Sunday, April 10, 2016

THE VICTOR 3 'PATROL' ACTION OF 22 JUNE 1968

I did not appreciate Egbut attempting to hijack the obituary to my good friend Ross Jennings by indulging in a frolic of his fancy by denigrating what was described as a 'classic patrol' action in the book 'A Duty Done' ... published by the Royal Australian Regiment Association, and detailing the events of 22 June 1968 when a nine man patrol from Victor 3 Company came up against an enemy assessed at Company plus strength and successfully engaged them before forcing them to abandon their prepared position.

In the initial contact one member of the patrol (Private Wickman) was killed.   The remainder of the patrol were pinned down in the open behind a paddy bun where, over the next 90 minutes, they fought off repeated assaults by the enemy equipped with a least one Heavy DshK (12.7) Machine Gun.   The patrol was supported by artillery and mortar fire as well as a helicopter light fire team.   The Patrol Commander (Lieutenant Dodson) was severely wounded suffering shrapnel wounds to the head which caused him to lose much of his vision yet he continued to direct in the fire support which was instrumental in causing the enemy to break contact and flee the battlefield.   Three members of the patrol were decorated for their gallantry ... Lieutenant Dodson received an 'immediate' Military Cross (the only such award since WW2); the patrol 2ic Lance Corporal Ropata (later Ransfield) was awarded the Distinguished Conduct Medal (one down from the Victoria Cross) while Sapper Wiki Kahika was Mentioned in Despatches.

Six years ago Ross Jennings and I combined to tell the story of that action in the acclaimed TV documentary 'The Victor 3 Patrol Action' when we bought together six of the surviving members of that patrol to tell their story.  

Egbut, in his ill judged comments (he wasn't there), labels the action as a 'shambles'; claims it wasn't a patrol at all (FFS, a fifteen man half platoon patrol which splits into two groups leaving six behind in a firm base with nine 'patrolling forward from that base and if that isn't a patrol I don't know what is) and then compounds his drivel by stating the real story won't be told until someone dies a natural death ... just what he means by that quite escapes me.

Sorry Egbut but I prefer to listen to those who were there on the day; Maurice D, Wiki K, Billy T, Baldy K, John K and Bruce G.   Each and everyone acquitted themselves with distinction.   The only part of their tale at variance with the official version was that no-one claims to be heard the order by Ropata to fix bayonets when they were about to be overrun.   That's not to say he didn't say it ... just that no-one heard him say it.  

You do those men (your colleagues) a great disservice with your allegations and I, for one, have to say that in making them you undermine your own credibility.


13 comments:

Redbaiter said...

Actually, I think the post you did on your friend's death was about the best one you've ever done and a fine salute.

But don't you ever reflect on the fact that when you were fighting in Vietnam, the troops who opposed you were armed and trained and motivated by the PRC, which is now slowly, bit by bit by bit, working to take over the Sth China sea, the Pacific Ocean, and most of the rim countries including NZ, and they're doing this with the aid and comfort of the political party you are so proud to belong to?

And that the Party leader you support apparently met recently with Chinese in Auckland who were opposed to the Union Jack on our flag, and they conspired with John key to help him remove it?

WTF is wrong with you National people so meekly and willingly allowing this subversive progressive John Key to sell out our country to the PRC?

Especially you, of all people.

The Veteran said...

Red ... please don't attempt to hijack my post. But to follow your argument through to its logical conclusion we shouldn't be trading/talking to Germany/Italy/Japan either. In respect of the flag debate and the people have spoken. It's called democracy. Far better that way than by government fiat. As for John Key being a 'subversive progressive' and you saying that does't make it so. I suspect that in your world anyone left of Genghis Khan falls into that category.

But as I said ... this thread is about the Victor 3 Patrol Action and the need to correct a piece of mischief by a person who likes nothing more than to argue the toss ... so can we leave it at that please.

Anonymous said...

Apologies Veteran, senior moment, I was referring to the "other patrol" where we lost men and were hung out to dry and would make a much more controversial doco. As it was your old platoon I made an assumption I shouldn't have. I don't watch war movies. I have no problem with your statement but try not to be so self righteous.

Lord Egbut Nobacon

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy said...

I was chatting to Bruce G at a Victor 3 get together at Te Awamutu a couple of weeks ago.

You may want to spend a quiet moment with him at some time discussing some claims made by some people during the making of the documentary.

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... apology accepted but I don't think I was being particularly self righteous in reacting the way I did to your comment which you now disassociate yourself from.

I take it you were referring to what happened after I relinquished command and I prefer to stay clear from that.

TTSP ... I can only say that to the best of my recollection the six interviewees (Bruce G included) told much the same story when we interviewed them one-on-one and collectively. Ross J (the producer) was pretty astute and would have picked up on any major variances in the stories told.

Anonymous said...

Tinker is right. The only way you will ever get the unvarnished truth from soldiers is to wait at the bottom of the gangplank because they are not used to dissembling and exaggerating when discussing events with their mates.....it doesn't take long for the rot to set in.

Try this for a fact. Around 60% of the most engaged company never discharged their weapons in anger during a 12 month tour. That rises to 80% in other companies. I can hear the howls of outrage now. Once you have told a story you cannot retract it without loss of face.

Lord Egbut

David said...

I don't want to hijack your thread, either. Maybe a new one is needed. But I cannot let this go unchallenged.

Red ... please don't attempt to hijack my post. But to follow your argument through to its logical conclusion we shouldn't be trading/talking to Germany/Italy/Japan either.

In the case of the Vietnam/China alliance, we were never at war with China and we were defeated by Vietnam. Germany, Italy and Japan were comprehensively defeated and new government structures put in place.

The Veteran said...

TTSS ... I think now I know what Bruce G may be referring too but it's not my place to comment. What happens 'on tour' stays on tour.

Egbut ... I think you are about right with your 60% given the type of war we were involved in. In Borneo I suspect the figure would have been close to 95%. I exclude from the equation all those who indulged in a 'yippie' shoot when the occasion arose.

David ... Korea was a proxy war. The North Korean NKPA had been largely defeated by October 1950 and from thereonin the (Chinese) PLA was heavily involved in the fighting supported by Russian pilots who flew MIG-15 fighters with either Chinese PLAAF or North Korean KPAAF markings.

David said...

Not sure where I mentioned Korea. Let's get it back to Vietnam.

The Veteran said...

David ... Korea (in the Korean war context) = China. Vietnam too. But, what's the point? We're a trading nation. NZL lives and dies by trade. If we were to limit trade to the countries we've never fought against then it would be thin gruel indeed. I've moved on since Vietnam. Try it ... good for the soul.

Anonymous said...

David. Go back to your history books. We pulled out along with the US and Aust. in 1972 due to political considerations at home ie. no chance of the incumbent govts. winning their respective elections. "Democracy in action."

The South was finally defeated in 1975 without our help. We were never defeated.

Just as well as the South was hopelessy corrupt and the only hope for that benighted country was a short burst of communism to bring national unity. Communism is never a long term prospect in the Asian mind...the are too capitalistic in their views.

Lord Egbut

The Veteran said...

Egbut ... I think both of us know that South Vietnam was hopelessly corrupt as is Vietnam today (especially in the South). Your last sentence is 'on the money' ... pun intended.

One final point ... I few years ago I traveled from Hanoi to Hi Chi Minh City on the Reunification 'Express' (av speed 37 kph). I shared a sleeper with an ex NVA General. We conversed in fractured French. He said words to the effect that their view was that Australian and NZL forces (in the 'American' War) fought honorably; that he had fought the French and they fought dirty, that he had fought the Americans and 'I no fear' and that he had fought the Chinese and 'I fear'. Interesting.

Son of a Vietnam Vet said...

My father was Bauldy. He never talked too much about Vietnam until later in his life, as a family we didn't know too much about his war experiences until we saw the Babtizim of Fire doc.