Memories of the Rli
Chapter 8

Copyright© 2014 by Dreaded

Fire Force...

The early bush trips with Sp Gp were all about assisting others with tracking sticks on follow ups ... I had been shot at a few times and taken to carrying a Browning 12 gauge semi auto shot gun – thank goodness the tracking sticks were not saddled with the MAG although later I changed my mind and even, years later, as a Sgt I still humped the MAG at times ... One of the biggest laughs of the year was on one follow up a Gook ended his days in a most unusual way ... The tracking stick operated with 4 guys, 2 lookouts who were slightly in front of the main tracker on each side and the controller following behind his tracker to try and protect him ... I had been on spoor for an hour now and I wasn't liking what I was seeing – the tracks had gone up from 2 to about 10 and I had stopped and was kneeling down trying to make sense of it all ... Fingers was at my side and we quietly discussing what was going on ... Johnny was a few paces away and Sgt Vancy was behind us a few paces absolutely bored to tears and playing with his mini flare projector ... Now the bush was so thick that visibility was down to 5-10 meters ... We all heard a slight scuffle and looked up in front of us and a Gook with an RPD stood up out the bush about 5 meters in front of us ... My heart stopped and all I heard was a slight bang from behind me and as I watched the Gooks forehead developed a largish hole and started smoking and glowing red ... Yes you got it – Vance had shot the dood between the eyes with a bloody Mini Flare ... All hell broke loose as the pricks were waiting in ambush for us so we opened up and charged though the position kulling anything that moved ... Gooks lost that one 4 love with blood spoor heading in every direction ... Luckily the follow up troops behind didn't open up as we could have had our arse's handed to us ... This was my first and last contact tracking as later on we used the choppers to leapfrog with stop groups put out to try and contain the running Gooks before they bombshelled...

Our first fire force stint at Darwin was an absolute abortion ... Our OC was useless but luckily we had a top pilot in the K Kar who kept some semblance of control ... We hit contact in Jesse bush that made movement very difficult and we were getting the shit shot out of us ... I heard my Tp Officer shouting for air support and looked up ... Holy Shit the useless Dickhead was directing the strike directly on us ... Ever tried to duck Cannon fire – it may have been an old Provost (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Percival_Provost) but shit it could shoot ... I grabbed the handset away from Lt Jim and screamed "STOP STOP STOP" into the Mike ... After that we settled down and managed to end the contact once K Kar unloaded his 20mm in to the correct area ... thank goodness Lt Jim wasn't with us long (he was a nice guy but as a soldier he was a good farmer)...

Fire force hadn't really developed into what it would become and deployments were still tentative with the helicopters still being used in a support type roll...

We had been based at Darwin for a few days and just getting used to our new troop officers that came to us from the NS intake 136 ... Jim, Dick and a few others boasted 20 years of university and not one degree amongst them ... Great bunch of guys...

At about 15:00 SB guys came to the OPS room and were huddled with the OC and Lt Jim ... About 18:00 we were called for a briefing ... The OP was a walk in to ambush a Gook leader who was known to be attending a beer drink at a kraal near Ruchinga ... We had an SB guy and informer to lead us in...

We left Darwin in the Bedford RL's just after last light and were dropped off supposedly 5km from the kraal ... The informer got lost and we were about ready to gut him when we heard the sounds of a good party ... We crept forward to outside a kraal in extended line and we were about 50m from the edge when we saw 2 figures with AK's slung walking towards us ... Jim upped and opened fire and being a good MAG gunner I had 4 belts joined, so, without pause I opened up and hosed off 4 belts without taking my finger off the trigger ... I cant remember who the other gunner was but we both went through 8 belts ... Jim shouted for us to stop and we sank down and watched for a few minutes but had to pull back a bit as we had started a bit of a bush fire that was a bit intense ... At first light we swept through the village and found 2 Gooks, one believe it or not still alive although well ventilated ... all his wounds sealed and cauterized by the bush fire ... The Gook, Herbet Ch****or some such name was the main man for the Darwin area and SB had a short chat to him but with 25 7,62 holes in him he didn't really last long...

From now on Fire Force changed and developed in to one of the worlds best Killing machines ever ... I have been asked by some of my US friends why we worked in 4 man sticks – pretty simple really – that was all that fitted in an Allouette 3 G Car... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A%C3%A9rospatiale_Alouette_III)...

Each stick was made up of a stick leader, an MAG gunner, and 2 troopies on of who was the designated medic ... As a newby I was presented with the MAG straight away for Fire Force and there were no complaints from me at all ... Nothing sounds better than an MAG on full song with an operator playing music with the trigger ... I was a popular gunner as I had a good kill rate – the secret to that is I seldom took on the obvious targets, I left those for the Rifleman ... I took on likely areas of cover and concealment (In Training this is referred to as Drake Shoot) – I even cut a large tree down one day to find 2 shredded Gooks huddled behind it...

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