Part Seven-Black Beret, Different Badge

 Other soldiers than those of the RAAC man armoured vehicles. Usually, in the Vietnam era, they were from the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. (RAEME) Those attached to RAAC units, for example, are recovery mechanics, fitters, armourers, electronics mechanics and the like. They manned vehicles based on those of the fighting elements of Armour, modified to suit the need, eg. the Armoured Recovery Vehicle, a Centurion hull fitted with tools, winches, pulleys, ‘A’ towing frames and wire tow ropes for the purpose. Its sole vehicle weapon was a .30 calibre machine gun. The fitters ‘track’ was (is) a M113 hull likewise fitted out with those things mentioned before, plus a crane. This vehicle had a .50 calibre machine gun.

To illustrate the fact that RAEME crewmen faced the same risks as AFV crewmen, it is sufficient to detail the award of a Mention in Despatches given to Sergeant Kenneth Alfred ‘Sandy’ Tocock. When read, it is clear that a higher award ought to have been given, possibly a Military Medal. Tocock’s deed probably suffered from the ‘quota’ system mentioned elsewhere in this book.


Mentioned in Despatches-Kenneth Alfred Tocock

 Sergeant Kenneth Tocock enlisted in the Australian Regular Army on the first of August 1951 and was allotted to the Royal Australian Infantry Corps. In 1955, he transferred to the Royal Australian Electrical and Mechanical Engineers. He joined C Squadron Section, First Armoured Regiment Light Aid Detachment on the 22nd of November in Vietnam and B Squadron Section on the 11th of February 1969.

On the 16th of February 1969, Sergeant Tocock was commanding his Armoured Recovery Vehicle which was attached to 1 Troop, B Squadron, First Armoured Regiment and B Company, 4th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment. At approximately 13:20 hours, the Company Group came under heavy fire and several friendly casualties occurred. One tank was extensively damaged and a brush fire commenced in the contact area.

Without regard to his personal safety, Sergeant Tocock manoeuvered his vehicle into the contact area, dismounted under observation of the enemy and assisted the movement of the wounded to a safer area. He administered first aid and directed efforts to extinguish the brush fire which was threatening the wounded. He then organised progressive ammunition resupply to the other tanks engaging the enemy. Later, while the contact continued, he recovered the damaged tank out of the contact area to a safe area.

At all times during the action, Sergeant Tocock displayed coolness and foresight. He showed admirable leadership which was evidenced by the manner in which his crew and others about him reacted to his directions. His conduct under fire was of a high order and reinforced the bond between the combat arms and supporting services.

In communication, Sandy states (without false modesty) “…..let me say although the award was attributed to me it was a group action and no credit was given to the other chaps in my crew at the time.”

Sandy Tocock is a credit to his Corps and an outstanding example of the Armoured spirit.      

Unbidden Memories.

Watching call sign ‘Spooky’, the C47 fitted with Gatling guns fire at a rate of 6000 rounds per minute per gun turn jungle into salad.