TCVs from 26 Tpt Coy unloading a TFMA patrol platoon at FSB Le Loi in Aug 1970. (Note that the vehicles tac plates show 26/522 despite them being from 85 Tpt Pl.)
The 1st Australian Support Group (1ALSG) at the port of Vung Tau was 27 kilometres SW of 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) at Nui Dat. As the build-up of 1ATF continued to three infantry battalions and supporting arms and services, the task of supporting it also increased. Fire Support Bases (FSB) were used more frequently and continued to be moved further into Phuc Tuy Province.
To give some perspective to the supply and transport support
tasks in mid 1968, the numbers and locations of Australian personnel
in Vietnam at that time were:
Saigon Area 455
1ATF (Nui Dat) 4,808
1ALSG (Vung Tau) 1,420
Total 6,683 (1)
5 Coy RAASC had been providing the supply and transport support direct from Vung Tau. After the Tet Offensive in early 1968 and subsequent increases in enemy activity in Baria, Long Dien, and Dat Do, it became obvious that a second company headquarters was needed in the Task Force area at Nui Dat for the forward support of 1ATF.
HQ 26 Transport Company RAASC
Headquarters 26 Tpt Coy RAASC was formed in Nui Dat in Dec 1967 under command of Major G.J. Christopherson(2). 26 Coy took over the second line role from 5 Coy which remained in Vung Tau. 85 Tpt Platoon was reallocated to 26 Coy, as was Det 176 Air Dispatch Coy. Det 52 Supply Platoon also came under command of 26 Coy. Other elements of 5 Coy units, such as 8 Petroleum Platoon remained in Nui Dat under command of 26 Coy for local administration and defence. Some elements from 86 Tpt Pl were almost permanently allocated to 85 Tpt Pl to supplement it.
Other OCs of HQ 26 Coy in Vietnam included Major C.K.R. Bryant (1968-69), Major L.E.K. Kilner (1969-70), and Major J.D. Harverson (1970-71).
The majority of individual personnel replacements from Australia were posted from either 1 Coy at Ingleburn or 9 Coy at Townsville on an annual rotating basis. Naturally, there were exceptions to this.
The focal point of HQ 26 Coy was the operations cell, which coordinated all the various bids for transport support as passed by HQ 1ATF. This included air dispatch rigging, ammunition and supply matters as well as road transport tasks. All radio contact was controlled through the Ops Cell and the landline switchboard was also located here.
In its last two years in South Vietnam, 26 Company was very much a centralised organisation. Much of the administrative and Q functions were taken away from the other RAASC units and done centrally by HQ 26 Coy. Of course, to be able to do this, those personnel were removed from their parent units to work in the company headquarters, often much to their chagrin.
The vehicle tactical sign for HQ 26 Coy was 26/522 with a blue/gold background.
Most of the logistic units within 1ATF were grouped together into the Task Force Maintenance Area (TFMA). (The one main exception was 102 Fd Wksp RAEME).
HQ 26 Coy doubled up as the HQ TFMA. There was no extra manpower for this additional headquarters, so the staff for it had to be pooled from those units located in the TFMA. Hence, units like 85 Tpt Pl frequently were deficient key personnel such as one officer and sergeant etc.
The TFMA also was frequently ordered by the task force headquarters to provide infantry type patrols. The patrols ranged from section size up to a full platoon, sometimes operating directly under command of HQ 1ATF or an infantry battalion or armoured unit. The tasks varied from overnight ambushes, standing patrols, fighting patrols, provision of protection parties for overnight civil aid projects (such as MEDCAP), defence of FSB, to much longer activities of up to 14 days. The personnel were mainly provided from the larger units within the TFMA and were a great boost to morale for those so inclined.
From 1968 - 71, the following units were in the TFMA:
Posted Strength (1) (3)
|HQ 26 Coy RAASC||16||Elm Det 1 Comm Z Postal Unit||8|
|85 Tpt Pl||90||1 Ordnance Field Park||38|
|Det 52 Sup Pl||11||Det AFV Cash Office||5|
|Det 8 Pet Pl||10||Elm 2 AFCU||9|
|Det 176 AD Coy||7||Det 25 Sup Pl||1|
|Det 1 Div Cash Office|
Return to Australia
In June 1971(2) as part of the planned withdrawal from Vietnam, HQ 26 Tpt Coy RAASC returned to Australia and took over the unit name and barracks from 25 Coy at Puckapunyal in Victoria. The unit has remained there and is now known as 26 Transport Squadron as part of the Royal Australian Corps of Transport.
(1). Source: 7610-66-067-7556 Aust Army Historical Record of Maintenance & Usage Rates in Support of Ops by 1ATF in South Vietnam.
(2). Source: Neville Lindsay - "Equal to the Task," Volume 1, pages 307 & 309.
(3). These figures do not necessarily reflect the actual strengths on the ground.
History supplied by Paul Asbury.