Unit Citation for Gallantry 


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  The Unit Citation for Gallantry was awarded to the 1st Australian Task Force (Fwd) on 13 May 2018 for action during the battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral. Although 161 (Independent) Reconnaissance Flight is not listed on the Citation, there were certain Air Crew and Maintenance personnel attached to, or who provided direct support to the 1st Australian Task Force (Fwd) during Operation THOAN THANG, including:

MAJ George Constable 2LT Bill Heron CPL Dave Manfield
CAPT Roger Colclough 2LT Steve Tizzard CPL Fred Baker
LT Paul (Paddy) O'Brien 2LT Dick Tippet CFN Dave Shearer
2LTJohn Coggan 2LT Don Moffatt CFN Phil Watson
2LT Peter Spoor 2LT Glen Duus CFN Stephen Giles
2LT Peter Muir CPL Rod Morris PTE Chris Ham

Note: This list is not exhaustive and there may be additional 161 members who were directly involved in support of the Operation.

MAJ George Constable was Possum Master #3 and was shot down and killed on 23 May 1968 whilst providing convoy escort to an Australian convoy going to, or returning from, FSBs Coral and Balmoral.


The Citation states:

The Battle of Coral/Balmoral began on the morning of 13 May 1968, when 102 Field Battery and mortars from 1 RAR were attacked by 1000 plus fresh and well armed NVA where the ratio NVA to Australian was 13:1. Bloody hand to hand fighting pursued until the impact of 102 Battery firing spintex at point blank range into the massed NVA broke up the attack and saved what was left of the mortars and the guns of 102 Field Battery. Throughout the remaining 26 day duration of the deployment, elements of the Australian Task Force, including 1 and 3 RAR, A Sqn 3rd Cav Regt, C Sqn 1st Armoured Regt, 12 Fd Regt RAA(-) and 1st Fd Sqn, RAE with other TF supporting elements were involved in defending brutal and continual regimental and battalion attacks on the two fire support and patrol bases enduring mortar, rocket propelled grenade and recoilless-rifle fire, whilst conducting offensive action against a well prepared and defended bunker systems. The Task Force's persistence slowly turned the battle from a desperate defensive battle into a battle of domination. Throughout the period 12 May - 6 Jun 68, extraordinary individually and collective gallantry was displayed on numerous actions that warranted recognition by way of awarding the Unit Citation for Gallantry to units and men of 1ATF(-).

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