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 airstrike 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.