85 Transport Association

The home of past and present 85'ers

Our History – 1966 to 1971

Overview

5 Transport Company of the Royal Australian Army Service Corps (RAASC) was formed on 30 May 1966.  It was raised at Frasers Paddock, (currently Gallipoli Barracks) from a Citizen Military Forces unit. Immediately after formation, the unit was transferred to Ingleburn, NSW to prepare for duty in South Vietnam.  Within three months of being raised, the unit was away on Exercise “Barra Winga” developing skills required to operate in an operational theatre.

In April 1967, 5 Company RAASC relieved 1 Company RAASC which was stationed at Vung Tau. The operational task of the company was to support the 1st Australian Task Force (1AFT) located at Nui Dat. When the unit arrived it was the largest Company group to have served overseas since World War II. The unit The unit had a posted strength of 350, all ranks, and was commanded by MAJ NWJ McVilly.It was comprised of HQ 5 Coy RAASC. Det 30 Tml Sgn RAE, 2 Tpt Pl, 85 Tpt Pl, Det 86 Tpt Pl, 25 Sup Pl, Det 8 Pet Pl, Det 1 Div S and T Wksp RAEME

In late 1967, 26 Coy (RAASC) was established as part of the Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA) and along with a number of units, 85 Platoon moved to the Task Force operations base at Nui Dat. In so doing, 85 Platoon became the only true ‘Front Line’ transport unit in Vietnam. Until 1969, a detachment of 85 Platoon continued to support 86 Platoon in Vung Tau. The unit returned to Vung Tau in 1972 as Task Force operations wound down.

For most of its time in Nui Dat, 85 Platoon provided three types of transport operation. One section provided services to the task force with garbage and water trucks as well as cartage of munitions and stores within the task force base. Two tipper sections supported the RAE in road construction and civil aid projects. Two cargo sections transported stores, fuel, water and ammunition to ATF operations in the field. Mostly, trucks operated in packets of 6-10 vehicles. Each truck carried a “shotgun guard” and every packet was accompanied by a Landrover with an M60 machine gun mounted in the tray.  Each “gun jeep” was in constant communications with HQ and ATF on the Task Force Admin Net.

Significant operations included Operation “Paddington”, where a total of 240 tons of ammunition was carried forward to the Fire Support Base.  On two occasions, a transport platoon was deployed into the forward operational area: it dug in and defended its own perimeter.  They were not infiltrated on any occasion, whilst other units in the same area were. On operation “Ainsiey” in September 1967 the unit assisted in moving 900 Vietnamese families. Operation Kenmore” October 1967, involved air despatch crews. In Operation “Forest”.  November 1967 – January 1968 transport units moved a Field Battery five times into and out of Fire Support Bases and in Operation “Coburg”, January 1968 – February 1968 units initially deployed the Task Force by Road.

85 Platoon returned to Australia in In June 1971 as part of the planned withdrawal from Vietnam. HQ 26 Tpt Coy RAASC returned to Australia and took over the unit name and barracks from HQ 25 Coy at Puckapunyal in Victoria.

The unit remained there until 1987 and was known as 26 Transport Squadron as part of the Royal Australian Corps of Transport. In 1987 it was relocated to Moorebank in NSW and in 2008 it will move to Amberlie in Queensland. Members of 85 Troop saw action in East Timor and some individuals have served in other theatres including Iraq.

The

(Owen Wheeler was the first NCO to be assigned to 85 Transport Platoon. He was always regarded as a ‘fatherly’ figure by the diggers).

On 20th August 1963, Cpl O. Wheeler 2RAR & Sgt Jack Humffray were posted out to Fraser Paddock, Brisbane Personnel Depot, to form 85 Transport Platoon. After a week or so we received a Section of drivers from 3RAR & 8 M3 Inter 3 ton GS cargo trucks, 1 Harley Davidson motorbike.  A week or so later we received a section of drivers from 101 TPT Coy Ashgrove Brisbane.  Originally we operated from 101 Coy Fraser paddock Brisbane.  Later on the Platoon moved to Wacol where it operated.

In 1966 when National Service started I was posted Kapooka as Instructor for 1st intake of NS personnel.  I did the 1st intake with B Coy and on completion returned 85 PL Wacol.  The Platoon was reinforced with National Service personnel and in 1967 warned to move to Vietnam.  The advance party left Brisbane in March 1967 and the main body in April 1967.

On arrival in Vietnam, the Platoon took over from Maj. John Neenan and his party who were a crew from all different units in Australia.  I think they were called 1 Coy RAASC. We at 85 TPT became a Platoon of 5 Coy RAASC who had then just taken over.  The vehicles that we took over were teaspoon Tipper (Inter) & MK3 4×4 cargo trucks.  At first we ran two convoys a day of 70 vehicles and after a period of time, this changed to Section operations i.e. When the Sec Cmd had his trucks loaded he would notify 5 Coy HQ and then head off to Nui Dat, Horseshoe or wherever.

Originally, the first convoy had a chopper overhead in case of trouble, but as time went on this disappeared and Sec Coms relied on their radios for help if required.  As a Relieving Section arrived from Australia, a Section in Vietnam went home.

From memory the make up of 85 TPT Pl went like this.

1963/64

First OCS 2LT O’Grady, Lt Paul Flannagan
OW Sgt Jim Elder
Sec Cpl Owen Wheeler
Sec Cpl “Squizzy” Taylor

1965 on

Capt Sherman OC
2 IC Dan Gilfedder 2LT
Nev Fox Pl Sgt
Sec Cpls Owen Wheeler, Ron Douglas,
‘Squizzy” Taylor, Don Wust, Ray Hawkins, Tom Johns.

The Platoon increased in size and vehicles to 4 Harley Davidsons, 30 MK 3 trucks

Q people were Cpl Sam Smith first up, Cpl Robinson then Admin Sgt Jack Humffray, “Snow McQueen, Sam de Gabrielle. Q Store Col Hinton

These names are a few that I can remember apart from the drivers.  I hope this note gives you some idea of how 85 came into being.  There are a few interesting incidents that happened both before leaving Australia and in Nam but I will leave that to the drivers to tell on the day.

On leaving 85, I was posted to 9 Sqn Enoggera then Townsville as Ops Sgt. From there went to HQ Sup GP Kelvin Grove, HQ 11 Brigade Townsville, HQ Coy 3TF Liu Bks TSV, HQ Coy 3 Brigade TSV.

Discharged on 31 March 1982 after 35 years 22 days in service.

85 Transport Platoon RAASC – 1969 – 70 – Terry Reason

I was posted to 85 Transport Platoon as the Platoon 2IC and arrived on 17 Feb 69 from 12 Tpt Pl, 1 Coy RAASC at Ingleburn.  At that time I am sure our leaders at the then DST did not know where 85 and 86 were.  Initially I was posted to 86 but the rest of the Platoon was posted to 85.  In due course it was corrected and I duly arrived at 85 in Nui Dat.  I replaced 2LT Lyle McLachlan was should have been posted to 86 in Vung Tau.

The Platoon was being reinforced mainly from 12 Pl in 1 Coy RAASC, although a small number of men came from 87 Transport Platoon at Puckapunyal.  When I arrived 2LT McLachlan was despatched to Vung Tau and I took over as 2IC.  Captain John Snare had been posted in as the OC to replace Captain Jack Humffary.  Who 2nd Lietenant McLachlan replaced I do not know.

85 TransportPlatoon was a separate unit on the ORBAT as Paul Asbury (see below) says but on the arrival of the old 1 Coy HQ staff to HQ 26 Coy the TFMA HQ was formed.  The OC TFMA was Major CKR Bryant, the 2IC Captain Bruce Arbon, Operations Officer – Captain Lindsay Miller Admin Officer LTt Col Clues and the combat supplies Pl was 2LT Bob Cooper.  As Paul said I do not think that there was an ORBAT for the TFMA but it was based on HQ 26 Tpt Coy.

Major Bryant put the TFMA on the map and we rebuilt the place and created an underground OPS ROOM and generally lifted the place up.  Before he came to power 5 Coy from Vung Tau used to run forward to the FSB’s and we just used to run locally.  Major Bryant sorted all this out and 5 Coy then only ran to Nui Dat and we ran forward.  If necessarysections from 5 Coy were placed under out command for specific tasks.

Shortly after CAPT Snare’s arrival he was seconded to the TFMA as the Adjutant.  This was much to his disgust and my delight as I became the Platoon Commander in his absence.  Major Bryant also pooled all the TFMA unit’s vehicles and I think that we ended up with about fifty vehicles and about one hundred drivers.  We were very busy working six and a half day weeks, but it was good fun.  Shortly after arrival we deployed the Task Force East of Saigon near the locations of Coral and Balmoral.  They were supposed to block the NVA approach from the East.  The Commander did not want about a hundred vehicles so we pulled back to Long Binh.  That night we had tons of fun as Long Binh was repeatedly rocketed and mortared.  I was glad to get back to Nui Dat.

I cannot remember the name of the Platoon Sergeant when I arrived but he was replaced by Sergeant Don Watkins.  We also had an additional SGT from HQ 1 AFV, SGT Mal Cheyne.  The two of them ran the transport operations and I was away a lot of the time with big convoys.  It was not unusual to have an escort of four tanks and twenty APCs and a hundred vehicles.  An exciting time indeed.

We had a range of CPLs.  We had two Jock Andersons.  Commonly known as old and young.  We had another couple of sterling Corporals John Ford and Jock Tarres.  I don’t think the diggers liked them much but they certainly got the job done.  The ‘Q Waller’ was  Lance Corporal Symes ???.  He was terrified of snakes.  I remember one day the boys ran over a large fifteen foot python out near Xuyan Moc and brought it back.  Symes had a pile of dirty greens for counting on the floor and the boys had hidden the dead snake in it.  When he found it he went berserk and we had trouble getting his rifle off him as he wanted to shoot it.

The vehicles were in reasonable condition and we maintained about an 85% availability.  I seem to remember that we were greasing them every 500 miles to try and keep the dirt and mud out of the joints.  Lance Corporal Spike Wiseman was in the LAD with a SGT.  Spike was an excellent craftie and I last saw him as a WO1 in Canberra.  The vehicles coped well and we had few accidents and in the wet the lads became very proficient in getting themselves out of bogs.  The normal solution if you could was to grab a Centurion or an APC.  That normally solved the problem.  We had about four gun jeeps set up to carry an M60 and a 125 radio.  When we did get a new vehicle it was with great excitement.  We got a brand new tipper and the first day the driver backed it into a huge Monsoon Drain out side the PX.  The next day it swerved to miss an ARVN Armoured Car and ended up on its side in the rice paddy.  Fortunately it was the wet and the paddy was full of water.  We pulled it up onto its wheels checked the oil and away it went..

We also had two M52T Tank Transporters.  They were tasked to recover downed armoured vehicles and plant.  The section was run by LCPL Ogden with two others.  They used to get into mischief.  One day the transporter driver was directing a land clearing D8 onto the trailer and the engineer dropped the blade onto the drivers foot.  With the D8 running he could not hear the driver but after a while he got the message.  Another time the transporter with a D8 with the land clearing blade on took the corner in Baria a bit tight and demolished a few houses and power lines.  The transporter with a Centurion on was quite a sight.  The trailers were made for the lighter and shorter US tanks.  The Centurions were 15 ton heavier and about six feet longer.  They had to build ramps on the front of the trailer to get the tank far enough forward to be able to clear the rear wheels.  They never used to tie the Centurions down and coming off the Bailey Bridge at Baria, it was quite steep and if you tried to stop you would have a tank in the cabin with you.

The radios had limited range and we used to use the Chinooks working for us as radio relay.  One day we went down to Vung Tau and did some bartering with the Yanks.  I came back with a hangover and two 524 radio sets and a huge radio that had more dials than you could poke a stick at.  We mounted the 524’s in the gun jeeps with limited success.

About half way through the tour we started doing TAOR patrols.  I seem to remember the John Ford and Jock Tarres used to take most of them.  They also did close support for the APCs.  They enjoyed that because they did not have to walk.  Captain John Snare also took out a longer and larger patrol.  The boys suffered with the heat as although we were acclimatised for day to day ops we were not used to the grunt work.

We also had an old digger (Eddie someone) who was a long distance runner.  Every lunch time Eddie would strip to the waist and run around the base.  I think he saw me as his son, as every now and then he would come and give me some advice on how to run things.  Eddie presented as a father figure to the young soldiers and I think that he had been in Korea.  One wet and cold night conducting an ambush patrol after we had been wandering around waist deep in the paddy, I remember this hand appearing near my face.  It was Eddy with a small bottle of Scotch just to keep us warm.  It was excellent.  Mind you the VC probably could have smelt the scotch about fifty metres away.

At Major Bryant’s direction we built a Movie House under a 30 by 20 tent.  We got about five tipper loads from of sand Vung Tau and sloped the floor and we had a 16mm projector that a few of us could run.  It was a great attraction for the diggers.  I remember the night that we got the movie Barbarella with Jane Fonda who exposed a bit of breast.  We showed it in the movie tent, then the Officers Mess, then the Sergeant’s Mess and replayed it again and again.

In October 69, I was posted to be the Aust LO at Bearcat, the Thai base that shared a common boundary with the Australians.  It was an interesting job.  The Thais had the equivalent of a Division in Bearcat and were paid by the US at GI wages so they were all volunteers.  They were miserable soldiers and were only there for the money.  They would send a patrol out and they would just disappear.  No one seemed to care.  The Commander was a big fat Thai General.  On my arrival I was taken to him and introduced.  The first thing he asked me was would I like a little girl.  (Before I left, the Int Staff said don’t touch the girls as they are running at 99% VD)  When I knocked him back he wanted me to have a little boy.  Such are the experiences.

I was at Bearcat for about a month and was replaced there by 2LT Col Ward who was the Canteen OFFR.  When I returned to Nui Dat I was informed that my Reo had arrived some months early.  As it turned out it was 2LT Lyle McLahlans Reo as he had injured himself playing football at Vung Tau.  To solve the problem I was posted to 86 from November to 11 February 70 when I returned to Australia.  The OC of 86 at the time was Captain Allan Grant Smith.  I was replaced in due course at 86 by 2LT John Tracy.

I guess in hind sight it was one of the best postings that I had in over thirty two years of various military service.  The diggers were excellent and other than the odd problem things went well.  I would not have missed it for quids.  Occasionally I run into an old 85 digger.  Greg Shadbolt who was one of our drivers recognised me when I moved onto the Sunshine Coast in 1988.  It took a while but we worked out the connection.

TERRY REASON

Lieutenant Colonel – Well and Truly Retired

P.S.  For other readers it may be of interest to note that Paul Asbury, Lyle McLahlan and myself are all from the same class of 67 at the old Officers Cadet School at Portsea.  Paul and myself went on to become Lieutenant Colonels and John Snare went on to become a Colonel and the Corps Director.  Lyle resigned as a Major to pursue a commercial career.

I was posted into 85 Transport Platoon as the Platoon 2IC on 30 Oct 69 from 3 Transport Platoon, 9 Coy RAASC in Townsville.  At the time, I was unsure as to whom I was replacing in South Vietnam, but I later learned that it had been 2Lt Terry Reason who had moved on to work with the Thai Army.  Until I arrived at Tan Son Nhut in Saigon, I had been told 85 Platoon was in Vung Tau – so much for the Corps Directorate (DST) in Canberra!

85 Tpt Pl was a separate unit on the Order of Battle (ORBAT) and during my time it was under the command of HQ 26 Tpt Coy at Nui Dat. HQ 26 Tpt Coy was established in Nui Dat in late December1967.

Despite being a separate unit, some of the Platoon posted personnel were not employed in the platoon, but elsewhere within the Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA).  This was at the direction of OC 26 Tpt Coy (as he also did for some personnel of other sub-units).  There was no formal establishment table for the HQ TFMA, so the staff for it had to be taken from those units located in the TFMA (1). With the continual movement of people into the Platoon from Australia and those departing on RTA, it is difficult now to remember who was where and when.  At the time it was much easier, with manning charts and of course the ubiquitous reminder, “Seven days and a wakey!”

Captain John Snare was officially the OC of 85 Tpt Pl, but when I arrived he was working full-time on the headquarters of the TFMA.

SGT Don Watkins was the Platoon Sergeant.  There were also about eight section commanders including names like Corporals Jock Tarres, Deano Ryan and Murray Jordan.  (It is awful how time has killed the memory cells). Before Easter in 1970, Captain Peter White (ex 9 Coy in Townsville) replaced Captain Snare on his RTA to Puckapunyal.

Captain White actually assumed the position of OC of the Platoon on his arrival in country.  Shortly after, I was reluctantly reallocated to work at HQ TFMA for my remaining time as it was argued (by OC 26 Tpt Coy) that two officers in the Platoon were unnecessary given the need elsewhere. When my replacement arrived in October 1970, Captain White moved on to HQ TFMA and the cycle of internal postings began again.

In the first half of 1970, Sergeant (Blue) L.G. Webster (ex 9 Coy) replaced Don Watkins.  I think Don then worked in the Ops Cell until his RTA.

At one stage, there were about 95 all ranks in the Platoon and 54 vehicles.  These figures were actual ones and not necessarily related to establishment entitlements.  I suspect this figure also included a long-standing detachment from 5 Coy in Vung Tau.  To many others and me, we were all just part of the Platoon.  Probably 80% of the Platoon was National Service who clearly identified with each other, particularly by intake number. (For some reason, I remember the 17th in particular). The banter between the ‘Nashos’ and the ‘Regs’ was keen but friendly and frequently very funny.

The vehicle types ranged from MK 5 Cargo and Dump trucks, tank transporters, one garbage truck and Land Rover gun jeeps.  The condition of the vehicles was generally poor, but they were task worthy thanks to our workshop light aid detachment (LAD).  I remember the dump truck drivers complaining frequently about the manner in which the Engineers allegedly overloaded our trucks, but not their own!  Truck cabins sometimes came off their mounts, tailgates would not fit onto buckled trays and generally the engines were tired and overdue for replacement.

HQ 26 Tpt Coy and its sub-units performed the 2nd line role, while 5 Coy in effect became a 3rd line transport and supply company.  A role reversal!

Tasking for the Platoon was generally forward of the Task Force area at Nui Dat in support of the infantry battalions, artillery, engineers and civil affairs, etc and to the frequently changing fire support bases (FSB) in both the troop carrying (TCV) and cargo roles.  The dump trucks worked mainly in support of the Sappers on road building and other construction jobs in the 1ATF tactical area of responsibility (TAOR).  Regular domestic tasking within the 1ATF base included water distribution by tanker and jerrican, ice distribution, garbage collection and hauling ammo from the dump to various helipads.  Apart from the odd 85 Platoon TCV carrying troops to and from 1ALSG at Vung Tau 27 km away, most of the deliveries forward to Nui Dat were done by 5 Coy vehicle convoys.

The TFMA also had an active patrolling platoon to which 85 Platoon contributed the majority of members simply because we had the numbers to do so.  It was a major ongoing commitment for us during my year.  However, transport tasking wasn’t reduced simply because there were a smaller number of available drivers.

Thankfully, life wasn’t always too serious.  I remember feeling sorry for the driver of the garbage truck who had been on the same run for months so I agreed for a replacement, thinking that I was doing him a favour.  He promptly and forcefully informed me otherwise.  I never did understand it, but if he was happy then so was I and we left him to it, as there wasn’t exactly a queue of Diggers wanting the job.  I suspect he enjoyed the odd moment of danger when ammo incorrectly included in the garbage of various units would detonate in the back.  His SOP was to operate the ram to condense the load and drive to the dump on the base perimeter as fast as possible before unloading the burning load on the move!

Shortly after I arrived, Sergeant Laurie Netherclift was posted into the Platoon but I recall him being immediately snaffled to work in the Ops Cell of the HQ TFMA.  HQ 26 Tpt Coy/TFMA had similarly absorbed our Q staff into the centralised Q system.  It was difficult to keep track of who officially belonged to 85 Tpt Pl as opposed to who were actually working in the Platoon.  From my naive perspective of the company HQ attitude at the time, if somebody performed well then they were part of 26 Coy, but when things went wrong they belonged to their parent unit such as 85 Platoon!

The vehicles in the Platoon had similar ownership doubts.  Vehicles were pooled from several sub-units of 26 Tpt Coy (and possibly 5 Coy) and operated as task vehicles or gun jeeps by 85 Platoon as directed by HQ 26 Tpt Coy.  Similarly, all the forklifts within the company were controlled by Det 176 Air Dispatch Coy.

I also remember Denis Batterson, Bluey Ogden and Gary Mackay and others strenuously reinforcing at each opportunity to whoever would listen that they and their transporters were part of Det 158 Tank Tptr Pl.  I know that was their previous unit in Puckapunyal and they tried to retain that identity.  However, it didn’t matter within the Platoon as everyone was treated the same. We had a real job to do and the rest was of no consequence at the time.

At least two original members of 85 Tpt Pl served near us during my year.  S/SGT Col Hinton was on the Q staff of HQ 26 Tpt Coy and CAPT Paul Flanagan was OC 8 Pet Pl.  At the time, I hadn’t realised their previous illustrious membership of 85.

Because of the centralised Q system operating within 26 Tpt Coy, most of the Platoon Q staff had been taken away.  I remember a large number of boxes of wheel chains designed for snow operations taking up space in our store hut.  They had originally been brought in with the vehicles because they were part of the Platoon’s equipment table despite them being of no possible use in South Vietnam.  I tried to have them returned to Australia but got nowhere, so in the end we asked the Engineers to unofficially dig a large hole outside the Q hut and we buried these rusting relics.  There was no paperwork and I assume that they were never missed!

One morning on arriving at the compound I found a near revolt going on near the transport office.  During the night the Sappers from 1 Fd Sqn RAE had modified our large “Roadrunner” unit sign at the compound entrance.  They had professionally painted in their “Coyote” in a compromising position at the rear of our Roadrunner and added the words, “Beep beep now, you bastard”.  Stupidly, I thought it was funny but most others wanted to go down and take the ginger beers apart.  That same day, the Engineers returned and repainted the sign, but until then I had never fully appreciated the general feeling for that great 85 symbol.

In late October 1970 my replacement LT Kevin Long arrived as 2IC of 85 Tpt Pl from 1 Coy in Ingleburn and a week later I returned on posting to Puckapunyal.

These are just my memories now (2001).  Maybe others can contribute and one day they will be validated or adjusted as necessary and consolidated into a real history.  I hope so!

I think the following units made up the TFMA during my twelve months in 1969/70:

  • HQ 26 Coy RAASC
  • 85 Tpt Pl
  • Det 52 Sup Pl
  • Elm 8 Pet Pl
  • Det 176 AD Coy
  • Elm Det 1 Comm Z Postal Unit
  • 1OFP
  • Det AFV Cash Office
  • Elm 2 AFCU

(In all, there were about 200 personnel in the TFMA, but to me at the time it seemed like many more.)

General Scenario

The 1st Australian Logistic Support Group  (1ALSG) at the port of Vung Tau was 27 kilometres SW of 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) at Nui Dat.  As the build-up of 1ATF continued to three infantry battalions and supporting arms and services, the task of supporting it also increased.  Fire Support Bases (FSB) were used more frequently and continued to be moved further into Phuc Tuy Province.

To give some perspective to the supply and transport support tasks in mid 1968, the numbers and locations of Australian personnel in Vietnam at that time were:

  • Saigon Area                  455
  • 1ATF (Nui Dat)           4,808
  • 1ALSG (Vung Tau)     1,420
  • Total                         6,683 1)

5 Coy RAASC had been providing the supply and transport support direct from Vung Tau.  After the Tet Offensive in early 1968 and subsequent increases in enemy activity in Baria, Long Dien, and Dat Do, it became obvious that a second company headquarters was needed in the Task Force area at Nui Dat for the forward support of 1ATF.

HQ 26 Transport Company RAASC

Headquarters 26 Tpt Coy RAASC was formed in Nui Dat in Dec 1967 under command of Major G.J. Christopherson(2).  26 Coy took over the second line role from 5 Coy which remained in Vung Tau.  85 Tpt Platoon was reallocated to 26 Coy, as was Det 176 Air Dispatch Coy.  Det 52 Supply Platoon also came under command of 26 Coy.  Other elements of 5 Coy units, such as 8 Petroleum Platoon remained in Nui Dat under command of 26 Coy for local administration and defence.  Some elements from 86 Tpt Pl were almost permanently allocated to 85 Tpt Pl to supplement it.

Other OCs of HQ 26 Coy in Vietnam included Major C.K.R. Bryant (1968-69), Major L.E.K. Kilner (1969-70), and Major J.D. Harverson (1970-71).

The majority of individual personnel replacements from Australia were posted from either 1 Coy at Ingleburn or 9 Coy at Townsville on an annual rotating basis.  Naturally, there were exceptions to this.

The focal point of HQ 26 Coy was the operations cell, which coordinated all the various bids for transport support as passed by HQ 1ATF.  This included air dispatch rigging, ammunition and supply matters as well as road transport tasks.  All radio contact was controlled through the Ops Cell and the landline switchboard was also located here.

In its last two years in South Vietnam, 26 Coy was very much a centralised organisation. Much of the administrative and Q functions were taken away from the other RAASC units and done centrally by HQ 26 Coy.  Of course, to be able to do this, those personnel were removed from their parent units to work in the company headquarters, often much to their chagrin.

The vehicle tactical sign for HQ 26 Coy was 26/522 with a blue/gold background.

TFMA

Most of the logistic units within 1ATF were grouped together for defence and general administration into the Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA).  (The one main exception was 102 Fd Wksp RAEME).

HQ 26 Coy doubled up as the HQ TFMA. There was no extra manpower for this additional headquarters, so the staff for it had to be taken from those RAASC units located in the TFMA. Hence, units like 85 Tpt Pl frequently were deficient key personnel such as one officer and sergeant etc.

The TFMA also was frequently ordered by the task force headquarters to provide infantry type patrols.  The patrols ranged from section size up to a full platoon, sometimes operating directly under command of HQ 1ATF or an infantry battalion or armoured unit. The tasks varied from overnight ambushes, standing patrols, fighting patrols, provision of protection parties for overnight civil aid projects (such as MEDCAP), defence of FSB, to much longer activities of up to 14 days.  The personnel were mainly provided from the larger units within the TFMA and were a great boost to morale for those so inclined.

From 1968 – 71, the following units were in the TFMA:

Posted Strength(1) (3)

HQ 26 Coy RAASC

17

85 Tpt Pl

69

Det 52 Sup Pl

12

Elm 8 Pet Pl

11

Det 176 AD Coy

9

Elm Det 1 Comm Z Postal Unit

8

1 Ordnance Field Park

38

Det AFV Cash Office

5

Elm 2 AFCU

9

Return to Australia

In June 1971(2) as part of the planned withdrawal from Vietnam, HQ 26 Tpt Coy RAASC returned to Australia and took over the unit name and barracks from HQ 25 Coy at Puckapunyal in Victoria.  The unit has remained there and is now known as 26 Transport Squadron as part of the Royal Australian Corps of Transport.

Note:

(1)   7610-66-067-7556  Aust Army Historical Record of Maintenance & Usage Rates in Spt of Ops by 1ATF in SVN.

(2)   ‘Equal to the Task’ Vol 1, by Neville Lindsay.  Pages 307 & 309.

(3)   These figures do not necessarily reflect the actual strengths on the ground.

Be Sociable, Share!

8 Responses to “Our History – 1966 to 1971”

  • When I initially left a comment I appear to have clicked the -Notify me when new comments
    are added- checkbox and from now on each time a comment is added I get four emails with the exact same comment.
    Perhaps there is a way you can remove me from that service?

    Many thanks!

  • mckenzie says:

    i have greatly enjoyed the read.41yrs does destroy the memories.But i loved it.thanks for the memories.

  • Ken Dobson says:

    Could someone tell me what happened to 24 tpt Raasc when it left Canungra for SVN in I think 1968. I was part of 24 at canungra when they saw fit to transfere me into 395 tpt JTC ( being the only male in my family was the reason they finaly gave ) just short of them leaving .

    My memory is not as clear as it use to be so if I could find this out I would appreciate it, also I would like to know their names and what they got up to over in SVN.

    Many thanks. My army number 2785084.

  • brandon says:

    hello, im ex army 4RAR, and im into restoring old HD HR holdens, can anyone help me with information about location, stats, any pictures of HD HR holdens that were ever in service. i have found one ute in ACT in a back yard and know of some staff cars (HD) that made their way over to Vietnam. any shred of information would be greatly appreciated.
    pte brandon “GUS” costello Ex 4RAR 2806076

  • Cherie says:

    Hi I was just reading this with my Dad William(bill) Foster, the story about the truck crashing into a few houses that was my dad. It brought him to tears. Happy ones

  • Shane says:

    Is there a facebook page or group my dad is an ex-roadrunner

  • C. Allen jones says:

    Was with 8 pet platoon 1966,a Nasho from Perth West Australia

  • C. Allen jones says:

    Was with 8 pet platoon 1966, a Nasho from Perth West Australia


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*