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

Chapter 2 - Page 11 - Updated JANUARY 2008 - Next Page:- Platoon Set Up 12/35

[site map] [Chapter One]  [Chapter Two] [oink a digger 10] [7 battalion 11] [platoon set up 12[Chapter Three]





 Site Index




site map1

site intro 2

orderly room 3

announcements 4

books 5

student page 6


memorial 8



intro to oink 9

 oink a digger 10

  7 battalion PIGS 11

 platoon set up 12



 arrival in viet 13

contact wait out 14

 enemy 15

 odd angry shot 16

 advance contact 17



 bunker battle 18

night move 19

 mine incident 20

 ambush 21



 end of tour 22

 service 23

my case 24

 PTSD 25



arrival two 32


  • How 7 Battalion Became The PIGS!
  • Arrival At 7 Battalion.
  • Support Weapons Course.
  • Exercises - Training For War
  • The PIG will be used on this site
  • It is pictured in Maroon Colour the 'offical' colour of 7RAR.  
  • ANZAC Digger for this page
  • The Pig is the 'Official' image of the 7RAR PIG of the Battlion during the Vietnam War and for the Association since.

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 stories!


  "The nick name of the Battalion; "The Pigs" is one that Diggers loved or hated. These days after some 35 years being called a PIG by other members of the Regiment, most have got used to it. Including me as I use it as a net call sign and have done for years.

Here is the story of how it started taken directly from the pages of 7RAR Association's book CONSCRIPTS & REGULARS, with kind permission of its writer; Major General Mike O'Brien CSC. He served with the Battalion in 1970-71, as a Platoon Commander and Intelligence Officer. Still a Serving Officer. Major General O'Brien was awarded the Conspicuous Service Cross in 1992.

"Corporal Roy 'Doc' Savage gave this explanation of the pig origin: "The single men of 3RAR were sent to Puckapunyal (Victoria) to form a new Battalion, 7RAR. I arrived there on 11th November 1965. At first there were only regular soldiers. We used to keep the boozer open all weekend having the cooks bring our meals there.

Anyway, on my second week there the new CO (Colonel Eric Smith) decided to inspect his battalion area on a Sunday. He immediately closed the boozer. The next day he called a muster parade of the whole Battalion and commenced to tell us what he thought of us. Half way through his speech he said and i quote:-

"You are nothing but a mob of Pigs".

Then from the back rank someone called out "oink, oink". From that time onwards we became Porkies People and the 'Pig Battalion". Over the next few weeks drawings of a Pig appeared all over the Battalion lines.

In time it became the "Official" Pig drawing used to this day, shown above. It gradually It was recently placed on the Banner of the 5/7 RAR Association, the Battalion formed out of the 'Linking' of 7RAR and 5RAR in 1973. In Vietnam the official LZ at Nui Dat was called Porky Seven.


Posted out of Kapooka to an Infantry Battalion, we boarded a bus that took us along the now 'old' Hume Highway to Liverpool and to the base at Holsworthy. The base had 3 Infantry Battalions all part of the Royal Australian Regiment. The other units consisted of Artillery and Amour, being 3 Cavalry Regiment.

We were taken direct to 7RAR's Lines at Holsworthy, right next door to 5 RAR the Tigers who at this stage were still in Vietnam on their second Tour. Seven Battalion were to replace them in February 1970. While it was normal for Infantry Soldiers to undergo Infantry Corps Training at a dedicated Unit, like the School of Infantry at Singleton, in northern NSW. This would have been a further 3 months of Corps training. Being posted direct to the Battalion meant that we would undergo our Corps Training; working with the Battalion and I have always felt that was a big advantage.

On arrival at Holsworthy during the afternoon, we were given blankets and sheets and taken to the rooms allotted to A Company. As the Digger leading us around the "A" Company lines he said:- "here you are lads, these are the Diggers you are going to be fighting with and dieing with in Vietnam."

I was a bit taken aback, I remember thinking I don't intend dieing if I have anything to do with it? As the rest of the unit was 'busy' we were given the rest of the day off. Not wasting any time i headed for the main gate and ran down to the Heathcoate road, which I am sure many Diggers would remember? Left turn was to Liverpool and right was to Heathcoate and to the coast road to Wollongong. it was quiet simple in those days to hitch hike in uniform. Then being winter it was the "Battle Dress with the famous Aussie Slouch Hat" adorned with the Regiments "SKIPPY Badge. That is the badge at the top of the page.

Getting to Wollongong that afternoon I was dropped at the suburb were Helen lived and i met the bus bringing her from work. Then we went to dinner with her mother. I spent the night, till it was time to get on the road and hitch hike back to Holsworthy, before 0600hrs in the morning to be there in time for the first Parade. Straight away the professional approach of 7RAR was very clear. They had a job to do, prepare for their next tour of Vietnam. They expected the new arrivals, to 'switch on' and 'get with the program'. Commanding Officer (CO) of the Battalion was Lt Colonel Ron Grey and the Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM) was Warrant Officer Class One (WO1) Reg Bandy.


Both soldiers had served together in Korea and at the very start set a standard in the unit that was responsible for a high quality Australian Infantry Battalion. All who served in 7RAR should be very proud. One of my surprises was to find out that Seven were known as Porkies People and had a PIG as a mascot. This meant that the "PIG" concept being used in many ways. Our Landing Zone (LZ) at Nui Dat was called 'Porky Seven'. At the Holsworthy base the Battalion had a wild pig on the loose around the Barracks. Every now and then it used to be 'kidnapped now and then by our sister Battalion, 5RAR.

Their barracks were right next door and 5RAR were known as the TIGER Battalion. Of course their mascot was a real Tiger, kept in a Zoo. Having kidnapped the Pig they would paint it in Tiger stripes. It was just a bit of friendly rivalry that was sorted out on the football field during games between 7 and 5 Battalion. Which considering that we were supposed to be fellow Diggers, was quite brutal at times and resulted in many injuries. I think from memory these games were suspended some month prior to use leaving for Vietnam to prevent further injury.

Each Battalion in the Regiment has a set of COLOURS. These are FLAGS. They have been used right through history on the Battlefield. From the days of old when Kings and Generals would lead their forces by being present on the Battlefield. The 'Colours' would mark the position of that King or General. Of course when the Colours fell by being captured, or were forced from the Battlefield it would be disastrous for that army.

When a Army or Regiment fought bravely on the Battlefield and routed the enemy or carried out a special feat of arms, they would be granted a "Battle Honour". This would involve the name of the place or the 'Battle' if it had a separate name, emblazoned on the units Colours. Over the years Colours in the Australian Defence Forces have traditionally been restricted to the Queen's Colour and the Regimental Colour. {See Below in Image section}.

The Regimental Colours of the Battalions that fought in Vietnam were designed with the 'Skippy Badge', a Wreath of Wattle, the Battalions Number in Roman Numerals, such as V11 for 7RAR. The Battle Honours for the RAR are listed below. Colours are extremely important to Units and the members of those units. When on Parade the Colours are carried by Junior Officers protected by "Colour Sergeants'. The officers carry swords and the Sergeants are armed with weapons that have Fixed Bayonets.  When completed there will be a history of how Colours came to be the tradition they are today, listed on the RAR page.


As is the Battalion which carries the traditions of both 5RAR and 7RAR into the 21st century, that being the 5th 7th Battalion, Mechanised Infantry. Which after using the Colours of both 5RAR and 7RAR for 30 years; the Battalion was Awarded their own Colours at a Parade on the Battalions Birthday on the 3rd December 2003. {Go to 5/7 RAR Association web site, web address on the Home Page}

I was introduced to my new Platoon, 3 Platoon of 'A' Company and was placed in Seven Section. The Company Commander (OC) was Major Thomson a pom and every inch a soldier. Company Sergeant Major (CSM) was Warrant Officer Class Two Jimmy Husband, already a first Tour Veteran with the AATTV. Now I have to say that I did not hit it off with the CSM at first and after a run in which I was a bit pissed off about, at the time. However I became a fan of his in Vietnam and have had the utmost respect for him as a soldier and as a man ever since.

The Platoon leadership of Three Platoon was a very high quality. We were lucky to have 3 Soldiers who had Vietnam experience having served with 7RAR on its first tour in 1967-68. They were Platoon Sergeant Henry King and Corporals Pepi Tura and Abe Paulett. They were working with the Platoon Commander, a National Serviceman, Lt McNee or "Macca", in a way that would ensure we would come home alive. The discipline in Three Platoon was less obvious than Kapooka, but it instilled in you a sense of responsibility.

When based at 7RAR's Unit at Holsworthy there was a lot of focus on shooting and hours were spent on the range. Also to toughen us up for working in the heat and humidity in Vietnam the platoon was trucked out to the range a few kilometers away. Then after the Range Shoot of a few hours, marched and jogged back in the midday heat. This was while wearing our basic webbing, full water bottles carrying our personal weapons.

All in all, a very valuable preparation to our toughness in working in the heat and humidity of Vietnam. Not so much time was spent on drilling, apart from the morning parade and when the Battalion was getting ready for the formal march out of Holsworthy prior to leaving for Vietnam. The main focus was on how to work as a Platoon. To be able to move in the bush and Harbour up for meals and or night security.

During this early stage the platoon was using the 'circle' type of harbour, each section 7, 8 & 9 of the Platoon taking up a part of the 'circle'. Section seven from 12 to 4 o'clock. Section eight from 4 o'clock to 8 o'clock. Section nine 8 o'clock to 12 o'clock. In the first instance this was practiced on the local football fields so that each man could see the other members of the platoon and how it all worked.

On deciding to 'Harbour' the boss would do a quick recce of the area with his scouts. Post a sentry then send the other scout back to get the rest of the platoon. They would move up to the boss who would show the section commanders what position he wanted them on the ground. Harbour drill was changed to a more secure shape during the year and was used right through the tour in Vietnam.

This was from the Circle to a 'TRIANGLE'. This is a much more secure formation and with the machine guns on each 'point' it gives the unit a very strong defense. Each section would form one of the three sides of the triangle. A M60 Machine Gun at each point. This shape gave very good all round protection both in a night harbour or ambushing a track. Each gun could lay down fire support to its own section and be able to swing around to support the section on the 'next angle' of the triangle. The Boss would be in the middle of the formation with the platoon sig and the Platoon Sgt.

For a further explanation on Harbouring up; go to Page 21 'Ambush in Vietnam':  7RAR spent a large part of the year 1969 engaged in 'Exercises' in different parts of Australia to bring the Battalion to a fighting pitch for its tour of Vietnam. These Exercises are listed below.


Also practiced on open ground was the 'mine drill' and 'harbour drill'. By having the ability to see the whole Platoon react to the drill, you knew they were in position in the jungle, when you could not see anyone. Mine drill was important due to the number of Killed In Action (KIA's) and casualties that the Australian Force in Vietnam was suffering at that time. Casualties that A Company were to suffer during its tour.

See the Page 'Mine Incident': Page 20:

The main drill would be sprung at unexpected times during other Platoon training by the yelled words, "MINE! MINES! MINES! Then every one would FREEZE and get out their bayonets. Someone would be made the wounded soldier. Each member of the platoon would prod around them and to the next Digger. The area would be marked with white tape or pressure pack shaving cream. The 'injured' soldier would be treated and carried out of the area. At a given time the drill was stopped.

Also practiced on open ground was the 'mine drill' and 'harbour drill'. By having the ability to see the whole Platoon react to the drill, you knew they were in position in the jungle, when you could not see anyone. The mine drill was important due to the number of Killed In Action (KIA's) and casualties that the Australian Force in Vietnam was suffering at that time. Casualties that A Company were to suffer during its tour. See the Page 'Mine Incident': Page 20:


While at Holsworthy I was sent on a Support Weapons Course. On this course I was taught the capabilities of each weapon in detail and then fired those of weapons. These were the 84mm rocket launcher, the Carl Gustoff.  {See Images of Carl Gustoff Below}. The M16 automatic rifle and the M60 Machine Gun. These weapons from the USA arsenal , M79 Grenade Launcher and the M72. A shoulder fired anti bunker rocket. The other skill acquired was to be able to fire Rifles Grenades. A rifle grenade is an M26 grenade fired from the muzzle of the SLR. It was the result of a metal spigot that fitted over the SLR.

The Spigot had a pipe section that went over the muzzel and a metal cage with 3 'fingers', which held the grenade. When fired from the rifle the genade would spin out of the 'fingers' and the strike lever would fly up allowing the grenade to explode. That was as long as the Reifleman remembered to pull the grenade pin before firing the spigot. Another critical point was to take the 'ball' 7.62 bullet out of the rifle and use the correct balistight cartridge to fire the spigot.

This was used in action. Read this story on the page "NIGHT MOVE" Page 19:

The round used was a blank round, or cartridge with no "bullet" part. This was loaded in to the breech after the magazine was taken off the weapon and a live round ejected. The skill required was to judge the area you wanted to hit with the grenade. Either on the ground or for it to explode as a sky burst. It would then shower red hot steel fragments on the enemy. I took part in two other courses while with the Battalion. One was a Signalers Course. This was to operate the Radios of the day, used by each platoon in the field. The 25 set. I don't remember were or when this course took place.

I do remember learning tricks of the trade in putting up cable to extend the range of the radio. It also meant I learned the "Phonetic Alphabet". That is were the letters of a word, for example 'OINK' are expressed as seperate words. {The alphabet is Listed Below) So oink, would be Oscar, India, November, Kilo. The key thing to remember with numbers is that zero, is said ZERO, and not 'O', as used by most civilians. Its 30 years later and I still use ZERO in numbers and find myself correcting people who want to say 'O'. But ZERO is a Number, it is NOT a letter.

It was also important to learn the 24 hour clock. So not to confuse 'times', the Army does not use for example 8pm as that can be mixed up with 8am. {The 24 hour clock hours is displayed Below: See IMAGES & INFORMATION} The other habit from this course was to learn to say "Say Again" when you wanted some information repeated, either face to face or via the radio.

Another habit was not to say the word, "REPEAT". As repeat is an artillery command. This means you want the heavy artillery supporting your mission to fire again. I don't think I have said 'repeat' in every day language since my army training. The course was put to good use in country when I became the Platoon Sig. This occurred for a few months. I had to re-sort my big pack to be able to carry the 25 set. This was done with a US 'A' Frame, together with a pack from an ARVN Soldier I bought for a few dollars with the incountry money system, Military Payment Script. (MPC). It was good to know what was going on via the radio, but your work continued long after other people could relax.

So some nights I was huddled under a hutchie with a torch writing down the codes coming in from HQ. In groups of 3, I would write down the letters and numbers and they using a code book change the code to regular English that made sense to the Boss. The night I handed over the radio we had a contact. This story is on the page called "NIGHT MOVE" Page 19:



Exercise WILD FURY was held from 11 to 15 August in Holsworthy range, to practice combined work with Choppers and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs). The weather matched the name with continuing rain all week. Exercise KING KONG was held from 24 to 31st August at Tianjara, down on the south coast of New South Wales (NSW) it was held in cooperation with the RAN Helicopter Flight Vietnam for its own rotation to Vietnam. This exercise was held in some dreadful rain not unlike some of the down pour heaping on us in Vietnam. I was very green as such given the 'newby' jobs like being put out on 'listening posts ahead of our position.

It was light scrubby scrub, down hill from the Company, I was taken out from one of the Machine Gun positions, very important that once in Viet Nam that Diggers manning the Gun were aware that someone was posted out in front. For some reason I settled down on a large rock, in a position I would not have put myself in once incountry. Yet I was thinking later that perhaps I was in the shade and my greens gave me some camouflage?

I was startled to to see see a soldier walking up the hill some yards to my right and I kept still as he past out of my line of sight. I then slipped off the rock and very quietly followed him up the slope, as he 'high stepped', to avoid making any noise. I thought it looked very comical at the time. He had a smile on his face as he expected to catch 'A' Company completely by surprise. I got as close as I could and said "halt". As we only had blank ammo he knew I could not 'shoot him', so took off down the slope like a rabbit. I was pissed off so I fired off a couple of rounds down the hill. Then I went in to the position, calling out I was on the way.

The OC of the Company came down to ask me what I had done. I was most indignant that I had cought the 'snipper' dead to rights and he had taken off, which was most unfair. He smiled and said 'Well Done'. I did in fact man a couple of listening posts in Viet Nam and the situation did not repeat its self!  

A Major exercise was the stint at CANUNGRA the Australian Army Jungle Training Center; story next page, "Platoon Set Up"Page 11. The biggest exercise was the time at Shoalwater Bay Queensland and the story is also on the next page, "Platoon Set Up".







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The Regimental Colours of Seven Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. Presented on 6th October, 1968 by his Excellency The Governor of New South Wales:- Sir Roden Cutler, VC, KCMG, KCVO, CBE


KOREA 50-53,


VIETNAM 1965-72



The Colours on Parade at the 1995 Reunion of the Battalion at Holsworthy, NSW.


These COLOURS were the oldest in the Regiment. They were Laid to Rest on 23rd April 2004. 



Shots from the Supports Weapons Course at Holsworthy. Great fun firing the weapons, then comes the cleaning.

A good shot of how big the 84mm Carl Gustav was an a bugger to clean, give me an SLR any day.

Images taken on the docks, prior to boarding HMAS Sydney in 1970 for the voyage to Vietnam.

Looks like I was looking forward to my greatest adventure ever?

Tony and his lovely wife Helen taken on the dock side.

Diggers going up the gang planks, boarding HMAS Sydney

On LEFT:- Tony and his brother Steven on the dock side. While families and Diggers said their goodbye.  


THE PIG is the mascot of 7RAR called 'Willy'. Maroon is the Battalion Colour.

This is the real WILLY taken at Holsworthy during a 7RAR reunion in 1995. Unfortunately he died a few years ago and the 5/7 Battalion now based at Darwin, have replaced him with a new Pig. Which as I understand also died some time in 2006?

However on December 3rd 2006 the 5th 7th Battalion was de-linked and 7RAR and 5RAR were reformed. 7RAR will live once again and move to South Australia perhaps in 2010? The Battalion has again followed tradition and adopted a Pig as a mascot and 5RAR again are known as the Tigers.

A Major exercise was the stint at Canungra the Australian Army Jungle Training Center; story next page.








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