W3 Company - Operational Timeline
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APRIL 1970 - W3 COMPANY ACTIVITIESThis section has a detailed timeline for W3 Company activities from 1 to 30 April 1970
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glossary: xxxxH 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
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.
The MCT moved from the Horseshoe to their new NDP at YS513548 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]
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.]
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.]
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
[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
1030H Comd 1ATF visited the advance party of C Coy 7RAR at the HORSESHOE
1001H locstat 1PL YS526582
2020H at YS500552 3Pl engaged movement to their SE with unknown results.
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
1020H Comd 1ATF visited C Coy 7RAR at the HORSESHOE.
Night Locs W Coy: 1Pl YS529603, 2Pl Horseshoe, 3Pl NDP TIMOTHY.
Night Loc W Coy NUI DAT in company lines.
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
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 runner..!]. 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
[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
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
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.
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
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
Night loc W Coy: HQ with mor sect at YS685595, 1Pl at YS681596, 2Pl at YS683598, 3Pl at YS682598
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 Apr
back beach Vung Tau opposite Peter Badcoe club
W Coy contact after-action reports for Apr 70 cannot be located
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