5RAR Tiger Logo Men of the 5RAR Battalion

C Company 5RAR HQ at Xa An Nhut

C Company HQ Group, just prior
to the mine explosion, February 1967

   Operation Beaumaris (The cordon and search of the village of Xa An Nhut) saw the tragedy of mines when the C Company HQ group pictured here were photographed just prior to a mine explosion.
   Robert O'Neill in his book Vietnam Task explains:
"The company commander had held a conference of his officers and senior NCOs' close by the fence. At the conclusion of the conference, someone, while getting to his feet, must have set off a mine which had been perfectly concealed. The effect of the explosion was devastating and particularly tragic for it killed three of the company officers and wounded another five men. The officers killed were Major Bourne, the company commander, Captain Milligan, the second-in-command, and captain Williams the artillery forward observation officer attached from the New Zealand 161 Battery. Major Bourne had just taken over command from Major Miller who was about to lead the battalion advance party back to Australia."

Major Bourne can be seen rubbing the back of his neck whilst Captain Milligan rests a leg on the barbed wire and Captain Williams stands between them. Brian Budden is at left in brown jacket and John Bilston is bottom right; Bruce Schmidtchen is sitting left of the picket and Bill Czekai (now Crystal) is kneeling behind the picket