4 to 14 December 1966
Operation Canary was a Corps route-security operation on Route 15 conducted by HQ II Field Force, Vietnam (II FFV) with 5 RAR and B Company 6 RAR to protect troop convoys carrying 199 Light Infantry Brigade (US) through Vung Tau on deployment to South Vietnam. 1 ATF was responsible for route security in an AO from Ba Ria to Phu My, approximately 20 kilometres, Operation Canary was supported by three Fire Support Bases (FSB) and two Mortar Base Plate Positions (MBPP).
This was extremely arduous work for the infantry soldiers as it was carried out in the heat of a dry summer with no shelter or trees along the coastal strip. The terrain was flat, becoming undulating to the north and east of Route 15 and covered in a variety of vegetation from grassland to jungle or clear forest with rice, brushwood and mangrove to the South and East.
The Viet Cong were believed to be using the Nui Thi Vai, Nui Ong Trinh and Nui Dinh Mountains to the north and east of Route 15 as base areas and for observation over Route 15 traffic. Enemy activity was expected to be limited to action by the Chau Duc District Company and local guerrilla platoons.
Excerpts from Fire Support Bases Vietnam: Australian and Allied Fire Support Base
A UH-1B Iroquois helicopter of No 9 squadron RAAF lifts off from a fire support base on route 15, carrying members of C Company, 5th Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR). The helicopter had just dropped members of 6th Battalion's (6 RAR) B Company at the base. The Battalion was supported by B Company, 6 RAR, on Operation Canary to safeguard the US Army's 9th Infantry Division, which had just arrived in Vietnam.
Photo and article courtesy of AWM