W Company deployed to the Horseshoe by road convoy on 28 December 1967 to relieve V
Company, leaving a small rear party in Nui Dat. V Company moved out from the Horseshoe on foot
to the south east to conduct operations in the Long Green. This was part of Operation Forrest
which was being conducted by the battalion to the north and east of the Horseshoe. The other
companies had many contacts with the Viet Cong who were obviously redeploying for the Tet
offensive. Operation Forrest concluded on 5 January and the battalion, less W Company,
redeployed on 10 January for Operation Duntroon, conducted in the north west corner of the
Phouc Tuy Province. Meanwhile W company continued operations from the Horseshoe.
The Horseshoe was a fully developed Fire Support Base, on a low volcano-like feature on the
northern edge of the village of Dat Do and it provided a grand stand view of the activities that took
place in the surrounding villages during the Tet offensive. It contained bunkers for a rifle
company, a mortar section, an artillery battery, and two M108s (Self Propelled 105mm Guns).
One small rocket was fired into the Horseshoe during the height of the offensive but caused no
casualties or damage. While there the Company conducted patrolling, ambushing, check point
duties, specialist and co-operation training with supporting arms. During platoon and section
patrolling in the Horseshoe Area of Operations (AO) there were several clashes with the enemy
resulting in one enemy being killed, three surrendering and one being captured. Several other
enemy were wounded in clashes but attempts to follow blood trails were unsuccessful. During this
period Corporal G. Hoerara was killed and another soldier wounded when an anti-personnel mine
was detonated by a patrol.
Because of other operations in progress, an artillery battery was not available at the Horseshoe so
night activity was restricted to Mortar illuminating range. With usual Kiwi ingenuity, the Hygiene
NCO (John Colemen) managed to get the M108s running again after being immobilised for many
months. Ad-hoc gun crews were formed from mortarmen, and ex armoured and artillery
members of the company to provide direct artillery support to patrols outside the Horseshoe.
With a little experimentation and some on-the-job training, two guns were soon in action thus
allowing patrols to go out further from the base. Much to the amazement of the Artillery
Regimental Headquarters an "unknown battery" at the Horseshoe sought permission each night to
register targets and fire H and I Programmes (Harassing and Interdiction). It was not surprising
that when a field battery finally arrived at the Horseshoe "someone" had used all their
ammunition! On the 11 February the Company was relieved by C Company and returned to Nui
Dat, only to deploy on operation Coburg the following day.
28 December 1967 - 11 February 1968
The Horseshoe *