12 April - 2
Captain Mike Battle
there were growing number of reports of enemy build ups in
the area of the Ho Tram Cape. The headquarters of D445
Battalion with two companies was reported in the area east
of the 'Long Green'. Aerial reconnaissance had also found
that the beach in this area was being used by enemy shipping
to land supplies for their installations in the Nui May Tao
With 9 RAR in
an AO (Area of Operations) in the western half of the Long
Green, 5 RAR was deployed into AO Coogee which covered the
area from Xuyen Moc south to the coast.
Surfside was planned in three phases. Firstly, the Fire
Support Base Bruiser was to be occupied and secured by D.
Company and Battalion Headquarters by the afternoon of 22
April. Then, at first light on the 23 April, B and C
Companies would land by LCM's on the beach in the south-east
of Coogee and push inland. A. Company was to deploy by
helicopter into Bruiser Simultaneously.
battalion attack would be conducted against D445 when it was
located, with A. Company driving into blocking positions
provided by the other three companies.
AO was to be thoroughly searched. Although a practice beach
assault by LCM's had been conducted, and the final planning
by sea movement from Vung Tau to the Ho Tram Cape had been
completed, This operation was cancelled for safety reasons
late on 21 April. Consequently, the two companies were
inserted by road transport on 23 April.
Phase two was
conducted as planned, but the intelligence information that
D445 was in company size camps, proved incorrect and no
large actions took place. Throughout the following days,
twelve contacts with small groups of enemy occurred. It
became obvious that while there could have been two enemy
companies in the AO, they had broken up into small groups
and were hiding to avoid contact.
bunker systems were found but in most cases these were very
old, although in each system, one or two bunkers had been
recently refurbished. In all some three hundred bunkers had
been found, most of these were demolished.
It was on
this operation that 5 RAR encountered its first
M16 mines in enemy
camps. Corporal R. L.
Mundine of 1 Platoon detonated one on a track whilst
clearing a bunker system and was seriously wounded. Three
more M16 Mines were
found by detectors in the same area. That afternoon 10
Platoon detonated a booby trap consisting of a trip wire and
a home made grenade. The platoon commander Lieutenant Terry
Stannus was one of the two seriously wounded. These mines
and booby traps were cunningly placed and slowed down the
operations considerably as there was no alternative but to
search every inch of ground. Some piles of dressed timber
and coils of wire were found near the beach, which confirmed
beach landings were being made under the cover of darkness.
A and C
companies reported movement of sampans in front of their
locations on the beach. On the afternoon of 25 April, 2
Platoon reported four vessels one thousand yards out. By
1930 hrs, thirty sampans had moved within fifty yards of the
beach in front of 2 Platoon. It appeared as though it was
going to be a D. Day in reverse! Although these craft were
in restricted waters, orders were given to hold all fire
until they actually landed on the beach. A large junk was
holding further out to sea and was signaling to someone on
the shore. Shortly after this the armada moved quickly
eastward. Obviously, the mother ship did not receive the
'all clear' signal from the shore and aborted the landing. A
search of this area revealed thirty four nautical charts of
the south east coast of China and the south China Sea.
the small numbers of enemy in AO Coogee, A and C companies
redeployed into the 'Long Green' proper to see if any enemy
had returned to that area after 9 RAR had left. A. Company
went into ambush along a known VC communication route and
was immediately successful. Three enemy were caught moving
east from the area of the 'Light Green' and Route 44. One of
the enemy was found to be the company commander of the
second company of D445. As the operation drew to a close A
and D Companies had some further small indecisive contacts
and the major enemy forces remained unlocated.
operation, 5 RAR was given the use of local guides from the
Xuyen Moc military post. These men belonged to a
intelligence squad and in two instances, their local
knowledge proved very valuable.
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