Aussie LP31D at Nui-Dat


Because of a recent conversation I had with Warwick Brooker, one of our Aussie members from 131 Divisional Locating Battery (DLB), Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, a question of mine came up and resulted in the following dialog and photos.

I then sent out the following message to all of our Aussie members...

"I have been having several great communications with your Warwick Brooker recently. I have enjoyed them tremendously and have learned an awful lot. Well something came up today that raised a question in my mind. As you know you guys had a post in our compound in the A Battery area, on top of our Guard Post# 6 I believe. It was amidst our guns on the southwest corner of Camp Everett. My question is do any of you recall when in 1967 it was established.

I was there from the start in November 1966 until I left for home in November 1967. Unless you talked to my wife Ronnie, who well knows how unobservant I am, this may seem funny but until a few years back when I started doing all this, I did not remember you guys having LP 31D at Nui Dat. I don't know when it actually was set up there, and after talking with Warwick it seemed like it would be a good question for your guys.

We did not have a lot of interaction between the 3 Batteries at Nui Dat (HQ, A and Service) so I did not get down into the area much. Thats my excuse anyway!!

I am sure you guys know the answer so please help me out."

The following are the responses that I received. Enjoy!

Bob Billiards 131 DLB

I was at 31D from about 20th September 67 to when it closed in June 68 a couple of months from when the 1/83rd moved north.

Grahame Dignam was one of the first group to man the LP in the guard post. Not sure when we built up on the roof of the guard post but possibly October/November 67 to give us a better field of view.

Regards, Bob

Bill Taggart HQ Battery 1/83rd

Thanks Bob. Was 31D in our compound prior to going up on top of the guard post? I don't suppose you have a photo of it after you went onto the "roof"?

Bob Billiards 131 DLB

LP31D atop 1/83rd Guard Post #6 at Nui Dat

Bill Taggart HQ Battery 1/83rd

Just wondering why you guys made yourself such a target by building on top of our existing bunker?

Bob Billiards 131 DLB

That was our thoughts when we did it but we hoped that the sandbags would stop an RPG. We did get fire through it during TET on the second night but luckily no one was injured, only a nail on our bearing board. Barry Guzder was on duty that morning.

Grahame Dignam 131 DLB

Hello Bill, sorry to be slow out of the blocks but I was hoping to copy to you the actual transcript from our OC's Tactical report but I can't find it at the moment.

I can confirm that my diary entry for 13 June 1967 starts " Moved into tents in the 1/83rd Arty lines to-day". We were under canvas for a week or so while working on construction of the LP.

That entry is confirmed that the LP4 or Delta was operating at post #6 at that time. It was created by our Capt. W R Hamilton liaising with your CO for a presence on your western boundary. An extract of his July '67 Report mentions that "The 1/83 LP is functioning smoothly and providing reasonable accuracy to the W and NW and that the accuracy of the soldiers manning the LP was also improving."
This info should corroborate other info you may have received. Rob Billiards, who replaced me on the 26 June also would attest to the dates.

Stay well,  Regards Grahame.

Bill Taggart HQ Battery 1/83rd

Thanks Grahame. Just so I understand, was June 67 when your guys first had an LP within our camp? Some things are very clear for me, some are not, this being one of them. As I mentioned I was seldom down in that corner of the compound. I was there until November 67 so this is probably one of those things that I was aware of then but lost in my memory over 50+ years.

Also, when you say "LP4 or Delta" is that what has been referred to as LP 31D?

Grahame Dignam 131 DLB

You are correct. All three refer to the LP at post #6.

The LP had to be approved prior to 13 June '67 for the OZ to get the manpower assigned to that task.  The earliest mention is in my diary of 12 June 67 where I noted " visited my new home" (LP31D) then on 13th June "Moved into tents in the US lines- lot of mucking around. Met US soldiers Ackermann and Castona. GOOD NIGHT!"

14th June: "LP staff is Bombardier M Dart, Bert Blink (arrived in SVN 11 June 1967 ), Barry Guzder (arrived in SVN 11 June 1967), John Blake and myself. We roughly set up LP and start radio net duties at 1000Hrs. Photo record. My night off. Visited NCO canteen. "15th - "My first shift, quite night".

Also I asked Bert what his recollection was and he said," LP 31D moved in with the 1/83rd (Guard Post 6) on the 11th of June 67 and became operational on the 15th of June." So we are all around the date.

Hope this helps, Grahame

Bill Taggart HQ Battery 1/83rd

I also asked Grahame if 31D was in our compound prior to going up on top of the guard post.

Grahame Dignam 131 DLB

As I understand it , your post #6 was allocated to be converted to the site of our LP31D.

To me, in hindsight, it seems the pros and cons would have been:

1. That LP31D would now be manned by Det 131 Div Loc Bty Arty Intelligence personnel - a saving of manning for the 1/83rd

2. The Australian Task force would have an LP on the western boundary of the wire which was missing from our network of LPs.

I have asked Barry Guzder for his input but he appears to be off on a road trip somewhere and I have had no response so I won't delay any further.

Regards Grahame

Grahame Dignam 131 DLB

LP31D "Originals" at 1/83rd Guard Post #6 at Nui Dat

Bob Billiards 131 DLB

LP31D Crew - September 1967

L-R are Barry Guzder, John Blake, Des Spencer, Nick Proskurin and Bob Billiards

Bob Billiards 131 DLB

Bob at LP31D

Rich Magin HQ Battery 1/83rd

I do remember post 6 at Camp Everett, but nothing of the target on the top. The pics show a little of their gear, I wonder if anyone could expound on the array of devices they used?

Take Care, Rich.

Bill Taggart HQ Battery 1/83rd

Bob and Grahame, regarding the question from our Rich Magin, can you give any details on the equipment you had at 31D?

Bob Billiards 131 DLB

Bill and Grahame,

The RAA issue was a stereoscope and two 25 radio sets and a field telephone (from memory a modern one and an old WWII one). We did make bearing boards on three sides and we did cut down a large tree out in front of us as a precaution from a sniper. During TET we did have fire through from a tree further up towards the road.

The 1/83rd gave us a 12 g Browning shotgun, an M79, a starlight scope and then set up a perimeter sound device which successfully tracked the cattle that wandered the vicinity.

When 1/83rd moved out we lost those and the base was settled with an infantry company D Company 7 RAR. We then sourced (borrowed or stole) a couple of those rocket launchers but never used them.  The LP was closed down in July 68 as it was to be manned by ARVN. 31D was moved to 2/35 lines in 1969.

Regards, Bob


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