BATTLE GROUND: HAT DICH

Operation 

Goodwood 3 Dec 1968- 19 Feb 1969

Units Involved

HQ 1ATF, C and B Sqn 1 Armd Regt, A Sqn 3 Cav Regt, 12 Fd Regt, 1 Fd Sqn RAE, 1RAR, 4 RAR (ANZAC), 9 RAR, 2 SAS Sqn, US and ARVN Unit

Enemy

274 VC Regt, 74 NVA Arty Regt, D67 Eng Bn, Tu Duc Regt, Dl, D2 and D6 Sapper Recon Bn, D440 and D445 LF Bn

Battle Background

The operation was mounted to locate and destroy enemy in the Hat Dich area, particularly the 274 VC Regt, which was threatening major installations to the west. The Hat Dich covered the area in the north west of Phuoc Tuy where the borders of Ph Uoc Tuy, Long Khanh and Bien Hoa Provinces meet. The battles of Op Goodwood were fought in the Long Thanh district of Bien Hoa Province. The operation was characterised by a series of engagement of the enemy from squad to company level in bunker systems. Whilst trying to avoid contact. the enemy fought fiercely when his bases were threatened. The destruction of enemy bases, his extensive casualties and loss of equipment forced him to modify his objective for the planned TET Offensive in Feb 1969

Description

Troops of 1 Task Force began the deployment to FSB JULIA and A Sqn, 3 Cav Regt, was responsible for command and control The enemy initially tried to avoid contact and move away, but 1 RAR's aggressive patrols, supported by C Sqn, later B Sqn, 1 Armd Regt, and A Sqn, 3 Cav Regt, brought daily contacts with VC groups of up to Platoon strength. The Australians discovered extensive battalion-sized bunker systems, with large rice and weapon caches confirming the presence of large enemy force and resupply facilities. To stop enemy movement towards the north, 4 RAR was deployed from Nui Dat on Dec 11, and afterwards two Australian battalions were kept continually in the area on a rotation basis. Supported by the Tanks and APC's, the infantry soldiers patrolled and ambushed extensively. Patrols from 2 SAS Sqn were inserted by air and APC on 6th Jan and 29 Jan 1969 to provide information on enemy movement. The enemy held the initiative, with his intimate knowledge of the area and his well prepared defensive positions. He would avoid contact where possible, but if his base camps were threatened he would fight fiercely, withdrawing only at nightfall or if air and artillery strikes drove him out. In the 78-day period of Op Goodwood, 274 contacts took place. "One of the most significant actions took place on 16th Feb 1969, after two additional enemy battalions from Tu Duc Regt were reported in the area. 

With tanks and APC's in support, 4RAR redeployed for what was the final major action at Hat Dich. The action on the 16th involved Len Swarbrick, who at the time was with B Sqn 1st Armoured Regiment, and four others were wounded and Brian Sullivan and Sandy Tocock were awarded MIDs. The enemy was driven off and abandoned his permanent bases. Op Goodwood was concluded two days later.

Battle Casualties

Australian Forces

21 KIA, 91 WIA. ARVN; 31 KIA, 81 WIA. 

US Forces; 7 WIA.

Enemy Forces

245 KIA (confirmed), 39 KIA (possible), 45 WIA