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5RAR Diggers Carrying wounded soldiers to a dust off

Crashed Sioux - Operation Canberra

   The wreckage of the Bell observation helicopter from 161 Recce Flight can be seen littering Route 15 as the wounded are carried to a dust off. Robert O'Neill in his book 'Vietnam Task' describes the incident thus:

     "The most serious incident was the crash of our light reconnaissance helicopter. A sniper had fired at the pilot, Lieutenant Bill Davies, when Davies was flying at low altitude. The bullet had hit Davies in the head and the helicopter ploughed into telephone wires at the side of the road, turned over on its side and crashed straight into the bitumen, turning over and over as the tremendous momentum of its rotating parts expended itself.
     Our medical officer, Tony White, had been waiting some eighty yards from the crash point for the helicopter to collect him. His immediate presence on the scene resulted in Davies being flown direct to the American Third Field Hospital in Saigon for emergency brain surgery which could be carried out only by the specialists at that hospital. This snap decision saved Davies's life for his condition was extremely grave. Later Davies made a complete recovery and was able to return to flying within six months.
     Davies's passenger had been Staff Sergeant Mealing, Quartermaster Sergeant of B Company and it was to our great loss that Mealing had to return to Australia as a result of this accident. He was fortunate in that his injuries were not serious for he had seen the crash coming as soon as Davies had been hit, he had relaxed as the aircraft went into the road and his safety harness had saved him even though the helicopter itself was a wreck.  Mealing had served in Korea where he had been seriously wounded and he had also fought for a year in Malaya during the emergency period. Fortunately he made a good recovery from this accident.
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