Cheeseman Both Tours
This day will be a long one as
usual as patrolling was always tedious as it sapped your strength to the core.
Today our task will be to search the outer perimeter beyond the minefield on the
coastal side of Dat Do, South Vietnam with 5RAR in 1969.
received our 'Warning Order' that morning that a section
ambush will be required from our platoon inside the
village. My section was given the task and needed to be
in place by last light. On our return from patrolling we
will be relieved of all platoon tasks, so that we can
rest eat and prepare ourselves for the night's ambush.
village was sympathetic towards the Viet Cong (VC) and
we knew they were returning to the village at night for
food and water, and to rest. The village was heavily
mined around its edges on one side facing the hills on
the coastal fringes where they had camps, and which they
would move through areas that were covered by manned
outposts with ease. The South Vietnamese Army Regional
Forces, and the local militia manned them, and we knew
some were bribed, and out of fear for their own families
being threatened let them through. Families followed and
lived with their soldier husbands in static positions as
they manned the post 24 hours a day.
minefield never stopped them either, as they would
disarm them and replant them in areas we moved about in.
It was very effective, as we lost a few blokes killed
and wounded that way.
reconnaissance of the ambush position would be taken
because of the concern, if they knew, or had the
inclination that we were to ambush in a certain place,
the villagers could have informed the Viet Cong and warn
them not to move through the area, or maybe mines could
have been planted at that spot. That is the reason no
reconnaissance was attempted from the ground. All recon
initially was from the air by helicopter the day before.
was to ambush a street junction somewhere in the centre
of the village one kilometre from our location.
location was shown on a mud map in our orders. The
timing that we were to leave had to be spot on, as we
wanted to arrive on last light, so as to position
ourselves on the ground just on dark rather than in
was also in place throughout the village, and everybody
had to be inside their homes and was not to move about
until curfew ended the following morning from 6pm to
6am. Any movement around the village would surely be the
left, all our packs were placed in a central spot, and
the only gear we had was our basic webbing and weapons.
claymore mines would be used so were not carried
because of the close vicinity of the villager's homes
and causing injury.
getting concerned as dark was fast approaching and we
were not there yet, and told the scout to step out a
bit. Night here is normally pitch black so I was
concerned that we could bypass the ambush position. Once
there, we quickly placed ourselves on the ground. It was
very open and flat, not a skerrick of grass or cover of
any kind. Darkness was our only friend as it gave us a
little protection from enemy hostile aimed fire if
contact was activated.
streets crossed on the junction with homes surrounding
us on all sides, and the only noticeable thing was low
light shining through the gaps around the doorways and
windows. Rain started to fall and made its own noise,
but you could pick up other sounds and which we were
able to differentiate. Your hearing became quite attuned
after months in the field. We were told that if a red
light was shining from a house, they were in fact
warning the VC not to travel through the area, and in
one such hut we noticed such a light.
night the ambush was uneventful thank God, as we were
surrounded by homes. We all were uneasy all night; not
one person dozed.
first light appeared we scurried off quickly back to the
company position and rested for a few hours. But no
respite, off again patrolling.
ONCE WE WERE SOLDIERS |