W3 Company - News
Merry Christmas and a happy New Year..!
Like the shepherds 2000-odd years ago watched over their flocks to witness a great historical moment, so you are encouraged to watch over your health, your family integrity, and your moral compass in this holiday season and the year to come. Don't let your guard down but enjoy fellowship and food aplenty..!
Another year is behind us, and a 40th anniversary reunion to look forward to next November. It will be great to gather again, possibly for the last time, in Christchurch in November 2010, so why not make that your New Year's resolution..?
Best wishes to all veterans and their families/whanau as we [hopefully] have the opportunity to relax and unwind..!
My thanx to all the veterans who have supported the website with stories and news items during 2009 - webmaster
Report on 2 NZ Regt visit to
Terendak Camp - Evan Torrance [16 December 2009]
The Malaysian Army 3rd Division is based in Terendak Camp and the Commander is Maj Gen Dato' Razali bin Haji Ahmad, a Portsea graduate who was on exchange in Waiouru 1987-1988. Terendak Camp appears, from what we were able to see, to be in immaculate condition. Wellington Lines was very neat and tidy and our presence there has not been forgotten, a plaque at the foot of the flagpole commemorates our occupation and another plaque close by lists the names of all the VIPs who planted trees in the camp. Only three trees have survived but the names of those that planted a tree have been recorded, a very nice gesture by the Malaysian Army folk who took over the Camp! An aerial photo of Wellington Lines taken in 2009 is at this link. [click the photo to read place names - thanx Mark Binning]
Swee Hemana, widow of Harry Hemana,
was on the tour with us and as I have mentioned previously Ron
Lichtwark and I were the only ex W3 folk along for the trip.
A full report of the Reunion and SEA tour is at this link.
Early Christmas present for
some - webmaster [15 December 2009]
New travel regulations fairer for veterans - 15 December 2009 Media Statement
Veterans Affairs Minister Judith Collins today announced changes to the travel concessions for severely disabled war veterans, to make the system legally compliant and fairer to veterans. The War Pensions Regulations 1956 provides concessions for travel by public transport for war veterans with severe levels of disability to undertake a recreational activity.
However, a longstanding practice of Veterans’ Affairs New Zealand (VANZ) has been to also pay the travel concession to veterans who make these journeys using private cars, a practice it turns out that falls outside of the legislation. Moreover, the concession has been paid to veterans only when travelling across a regional boundary. This disadvantaged veterans who travelled within regional boundaries. Ms Collins today announced changes to the scheme to legally recognise the use of private cars and create a payment system that treated veterans evenly. “These changes will bring fairness and certainty back into the system,” Ms Collins said. “The concessions have been in place since 1922. Over this time cars have replaced public transport as the main way people move around our country, so the rules needed to be changed to reflect that VANZ was reimbursing disabled veterans who used their own cars. This also presented an opportunity to address unfairness in the way those rules had been set around veterans qualifying only when certain geographic boundaries were crossed.”
An eligible veteran who wanted to travel from Dunedin to Queenstown – a round trip of 566 km, or Hicks Bay to Gisborne – a round trip of 362 km - could not claim a travel concession, while other veterans who lived close to a regional boundary were able to claim the travel concession for trips of less than 10km. Clearly that’s just nonsense and needed to be fixed up,” Ms Collins said.
Cabinet considered a number of options to remedy the situation and decided to change the travel concession to reflect a proposal made by the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services’ Association (RNZRSA). “I am very appreciative of the input provided by the RSA in reaching this solution. They are to be congratulated for being such strong advocates for veterans,” Ms Collins said. The regulations to bring this scheme into force will be passed early in the New Year.
Features of the new travel concession:
The main group of travel concession holders are veterans who have a War Disablement Pension of 100%. The other two groups that are entitled to a travel concession are veterans who are unable, due to their service related disabilities, to travel alone; and veterans who have a War Disablement Pension of at least 50% for a disability which impedes mobility. These changes do not affect medical travel by war veterans. VANZ pays travel to attend medical treatment and rehabilitation services. There is no restriction on the distance that must be travelled by the veteran, when they are claiming travel to medical treatment and rehabilitation services.
John Masters Book and 'that
map' - webmaster [2 December 2009]
Is there any vet that does not know the work of John Masters [BC of 161 Bty while we were in SVN] in getting Agent Orange recognised as a health issue for Vietnam veterans..? The coup de grace demolishing the government arguments that we were never exposed to AO was a map of AO spray areas in Phuoc Tuy province. John's efforts have been documented in a book released late last month 'A Bridge Over' and more detail is at this website. I for one have never seen the 'map' but courtesy of the website I have copied a photo of it to this link.
the Timeline series continues - webmaster [29 November
40-years ago today W3 Coy had finished their deployment on Op ROSS and were at FSPB DISCOVERY preparing for new tasks on OP MARSDEN starting 1 Dec 69.
Comments, stories and corrections are all welcome - make an effort and send them here
Ian Naughton finally contacted in
Sydney - webmaster [28 November 2009]
The NSW EVSA sub-branch welfare officers Barrie Leslie and Brian Meyer have established contact with Ian Naughton regarding pensions and other good stuff. Ian does not have web access or email.
Ian is interested in making contact with Bob Day V5, anyone know his location..? [UPDATE - am advised that Bob Day joined SASR but died in Perth in 1998]
the Timeline series has started - webmaster [24 November
the first Timeline article covering the W3 Coy arrival in SVN to the end of November is here
The next in the series covering December 1969 will be on the website before 1 December
Comments, stories and corrections are all welcome - make an effort and send them here
Visits to NZ memorial
cemeteries in Far East - Major Torrance [17 November 2009]
On Sunday I leave for Malaysia and Singapore with 45 other ex members of 2 NZ Regiment to visit our old stomping grounds in that part of the world. During our trip we will be paying homage to NZ servicemen post WW2 who are buried in the Christian Cemetery, Taiping, the Cheras Road Cemetery in Kuala Lumpur, the Terendak Camp Cemetery and Kranji in Singapore. Ron Lichtwark is one of the 2 NZ Regiment group and if any of our ex W3 folk wish us to pay a special tribute to any NZ soldier and /or dependant buried in these cemeteries then please let me know.
Fatal - 729910 Pte Paul Moana 1Pl - webmaster [16
The website has been advised that Paul Moana passed away suddenly at Te Puia Springs hospital on 15 November 2009 aged 63. Pauls funeral service is to be held at the Hinerupe Marae Te Araroa on Wednesday 18 November 2009 at 1100 hours. Messages to the Moana Family PO Box 35 Te Araroa 4050, or Evans Funeral Services Ltd 06 867 9150
Paul is well remembered for being allowed to grow a beard while in Vietnam, he had a skin complaint that was aggravated by shaving. Fortunately Paul was at Tribute08 in June 2008
UPDATE: From the 'its a small world' story category comes the item off the Vets Net today from Bill Jones [Cpl V5] whose son-in-law Nat was the locum at Te Puia Springs hospital on Sunday working on Paul in an attempt to keep him with us. Bill makes the point that in his final time with us Paul got the best care possible from someone who had some understanding of what he had been through.
UPDATE: from Sunray - I had a telephone call from Danny Campbell last evening wondering whether I had been advised of Paul Moana's death. Danny said that Tom Konia and he were going to attend the funeral in Te Araroa so I asked that he convey to Paul's family the condolences of all ex members of W3 and that I was pleased that we would be represented at his final farewell. I am wondering whether the family would be aware that Paul died exactly forty years from the day that he arrived in Vietnam? And you will also note that Danny Campbell arrived in Vietnam on the same day and presumably the same flight!
TRIBUTE: It is with great sadness that I learn of the passing of Paul Moana (better known as “Castro” because of his “Castro-like” beard). It is true that he made the most of not having to shave; and who wouldn’t!! Paul was an outstanding lead scout with One Platoon in Viet Nam. He was a tireless soldier who always gave of his very best; then a bit more. Paul was one of those kiwi soldiers who would just keep working until ordered to take a break; the stamina of an ox. One would be hard pressed to think of an occasion during his service in Viet Nam when Paul was not in the “smiling mode” – he had this unique, infectious ability to make everyone smile and be relaxed and happy. Paul was a regular attendee at W3 Coy reunions; he also attended Viet Nam Remembered (1998) and Tribute 08. A sad day indeed - but let us also celebrate the esteem with which Paul was held by his comrades and the service he gave to New Zealand. Rest in peace Paul; we will remember you - Jim Cutler
TRIBUTE: I was sorry to hear the passing of Paul, I did catch up with him in Wellington @ tribute 08 I have good memories of 'Castro' and will always remember him in this way. (Pani) Tony Panirau
40-years ago: W3 were on the ground in South Vietnam - webmaster [15 November 2009]
The 40th anniversary of the W3 Company tour in 1ATF will be commemorated as follows:
Starting in late November 2009 a year-long on-line historical diary of key dates and facts from the tour.
• The establishment of a W3 historical archive.
• The 40-year reunion in Christchurch November 2010.
Historical Diary: The on-line historical diary, hosted on the website, will dip into the available archives to document the who, why and how of the W3 tour highlights and low points. Progressively the individual diary items will be compiled into a historical timeline for easier understanding - which leads to the establishment of the next point..
W3 Historical Archive: Bob Upton has agreed to head up the establishment of a W3 archive. W3 wants to avoid the issues other sub-units have experienced where relevant personal records and effects have been lost or inadvertently destroyed – this makes getting a balanced historical picture very difficult. W3 wants to historically portray the experiences of our veterans during operations, rather than simply present the official [and quite dry] timeline and sound bite approach taken by unaffected historians. The archive is now open for any material, maps, documents, personal letters, photos and bequests that veterans, their families and the wider community wish to donate. There will be restrictions on the further use of material donated and final control of information will be subject to donor approval at all stages of use. Contact Bob here.
The 40-Year Reunion: the Reunion Committee has selected the weekend of Friday 19 to Monday 22 November 2010 as the dates for the W3 40th Anniversary Reunion. The reunion will be held in Christchurch and the dates selected meet the criteria of ‘it ain’t a birthday till its past’.
Programme: The theme for the weekend will be developed around the statement ‘this could be W3’s last reunion’. In line with this statement the reunion committee felt the programme needed more social time but not at a hectic pace. It was considered that a longer reunion was needed to meet this aim and the following outline programme is proposed:
A fuller explanation of the Reunion proposal is here. Registration forms will be available next year.
ago: W3 Main Body Reception Programme - archives
[14 November 2009]
At this link is the administration programme published by the W3 advance party - although unsigned it was the work of Capt Jim Brown MC no doubt with assistance from W2 Coy HQ and Bn HQ 2RAR. The programme was required to fit around the departure of W2 Coy on the same day that the main body arrived, [the first W2 flight out using the incoming aircraft carrying the first W3 contingent in etc], explaining why the W3 people were being directed to move into the W Coy accommodation from 0800 hours 14 November despite having been in-country for a fortnight.
The programme anticipated the arrival of the first contingent at 1100 hours, but given the problem with the aircraft while taking off from Changi it is likely the actual arrival time was three hours later around 1400 hours and the 2nd flight arrival at Nui Dat much later than 1730 hours.
entrance to W Company lines
It is apparent that W3 advance party echelon people did not replace W2 people until 14 November [the day W2 departed] although they would have been working alongside them for some days [cooks, canteen manager, clerk].
Reception and stores distribution:
Allocation of accommodation. Each platoon was allocated the tent spaces of the departed W2 platoons, usually four soldiers to a tent [or an officer and sergeant shared], each bed space having a 6’ locker, steel folding bed, and an array of home-made furniture left behind by previous deployments. The WW2 vintage canvas tents had been elevated to allow comfortable posture inside, had a board floor to cope with ground water during the wet season, and were surrounded by a waist high blast wall to protect the occupants while sleeping. The sides of each tent were normally removed to allow ventilation. this link shows the 2Pl lines
Bedding. Bedding issued on 14 November to incoming W3 personnel would have likely been the same bedding handed in by departing W2 people the same day. The bedding was a foam mattress, foam pillow, clean green sheet and pillowcase, mosquito net, and a thin Australian tropical blanket.
bedspace and surrounds in the tent lines [Rowsell]
Ammo. Each flight on arrival at Vung Tau was given the ammo taken to the airport by W2 people, generally a magazine of 20 rounds per rifleman and a belt of 200 rounds per M60 machine gun. On arrival in the Nui Dat lines the advance party had stacked rations and ammunition in platoon lines and these were distributed to match operational scales on 15 November. This was the first time most personnel felt the weight of the full operational ammunition requirement, and many wondered at their ability to carry the full load – over time this was sorted out by either conditioning, reshuffles of people within sections, or by adjusting the requirement.
Rations. The issue of rations on the programme is surprising as there would have been no requirement for pack rations for the initial period in base given the Company cookhouse was offering fresh food, but there might have been a requirement [SOP] to always have a minimal amount of food in the webbing for emergencies. The rations would have been a mixture of Australian 24-hour packs and US C ration meal boxes, both unfamiliar to the new arrivals so some experimentation would also have been encouraged.
The W3 tent lines were not located against the Nui Dat base outer wire so there was no requirement to man sentries on the first night in-country.
The programme for 15 and 16 November involved a ‘bullring’ approach of rotating the platoons and Coy HQ around four activities:
Issue of specialist equipment from the CQMS store [controlled and class A stores were programmed for the evening 15 November – perhaps due to a heavy workload in the company store during the day].
Briefing on Company orders for the Nui Dat base [weapon safety and carriage of weapons when away from the tent lines, stand-to periods, what to do in the event of..., areas off-bounds, etc]
Issue of small arms ammo and rations
Documentation and familiarisation of the 6RAR/NZ (ANZAC) area - basically the platoons did a squad run around the sprawling 1ATF base to identify amenities, aircraft staging points, unit boundaries, no-go areas, etc.
Maj Torrance had his first company O Gp in-country at 1930 hours 14 November, and CO 6RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Lt Col David Butler RAR was programmed to address the Company at 1430 hours 15 November. 6RAR were absent from the base on operations, V4 Coy at the Horseshoe and the Australian companies on Operation Ross based around FSPB Discovery to the east of Nui Dat near the coast.
This is the programme for the period until the Company deployed on its first operation away from Nui Dat on the morning of 24 November 1969 confirming recollections of a series of lectures by unit instructors or supporting arms on VC mine methods, ‘know your enemy’, and equipment and supporting Arms familiarisation, including time out of base with either APC or doing overnight TAOR patrols to the east of the base. The weather during this period was on occasions wet but the wet season passed by the time W3 deployed on operations.
ago: W3 Main Body Flight Nominal Rolls - archives
[13 November 2009]
At this link are the two flight nominal rolls for the movement of the W3 main body from Changi to Vung Tau on 14 November 1969. The initial flight started on time at 0700 hours local but the aircraft experienced bird strike while still on the runway and a 3-hour delay was experienced while RNZAF engineers checked the aircraft. The flight finally left Changi at 1000 hours. This delayed the turnaround for the second flight which should have left at 1300 hours but which arrived at Vung Tau much later in the afternoon. One recollection is that the draft arrived at Nui Dat after last light – this true anyone..?
The 0700 flight had 47 passengers including one destined for ARU [Aust Reinforcement Unit – a pool of supposed in-country reinforcements] but Ian Caldwell might like to comment if he actually served in ARU before joining 1Pl. The 1300 flight had 70 passengers including two for ARU and three for NZ Component. Again, Fred King might like to comment if ha actually served with NZ Component before joining W3 Coy HQ.
The records are probably the draft nominal rolls only, not the RNZAF form 1256 for personnel required by the RNZAF Flight Movements staff and the responsibility of the 1RNZIR Movement Officer. The earlier movement order required OC W3 Coy to decide on the composition of all flights and to pass draft flight rolls to the Movement Officer 72-hours prior to flight date. The RNZAF form 1256 for personnel [if found] is the authoritative record of who travelled when.
This link is to the B Coy Nominal Roll as at 1 Oct 69. This roll is likely to have been the OC’s planning document for who would board which flight but comments and amendments are in Capt Jim Brown’s or Cpl Ted Mason’s handwriting. Were 1RNZIR short of paper..? The roll was printed by 1RNZIR in Terendak but on the back of old French maps of Vietnam – an example is shown on the last page of the roll.
The single-digit number on the
left side of the B Coy roll appears to relate to the flight
40-years ago: W3 Main Body Movement Order - archives [10 November 2009]
At the link is the HQ 1RNZIR Administration Order for the ‘Movement to South Vietnam - W3 Coy Main Body’ signed by Captain Tony Birks on behalf of the CO Lt Col John Brook. Issued on 31 October 1969 the order has five pages, a distribution page and four pages of clothing and equipment lists – it promises to issue at a later date the actual movement details once these had been decided by OC W3 Coy [webmaster: these will be posted on the website on 14 November 2009]. The website copy of the movement order was the personal copy of Maj Torrance and has the occasional amendment made by him.
The Order advised the intention to move W3 Coy to South Vietnam on 14 Nov 69 utilising two RNZAF C-130 flights by the same aircraft. It is unlikely to be 'original', the format and detail would have evolved from the successful deployment of earlier Company's so a simple change of dates and names each time would have mainly been all that was required [having a document that worked successfully makes it easy for later staff officers to keep getting it right].
The Order is written against the background of 1RNZIR’s own separate move to Punjab Lines Nee Soon in Singapore in December 1969, meaning W3 personnel would not return to Wellington Lines Terendak Garrison and the 1RNZIR move needed to include the management of W3 base kits, the movement of W3 single personnel civilian cars to storage in Singapore, and the handover of housing by families left behind. Anyone care to comment on how the cars were really looked after..?
The order allowed for weight of stores per person to be 250 Lbs per soldier – this was based on the RNZAF assumption that the actual soldier would physically weigh 180 Lbs so each individual was allowed 70 Lbs of kit including weapon and webbing on the flight.
The order issues ‘security’ instructions requiring 28 Bde patches to be removed from clothing, and for command of the Company to pass to HQ NZ Army Force Far East [FE] for the 24-hour period covering the movement to Singapore and on to Vietnam, playing out the political ‘game’ that the Malaysian and Singapore governments, and 28 Commonwealth Brigade, were not supporting the training and despatch of New Zealand troops for South Vietnam.
It is assumed that the OC did get a company clearance for all Coy personnel who had debts with the tailor, boot maker, dhobi, gift shop, Lee’s Photo, boot boy and charwallah, by 1700 hours the night before we departed... Anyone care to comment..?
While the postal address for W3 on arrival in South Vietnam changed to C/- HQ NZ V Force, GPO Auckland New Zealand, families remaining in Singapore must have had a different address that utilised the weekly RNZAF SATS flight from Changi - anyone remember..?
Does anyone remember what a ‘zoot suit' was..? Perhaps tracksuits made from parachute silk and used as night wear while in the bush [hence the no black suits rule].
Anyone have any photos of the main body move from Terendak..?
|40-years ago: W3 Coy
advance party's move to SVN - archives [28 October 2009][updated
30 Oct 09]
Advance Party. The W3 advance party landed in Nui Dat late afternoon 29 October 1969 [a Wednesday], two weeks in advance of the main body. Based on hand written notes by both Capt Jim Brown and Cpl Ted Mason in a B Coy 1RNZIR nominal roll 'as at 1 October 1969' 17 personnel were designated to be the advance party - note the cautionary 'designated' as the actual advance party flight roll is not available:
'I Was There': Mark Binning We had left Terendak late evening on the 28th and bussed to Singapore through the night. I recall quite clearly leaving from the Company HQ with the rest of the company there to see us off. We then flew by RNZAF Bristol Freighter to Saigon (Ton Son Nhut). I recall we were late getting away from Changi because there were some problems with the plane that required attention, so we probably landed in Saigon later than expected. I believe that caused problems getting an RAAF Caribou flight to Nui Dat and we eventually (mid afternoon) flew to Nui Dat by USAF Hercules. On arrival Keith Henson and I went straight to our respective Spt Coy platoons and had absolutely nothing really to do with W3 until the main body arrival on the 14th. I had a couple of days familiarisation in Nui Dat then went to FSB Discovery to meet Capt Jim Moran the mortar platoon commander and to observe operations before coming back a couple of days before your arrival. I know nothing of the pre-main party.
Party. A so-called 'pre-main' party of
Other Movements. Finally five personnel appear to have been otherwise posted to SVN but not as part of the advance or pre-main parties - the last four are in the pre-deployment photo taken sometime before 28 October 1969.
'I was There': Maj Torrance
I have a RNZIR Component Roll dated 25 Feb 70 that gives all the
arrival dates in theatre for our folk. The three lists on
this page are
pretty accurate but there are a few changes. On the advance
party list Sgt's Gorman and Heywood are shown as having arrived
28 Oct and Perawiti and Ryan on 5 Nov. Contrary to your
pre-main list Makowharemahihi doesn't rate a mention on the
Component list, or on a W3 nominal roll dated 1 Mar 70 so I
assume he arrived later. From the third list Broughton
arrived 16 Jul 69, Campbell and Moana 15 Nov 69, Rangiwai 26 Nov
69, and Carmichael 29 Dec 69.
if you were with these parties and can add to or correct the above details please email the webmaster
– Bruce Young [21 October 2009]
This is a shocking non-fiction book. It may be the most compelling read on the ANZAC effort in Phuoc Tuy Province ever. Most unit and personal histories of the Vietnam War belong in the ‘feel good’ category, intended for a sympathetic audience to justify the outcome of hard service. ‘The Minefield’ reveals an entrenched colonial mind-set that belongs in the poor leadership category, the same category that records the mistakes and false suppositions made when planning for the Gallipoli campaign. The story is well deserving of ANZAC recognition. It is up there with 'Street Without Joy', Bernard Falls record of the French debacle in Indochina.
Greg Lockhart describes it as a story of strategic self-destruction. Lockhart, today the honorary historian of the Australian Vietnam Veterans Federation, was a member of AATTV and was himself blown up by a command detonated mine while with a RF/PF patrol; draw your own conclusions from that. 40-years after the 1ATF minefield was laid from the Horseshoe to the coast, Lockhart reveals from exhaustive research through official records and interviews the twisted thinking that led to 1ATF arming the very enemy we were sent there to fight. The book reveals how the Australian CGS FLEW over Phuoc Tuy before deciding it was a suitable piece of turf to have a war on. How Australian intelligence never understood the enemy, or the local provincial administration, or the sympathies of the local population. How techniques from Malaya and Algeria were introduced as war-winning ideas when in reality the campaigns had nothing in common. How two 1ATF battalion commanders with relevant experience in Korea and opposed to the minefield concept were ignored, and how staff in Australia was unable to promote views that were contrary to those of the original minefield planners.
Lockhart reveals how arming the VC from the minefield cost many Australian and Kiwi lives. In 1967 two 11 KM wire fences were erected 100-metres apart as the minefield boundaries. 20,292 powerful M16 mines were laid, approximately 12,700 with anti-lifting devices [grenade underneath connected to a switch]. Yet in 1970 when the minefield was finally removed only around 12,000 mines could be accounted for and a figure of approximately 7000 mines were attributed to being lifted by local people sympathetic to the VC cause. 55 members of 1ATF [5 NZ] were killed by mines from the field, 250 [13 NZ] wounded. In 1969-70 over 50% of 1ATF casualties were by M16 mines, a single M16 mine on several occasions gutting a platoon.
But Lockhart also reveals the heroism of the diggers in dealing with the laying and aftermath of the minefield, including the original field engineers who laid the field despite suffering fatal casualties caused by rushed preparation and faulty mine fuses. He provides names and the circumstances of those killed, and the effect on those fortunate to survive. He pulls no punches over poor decision making, grandstanding and obstruction by senior officers, and he reveals the commonsense approach taken by soldiers and unit commanders to finally remove what was left of the minefield threat. It was almost a relief to read about the final day of mine clearing, considering one local interviewed had personally removed 2000 mines, and that mine lifting efforts by locals was increased in front of the mine clearing teams as they worked their way along between the fences.
And in case veterans thought otherwise, the research confirms that the VC and local population were not as stupid as some would portray them.
My copy of the book was from the local library - there are very good maps, lots of photos and very good appendices.
An earlier review of the issue is here, a 2Pl perspective is also at the link.
Wellington Rifles Tribute - webmaster [15 October 2009]
The following was provided through the W3 website feedback form by Waka [Warwick] a past president of the Wellington Rifles. Wellington Rifles Service Rifle and Living History Unit (Inc) is a charitable organisation that does educational displays and film work of a military nature. They cover many historical periods but from the beginning set out to bring to the attention of school children and parents’ the service of the ANZAC Battalion in Vietnam and the Kiwis of the Task Force, choosing W3 Coy and 161 Bty as the representative units to display and talk about.
Wellington Rifles have been going about five years but the southern based members of the Historic Enactment Society have been going for a couple of decades. Wellington Rifles have a few ex-servicemen around the country, even a Royal Marine or two but are mainly just people who appreciate and want to preserve the Kiwi military story before it’s lost. A group of collectors and other amateur military historians decided to create Wellington Rifles to provide educational events and to help with air shows and TV/film work [some members are licensed theatrical armourers]. An example of their work can be seen at the beginning of November when a documentary series on the history of the Armed Offenders Squad airs on TV. Wellington Rifles also made the Tribute08 poster of the young Maori chap in Vietnam kit, actually a cook in a local cafe.
Wellington Rifles run display days for the Army Cadets (see this display) and more recently with Scouts and Cubs. At these events they show the kit and weapons from 1860 through to Vietnam and demonstrate the weapons in action. They get a great response and veterans attending have a chance to again hold a M60 or look over a L5. Wellington Rifles are gratified that the audience are increasingly aware of Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam as Kiwi history, previously worried their understanding might otherwise have been moulded by US war movies and PC games.
Wellington Rifles members (mostly in their 20's) consider Kiwis in Vietnam as the place their generation needs to look with pride on its history. Their parents may not have behaved too well, but these guys think of us with the greatest respect [Warwick was a kid in Australia when Vietnam was on so the way Vets were treated always irked him]. Wellington Rifles can only do a little and can never make it realistic, but they promise to keep on doing what they can 'to ensure your story is not untold, your service not overlooked'. This is their way of giving something back. They acknowledge they can never completely understand what we experienced but they will try and make sure that what we did is not forgotten or dismissed lightly. The unit website is here
Delayed email -
Warren Illingworth [22 September 2009]
[This email hit my inbox 10 September - webmaster]
39 Years Later 25 April 2009 - how times flies.
Yesterday was the first time I wore my medals, yes 39 years
later. After getting out they stayed in the drawer not
mounted for about 10 years. Then I sent them to get
mounted in Auckland and included my discharge papers and a
necklace that belonged to my friend and comrade's sister with
the hope of returning it to her as I had promised. Trying
a new frame was the last report, then he vanished, and so did my
medals, papers and necklace never to be seen or heard of again.
I decided to get another set and had them mounted as soon as I
Book Review -
Peter Anderson [22 September 2009]
I have just finished the book “NZSAS the First Fifty Years” there were many members of the Viet Nam era that we knew, and it is really great to read the history. There is mention and a photo of a young and bearded Doug Mackintosh after a patrol with Earl Yandal. Sunray gets a mention as Director of Infantry and SAS in the 70s, also Bill Blair and many others who trained with us and joined the SAS. One name I saw was Sam Maaka, who was on either our Corp Training or was with us on the module training we did in early 1969. It was after Christmas leave, early January and Midge Brown took us for a run up past the Cross Roads and past the pine plantations, “just to sweat out the Raro juice you fullas have been drinking over the Christmas break” well we ran and we sweated and then he said, “Ok now Leap frog”, so away we went and Sam must have been a bit buggered because when he leapt over me his knee hit me in the left eye. I remember the run back with this big swollen black eye bouncing up and down. Cripes it hurt. Not long after that Sam did the Selection Course and qualified. I didn’t see him until I was in Papakura with others enroute to Malaysia and ultimately Viet Nam. Some of the others from memory were me, Dick Bennett, Monty Blair, P P Brown, Nigel Clifford, Dave Gunderson, Buttons Thompson, Dave Waaka, Ron Matthews. There were a couple of others and I could be wrong on some names.
Be Grateful this wasn't around in our day..! - webmaster
[17 September 2009]
Soldiers going to Afghanistan this month will be issued new modern combat kit as illustrated in the photo, at a cost of around $6500 each soldier. The need for it is probably very obvious but the weight of around 50Kg is certainly steep if that is the empty weight - the articles describing the operational requirement don't make that obvious, nor do they state that all soldiers will have the handgun [the model for the photo is a major]
Here's a link to a background press article:
I wonder what today's soldier discards first...
Of Interest - webmaster [14 September 2009]
Peter Anderson poet: an Australian [Brisbane] book shop has approached the NZ Government Vietnam website to see if Andy has published his poems. They particularly mentioned 'the ballad of Whiskey3' and 'A soldiers Dream'. Andy is now in contact with the bookshop, run by an expat Kiwi.
Great artwork on this US vets motorbike: Ian Caldwell sent
me a series of photos of a US veterans motorbike, I have
reproduced two of the seven images [click the photos to enlarge],
The military system explained: Gary Brooker's daughter Cassie has offered this document as a simple explanation of the military system of corps and ranks, enjoy..!
He once dug trenches into the clay, now he creates art with it: Discovered today that Wi Taepa is exhibiting his ceramic art examples at top galleries including Te Papa Wellington. Part of his bio states: 'b. 1946, Te Arawa, Ngati Pikiao, Te Atiawa - Wi served in Vietnam and as a prison officer at Wellington's Wi Tako prison, before becoming a self-taught carver. During his employment as a social worker with the Department of Social Welfare, he developed an interest in clay as an alternative to wood in teaching boys in reform institutions how to carve. Clay offered him a welcome level of freedom compared with the tight specifications usually imposed when he carved in stone or wood. His imagery evolved from his Maori heritage and the designs of the past, reclaiming and transposing little-known processes to his clay work. In 1992 he graduated from the Whitireia Polytechnic with a Diploma in Craft Design, and completed his Bachelor of Fine Arts at Wanganui Polytechnic in 1999. He is now known for his ceramic work, preferring to produce hand-built work as the most accessible technique to express his style". More at these two links or Google his name:
|28 Maori Battalion website -
webmaster [6 August 2009]
While not from our era, it is undeniable that the exploits of the 28th Maori Battalion, 2NZ Division during WW2 were part of the folklore of recruits preparing for Vietnam. Today an official website dedicated to the battalion was launched and is well worth a read for the historical detail.
|Call on in -
Donald Wolf [3 August 2009]
Currently working in Otaki as an Animal Control Officer, have done so since 1977, current address
Where were You 40-years ago 20 July 1969...? - webmaster [20 July 2009]
Man set foot on the moon this day 40-years ago. The mission fulfilled President John F. Kennedy's goal of reaching the moon by the end of the 1960s, which he expressed during a speech given before a joint session of Congress on May 25, 1961
The Mortar section was travelling in a convoy to Asahan Range for a week of field shoots and Vince Butler pulled the Land rover I was in out of the convoy and we sat on the side of the road while Neil Armstrong said in a tinny voice from a small transistor radio 'one small step for man...'.
I guess for us at the time, Vietnam was also a small step, but like the moon landing, one that continues to impact on lives today. where were you..?
Job Offer in
Auckland to W3 'family' - Mark Binning 11 July 2009
party in OZ - Gail Herd [8 July 2009]
|Things you learn - hat
tip Vic Johnson [8 July 2009]
The New Zealand Memorial Cross is awarded to the next of kin of all New Zealand servicemen and women who were killed while on war service or operational service overseas, or who subsequently died of wounds received while on war service or operational service overseas, since the commencement of World War Two. Two versions of the New Zealand Memorial Cross have been struck: one during the reign of King George VI, and one during the reign of Queen Elizabeth II. The King George VI cross is worn from a thin mauve coloured ribbon suspended around the neck, while the Queen Elizabeth II cross is worn as a brooch. The King George VI New Zealand Memorial Cross has been awarded to the families of the more than 11,000 personnel who died while serving in the New Zealand Armed Forces during the Second World War. The Queen Elizabeth II New Zealand Memorial Cross has been awarded to the families of the 125 New Zealand military personnel who have died while on operational service since 3 September 1945. [I checked - Dave, John and Tom are on the list]. Up to two New Zealand Memorial Crosses are issued to the family of each individual.
Pacestick throws down a gauntlet
- Doug Mackintosh [4 July 2009]
INFANTRY COMBAT BADGE: Thanks Duke for bringing our attention to this award. The United States award (Combat Infantry Badge) goes back to 6 Dec 1941. The Australian badge started in 1970. The other army where we get some of our traditional background is of course the British; I don’t believe they have the equivalent award. The Australian and United States badges are worn above the medal ribbons in uniform or civvies.
Very brief extracts from
their regulations are:-
NEW ZEALAND: In about 1980 I was in the Wellington head shed, sitting in a junior seat of the Infantry and SAS office, when I was told to put some input into a proposal to introduce an INFANTRY COMBAT BADGE. I was enthusiastic, and thought it was an excellent idea. So I produced some suggested rules for this award. One of the few details I remember putting up was that all members of the Gunner Party and Engineer Mine Teams attached to a Rifle Company on operations should also be eligible. Sadly nothing came of it; the idea was turned down at some level higher than ours. I don’t remember ever hearing the reasons for this decision, but my guess would be some of these –
Some other Corps would not have been supportive “what is so special about the infantry?”
My own thoughts are that if the Yanks and Aussies can work it out, then of course we can.
Why should we recognise the infantryman’s special part in war? From a personal view point I look back to 1956, when I was a proud young soldier pinning on my very first ribbon of the Malaya GSM. I thought of it as just recognition, for two years slogging around the ulu with a ninety pound Bergen. Later on when I saw a typist from Singapore wearing exactly the same ribbon as me, I was a mite discouraged. I like the words of an American General “Of all soldiers, it was recognised that the infantryman continuously operated under the worst conditions and performed a mission which was not assigned to any other soldier” - the infantryman’s role should be recognised.
So Duke I agree with you, the New Zealand Infantry needs its own Combat Badge; perhaps we could give a very small nudge to start the ball rolling again. Within our ranks we have at least two people and probably more, who would be listened to with much respect."
Australian ICB Background: The ICB was first established in July 1970 for recognition of infantry service in battle or on operations, following the decision of the Military Board in January 1970. The role of the infantry is to seek out and close with the enemy, to kill or capture him, to seize and to hold ground, to repel attack, by night and day, regardless of season, weather or terrain. The purpose of the ICB is to recognize this unique role and the particular training, skills and hardships attendant upon service as an infantryman. In exceptional circumstances, the ICB may be awarded to members of other corps, where they have qualified for it as infantrymen. In January 1970, Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Daly KBE, DSO, as the Chief of the General Staff and part of the Military Board, laid the original basis for the ICB. He is recorded in the minutes as saying, “whilst he appreciated the views expressed (in the Military Board) it was to be borne in mind that the proposed badge was meant to be a visible distinction for the infantryman and was not a general combat badge. He said the other corps had their responsibilities and neither their worth nor performance, were in question. However he could not accept that an infantry award should be granted to members of other corps unless they qualified for it as infantrymen.”
Mark Binning 8 July 2009: For what it is worth. I have been reading the CSM
and Duke's posting regarding
the CIB/ICB. They took my mind back to Washington DC, 1982 when the Vietnam Memorial (The Wall) was dedicated and I joined the
throngs of people down there, mostly Vietnam veterans. I came from my office in suit and tie and looked strangely out of
place amongst the Vets, who in those days, and to ensure their status, always seemed to wear their old fatigues (greens).
One thing I did notice which has stuck with me was that a great many vets didn’t necessarily wear medals but would wear the
CIB. Now I understand why – they obviously wanted to be recognised as front line combat infantry and not just another
Vietnam vet. So, last night, I put this question to one of my old rugby colleagues, an ex-Vietnam Airborne Ranger and he
felt the CIB was second only to awards for bravery. It does recognise the special role the combat infantryman plays in a
conflict. Thus it fills the gap that discouraged the CSM back in 1956.
Peter Anderson 16 September 2009: this is probably
a bit late but (1) I agree with both Duke and Doug that a Combat
Infantry Badge or Infantry Combat Badge is long overdue.
Firstly because it gives credit to the infantrymen who did the
work of taking and holding the ground, securing the area, being
shot at, experiencing the mines and booby traps, the heat, the
wet, the dry, the long weeks of operations, crap rations and
endless patrols and sentries, radio watches and ambush
positions. I don’t mean to denigrate the role of the
supporting corps in any way but there is a huge difference
between a pay clerk in Saigon, or any one attached to 1 ALSG in
Vung Tau. If other units want their own distinction the
let them go for it. I read in the Viet Nam Contact and
Army News that at a recent V4 reunion in Tauranga V4 attendees
were presented with an ICB. I suspect that it is the
Australian ICB and it is rather poignant that because we have no
NZ distinction and we have to use an Australian one, so it is
high time there was a New Zealand distinction for those who did
the hard yards, after all the weight was in our packs and if we
don’t claim that distinction then we will always be seen as only
ever having been there.
Book Review - webmaster [1 July
Have just finished the book 'Last Out, 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion's Second Tour in Vietnam' by Jerry Taylor [Taylor was OC Admin Coy for part of the tour] published by Allen and Unwin 2001. The book deals with the 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) 2nd tour from May to December 1971 and ends with the battalion being the last to leave Vietnam, abandoning Nui Dat on 7 November and Vung Tau on HMAS Sydney on 8 December [the photo at his link is of 4RAR departing] leaving D Coy behind to guard the remnants of 1ALSG. V6 Coy were the only Kiwi combat troops around at the time having joined the battalion in early May 1971 and leaving for Singapore by air on 8 December after a farewell parade at Vung Tau. There was a lot in the book I didn't know, especially about the major battle of Nui Le [near Courtney Rubber] on 21 September 1971, where D Company fought a long and involved battle against two battalions and the Regimental HQ of 33 NVA Regiment. After the battle, the last major engagement by Australian forces in South Vietnam and with a similar scenario to Long Tan, the 33rd Regiment removed itself from Phuoc Tuy Province and never operated as a unit again. One political point I found amusing was that as the battle of Nui Le was proceeding in the dark with D Coy basically surrounded and trapped against a bunker system, with numerous WIA unable to be evacuated, with three of their KIA lost behind VC lines and the outcome far from certain the Australian Prime Minister passed a message to the Australian Forces Vietnam commander MajGen Dunstan expressing concern about incurring further Australian casualties at such a sensitive time. It was not clear what he expected Gen Dunstan to do under the circumstances.
The book is interesting for three other points: 1) it covers how the Australians tactically removed themselves from Nui Dat and the demise of the brigade-sized base, 2) 4RAR were proud to be an ANZAC unit and their story treats V6 Coy in a very positive and inclusive manner, illustrated by the foreword being written by the then Kiwi bn 2ic Maj [later LtGen] Don McIver, and 3) the background on the enemy ORBAT is well written and easy to understand. I found the book absorbing and finished it in 48 hours, a really good read and very recommended.
|Dukes Thoughts -
Duke Henry [30 June 2009]
Defence Force Medal: I recently checked through the NZ Military web site and saw another medal in consideration for the serviceman of our era (specifically SE Asia during the garrison duty years). I have no disrespect for such an award as many of our soldiers volunteered for active service in SVN and then had that dream dashed whilst they were in Singapore awaiting the next rotation. These guys were not peacetime soldiers in any way shape or form and the curse of 2 years as Garrison troops was extremely belittling to many.
Combat Infantryman's badge: Having recently worked for lengthy periods alongside our American colleagues in the Middle East I am always extremely envious I guess when I see the proud recipients wearing their Combat Infantryman's badge [CIB]. I believe that the Aussies have such an award ? If so I wonder why our military system backed off the idea (for whatever reasons) some years ago. Enough said, now that the Kiwi's have been deployed back on operational deployments maybe its time to prompt the folks who make things happen that frontline soldiers deserve recognition for the very tasks they volunteered for? There are enough senior officers around who qualify for such an award that surely it should be a viable option once more?' contact webmaster here if you have a comment
Comment from Barry Pont: "Years ago I sent my service record to an officer in 2RAR and received my CIB which I wear on ANZAC Day. This was arranged through Lee Notton V5 in Aussie."
Looking Forward to 40th Anniversary – webmaster [28 June 2009]
An invitation will be extended to veterans in Australia who served alongside W3 Coy - I envisage these would be 6RAR, 2RAR, both DS artillery batteries, 3Cav, 9Sqn RAAF etc. If you have email addresses for Aussies you are in contact with either advise them of details or pass their contact details to me to use.
Registration can be on-line from the middle of next year, more details once the organising committee considers them.
|Original documents library -
webmaster [26 June 2009]
A number of original documents from the period May 1969 to late 1970 have arrived at the website. These have been given a separate section in the story index and linked to from other relevant stories. A number relate to our departure for Vietnam and will not be posted until the date 40-years ago when they were first issued. The new section is here.
'likely lads' hitting on Vietnam - again....! - John Mullen [22 June 2009]
"Hi Boys, thought it best to let you all know John Mullen, Wally Joe and John Nicolle are off to Vietnam. They have received funding assistance for their travel and will be entering Vietnam on the 9th November 2009, 40 years on. Anyone interested in joining them e-mail John and he can let you know how to access the funding. The powers to be can assist with $1,800 toward travel costs. Gannett"
the two John's, Nicolle and Mullen 2006 Picton reunion [Ewan Wright]
New Defence Force medal planned - Minister of Defence [18 June 2009]
"The Government is to introduce a new Defence Force medal for non-operational military service, meeting a campaign commitment to recognise service in the Defence Force by New Zealanders.
“The RSA had proposed such a medal for a number of years. Fulfilling this commitment will enable New Zealanders who have served to receive recognition similar to that of Australia,” Defence Minister Wayne Mapp said.
“The new medal will acknowledge the unique requirements of military service. These include commitment to the service of the Crown, represented by taking an oath or affirmation of allegiance, being liable for operational service and being subject to military discipline and lifestyle,” he said.
"This medal will also honour the commitment of Reserve personnel, whose service to their country comes over and above their jobs and other activities."
A Joint Working Group on the medal has been set up, chaired by former Secretary of Foreign Affairs and Trade Neil Walter. It includes representatives from the Defence Force, the RSA, Veterans’ Affairs and observers from the Honours Secretariat and the Police.
“The working group will consult the public and current and ex-military service personnel, including those who undertook Compulsory Military Training and balloted National Service, about the proposed medal. This is to ensure that fair eligibility criteria for the new medal are determined,” Dr Mapp said.
A survey to gauge public opinion on the medal was launched today. The survey closes on 23 July and the working group will report back to the Government by 30 September 2009."
Medallic Recognition Joint Working Group - NZDF [17 June 2009]
The Medallic Recognition Joint Working Group has been directed by the Ministers of Defence and Veterans’ Affairs to consider options, to undertake consultation, to prepare recommendations and draft eligibility criteria for the proposed New Zealand Defence Force Medal. It is intended that the medal would recognise attested military service for New Zealand since 3 September 1945.
Note: Attested military service for New Zealand during the Second World War has already been appropriately recognised by the award of the New Zealand War Service Medal.
Operational service has long been recognised by the award of campaign medals and more recently by the New Zealand Operational Service Medal. With the exception of awards for long service, however, there is no medallic recognition for the many men and women in the New Zealand Defence Force who have not undertaken operational or special service. This includes, for example, those who have served only in New Zealand, in Singapore and Malaysia between 1966 and 1989, in the Antarctic on "Operation Deep Freeze", or on Compulsory Military Training (1950-1959) and National Service (1961-1972). It is intended that the proposed new medal(s) [three are possible] would also be issued to the families of deceased service persons.
Any interested persons may complete this survey. The survey will be open from 15 June
to 23 July 2009.
Note: The award of the NZDF Medal(s) would not confer entitlement to War Pension coverage.
|Invite to Titty's 60th - Pania Harris [11 June 2009]
Peter's daughter Pania has issued a general invitation to her dad's 60th birthday bash - see the link but don't be surprised by the location..!
Could one of you please ensure Danny Campbell receives an invite?? I have emailed Duke an invite.
Industry Training and Workplace Services
|40-years ago: W3 Coy
deployment to SVN -archives [9 June 2009]
10 June 1969 - Maj Evan Torrance flies to SVN for a pre-deployment recce, spending most of his time in theatre with W2 Coy, and returning to Terendak 19 June 1969. where were you..?
|Aussie Deceased Research
Project - webmaster [7 June 2009]
Following posted on the Vetnet message board - I can't recollect any Aussies dying while with us but I could wrong - am I ..?
"By way of introduction my name is Barry Hampson. Recently I started researching each of the 521 Australian Service personnel (as recorded on the Australian War Memorial Honour Roll) having lost their lives in the Vietnam War, in the hope of one day of producing a book documenting and honouring their lives and service in Vietnam, to try and ensure that generations will remember them. I am writing to you in the hope that you may be able to assist me, by possibly advertising on your website and passing my details to your members via the old boy network about what I am doing and that I would like to interview anyone who served with any of the 521 Australian’s who lost their lives in the conflict."
contact webmaster here if you can help...
UPDATE: The following was offered to Barry Hampson by Bob Upton: Lt Bernie Garland RAA 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 in a mine incident, the day before 6RAR ceased operations in preparation for their return to Australia. Bernie and Bob Upton were class-mates at 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.
Downs School visit - Evan Torrance and Peter Anderson [6 June 2009]
Evan was chairperson of the Oroua Downs school board of trustees from 1992 until 1998. [Oroua Downs is on the Foxton Straight between Himatangi and Sanson near Palmerston North]. Last month he was asked to speak to the pupils about his army career and in preparation for the visit he invited the teachers to look at this website. The teachers drew the children's attention to the website and most of the questions asked were motivated by their reading of the W3 tales. After the visit a teacher Tanya Zander emailed Evan to thank him for sharing his experiences and to say that the students had been motivated by Andy's 'amazing' poem 'The Soldier Dream' [published in the News section to mark ANZAC Day remembrance 2009] to write responses, and could these be posted on the website. While the ages of the authors is not known [update: 11-13 years of age] their prose reads well:
Responses from Oroua Downs pupils to an Anzac poem from the W3 company in Vietnam
By Hana and Sarah
As I lay in bed and wonder why
The day we got flown into the war
Andy's response back to Tanya summed it up well:
"I am most impressed with the two poems your
pupils have composed as a reply to the poem I wrote as “The Soldier Dream”. They certainly have grasped the essence of
the poem. I think they will make an excellent comment on the W3 Company web site. I am looking forward to reading
any other poems that the pupils write.
further contributions are published here