Account From a B Company Digger
© By Bill
B Coy 2nd Tour
D Company was Ready Reaction Company and already at Binh
Ba when B Company
(as support) was sent to join them early afternoon on
the 6th June 1969. We travelled the five kilometres from
Nui Dat in APCs. As we got closer to the village we
could see the damage inflicted by the armoured units,
artillery & helicopter gunships.
As we moved over the ground cleared of rubber trees we
could see parts of the village alight. This was D Day in
more ways than one.
Late afternoon on the 6th, our Platoon (6 Platoon) set
up a night harbour on the edge of the rubber plantation.
As usual, our M60's were placed at 4, 8 and 12 o'clock
and we each took our turn during the night for sentry
duty of a couple of hours per two men.
It was raining slightly, just enough to give yet another
uncomfortable night, so I had put up my hootchie. Then,
foolishly removed my boots after I'd done my turn on
sentry. This was something I'd not done before and was
never to do again.
We had a rude awakening at daylight, when a force of NVA
soldiers approached our position. Most of us were asleep
(me included) when our sentry on the M60 exchanged
'waves' with the NVA. Realization dawned and I was woken
by the sound of our sentry belting out rounds on the
machine gun and a hard kick from my 'bed mate' Peter
Not the best time to have your boots off ... but they
were ... and I returned fire with a couple of magazines
from my M16. I recall the green flash from the enemy
RPG's and the sound of shrapnel into the rubber trees. I
have no idea how long this lasted, but long enough to be
I eventually dragged my boots on (laces still undone)
and with other platoon members walked up to the area
where we were being attacked from by the NVA. No bodies,
no blood trail and as none of our platoon had been
killed or wounded, assumed that the NVA like us, had all
fired too high. I found this amazing, but guess that's
what can happen in the heat of the moment. Later that
same day, myself and another soldier were given the
grisly task of burying six enemy bodies. I recall that
they were Viet Cong (dressed in black) and not NVA
soldiers from the early morning engagement.
Later that day, 6 Platoon B Company was positioned
closer to the village for a 'sweep' and I managed to
take the photo of our guys just before we set off over
the cleared ground with APCs.
As we prepared for this final sweep, we were told it
would be with the APCs. In my ignorance, I thought that
this meant we would be in single file behind the APCs
for protection. But, as the photo below shows, that's
not the way it's done. We spread out between the APCs
and swept across maybe 100yards of open ground before
entering the village. We were not fired upon.
We conducted house to house clearing but I personally
never found anyone alive. The damage had already been
well and truly done.
As we surveyed 'The Mess' in the village, a photographer
on top of one of the Centurion's asked us if we could
re-enact some footage with grenades into houses etc ...
we made our feelings felt!
Many years later a report was broadcasted on the ABC's
television programme "Nationwide" with a soldier's claim
that we had massacred women and children. This was
simply not true and can only imagine that the former
soldier who had made this claim was not at Binh Ba. The
older men, women and kids were let out of the school
house unharmed at the end of the battle. I reported the
facts to Frank Cranston of the 'Canberra Times' within
days of the false accusation. No enquiry was ever held
as no doubt the allegations were considered to be
The battle concluded on the 8 June 1969.
A large enemy force had been defeated.
The battle for Binh Ba ranks as one of
the major military victories by the
Australian Task Force
and is now part of the Battle Honours of
The Royal Australian Regiment.
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