Each Battalion consisted of,
(details relevant to the era 1965/72)
Battalion HQ Group
(5 Officers and 31 Other ranks),
4 x Rifle Companies
(Alpha, Bravo, Charlie and Delta)
(ea of 5 Officers and 118 Other ranks)
Each company consisted of,
Company HQ - 2 Officers and 13 Other ranks
Support Section - 6 Other ranks and
3 x Platoons each of
- platoon HQ, 1 officer and 3 other ranks (
Plt Sgt, radio op and batman) and
- 3 x Rifle Sections each of 10 Other ranks
(1 Cpl, 1 L/Cpl, 8 Ptes)
Support Company Support Company HQ - 1 Officers
and 12 Other ranks plus
Mortar Platoon - 2 Officers and 31 Other ranks
provided mortar support for the
battalion and the Task Force with six 81mm mortar tubes and generally
operated from the base area or from a Fire Support Base (FSB). A Mortar FO
would accompany rifle companies.
Anti-Tank Platoon - 1 Officers and 31 Other ranks
- equipped with 16 Medium Anti-Tank
Weapons (MAW) the Platoon provided additional fire support for the battalion.
Signals Platoon - 1 Officer and 39 Other ranks
- equipped with the ANPRC 25
radio set provided and maintained all radio and telephone communication
requirements for the battalion. Each rifle company HQ was allocated two radio
operators. Radio Operators manned the radios and telephones in the battalion
Command Post (CP) and accompanied the battalion on operations. Platoon radio
operators were normally drawn from the platoon itself.
Assault Pioneer Platoon - 1 Officers and 31 Other ranks
- played a
similar role to
engineers. This Platoon provided valuable support for the battalion in defence works,
mine detection and field engineering
Surveillance Platoon - 1 Officer and 14 Other ranks
Headquarters - 1 Officer and 6 Other ranks
Quartermaster Platoon - 3 Officers and 42 Other ranks
Medical Platoon - 1 Officer and 38 Other ranks
provided ammunition, stores,
motor vehicles, cooks and medical staff. Admin Coy was tasked to provide
everything required for the battalion to operate, at base and on operations.
Total Strength = 37 Officers and 755 Other ranks
is unlikely that any battalion ever went into the field at full strength.
Illness, leave entitlements, troops ending period of engagement all sapped
a battalions strength. The numbers above are a guide only and were altered
to suit circumstances on a daily, weekly and tour basis.
The Infantry Rifle Section
Composition - 1 Cpl (Section
Commander) - 1 L/Cpl (Section 2i/c) - Scout Group(2 Pte) - Gun Group(2 Pte) - Rifle Group(4 Pte).
Weapons Used by Infantry Rifle Sections
L1A1 Self Loading Rifle (SLR) - semi auto
- fired a 7.62mm standard NATO round - weight 10lbs - magazine
capacity 20 rounds - range 300metres - standard issue weapon for all soldiers in
the Australian Army. Very robust and dependable weapon. Each
soldier carried at least 150 rounds each.
M16A1 Armalite Rifle -
(Colt AR15) fully auto - 5.56mm round -
weight 7 lbs. - magazine capacity 20/30 rounds - range 300 metres - carried
primarily by forwards scouts in each section of a rifle company, also issued to
selected appointments in a unit. This weapon was not issued to Australian troops
until stocks were obtained form US sources in 1966. Early versions of this
weapon were prone to stoppages and breakages, caused mainly by an
unsatisfactory and weak alloy bolt carrier. That was fixed.
General Purpose Machine Gun
M60 (GPMG M60)
- fired a
7.62mm round and fed by linked ammo belt of 100 rounds - weight 23 lb - range up
to 1100 metres. This was the main fire support weapon for each section who
carried 1 M60 and at least 1200 rounds. Reliable weapon , provided ammunition
belts were kept clean and the weapon was well maintained. Was prone to continual
stoppages if the weapon became too worn.
F1 Sub Machine Gun
fired a 9mm round - magazine
capacity 30 rounds - weight 7.2 lb - range 100 metres. This weapon was totally
unsuitable for conditions in Vietnam. The range (100 Metres) and
low velocity of the 9mm round was not capable of penetrating the jungle and
undergrowth. The M16 Armalite was eventually issued in place of this weapon.
40 MM M79 Grenade Launcher
- carried by each rifle
section with 36 rounds - weight 6 lb - range 300 metres. Very effective against
enemy troops and light installations.
M26 Fragmentation Grenade - carried by each member of a rifle
section - lethal radius of 10 metres. Used effectively for close
quarter fighting and clearing enemy bunkers and weapon pits. A
smooth bodied high explosive grenade. It weighed 425g with a fuse delay of five
seconds. The average throwing distance was 40 metres. Its blast radius was ten
metres, with a killing distance of 5 metres and a wounding distance of up to 25
metres. The members were initially issued with two M26 grenades per man.
No 83 Smoke Grenade - used in various colours to
indicate to position of enemy and friendly troops. Used largely to indicate to
helicopters and aircraft, the position of a unit. Helicopters would not land or
evacuate wounded until a smoke grenade was thrown and the colour of the grenade
M49 Trip Flare
- and used at night as an early warning
device to detect and illuminate enemy movement.
M18 Claymore Mine
- 10 carried by each rifle section -
range of 50 metres. Used extensively as a defensive weapon in night harbours and
was most effective when used in ambushing enemy parties.
M72 66 mm Light Anti-Tank Weapon LAW) - weight 4.5
lbs. - range 200 metres. Light weight and simple design, this weapon was most
effective against enemy installations such as bunkers and buildings. Fired a
high explosive round from a disposable launcher.
A Typical Load carried by an Infantry Soldier.
Individual items of
gear included, basic webbing
harness, weapon and
ammunition, a shell dressing, entrenching tool, machete, M26 grenade, nine
full water bottles, five days rations, small stove and hexamine tablets
for cooking, shaving gear, steel mug, shelter, lightweight blanket, hammock,
spare socks and bayonet.
In addition each 10 man section
shared a load of,
6 x 100 round belts for the M60 MG, spare barrel for the M60 MG, M49
flares, smoke grenades, white phosphorus grenades, grenade spigots and
ballastite cartridges, claymore mines, detonating cord, plastic explosive, M79
rounds, M72 LAWs, spare radio batteries, torch, starlight scope night
vision device, panel markers for identification to aircraft, binoculars,
compass, maps, protractor, pace counter, strobe light, secateurs, medical kit,
watches, codes and writing equipment.
Signallers carried the ANPRC Radio with spares batteries and handset
Platoon medics carried a comprehensive medical kit.
Dress - consisted of jungle greens with sleeves down,
general purpose boots (GPs), sweat rag, floppy green bush hat.
photo from Vietnam Remembered
Supporting Arms and Services
Without the assistance of supporting Arms and Services
battalion would not be able to operate effectively, these included;
Engineers - (RAE) - were used for mine detection and clearance,
demolition, tunnel clearance, erection of defences and any other engineering
Tanks and APCs - (RAAC) - Armoured Personnel
were used extensively by the infantry on operations. Centurion tanks also
provided close support, especially in bunker and well defended installations.
Cooks - Australian Army Catering Corps (AACC) -
not in an operational role.
Electrical and Mechanical Engineers - (RAEME). maintained all
mechanical and radio equipment.
Medical - (RAAMC) - 1 Doctor at base
and a fully qualified medic
accompanied each company on operations. Also operated the battalion Regimental
Aid Post (RAP).
Radio Operators - (RA Sigs) to maintain communications between
the battalion and higher command(1 ATF). All other signal requirements were met
by the battalion's Signal Platoon.
Army Padre - provided for the spiritual welfare of all
soldiers regardless of religious faith.
Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) - 9 Sqn RAAF helicopters
continually supported the battalion by providing airlift, 'Dustoff" (medivac)
helicopters and 'Bushranger' Gunships in close support.