A Diggers viewpoint of being at the sharp end. Gained while serving with 3 Platoon - 'A' Company -7 Battlion (Infantry) Royal Australian Regiment, as a Rifleman in Australia's longest ever war - fought in South Vietnam.  

Chapter 5 - Page 22 - Updated January 2008 - Next Page:- My Army Service 23/35

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  • new21.gifMaterial 
  • Leaving Brigid - for the last time
  • Emu Bob At The Horse Shoe
  • Nui Dat
  • HMAS Sydney
  • Australia: More to be Added

This is the Kill Board of 3 Platoon

THE BULLET will take you to an incident that is referred to in this story. Images related to the following story lines will load at the bottom of the page while you read!


The last operation undertaken incountry by 7RAR was Operation PHOI HOP, which is Vietnamese for 'cooperation'. Its objectives were to 'search and ambush'. It was staged in the Eastern half of Phouc Tuy Province and ran from February 1st to the 21st. The aim of the operation was to destroy the enemy within the the area of operations.

During this time 'A' Company was again at NDP Brigid and it must have been a very quiet time as I remember very little of the time from returning to Brigid and moving back to Niu Dat for the last time.

 LEAVING BRIGID - for the last time!

Finally the day came when we were leaving NDP Brigid for the last time. We threw our packs up and climbed aboard the trucks pulled up out side the main gate, there were no celebrations, no talking, none of the usual jokes, in fact no smiles even. It was now towards the end of February and very close to getting on HMAS Sydney to go home. The 364 days and a wakey, such a far away target in February 1970, were getting very, very close for us.

Sitting down I placed the SLR over my knees, still holding the pistol grip so I could flick off the safety catch and pull the trigger if I had too during the journey. I was facing the Diggers along the other side, looking over their heads at the Long Hai Mountains thinking if we were lucky we will not be going near them again. It struck me that we should have the seats turned around so that we could face out, not in? Someone was being bloody lazy, not having the truck set up for 'combat seating', that is us facing outwards.

Normally someone would have made the comment "slack pogos" but if anyone was thinking that they kept it to themselves, with none of the normal banter from anyone? As the truck pulled out of Brigid on to the road and through the little village that sat next to Brigid, the Digger opposite me was laughing while he broke off some yank blue cooking hexie and wrapped it in a sweet rapper. He was not a Grunt, as he was too fat and cheerful. Perhaps someone who had come down for the ride so he could say he had been up to the 'Sharp End'?

The kids as usual came running out on to the road waving calling out "Uc Dai Loi number one" in their sing song accents. Still laughing the Digger threw the "sweet" on to the road as we moved away through the dust you could see the kids swarm around it.

What a bastard I thought, why do that to the kids? To my continuing shame I said nothing, expecting others perhaps to have a go at this pogo? No one did. I looked away towards the Long Hais. The Mountains that had dominated my life and scenic view for the last 12 months. They looked the same as they always did. Scarred and menacing from all the fire power directed at its features. They looked the same as they did the first time we came down this road to Brigid. Many times I had come this way to start operations from NDP Brigid.

When I was coming the other way, returning to Brigid again, I always felt like a 'kick in the guts' when I finally caught sight of them, the last hundred meters before pulling in to Brigid. I tried not to look at them till we were close to Brigid. So THEY would not know we were there, until we were safely behind our wire, on the ground and not a sitting duck on the back of a truck?

Now we were finally going the other way. Never to return? what did I feel? Nothing. No joy, no sadness, no reaction of any sort, it was just another day. Another day to get through and stay safe. We were on our way to some other place in Vietnam. Most of us were very close to the elusive "wakey", of the "no one has 365 days and a wakey" thrown at us when we first arrived. Yet here we were counting down and at last in the two digit numbers to the wakey. Yet there was no reaction from anyone, even though we were going north and would not come this way again unless something very unexpected took place?

I now know we were all totally exhausted. Mentally and physically. To feel such niceties as feeling for others at that stage was just too much of an effort and we were unable to cope with it. Because of this incident I felt guilty for many years and could not deal with it. The illusion of Australia was being dangled in our near future. Yet I could not think of that or relate to it, as the truck made its way between the rice fields, it seemed that I had always lived my life here. Australia seemed so far away.

A promise of things to come, if only I could get on that big ship? Perhaps it was a part of my life that I could never reach it again? It seems strange to say it now, but at that stage I was even thinking about staying on in Vietnam, moving to another unit to stay longer in Viet Nam? It just seemed easier to carry on doing what I had been doing, than deal with the return to "a normal life"?

I could do it, others in the Battalion had opted to stay longer. I had extended my own national service for a further 6 months so I could come home with the Battalion, so I had the time. Without making a decision either way I decided to think on it some more as the trucks turned in to the Horse Shoe. We had moved north, but not by much. A Company were to hold the 'Shoe' until the next Battalion, which was 3RAR, had moved in to the position. I was there that day.

One of my all time favorite shots that I took while at Brigid. It show the beam were CHQ was next to the APC with some good firepower. Also the boss (Platoon Commander) and the platoon sig on the right.

A short from Brigid looking North towards the Horse Shoe.

The image above is the LAST look at the Long Hais. From the area around Brigid!



 emu bob at the horse shoe

With the bagpipes playing, the Maroon 7RAR Duster came down from the flag pole and the Green Flag of 3RAR was raised. Many years later I would be the guest of some 3RAR Diggers and I was to remember this day. It marked the official end of 7RAR's duties at the Horse Shoe for its second Tour of Viet Nam. One last thing was carried out. An Emu Bob. That's were a line of soldiers move across the ground and pick up any rubbish, looking like a Emu looking for food, hence its name.

Now I don't know about any other Units, but I swear that 7RAR most have 'emued-bobbed' its way across Vietnam as we pulled out. Any old VC watching must have pissed himself laughing seeing the bloody silly 'Uc Dai Loi' picking up all his rubbish before he left the area?


After 3RAR took over we moved to Nui Dat by road. We rode past many features that had become part of our life over the last 12 months and even the smell was hardly noticeable at that stage. Pulling into the Dat we drove past soldiers with clean uniforms and polished boots, while we were covered with dust off the road, again we stared at each other with nothing said by either party?

Many is the time that shit is put upon Infantry Soldiers by other Corps. Your just a dumb Grunt etc! However it was never done in Vietnam? Maybe being armed to the teeth had something to do with it?

Except for an incident that showed the VC still had some teeth in the area there is little I remember about the last weeks incountry. The Battalion held a Farewell Parade at Nui Dat on the 24th of February and a Vietnamese General was to have attended but his chopper had been shot down the day before and the General was killed. During its second Tour 7 Battalion had 64 mine incidents. At least 89 soldiers were wounded-in-action with 44 of them evacuated to Australia for further medical treatment. The Battalion lost 17 soldiers killed in action and they are listed on the Memorial Page. Click on the 'RAR Cross' image below.

We made the most of being back in Nui Dat for a few days. There was not long to go as we were due to be flown from the Dat directly on to the Aircraft Carrier HMAS Sydney for the trip home. It had been decided by the CO Lt Col Ron Gray that it would have been better to have us working in the Jungle and move out within a few days to prevent any problems back at Nui Dat.

It turned out to be a good idea. As I did not drink it was no problem to me anyway. They only drinks of beer I had during the Tour was when A Company was privileged by a visit of a member of the AATTV Ray Simpson who had been awarded the Victoria Cross.

Ray liked the company of the Diggers so much that he turned up a second night and I took the opportunity to have a chat to him about his experiences in Vietnam, which were far different than the once we had working with fellow Australians. As WO Simpson VC had been working with local forces against the NVA regulars in the north of the free area of South Vietnam.


Then it arrived! 'THE WAKEY'. Something we had been expecting and looking forward to for 365 days, since first setting foot on land at Vung Tau. The return to Australian even had an operational name. It was called Exercise Round Barrel. All the packing had been carried out and we put our trunks in to A Company HQ area and returned to our tents to pick up our personal webbing and weapons for the last time. I had a look at our Kill Board, (image above), for the last time, which in part was a record of our time in South Vietnam and the efforts of 3 Platoon.

Then it was not long before we shouldered our webbing and packs for the last time as we moved on to Porky Seven to be picked up by a Chinook. On 25 February 1971, within a few minutes, as it seemed, we had left Vietnam and were landing on the deck of the Carrier many miles out to sea off Vung Tou harbour. Handing in our weapons and ammo we followed intructions to find our bed spaces for the trip home. Even that fact we were sleeping in hammocks, I cannot remember finding it hard having a sleep during the voyage home?

Not used to having so much free time and fresh food; our exhaustion kept us relatively calm. I saw a image once of a group of 3 Platoon Diggers on the Sydney and we all looked like refugees, we were so thin and scrawny looking.

It was very warm at first as we headed to the West coast of Australia and we had a stop at Perth.  


The Aircraft carrier made its was down the west cost of Australia as we carried on getting used to Aussie food cooked on a stove, goffers, (soft drinks) and ice cream which I had not had for 12 months. As I had not drank beer during my Tour I saw no The ship stopped at Freemantle and the major unit stationed there, the Special Air Service Regiment, had very kindly thrown us a barbecue. A bus tour was also organised giving me my one and only look at Perth in Western Australia. Of course those soldiers who lived in the west were able to leave the ship and go home on leave.

The rest of us re-boarded the ship and headed towards Adelaide, were perhaps the last bit of pay back from our service was visited upon a number of soldiers with an attack of dysentery. Overwhelming the ships medical staff and the ship had to put in to Adelaide's waters and some extra medication was shipped in to treat those effected.

By now the warmer weather had gone and it was rather cool as we rounded the tip of south east Australia to move up the east coast towards Sydney. The beauty of the Australian coast line was something to behold but I was thinking of Helen waiting for me. On reflection I think it was a good idea to be able to take the time to adjust from living on the edge to the steady routine of ship life, although we were only passive observes.

A day or so out of Sydney we started a flurry of preparation to clean up our kit so that we would look like a bunch on switched on digs for the public, as we were to march through Sydney. First thou when we left the ship we were able to meet and great our family in my case Helen and my brother. Then it was back to the Unit to pick up our SLRs and bayonets. As we were going to march with fixed bayonets. Something very unusual in marching through Sydney and not done very often.

My thoughts were still on those who let us down by marching against the war and refusing to send us our mail or load the ships with our stores. So I was very determined that if any demonstrators turned up to heckle the Diggers and they were in arms reach, I was going to use the rifle butt on them. Strangely I did not see or hear one single demostrator or see any signs. I am not sure if I was disapointed or relieved?

These days when the media look back at the 1960s/70s or the Viet Nam War they trot out the odd red who still see some pride in their marching against their fellow Countrymen (and women). While they lived in Australia in safety they spit on the service men and women and reviled them, doing a job they were gutless to do!

Yet over 30 years later the SCUM still have no regreats and see the demos as great fun and part of their growing up? Why do the media pamper to these fools and traitors? I would not even spit on any of them!

They are all no better than that cow Jane Fonda and I hope that they ALL ROT IN HELL!


This is a good shot of one of the local Popular Forces (PF) bases just out side the Horse Shoe at Dat Do.

This image is me at the very start of my adventure, still full of confidence and sure of my abilities, in short a smart arse?




[end of tour 22] [service 23] [my case 24] [PTSD 25] [Chapter six RAR 26] [Sky Images]

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