W3 Company - Operational Timeline

index of individual and service stories

July 1970 - W3 COMPANY ACTIVITIES

This section has a detailed timeline for W3 Company activities from 1 to 31 July 1970

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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 - BT blood trail       full glossary here

Summary. 
2RAR/NZ was undergoing refresher training from late June until redeployed again on 13 July.  W Coy and other support company elements were placed under OpCon of 8RAR to support their operations North of NUI DAT along ROUTE2.  W Coy were based at FSPB LE LOI almost continuously throughout July, initially when working with 8RAR and then returning to garrison LE LOI when 8RAR abandoned the FSPB mid-month.

HQ 1ATF had passed W Coy to under OpCon of 8RAR from 300800H June 1970 for operations until 10 Jul 70 as part of Op PETRIE - W3 Coy's part was code named Op QUARTERMILE.  8RAR deployed W Coy to FSPB LE LOI [YS4576] by truck with the Company arriving about 301000H Jun70.  W Coy remained c/s5 but on the 8RAR command net.  The Company task was to establish half-platoon ambushes in the vicinity of the BINH BA tri-village complex and around AP SUOI NGHE in an attempt to destroy elements of D440 VC bn.  By the time W3 Coy joined 8RAR the mission had been amended from 'destroy D440' to 'provide security to the villages astride Route2'.  The W Coy role while with 8RAR seems to have been supportive of the main battalion effort without being invited to take a more active role.

While at LE LOI with 8RAR W Coy were co-located with and used 161 Bty New Zealand artillery support for the first time.  Soldiers were able to spend off-duty time on the gun-line.

The photo was taken after W Coy arrived at LE LOI when garrisoned by 8RAR and 161 Bty RNZA, looking south to the edge of the BINH BA rubber plantation [any green vehicles seen were used by 161 Bty and strangely, CO 8RAR].

photo of Le Loi during 8RAR occupation.  When W Coy became the landlord the base was divided along the road shown on right with new bunkers built to the left road edge, and all other structures to the left were demolished and material recovered [Stock]
photo of FSPB Le Loi during 8RAR occupation.  When W Coy became the landlord the base was divided along the road shown on right with new bunkers built to the right road edge, and all other structures to the left demolished and material recovered [Stock]

8RAR conducted operations differently to 2RAR/NZ, preferring to find and fix the VC in their bunker systems by quietly ambushing all routes out of the VC facilities in a battalion coordinated area ambush.  When ready the Bn HQ would direct massive amounts of air strikes followed by artillery and mortar barrages to swamp the VC position before pushing into the facility with support from tanks to drive the VC into escaping into the established ambushes.  To achieve this 8RAR had additional artillery units co-locate to FSPB LE LOI with 161 Bty RNZA: six 155mm self propelled medium guns of C Bty 2/35 US Arty, and two 8" self propelled howitzers of A Bty 7/8 US Arty.  The 2RAR/NZ mortar platoon was also under OpCon of 8RAR.

extract from 8RAR Combat Operations, After Action Report Op PETRIE [AWM95-7-8-10 refers]

Researcher Note:  Log detail at unit level has become more difficult to decipher due to more generic comments being used [element W Coy is..] or the logs have original handwriting in pencil which has been corrected and altered [have difficulty reading my own handwriting...].  Previously the unit logs had been edited and typed.

Rear Details

W Coy rear details conducted TAOR ptl on dates as follows:  9 -11 Jul area YS4865, 13-14 July YS496654,

30 June
Night locstats W Coy:  Coy HQ LE LOI, other 2RAR elements [unidentified and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS424709, YS424701 [likely 1Pl], YS459756 [2Pl..?], YS467756, YS460734 [3Pl..?], YS459729

1 July
0750H locstat Coy HQ LE LOI, 1Pl YS424706, 2Pl YS469754, 3Pl YS463731, 2 and 3Pl remained stationery for the day.

Night Locations:  Coy HQ LE LOI, 1Pl YS417713 [..?], 2Pl YS469754, 3Pl YS463731, other 2RAR elements [unidentified and not all necessarily W Coy but could half-platoon ambushes] at YS410715, YS417713, YS467753, YS459748, YS460734, YS464724

Rainfall today 1.38"   Humidity 82%

2 July
1810H a W Coy element at YS410715 [1Pl..?] heard shots, these were judged to be 3-4Km south of the W Coy location.  [these were also reported by 7RAR as being north of their position near NUI DAT].

Night Locations: 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at Coy HQ LE LOI, YS410715, YS417713, YS467753, YS459748, YS460734, YS464724

Rainfall today 1.38"  Humidity 86%8RAR AO start of July 1970

8RAR AO start of July 1970

3 July
1640H 1Pl locstat YS422737

[1800H following three separate reports of a large well-armed VC party dressed in black at YS4277 and YS4377 the indirect fire elements at LE LOI engaged the area, nil results.]

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS441750, YS440744, YS453752, YS451748, YS549748, YS457744, YS447793, YS454792

Rainfall today 0.85"  Humidity 80%

4 July
Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS443758, YS443756, YS453754, YS458751, YS462754, YS458743, YS443790

Rainfall today 0.36"  Humidity 84%

5 July
Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS440760, YS437751, YS453754, YS458751, YS462754, YS465750, YS433789, YS447799

Rainfall today 0.97"  Humidity 86%

6 July
0815H locstat 2Pl LE LOI, 3Pl YS468753

1215H locstat 1Pl YS418756 with a ptl at YS428742

Brig Holloway Comd NZ Field Force with Comd 1NZ Inf Bde visited 1ATF

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS418756, YS430745, YS445754, YS459757, YS462748, YS464743, YS444789, YS447797

Rainfall today 0.14"  Humidity 89%

7 July
[8RAR conducted a battalion operation to block in and ambush a large VC camp with bunkers identified by a HOI CHAN the previous day]

13900H W Coy [element..?] were directed to move west [where from..?] to YS404753 and needed coordination to avoid a SAS ptl in the area

1510H locstat 1Pl YS414756

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 1Pl YS418759, 2Pl YS445754, 3Pl YS462748 [Locstats from 1ATF DO Log]

Rainfall today trace  Humidity 81%  [less than 0.1 mm (0.2 mm in the US) is generally referred to as a trace].

8 July
0815H W Coy were complete in LE LOI

[during the day the battery commander of 107 Bty RAA providing direct support to 2RAR/NZ Maj George Salmon was wounded by his own battery while demonstrating to a new FOO on the NUI DAT range how to direct a 'danger-close' mission [rounds impacting inside 250 metres of own forces].  As a result he was medically boarded out of 1ATF with damaged hearing].

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS458754, YS449757, YS460750, YS459743, YS443753, YS438743m, YS444789, YS447797

Rainfall today 2.62"  Humidity 87%

9 July
Night Location:  Coy HQ LE LOI, 2RAR elements [unidentified by 8RAR and not all necessarily W Coy] at YS460756, YS450759, YS461751, YS458740, YS417756, YS454796

Rainfall today 0.44" Humidity 85%

10 July
The OpCon arrangement with 8RAR finished today.2Pl lines in NUI DAT

0932H 1ATF CP advised that W Coy were in NUI DAT

Night Location:  W Coy complete in their lines at NUI DAT.

Rainfall today 0.25"  Humidity 71%

2Pl lines in NUI DAT

11 July
Night Location:  W Coy were complete in their lines at NUI DAT.

Rainfall today 12 points  Humidity 73%

12 July
Night Location:  W Coy were complete in their lines at NUI DAT.

Rainfall today nil Humidity 80%

13 July
2RAR/NZ deployed on OP NATHAN into AO CAMEL along Route15 with Bn HQ at FSPB GAIL YS2572.  W Coy went in the opposite direction, north to LE LOI alongside Route2, into AO GUERNSEY to interdict villages astride Route2 and conduct recce and ambush ops.  They also had a new task - shrink the LE LOI base perimeter to match the reduced garrison capability.  Supporting W Coy were two mor sect [initially c/s83 and c/s84 V Coy] and part of the Mor Pl HQ, and a splinter team from 1Fd Sqn RAE.  As well as operations from LE LOI W Coy also had OpCon of other Australian infantry elements supporting route reconstruction from FSB KYLIE further North along Route2.  W Coy was warned to expect to remain in AO GUERNSEY until 29 July when they would be relieved by V5 Coy.

According to the 2RAR/NZ intelligence report W Coy was expecting to operate against the BINH BA Guerrillas who combined with the DUC MY Guerrillas could only muster twelve men.

W Coy initially provided a NCO with signaller c/s9G [names anyone..?] to HQ DUC THANH District HQ to allow liaison with District and RF forces but the c/s and task was cancelled on 16 July when W Coy came under OpCon of HQ 1ATF and  moved to the TF Comd radio net as c/s 83.

0830H W Coy departed NUI DAT to return to FSPB LE LOI YS4576 reporting its arrival at 1100H.  This was later than the 1ATF required time of 0800H.

Night Location:  no record - assumed W Coy complete photo illustrates both the open nature of rubber plantations and the effect of the wet season on operations [Philip]at LE LOI

Rainfall today 20 points  Humidity 82% 

photo illustrates both the open nature of rubber plantations and the effect of the wet season on operations [Philip]

14 July: 
The manner in which W Coy operated changed during July in two ways:  [1] The new area of operations [AO] was the more open rubber of the vast BINH BA rubber plantation meaning stealth became more difficult, and civilians had access to work the rubber [and observe any deployments] during the day. 
[2] the wet season struck with its full intensity meaning health problems multiplied and tentage needed to be deployed at night.

To overcome these disadvantages W Coy chose to deploy platoon patrols from LE LOI late afternoon each day, ambushing tracks overnight in the rubber and returning to LE LOI after sunrise to dry out and work on the base facilities. 

1045H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

Night Locations: no record - assumed W Coy complete at LE LOI except for 3Pl

Rainfall today 0.02"  Humidity 75%

15 July
0100H [locstat not logged] 3Pl engaged noise with claymores, admitting their doubts about whether the contact was with VC or animals.  At first light they found 1x pig KIA.  [No note as to disposal action taken..]

0930H locstat 3Pl LE LOI

CO 1RNZIR made another visit to 1ATF over the period 15 - 17 Jul

Night Locations: Coy HQ, part 1Pl and 3Pl LE LOI, 2Pl YS435765 and YS441750, elm 1Pl YS452781

Rainfall today 17 points  Humidity 80%

16 July
0723H W Coy was complete at LE LOI

1000H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

1030H Co 1RNZIR Lt Col Rob Williams [later NZ CGS] visited W Coy at LE LOI, departing again around 1600H.  Maj Brian Monks who would later command V6 Coy accompanied him.

Night Locations: Coy HQ, 1Pl (-) 2Pl LE LOI, 1Pl ptl YS460745, 3Pl YS442737 and YS447748.

Rainfall today no record

17 July
0835H locstat W Coy complete at LE LOI

Night Locations: Coy HQ, 3Pl LE LOI, 1Pl (-) YS431769, 2Pl YS456734 and YS459756,

Rainfall today 96 points  Humidity 85%

18 July
[1145H a NZ Parliamentary delegation  of five MP's [x2 National party, x3 Labour party] led by Sir Leslie Munro [National Party] arrived at 1ATF for lunch and a base tour before departing again at 1535H]

1100H locstat W Coy complete at LE LOI

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, other elements not recorded, 1Pl likely on ambush task

Rainfall today 35 points  Humidity 85%

2Pl doing demolition before heading back into the rubber for another night patrol
2Pl doing demolition before heading back into the rubber behind for another night patrol

19 July
0733H locstat 1Pl YS424767, remainder at LE LOI

1010H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

1037H locstat 1Pl YS415766

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, 1Pl YS412762, 2Pl (-) YS434736, 3Pl (-) YS446749, remainder LE LOI

Rainfall today nil  Humidity 78%

20 July
1203H locstat 1Pl YS412762

1205H 1Pl investigating occupied VC camp at YS402758 [no further reports logged].

1210H W Coy requested DUSTOFF from LE LOI for a NZ patient [may not be W Coy person, name anyone..?], unconscious from a PUO [pyrexia of unknown origin = high temperature etc] . 

1450H the 1Pl locstat was YS409762, the remainder of  Coy was at LE LOI.

Night Locations: Coy HQ, elm 2Pl, 3Pl (-) LE LOI, 1Pl YS407757, 2Pl (-) YS457755, elm 3PL YS449754.

Rainfall today nil  Humidity 80%

21 July
Contact:  0833H at YS406758 1Pl approached a VC camp earlier identified by helicopter visual recce [VR] which contained an unknown number of VC.  They were contacted by a sentry who fired one RPG rocket at the patrol, the rocket missed the scouts but exploded near the lead section MG group.  The sect comd Cpl David Simons [left with headband] was wounded by shrapnel to his buttocks and right arm, while the MG group of Pte Dave Turner [left] and Pte Phil Jane [right] suffered shrapnel wounds to their chests, legs and/or buttocks, and Phil Jane had ear damage.  x1 VC KIA.  A DUSTOFF request was made at 0850H to evacuate the x3 NZ WIA, a winch extraction was requested and a semi-rigid stretcher was required for one patient.  The VC broke contact quickly and withdrew in different directions.  Indirect fire was directed against the likely withdrawal route to discourage the VC from returning while the DUSTOFF proceeded [the indirect fire impacted YS411745 using an aerial FOO].

"I was There"  Lt Kevin O'Brien the Coy FOO commented:  the 21 July contact report indicates that “mortars from Le Loi were fired by an aerial FOO’.  What actually happened was that communications were initially lost with the platoon due to the RPG explosion and Maj Torrance sent me in a recce helicopter that just happened to have landed at Le Loi. The mortars were not in range and I fired a few rounds of US 155s from across the boundary to the North.  This was due to either good planning or good luck, as Maj Torrance and I had gone up to 'liaise’ with the Americans just the day before and I had gathered their 155 battery frequency and call sign as we knew we would potentially have patrols operating out of range.  I still remember it – c/s Turner08. I did get communications with the platoon, got them to throw smoke, and as contact had been broken, I only fired a few rounds a good distance (1-2 km) away from the contact in order to be safe but also remind any possible VC that we could muster up support if needed.  I suspect I didn’t hit anyone.

1010H Comd 1ATF accompanied by Maj Gen 'Sandy' Thomas Comd Designate UK FARELF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI - Gen Thomas had previously served with 2NZ Div in the Middle East during WW2 before becoming a PoW, afterwards having a distinguished career with the British Army.W Coy AO July 1970

Night Locations: Coy HQ and 1Pl LE LOI, 2Pl YS420750, 3Pl YS458742 and YS447749.

Rainfall today 93 points  Humidity 82%

W Coy AO July 1970

22 July
0729H all W Coy elements were at LE LOI apart from 2Pl at YS420750.

Night Locations: Coy HQ, elm 1Pl and 3Pl LE LOI, 2Pl YS415754, 1Pl (-) YS434734.

Rainfall today nil   Humidity 87%

23 July
1040H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

1230H locstat 2Pl YS412758

Night Locations: Coy HQ LE LOI, other elements not recorded

Rainfall today nil   Humidity 78%

24 July
1145H locstat 3Pl YS438760, 2Pl LE LOI

1530H locstat 3Pl YS419746

Night Locations: Coy HQ and 2Pl, LE LOI, 1Pl YS436768 and YS460744, 3Pl YS412749.

Rainfall today nil  Humidity 68%

25 July
0725H locstat 1Pl LE LOI

Contact:  0921H at YS402748 3Pl were in contact with approx 7x VC who withdrew to the North, nil results.  3Pl were starting to cross a stream when they heard a noise and observed x7 VC also crossing the stream 50m from them.  The VC started to run and 3Pl initiated the contact.  BUSHRANGER were requested to follow-up.

1130H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

Night Locations: Coy HQ and 1Pl LE LOI, 2Pl YS467750 and YS423767, 3Pl YS403759.

Rainfall today 0.4"  Humidity 78%

3Pl playing volleyball
3Pl playing volleyball during rest time at FSPB LeLOI

26 July
1100H locstat Coy HQ, 1Pl and 2Pl LE LOI, 3Pl YS407765.

[1330H 3Pl V Coy were in contact in a large bunker system scattered among caves on a ridge, and during the course of the afternoon called for DUSTOFF three times - 1240H x5 sitting, 1510H x2 lying x1 sitting, 1607H x1 lying.  Most injuries were from booby traps.] (detail needs fuller validation as logs differ on details)

Night Location:  Coy HQ LE LOI, other elements not recorded

Rainfall today nil  Humidity 75%

27 July
0945H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

1600H locstat 1Pl YS438773

Night Location:  Coy HQ and 3Pl LE LOI, 1Pl YS438776, 2Pl YS462757 and YS445755.

Rainfall today trace  Humidity 80%

28 July
0810H locstats Coy HQ, 2Pl and 3Pl LE LOI, 1Pl YS438778.

0930H locstat 1Pl YS434778

1045H locstat 1Pl YS430780

1105H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

1120H locstat 1Pl YS428782

1405H locstat 1Pl YS442782

Night Location:  Coy HQ and 2Pl LE LOI, 1Pl YS418780, 3Pl YS456756 and YS423767

Rainfall today 0.53"  Humidity 92%

29 July
0820H locstat 3Pl LE LOI

1050H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

Contact:  1130H at YS415779 1Pl heard voices, established a hasty ambush and caught a large VC resupply party.  x2 males and x1 female with packs approached and were called on to halt, they refused and were engaged by the sentries who fired one shot each, x2 VC males WIA x1 VC female immediately surrendered.  Ten children were 30m behind the adults and another four were found during the sweep, as well as x23 packs containing food and bamboo shoots.  A DUSTOFF by winch was requested for the two WIA but one male died of his wounds before the extraction, the other WIA suffering a fractured left femur.  The female and children were backloaded to DUC THANH.  The subsequent 1ATF intelligence assessment surprisingly described this party as 'civilian' and said that 'while in close proximity to a known VC base area they would need further explanation of civilian access areas'.

1459H 1Pl locstat YS416779

Night Location:  Coy HQ LE LOI, other elements not recorded

Rainfall today 0.15"  Humidity 80%

30 July
0810H locstat Coy HQ, 2Pl and 3Pl LE LOI

1010H 1Pl locstats YS433779

1050H Comd 1ATF visited W Coy at FSPB LE LOI

Night Location:  Coy HQ LE LOI, other elements not recorded

Rainfall today 0.30"  Humidity 85%

31 July
Night Location:  Coy HQ LE LOI, other elements not recorded

Rainfall today 0.15"  Humidity 90%

W Coy operated from FSPB LE LOI until 2 August 1970

As well as patrolling from LE LOI, W Coy was also required to divide the battalion-sized FSPB in half to better fit the new conceptdemolition of east half of FSPB LE LOI of a company-sized FSPB.  The reduction was necessary for a proper defence with the available resources.  While some engineer plant was available to assist the majority of work fell on the platoons inside the base during the day.  Several Kiwis with previous civil construction experience quickly took over from the assigned Australian engineer plant handlers and managed some construction tasks and driving themselves.  The base was reduced from a circle to a 'D' shape and three new platoon bunkers were built, while all facilities in the abandoned eastern half were demolished and the materials reused or recovered to NUI DAT.  There is no record of when the work started and when it was completed but in the final 2-weeks of July is a reasonable timeframe. See this link for other photos of the FSPB as the demolition was conducted.

demolition of east half of FSPB LE LOI

References:

Rain fall figures are for NUI DAT
HQ 1ATF – AWM95, 1/4/193, 194, 195
4 Fd Regt RAA – AWM95, 3/7/14
2RAR – AWM95, 7/2/57, 58, 59

www.awm.gov.au/collection/war_diaries/se_asian_conflicts/

no W Coy contact after-action reports for July 1970 could be found

read June 1970 timeline here          read August 1970 timeline here

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

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