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Balmoral

 

The battalion had plenty of small to medium size skirmishes at Coogee, which resulted in significant enemy casualties. While we were there, Coral was attacked again, and the acting Task Force Commander (the same Colonel Dunstan who had presented me with my trophy at Kapooka two years earlier) decided we would have a better crack at the NVA units that were attacking Coral if we relocated further to the north. So we moved on again, this time to FSB Balmoral.

 

When we flew in to Balmoral on the 24th of May, it was not yet called Balmoral. On my first shift on the command post radio, it was marked on the map as LZ Sugar. Although we knew exactly where we were going to land, there were three possible landing zones marked on the map. They were called Salt, Pepper and Sugar. Presumably this was a precaution against the possibility of the map falling into enemy hands.

 

The historians who wrote the "official" history of this episode in Australia's Vietnam War consulted primary source material in Vietnam, and found that Balmoral was a mere 1500 metres from the headquarters of the 7th Division of the North Vietnamese Army. I must say when I read that I was not surprised. The NVA certainly seemed keen to remove us from that particular piece of real estate.

 

There was a definite "vibe" about Balmoral. Everyone I spoke to was certain we were going to be hit. On the first night the rain was intense and constant, and it seemed that the rain must have been the only reason the NVA refrained from attacking us on that first night.

 

The first night reprieve proved doubly important. First, unlike the disaster of the first day at Coral, where we ended up with no time to dig in properly, at Balmoral we had more than adequate time to shore up our defences. Secondly, with no artillery at Balmoral, our CO, Lieutenant Colonel Shelton, wanted to experiment with the use of tanks as fire support. The extra time proved crucial in giving the tanks time to reach Balmoral and set themselves up to cover the open space in front of the Delta Company sector of the perimeter.

 

 

balmoral4.jpg

The killing ground at Balmoral.
 
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