BATTLE GROUND: BINH BA

Operation

Lavarack; 31 May -30 Jun 1969. Hammer; 6-8 Jun 1969

Units Involved

HQ 1 ATF, B Sqn 1 Amid Regt, B Sqn 3 Cav Regt, 1 Fd Regt, 1 Fd Sqn RAE, 5RAR, 6RAR (ANZAC), 161 (Indep) Recce Fit, 9 Sqn RAAF, Elements US Army, ARVN, PF Coy (SVN)

Battle Background

When two enemy regiments entered Phuoc Tuy Province in May 1969 to conduct operations against villages between Route 2 and Highway 15, north of Nui Dat, 6RAR was committed against them. The operation climaxed with 5 RAR joining the battle when enemy forces occupied Binh Ba village, six kilometres to the north of Nui Dat. A series of heavy contacts against a numerically superior enemy, some heavily entrenched in bunkers, characterised the battle. In Operation Hammer, 6th May, an Infantry/Tank attack with 6 RAR in APC's, routed an enemy battalion from Binh Ba, causing the enemy heavy losses. This was the first time since Long Tan that the enemy had entered Phuoc Tuy in such strength. Any reversal would have been a set back to Australian gains in the province and disastrous to Australian prestige. Instead the enemy was defeated and forced to withdraw in disarray and with heavy losses.

Description

The Australian force entered the village with tanks leading, without opposition, until it reached the centre. After coming under heavy RPG and small arms fire, it withdrew to await the arrival of reinforcements. Then with B Coy supported by the tanks of B Sqn, and with the Sth Vietnamese Popular Force troops in blocking positions, D Coy 5RAR supported by tanks, began sweeping through the village. The enemy fired from windows and doorways and then took refuge in tunnels and houses. Each house had to be cleared, so tanks moved into position and supported the infantry whilst they cleared them of the enemy. All Australian troops were engaged in close quarter fighting, and at times, hand to hand combat with the enemy. Only at last light did the Australians stop to establish night blocking positions. The next day, after minor night contact, B Coy saw more enemies moving into the village. Tanks and small arms engaged the enemy reinforcements, forcing them to withdraw. On Jun 8, the Australians made a final sweep to clear Binh Ba.

Battle Casualties

Australian Forces

4 KIA, 37 WIA, three Centurion Tanks immobilized. PF Coy; 4KIA, 7 WIA

Enemy Forces

193 KIA (Confirmed), 11 POW