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The Fighting Fourth
MALAYA / SARAWAK - SOUTH VIETNAM - TIMOR & TIMOR LESTE - IRAQ - AFGHANISTAN
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4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Operations
Operation Goodwood, Phases I & II
Dateline : 11 December 1968 to 19 February 1969
Duration : 58 days Outcome : 4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) troops - 6 killed, 13 wounded
Enemy - 37 killed plus 13 killed by air/artillery, 19 wounded
Task force intelligence believed 274 VC Regiment would soon start moving through the northern Hat Dich area to Route 15 and up to the Long Binh-Bien Hoa complexes for the 1969 Tet offensive.
It was also believed the enemy would try to interdict Route 15.
Operation Goodwood was launched to prevent the enemy moving through the area and to prevent him interdicting the road. It lasted 56 days, excluding 14 days in Nui Dat which broke the operation into two phases.
The battalion, after 11 days rest following Operation Capital, deployed on December 11 to AO Kilcoy, situated to the east of Route 15 and north of the village of Thai Thien.
D Company moved in APCs and established a battalion defensive position known as Sandpiper, from which the battalion was warned for task force reaction duties.
The remaining two rifle companies available — the second W Company was training on the Horseshoe and V Company was task force reaction company — deployed by road to their respective AOs and defensive positions.
104 Field Battery flew a section into FSPB Diggers Rest with headquarters 1 RAR and 102 Field Battery. All positions were developed with full overhead cover. Patrols and ambushes on suspected VC tracks all had their measure of success.
Company operations carried out in APCs to the west of Route 15 resulted in several small contacts.
On December 27, the battalion having remained in the field over Christmas, 104 Field Battery moved to FSPB Wattle for the second time and the battalion moved back into the area of Operation Hawkesbury, this time into AO Warragul.
D Company, with Assault Pioneer Platoon, flew into the fire support base to secure the area for the fly-in of battalion headquarters, C Company and 104 Field Battery. B Company assault landed on an unsecured landing zone some distance to the north.
C Company was to operate in the southern part of the AO, B Company as far north as the Blackstone Trail and D Company, initially, to the east and north-east of the fire support base. D Company was then to move to the west of the other two companies.
Using their familiarity with the ground to good advantage, companies rapidly found old trails and camps. The camps were quickly destroyed and the trails ambushed with good results.
W Company deployed in the area on December 31 and, in action with the battalion for the first time, operated tothe south of Wattle before being moved, with D Company, north of the Blackstone Trail.
Aerial reconnaissance revealed several occupied camps which were hit by air strikes before companies moved into them. However, time did not allow detailed searches and ambushes were unable to stay in position long enough to produce results, although it was obvious the tracks were being used regularly.
The battalion moved to five different pick-up zones for the airlift back to Nui Dat for a break before launching into Phase II.
When the battalion left AO Kilcoy it was assumed the enemy recommenced using the area as a route to the waterways west of Route 15, a well-known enemy route north and south. It was considered there was a sizable enemy force in the area of FSPB Dyke.
The plan was to destroy all enemy and enemy assets found in the area.
On January 27 B Company and battalion headquarters flew into Dyke to secure it for the rest of the battalion's fly-in. D Company was to operate to the north of Dyke. On the following day W Company deployed to the east of AO Riversdale in AO Sherman, following Special Air Service information of large enemy movement.
V Company moved into the W Company AO, which was south-west of Dyke, in APCs some days later after C Company had relieved it on the Horseshoe.
Strong enemy opposition was encountered. D Company suffered two killed when ambushed by the enemy. W Company, in AO Sherman, was attacked by a company-sized group during the night. It is thought the VC mistook it for a Special Air Service patrol. Spooky, 104 Field Battery and B Battery, 2/35th US Artillery were used to support W Company in repulsing the attack. The VC must have suffered heavy casualties. However, his ability to remove bodies from the battlefield made it hard to assess the extent of his casualties the next morning. The company was moved closer to the remainder of the battalion in AO Riversdale, where it linked up with armour.
V Company was redeployed north, flying to an engineer trail and moving south through country adjacent to that encountered during Operation Merino.
V Company swept from the east. One more contact occurred when B Company, poaching in D Company territory, ambushed and killed two VC.
The battalion moved from AO Riversdale on February 7 to AO Tiki; once again alongside Route 15, but further north than AO Kilcoy.
D Company, with elements of battalion headquarters, established FSPB Janice to the west of Route 15, near the village of Phuoc Long, which was suspected of being sympathetic to the enemy.
B and W companies moved to the north and east of the village while V Company was situated to their south.
Ambushes and patrols by all companies continued to make contact with the enemy, D Company mounting a particularly successful ambush against sampans and V Company having success ambushing the Soui Cau Moi stream.
The mortar platoon fired on movement 200 metres south of the fire support base one night, and next day D Company swept the area, finding a weapons cache of considerable size, including a 12.7mm heavy machine gun.
On February 16 information was received from an agent that the enemy had large weapons caches to the north of AO Tiki and that an occupied enemy position could be expected.
W and B Company moved to the area accompanied by a troop of tanks. The agent moved with the companies. After crossing a clearing B Company came under heavy fire from automatic weapons, medium machine guns, claymore mines and RPG fire.
The tanks suffered casualties and two B Company soldiers were killed. Among those injured was B Company's company sergeant major, WOII R. Richardson MM. The company and tanks withdrew for airstrikes on the position. However, because of a truce which started that night, it was impossible for B Company to re-enter the position.
The battalion received a warning order to move on the morning of February 19.
Extract from 'Mission In Vietnam', published by 4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Bn for, and on behalf of, all ranks.
Edited by Lt J R Webb
Assisted by Pte L A Drake.
Map overlays drawn by Cpl R Strong, Pte M J Cash and Pte T J J Egan.