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The Newsletter of the Fourth Battalion RAR Association SE Qld  

 

July 200

Inside this issue:

Curley’s Diary 4
4RAR Honour 6
Contingent
The Battle of 7
Nui Le
Mail Box 9
Reunion 2008 10
The Nui Le 11
Dinner

ANZAC Day in Brisbane was a marvellous success with over 100 members marching behind our new banner..

The day was made more remarkable by the presence of 28 descendents and volunteers marching as part of the 4RAR Honour Contingent representing those 28 Australian 4RAR members who died whilst serving overseas.

This was the first time that the Honour Contingent marched and the concept is spreading fast. The next step is to honour our Kiwi mates and all those that have died since. See more about this marvellous project inside on page 6.

It was also pleasing to see an excellent attendance at our commemorative service and birthday celebration at the Royal Australian Regiment National Memorial Walk on Saturday 4th February 2006. This is one of our more important days because it gives us the opportunity to remember and to pay tribute to those who gave their lives on overseas service with the Battalion.

At the service we paid tribute to our fallen comrades, mentioning each by their full name from our Honour Roll and those in attendance placed a flower beside the bronze plaques of those who fell whilst serving in 4RAR and those who fell whilst serving in other battalions but who had served in 4RAR.

It was a very moving ceremony and those in attendance listened attentively as Alan Price and I paid tribute to our Tracker Platoons from all campaigns and to our wonderful tracker dogs.

What made the service a little more special than previous years was the presence of former members of the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Australian Signal Corps. We must never forget that without the untiring effort and dedication of our supporting arms and services, we could not do our job. We hope to see more of our comrades in arms at future services.

After the commemorative service, we adjourned to the 6RAR Long Tan Sergeants’ Mess where members and their families enjoyed the hospitality of the mess members.

The birthday cake was cut by Christine Upton and Toni Lucas and as usual the night was a long, pleasurable one.

The next function is the candle light dinner at the 6RAR Long Tan Sergeants’ Mess on Saturday 23rd September; more about that inside.

It was resolved to call the dinner the Nui Le Dinner after the famous battle of 4RAR from the 21st to the 22nd of September 1971, when D Company was victorious against the 33rd North Vietnamese Army Regiment in the last battle involving Australian troops in South Vietnam.

The Nui Le Dinner will now be held annually as close to 21 September as possible.

We will be offering an invitation to the Commanding Officer of 4RAR (Cdo) Lt Col Mark Smethurst AM, to the dinner as well as other dignitaries.

t would be wonderful to see you all there, so please book early.

I must thank the late Dennis (Psycho) Hughes, Admin Coy, who passed away due to cancer recently and his wife Lorraine for the generous donation of a bronze statuette of an Aussie soldier in Vietnam and a Diggers Bust, port decanter to be raffled.

They also donated other items to the association and some of those will be presented to the 4RAR museum.

To supplement the excellent work of our present committee, Don Zerner and Noel Fairley have joined the committee and I thank them very much for putting their hand up.

Alan has designed a task programme and all committee members have dedicated responsibilities but each with the assistance of other members of the committee.

Allan Wood, ex trackers, now residing in Tasmania has volunteered to represent those Tasmanian former 4RAR members in a liaison role and the Qld Association will in effect, sponsor Tasmania as well as continue its responsibility to those Northern Territory and overseas former members.

Alan and Zunt Morrison (4RAR/4RAR (Cdo) Association, NSW have been working hard at designing a new comprehensive web page. As soon as it is agreed to by all state associations and Zunt has finalised the graphic designs, it will be released.

We cannot at this stage, give a release date as some extra time may be required to get it right.

It would be remiss of me if I failed to thank the committee and of course our wives, for the work that they are performing. I must also thank you, our members, for the continued support of our raffles, without which we could not perform as we do.

Duty First Thank you. Yogi

One of the 4RAR Memorial Plaques at the RARNMW The ANZAC Day parade

Prelude

This is an account of the events, a few days prior to and the days spent in Borneo, up until our return to Terendak. In this account I will try and record as much as possible of the events that take place during this period or until such time as I return. This diary begins at Terendak Garrison, Malacca, Malaysia.

Sunday 17 April 1966

Today was spent lazing around Brian Kotz’s place. He had invited me down to spend the weekend, as it was our last before we go away. All in all I enjoyed myself. At least it was different to camp routine. I returned to camp around about 9 pm; still the same old place, like a brothel (usually is on the weekend). We will need a bulldozer to remove the rubbish tomorrow.

Monday 18 April 1966

Time is fast approaching for our departure to Borneo. The Platoon for the most part played sport and cards. Last minor details to equipment was made and a little packing done. I had the day off and once again, just stayed around camp fixing up a few loose ends.

Digby (Pte Digby Hammond) and his Kiwi mates woke up the hut for a party at midnight, the noisy bastards. I will try and get a few more hours sleep.

Tuesday 19 April 1066

The Boss (2Lt Roger Wickham) gave us a bit of a spruik on Vietnam. He had just come back from there after being away a few weeks. He was only supposed to be away for ten days but he was wounded while in action with American troops. The talk was quite interesting. Woody (Cpl John Woodley) has gone to hospital with scrub typhus. JD (Pte John Dunstan) looks as if he might be in the same way. Could be caused from the last exercise.

We had our pre-Borneo FFI (Field Fitness Inspection) this afternoon. As usual there was a fair showing of hairy back sides and many shapes and sizes of the dangly things. We always get a laugh from these parades. One doesn’t want to be bashful.

The Platoon is on guard at the moment. Every body is chasing around for rifle

Today I had a letter from Mum. Nothing interesting except about Venta. Also went to the movies with a few of the mates. Not a bad show, but could have been better. I am afraid there isn’t much to do at nights only the movies, I haven’t any money to drink or to go out.

I’ll be glad to be on the move. 2 am! I can’t get to sleep, just had a few beers.

gear. It looks like we will be stood down for the next two days, so we only have to work tonight.

Monday 18 April 1966

Guard last night was its usual self ……. boring! JD went to hospital, that makes 15 so far. I was a bit crook in the guts.

Continued page 5

Monday 18 April 1966 (Cont)

I am trying to give up smoking I wonder how long that will last.? Now I am going to the farter for a few hours. The Coy has stood down.

2100hrs: things are very quiet around the lines, most of the boys have gone out. As a matter of fact it’s been quiet all day. Most of us slept right up till four o clock I suppose I could have gone to the movies but I am in one of those moods. I just had my first cigarette for a while and it tasted bloody awful. Somebody next door is playing his records, that is about all the noise there is.

Thursday 21 April 1966

I didn’t last long giving up smoking. It takes a lot of willpower to stop smoking, more than I’ve got.

The other day we had our dose of worm syrup. A few of us had the runs after it. It tasted vile, but I haven’t had any side effects.

Things are getting a little desperate in the money department. It’s bad when we have to collect bottles to buy a packet of smokes. It looks like things will get worse because we don’t get paid until next month. I suppose if the worst comes to the worst we could always borrow off the rich marriedies.

12pm: I have found my smokes that I thought some lousy bastard had swiped. My faith in my fellow mates has returned.

Friday 22 April 1966

Last night had a few beers and a few more with a Kiwi mate. Ended up drunk. Eight cans and I was flat on my back. It took quite a while to get to sleep. The room kept spinning.

This morning we cleaned up the huts and stored our trunks. As usual the panic button was pressed. Every body has been in a good mood. Like a mob of kids before an outing. Some stupid idiot tossed a string of crackers into the hut. What a racket! Every body just about panicked. Of course the culprit was McCann (Pte Mick McCann). As usual during the cleaning up operation the water fight started. I kept right out of the battle. 1130am: we have knocked off until tomorrow so we are just lazing around.

I am going to the movies tonight. I have just received a letter from Jenny that’s another I have to answer.

I have just returned from the movies. It was a real good show. Plenty of sex. At the moment Jock and myself are the only ones in the hut. Being the last night all the boys are out making the most of it. Jenks LCpl Daryl Jenkin) is away. We probably won’t have any sex for four and a half months. I bet the marriedies are having their last fling on the nest.

Mostly in the last few days I have been thinking of home and Venta. Although I am not writing, I often think of her. When I go home at Christmas time I will certainly look her up.

Well tomorrow is the day I wonder what the future will bring I only hope we will all return safely. This is taken from a radio programme; that “Tomorrow is the Beginning of High Adventure.

Introduction to the 4RAR Association, Qld Honour Contingent project.

Other state associations and members of 4RAR (Cdo) and their

families are invited to participate.

Introduction.

The 4RAR Association, Qld Honour Contingent is dedicated to keeping alive the names, memories, deeds and histories of those of the battalion who have fallen in battle or who have since died of any cause. This is done by a family member, descendent, representative or volunteer wearing a 4RAR Honour Plaque in memory and honour of, a 4RAR deceased veteran.

The Project encourages families, especially children, to develop an interest in their own family history, the history of the Battalion and the history of our nation. The project enables descendents and friends of our fallen and departed to participate in community, school and Battalion remembrance and commemorative services as a personal representative of a 4RAR war or service veteran who has sadly passed away. Activities include but are not restricted to ANZAC Day, Remembrance Day, 4RAR Association activities and other commemorative services.

How much does it cost? The total cost for each plaque is $8.00 including postage.

What if we do not have a relative or friend who served in 4RAR, but would still like our family to honour a veteran and participate? Easy….You may select a member by name, by campaign, or period of service or, have a veteran allocated for you by the committee. You will still be required to purchase an Honour Plaque. You may not know of the veteran but it is the representation itself that is important. A resume of the veteran’s service and a description of his displayed medal ribbons will accompany each plaque.

Can all members of my family including my children, wear an Honour Plaque for the same veteran? Yes, it is common for several people to wear an Honour Plaque for the same veteran, but you must order multiple copies and pay the calculated costs.

Can one person represent more than one veteran? No, only one Honour Plaque may be worn at any one time.

My children and I have friends who would like to honour a 4RAR veteran; may they do this and march on ANZAC Day? Yes,

May we, representing a 4RAR veteran, march with the 4RAR Association contingent on ANZAC Day? Yes, participating 4RAR associations in capital cities will organise this but prior approval may need to be granted by local representatives or ANZAC Day organising committees such as RSL or local councils in other areas.

What happens to the Honour Plaques when they are not in use? They are kept by you.

Must I attend meetings or pay annual fees? No, but you do become an Associate Member and you will be invited to attend 4RAR Association conducted activities and where appropriate, child members may attend.

May I purchase additional Honour Plagues to complement a family tree, photo album or to use as a keepsake? Yes, it is common for families to do this.

If I wish to participate in the 4RAR Honour Project, what do I do next? Simply contact Maureen Price at :

4RAR Assoc, Qld Honour Contingent 11 Dellforest Drive Calamvale Qld 4116 Tel: (07) 3273 7973 Email: apriced4@bigpond.net.au

It normally takes approximately three to four weeks to satisfy orders but you may enquire as to the progress of your application by ringing (07) 3273 7973 at any time.

This operation will be hard to erase from the memories of those who participated.

Visual reconnaissance aircraft at the commencement of the operation reported fresh tracks leading into the north eastern sector of Phouc Tuy Province. This, combined with a report of a lack of contact by 3 Brigade (US) with the enemy to the north and the additional agent reports, threw further light on the Nui Le/ Nui Sao area in which D Company 4RAR had struck enemy reconnaissance groups.

During the early hours of 19 September 1971, the 626 Regional Forces Company outpost on Route 2 received an attack by fire of 75 millimetre recoilless rifles and 82 millimetre mortar rounds. Both weapons were held by 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment units. Tracks from the firing points led to the east towards the Nui Sao. A light sapper attack followed on the village of Ngai Giao, though it seems it was carried out in co-ordination by local Viet Cong.

Early the following day, 4 APCs from 1 Troop (Aust) were ambushed along Route 2 between the village and the Regional Force Company outpost by approximately twenty enemy employing RPG 2, RPG 7 and small arms fire. A swift counter attack by the APCs resulted in one North Vietnamese soldier being killed. He carried no identification and was well armed.

A prisoner of war, captured in action by 3 Cavalry Brigade (US) on 22 November, who had been an assistant platoon commander with C9 Company of 3 Battalion, 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment eventually revealed to interrogators that the original plan had been to lure 1st Australian Task Force units into a prepared ambush, east of Route 2.

The attack on 626 Regional Force outpost on 19 September and the

ambush of the APCs the following day in the same area, were the ‘bait’ in an attempt to lure an infantry/armoured reaction force east from the area along a logging track (ambushed by 3 Battalion) and into a bunker complex further to the north-east near Nui Sao, where 2 Battalion and Regimental Headquarters occupied defences in depth.

Elements of D Company 4RAR were engaged with RPG ands small arms fire in the morning of 21 September. Throughout that day, repeated air and artillery strikes were employed in support of a series of assaults by D Company that were launched upon (later found to be) the western most bunker system of a four system complex, large enough (twenty four completed bunkers with fifteen prepared bunkers) to accommodate 2 Battalion of 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment.

Good firing control was exercised by the enemy, using cut fire lanes. He took advantage of good canopy cover and the surrounding high ground to employ intensive ground fire against supporting aircraft throughout the daylight hours.

On this, the third day in the area, 21 September, according to the prisoner, 3 Battalion were advised by Regimental Headquarters to move north as “the Australians” had somehow evaded the ambush and had contacted 2 Battalion and Regimental Headquarters in their bunker systems to the north-east. The prisoner stated that they were confused that the Australians had come (so rapidly) from the north of their defences near Nui Sao, although D Company had been contacting squad sized groups generally moving west and south-west since 14 September. These were probably advance elements of 3 Battalion moving to their ambush task. (Perhaps their passage of information is-n’t always as effective as ours.)

Continued page 8

During the morning whilst withdrawing from the ambush, 3 Battalion were themselves contacted by a platoon from B Company 4RAR who had been following up an insulated communication wire. The platoon subsequently killed a member of 3 Battalion. Continuing this lead in the afternoon, the platoon found numerous fresh tracks “criss-crossing” the area of the Sui Tam Bo towards the Soui Youert and later came under 60 millimetre mortar fire.

Further contacts ensued, accounting for seven North Vietnamese soldiers as the remaining platoons and B Company Headquarters re-deployed and assisted the “Dust Off” of casualties from the shelling. B Company concentrated into a firm night defence position, amidst signs that the area had been recently occupied by a North Vietnamese Army force. Earlier, supporting aircraft had received ground fire from this area and a secondary explosion was reported after an air strike.

In the late afternoon, D Company who were extracting their casualties and moving out of the bunker system to allow for further supporting fire, received small arms fire on their flanks from mobile groups of North Vietnamese soldiers having come from other systems within the complex.

Employing fire and movement, the company extracted its wounded to the secured winch point. On completion of the ‘Dust Off’, the rear platoon again had to resort to fire and movement to delay the follow up by the North Vietnamese onto the perimeter of D Company’s night defence position, four hundred meters south-west from the original bunker complex. The night defence position was also under fire from a separate (fourteen) bunker system which contained an observation post, thirty feet up a tree from which accurate harassing fire was directed into the position until well after darkness.

It would appear that apart from tactical considerations, one of the reasons that

the enemy followed D Company to their night position was that it was in the direction of their Regimental Headquarters, The fourteen bunker system at that location appears to have been occupied by the Regimental Headquarters and possibly 2 Battalion had the impression that D Company was proceeding to attack them and sought to render assistance. A weary night passed slowly as the Medical Officer in Nui Dat relayed treatment for the wounded via the three command nets to the medics of D Company.

The North Vietnamese of 33 Regiment also worked frantically throughout the hours of darkness to evacuate their casualties and withdraw along prepared tracks which were subsequently located – showing signs of stretcher carriage – by B and C Companies, east of the Soui Youert and D Company 3RAR (under command of 4RAR) as they searched the bunker area near Nui Sao, showing the withdrawal of the North Vietnamese had been to the north and the north-east.

The construction of a bunker complex near Nui Sao, the cutting of good tracks to facilitate rapid re-deployment of North Vietnamese Army units in the Route 2/Nui Sao area and the detailed planning that was involved in the attempted ambush of the Australian force, indicated that 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment intended to establish a semi-permanent base for future operations in that area of Phouc Tuy province. There is no doubt that the quick retaliatory reaction by the APCs from 1 Troop when ambushed on 20 September and the aggressive action by B and D Companies, with plentiful close air and artillery support during this last battle fought by Australian troops in South Vietnam, were responsible for forcing 33 North Vietnamese Army Regiment to abandon their considerable efforts to dominate the district and move to more secure surroundings north of the Phouc Tuy Province boundary.

Vale: Pte Ralph Niblett, Pte Brian Beilken, Pte Keith KingstonPowell, Pte Rodney Sprigg and Pte James Duff.

Pte Keith Shaw

In the last newsletter, Khris Stevens wrote and thanked all that helped her in her search for information on her uncle, Pommy Shaw who was KIA on 08 Oct 1968. The effort by all concerned has started Khirs’ Aunt to commence writing a biography of Pommy for the family. Can anyone identify the soldiers in the photos below. Pommy is second from right. They were taken in the 1RTB canteen during Pommy’s recruit training either late 67 or early 68. If you can help, please contact Khris on (02) 4861 5584 or khrisand george@bigpond.com.

Jock Richardson MM

Jock is pretty crook at the moment but after talking to him on the phone recently it is obvious that he is still standing tall. He has promised to buy all a beer at the Melbourne reunion, at least that’s what I think he said. He thanks all for your correspondence and thoughts and both he and Peg are coping well.

John McGhee

John is not coping too well. He is in a nursing home in Brisbane but still talks about his days with the Battalion in a loving and proud way.

Michael Andrews

Michael Andrews was a keen young Digger undergoing his entry test for Commando when he collapsed and suffered traumatically. He has since been medically discharged and living in Hervey Bay. We were asked by the Army to contact him and to see how we could help. The former members living near to Michael at Hervey Bay have really gone out of their way to ensure that Michael is well looked after. Lon Chainey has been to visit him and the local Vietnam Veterans Association have also lent a hand. I know that Michael and his family are grateful but from us; please accept a welldone!

Paddy Muir

Remember Paddy Muir, our first pay sergeant? His daughter Kathy is desirous of finding out all she can about her father. Paddy passed away in 1990. Kathy would be grateful for any photos, information, or anecdotes about her father, good and bad. Please contact: Kathy Murray on (07) 3807 2787 or murrayk@iprimus.com.au

Comments

You obviously put a lot of time and thought into “The fighting Fourth”. It is the best that I receive. Ron Robinson.

Ross Sillar was my Pl Comd and Joe took a photo of the platoon when we came back. Has anybody got a copy? John Williams.

Thank you for the amount of work that you do to keep us informed. I enjoy the mention of the names and I thought Roger Wickham’s article was brilliant. Warren Featherby.

The 2008 Melbourne reunion is gaining momentum with Victorian Association working hard to ensure that this reunion will be the best of all. Over 300 hundred members and wives have registered so far. contact: A non refundable registration fee of $30 is required and registrations must be completed by end of 2006. To request a registration form please contact :

The Secretary, Karen Creelman

(03) 5342 4047 or kcreelman@ncmail.com.au.

The agenda for the reunion is;

Monday 28 January 2008 Registration Tuesday 29 January 2008 Tours Wednesday 30 January 2008 Photographs and BBQ at the Shrine of Remembrance Thursday 31 January 2008 Tours Friday 01 January 2008 Battalion birthday Parade, church service and Battalion Dinner at the Carlton Crest Hotel. (Formal dress, miniatures)

The team has access to some well priced hotels, motels and caravan parks.

Contact Karen as soon as possible or go to:

www.zunta.com then, Useful Links then, 4RAR Reunion 2008 (Melb)

RODGROVESHANDICRAFTS

Rod Grove ex 4RAR SVN, is a highly regarded maker of military figurines. The example on the right stands 20cm high and is priced at $300 plus p&h. Rod has well over 600 models in his range varying in price from as little as $63.

All models are meticulous in presentation and authenticity and truly represent all arms and services from theBoer War to the present. Call Rod now for a catalogue. His figurines are ideal for home display , as gifts and as presentations.

The annual dinner has been named the Nui Le Dinner after the battle of Nui Le during Operation IVANHOE conducted from 18 September to 02 October 1971 in South Vietnam. The battle of Nui Le was the last battle fought by Australian troops in South Vietnam. In selecting the name, consideration was given to the ‘days’ of our sister battalions that commemorated battles that they had been involved in; 3RAR’s Kapyong Day and 6RAR’s Long Tan Day for example. Those consulted included the Head of Corps, the XO of 4RAR (Cdo), Major General Jim Hughes, Brigadier David Thomson, members of D Company who were at the battle and 4RAR Association members. One of those consulted, in admirable consideration, asked if the naming might offend the early members of the Battalion but we all remember that many of the first tour were also present in 1971 and that the history and the spirit of the battalion belongs to us all, no matter when or where we served..

Where: The 6RAR Long Tan Sergeants’ Mess, Gallipoli Barracks, Enoggera, Qld

Cost: $50 per head.

Time: 1800 hrs for 1830 hrs. Members and guest are requested to be present by 1800hrs.

Dress: Gentlemen: Coat and tie (medals). Ladies: After five.

(Miniature medals should be worn with evening dress, ie Dinner Suit)

Unfortunately at this stage, no accommodation is available but we may be able to billet those coming from interstate. Entertainment will be provided and the cost includes table wines.

THE FOURTH BATTALION, THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT ASSOCIATION, QUEENSLAND

PLEASE ADDRESS ALL CORRESPONDENCE TO:

The Secretary 4RAR Assoc, Qld PO Box 802 Aspley Qld 4034 Email: apriced4@bigpond.net.au

President/Treasurer Bob Pearson
Secretary/Editor Alan Price
Committee Derek Firth
Noel Fairley
Noel Kelly
Jan Pearson
Maureen Price
Don Zerner

FOURTH BATTALION,

THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT ASSOCIATION, QLD Registered by Australia Post PP Approved No 444963/0011

PO BOX 802 ASPLEY QLD 4034

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