ENLISTMENT IN AUSTRALIAN ARMED FORCES
In August 1967 George Nagle enlisted in the Australian Army in Sydney. Australia was at that time actively involved in the Vietnam war. In January 1968 after completing basic infantry training, George and his mate Jimmy Jellett were posted to Woodside Army Camp on the outskirts of Adelaide in South Australia. Later, they were both posted to the newly formed 9th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, and in November 1968 this unit was ordered to duty as part of 1 ATF based at Nui Dat, Phuoc Tuy Province in South Vietnam.
THE NEW BATTALION - ACTIVE SERVICE
9th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (9RAR) was raised on 13 November 1967 in Adelaide. It was initially based at the Keswick Barracks before transferring to Woodside. The battalion arrived in Vietnam in November 1968, relieving 3 RAR. It formed part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) and was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province.
9RAR joined Operation Goodwood (3 December–17 February) on 1 January, 1969. Goodwood was a reaction to a perceived threat posed by an increase in Viet Cong (VC) activity that suggested an offensive was being planned. The operation took place in the Bien Hoa province. On 17 February the battalion became involved in Operation Federal (17 February–2 April), also in Bien Hoa. It was engaged in searches and patrols following the 1969 Tet Offensive.
The battalion returned to Nui Dat for a period of rest from 9 to 24 March. It then rejoined Federal until 2 April.
During April 1969 1ATF adopted pacification operations as its first priority. This involved seeking out and destroying the enemy in its base areas, preventing enemy access to the civilian population, and helping to create a secure climate for South Vietnamese social, political, and military life. The work was demanding, dangerous, and monotonous and was the primary task carried out by the battalion for the remainder of its tour.
9RAR was primarily engaged with pacification operations. All but three operations took place in Phuoc Tuy. On 2 April it was deployed to the Bien Hoa–Long Khanh–Phuoc Tuy border for Operation Overland (2–10 April). On 11 April it moved south within Bien Hoa and commenced Operation Overlander (11–15 April). The battalion then returned to the Bien Hoa province for Operation Jack (30 September–31 October). These operations were reconnaissance-in-force operations, involving patrolling, land clearing, and protecting civilians.
On 25 November 9RAR was relieved by 8RAR. The battalion arrived in Australia in December 1969.
Australian Combat Base
Nui Dat is a relatively small hill on Route 2, south of Binh Ba, and north of Hoa Long. It was a reasonably central position in the province.
The hill itself was surrounded by an old rubber plantation, in which 1 ATF built it's operational base.
The base had been established in June 1966 by the 5th and 6th Battalions, Royal Australian Regiment (5RAR and 6RAR). When we arrived it was occupied by two infantry battalions (6RAR and 7RAR), a squadron of armoured personnel carriers (A Sqn 3 Cavalry Regiment), three batteries of field artillery of 4th Field Regiment (including 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery), a squadron of engineers (1st Field Squadron), a light aircraft unit (161st Independent Reconnaissance Flight), 104 Signals Squadron, and Headquarters 1 ATF.
There were also two American artillery units located there: A Battery 2/35 US Artillery with six 155mm self propelled guns, and 1/83 Company US Artillery with two 8-inch self-propelled guns and two 175mm self-propelled guns.
We were also supported by Iroquois helicopters from 9 Squadron Royal Australian Air Force based at the Australian logistics base at Vung Tau, and as required, by American helicopter units.
Vung Tau, was a large port and American logistics base 20 miles south of Nui Dat, within which the Australians located their own logistics base and its headquarters (1st Australian Logistics Support Group - 1 ALSG).
When not on major operations beyond the immediate area of Nui Dat and the Horseshoe, infantry units and sub-units, spent most of their time patrolling the areas surrounding the base, thus ensuring its security.