Operation Hastings USMC 1966 July Vietnam

Discussion in 'The Corps' started by Leatherneck, Apr 29, 2008.

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  1. www.limathreefive.com/pdf/Stories/July_1966RVN.pdf

    Wanted to share a piece of USMC history. This is not an attempt to compete with nor undermind the the Valor, Sacrifice and the Fighting Spirit of the British Royal Marines.
    The idea is simply an attempt to swap documented history for learning and to reinforce the well deserved pride of being a Marine and to honor the sacrifices of those who are no longer with us.
    The above statement is also directed towards Marines in any country worldwide.
  2. Good idea Leatherneck. Here's a post by a lad over on OaM.

    Today, 28 April 2008 marks the 91st Anniversary of the Battle for the Gavrelle Windmill in 1917.

    Two battalions of the RMLI took part supported by an RM Machine Gun company and RM Medical unit as well as a company from the Anson Battalion and the 1st HAC (in the infantry role).

    The 1 RMLI battalion attacked at 0425 across open ground north of Gavrelle village, whilst 2 RMLI attacked out of the village on 1 RMLI's right flank with the objective of the Windmill position North East of the village. The Anson company attacked south of the village protecting 2 RMLI's flank and rear. 1 HAC were in reserve.

    The wire in front of 1 RMLI had not been cut by artillery fire and the battalion was cut to pieces. Once the assault started nothing more was heard from the unit although isolated pockets of marines were still fighting some distance beyond the wire late in the day.

    The CO was killed as were all his company commanders including Lt Platt, at 17 years and 10 months the youngest British officer to die in WW1. He had joined up in the ranks at 15; had been commissioned in 1916; wounded in early 1917 and killed at Gavrelle. He was due to be promoted Captain.

    2 RMLI found their wire cut but only in one place. The first 3 companies to get through were destroyed by German MG fire and vigorous counter attacks. However the remaining troops captured the Windmill and Lt Newling and 40 marines held it all day despite up to 13 separate German counter attacks. At one stage the unit CO led a counter attack with the remnants of his HQ, clerks and signallers.

    In order to support 2 RMLI, the HAC attacked on their left flank to try and join up with 1 RMLI. This succeeded although at the end of the battle, the frontline on the 1 RMLI flank was unchanged from the position at H hour.

    The HAC won 2 VCs during this action. The RM units won 3 MCs, 2 DCMs and 29 MMs of which 13 were awarded to men of the Medical Unit.

    In total the RM units suffered nearly 900 casualties out of a force of around 1200 men. The ratio of dead (361) to wounded (358) was 1 to 1. Some 60 men had died in the 2 days before the battle. Although 500 men died at Jutland only 50 were wounded, making Gavrelle the most costly day in Corps history.

    My attention was drawn to this battle only recently as it never featured in Corps History lectures during training. There is a very full account of the battle at www.royalnavaldivision.co.uk

    RIP Royal.
  3. Thanks Darth That was a fine read and a huge piece of Royal Marine History. I've bookmarked the link you posted so I can go and re-read the facts again from time to time. I have a deep admiration for Royal Marines and Marines around the world.

    Cheers Mate :thumright:
  4. hehe i know it's a somber story guys but that one sentence did tickle me
  5. Seems like this one is a cliff hanger as the full story is not told. I just posted a piece of Leatherneck history in the "Corps History" section of OaM website. I'm sharing USMC history as I read Royal Marine history. Good stuff! :thumright:
  6. I rather like the tale of Lt John Hewett, RM who, during the Battle Of Oswego (the 1814 one not the 1756 one) fought his way after being shot to the American Colours and ripped them down. They are now housed in the RMC museum.

    His son went on to become the first Commandant of the Royal Military College of Canada.

  7. Hey LN, off topic slightly, but this site has some great pics from Vietnam. Some sad, some moving, some funny, some thought provoking, some.... just awsome;

  8. You have a vivid recollection. Mine is spotty. I can't even remember what unit I was in for sure. My recent request for my m-history did not even include such. Maybe L-3-4? (USMC, of course).

    I found this site almost by accident while googling Hastings. Just looking to see what it had.

    But your description almost matches perfectly with what I was in. The only diff was that we came in by ground and the helos were CH-47's.

    I might as well tell what I can remember. (your description of the area seems to match but...)

    We entered this(?) area from the west late in the afternoon. We were dispatched to the surrounding higher ground to set up for the night. We were assigned positions like in an amphitheater around the valley we entered from but west and north only. The south elevation was rather disconnected from the west and a 100yd wide lowland separated the N and S to the east. It is strange that we didn't at least investigate over the summit.

    That night we had some action as we were attempting to dig foxholes into a very rocky surface. Well. A lot of us were attempting to make and eat our chow at the same time just before dark. But dark enough. I couldn't even see the nearest position.

    But I could hear them whispering to one another. Ham and Lima's. "Pos. There's somebody out there sneaking up on us." " Yeah. I know." Evidently he knew well beforehand. His M-14, lying on the ground, was pointed in that direction. A friendly wouldn't sneak. The shot was fired. "Don't f*ck with my ham and Lima's." Obviously, such things happen.

    For the next half-hour there were a few shots fired and a few barked orders and exclamations. But then the quiet. My buddy had his M-14 but I wished I had it instead. All I had was a .45 with about 3 or 4 rounds (I still don't know why - I hadn't shot it) and an M-79 which was useless in the just dense enough brush and thicket. Further digging was fruitless.

    Next morning we were rounded up and we finally investigated over the summit to the north. There was an ammo cache that looked like a gook flea market. I guess they were attempting to knife us the night before for fear one of us might discover it. I dunno. All I knew was to look for .45 ammo. No luck. How could that possibly be with 30 or so different types of ammo?

    Later (that same day or not) about 4 of us were on the western hill about half way up. There were some well laid out logs there that formed a box. There was a slight depression in the inside ground. Then from the south hill there came fire. With tracers. At first I thought it was our guys shooting at gooks up and a little north of us. I just stood there knowing the tracers were missing me. My buddies told me to get down but I told them that the tracers were going left of us. Then they started to get closer. Duck, stupid. I did. A few rounds had swept over the top of us but not as close as the last tracer paths I saw arching toward me. Never did know if it was friend or foe.

    This is out of actual sequence but at some time when we were (again?) in the western part of this small valley, re-enforcement Marines were brought in. They came in by CH-47's. There was no fire that I knew of and all was well with the first of a few dual landings. Then one pilot got into a panic and swapped blades with the other 47. I watched with a blur as the troops tried to get out. The drive train to the rear blades collapsed and the blades cut a few of these guys in half. Somehow, I knew one of them.

    Sometime (when?) after that we were exiting to the east along the 100yd wide lowland. I was well in front. Now, during all the previous I don't remember having a PRK-6 radio. But I did have it then. Maybe I was just designated as a temp? A call. Our rear was attacked. We were supposed to send our company back to aid and assist in the fighting and rescue. Well? Another call. Just 2 platoons. Another call. 1 platoon. Another call. 1 squad to get the dead and wounded and another to lay a base of fire. Tongue in cheek, I guess they didn't want to expose too many of us to the enemy. My squad was the one to cross the clearing and do the rescue. Normally 7 guys but we had just 4. Actually there was a sharp drop-off to provide cover for a whole platoon of cover fire. But upon reflection, with hills on all sides, it wasn't so safe. I just now remembered that we were taking fire from the north hill. No protection. I saw a flash or smoke or some movement or something and fired my egg. About 200 yds. away and uphill. The best shot I actually saw under fire. I guess they got scared up there because it was silent from there until we were done. A few sorties of Thunderchiefs came later.

    But in the meantime there was fire from the south and southwest. It didn't seem like much, or else I wouldn't have had the balls to cross the clearing. But it had been enough to kill 4 of our guys en-route out of this valley and wound several others. Occasionally I would hear our own guys firing single and auto. That was reassuring. They knew their stuff, I hoped.

    We made it across the clearing to a single line of smallish trees and brush where the bodies were. I couldn't see beyond from where I was but one of my buddies had a better vantage point. He said they (how many?) were about 30 yds away. They couldn't by seen by our protective fire and even if, we were in the direct line of fire. I couldn't risk standing up to fire my M-79, so I put the butt on the ground and tried to gauge an angle to go over the trees and make the 30 yd. strike. No good. I couldn't waste a shot. I had fired into a thicket before and knew that it wouldn't arm if it hit something within 25 yds. or so. I asked my buddy (I didn't even know him. He was somehow here with me from a different platoon) if I would clear the trees. He said 'yes' but further told me to adjust the angle. He must have been proficient with an M-79 to know its trajectory. There was no way to argue as long as I missed the trees. I fired. He said I needed to do another. We did it again. The close threat was no longer there.

    We proceeded to get the wounded out of there and then the dead. All I heard was our fire with an occasional incoming round. Our guys are good.

    Besides getting all the bodies (dead or not) into the drop-off, I remember nothing else while getting out of there. Maybe aircraft and artillary to close the wound. I was just a machine with a job to do.
  9. Oh dear I am glad that you were not next to me, that's scary shit you are telling definitely off to the flank with you.
  10. Darth or Rob I didnt know that.

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