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1969

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Questionable Flare

Milton C. W. Pearson, CSM, 106 Field Workshop, 1968-1969

Friendly Fire

106 had three rows of wire on the perimeter facing South and a Task force road system that passed through the wire to the left of 88A strong point. The road meandered around to 9 Bn and 1 ARU.

I determined this gap in the well strung perimeter wire was a weak point and an area easily breached. Although the machine gun at 88A could cover this entrance/exit at night; it would only have taken slight elevation and rounds would be peppering into a friendly area.

This was resolved by trip flaring the road each evening.

On a regular basis the flares would be ignited as a result of vehicle movement at night by Landrovers from the neighbouring Battalion. Not once was there ever a courtesy call to the CP warning of vehicle movement.

Well I simply increased the defence by running a barbed wire entanglement across the road as well.

One night a vehicle in a hurry hit the obstacle; the barbed wire wrapped around the front end of the land rover; the phosphorus now oxidizing with air lit up the night much to the delight of the evening picquet.

The very senior officer on board was duly late for a meeting with the TF Commander.

Whatever transpired the next day between the Duty Room at TF HQ and my OC, Claude Palmer, I'm not sure. I do recall Claude asking me the next day to please remove the nightly barrier.

Flares and rubber trees

Flare pots require a secure base from which to run the trip wire from - often these are small metal stakes. However, to reduce weight to be carried on patrol I discarded the stakes and took a few nails instead. (You know RAEME in the field,improvise etc.)

Well during the dark on a nightly TAOR patrol I crept out and secured the flare pot into a very convenient tree, a Rubber tree, but when a slight breeze got up at around 2am, the nails gave way. The illumination almost caused World War III.

Not having grown up with Rubber trees in my native Western Australia, I hadn't expected the latex exuding from the nail holes to cause both nails to pop.

Never had a problem with a digger sleeping on patrol whilst manning the M60; in case the CSM got up to more tricks. Well that's the moral to the story.

Flare and my Reo

Warrant Officer Don "Broncho" Burns was my replacement and he arrived in time for a week long induction.

One day whilst teaching him how to set (arm - disarm) American issued trip flares down on the perimeter wire, I heard someone calling me some distance away; my involvement with the flare prevented me from looking in the direction of the caller; and as the call persisted I looked up to discover that it was the Adjutant striding towards our location.

I secured the flare by replacing the pin and gave the flare to Bronco whilst I went over to address the Adjt.

I hadn't gone ten feet and the flare pops and my rio is on fire sustaining a burn to his hand. I smothered the phosphorus with dirt to eliminate the oxygen and took my rio off to see Cpl Arthur "Rainbow" Aplin our medic.

After that I almost wrapped my reo in cotton wool until the freedom bird arrived.