B Company deployed for Search and Clear operation around the village of Duy Phú in the Trung-Dau valley, following the discovery of mortar ammo dumps during the last mission.
The company was again under strength for this mission, 2nd Platoon being on detached duty, comprising:
Part of a field artillery battery (4 x 105mm) was available for supporting fire.
The company’s area of operations was defined as a restricted fire zone:
The company began their approach to the north of the village, with 3rd Platoon to the west, the Weapons Platoon followed by Company HQ in the centre and 1st Platoon on the east flank. The Sgts Sime were divided equally between the platoons.
Third and Weapons Platoons came under immediate fire from forces in wood A; with Sgt J. Legg suffering a wound and his Thumper gunner being pinned down. No casualties were taken in 3rd platoon. The leading elements of the two platoons returned fire while 1st platoon advanced.
More VC fire was directed at Sgt Proudlock’s squad from the woods, his M79 gunner was wounded causing the squad to halt in position, unable to return fire. Sgt Legg’s squad fired in support but in turn took fire with his M60 gunner being pinned down. Sgt Wheeler’s squad also came under heavy RPG and automatic weapons fire with his M60 gunner killed, M79 gunner wounded and himself suffering a near miss.
3rd platoon laid down heavy fire on the woods, with a mixture of White Phosphorus grenades and automatic fire. In return they received a LAW round, but with no effect.
Sgt Kirk, new in country, led his men in a charge to close assault the enemy in wood A engaging 3rd platoon. The enemy were not fazed and held their position. In the ensuing melee Sgt Kirk’s squad was all but wiped out, four men were killed including Sgt Kirk himself, his Corporal and his Grenadier. His RTO and another private were wounded, only 2 men remained unscathed. The squad failed its morale test and ran, while the VC faded into the undergrowth.
On the right flank Sgts C. Sime and Smith engaged the enemy in wood B.
In the centre Sgt Proudlock continued to fire on wood A, while Lt Tucker contacted the firebase and called in a ranging round from the 105mm battery, hitting his target on the first round.
On the left flank Sgt Wheeler’s squad continued to trade fire with their opponents, to no major effect. Sgt A. Sime joined in while Lt Harris opened up with both his M79’s in support of Sgt. Wheeler’s squad.
Lts. Tucker’s and Harris’ medics treated Sgts Proudlock’s and Wheeler’s Grenadiers; both were stabilised but were unable to continue in the mission.
The firefights continued on all fronts, the only effect being Sgt Smith suffering a near miss.
The VC in wood A kept up their fire, including some RPG and LAW rounds, resulting in Lt Tucker’s RTO and Sgt Smith’s RTO each catching a round. Lt Tucker called Fire for Effect on the artillery barrage.
Sgt Wheeler’s squad came under fire from previously unlocated VC in wood D, he was wounded and his RTO and a grunt pinned down.
Lt Tucker’s medic reached Sgt Legg and managed to patch him up enough for him to resume command of his squad.
Lt Ockelford’s medic treated the late Sgt Kirk’s RTO, stabilising him.
Lt Harris, and Sgts Wheeler and Smith kept up fire on the VC in wood A.
1st platoon concentrated their fire on the VC in wood A; this was too much for the VC and they ran.
Lt Tucker called off the fire mission while his medic patched up his RTO.
The routing VC squad were fired on by Lt Harris and Sgt Wheeler, cutting 6 of them down.
Sgt D. Sime’s found an ammo cache and two VC casualties, one KIA and one WIA as they advanced through wood A. Sgt Proudlock found 2 VC bodies and four wounded VC, with several automatic weapons and an LMG.
Sgt Wheeler’s squad also found an ammo cache, this time in wood D south east of the village and also secured 6 VC, two who surrendered, three wounded and one dead.
Sgt Smith’s RTO was stabilised by Lt Okelford’s medic and his squad captured two VC WIA.
Sgt Livermore also detained two civilians carrying ammunition.
In an action lasting approximately 10 minutes the company lost 5 KIA, and 5 WIA.
The company took 14 prisoners including a couple of porters; confirmed 4 VC KIA by bodycount; took around 15 small arms, an LMG and an RPG.
The company found and destroyed two mortar ammo caches, and found the remnants of another.
The view from the other side of the hill.
The VC had one local force VC squad and three main force squads protecting an HQ unit and a couple of mortar ammo dumps. Each squad had 9 men, with a mixture of either SMGs and Rifles (local) or SMGs and AK-47s (main force) and either an LMG or an RPG.
The local force squad was in the wood south west of the village (wood D) guarding one of the ammo dumps, apart from firing a couple of times this squad played little part in the battle .
Two Main Force squads were deployed in the wood north west of the village (wood A), guarding the other ammo dump.
The third Main Force squad was deployed in wood B.
The HQ team was deployed in the wood C and withdrew as the US forces approached the northern woods.
A couple of porters were resting in the village as the US forces were spotted; they weren’t quick enough to escape.
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