3rd Battalion
Royal Australian Regiment
Your Faithfully
Japan - Korea - Malaya - Borneo - Vietnam - East Timor - Solomons - Iraq - Afghanistan
3rd Battalion
Royal Australian Regiment
2nd Tour Vietnam 1971
KIA South Vietnam 1971
Roll of Honour
The Ode
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2nd Tour Vietnam 1971 Page Index
Honours & Awards
In Country Training
The Day The CO Was Shot Down
Operation Overlord
Awards from Operation Overlord
The Battle of Long Khanh
3 RAR Areas of Operation Map Index
3 RAR Vietnam Publications
3 RAR Members
South Vietnam
Nominal Roll

Nominal Roll 1971

C Company
7 Pl
8 Pl
9 Pl
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Vietnam 2nd Tour 1971
"Yours Faithfully"

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"Yours Faithfully "

The documented story and photographs of 3rd Battalion RAR Vietnam in 1971

The book "Yours Faithfully" was first published in March 1972 and distributed to all
former members of the 3rd Battalion RAR who served in Vietnam during the
Battalion's 2nd Tour of Vietnam.

Over the years through life experiences copies once valued by members have either vanished or been misplaced. This scanned copy of Yours faithfully is available for download and viewing by the kind permission of Colonel Peter Scott, DSO (Rtd.). Commanding Officer 1969 - 1971

The "Yours Faithfully" copy is available in Adobe "pdf" format.
Please download the file for viewing.

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Honours and Awards
Cpl T. W. Byng Mentioned in Despatches
May I. J. Cahill Mentioned in Despatches
Pte J. W. Charlton Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
Sgt E. L. Desfontaines Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
Pte P. J. Fyfe Distinguished Conduct Medal
Lt P. E. Green Medal For Gallantry
Mention in Despatches
WO1 W. J. Hill RSM Distinguished Service Medal
Lt G. J. Kells Military Cross
2Lt R. B. Lewis Commendation for Distinguished Service
Cpl A. F. Lowe Mention in Dispatches
Pte R. W. Payne Military Medal
Lt Col F. P. Scott Companion of the Distinguished Service Order
Army Commendation Medal
Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
Lcpl N. R. Walker Republic of Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm
Cpl R. Walsh Military Medal
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In Country Training
"The Riflemen" by Mike English
On the night of 2 March 1971, 3RAR's rifle companies settled into their night defensive positions and began the routine of posting sentries, eating, and cleaning weapons. This had now become second nature, and the riflemen were growing accustomed to the rigours of patrolling and searching for the ever elusive enemy. Many of the riflemen still felt that the training "in country" was almost like an exercise being conducted in Australia. This was to change within a few hours. By 1820 hours on the night of 2 March, C and D companies had settled into their respective night positions. C Company harboured up with 5 Troop C Squadron 1 Armoured Regiment. D Company harboured up on the edge of a narrow finger of a paddy field with a reasonable amount of visibility. At 2000 hours both C and D companies reported movement on their perimeters and probing by an enemy force of unknown strength.

At 2020 hours, 11 Platoon, under the leadership of Lieutenant David Horner, sighted one to two enemy 20 to 30 metres away from their position. The claymore mines were immediately fired and the area to their front was engaged by the platoon's machine-guns. Illumination was also called for and a sweep of the area was about to commence when approximately ten enemy were sighted outside the perimeter. The machine-gunners opened fire in an effort to suppress the area with small arms fire.

At almost the same time, 10 Platoon, commanded by Lieutenant John Wheeler, sighted an unknown number of the enemy in front off the south-east section of the harbour. The platoon immediately engaged the area of the sighting with small arms fire. The enemy were using whistles and flares as a means of signalling and directing their fire and movement onto the perimeter.

Incoming AK47 small arms fire was being received by 10 Platoon. Suddenly a large explosion was heard in the 10 Platoon position, and, amid the flying metal fragments, two of the riflemen were killed,Lieutenant John Wheeler and Private Paul Manning. Private E.G. Strickland and Private Keith R. Hammond wounded. These casualties had a profound effect on the whole battalion; nobody could believe it had happened and so quickly after 3RAR's arrival.

Before the explosion Lieutenant Wheeler was seen moving from position to position, at great risk to himself, giving support and encouragement to his troops. It was later suggested that for an explosion of such a magnitude it could have only been a satchel charge. A close inspection later revealed that many of the trees in the surrounding area had metal fragments embedded in them, similar to a 20 pound high explosive round.

Those involved directly and indirectly in the battalion's first major contact came to the sudden realisation that Vietnam was a real war where people got killed and wounded. Many of the riflemen in the battalion came to grips with the situation very quickly, yet others never made the transition. They would, years late, become the unseen casualties of the Vietnam war.
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The Day The CO was Shot Down
The day the CO was shot down, as told to Michael C English by Colonel Peter Scott, the CO of 3RAR 1971 tour.
Towards the end of March, 71 71SIGINT had located an enemy unit, believed to be D445, in the general area between the Song Rai and Suoi Giou rivers about 4000metres north-east of FSB Beth. The battalion was quickly deployed on 30 March, in APCs and on foot, to cordon and search the suspected area. D Coy and attached A Coy 2RAR/NZ (ANZAC) were the searching company's A Coy was given the task of searching the western bank of the Song Rai to a distance of 500metres.

On the afternoon of 31 March, the Task Force Commander, Brig Brice McDonald was visiting FSB Beth and talking to me when A Coy (2RAR/NZ) contacted the enemy at about 1430hours. I immediately left the TF Comd with the Ops officer and flew off to the contact area in the Direct Support (DS) Possum helicopter. Possum being its radio call sign. The pilot was Lt Frazer Gibson who was later awarded the DFC for meritorious service in SVN.

I had always adopted the practice of getting air bourne in possum whenever there was a contact or the need for me to give assistance or supervise an operation, during daylight.

The enemy reacted very strongly on this occasion and helicopter gunships were called in, and including the battalion reserve, consisting of Pioneer platoon in APCs and a section of mortars were also moved to the west bank of the Song Rai adjacent to the contact area. 4 Transport Squadron 1Armd regiment was also deployed to the same area.

A bag of coloured smoke grenades was now carried in the DS possum in case a coy or platoon ran out of smoke. This had occurred on 20 March when a half platoon of 8pl C Coy ran out of smoke grenades and helicopter gun-ships could not engage the enemy because the position of our own troops could not be indicated. I tried on a number of passes to drop bags of grenades to the platoon but missed because we could not hover directly over their position because we we would indicate their position to the enemy and also provide a sitting target to the enemy. I remember we flew back to the fire support base at least once to get more bags of coloured smoke grenades, but I was still unsuccessful in dropping them accurately.

In this case 2Pl A Coy (2RAR/NZ) had run out of smoke grenades and as they were thought to be 400metres from the enemy I directed the pilot to fly over to 2Pl so I could drop a bag of smoke. Just then a yellow smoke grenade was thrown and confusion existed as to whether I had thrown it or if 2Pl had thrown it, if so this meant 2Pl was much closer to the contact area than they thought. The pilot and I were talking on the intercom when I realised that we were flying over the enemy position. just as I told the pilot to get the hell out of there, the enemy engaged us with small arms fire and we took a number of hits, with one or more passing between the pilot and myself. Lt Gibson realised that he was loosing control, the oil pressure gauge was dropping rapidly and there was a need to land immediately if we were not to crash in the area of the contact.

Lt Gibson was able to turn the helicopter away to the east and land on the eastern bank of the Song Rai, in no mans land, just as the engine quit. Lt Gibson and I got out of the helicopter quickly as we did not want to be in it if it caught fire or exploded and of course we wanted to join the troop of tanks we knew were in the area a few hundred metres to the north. But we were not sure what we would meet on the way. Taking essential maps, etc and armed with our pistols and M16 rifles I led the pilot north through the undergrowth towards the tank troop. We were challenged but I am not sure by whom but we did marry up with the tank troop and sent a troop of APCs to secure the helicopter. I mounted one of the tanks, and reported to the battalion CP that we were safe and using one of the tank radios, continued to exercise control of the operation. neither of us were hurt, only shaken and embarrassed and relieved that we had got out safely.

Many stories and tales have developed over who shot the CO down. The stories get better every Anzac day. Some have said he was shot down by his own men, but research has quashed this line of thinking. I now believe that the story just told is the most accurate to date and research bares this out.
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Operation Overlord
5th June to 14th June 1971
Operation Overlord was a combined Allied forces operation conducted in the Long Khanh province, South Vietnam. The operation called for a blocking force to be inserted with 4RAR/NZ (ANZAC) deployed along the line of the Suoi Ran river. A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, was to their west and 2/8th Battalion, 3rd US Cavalry Regiment, to the north-east. Meanwhile, 3RAR - under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Peter Scott - and the Centurion tanks from C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment were tasked with driving the VC into these positions. A number of fire support bases were established with 104 Field Battery, Royal Australian Artillery providing support in conjunction with American gunners, while 3RAR would search its allotted AO with three rifle companies A, B, and C with D Company held in reserve.

On the 6th of June 1971 5 Platoon B Company 3RAR located what was thought to be the main VC bunker system, but with nightfall approaching it was decided not to proceed with an attack.

The next morning artillery commenced bombarding the suspected bunker system and after half an hour of preparation 5 Platoon moved forward but after only moving 90 meters or so they came under heavy enemy fire from the front and flanks, 5 Platoon suffered several casualties in this initial burst of fire.

It soon became apparent the platoon was pinned down on the edge of a strongly defended bunker system. The platoon commander called for fire support from helicopter gun ship’s as well as indirect mortar fire. Moving to support the platoon Peter Scott ordered D Company to assault against the flank and rear of the bunker system moving with APCs and Tanks in support. Two troops of Centurions spearheaded the assault.

Meanwhile 5 Platoon was in dire straits and was beginning to run low of ammunition, with a number of its machine guns beginning to fail. Attempting to gain a better position to bring in direct artillery fire the company forward observer was killed. By 11am a second attempt to re supply B Company resulted in an Australian helicopter being shot down by heavy ground fire and exploding on impact. Two crew members were killed and another two were injured on the ground. With ammunition exploding around the burning helicopter a number of 5 Platoon soldiers rushed to their aid to rescue the survivors and bring them to safety.
By mid afternoon D Company had moved into position and commenced an assault and pushing through the bunker system with the tanks in close support. Many of the bunkers were crushed by the Centurions.

The progress was slow due to the thick vegetation and the size of the bunker system. The VC had by now vacated the system not wishing to continue the fight. By night fall D Company and the tanks had linked up with B Company and established a night defensive position.

During the assault C Company located a second bunker system which was captured by the Australians after being hastily abandoned by the enemy. Later Australian pioneer and engineer demolition teams proceeded to destroy the bunker systems.

Operation Overlord ended on 14th of June and 1ATF returned to Nui Dat. Despite the heavy contact experienced early on, it yielded little for the Australians, but neither D445 or 33NVA Regiment units were not encountered in Phuoc Tuy province again. The cost for Operation Overlord in casualties was considered high with 10 killed in action and 24 wounded. Those soldiers who were involved in Operation Overlord were a credit to their training and the ideals of the Australian Army.
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Awards from Operation Overlord
Army Number: 335151
Substantive Rank: Captain 
Temporary Rank: Major 
Christian Name: Ivan James 
Surname: CAHILL 
Honour or Award: MID

Major Ivan James Cahill graduated from The Royal Military College on 11 December 1963, and was allotted to The Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He joined the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, on 5 May 1970, and arrived in South Vietnam with the Battalion on 12 February 1971.

Major Cahill commanded B Company throughout its tour of duty in Vietnam which involved operations against two major enemy forces entrenched in bunker systems. On 7 June 1971, his company was engaged in a day long battle with the enemy in Long Khanh Province during Operation Overlord. On the second occasion, on 10 August 1971, his company encountered an enemy Company in the Xuyen Moc District and battled with the enemy for a period of two hours.

During these major engagements, Major Cahill displayed exceptional leadership and command ability in the tactical handling of his company. His coolness under fire, skilled employment of his platoon, and aggressive use of artillery and helicopter gunships were a major factor in the company maintaining its security and dislodging the enemy. His leadership and professional employment of his company over a sustained period reflect great credit upon himself, his Regiment and the Australian Army.
Army Number: 235390 
Substantive Rank: Lieutenant Christian 
Name: Graham John 
Surname: KELLS
Honour or Award: MC

Lieutenant Graham John Kelly graduated from the Royal Military College on 10 December 1969, and was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He joined the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, on 16 March 1970, and arrived in South Vietnam with the Battalion on 12 February 1971.

On 7 June 1971, during Operation Overlord, Lieutenant Kelly was commanding 5th Platoon, B Company of the Battalion, when it came under heavy and accurate fire from a numerically superior enemy force situated in a large, well concealed bunker system. Throughout the ensuing eight hour battle, Lieutenant Kelly, without regard for his own safety, and whilst under heavy enemy fire, continually moved about his platoon, directing their fire, relocating machine guns to meet new threats, directing the employment of artillery fire and helicopter gunships and successfully directing the evacuation of six casualties.

His skilful management of his platoon and sound tactical decisions, together with his aggressive employment of artillery and air support during the long engagement, greatly reduced the effectiveness of the enemy's fire and prevented an enemy counter attack against the platoon perimeter. Lieutenant Kelly continued to display outstanding leadership during his tour and his coolness under fire, and complete disregard for his own personal safety, were an inspiration to all those under his command. His conduct reflects great credit upon himself, his Regiment and the Australian Army. 
Army Number; 61712
Substantive Rank; Private
Christian Name: Peter John
Surname: FYFE
Honour or Award: DCM

Private Peter John Fyfe enlisted in the Australian Army on 26 January 1966, and was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He joined the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, on 20 January 1970, and arrived in South Vietnam with the Battalion on 12 February 1971. On 7 June 1971, during Operation Overlord, Private Fyfe was an acting Section Commander in 5th Platoon, B Company of the Battalion, when the platoon came under heavy and accurate fire from an enemy bunker system. Two members of the left forward section of the platoon were seriously wounded in this engagement and Private Fyfe was ordered to bring his section forward to bring fire onto the enemy to allow evacuation of the wounded.

Without hesitation and with complete disregard for his own personal safety, Private Fyfe led his section forward, positioned them and then moved himself to within ten metres of a bunker from which heavy machine gun and small arms fire was being received. Private Fyfe threw a number of grenades at the bunker and directed his section's fire to neutralise the bunker and thus allow evacuation of the wounded. Private Fyfe was wounded in the foot early in the action which lasted for more than four hours, but he refused medical treatment and continued to direct his section's fire against the enemy. During this period, Private Fyfe constantly exposed himself to enemy fire in his efforts to command his section and effect redistribution of their ammunition.

Private Fyfe's outstanding leadership, his complete disregard for his own personal safety and his insistence on remaining on duty during the battle although wounded, ensured such a measure of aggressiveness within his section as to be instrumental in allowing the platoon to successfully evacuate all the wounded and maintain the platoon perimeter during the long engagement against a numerically superior enemy force. His leadership and bravery, reflect great credit upon himself, his Regiment and the Australian Army.
Army Number: 39567 
Substantive Rank: Private
Temporary Rank: Corporal 
Christian Name: Raymond 
Surname: WALSH 
Honour or Award: MM

Corporal Raymond Walsh enlisted in the Australian Army on 10 August 1967, and was allotted to the Royal Australian Army Medical Corps. He joined the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, on 10 April 1969, as a Medical Assistant. He was attached to B Company, and arrived in South Vietnam with the Battalion on 25 February 1971.

On 7 June 1971, during Operation Overload, B Company was involved in a day long engagement with a large enemy force entrenched in a well fortified bunker system. At about 1100 hours on that day, when a helicopter carrying ammunition crashed in the rear of the company area, Corporal Walsh dashed immediately to it and assisted the co-pilot and side-gunner away from the wreckage. Despite exploding ammunition in the helicopter which had caught fire, he then dragged out the body of the pilot who had been killed in the crash.

As he gave treatment to the wounded, Corporal Walsh was told that there was another soldier still in the helicopter. He immediately returned to search the still burning and exploding helicopter and he remained in the vicinity until the injured member was found on the far side of the helicopter. Then with assistance he helped to carry the injured member to safety and began treating him for his injuries. Corporal Walsh, by his immediate actions, saved the lives of three people. His coolness, bravery and complete disregard for his own personal safety in an extremely dangerous situation are qualities which he continued to display during his tour and reflect great credit upon himself, his Corps and the Australian Army.
Army Number: 311639 
Substantive Rank: Corporal 
Christian Name: Trevor William 
Surname: BYNG
Honour or Award: MID

Corporal Trevor William Byng enlisted in the Australian Army on 26 October 1970 and was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He arrived in South Vietnam on 31 March 1971, and joined the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment on 12 May 1971. On 7 June 1971, during Operation Overlord, Corporal Byng was a Section Commander with B Company of the Battalion when the company was involved in an eight hour engagement with an entrenched enemy force in a bunker system.

At about 1100 hours on that day, when an ammunition supply helicopter crashed in the rear of the company area, Corporal Byng immediately went to the helicopter and assisted another member of the company to get the injured crew clear of the wreckage. He then returned to the helicopter to unload the urgently needed ammunition for his company. By now the helicopter had caught fire and the ammunition aboard was exploding, but despite this dangerous situation, he calmly and without hesitation entered the helicopter and began unloading the ammunition. As he was clearing the ammunition from the area, Corporal Byng was informed that there was still another soldier in the burning helicopter. He then returned to search the helicopter. Ammunition inside the helicopter was still exploding and it was expected that the helicopter would also explode at any moment, but Corporal Byng remained in the vicinity until he found the injured member on the far side of the helicopter. Then, with assistance, he carried the injured member to safety. By his courageous actions, Corporal Byng helped to save the lives of the helicopter crew and a passenger and ensured that his company received urgently needed ammunition. His bravery and complete disregard for his own personal safety in an extremely dangerous situation are qualities which he continued to display throughout his tour and reflect great credit upon himself, his regiment and the Australian Army.
Army Number: 4721506 
Substantive Rank: Private 
Christian Name: Robert Ward 
Surname: PAYNE 
Honour or Award: MM

Private Robert Ward Payne enlisted in the Australian Army on 28 January 1970, and was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. He joined the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, on 22 February 1971, and arrived in South Vietnam with the Battalion on 25 February 1971. On 7 June 1971, during Operation Overlord, Private Payne was a member of 5th Platoon, B Company of the Battalion, when the platoon came under heavy and accurate fire from an enemy bunker system. Two members in Private Payne's section were seriously wounded in the initial engagement.

Private Payne, without hesitation, and with complete disregard for his own safety, moved forward under heavy enemy fire to assist one of the casualties who had been shot in the throat and become entangled in vines. Realising that the critically wounded soldier was bleeding profusely, Private Payne rendered immediate first aid.

However, further heavy enemy fire directed at Private Payne at this time, resulted in him being ordered back to the section area. Private Payne withdrew, but knowing that the wounded solder was still entangled in vines and would bleed to death if not extracted quickly, rushed forward again under heavy fire and with the aid of another soldier dragged the wounded soldier back to the platoon perimeter. Private Payne's great courage and complete disregard for his own safety, undoubtedly saved the life of the wounded man, and were an inspiration to all ranks. He continued to display exemplary conduct during his tour and this reflects great credit upon himself, his Regiment and the Australian Army.
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The Battle of Long Khanh
"The Riflemen" by Mike English
On 7 June I gave a talk to the veterans of the 1971 Vietnam tour on the events leading up to what has now been called the battle of Long Khanh. This came about as a result of my writing a book entitled 'The battle of Long Khanh which has been published by the Army Doctrine branch Sydney. Those who were involved in operation Overlord which later became to known as the battle of Long Khanh the events surrounding the battle have created a long lasting impression. There was acts of extreme heroism and courage from all ranks on that day (7 June 1971).

The battle at the platoon level proved that well trained and disciplined troops could and did overcome huge odds. This was the biggest operation 3RAR second tour had been involved in to date. In the battle B Company was pitched against tough and experienced North Vietnamese troops with long years of combat experience behind them. To 5 Platoon's credit it was able to hold its ground until until later supported by the other platoons of B company.

When the main body of 3RAR arrived in South Vietnam on 25 February 1971 to relieve 7RAR, the military situation had changed in Phuoc Tuy province. 2RAR was in its last few months of active service in South Vietnam. Australian operations within the province were now entering their final phase.

The enemy, main and local force units were still prominent but had been reduced in strength and were forced to seek sanctuary outside the borders of the province, from where the would make periodic incursions into Phuoc Tuy province. The Viet Cong village and guerilla units, whilst also reduced in strength and incapable of a major military effort, continued their political propaganda and minor terrorist activities in the populated areas, but outside these areas avoided contact and concentrated on keeping alive. Captured documents told of shortages of men,key cadre, food, medical supplies, ammunition and weapons.

The roads between all the populated areas, some of which only a few years prior required a major military operation to open, were open to daily commercial traffic and un-escorted free running military vehicles. The Vietnamese regional and popular forces were to gradually assume more and more responsibility for the control and military operations within the province borders. The Pacification and Vietnamese program was to provide for the South Vietnamese the means of a capable self-defence. The reality was that not all the South Vietnamese troops were well trained and disciplined. This still meant that the Australian Task Force had to shoulder much of the operational load.

To aid this program the Australians in Phuoc Tuy province operated deeper into the jungle between the South Vietnamese controlled populated areas of the province and the VC/NVA army main and local force units across the province borders and so provide a buffer between the enemy and the local South Vietnamese troops. The infantry units operating deep into the province were under no illusions that their task would be ant easier with the South Vietnamese taking over more of the military effort.

To compound the Australians problems the 1ATF in 1970 was reduced from three battalions to two. This reduction was to have adverse effects on the units and in particular the individual soldier. Long periods spent on operations with reduced platoon and section strengths-high combat stress levels would slowly erode the efficiency of the fighting soldier.

This reduction meant that the individual soldier had less leave,less rest from operations and less time to withdraw from the continuing grind of operations. The infantry soldiers who served in South Vietnam in 1971 were arguably the best trained troops to leave the Australian shores.
The battalion began its first operation, a training operation entitled Phoi Hop which meant in Vietnamese (To Coordinate) on 27-28 February and the first contact with the VC was 12 Platoon D Company which resulted in one VC killed. This training area was in fact a major base area for D445 Battalion. Several days later, 2 March D and C Companies in a harbour position engaged suspected enemy movement to their front and as a result of the fire-fight 3RAR D Coy sustained its casualties; Lt Wheeler, Pte Manning and those wounded Pte's Strickland and Hammond.

This event had a profound effect on the battalion, as they now adopted a more real war/combat mind set. The transition from peace time sol dei ring to war time is difficult at the best of times- not all soldiers are able to cope with the harsh realities of war. In later operations and leading up to Overlord the battalion assumed a more professional approach to life in the bush. When searching and patrolling for long periods for the local VC, who usually on the first shots being fired would disappear into well rehearsed escape routes. Operation Overlord was to change that.

Special permission was obtained from the then Prime Minister Mr John Gordon to allow Australian troops to operate outside the province. Operation Overlord was conducted on the Long Khanh and Phuoc Tuy province border. It was initiated as a result of the buffer zone between the two provinces being relative free from 1ATF or American interference. The VC/NVA troops used this opportunity to train, equip and move into Phuoc Tuy province to attack, harass the local villages almost at will. 1ATF and the Americans decided to conduct an operation (Overlord) with the view to destroy the enemy in that region. The plan was for the 2/8 battalion US to block the north-east and east along the Suoi Luc river, 4RAR was to block in the south and A Sqn 3Cav Regiment to block along the Suoi ran river. 3RAR was to provide the searching troops and hopefully destroy any enemy found in its area of search.

3RARs plan was to search its AO with three rifle companies (A,B, and C)with D coy being held in reserve. During the operations orders group briefing many of the company commanders were aghast at the names given to the AO's, they were the same as those used on the original Overlord operation twenty seven years prior. The NVA/VC were keen students of history and would have understood the significance of those names.

Using the original code names would have alerted the VC/NVA to the coming operation and possibly its start date.

One of the problems 1ATF faced was the use of route 2. moving the troops and equipment up this roadway would have alerted the locals that something big was in the wind. With this in mind I believe that the VC/NVA would have ben alerted to the intentions of 1ATF? Not with standing these problems 1ATF did move large groups of troops and equipment along Route2 without any hindrance. This part of the operation was well run and organised.

The intelligence prior to the operation indicated that regular NVA troops along with local VC were in the area. Whether this had any impact on the searching troops I personally doubt it. To the already tired troops this was just another operation.

The enemy that 5 platoon did meet that morning (7June 1971) were battle hardened and had encountered the Americans in savage contacts in 1965. They (3/33NVA Regiment) suffered high losses in contacts with the Americans early in 1965 and then retreated to Cambodia where they underwent reorganisation, training, refitting and received replacements in preparation for TET 1968. The Regiment lost approx 700 killed from its total strength of 2000. In August 1968 in major contacts with the Americans they lost a further 400 killed.

Even though they lost one third of their personnel in these contacts they were able to regroup and retrain and still pose a serious threat to the Americans and 1ATF in the years 1965-71. By 1971 they were suspected to have linked up with D445 battalion for sapper training in preparation for attacks on military installations in Phuoc Tuy province.

D445 Battalion had played a major role in the battle of Long Tan where it lost an estimated 70 killed and 100 wounded. During the subsequent years and up to 1971 D445 Battalion continued to harass,ambush and inflict casualties on American and Australian troops. Task Force operations were able to deny D445 Battalion a permanent location by its constant patrolling and had worn down D445 Battalion so that by the time 3RAR arrived in 1971 the major battles encountered in the early years of the Australian involvement were seen a thing of the past.

As the troops landed into their designated LZs, B Coy was no doubt seen by the VC as they began their search. Captured documents later indicated that their LZ was no further than 500 metres away.

It has been suggested that the VC who stayed behind and fought the battle were just a rear party designed to hold up the searching troops as the rest of the regiment escaped. Even though, the heavy weapons coy of 3/33NVA with its forty or more troops were still able to stall 5 platoon B Coy for almost eight hours as they escaped into pre designated escape routes. 
Those Australians who fought at the battle survived because of their:
  • *Courage
  • *Discipline
  • *Training
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Commander 1971 Diaries

Australian War Memorial
South East Asian Conflicts Diaries - AWM95, Sub-class 7/3

3rd Battalion Royal Australian Regiment 1971
Summary of events. Duty Officers Log
AWM95 7-3-68 1-21-28 February 1971, Narative, Duty Officer's Log 1 27Mb
AWM95 7-3-68 1-21-28 February 1971, Narative, Duty Officer's Log 2 47Mb
1-31 March 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
18.25 Mb
1-30 April 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
30.69 Mb
1-31 May 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
20.69 Mb
1-30 June 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
29.02 Mb
1-31 July 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
30.09 Mb
1-31 August 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
30.13 Mb
1-30 September 1971, Summary of events, Duty Officer's log
24.70 Mb
1-31 October 1971, Narrative, Duty Officer's log, Annexes
37.05 Mb
All records located at Australian War Memorial
Ref: South East Asian Conflicts Dairies
Phrases, Quotes and Slogans
Phrases, Quotes & Slogans of the Vietnam Era here
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Australian & Vietnamese language of the Vietnam era here
Australian Infantry Weapons of the Vietnam War
Australian Infantry Weapons of the Vietnam War here
3 RAR Vietnam Related Publications
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