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 operation.