XUYEN MOC.

Night loc W Coy:  HQ with mor sect and tp HQ APC at YS782757, 1Pl with tp APC at YS778773, 2Pl with tp APC at YS782761, 3Pl with tp APC at YS809764

17 AprPte Jack Broughton RNZIR
Contact:  0900H at YS813750 3Pl contacted x12 VC, 1VC KIA, and some weapons and x12 packs captured.   Not documented officially was the fact that Pte Jack Broughton [left] was also wounded in the face [lip] during the contact but remained on duty.

Contact:  0945H at YS787768 2Pl contacted 1x VC, 1x VC KIA.  The VC was barefoot and running on a track and was assumed to be escaping from the earlier 3Pl contact about 4Km away [fast runnerCoy HQ in the field with APC, Maj Torrance with Padre Stac sitting in middle without shirts [Stock]..!].  2Pl had just left their APC section and were following a watercourse when the lead scout shot the VC, immediately the APC section joined in with suppressive fire which caused 2Pl to wisely withdraw to cover.

Coy HQ in the field with APC, Maj Torrance with
Padre Stachurski sitting on ramp without shirts [Stock]

[1645H at YS738796 Lt SJ Kidd V Coy was KIA in a clash with x3 VC, 1x VC KIA].  Although 5 Km from the contact 2Pl heard the firing and subsequent NOTICAS FATAL radio reports passed on the command net and there was an anxious wait while it was established which Lt initial 'K' was involved, Keay or Kidd, as both V4 Coy officers had had earlier involvement with W Coy while in Malaysia.  Lt Stan Kidd had commanded 2Pl before moving to join V4 Coy and being replaced by Lt Upton.

Night loc W Coy:  HQ with mor sect and tp HQ APC at YS782757, 1Pl with tp APC at YS778773 and YS770778, 2Pl with tp APC at YS787768 and YS805764, 3Pl with tp APC at YS811748 and YS823714

18 AprContacts during late April 1970 while straddling Route 331
From 0830H 6RAR/NZ established a new FSPB ELAINE in the vicinity of  YS723761, representing a shift in operational focus to the south of AO AUCKLAND with the AO to be changed on 19 Apr by having the northern boundary reduced to below the 77 Northing.

W Coy elements remained stationary throughout 18 April.

Night loc W Coy:  HQ with mor sect and tp HQ APC at YS782757, 1Pl with tp APC at YS778773 and YS770778, 2Pl with tp APC at YS787767 and YS802762, 3Pl with tp APC at YS811748 and YS823714

Contacts during late April 1970
while straddling Route 331

19 Apr
AO AUCKLAND boundaries in the W Coy AO were adjusted south at 1800H on 18 April to be below the 77 Northing, requiring W Coy to move south on 19 April to conform. 

During the day the mortar section with their two AMC appear to have been withdrawn from W Coy HQ location.

0830H at YS796763 2Pl located a small food and medical cache thought to be 3-6 months old, some contents were backloaded to NUI DAT, the remainder destroyed.

Contact:  1726H at YS772762 1Pl contacted x2 VC dressed in black, 1x VC KIA, 1x VC WIA [BT], 1x weapon captured.  The blood trail was followed the next morning with no further result.

Contact:  2025H [after dark] at YS772780 2Pl ambushed an unknown number of VC, 1x VC KIA and credited to fire from a supporting APC was located after sweep in daylight.

Night loc W Coy:  HQ with tp APC at YS763773, 1Pl with tp APC at YS770764, 2Pl with tp APC at YS772780, 3Pl with tp APC at YS752765 and YS751763.  2Pl had intentionally and unofficially remained north of the 77 line AO boundary and had given a false Locstat to the CP but this was discovered when the MFC independently advised the correct Locstat to the gun line and the Locstats were compared - all was forgiven after the successful contact at 2025H but there had been an element of risk to 2Pl if H&I fire or other offensive activity had been programmed for the area they were illegally occupying Boss J.

20 AprAPC on the beach after the AV-10 Broncho had departed
During the day the APC elements supporting W Coy moved the company some distance to the south of XUYEN MOC near the coast where an accidental engagement with a patrolling US OV-10 Bronco was narrowly avoided.  The APC were withdrawn late afternoon for another task leaving the Coy to patrol on foot. 

APC on the beach after the AV-10 Bronco had departed

Night loc W Coy:  HQ at YS706615, 1Pl at YS724640, 2Pl at YS739625, 3Pl at YS710618

21 Apr
W Coy went without a scheduled MAINTDEM meaning their water supplies were exhausted, a lack of local water was compounded by coastal salty water polluting any wells dug.  They remained without water until the following day.

During the day a sect of mor with AMC joined Coy HQ to provide close fire support if required, it is likely the usual artillery support was beyond range.

Night loc W Coy:  HQ with mor sect at YS707614, 1Pl at YS713619, 2Pl at YS709617, 3Pl at YS710618 and YS710619

22 Apr
[1030H at YS671607 Lt BA Garland RAA travelling as Coy FOO with Coy HQ A Coy 6RAR/NZ detonated a M16 mine, Lt Garland was KIA and x4 Aust were WIA.  Lt Bernie Garland was the W2 and W3 company FOO until near the end of his tour he was repositioned to the 101 Battery RAA gun line.  After a 'misunderstanding' with his battery commander he was ordered back into the field with A Coy 6RAR where he was killed 22 April 1970, the day before 6RAR ceased operations in preparation for their return to Australia.  Bernie and Lt Bob Upton were class-mates at RMC Duntroon and Bob spoke to Bernie, somewhere south of XUYEN MOC, when their paths crossed as A Coy went into the bush and Bob Upton flew back to NUI DAT to start leave in Singapore.  By the time Bob landed in NUI DAT Bernie was dead and four other Australians including the A Coy CSM wounded.]

Night loc W Coy:  HQ with mor sect at YS685595, 1Pl at YS681596, 2Pl at YS683598, 3Pl at YS682598

23 Apr
1155H W Coy arrived at NUI DAT by road from AO AUCKLAND, passing through the area that they had first patrolled in December 1969.  During the day the other elements reached NUI DAT lines and 6RAR and V4 Coy ceased operations in SVN in preparation for their repatriation back to Australia or Singapore [1RNZIR].

24 Apr
A busy day ensured, post-operation preparations were followed, there was some interaction with the V5 Coy advance party, a battalion parade was held to rehearse for ANZAC Day, later CO 6RAR Lt Col D Butler RAR addressed the battalion.  All troops were required to have a haircut by PM 24 April.

25 Apr [ANZAC DAY]
Anzac Day commemorates all Australians and New Zealanders killed in war and was particularly significant since 6RAR with New Zealand component was a designated ANZAC battalion and 6RAR was departing Vietnam after a year of active service - 28 members of the battalion were killed during the year tour.

This photo of 1Pl W Coy is likely to have been taken mid-morning 25 April 1970 before marching on to the Battalion farewell parade, dacrons were rarely worn but the parade order required 'starched' uniforms with medal ribbons & personal weapons.  Note that the troops are wearing two medal ribbons but the 2nd would have only been officially awarded after 6-months service, i.e. May 1970] [webmaster]
This photo of 1Pl is taken mid-morning 25 April 1970 before marching on to the Battalion farewell parade, Dacron's were rarely
worn but the parade order required 'starched' uniforms with medal ribbons and personal weapons.  Although the troops are
wearing two medal ribbons the 2nd would have only been officially awarded after 6-months service, 14 May 1970 [webmaster]

0630H ANZAC Day Dawn and Memorial Service – it is thought approximately 1000 ANZAC’s paraded for the ANZAC Day and memorial Dawn Service, followed by the traditional sub-unit ‘gunfire breakfast’.  Mid-morning [from 1040H] there was a formal battalion parade when the Comd 1ATF Brig Steve Weir officially farewelled 6RAR from 1ATF, then company luncheons were held during which Comd 1ATF spent 30 minutes meeting the W Coy soldiers.  The parade instruction is here. The memorial parade service booklet is here, Pte DN Wright RNZIR is included in the battalion roll of honour.  Unit and sub-unit flags were flown at half-mast from first light until midday.

26 – 30 Aprback beach Vung Tau opposite Peter Badcoe club
W Coy finished the month initially as Ready Reaction Company  before having a 48-hour break at the Peter Badcoe Club  on Vung Tau beach [inside 1ALSG].  On 29 April while at Vung Tau it was announced that US and South Vietnamese forces had launched incursions into VC and NVA sanctuaries inside Cambodia; the flow-on effect of these attacks on formerly protected enemy supply areas and incursion routes was greatly reduced VC and NVA activity in Phuoc Tuy province for the remainder of the W3 TOD.

back beach Vung Tau opposite Peter Badcoe club

References:
 
1ATF Apr70 AWM95-1-4-184 April 1970,
6RAR Apr70 AWM95-7-6-32 April 1970
1 Fd Sqn RAE Feb70 AWM95-4-2-56 February 1970
1 Fd Sqn RAE Mar70 AWM95-4-2-57 March 1970
1 Fd Sqn RAE Apr70 AWM95-4-2-58 April 1970

W Coy contact after-action reports for Apr 70 cannot be located      

read March 1970 timeline here          read May 1970 timeline here

full glossary here     anyone can offer corrections and updates to this detail - send here

index of service stories