8 RAR -The Eighth Battalion of the
Operation Nudgee can conveniently be divided into two phases, each of which had widely differing objectives and significantly different results.
Phase 1. The Battalion deployed on 20th April to an area generally to the south of Xuyen Moc on a Task Force operation named Concrete, involving the three Battalions of the Task Force and a great majority of the supporting arms. Operation Concrete was mounted to destroy the headquarters of D445 and any other elements of the Battalion that could be found in the Task Force area of operations.
The basic concept was for 6 RAR to drive from the north to south, east of Xuyen Moc into blocks formed by 8 RAR running from north to south below Route 23 and extending from Route 23 to the coast. 7 RAR was to establish blocking positions to the west of Xuyen Moc in the vicinity of the Song Rai.
8 RAR deployed by road on the morning of the 20th of April with A Company in armoured personnel carriers securing the area for Fire Support Base Bond, located at the intersection of Routes 23 and 328. This Fire Support Base was named after Brigadier General Bond the former commander 199 US Light Infantry Brigade who had been killed a week before. 8 RAR had co-operated closely with 2-3 Infantry Regiment US of 199 Brigade during the Battalion's first operation. B Company followed A Company, taking over their carriers at Bond and proceeding south along the axis of Route 328.
Some three kilometres south, the third carrier in the column struck a 40 lb mine wounding nine 8 RAR soldiers and one engineer and trapping the driver in the wreckage. The Commanding Officer immediately flew to the Battalion Headquarters road convoy and sent the Regimental Medical Officer, C. Josephsen to the scene of the mine incident where he performed invaluable first aid and by surgery freed the driver from the carrier. C and D Companies deployed by road, and on foot to their positions.
By midday the whole Task Force was deployed with Task Force Headquarters located adjacent to Fire Support Base Bond. Two contacts only occurred in the 8 RAR AO. The first on the night of the 20th when 8 Platoon A Company moving into its night ambush position contacted seven to ten enemy in open paddy fields south west of Fire Support Base Bond. After a brisk fire fight the enemy withdrew leaving drag marks and bullet riddled packs.
The second occurred on the night of the 24th when 9 Platoon C Company contacted two enemy moving obliquely across their front, there were no casualties.
6 RAR also struck barren ground and was withdrawn from the operation on 23rd to return to Nui Dat.
7 RAR had moderate contact in its AO but no significant results were achieved by any of the Battalions.
The operation was marred by two further mine incidents, one in the 6 RAR AO and one involving C Company 8 RAR, producing casualties in both cases.
Reliable information had been received by Task Force that an attack would be mounted against Dat Do on the night of the 25th with the objective of assassinating a group of village chiefs who were to hold a conference there on that night. C and D Companies were moved to Dat Do as a preventative measure and laid ambushes that night to the east and south east of the town. The attack did not eventuate, but on the 26th A and B Companies were also withdrawn from AO Rainworth to resume ambushes in the Hoa Long area. 8 RAR had thus returned to its village barrier concept, with A Company contacting 3 enemy on the night of the 26th, killing one.
On the 27th, Fire Support Base Bond was vacated and the first phase of Operation Nudgee had finished.
Phase 11. B, C and D Companies were now required for a combined operation with the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Division (US) who were targeted onto an area north west of the Binh Ba rubber, where a concentration of D440 was reported. B and C companies deployed by air on the 28th to establish ambushes in depth to the south of the 2nd Brigade Operation. Thus B Company found itself back in its old stamping ground just west of Ap Suoi Nghe, with C Company generally to their west. D Company deployed by air to block to the north east of the American objective.
All three companies were now in a good position to interdict movement into and out from the populated areas north of the Task Force Base, while A Company continued its activities around Hoa Long, which were later extended to include Dat Do.
On the night of the 30th, 9 Platoon C Company again became involved in a major contact. In ambush on the banks of the Xoai, about eighteen to twenty enemy were seen moving from north to south on the opposite bank about 100 metres from 9 Platoons location. The platoon opened fire and rapidly became engaged in a heavy fire fight. Although the enemy appeared to be attempting their characteristic outflanking movement they did not try to cross the river and eventually withdrew taking their dead and wounded with them.
The sweep the next morning failed to produce any bodies although it was apparent that considerable damage had been caused, the Vietcong ability to remove dead and wounded from the battlefield under fire, being again demonstrated.
The following day B Company in its area west of the Binh Ba rubber sighted fifteen enemy moving from south to north. They were engaged by artillery and as they withdrew to the south were engaged by small arms with two being killed- A further three enemy also withdrawing south were engaged soon after by 4 Platoon with one other being killed. One of the dead, a female, was identified as the Part Chapter Secretary of Binh Ba and the driving force behind the Binh Ba guerillas.
Later in the day one further Vietcong was killed by 4 Platoon. Two days later two Binh Ba gueriii'as rallied to Duc Thanh district. Authorities. They reported that of the party of 16 guerillas, 10 had been killed by B Company ambushes. Thus in a short action B Company had decimated the very active group of Bing Ba querillas; only four remained as one local source remarked "they are at least temporarily disillusioned with the Vietcong cause".
A Company by this time had altered its stance slightly to include the southern approaches to Dat Do as well as Hoa Long. This immediately produced results as at 1930 hours on lst May a force of 30-40 Vietcong moving north from the Long Hais struck 3 Platoon A Company, just as they were getting set in their night ambush position south west of Dat Do. A brisk fire fight followed with the enemy again showing their skill at clearing the battlefield. The following morning one body was located although reports received from Dat Do suggested that at least six more were killed.
A short while later that evening 1 Platoon A Company contacted approximately seven to ten Vietcong south west of Hoa Long, resulting in 3 dead enemy and two blood trails.
The A Company ambush south west of Dat Do, again proved its worth at 2200 hours on 3rd May. It was in the vicinity of the contact two days before and occurred at approximately the same time. Some sixty enemy approached from the direction of the Long Hais and on contact probed the 3 Platoon ambush on three sides. The fire fight lasted for an hour and a half, with APCs reacting from the Horseshoe to assist.
During the contact a number of the enemy were seen to break to the south east and south west of the ambush location, however others attacked aggressively across the rice fields and in some cases came within grenade throwing distance of the 3 Platoon position. Contact was broken at about 2130 hours after the platoon had sustained six wounded.
The following morning's sweep produced only three bodies although undoubtedly many more had been killed in the contact. An unsubstantiated report revealed later that 50 Vietcong had been killed and wounded in the two A Company contacts on the 1st and 3rd.
On the 7th May the Battalion Headquarters and the anti tank platoon deployed to Fire Support Base Le Loi the old Fire Support Base of the 4th Battalion of the 9th US Infantry Regiment. Minor contacts followed in the next few days in the C Company and A Company areas, until 3 Platoon A Company on the 9th May contacted six enemy, of whom three were killed. The contact area on Route 2 to the south west of Hoa Long was again proving to be a continuously useful location.
Five days later on 14th May approximately 12 enemy approached another 3 Platoon ambush situated four hundred metres south east of where the 9th May contact occurred. 3 Platoon initiated contact killing seven of the enemy, all later identified as Chau Duc guerillas. The Hoa Long "circuit" again proving to be one of the most active in the province.
On the 13th May A and D Companies supported by some 40 sappers of 1 Field Squadron conducted a lightning serach of a sector of Ap Bac Hamlet in Hoa Long Village without prior warning, finding large quantities of money, assessed as money to buy rice for the Vietcong.
D Company was the subject of an interesting experiment on the 18th May, the company being at this stage located generally on the western edge of the Binh Ba rubber. The plan was to send a bullock cart with Vietnamese Regional Force drivers from Duc Thanh along the fire trail south of the Binh Ba rubber then north west past 10 Platoon's ambush location.
The platoon was to keep the cart under surveillance in the hope that its unexpected presence in Vietcong territory might attract the enemy to it. This imaginative experiment did not produce results on this occasion but it was to be tried again at a later stage.
Another interesting method of deployment was tried by B Company on the 20th and again on the 26th May. On each of these occasions a platoon of the company was deployed in Construction Troop scrapers to the area of Cam My north of Le Loi. The platoons, in each case, moved along Route 2 from Le Loi standing six to a scraper scoop and completely hidden from view. In both cases the impression created was one of an engineer plant moving on normal road construction activities. Outside the range oflocal observation the troops dismounted and moved to their ambush locations through the rubber on foot.
By the 25th May a calm had settled over the southern area of Phuoc.Tuy, attributable largely to the tight 8 RAR and 7 RAR control of the Vietcong access routes to the population centres. Even D445, which intelligence estimates located to the north east of Dat Do with some elements still in the Long Hais, seemed unusually quiet. It was obvious that the local Vietcong from the Chau Duc and the Binh Ba guerillas who had also suffered badly over the last few weeks were in no condition to even carry out normal liaison and propaganda tasks. The reduction of Vietcong influence in Binh Ba and Duc My was apparent in increased friendliness of the people and their willingness to give information.
On the night of 29th May a section of the Assault Pioneers ambushing some 1 000 metres south of Night Defensive Position ISA contacted an enemy force estimated at approximately thirty strong. After a brisk fire fight the enemy withdrew east into the Long Hais leaving two bodies behind. This contact was of special interest as the enemy force had that same night ambushed a PF group in the village of Lo Voi about 1200 metres south west of ISA where they had lain up for twenty four hours previously. The enemy having completed their task and killed four PF soldiers moved out of Lo Voi across the road and directly into the Assault Pioneer ambush. Although neither body had any identification it was fairly certain that they were an element of D445 and were apparently returning to the area of the Minh Dam Secret Zone.
A few dayslater 1 2 Platoon D Company ambushing by day on the north eastern tip of the Long Hais killed one Vietcong who was identified as a member of C3 D445, giving further weight to the assessment that elements of D445 were back in the Minh Dam Secret Zone.
On the 30th May both A and C Companies were moved to the north of AO Kipper whose boundary in the north ran along the Phuoc Tuy - Long Khan border. A SAS patrol had earlier made fleeting contact with a small enemy force in the area and because of the general lack of contact it seemed to Colonel O'Neill too good an opportunity to miss. C Company accordingly moved from its block position north east of the Nui Dinhs and A Company from its location north west of Le Loi. A few days later C Company headquarters made contact with two enemy one of whom was killed and identified as belonging to 274 Regiment.
On the 5th June A Company deployed by air to the south to attempt to pick up sign of activities of D440 who possibly at this time had moved back to an area north west of Le Loi. C Company also deployed by air on the 6th from the north of AO Kipper to Le Loi where they conducted local ambush patrols on both sides of Route 2 in the vicinity of the Binh Ba rubber and Duc Trung hamlet. On the 10th A Company returned to Nui Dat and Operation Nudgee ended.
Phase ii of Operation Nudgee consolidated the evidence gained on Phoi Hop that concentration on the centres of population would produce good results and increase the basic security of the province considerably. It was apparent during the last three weeks of the operation that emphasis on the population had forced the Vietcong to scale down their activities and that the casualties inflicted on them had made them incapable of offensive action.
Tangible results of the operation were:
Enemy Casualties: KIA 26 - WIA 35 (12 KIA possible)
Does not include intelligence estimates of killed and wounded.
Weapons Captured: Small Arms 17 - M79 1 - RPG 2 1 - 6OMM Mortar 1
Ammunition Captured: 6588 assorted rounds. Bangalore Torpedoes 2
Claymores 7 - Mines 5
Food Capturered: Rice 292 Ibs - Salt 10 Ibs - Miscellaneous 9 ibs
Own Casualties. KIA 4 - WIA 25
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Last modified: May 12, 1998