8 RAR -The Eighth Battalion of the
Operation Cung Chung 1
By the 1l th June the bulk of 1 ATF was concentrated in the south of Phuoc Tuy Province with great emphasis being given to interdiction of the access routes to the villages. In the west 2 RAR was concentrating mainly on the Nui Dinhs, 8 RAR in the centre generally on Route 2, Hoa Long and Long Dien, with 7 RAR being responsible for the eastern edge of the Long Hais and Dat Do.
Operation Cung Chung was conceived to give each Battalion a set sphere of influence and specifically to continue to apply as much pressure as possible to the Vietcong attempting propaganda and liaison tasks in the populated areas. Areas of operations laid down, provided for 2 RAR to control Route 15, as far north as the 78 northing and the area bounded by the Nui Dinhs in the east to the Rungsat in the west.
7 RAR was given from Dat Do and the Horseshoe in the north, to the coast in the south, taking in most of the Long Hais to the west. 8 RAR in the centre was to concentrate on Hoa Long and Long Dien in the south, taking in the northern tip of the Long Hais and extending north along Route 2 from Hoa Long to the Province Boundary. Emphasis was to be placed on the two large centres of Hoa Long and Long Dien and the four smaller villages of Ap Suoi Nghe, Duc My, Binh Ba and Duc Trung, with the intention of reducing infiltration to the population to a minimum.
The most significant feature of the Operation was that all AO's were for the first time jointly owned by the Battalion and the local district headquarters. In order to determine deployments of companies in relation to local Regional and Popular Forces, conferences were required to be held daily between the company commanders concerned and the District Chief. In addition road check points were to be set up at locations agreed between Task Force and Sector. They were to be jointly staffed by Vietnamese Police and Australian soldiers, although the police were responsible for the physical halting and searching of vehicles.
Initial areas of responsibility were allocated by the Commanding Officer. D Company were given Long Dien and the northern tip of the Long Hais. B Company was to be responsible for Hoa Long and A Company for the northern tri-village complex adjacent to Fire Support Base Le Loi. At this stage C Company were engaged in searching for and ambushing an area where a concentration of D 440 was reported. This they continued to do.
A fifth company was formed based on the Anti Tank and Assault Pioneer platoons. These two platoons deployed to Night Defensive Position Kylie, an engineer base established on Route 2 to support road building operations, with the task of protecting the base and operating in the north of AO Mullett. Le Loi was retained as the location for the Battalion Headquarters and the guns of 161 Battery. The Battalion was now spread from the Long Hais in the south to the Provincial boundary in the north, while protecting two static bases outside Nui Dat, Le Loi and Kylie.
At 0730 hours on 14 June as C Company was moving two platoons, to a PZ for extraction west of Le Loi, 8 Platoon moving south west from its night ambush location contacted enemy in a bunker system and during a sharp fire fight received four casualties. The casualties were evacuated, but a resupply helicopter bringing in ammunition was fired at from the bunkers receiving twenty five hits and only just reaching Nui Dat. About forty minutes later a second contact occurred with 8 Platoon killing one enemy. At this time it was decided to move A Company to block the exits to the south and west of the bunkers and to move 9 Platoon C Company closer to the system to block the north west.
By 1200 hours all blocks had been inserted by air or on foot. At 1 245 hours a force consisting of tanks, armoured personnel carriers, the remainder of C Company and the D and E Platoon had left Le Loi for the bunkers, but on arrival the system was empty. The next day C Company did a thorough reconnaissance of the bunkers which produced identification of D 440. A subsequent intelligence report indicated that five enemy had been killed in the two initial contacts of 8 Platoon.
The following day A Company completed a thorough reconnaissance of the entire area and discovered three more bunker systems due west of theoriginal system, with the southern most, occupied the previous day. A Company then continued to follow up enemy sign while 2 Platoon remained in the bunkers as a stay behind ambush, catching one enemy identified as D 440, nine days later. A Company then returned to its task of ambushing the routes to the tri-village complex.
A few days later the Anti Tank Platoon moving to an ambush position in the vicinity of the Viet Cong rubber sited two enemy, close to a small hamlet. One was killed and tentatively identified as a member of the Cau Sou organization.
No contact was made over the next few days as the Battalion continued its village protection role in co-operation with the local district authorities. On the night of the 27th 8 Platoon broke the dry period by contacting five enemy south of Long Dien and killing four. Two of the dead were identified as members of the Dat Do Finance and Economy Section and thus valuable members of the Vietcong Infrastructure.
The main feature of Operation Cung Chung was the attempt to produce close working relationships at the district level between the Battalion and the district authorities. The introduction of a joint area of operations demanded close co-operation and daily conferences. Generally the system worked satisfactorily although obvious security problems were apparent. The major achievement of the operation was the confidence given to the District Chief and his forces to deploy outside the confines of the villages.
Small arms 3
Small Arms, rounds 100
Mortar Bombs 1
Explosives lbs, 3
Rice lbs 10
Salt lbs 4
Miscellaneous Ibs 5
(Does not include intelligence estimates
of enemy killed.)
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Last modified: May 12, 1998