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Australian infantryman's combat badge
Battle of Binh Ba
6 ~ 8 June 1969

© Captain David Wilkins
Adjutant 1968-69
& Officer commanding
C Company
Dec 1969 - Mar 70

Author: David Wilkins

On 6 June 1969 D Company 5RAR, commanded by Maj. Murray Blake, was called out with a troop of Centurion tanks and APCs as part of 1ATF Ready Reaction Force in response to enemy activity in the village of Binh Ba, to the north of the Australian base at Nui Dat. Binh Ba had been occupied by an enemy force and had to be removed.

An initial assault by D Company, mounted in APCs, with the troop of tanks leading, began attacking from Route 2 on the eastern side of Binh Ba, moving westwards through towards the centre of the village (Phase 1 of the battle). As this commenced B CompanySchematic view of the battle of binh ba was also called forward from Nui Dat to be placed in a cut-off position and to provide support as required. CO 5RAR commanded the operation once this additional rifle company was mobilised. Fighting was intense within Binh Ba, and as some civilians were in jeopardy 11 Platoon dismounted from its APCs so as to shepherd them to safety. Casualties to both soldiers and armoured vehicles of the assault force occurred. One Centurion tank was disabled and abandoned and its crew rescued by another tank. In the centre of the village, near the school building, the force came under increased enemy fire and was slowed, It was decided to break out to the south of the village to enable the damaged vehicles to be replaced and to then launch a second assault from the west Helicopter gunships remained in support and Task Force artillery engaged targets from Nui Dat

The enemy was much stronger than initially thought and later some captured documents revealed the enemy force to 1st Battalion 33 NVA Regiment, guided by the local Binh Ba guerrilla VC unit.

By 1400 hours the force had formed up to the west of the village and started its secondArial photograph of the village of Binh Ba several days after the battle sweep, this time the infantry leading with the tanks close behind, flanked by the APCs (Phase 2). The close quarter conflict from house to house was of an intensity rarely equalled during any period of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War. Gradually the enemy force was defeated towards the end of the day.
Further action occurred that night outside Binh Ba and also the next day in Duc Trung hamlet just to the north of Binh Ba mainly involving B Company and the Assault Pioneer Platoon with APCs and tanks.

Pte. Ian Hutchinson treating an NVA prisoner of war during the Battle of Binh Ba When the 2-day battle was over there were 126 enemy killed in action, 6 confirmed wounded (but probably many more), 8 prisoners of war taken, 1 Hoi Chanh surrendered and 28 detainees held. Own force casualties were 5 KIA (1 Australian and 4 South Vietnamese), and 18 wounded (11 Australian and 7 South Vietnamese).

5 RAR was awarded a Battle Honour for this action on 6-8 June 1969.

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