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4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Operations
Operations Stirrup Cup and Track Duster
Dateline : 3 October and 7 to 12 October 1968
Anti-guerrilla wars in countries other than South Vietnam have proved that capturing his weapons and food and destroying his assets hurts the enemy as much as killing his soldiers.
Operations Stirrup Cup and Track Duster were good examples of this.
Operation Stirrup Cup was a one-day operation carried out by V Company to the east of Route 15, near Thai Thien, as part of the annual rice-denial programme.
Acting on information that there was a large rice cache in the area, the company deployed on October 3 to AO Mace. The company recovered and destroyed 56,200lb (23 tonnes) of rice, 1,000lb (407.5 kilograms) of salt and other food and materials. A small contact with a caretaker group resulted in the killing of one VC.
The company was extracted the same day by APC and moved back to Nui Dat.
In October D Company was relieved on the Horseshoe by B Company and Operation Track Duster was a shakedown operation for D Company. It was to be in the same area as that just vacated by V Company. D Company was told to find any other caches in the area.
The company moved on October 7, with the tanks of C Squadron and a troop of APCs, to AO Cougar.
A fire support base was established south of Thai Thien.
River and track ambushes were quickly established. The river ambush, though set on a known VC waterway, was sprung only once, indicating that the VC realised they were vulnerable on water while there were troops in the area.
The company found and destroyed 17 tons (15.5 tonnes) of rice and other food and materials found in caches.
The hazards of moving on tracks were emphasised when Twelve Platoon was ambushed by VC using claymore mines and automatic weapons. Two Australians died in this clash and six were wounded.
The company moved back to Nui Dat on October 12 to prepare for a battalion operation starting the next day.
Considering the manpower and effort it must have cost the VC to move 42 tons (38.3 tonnes) of rice into the area, Operations Track Duster and Stirrup Cup could be considered highly successful.
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.