Office" ... the Headquarters building,
Nui Dat circa 1967
Head Quarters Company, 1st Australian
Task Force (HQ Coy, 1 ATF) and its sub unit, Defence & Employment
(D&E) Platoon were formed in the early months of 1966.
They were made up from elements of
various units including 8 & 12 Platoons, “C” Company, 7 RAR at
Puckapunyal, Victoria, and transferred to Holsworthy after the
Government of the day announced that it was going to send a Task Force
to South Vietnam.
Company’s function in South Vietnam was to provide administrative and
logistical support staff to Head Quarters, 1st Australian Task Force.
This included a broad spectrum of specialist staff ranging from
Intelligence personnel right through to the paymaster, just to name two
HQ Coy, 1 ATF also had a platoon of
Infantry soldiers, D&E platoon, who in the early days of the Task
Force were employed as working parties in building the facilities
required by Head Quarters of the Task Force.
The platoon also had a key role in the
defence of Head Quarters, 1 ATF should the Task Force Base at Nui Dat be
invaded. Their role was to provide a last line defence to the Head
Quarters area including the vital telecommunications area of the Base.
1ATF had as it's emblem a red kangaroo on a yellow shield bordered
by green, and was affectionately known by the soldiers as the
badge and text about HQ 1ATF
Whenever Task Force Head Quarters
moved into the field, D&E platoon provided its perimeter defence.
The first occasion of this happening was Operation "Hayman" on
6 November 1966, which also saw the first large scale aerial insertion
onto unsecured landing zones, of the Task Force, on Long Son Island.
D&E platoon were also present at the Battle of Fire Support Base
"Coral" in May 1968. Again on 5 June 1971, Task Force Head
Quarters moved to "Courtenay Hill" which had been previously
secured by D&E platoon, following the withdrawal of a company of 2
RAR, to conduct Operation "Overlord" and the battle of Long
Khanh. This was possibly the last time that the Task Force established a
forward headquarters out of the Base.
D&E platoon’s role altered over
the many years that Australians were present in South Vietnam. As an
Infantry platoon of 3 sections of about 36 to 40 soldiers, it become an
extra resource available for use by the Task Force Commander. In
1970-71, it became the “eyes and ears” of the Task Force out in the
field and gathered first hand intelligence that the Task Force used to
plan operations. It was the Task Force’s Recce (reconnaissance) platoon
and carried out “long range” patrols at times to gather such
information during its normal operations. As such, it was equipped
Defence & Employment platoon, 1st
Australian Task Force, was the longest continually serving Infantry
platoon in South Vietnam, being continually reinforced through the 1st
Australian Reinforcement Unit, and was only removed from the Order of
Battle when the 1st Australian Task Force withdrew from Nui Dat to Vung
Tau in late 1971.