2RAR were thought of as a dull battalion, without imagination, and since lacking in original thought were likely to follow the textbook slavishly. Here's an example of that 'textbook' mentality.

2RAR were at the time at FSB Tess, about 150 metres off the north edge of SH 15 west of Ba Ria and about half way to the 'White Lady' statue. For some reason 2 Platoon, W3 Company, operating nearby, were picked up by APC and taken there.

It was the start of the wet season and FSB Tess, surrounded by a bund high enough to obscure the various armoured vehicles dotted around the perimeter, suffered from a high water table. As 2 Platoon approached the turn-off it was obvious that the dirt scooped out to create the bund had left a deep moat around the base and the way in to Tess had to be negotiated through a 6-foot deep mud cesspit.

The first APC to attempt the crossing became bogged and a recovery vehicle from inside the firebase was called to drag it clear. The other APC's also had difficulty crossing. Given this, it was difficult to understand why the RP Section immediately inside the bund entrance had a number of spaces marked out by iron pickets with the sign 'car park' prominently displayed. It was obvious no normal car would ever get to park in those carefully reserved spaces but somewhere in a military manual I imagine there was a staff requirement to handle visitors to a firebase by providing parking for their vehicles, and that the parking was obviously unnecessary did not remove the staff requirement to provide it.

2 Platoon were directed to a piece of ground set aside nearby for visiting troops [another staff requirement no doubt...], but an area totally devoid of any shelter or structures. Someone had also thoughtfully dug shell scrapes for the visitors [another staff requirement..?] but given that these were not covered and it was the wet season they had filled with water. 2 Platoon needed some way of erecting cover from the rain, and since the New Zealander's considered the car park to be superfluous some enterprising Kiwi's shuffled away to quietly reappear with a bunch of iron pickets to which shelters were quickly attached.

About 30 minutes later a worried RP approached us and asked if we had removed the car park pickets. He was advised we hadn't. He then looked really concerned and explained that; ‘the RSM had noticed the car park had been dismantled and he was required to rebuild it, any idea where he could get more pickets..?' ‘Yeah mate, same place we did, over there' [in the opposite direction]. The RP never returned but when we redeployed away from the firebase the next day the car park was back...

Reference: 

Bruce Young. First published on the W3 Coy website.

How to cite this page: 'Car park at FSB Tess', URL: http://www.vietnamwar.govt.nz/memory/car-park-fsb-tess, (Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated 5-Sep-2013