9 TH BATTALION THE ROYAL AUSTRALIAN REGIMENT VIETNAM NOVEMBER 1968 - NOVEMBER 1969 The advance party arrived in South Vietnam on the 4th November 1968, the rest of the battalion arrived on 20th November 1968 and during the Battalions tour of active service it took part in twelve operations covering four provinces. After a period of famililization 9RAR commenced Operation King Hit One. A cordon and search of the village of AN Nhut on the road between Baria and Dat Do. The result was one enemy killed, several Viet Cong suspects detained and quantities of weapons, equipment and medical supplies were found. The Battalion deployed on a reconnaissance in force Operation King Hit Two in AO Barossa north of Nui Dat. 9 RAR’s task was to locate base camp of C41 (Chau Duc) District Company that harassed Ngai Giap, Binh Ba and Ap Suoi Nai. B Company moved out of Nui Dhat by road escorted by tanks and armoured personnel carriers (APC) and with engineers in support to clear Route 2 and to secure a fly in area for the remainder of the Battalion. In mine alley near Ap Suoi Nai, one APC struck a mine resulting in one Officer and one soldier wounded but remained on duty. Companies operated effectively in separate AO’s ambushing and locating enemy stores. “A” Company had the first success by ambushing 10 VC. In another ambush 6 Platoon B Company killed the second in command of the Chu Doc Company. “D” Company located a large complex of camps which were destroyed by the units assault pioneers. The operation concluded on Christmas Eve 1968. On the 1 st of January 1969 the Battalion deployed on Operation Goodwood which was an 1 st Australian Task Force (1ATF) reconnaissance in force operation into likely enemy base area of Saigon. 9RAR relieved 1 RAR in AO Wondai – the operation was charactered by short savage contacts against the VC in well sited bunker complexes and Main Force enemy units. On the 10 th January “A” Company attacked a large bunker system and a battle raged for three and a half hours with fire support provided by mortars, artillery, light fire teams and close air support. On 16 th January a reported sighting of 40 enemy in a camp in the centre of the AO resulted in “C” Company moving by air into this area. The Company could not reach until just on last light and set up a night ambush position. At 2320 hours, enemy came into the ambush which was sprung by 8 Platoon and among the enemy killed was a North Vietnamese Army (NVA) Officer. Next morning when the company entered the deserted bunker system, it found enemy killed by artillery. Unknown, 9RAR had prevented the passage of an NVA Regiment from south to north. All Rifle Company’s and Support Company were in contact with the enemy on 19 th January. The AO was extended on the 29 th January Westwood to include Route 15 and the fire support patrol base (FSPB) was relocated to AO Jenny in two hours to support the redeployment by air. Two days later 9RAR returned to AO Wondai until the 17 th February. The operation was successful in regard to enemy killed and bunker systems, supplies ammunition and camps destroyed. The frequency and the fierceness of the contacts resulted in twelve men of 9RAR being killed in this operation. Operation Federal, in AO’s Arunda, Burrendong, Belconnen and Reid, the Battalion was deployed to Bien Hoa Province as part of a plan to ensure the protection of Saigon, Bien Hoa Air Base and Logistic Support Base at Long Binh. 9RAR less “B” Company moved to the AO Arunda and occupied company defensive positions. “B” Company was placed under the command of 1ATF as part of a ready reaction force against possible VC TET offensive activity in Phoc Tuy Province. Operations in AO Arunda were markedly different from operations in AO Wondai as there was no deep jungle and patrols were basically in open rice paddy/grassland with low yet dominant hillocks. On 23 rd February “C” Company confirmed that enemy were moving into the AO when it attacked and captured a bunker system. Meanwhile in Phoc Tuy province “B” Company Group, Mobile with Tanks. APC’s and mortars, patrolled around Baria and Long Dien to deter an expected enemy attack. On 23 rd February the VC rocketed and attacked targets in Baria, Long Dien and Hoa Long. “B” Company’s counter attack was successful in routing the enemy. On 5 th March 9RAR, with “B” Company and “C” Company, redeployed to AO Burrendong south of Route 1 in order to search for signs of enemy units of the 5 th Division. A mini FSB Maria was setup with a section of guns of 161 New Zealand Field Battery and three US Army 155mm self-propelled SP guns. On March7th “C” Company came into heavy contact with a large bunker system. “B” Company also found an occupied bunker system and airstrikes and artillery supported the companies assault. The enemy withdrew and left behind many documents which identified the unit as an NVA Rocket Regiment. Having being relieved by 5RAR, 9RAR returned to Nui Dat having been on continuous operations from the 1 st January to the 10 th March. Operation Overland covered Long Khan Province and extended once again into Bien Hoa Province. The Battalion operated around FSB Wattle between Route 2 and the Binh Son Rubber Estate. AO Goulburn included a major enemy base camp area and again 9RAR fought through an extensive bunker system. On the 3 rd April all companies except “C” Company were in contact with the enemy. Three days later “C” Company located a huge complex of 98 bunkers including a Hospital area but it was unoccupied. A caretaker VC group returned next day and a short sharp firefight ensued. During this phase of the operation “A” and “B” Company had heavy contacts. Much time was spent in destroying the bunker systems and rendering them useless. On 11 th April the Battalion moved south west to AO Picton on a food denial mission. After deployment to FSB Juanita companies moved to ambush in their AO’ in which “B” and “C” Companies had contact’s. “C” Company located a cache of two tonnes of rice and “A” Company located film broadcasting and printing equipment, paper and material for flags. On the 16 th April the Battalion commenced Operation Surfside east of Nui Dat in the vicinity of Dat Do and Xuyen Moc. 9RAR operated in the Light and Long Green against the enemy’s district units. Initially all company’s flew into unsecured landing zones (LZ) and moved to blocking positions. There were obvious signs that the enemy had departed the area quickly. After extensive patrolling and some light contacts the Battalion returned to Nui Dat on 23 rd April. In mid-1969 a major change in strategy for the conduct of the war occurred with greater emphasis being placed on pacification operations. 9RAR was deployed on Operation Reynella to assist with population security in the Long Dien and Dat Do Districts and to protect land clearing operations. The Battalion less “C” Company, which deployed to the Horseshoe feature to train 4/28 Army Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) Battalion, occupied AO Aldgate and patrolled centres in the area. On 15 th May province officials reported that an enemy company had infiltrated into Dat Do and 9RAR reacted by placing a cordon of company strength around the town. The Task of clearing Dat Do was left to regional and popular forces but no enemy was located. The Battalion returned to Nui Dat on 15 th June. Operation Matthew took the Battalion to North of Nui Dat in an area bounded by Route 2 and the Courtney Rubber Estate. The deployment by road and air was completed with Battalion HQ at FSB Flinders. There were only minor contacts in this operation. The Battalion extended its area of operation necessitating the establishment of a second FSPB. The Battalion on the 18 th July moved by air to undertake Operation Hat Dich to locate and destroy enemy main force elements in the area. On 19 th July “C” Company came into heavy contact fighting in a bunker system resulting in many enemy casualties. 274 VC Regiment had returned to the area and the Battalion operations had severely interrupted its activities. 9RAR returned to Nui Dat on 31 st July having destroyed large quantities of the enemy’s redeveloped assets. Operation Neppabunna involved both pacification and a reconnaissance in force. “B” Company moved to secure FSPB Serle and later protect land clearing teams in the Long Green. On 31 st August the centre of operations moved to FSPB Wells near Xuyen Moc. This operation was a complex one with company’s undertaking many different type tasks. The Battalion was relieved by 5RAR on 15 th September. Operation Jack was the last major operation for 9RAR in Vietnam. It involved land clearing protection and reconnaissance in force over large tracts of land in the Hat Ditch area. During the operation there were many light contacts with the enemy and a quantity of caches were located and destroyed. The Battalion returned to Nui Dat on 31 st October and the 1 st November 1969. Having been relieved by 8RAR the Battalion departed South Vietnam on 28 th November 1969 to return home to Adelaide where the unit received a rousing reception. Awards to 9RAR from this period included one DSO, two MC’s, seven MMs and eight MIDs. On 31 st October 1973, 9RAR was linked with 8RAR to form the new Battalion 8/9RAR.
9 RAR Return to Index Unit Colour Patch John McArthur