OPERATION MERINO
18 - 25 JULY 1968
Operation Merino was a battalion-sized reconnaissance in force in the western part of the enemy
zone known as the Hat Dich.   The enemy considered himself relatively safe and carried out training
and operational planning in the area. W Company was initially the Fire Support Base Company with
additional responsibility for an adjoining AO.  By late afternoon there had been several small
contacts and D Company never cleared W Company's AO for the duration of the operation, so the
Company initially had a quiet time.  

On  20 July the Fire Support Base was moved further into the area, some 4,000 metres from Route
15.  On 22 July V Company located what appeared to be a sizeable number of enemy in a
bunkered camp.  Two platoons were committed but returned to the company base as light faded.  
The next day V Company again returned to the camp and came under heavy fire.  The company
then withdrew to allow for air strikes, but darkness prevented a return to the scene.  That night the
first battalion attack since the Korean War was planned. The attack was preceded by a further air
strike and heavy bombardment by two batteries of 105mm and one battery of 155mm guns.  
Because of long delays in getting the assault companies to the Start Line through the thick
undergrowth, the bombardment was prolonged considerably.  W Company was left assault
company with B Company on the right and C Company, 1RAR, in reserve. (C Company 1 RAR just
happened to be passing by en-route to Nui Dat.) The attack went in but the defended position had
been vacated.  (Just as well as the OC W Company, the CSM and a signaller were the first to step
from the jungle into the completely flattened enemy position.)  The scene was one of complete
devastation - not a tree or leaf was to be seen on the surface, but many of the bunkers were still
intact.  The enemy had flown.

The operation ended on 25 July and all companies returned to Nui Dat by air after 33 days
continuous operations.  From 25 to 31 July W Company remained in Nui Dat preparing for
Operation Lyrebird