Memories of the Rli
Chapter 10

Copyright© 2014 by Dreaded

RLI Operations

Please understand that in the beginning there was only the one Fire Force in operation at Darwin and all of the Commandos had input in to its development ... Each OC brought new things in to play and each Chopper pilot brought in new methods – as an aside here, Our chopper Techs were the finest gunners in the world – The K Kar gunner, with his trusty 20mm cannon, could drop a running Gook with a double tap ... In fact a lot of Fire Force kills were credited to the orbiting Gun ship...

Hele Mortars...

As we developed as a commando and a Battalion our styles of operation changed a lot ... I was lucky in that when I was made up to Cpl I was transferred to Mortar troop ... Now Mortar troop was named Dog Section pretty early on as we worked like Dogs and did every one else's bloody job ... Shit it got painful!!! Everything from patrols, OP, and dug in Mortar support ... Our saving grace and the one thing we did was Hele mortar assaults on known Gook camps externally ... We started practicing Hele assaults in Darwin initially and the training was intense ... For the military readers I will go through our procedures now so the rest of you can skip this section...

Each 81mm tube was allocated 2 G Cars – one to carry the 81mm Mortar tube complete in a frame hooked on to the step on the side of the chopper – Inside we loaded the FCO (fire control officer) and the Number one mortar operator – The number 1 was the guy responsible for the Laying and sighting of the Tube ... Along with them were as many boxes of ammo we could stuff in ... This sounds confusing but we had to work very closely with the pilot on weights and distance to DZ (drop Zone) ... The second chopper carried the balance of the ammo and the Number 2 and 3 operators – the Number 2 was the guy that dropped the bombs down the tube, and the number three was responsible for ammo prep and passing it to the Number 2 ... Most of the crews were very slick and often we would get 15 to 20 bombs in the air before any landed ... On any Hele assault we were always accompanied by the K Kar for 20mm back up with the Boss along as Fire controller ... Normally before an assault we worked up a pre Op fire plan ... This was so that once we were on target and were given the command Fire for Effect, we could seriously blanket an area without any commands from above ... The range of our 81mm was 5km but normally we worked at about 3-4 km's distance from a valley or behind a hill feature...

Ok the assault itself – Generally because the camps that Command wanted us to rev were so deep in our Neighbors terrain we usually flew to a border air strip where fuel had been pr-positioned – From there we took off and flew on the ground to our pre-selected base plate position ... As we set up, the FCO would step about 10meters behind the base plate and the #3 would position himself 10-20 meters in front with the aiming staff ... K Kar would then fly over the base plate on a direct line with the target and The FCO and #3 lined up the Staff ... Once set up I would request permission to Bed in the base plate ... Generally we pulled it around 90 deg and bed it in with a bomb at charge 7 or 8...

As soon as we bedded in we laid on line to the target and K Kar gave us the Range to the target ... A ranging bomb was then sent off and K Kar who was Orbiting high and behind would wait to correct our aim ... This sounds simple but was not as the choppers were normally skulking around well behind us – When the ranging bomb was fired I would inform K Kar of the time of flight and just before it landed he was up to observe ... We very seldom had to correct after the first bomb as Distances and direction were normally spot on – then the party started ... Five bombs, correct left, 5 more bombs, correct right and down 5 more bombs- and so on ... The poor buggers on the other end never knew where the next set were to land...

On completion of the Fire plan I would call in to K Kar and within minutes the G Car was back to load up the mortar and 4 very tired little bunnies ... On pulling up from the DZ one would often hear from the Tech, peering out the door backwards, "Holy Shit what a sight" – it was usually impressive as a Kilometer square of real estate was dust with little standing – O I used to put the odd round on fuse delay...

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