Tour of Duty '71

Index Page
A Combat Mission
Baptism of Fire
Battle of Long Kahn
Facts And Trivia
History Of The Vietnam War
My Poems
My Aftermath


These are photos I took prior to going to Vietnam with 3RAR during 1971, on the trip over, on combat operations, at NUI Dat (1ATF), in Vung Tau, and during the trip home.

Click on the small pictures to see the full size pictures.

Outside our barracks sometime prior to leaving for Vietnam. The buildings we lived in were leftovers from the second world war and were just tin huts with no insulation and held about 20 of us (I think). Notice the guy in the middle pointing the M16 - we were extremely safety conscious - well, most of the time, anyway.

Another shot outside our hut.

The final parade at Woodside Barracks before we left for Vietnam. It was very hot, dull and boring, and we were all glad when it was over


Hey, we even had our very own pipes and drum band - whoopee

This boat delivered the last lot of mail to us just off Western Australia. It was a very melancholy time as we sailed away from the only country we had known

Another picture of the mail boat - it was rather unexpected to get mail, but it was very much appreciated.

Well there wasn't much else to take any pictures of.

One more - just for luck!

Sports day on board a troopship. It was certainly better than being stuck below decks.

We had target practice off the back of the Sydney. Yellow and white balloons were filled with air and water, thrown over the back and then we shot them DEAD!!

On the way over we used to have weapons checks, drills etc on the flight deck of the Sydney.

Practicing stripping weapons on the flight deck.

One of our escort ships getting really chummy.

The same escort ship with a man being transferred across via a cable strung between the two ships. This took quite some time to complete and held our interest for the best part of an afternoon.

Well - he made it and then things went back to the usual boredom.

Halfway there and being refuelled from a tanker.

I was told that this was Krakatoa (that's the island with the gi-normous volcanoe

This is the rubber dingy that came alongside the Sydney and brought our mail from the mail boat.

A closer picture of Krakatoa. Unfortunately I didn't have the luxury of a telephoto lens.

One of the Chinooks landing on the "Sydney" (the old aircraft carrier that we went over on). This is in Vung Tau harbour and the Chinooks ferried us across to Nui Dat.

An aerial picture of Vung Tau harbour. Vung Tau was a safe area where we went to have R & C, (rest and recreation), I only ever had it once and the place was crowded, dirty and smelly.

A view of the "street of markets" in Vung Tau. This was where the local Vietnamese did all their trading. Bargaining was the name of the game, no-one was expected to pay the asking price.

Another view of the "street of markets".

Another view of the "street of markets". Yes, it was as dirty as it looks. We didn't eat any of the local food as it caused gastric problems. Gee, it looks really clean to me!!

This view of the "street of markets" shows the open drains that were full of just about every sort of refuse and crap possible. Needless to say, we didn't go down there very often.

The main drag in Vung Tau. A lousy place to visit and a worse place to stay! You never realise what you've got 'till you see how others less fortunate live.

This was one of the local schools (can't remember where), but I can remember that it was one of the very rare well built ones and all of the children were quite well dressed.

This was the market place in the town of Hoa Long. On market day it would be completely full

Some of the local peasants picking rice with the Long Hai mountains in the background. The Long Hai's were "out of bounds" for everyone, they were riddled with mines planted by the VC.

The latest in tractors and plowing machinery. They used to work like this from morning to night. I wonder where they put the petrol?

View of Bien Hoa village, while "sight seeing" from the outer seat of an Iriquois chopper on the way to an Op.

A closer look at the village. I think the pilot had a somewhat odd sense of humour and decided that we should get our money's worth with a close up looksie.

I'm fairly sure that this picture is of some of the rubber plantations. You can see what looks like buildings in the middle left of the picture and the rubber trees in the middle right

This was one of the bars in Vung Tau where prostitutes were plentiful and cheap. They would say "Uc Dai Loi number one" (Australian is the best), "You buy me Ba-me-Ba" (a watered down local beer). Then after a short time ask if you want "boom-boom".

I took this one from the top of an APC. It's one of the shot up homes, or what's left of it.

Meeting some of the locals in a small village by the sea.

Fishermen sorting out their nets on the beach after a days fishing. Doesn't look like there's a war on, does it?

Women from one of the local villages sorting the fish after a catch.

One of the local temples, this one didn't seem to have been shot up. Most of the buildings had chunks shot out of them.

A view of one of the more prominent homes. You can see the taxi "lambro" under the roof.

Another photo from the top of an APC. Water buffalo replace horses as the main source of work, these to are traipsing across a couple of dried up paddy fields.

This is the "Peter Badcoe Club" in Vung Tau, it's where we went for R and C. Vung Tau was the ONLY place we went where we didn't carry weapons and it was the safest place in Vietnam.

A decent meal, a few beers, no weapons, no smelly jungle green clothes and no wucken furries!!

Another shot of the Peter Badcoe Club (the pool was always closed but I have no idea why.)

At Nui Dat and Frank Jelen (our section gunner playing silly buggers with his 9mm pistol.

Inside the company boozer. Beer was on every night between 6 - 7 pm. We weren't back at Nui Dat very often but when we were we made up for lost time.

These were two of our Vietnamese scouts. The one on the right was our interpreter and the other was our scout. Our scout was our "go to" guy for anything we wanted on the black market. He could get anything for the right number of cigs.

Whoops! It must be washing day. That's our company Sargeant Major looking as immaculate as ever.

Inside our tent at Nui Dat overlooking our spacious loungeroom. We played cards a lot and drank a lot. There was very little use of marijuana and heroin use was almost non-existant amongst Australians.

That's my mate Ian (our forward scout) quaffing a beer while throwing darts (we were very clever that way), who eventually retired as a Major.

Close up and personal. Inside our tent back at Nui dat.

Another look inside our penthouse tent. Note the sparkling clean rubbish bin on the left, the luxury steel bed and plastic mattress, the aged wooden floor and the clean clothing bag hanging from the tent pole.

Looking across our company lines in Nui Dat. This was an old rubber plantation.

Another view across our company lines. Note the odd shaped object on the right, it was called a "pissaphone" (toilet). They were located everywhere and was simply a covering over a deep hole in the ground. There weren't any women here so privacy wasn't an issue.

One of the firing pits that were spread all around the perimeter of Nui dat including two Rambo wannabes. (the blue bits are deterioration of the original picture).

Looking down the rubber trees in the A Coy lines at Nui Dat.

This was my home whenever we were back at Nui Dat (which wasn't very often), but it was luxurious after sleeping on the jungle ground.

A view of the A Coy lines in Nui Dat.

This is what it was like in Nui Dat in the "wet". It was like standing under a continuous bucket of water.

This is what passed for a taxi. It was a Lambretta scooter with two wheels at the back and the "capability" of carrying a zillion tons of gear or at least a couple hundred people?

This was a concert put on by Australian performers at Nui dat. We ended up waiting outside in the heat for a couple of hours until the show started. We weren't permitted to talk to, or get close to the performers.

Another shot of the concert.

Another shot of the concert.

Another shot of the concert.

Another shot of the concert. (Well, the girls looked damned good to us!!)

Yeah, I know there's a lot - but I really, really enjoyed it and I only ever got to see one!

Another shot of the concert.

Another shot of the concert.

Waiting for our chopper ride at Nui dat. I'm on the right with our two engineers in the centre and one of the other guys from my section on the left.

Looking up at a medivac helicopter winching a wounded man up. (He only had a small piece of shrapnel in his back).

I can't remember where I took this one. It's two men being extracted by Iriquois.

As above.

Helicopter gunship letting loose.

Looking up at a couple of choppers about to land and pick us up. They used to come in fast and take off fast. I think they just wanted to get out of there and get back to base as quick as possible.

A view of the jungle through the open door of an Iriquois helicopter on the way to the LZ. And if you're wondering, the doors were never shut and we didn't use seatbelts. (what an adrenalin rush!!)

A clear blue sky - a friendly chopper - and a wave goodbye.

A chopper taking off after dropping us off at an LZ. The grass had caught fire after the gunships had shot it up first for a "hot insertion".

A dusk resupply. If you look carefully you can see a whole heap of guys either side of the chopper unloading stuff.

This was the C.O.'s chopper. He quite often came buzzing around to bring new orders, or as we quite often thought, just to go sightseeing.

Chinook leaving after dropping us off. Towards the rear of the chopper you can see one of the crew hanging out through an opening.

A Chinook blowing up a lot of dust in the dry season. it was a dirty, dusty place in the dry.

I think this was our CSM (Company Sargeant Major) leaving the chopper.

A Chinook on the ground, without the dust.

This was a water resupply in the dry season. The pilot would hover as low as possible in a small clearing while plastic bags of water were pushed out. The bags were made of thick plastic and about a metre long. Only the odd one or two would break.

This picture has faded quite a bit. It was a resupply of rations and water - everyone had to get the stuff out as quickly as possible. The chopper pilots didn't like being on the ground for too long, maybe we just smelled so bad!!

Being picked up by Iriquois for extraction.

Another shot of being picked up by Iriquois for extraction.

That's me writing a letter home while relaxing on the patio furniture outside our luxury 4 bedroom apartment while holidaying at the "Horseshoe". (The Horseshoe was a fortified horseshoe shaped hill that we all took turns being stationed at.

Looking down from the top of the "horseshoe". The fields you can see were farmed by the local farmers and it didn't look anything like a warzone.

This is a view from inside the bunker at the Horseshoe's main gate looking over the top of the M60 machine gun towards the only entry into the Horseshoe. Both sides of the road outside the gate were heavily mined.

This was the gun position at the main gate to the "horseshoe" (This was a horseshoe shaped hill easily defended with the only opening at the open horseshoe end). We did a brief stint here for a few days and to us, it was fairly luxurious (a roof over our heads, hammocks and proper meals). PS .. the officers ate on white table cloths!!

Another view from inside the bunker at the Horseshoe's main gate. The clipboard next to the gun was to record everyone who went through the gate.

A view of one of the bunkers that were spaced around the top of the horseshoe. These were constantly manned by different platoons. It was usually fairly quiet and restfull, and a relief from carrying a heavy pack.

How to score a free ride on an APC.

This is where we had just been dropped off. As you can see it was usually a very dirty, dusty ride and it was always better to try and scrape off as much dust as possible before the sweat turned it to mud.

Another (not very clear) picture of the APC's. Notice the scorched ground, in the dry season it didn't take much to set it on fire.

All the tanks were environmentally friendly (no exhaust smoke) and we NEVER overcrowded them! (hardy-ha-ha!)

A Centurion sitting on the edge of what used to be a grass field. These few pictures are of a bunker system that was found after a contact, artillery and planes shelled it, then the tanks came in and did "wheelies" on top to cave them in. We were ground protection for the tanks.

The tanks and APC's used to make their own "roads" through the jungle, and they didn't have to keep quiet like we did.

It was always nice to score a free ride for a while. It always put smiles on our dials!!

Looking back from the "business class" seating on the back of a tank.

Head'em up and move'em out. Getting ready to climb on a troop of APC's at Nui Dat (1ATF) prior to going on an Op.

A Centurion tank that made its own road through the jungle. They were big, noisy, smelly and made a hell of a mess in the jungle, whereas we were very small, quiet and tidy!

Not a very clear picture, but I took this one from the back of a tank as we were bashing through the "J". You can see the guys all scrunched up on the top of the tank following us.

An APC "clearing" a few trees away.

We had giant scorpions.

And let's not forget the spiders. Fortunately we didn't come across too many of them - it was the little buggers that were the worst, because they were damned difficult to see!

All packed up and starting to move out. The last of the tanks and APC's about to follow us.

Another view walking down a river. There were plenty of branches etc underwater and it was always necessary to walk carefully and slowly as it was easy to to go arse up.

Sometimes under the canopy there wasn't even enough light to take a picture at maximum exposure, so all you can see are two silhouetted figures walking down a river.

All ladies should look away now. One of the extremely rare times when we came across a river and we had the opportunity to have a much needed wash. Just think - some people pay good money to go to a tropical paradise like this where they can bathe in the tranquility of a tropical rainforest.

A picture of the guy behind me as we travel the beautiful, clear, idyllic waterways of South Vietnam.

Yours truly with a big smile walking down a river. There were plenty of branches etc underwater and it was always necessary to walk carefully and slowly as it was easy to to go arse up.

A shot of our machine gunner walking down a river. I never saw any crocs or snakes. It was usually dark and the water was fairly gunky, we only drank it a few times in the "dry" when we ran out of water. (we used sterilizing tablets).

Having a "yippee" shoot back at Nui dat. Some of the machine gunners killing a few trees and bushes while they use up some leftover ammo. Well, we had to do something with the bullets we didn't use.

Now I look like Rambo or Arnie. I reckon I can win this #%$*^@ war all by myself!

Shit! I can see stuff all from down here, why don't we stand up and shoot like John Wayne does.

Where's Wally!!! Yeah, they sure did grow their grass tall hereabouts. It was always a good idea to tread in the steps of the guy in front.

That's me on the left with Frank (our machinegunner), pondering the beauty of nature. We thought we could be extremely photogenic at times

That's Frank (our section gunner) with the big cheesy smile. Notice how well spread out we were once in the open - as soon as we hit the jungle then we automatically close up to a couple of metres.

This was after a heavy downpour in the "wet". We didn't carry any waterproof ponchos etc, because it was too humid to wear them, it was simpler to just get wet and then wait to dry out. The mud was the absolute pits.

Walking single file through a clearing. We kept well spaced out in the clearings, walking in single file and getting through to the jungle on the other side as quickly as possible..

That's me on the left (handsome bastard wasn't I) next to one of the other guys in my section. The jungle was so thick and dark in places, that we quite often couldn't see anyone 2 metres ahead.

About to enter the jungle after walking through the clearing. Once in the jungle we would close up to about 1-2 metres

I think this guy was having his own private war.

The rather blurry yellow thing in the centre right of the picture was a small bomb that hadn't yet gone off. I had to be quick in taking the picture which is why it's blurry.

I took this one while we were walking. We came out of the jungle - into a clearing and came across a heap of water buffalo just minding their own business. We never knew what we'd see from one minute to the next.

A different place and different time. About to enter the jungle after walking through a clearing.

Just two of the guys in my section. Most of the time we would walk a few steps, then wait, walk a few more, then wait again and so on, all day. Sometimes it got so exciting that we sat down for a while. (ho-hum).

The gunships certainly did a good job of clearing the vegetation. It was a real shame that so much had to be destroyed.

Where's Wally!!! Yeah, they sure did grow their grass tall hereabouts. It was always a good idea to tread in the steps of the guy in front.

It's not too surprising to figure out why it was so difficult to find any V.C. I took this piccie while struggling down a steep hill in thick jungle with a thick canopy - rifle under one arm, camera in one hand and holding onto a tree with the other. Yeah, the two guys in front were having a real good chuckle.

Yes, all that crap we carried was as heavy as it looks!! All up we used to carry about 40 kilos of stuff. That would be like carrying another person around all day!

Sitting under the shade of one of the many thick, bushy palm leaves that were so abundant. Who said there was a war around here? I can't see any war!

Don't know why I bothered to take this picture, maybe I just wanted to be reminded of what my bed looked like! (It's where I slept one night.)

Just another piccy of the same two guys doing what we all did as often as we could. A clear spot, a comfy log to sit on, someone to take your picture...what more could anyone want from life!

Join the dots and see me in my trendy attire. (I'm the one holding up two fingers!) Quite often we would relieve the boredom by taking these magnificent portraits of each other.

Your's truly! Yes, it was another one of those "Kodak moments". There was always time to take one more snap for the photo album.

A hazy picture of yours truly sitting next to the M60 and making the ever popular hot brew!

That's Frank (our section gunner) with the big cheesy smile. Notice how well spread out we were once in the open - as soon as we hit the jungle then we automatically close up to a couple of metres.

After a water resupply by bags from a chopper, we filled all waterbottles and then used whatever water was left over to try and wash some of the dirt and stink off us.

That's me, as alert and vigilant as ever. The hardest thing to do, was to stay awake. We used to sit like this a lot, it was easy to forget it was a war zone when it was peaceful, quiet and green.

This is a "shellscrape". We didn't have to do this very often, but when there was a good chance of being attacked we each had to dig a hole long enough and deep enough to lie in (and sleep in).

Another one of those Kodak moments. In the middle of a jungle war zone and a smile on the face of yours truly.

Hey, look at me. Am I totally cool or what!

Letting a few rounds fly!! The smoke, noise and smell were incredible. I guess you just had to be there!!

And still more shooting. Oh, what a war!!!

Pollution! What pollution.

Quite often the jungle canopy was so thick that this was the best I could get for a photo.

In the Hercules on the way back to Australia. I was part of the advance party who flew back to Australia before the rest of the Battalion

It was a veeerrry loooong, noisy, boring flight.

But we did have BEER!!

The rest of the Battalion arriving in Port Adelaide, South Australia aboard the HMAS Sydney.


The Battalion march through the city streets of Adelaide. It was on a Saturday just after the shops had shut at 11.30am. I guess we couldn't inconvenience all of the shoppers - now could we?

Another view of the march.

Another view of the march.

A low down view of the march.

I'm the goofy looking one in the centre rear. Whoopie!!!

This is where the march ended up, at the Torrens Parade Ground where all the usual bigshots spruked their bullshit and got their pictures in the paper. Ho Hum!