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1st Royal Australian Regiment

 

            1st R.A.R. joined the "Herd" in May/June of 1965 when the two line Battalions of the Brigade were the 1/503d and 2/503d. When 1st R.A.R. joined up, we became the THIRD battalion of the Brigade and remained so till we left to go home to Australia. When we were replaced, the leadership in the U.S. saw that the Brigade's THIRD Battalion (1st  R.A.R. ) had left and so replaced us with the 4/503d. It wasn't till the following year that they realized there was no 3d battalion in the Brigade so they created the 3/503d. In fact the lineage of the line Battalions of the Brigade are:- 1/503d, 2/503d, 1st  R.A.R.,  4/503d, 3/503d, then of course there were the later US Infantry units that were attached.
   

1st RAR Hobo Woods.jpg (238771 bytes) *Carey McQuillan 1966

     
1st R.A.R's lineal history goes back to the 65th  Battalion, 2nd Australian Imperial Forces (A.I.F.), engaged in the fight against the Japanese. That unit was a part of the Australian 7th Division A.I.F.  In 1943 a U.S. unit was to jump on a Japanese fortified area in New Guinea, elements of the 7th Australian Division, A.I.F were hastily chosen to jump with them in the form of and Australian Artillery Section of 2 x 25 Ponders, from the ranks of the 7th Australian Division, A.I.F. came a Section of 2/4th Artillery Battery under command of Lt Pearson. The 33 men in the Section had two days hasty Parachute Training prior to the big day, at which time 2 of the originals were injured and ruled out. They were replaced on the day by two that had not jumped at all. On the Big Day, 5 September 1943, The U.S. 503d Parachute Infantry Regiment (P.I.R) went through the door over NADZAB in New Guinea, the 2/4th Artillery Section went out the door with them. The jump master considered they were not trained well enough and thus made them jump without side arms. Their side arms/small arms went out the door in a panier, after hitting the Landing Zone, they had one of their guns up and firing within 2 hours of the jump. Those gunners of the 7th Australian Division, A.I.F., didn't know then that they were setting the pace for another Australian Unit to join with the 503d, some 22 years later on another foreign airstrip when 1st R.A.R. whose lineal history goes back to the 7th Australian Division, A.I.F., were to join with the Sons of the 503d P.I.R. at Bien Hoa, Vietnam. So, our part in the history of " The Herd " goes back. All the more reasons for our Pride in our service with the 173rd Airborne.
* The attached photograph is one of myself, taken at some time between the 8 January  and 14 January 1966. I am holding a captured VC 12.7mm Anti-Aircraft Gun, located in the Tunnel complex at Hobo Woods by members of 3 Fd Troop, RAE serving with 1st  R.A.R..  The Tunnel complex at Hobo Woods was extensive and had been part of the Saigon-Cho Lon- Gia Dinh military complex secreted there.  1st. R.A.R. had been choppered in to the position on 8 January 1966 to act as a block off force in the area of the bend in the Saigon River, while 173rd and the Big Red One did cris cross sweeps of an area 20,000clicks away where their intelligence had indicated the position was. Without knowing it, 1st RAR was dropped in a hot insertion about 200 meters from the VC perimeter of the very position the 173rd/Big Red One were looking for.  It took 1st RAR a number of days to take and secure the position, during which time 1st RAR was subjected to intermittent sniper fire from within our own perimeter. Subsequently, some tunnel entrances were located and members of 3 Fd Troop entered the tunnels with a torch in one hand and a 9mm pistol in the other and in so doing became the first TUNNEL RATS to enter what was to become known by US forces as, THE TUNNELS OF CU CHI. 1st  RAR veterans to this day call them what they were, the Tunnels at Hobo Woods.  1st RAR lost 7 KIA and 36 WIA at Hobo Woods.  It was also the position that US Artillery in an effort to neutralize ground, to send US reinforcing units to 1st RAR, placed a battery target through the Battalion Headquarters of 1st RAR on 8 January, I know,  I was under it.

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