Slideshow of photographs taken by Chris Stock showing W3 Company during Operation Townsville – a reconnaissance and ambush mission along the coast of Phuoc Tuy province.
OK this is another series of shots for the boys – Whiskey 3. If I miss out your names on the way through you'll recognise yourselves anyway and you'll know all about the operation. Ok we'll start away.
[Picture of Australian APC – ‘Snoopy’] Here we are guys, we're in Nui Dat, we're heading away with the Aussies on the APCs tracks on Operation Townsville.
[Picture of Vietnamese village] I think we're heading down to the coast by passing some villages and waving kids who probably thought we were monsters.
[Pictures of Vietnamese countryside] In through the dusty areas of jungles. Hitting the bush where the guys found their own ways through. [We] spent most of the time with the APCs. Ah, we still did a few clearing patrols. Majority of the time everything was carried on the APCs, which made lives a bit easier for us for a change, instead of humping it thought the bush all day every day, stop starting stop starting. At least this one here, we got everything carried for us. Despite getting stuck every now and then.
[Picture of grave markers] Covered a lot of different terrain, even through graveyards.
[Picture of two soldiers enjoying a hot drink] Well look at it, we even had time for smoko and that was a pretty change. And the difference was, that was wide open. I mean look at that, that's my hoochie, and, if that had been in the jungle, there'd be water everywhere, rats everywhere, ants everywhere, even, look at this, you could even stand around in bare tops.
[Picture of APCs in a small bush clearing] Oh look at the country compared to the jungle.
[Picture of Chris Stock making a hot drink] There's me on my bed space making a brew or something.
[Pictures of helicopters] There's the boss man, probably the CO of the battalion coming in to check on us.
This is not him, this is a resupply.
[Pictures of Chris Stock’s equipment] There's me resting. Just the difference in the equipment we were carrying at this stage if we'd been in the boonies we'd a been carrying twice as much.
[Picture of soldiers on top of an APC] Jim Brown’s got his face in there I see.
Pretty dry area, dust coming up, different to that FSB Le Loi.
[Picture of soldiers sleeping inside APC] Major [Evan] Torrance and Captain [Jim] Brown and Hung, the VC Chu Hoi.
[Picture of supplies] ‘Maintdem’.
[Pictures of beach] Resupply and we're on our way again checking out, the reason for this thing here was checking out for [weapon] caches being brought in at the shore for the Viet Cong and anybody that we could find that was being suspicious. Like I say we did foot patrols and we put ambushes in every night.
Nice beach. But they could hear us coming from miles away anyway so they wouldn't have been hanging around.
[Picture of the sea] Look at that, South China Sea, absolutely marvellous.
[Picture of soldier with radio] Glendenning, Corporal [Peter] Glendenning the radio op.
[Picture of Chris Stock smoking] Me again having a bloody fag as normal.
[Picture of W3 soldiers in the sea] And we even got time, our boss even give us time to go for a swim and a clean-up.
[Pictures of aircraft] Absolutely fantastic except for when we get noticed by Yanks and they start buzzing us and seeing who the hell we are or whether we're Viet Cong or whatever, everything looked black across there once it was wet. I think he swooped us to check out which was lucky because if he'd a been any other American normally they would have opened up first and asked questions later. There was another incident at nighttime when we harboured up – we got actually fired on I think from a Snoopy or a Spooky until the boss got on the radio and started screaming at the bastards to get off us. I think we were lucky not to get any injuries at all. But it happened quite often you know, this blue on blue kind of rubbish, people just don't think.
So that incident that we're were looking at before, the pictures show this beautiful beach, and everyone stripped off having a wash – it's a holiday scene. Is there a huge change at that point when that plane comes over and does everyone get told get the hell out of the water or...
You're being buzzed and you hear him coming, and you don't know whether to run – cos if you run obviously you're gonna be afraid of it i.e. you'll be the enemy if you're running. So we just stood still and hoped for the best and waved and I think he switched on after the second buzz, and took off and waggled his wings and took off. But we were shitting ourselves initially...guarantee we were shitting ourselves initially [laughs].
Words and images: Chris Stock
Interviewing and production: Anaru Dalziel
Soundtrack: Jason McClelland (Loudhaler)