Aussie arrival at Nui Dat


Bill Taggart (66-67)

The following are replies I received from Ross Wood in reply to my asking him when the Aussies first arrived at Nui Dat. This started with an email I received from Ross on another topic...

Ross said...

"...I do remember when The 1/83rd Artillery arrived at Nui Dat. 5 R.A.R. was located along the northern perimeter of 1ATF, and I remember as we sat at stand to in our lines sometime around 19.30hrs one night in late November - early December 1966, when suddenly the whole south-western sky lit up with a massive flash, quickly followed by a massive muzzle blast, and we quietly commented to each other, "something new has arrived."

I then asked Ross...

Ross, I don't remember, when did the Aussies first arrive at Nui Dat?

Ross Wood (66-67)

"B" Company 5 RAR (Royal Australian Regiment)

"The first Australian troops into the Nui Dat area were 5 RAR, who were heliborne into the area on 24 May 1966. The battalion conducted a nearly 3 week operation to secure the area which allowed the remainder of the Australian troops at Vung Tau to move into the area and commence to prepare their positions. Those big guns came in handy Bill"


Bill Taggart (66-67)

"Thanks Ross. I think I was under the mistaken impression that you guys were at Nui Dat earlier than that but I, and all of us 1/83rd troops, were very happy to know you guys were close by when we got there. I remember when I first got there a little bit after our advanced party arrived and thought Yikes, where are we and what do we do now! Also was the US 2/35 (the 155 SP Company) already there as well?"


Ross Wood (66-67)

"The earliest Australian 1ATF reference to Battery A 2/35th Artillery is 23 July 1966. The 1ATF Log indicates that they moved from Long Binh to Nui Dat on that day. I have attached one of my photos showing one of their guns taken at the Horseshoe feature on 1 April 1967. 

U.S. M 109 155mm SP Gun, Battery A 2nd 35th Arty. Regt. Red Kangaroo on shield, Horseshoe 4/1/67

Before 1ATF was established a reinforced battalion group was built around 1 RAR at Bien Hoa Air Base where 1 RAR was the third battalion of the U.S. 173rd Airborne Brigade which comprised the 1/503rd and 2/503rd Infantry Battalions. April 1965.

Australians attached to 173rd were 1 RAR, 4/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse Regiment with one troop M113 APCs, 105 Field Battery RAA with L5 105mm Pack Howitzers, 161 Field Battery RNZA with L5 105mm Pack Howitzers, 3 Field Troop RAE, 161 Reconnaissance Flight RAAAC ( Royal Australian Army Aviation Corps) and 1st Australian Logistics Support Company. I believe this is correct.

A few times going out on patrols to the south-west we would exit 1 ATF through your lines"


Ross Wood (66-67)

"As for Nui Dat, as I understand it the Australian Government of the day wanted an Australian area of operations - responsibility, so Phước Tuy Province was chosen by the Australian Government for a Task Force size Australian Military Force to operate independently (as much as possible independently).

So with the 1RAR 12 month period of operational service with the 173rd Airborne complete, Australia provided the two battalion size task force. This by 1967, was found to be inadequate and 1ATF was brought up to a three battalion size task force with Centurion tank direct fire support.

However, the Australian Army at that time didn't have (as far as I am aware) any operative medium artillery unit (s). There were towed 5.5inch howitzers in storage and these were later re-issued to Australian Army artillery units in Australia. So, not having any medium or heavy field artillery 1 ATF was sent you guys with your big guns.

There was another Australian Army unit in Vietnam since 1962, and that was The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). They served throughout the country. They first arrived in country 31 July 1962, and were finally disbanded in Australia on 17 February 1973."


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