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storchy neil

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Operation Bribie From 101 Fd Bty Perspective



“On Friday 17th February 1967 all quiet on the gun position, half the gun detachments were attending a concert at Luscombe Bowl.


Out of the blue came over the tonoi (a speaker which all guns had for communications between the guns and the command post.), “Prepare to Move!!!”


I thought someone had gone into the command post and playing a prank as previous operations we were given a prior warning order. Came over the tonoi again “Prepare to Move”, l then took more notice of it and ran over to the gun.


I believe the concert was stopped to announce “Members of 101 Battery are to “return to their guns immediately, trucks are waiting to take you back to the Battery positon.”


We bought the guns out of action and towed them to our helipad “Koala Pad”. The guns were strapped in pairs with A22 containers either side of each gun. We were then briefed on where we were going, nothing about what our task was. We were also informed that the area had not been cleared and to watch for land mines, I thought ‘Holy shit that’s all we need’.


We loaded the Chinook with first line ammunition which was 100 rounds HE, 6 rounds of Smoke and 5 rounds of splintex. The ammunition was firstly removed from the boxes but remained in the cylinders, I was with the first sortie of two guns and the command post.


On arriving beside the airfield at Dat Do after lunch sometime, the guns were lowered and unhooked, the chopper moved to the side. We fixed bayonets to prepare to probe for mines however that was discarded because the priority was to bring the guns into action. The pilots lifted the nose of the Chinook and out rolled all of our ammunition, immediately returning to the 101 Bty position in Nui Dat to hook up the next two guns.


No sooner had the command been set up and the guns brought in to action we commenced firing with two guns. The Chinook lifted the remaining 4 guns 2 X 2 to our position.


During the course of the Battery firing to my amazement a kid on a pushbike came riding through the gun position calling out “You want Coke” “You want Coke” to which he had loads in a box on the back of his bike.


We fired missions until just before dusk, the GPO (Gun Position Officer), 2lt Mal Pearce gave the order to fill our pits in as we were about to return to our base at Nui Dat. However we continued firing and then got the order to dig out our personal pits as we were not returning to Nui Dat.


At one stage of firing we got the order from the command post “Danger Close Clinometer Laying”. This method of laying the gun was only used when the rounds were directed within 100 metres of our troops. We were absolutely amazed and wondering what the hell was happening at the Infantry’s end and things must have been pretty bloody serious there.


I don’t know how many rounds we fired however during the night we were getting low on ammunition and we felt relieved when helicopters arrived directly from Vung Tau with ammunition underslung. There was no allocation of ammunition per gun it was just grab what you could and we will sought the numbers out later.


Sometime that night a Battery of American 155mm Self Propelled guns came into position on the opposite side of the airfield to us. I believe they were in the area and came to our support.


We did have an incident of 2 rounds falling into Bravo Company’s position. This was quite devastating for us. Later it was discovered the gears in the elevation scale on one of our guns was faulty so not the fault of the gun sergeant.


Next morning after we stopped firing once again we were told to fill our pits in and reluctantly we did. The Kiwis from 161 Battery arrived with their trucks to take the guns and all empty boxes back to Nui Dat. The gun crews were flown back by Huey helicopters.


This is a brief summary of 101 Battery’s involvement in Operation Bribie.”


posted with permission off the writer neil



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