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A Field Battery History Plaque

The Royal Australian Artillery Regimental Committee (RAARC) in its July meeting discussed the need to preserve the unique Honour Title Scroll awarded to 102 (CORAL) Field Battery RRAA by the Governor General during the 40th Anniversary Commemorations of the Battle of Coral. Preservation of the Scroll is a critical issue since it is the only document of its type in Australia and possibly the world, and as such is priceless. Three numbered copies have been made; one is held at 8/12 Medium Regiment, one at  the School of Artillery and the third at the Australian Army Artillery Museum at North Fort.

The original was held by 8/12 Medium Regiment in Darwin but sadly the appropriate preservation environment could not be provided and the document began to deteriorate. Discussions about display and presentation of the scroll were started with the Australian War Memorial (AWM) and although the AWM cannot display the scroll they have agreed to hold and preserve it for two years. The scroll will be held in the Research Centre and, on request, will be available for viewing by members of 102 (CORAL) Field Battery RRAA and for research purposes. The Research Centre can be accessed with the assistance of the AWM staff.

The RAARC is disappointed that the scroll cannot be displayed but the loan to the AWM will guarantee its preservation and conservation in the short term. The AWM has also offered to provide advice regarding appropriate storage and display needs for the scroll to ensure its long term preservation. Responsibility for providing the long term display environment and its location will need to be determined.

102 (Coral) Field Battery   T he Honour Title ‘CORAL’ is awarded to 102nd Field Battery, Royal Regiment of Australian Artillery, in recognition of its conduct during the Battle of Coral in South Vietnam between 12th May and 6th June 1968.

During Operation Toan Thang 102ndField Battery deployed toFire Support Patrol Base Coral in support of 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Early morning on 13th May an intense enemy barrage of rocket propelled grenades and small arms fire was directed into Coral. This barrage was the prelude to an assault by 2nd Battalion, 141st Regiment, 7th North Vietnamese Army Division, against the Battery and the 1st Battalion’s Mortar Platoon (minus). The Battery engaged the assault waves with small arms and Delta Gun firing anti-personnel rounds over open-sights. The enemy overran Foxtrot Gun and the Mortar Platoon; Bravo Gun was hit by a rocket propelled grenade; and Alpha Gun’s ammunition bay caught fire. At the request of the Mortar Platoon’s Second-In-Command, the Battery engaged the mortar position with anti-personnel rounds. Throughout the assault Echo Gun was laid onto Foxtrot Gun with orders to destroy the equipment if the enemy attempted to move or fire it. The Battalion Fire Support Coordination Centre directed and controlled close air and artillery support during the attack. At dawn two Gunner patrols cleared the position, recaptured Foxtrot Gun and gave assistance to the Mortar Platoon. The enemy left 52 dead and evidence of a significantly higher number of casualties.

The gun position defence was a close quarter infantry battle fought by Gunners and Mortarmen to defeat a conventional North Vietnam Army battalion (plus) assault. Whilst fighting against a sustained ground attack, three Battery guns remained in support of the 1st Battalion’s companies deployed in ambush positions away from Coral. On at least three occasions the Battery responded to calls for fire from the Battery’s forward observers.

On 16th May another major enemy assault was launched against Coral. Whilst the brunt of the attack was directed at 1st Battalion’s Alpha and Bravo Companies, a heavy mortar and rocket barrage was directed at the Battery and ‘A’ Battery 2nd/35th United States Artillery. The Companies repulsed the attack supported by fire support from the Battery and other gun batteries, mortars and close air support. Throughout the attack the Battalion Fire Support Coordination Centre coordinated close fire support from field, medium and heavy artillery, and close air support.

Although Fire Support Patrol Base Coral was never seriously threatened after the second attack, the Battery continued to support the 1st Australian Task Force until 6th June 1968 when it redeployed to Phuoc Tuy Province. These operations encountered heavy resistance and required Battery fire support of the highest calibre.

There were many acts of bravery accompanying the exceptional set of circumstances that the Gunners of 102nd Field Battery confronted. The Battery displayed professionalism, dedication and courage under extremely dangerous and confusing conditions at Coral.

The Honour Title ‘CORAL’ recognises these attributes and the outstanding contribution 102nd Field Battery made in supporting 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, on operations in South Vietnam.

His Excellency Major General P.M. Jeffery AC, CVO, MC
Governor General

May 2008

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