This is the fourth in an occasional series of tales relating to Victor 3 Company's tour. It is recorded in my 'battle diary', which appears to include pages fashioned out of toilet paper from ration packs.
Some unkind people have described Waiouru as ‘the place God made and never visited'. Clearly they never experienced FSB Concord. Charlie was expected to attack the Long Binh – Bien Hoa areas during their 1968 mid-year offensive. Concord was one of a string of FSBs designed to dominate the rocket belt to the north east of Long Binh Junction as a foil to their plans.
V3 Company deployed into Concord direct from the Horseshoe. First impressions were that Concord resembled ‘Smokey Mountain' (the Metro Manila Rubbish Dump) and time did nothing to dispel that impression. It was with some amazement that we disembarked from the helicopters to be confronted by a series of above ground bunkers fashioned out of wood and iron scraps and looking like adverts for ‘Junkyard Wars'. John Hall took one look at them and immediately issued orders to dig and dig some more so we all became ‘diggers'.
We dug and dug and scrounged and scrounged stopping only at ‘stand to' at night when all our American friends, who occupied most of the FSB, would come over to look at the strange sight of soldiers waiting to be attacked. What's more they had a penchant for congregating in front of our trenches to discuss the phenomena and blinding us with camera flashes as they recorded the strange habits of their allies.
But it was Company Headquarters that features in this story. John Hall was determined to create a ‘real' command post. Something that General Navarre at Dien Bien Phu would have been proud of. Laurie Bailey, our faithful Assault Pioneer Detachment Commander, managed to acquire a motorized mini digger, from I know not where, and eventually a bunker extraordinaire was constructed deep underground – so deep that the roof of the bunker was at ground level. You could walk across it without knowing it was there and in retrospect that was a major design flaw. To provide ventilation Laurie also ‘found' a number of pipes which protruded about a metre above ground level.
And so it was that with the bunker complete and stuffed with all mod cons we sat down for our first ‘O Group' in our new home. The Boss had just started his homily when cascading from the ventilation shafts come a torrent of amber liquid. Many of us were sprayed. John Hall, standing straight under one shaft, got soaked. There was a general exodus. On making it to the surface we could see a bunch of US soldiers congregated around the ventilation shafts where they protruded from the ground ‘doing their thing'. They claimed the pipes resembled standard ‘pissaphones' on the US side of the base. John Hall was not amused and not for the first time in the tour vented his feelings with passion.
Ross Miller – Sunray 5/2