|OPERATION LYRE BIRD
1 AUGUST - 4 SEPTEMBER 1968
Keen to return to the Nui Dinh mountains, an active area for the enemy, the Officer Commanding
volunteered to command another land clearing operation. The trail to be cleared was between the
Nui Thai Vais and the Nui Dinhs in AO Warburton, clearing from Route 15 to the north.
Initially W Company deployed along Route 15 in APCs with Engineers of 17 Construction
Squadron, a Land Clearing Team, and a section of Mortars. Two Fire Support Bases were used
during the operation - Hague and Hokonui. These were within range of the guns in Nui Dat.
Generally, the APCs and one platoon provided protection for the engineers, a platoon patrolled
well out from the cut, and the third platoon rested and protected the Fire Support Base. The enemy
reacted quite vigorously to the operation so elements of B Company later joined W Company to
provide greater flexibility in the active patrol programme. On 4 August, the enemy fired automatic
weapons and rockets at sentries on the perimiter of Hague and badly damaged two bulldozers.
(One bulldozer was buried to extinguish the fire!) Two members of the Company were injured. On
12 August a platoon on patrol made contact with five Viet Cong who quickly withdrew. On the
follow up an enemy camp was located which contained a large quantity of ammunition and
supplies hidden deep in a tunnel system. During the search of the camp two enemy walked in,
one was killed and the other escaped. Although many signs of the enemy presence were picked
up and trails followed, it was not until 29 August that an estimated ten enemy were sighted and
engaged with artillery and mortar fire with unknown results. Also on the 29th an enemy hutted
camp of fourteen huts and cookhouse was located and destroyed.
The operation lasted five weeks and in that time a trail through the jungle some 200 metres wide
and 13,500 metres long was cleared, This was an excellent result considering the heavy rain
reduced the area to deep mud and stinking slush. One night, while at Fire Support Base Hokonui,
the Command Post had to be vacated as it turned into a swimming pool! W Company returned to
Nui Dat on 4 September to prepare for Operation Innamincka.