The organisation of the Unit depended on whether it was in its Engineering or in its Defence mode.
The overall organisation, in both modes, is illustrated by the layout of the workshop compound
The photo was taken at Nui Dat in the Dry Season of 1971 and shows the fully developed site. It is contained in the Album for 1971.
In its repair and recovery function, the Unit was organised as
- Headquarters Pl
- Workshop Office
- Unit Office and Orderly Room
- Recovery Section
- Transport Section
- General Duties Section
- Ordnance Stores Section
- 1 Platoon (Vehicles)
- Platoon Headquarters
- A Vehicle Section consisting of two APC repair teams and one Tank repair team, with reserves
- B and C Vehicle Section
- Service Station Section
- Electrical Section (incl Control Electricians)
- 2 Platoon (General Engineering)
- Platoon Headquarters
- Fitting and Machine Shop Section
- Welding and Sheet Metal Section
- Gunnery and Turret Repair Section
- Telecommunications Repair Section
- Instrument Repair Section
- Forward Repair and Recovery detachments as required
The Unit was heavy in repair and recovery capacity for Tanks and APCs and their ancillary equipments, especially tels.
This applied not only to the Vehicle Platoon and Recovery Section, but weighed heavily in the capacities and trade skills in the General Engineering Platoon.
For example, the Welding Section was quite heavily staffed. This was because of an urgent program, early in the deployment, to upgrade the sponson and belly armour of the Cavalry Squadron's vehicles to counter mine damage and crew deaths and injuries (especially drivers).
Although subsequently this upgrading was provided by the Base Repair organisation in Australia, the Welders continued to be heavily loaded with mine damage to A vehicles and as well, a modification to cut out the integral fuel tanks of the APCs and install modular steel tanks.
Forward Repair and Recovery
The provision of Forward Repair and Recovery took many forms but in most cases was related to Battalion Group, Cavalry and Armour deployments.
The Repair and Recovery detachments were planned by the Workshop Manager/ASM but were deployed by the Adjutant who was responsible for coordinating the transfer of Operational Command and the marrying up with that Commands A Echelon. Technical control was retained by the Workshop Manager/ASM
The technical operation of the Unit changed throughout the tour of duty. The operational environment encountered by 1ATF in 1968 was significantly different from that faced in 1970/71. This was reflected in the types of support and priorities required from the Unit. In 1968, much of the work related to close support. In 1970/71, lessened intensity of operations as 1ATF exerted dominance over its AO, ameliorated that type of demand but, due to the theatre equipment inventory ageing, increased the EME technical support and planning function so that supported Units could reach the battle fitness rates required. (Some of the equipment arrived in theatre when the original Battalion Group deployed to Tan Son Nuit in 1966)
The fact is, as has been demonstrated in earlier campaigns, the operation of RAEME Units is closely bound to the operational environments and demands of the Formations that are supported. It is not so much the repairing of what is delivered to a workshop, as it is the marrying of optimised repair and recovery resources to forward operational needs, current equipment battleworthy status and equipment replacement demands and availability. After all this is why the EME Service was formed during World War 2. In the British Army, not only was there serious equipment availability problems in the various theatres but, due to the inefficient deployment of tradesmen in the Services, the demand for even more tradesmen was placing a drain on the British War effort. This prompted a Government enquiry under Sir William Beveridge (1876-1963). The endorsed report (The Beveridge Report (1941-42) Parts 1 and 2) established the EME Service and defined its essential structure and modus operandi.
While offensive combat is not a function for RAEME units, the equipment resources available to a Field Workshop means that they should be able to defend their perimeter as part of a Defence Sector. This capacity is enhanced by the training and experience that individual Officers and Men have gained by serving in Arms units and in the operation and firing of weaponry during repair and proving. In any circumstance it is their duty to defend themselves and prevent the loss of equipment and supplies including those under repair or recovery
The defence organisation will vary with circumstance, Perimeter Sector planning and orders, and the OC's assessment. The organisation for the defence of the workshop compound described here was that used in 1970/71 but it would have certain common elements. The structure was
- Command Post
- Three Platoon Sectors
- 1 (Veh) Pl (with a Strong Point) right forward
- 2(GE) Pl (with a Strong Point) left forward
- HQ Platoon, (commanded by the OC,Ord Stores Section) in depth.
- A Mobile Reserve
- commanded by the Workshop Manager with the ASM, with,
- the Fitters track and 10 men from 1 Pl, and the Recovery Section with heavy machine guns mounted
- located in the general area of the Casualty Park
- Protection Sections
- commanded by the Workshop Manager
- armed with light weapons, a ten man section was sited in pits in each of these locations
- at the rear of the Vehicle repair facilities
- at the rear of General Engineering area
- beside the Stores Section
- in the area of the Tpt Lines
- the purpose of these deployments was to
- detect and intercept infiltrators
- prevent booby trapping
- prevent pilfering
- in case of hits provide early damage assessment and containment, such as for fire
- Ready Reaction Fire Team
- Under command of the Workshop Manager
- Established by the Quartermaster and controlled by the Transport Sergeant