Rats In The Sack

Gerry LLoyd, 1968-1969

From time to time personnel from 106 were rostered for duties such as Tactical Area Of Responsibility(TAOR) patrols, pickets at 88 Alpha or 88 Bravo to secure our own front or sometimes picket duties at other units while they were out bush.

One duty I always detested was picket at the Yank self propelled artillery Battery, Husky Alpha Bravo, on the other side of Nui Dat.

I remember the first time. I was still a private and we were allocated our times throughout the night. The picket was usually doubled from 2am to 4am.as that is when most enemy activity took place. Anyway I wasn't rostered on until later so I went for a nap.

Within minutes of the lights being extinguished there was a great ruckus in the tin shed we were in. I threw back the mosquito net and turned on a torch.

One fellow was holding his ear with blood running down his hand while another was shrieking, "rat rat!".

Just then I caught a glimpse of the intruder plus many of his mates.These rats were a serious cat size animal and did not seem scared of our movement or flashing lights. I turned on the electric light and noticed the flex was also well chewed making it quite a health hazard.

Threwing some half bricks in the direction of a fleeting shadows we quickly retreated from the confines of the building leaving it to the rats and headed for the relative "safety" of the mess to fix the bleeding ear.

I did not sleep at all and was relieved when it was time to go to the perimeter strongpoint.

Now on another occasion, again at Husky Bravo Alpha, 'Safe Conduct' Pass'we were standing to at daybreak when some Vietcong tried giving themselves up by coming to the perimeter wire waving yellow safe conduct passes which were dropped over the country by aircraft.

We were a bit wary when they got close, waiting for some kind of trick

Then suddenly some yank cooks, who were still in camp, came running and dived behind an M60 machine gun, pointing towards the Vietcong menacingly. They were just about to open fire when we Aussies shouted,"No!"

Consequently a man and a woman were taken prisoner.

I always found the American units quite unhygienic with rubbish and rodents abounding as opposed to our own, where the hygiene was first class. It may account for the higher incidence of disease, among the yanks.