12 - 24 SEPTEMBER 1968
Operation Hawkesbury, a reconnaissance in force, was one of 4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) Battalion's most
successful operations. It was carried out in three stages.
Initially the battalion moved into blocking positions east of Route 2, on the western edge of the
enemy zone known as the Thua Tich. B and C Companies swept westwards while W Company
went south-west to search for likely trails being used by enemy supply parties. Little was seen by W
Company on the first day (Friday the 13th), but C Company came into contact with enemy in
bunkers and there were 10 casualties -three of them fatal.
As the result of intelligence indicating a likely consignment of rockets being moved from east to
west, W Company was unexpectedly uplifted by helicopter (and V Company from the Fire Support
Base by APCs) and moved north into the Don Dien de Courtenay rubber plantation early on the
14th. Soon after dispersing from the LZ a platoon had a clash with an unknown sized group of
enemy deployed along a stream bed. A member of the platoon, Pte BJ Petersen, was killed by a
sniper in a concealed hole in the ground during a search of the area. Later that day there
was another clash with two enemy and another with three the following day.
While V Company moved into blocking positions on the western edge of the rubber, W company
began a detailed search of the area of the stream bed, Gradually a complex system of tunnels was
revealed containing tons of supplies for the Viet Cong, including medical supplies and ample new
US Army torches to equip both V and W Companies! Leaving the find to the engineers to destroy,
both V and W Companies were uplifted by helicopter to rejoin the rest of the battalion who had
moved to a new AO. The new AO was Canowindra and all companies had productive contacts.
While approaching the W Company LZ ,Viet Cong were sighted on the jungle edge but it was
decided to land. A fire-fight developed immediately with a group of about eight enemy and at least
two were killed. On the follow up, blood trails were lost as the light failed. That night, a lone enemy
approached Company headquarters but quickly withdrew into the darkness before a shot was fired.
V Company killed ten enemy in two days, while C Company killed four Viet Cong withdrawing from a
camp being attacked by B Company. C Company later attacked a camp of 150 bunkers killing at
least two Viet Cong. A large amount of equipment, including two 122mm rockets and detailed maps
of all major installations throughout South Vietnam, were captured. Documents indicated that the
battalion was in the area of the headquarters of 84 Rocket Regiment. W Company continued
patrolling with no further contacts but located many fortified areas which had been recently vacated.
A platoon even reported finding some elephant tracks which led to much speculation on the
mode of transport being used by the Viet Cong!
All companies returned to Nui Dat by air on 24 September well satisfied with the results of the