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Category: Conflicts/Vietnam

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3 Cavalry Regiment RAAC; 3CAV

  • Now operating as 3/4 Cavalry Regiment

Click to enlarge


  • Vietnam (1965-72), (Emblazoned on the Guidon)
  • Long Tan; (Emblazoned on the Guidon)
  • Bin Ba;
  • Hat Dich;
  • Coral/Balmoral; (Emblazoned on the Guidon)
  • Bien Hoa
  • Somalia-CGS Commendation 21 November 1993.
  • East Timor; INTERFET, Operation Lavarack.


Click to enlarge The 3rd Cavalry Regiment has its historical origin with the Victorian Mounted Rifles (VMR) which was raised in 1885. In May 1965, 1 Troop, A Squadron, 4th / 19th Prince of Wales Light Horse, a CMF Unit, (direct lineal descendants of the Victorian Mounted Rifles), embarked for Vietnam for service in South Vietnam.

In March 1966 the troop was re-designated 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Troop.

The troop expanded and in May of the same year became 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron. In January 1967 the Squadron was renamed A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. B Squadron was raised at Holsworthy in 1967 and both A and B Squadrons saw active service in South Vietnam.

The Armoured Personnel Carriers in South Vietnam participated in every major Australian Task Force operation including the battle of Long Tan in 1966, the Tet Offensive in 1968, the battle of Binh Ba in 1969 and the battles for Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral.

In November 1971 the Squadron returned to Townsville as B Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, while the Squadron in Holsworthy was absorbed into the 2nd cavalry Regiment.

  • In 1981 B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment was amalgamated with the 4th Cavalry Regiment to form the 3/4 Cavalry Regiment.


The 3/4 Cavalry Regiment, now reduced to a single Squadron, supported the Operational Deployment Force (ODF) and in December 1992 deployed with the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, to Somalia as a part of 'Operation Solace'. On their return the members of the Squadron wore the Australian Active Service Medal.

The badge is of a Black Scorpion encased by a wreath with the tail swung up as if to strike placed over a inverted boomerang which has the unit motto RESOLUTE and is finished in gunmetal colour to reflect that it had been designed and chosen in a combat area.

The badge was designed by Lieutenant General John Grey, AO (Retd) and assisted by Charles Gaunt and Colonel Roger Kershaw (Retd) both whom where adjutants in succession during Lieutenant General Grey' s time in Vietnam. It was chosen as the Symbol of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment as it had already been adopted informally and painted on the side of all M113A1 vehicles with the Squadron.

The reason it was chosen was due to the prolific Black Scorpions crucial time in battle and to this day that reputation is maintained. The Queen approved the Scorpion Badge in 1972 and it took until 1977-78 before the Regiment was badged correctly. Up until that time the 3rd Cavalry Regiment wore the Corps Badge, except for the initial period in 27th May 1965 - 14th September 1965 when the 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse badge was worn.

For you history buffs, this is how it all started. The badge derived from a stencil, which was applied, to the LHS front of all 4 Troop tracks. This was commenced about Aug 66, for the reasons outlined below:

a.    When 1 APC Sqn was first deployed to SVN on HMAS SYDNEY, only the SHQ and LAD, all of the APCs meant for the new 2 Tp, and Spt Tp of Tp HQ and three sects were deployed. The last consisted of four mortar tracks (two sects) and Spt arms APC sect of four APCs with a Tp HQ of two APCs, total 10 vehicles. The Sqn was to pick up 1 Tp ex Bien Hoa on Op Hardihood at Nui Dat in May 66. This was done and the 1APC Sqn then could field two APC Tps (2 Tp, Guymer, and a renamed 3 Tp, Roberts). Each was to support a nominated Inf Bn.

b.    These two APC Tps proved insufficient as TAOR and operations with ARVN and SAS needed to be undertaken whilst the two APC Tps were either deployed (1 Tp with 5RAR, 3 Tp with 6RAR). An additional APC Tp had therefore to be created. This was done by transferring two APCs each from 2 and 3 Tps and from Sqn HQ to the newly created 4 Tp, thereby providing each APC Tp with a three APC sect of each 3 tracks, and a Tp HQ of two tracks. The four mortar tracks, which had patrolled extensively with 4 Tp when not deployed as comfortable base plate, transferred to Sqn HQ. 

c.    The 4 Tp scorpion logo, originally bestowed on the mortar sect vehicles (being the "sting in the tail" of 4 Tp whilst the enemy was being held by the armour and direct fire weapons to the front), was retained by 4 Tp throughout its tour. It was a normal function for 4 Tp to patrol in Tp strength, with a mounted mortar sect and close protection Inf pl from a resting Inf Bn, for long periods. Functions included securing helo LZ, dropping/collecting SAS patrols, ambushing and reacting with own or ARVN infantry Coy’s aboard.  

This information was supplied by Ian Bryant AM BRIG (Ret) who was the Troop leader at that time.


'Old Comrades', (3 CAV); Light Cavalry', (4 CAV)

LOCATION  Lavarack Barracks, Townsville, QLD.
ROLE To provide Armoured mobility for the infantry.


OC of B Squadron, 3/4 Cavalry Regiment is a Major,
Troop Leader is a Captain,
Troop Officer is a Lieutenant.


B Squadron consists of two Line Troops, and one Support / Recon Troop, 

Each Line Troop consists of 15 M113A1 APC's.


History - Introduction

The 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance) traces its origins to that of the Australian Light Horse in World War 1. More recently, the Regiment evolved from the 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse (4/19 PWLH). The 2nd Cavalry Regiment (Reconnaissance) came into being on 20 November 1970, from convoluted beginnings. Today the Regiment is the only fully regular Regiment within the Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC).

The title '2nd Cavalry Regiment' appeared as early as November 1966. At that time the Chief of the General Staff (CGS), Sir John Wilton, directed that there should be a regular armoured personnel carrier regiment, that it should be a cavalry regiment in name and that the regular armoured regiments, like the early light horse regiments be sequentially numbered. The CGS became involved in the issue of unit titles as the Army had 1st Armoured Regiment, 1st Cavalry Regiment and 1st APC Squadron. This had begun to bother command staffs as well as the units themselves. Colonel Coleman, then the Director of Armour, believed it was important to get a Regular Unit identity for the APC sub units which were beginning to proliferate. His ideas met with little encouragement until the CGS stepped in. The end result was that, on 22 November 1966, a minute, authorized by the CGS, approved the re-designation of 1st Cavalry Regiment and 1st APC Squadron. In order to implement the CGS' numbering policy for regular RAAC units, the 1st Cavalry Regiment was duly redesignated the 2nd Regiment and the 1st APC Squadron, at the time serving in Vietnam, became A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment. The 2nd Cavalry Regiment at the time consisted of A Squadron in Holsworthy and B Squadron in Enoggera, but with no Regimental Headquarters.

The date of this re-designation was 16 January 1967, but it was to be three and a half years before authority to raise a Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron was gained. The Headquarters element and a Light Aid detachment were established at Gallipoli Lines, Holsworthy, on 18 January 1971. They joined A Squadron in Holsworthy and the Australian based Squadron of 3rd Cavalry Regiment (later to become B Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment) under the command of the first Commanding Officer, LTCOL J. D. Keldie, M. C. on 20 November 1970.

The 'original' B Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment was located at Enoggera and remained independent of Headquarters 2nd Cavalry Regiment. This curious arrangement was due to a desire to await the next squadron changeover in Vietnam. This squadron then ceased to be in any way akin to 2nd Cavalry Regiment on 11 October 1971 and was redesignated A Squadron 4th Cavalry Regiment.

The First Sabre Squadrons

A Squadron

The late 1950s were a difficult time for the Armoured Corps. There was only one regular Armoured Regiment and the CMF units were experiencing problems with large numbers of personnel (due to National Service) lack of instructors and poor equipment. A solution was implemented in 1959, whereby a regular squadron was incorporated into both 2nd/14th Queensland Mounted Infantry and 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse. This meant the difficulties of raising new regular units were bypassed. In order to achieve this, A Squadron 1st Armoured Regiment had to be disbanded (it was raised again in May 1968). Official approval was given for the formation of the regular squadrons in 1960, with one of these formed in Victoria on 29 June 1960 as a reconnaissance squadron. This unit was titled A Squadron 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse (A Sqn 4/19 PWLH). The unit was first located in Seymour before moving to Puckapunyal in September 1962.

On 27 May 1965 1 Tp A Sqn 4/19 PWLH departed for Vietnam. The troop sailed to Vietnam aboard HMAS Sydney and arrived in Vung Tau on 11 June 1965. The troop included eight M113 APC, which had only recently been issued (the troop had been training with Ferret, Saracen and Saladin prior to departure) and two Landrovers. The troop formed the APC Troop of the 1st Australian Logistic Support Company, which was supporting the 1st Battalion of the Royal Australian Regiment (1 RAR). In March 1966, the troop became officially known as the 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Troop.

The troop, being the only armoured unit in Vietnam, was given a wide variety of tasks. They were constantly required for operational tasks and there was little opportunity to hold crews in reserve. Fatigue was caused by constant operations, the need to maintain constant security and long hours of maintenance. On 30 September 1965 the remainder of the troop’s vehicles, 3 APC (one belonging to the Light Aid Detachment and the other two being the reserve vehicles of the troop) and two APC (Mortar) arrived in Vung Tau. In May 1966, the troop was relieved and subsequently absorbed into 1 APC Squadron.

In 1965, A Sqn 4/19 PWLH moved to Gallipoli Lines, Holsworthy, and in November was redesignated as A Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment. A Squadron 2nd/14th Queensland Mounted Infantry became B Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment. A Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment had a complement of 156 all ranks which included an increment to permit the squadron to operate as an independent entity. B Squadron 1st Cavalry Regiment was restricted to 76 personnel because of a temporary manpower shortage. The organisation of the two squadrons was similar and included a squadron headquarters, an Administration Troop, an Anti Tank and Surveillance Troop, a Support Troop and three cavalry troops (B Squadron only had one cavalry troop). A Squadron underwent its last name change on 16 January 1967 when it became known as A Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

B Squadron

On 1 July 1965, the 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron (1 APC Sqn) was raised in Puckapunyal, with the initial mission of relieving No 1 APC Tp in Vietnam. By December 1965, the 1st APC Sqn was organised with squadron headquarters, an administrative troop, two armoured personnel carrier troops and elements of support company and supporting arms troop. In part, this was to provide relief for 1 Tp in Vietnam, but it also foreshadowed a general increase in the scale of APCs allocated to the Task Force which had seemed half hearted, even tentative, when the force was first formed. After relieving 1 APC Tp in May 1966, the squadron was located in the Task Force base of Nui Dat.

On 17 January 1967, 1 APC Sqn was renamed A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment (A Sqn 3 Cav Regt). A portion of 1 APC Sqn remained in Puckapunyal and was titled 1 APC Sqn (Australian Component). The squadron from Puckapunyal replaced the squadron in Vietnam on 25 April 1967.

Between July and September 1967, the Australian component moved to the newly completed Jordan Lines in Holsworthy and expended to form B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment. In July the advance party of the Squadron left Puckapunyal and moved to Holsworthy to take over the new barracks. In September the main body joined the advance party at Jordan Lines where the Squadron was brought up to full strength in preparation for onward movement to Vietnam. This never eventuated because the method of troop rotation reverted to individual personnel replacement from the squadron in Jordan Lines to the squadron in Vietnam, a system which remained in place until the withdrawal of the squadron from Vietnam.

A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment became B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment on 13 May 1969 when the rotation of Officer Commanding took place. With the change in name of the squadron in Nui Dat, the squadron at Jordan Lines became A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment. This title swap occurred again and, on 16 October 1971, A Squadron returned from Vietnam to take up residence in Townsville. In January 1971, the component which was in Holsworthy (by now another title swap had occurred and it was known as A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment) lost its independent status and came under command of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. November 1971 saw A Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment at Holsworthy become B Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment. B Squadron 2nd Cavalry Regiment remained an APC Sqn until 1976 when it converted to the reconnaissance role.

Role and Organisation

A Squadron 4th 19th Prince of Wales Light Horse was raised and equipped as a Cavalry Squadron in June 1960. For the RAAC, the following years were a period of evolving structures, changing roles and operational development. A three Sabre squadron Cavalry Regiment emerged from the 1962 Corps Conference. This organisation was formalized with General Staff Instruction 62/25, titled the "Reorganization of RAAC" in 1964. RAAC APC organisations were raised with the introduction of the M113 in 1964. In 1965 the CGS instituted a review which saw the Pentropic Division concept laid to rest and, with it, saw the loss of spare AFV crews from RAAC organisations, thus reducing operational endurance. 

The anti-tank role was, until 1965, an RAAC responsibility until doctrinal changes placed this responsibility in the hands of the infantry. In the Vietnam conflict, the 3rd Cavalry Regiment elements, which eventually formed part of the Regiment, were limited to a personnel carrying role. This role was, in part, continued until 1976.A change in unit organisations occurred in 1971. This new organisation, called the ‘RAAC Regiment’, contained a tank, cavalry and APC squadron. Provision was made to vary the number and type of squadrons to suit the needs of the theatre of operations. Argument against the composite units was strong, particularly breaking the concentration of force of tanks. The Tank Regiment was temporarily excepted from change, so from 1970 to 1976, 2nd Cavalry Regiment consisted of a Reconnaissance Squadron and an APC Squadron. 

During the final months of 1976, B Squadron was tasked with training elements of 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5/7 RAR) in the rudiments of driving, servicing and employing the M113. This began the mechanized infantry battalion trial which culminated in 1977 with 5/7 RAR relieving the Regiment of its APC role. 4th Cavalry Regiment in Enoggera became an APC Regiment during this period and sent its Fire Support Vehicles (FSV) and gunners to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment. B Squadron was then able to re-role to reconnaissance, allowing the Regiment to concentrate on a single role. Cavalry Troops were first based on the British Commonwealth structure which was two Ferret Scout Cars, two Saladin Armoured Cars and a Saracen APC with a section of Assault Troopers. 

This structure was retained with the introduction of the M113 using three M113 APCs, two FSVs and an assault section. In the early 1980s, the Assault Troopers and their M113 APCs were brigaded into one troop, leaving the Reconnaissance Troops with four vehicles and 10 crewmen. With equipment and manpower improvements the Reconnaissance Troops returned to five vehicles although at various times the squadrons were without Assault Troopers and their A1 echelons.

Changes since that time included two mortar carriers being part of each squadron although, with ammunition and manpower shortages that capability was lost later in the 1980s. The arrival of thermal imaging equipment and ground surveillance radar systems necessitated the raising of a Radar Troop, which was later converted into a reconnaissance troop in mid 1996. This, in conjunction with the raising of C Squadron in 1996, meant that each squadron now had an identical structure.

Becoming a Regiment

After the successful introduction of armour into the task force in Vietnam, the Director of Armour, Colonel J. G. Monaghan, had the policy regarding armour re-examined. His first achievement was to win acceptance of the general principal that a Regimental Headquarters should be provided where two or more squadrons were located together. This resulted in the authority being given to raise a Regimental Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron for the 2nd Cavalry Regiment with effect 20 November 1970. RHQ, Headquarters Squadron and the Light Aid Detachment (LAD) were formed in January 1971 and joined A Sqn in Holsworthy. B Squadron 3rd Cavalry Regiment, at the time located in Jordan Lines at Holsworthy, came under the command of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, whose first Commanding Officer was Lieutenant Colonel J. D. Keldie, MC.

After the formation of the Regiment and the establishment of an RHQ, further expeditions to Vietnam were limited to a troop of six Saladin Fire Support Vehicles (M113 hulls fitted with a Saladin Armoured Car turret) commanded by Lieutenant C. E. Stephens. This troop embarked in May 1971 and was employed in Task Force base defence and escort duties. The troop was not involved in any active service incidents and returned to Australia in March 1972.

The element known as the LAD later became known as Technical Support Squadron (TSS). At irregular intervals since its formation, Headquarters Squadron (HQ Sqn) has been known as HQ Sqn or variations of the title Operational Support Squadron (OSS). In the field OSS and TSS combined to form the Regimental A2 Echelon. On 17 January 1996 the components of the A2 Echelon were formed into a single squadron titled Support Squadron (Spt Sqn).


M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers from 4th/19th Prince of Wales Light Horse on operations in Vietnam.

C Squadron

At different times during its history, the Regiment has had an organisation referred to as C Squadron, be it an attached Army Reserve squadron during exercise, a training team consisting of several SNCO and Officers or, in the late 1980s, 161st Reconnaissance Squadron (AAAvn). The latter was due to close co-operation in training and shared messes and was a statement of professional respect. On 19 April 1996 the CO, Lieutenant Colonel M. P. McGinnis announced that the Comd 1 Div, Major General T. J. Ford, had given approval for the raising of C Squadron. This was later confirmed by the arrival of a minute dated 4 April 1996. At the time of its approval, C Squadron had a newly constructed headquarters building, Squadron Headquarters Troop, Administration Troop, two Reconnaissance Troops (previously 4 Troop A Squadron and 4 Troop B Squadron) and a Radar Troop. In August 1996, Radar Troop became the third reconnaissance troop of the squadron.


Seymour to Holsworthy

Moves from Seymour to Puckapunyal in 1962, then to Gallipoli Lines at Holsworthy in 1965 occurred during the period of evolving names of the Regiment. The move from Puckapunyal in 1965 was described as 'like going on exercise'. The squadron drove up the Hume Highway and on arrival in Holsworthy set up a compound with steel posts and barbed wire. The initial accommodation was tents.

The move to Jordan Lines in Holsworthy in 1971 coincided with the raising of Regimental Headquarters (RHQ). Jordan Lines was built for a single squadron and initially occupied by the squadron from the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, however it provided the Regiment with hard standing and cover for the vehicles. The RHQ building was designed for a squadron and so had several adaptations made over the years. The Regiment manned its own ORs, Sergeants and Officers Messes. For several years the squadron headquarters were located in the lower floor of the soldiers barracks. The situation improved in 1985 with the relocation and modification of three wooden huts. Other areas of the Regiment continually expanded and a new Q complex, workshop and RAP were added at different times. The soldiers built their own club with a demountable steel framed corrugated hut acquired through irregular channels. This club from the "Rusty Bucket" (a beer fridge in the ORs Mess) and was called the "Light Horse Club".

Holsworthy to Darwin

Moving to Darwin was a staged move and was not as easily executed as the move from Puckapunyal to Holsworthy. The move to relocate the Regiment in Darwin commenced in mid 1992 and the last families arrived in Darwin in January 1993. On 17 April 1993 a parade was held for the official opening of Waler Barracks and the establishment of the Regiment in the Northern Territory. The parade was reviewed by The Honourable Bill Hayden, AC, Governor General of Australia. The relocation was a continuation of the policy to relocate and reinforce our defence presence in the northern regions of Australia. HQ 1 Bde remained in Sydney until 1997 and the Regiment's command status was an evolving issue with both Northern Command and 1st Brigade involved.

The barracks was named after the horse that carried the Light Horse into the annals of Australian military history. The barracks are a fitting memorial to that element of a partnership formed in battle that was never to return to its homeland. All of the streets within the original Waler Barracks precinct have been specifically named. In the Regiment's working and living areas the streets have been named after members of the RAAC who gave their lives during the Vietnam conflict. The two main thoroughfares are Courage Avenue, which reflects the Regiment's motto, and Lighthorse Drive, commemorating the Regiment's links with the Australian Light Horse.

Waler Barracks was retitled Waler Lines and incorporated into the expanded Robertson Barracks in 1995. Robertson Barracks was named after LTGEN Sir Horace Robertson, an Armoured Corps officer who commanded the 7th Military District in Darwin in 1939. LTGEN Robertson distinguished himself as a commander at home in Darwin and overseas in North Africa and also as commander of the British Commonwealth Occupation Force in Japan from 1946 to 1951. The progressive relocation of other 1st Brigade units to Darwin ended the Regiment's isolation and established the 1st Brigade presence in the north of Australia. from Dept of Defence


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