12th May 1968 1 RAR moved to FSB Coral. The move itself was disjointed due to the unsuitability of the original LZ resulting in the guns, 102 Bty, being exposed to enemy attack. The rifle companies had several contacts with enemy forces and had moved into their position by dark.
The enemy had watched the insertion and had probed the mortar position and about 0330hrs attacked the mortars and 102 Bty in strength. The mortar position was over run (losses 5 KIA, 8 WIA). The guns fired splintex and HE rounds with deadly effect. The defensive perimeter at this stage consisted of Battalion HQ, Support Coy, Arty HQ and the gun crews. The enemy over ran No 6 gun but the perimeter held and with the guns firing over open sights, supporting fire from adjoining batteries and air support the line was held. The supporting artillery fire was bought to within 20mtr of the Australian position.
The enemy withdrew about 0600hrs on 13th and the FSB consolidated its position. Clearing patrols, medical evacuation, re-supply and re-evaluation with the integration of the APCs of A Squadron, 3 Cav. The enemy attacked in force again on 15th / 16th May about 0230hrs and directed the assault against A Coy and B Coy positions. Part of 3 Pl position was over run but the platoon, led by Lt Weeks counter attacked and retook the lost ground and their mate’s bodies (2 KIA, 3 WIA).
The next attack began about 0515hrs when the enemy after regrouping, tried to split A Coy and C Coy but was repulsed. A further attack was launched against D Coy, which was targeted by artillery and air strikes causing the enemy force to withdraw. This second wave of attacks cost the Australians 5 KIA and 19 WIA.
During the next week patrols found bodies, equipment and base plate positions close to the FSB. The centurion tanks of C Sqn (52 ton) were called up and in support of company size groups began aggressively patrolling the area.
FSB Balmoral was established 5 klm north of FSB Coral and was attacked on 25th May in force on the western area of the base. The 3 RAR D Coy defence was supported by tanks, artillery and air and the attackers broke off about 0530hrs. Again on the 28th the enemy attacked at about 0230hrs and after 2 hours withdrew leaving some 40 bodies on the battlefield.This was the last of the major assaults on FSB Coral and Balmoral. Company size patrols continued to find and close with the enemy. The combination of infantry and armour proved a lethal weapon and when clearing bunker systems.
List of KIA FSB Coral – Balmoral 1968
Pte D.E. Abbott 1 RAR 30th May
Pte E.J. Bailey 1 RAR 13th May
Pte L.N. Brown 3 RAR 26th May
Pte A.J. Cooper 3 RAR 26th May
Cpl I.K. Dawson 1 RAR 14th May
Pte J.W. Desnoy 3 RAR 26th May
Cpl R.B. Hickey 1 RAR 13th May
Sgt P.E. Lewis 3 RAR 13th May
Pte R.L. McNab 1 RAR 13th May
LCpl W.H. Martin 1 RAR 16th May
Pte C.R. Nisbet 1 RAR 14th May
Pte J.A. O’Brien 1 RAR 13th May
Cpl J.G. Pearce 1 RAR 14th May
Gnr C.J. Sawtell 12 Fd Regt 13th May
Gnr I.J. Scott 12 Fd Regt 13th May
Pte L.R. Sheppard 1 RAR 13th May
Pte W.M. Thomas 3 RAR 26th May
Pte B.M. Trimble 1 RAR 13th May
Pte A.J. Wallis 1 RAR 16th May
Pte R.C. Watson 1 RAR 13th May
Pte H.W. White 1 RAR 16th May
Cpl J.H. Whitton 1 RAR 13th May
Pte J.T. Worle 3RAR 28th May
Sig A.H. Young 104 Sig Sqn 16th May
Pte B.T. Young 1 RAR 16th May
LEST WE FORGET