Tuesday 15 March, 2016
Private Gus Warneke of Jervois, SA (right), and three other soldiers, prepare to move out on a dawn patrol during Operation Coburg.
Operation Coburg was a 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) multi-unit operation conducted in Bien Hoa Province South Vietnam during the period 24 January to 1 March 1968.
The operation was conducted east of the US Army and AirForce military complex of Long Binh and Bien Hoa during the enemy 1968 TET Offensive.
The initial aim of Operation Coburg was to deny the enemy access to suitable sites from which to bring 122mm rocket fire onto Long Binh or Bien Hoa. The main 1 ATF HQ and units who then deployed from their base at Nui Dat on and immediately after 24 January included Forward HQ 1 ATF, 2 RAR Group (including NZ Army V Company), 7 RAR, A Squadron 3 Cavalry Regiment, 4 Field Regiment RAA including 106 Field Battery RAA, 108 Field Battery RAA, 131 Divisional Location Battery RAA and B Battery 2/35 Heavy (SP) Artillery Battalion US Army, 1 Field Squadron RAE, 161 (Indep) Recce Flight and the Forward Task Maintenance Area (TFMA).
Two Fire Support and Patrol Bases (FSPB) were established with the two field artillery batteries and C Coy 7 RAR deploying to FSPB Harrison and Forward HQ 1 ATF, A Squadron 3 Cavalry Regiment, B Battery 2/35 Heavy (SP) Artillery Battalion US Army and D Coy 2 RAR to FSPB Andersen to its southeast near the village of Trang Bom on Highway 1.
2 RAR and 7 RAR conducted Reconnaissance in Force in their areas of operation (AO) which were mainly thick rain forest with the enemy moving mainly from east to west towards Long Binh and Bien Hoa or in well prepared bunker systems. Contacts were at close quarter and the casualties among the Australian and New Zealand forces continued to rise.
On 31 January the enemy launched its nationwide attacks on both civilian and military targets and suffered heavy casualties whilst doing so. The aim of Operation Coburg now changed to a blocking operation as the enemy moved back from their targets. APCs and infantry from FSPB Andersen were involved in house to house fighting to clear the enemy from the village of Trang Bom.
Commencing from 9 February 1968 the majority of the headquarters and units who were initially deployed on Operation Coburg commenced to return to their base at Nui Date and 3 RAR along with 161 Field Artillery RNZA and W Coy moved into the AO and eventually became based at FSPB Andersen. Early on 18 February the enemy launched mortar and ground assaults on FSPB Andersen resulting in seven Australian and one US Army soldier being killed.
Operation Coburg ended on 1 March 1968 and the units deployed returned to Nui Dat.