Nui Dat & Luscombe Field

 

 
 

Recently I had a dialog with Paul Dickson and Ernie Newbold who were at Nui Dat with the 131 Divisional Locating Battery of the Royal Australian Artillery (and who are honorary member of the 1/83rd) about the Nui Dat area. Ernie recently sent me pictures of signs found at Nui Dat which prompted this discussion. Click here to view the pictures.

From Paul...

"Just a late follow-up - the unit numbers in the photo on the right on the "totem" pole arrangement (actually a "star picket") show one with "83" on it. Would this be giving directions to the illustrious 1/83rd??"

Ernie's reply...

" those star pickets with the Tac signs attached all have an arrow indicating that a left turn is required to reach those units whose Tac signs are displayed thereon. Those particular signs are on the old Route 2 and the view is facing the South. If the Tac sign showing the Number 83 was in fact for the 1/83rd then the arrow at the top of the post would need to indicate "straight ahead" It would appear that the Australian Tac signs showed numbers that were perhaps done as a code in that they were normally different to the actual unit/battery number"

I then asked Ernie... "just to verify, it was Route 2 that ran through your camp down past the 1/83rd and on to Hoa Long and points south wasn't it?"

Ernie's reply...

"yes that is correct, Route 2 ran north/south through the Task Force area, going south past the 1/83rd we would travel through Hoa Long and on to Baria. As I recall Baria was the Provincial capital of the Phuoc Le Province. An alternate by-pass road was constructed for the local traffic to the west of the Task Force area so that only military vehicles were able to travel into or through the Task Force base area on the original section of Route 2."

To which I replied...

"Thanks Ernie, but to continue pestering you, do you know when the bypass road was built? On several occasions, I drove one of our NCO's to a regular intelligence meeting he attended in Baria. I also drove to Vung Tau on a few occasions. I don't recall a bypass road but after 45 years that would not be all that surprising. Then again, if the road was built just for the locals to use, I may have never seen it anyway. Any idea where the bypass road started and ended?"

Ernie's reply...

"construction of the bypass road must have begun soon after the Task Force base was established at Nui Dat in 1966. It was already there when I arrived in May 1967. I believe that it went from just south of Hoa Long and rejoined the original Route 2 north of the Task Force base area. The Australian commanders didn't want the local Vietnamese wandering through the Task Force area during the day as some of the locals could have easily been Viet Cong doing reconnaissance, noting gun positions etc. I recall a checkpoint being established where the bypass road departed from the original Route 2 south of Hoa Long.

I too never travelled on the bypass road as whenever I travelled south to Baria or Vung Tau I was always on the original Route 2.  I've attached a copy of a map showing the Task Force area, you can see the bypass road shown on the left hand side of the map, it shows the northern end of the bypass road where it rejoins Route 2 but not the southern end."

Click here to see Ernie's map.

To which I replied...

"Thanks again Ernie. If it's okay with you, I am going to add our dialog and map to the 83rd site, I think it would interest others.

After thinking about this some more, I realized that I never saw any Vietnamese on Route 2 through our area. If I was ever consciously aware of that at that time I don't recall. One thing I remember vividly is that some of our guys used to complain that our CO would never allow Vietnamese on our base to do any chores not realizing what a blessing this policy actually was. Not even Vietnamese military were allowed to be there unescorted and even those times were few. One result of this policy was that in 1966-1967 (at least) we never had any booby traps set by VC within our camp."
 

More from Ernie...

"Yes the main reason for excluding Vietnamese civilians from the Task Force area was security. The Vietcong were a very ingenious lot which is why all "civilians" needed to be excluded.

The Task Force map I found by using Google, I went to Google "images" and asked it to search for Nui Dat, lots of images came up, including a number of maps.

The photos that I have sent you were all taken by me when I was at Nui Dat, other details are mainly from memory with further supplementary research using Google to fill in the gaps. Yesterday I came across the story of "Luscombe Field" which was the aircraft landing strip at Nui Dat, use the following link, Luscombe Field

Since I first began using the internet just over three years ago the amount of information regarding the Vietnam war that is
on the web has increased greatly. It is really amazing how much is there, all that I have to do is think of a question and I can
normally find an answer."

To which I replied...

"Thanks Ernie, that was very interesting reading about Luscombe Field. I had the "opportunity" to fly in there a few times and I never forgot the experience. It was pretty hair raising, the pilot would be cruising along and quickly drop down and land. The dense area east of the strip did not allow a gradual approach so one minute you were coasting along, next thing your stomach was in your mouth and you were on the ground. It was funny to watch those who were experiencing landing for the first time after I had a couple landings under my belt. Thanks for bringing back some fond memories."

 

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