Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Battery Deployments 2

A clearing for LP/single gun position

Boy have I deployed guns. Over the years during confrontation, border ops and live exercises, I had deployed guns like no other. Other than our primary mode of towed deployments I had deployed into jungle positions underslung by our Nuri helicopter, stripped and delivered by allouettes, stripped and loaded into assault boats, landed by LSTs, stripped and loaded in JKR lories for deception and more. I had fired from the beach 50 meters from the sea line in Sabah. Had to finish the fire mission before the next high tide, coming out of action in less than 12 hours. I had fired from the swamplands in Nonok, Sarawak. Gun trails strongly held up with sand bags; for only 2 rounds after that we would have to dig up the last sections of the trail. Our gun position in Fort Belum along Sg Belum, submerge in water during the wet season.I had fired from Gunung Bintang at 6020 feet high.

Old positions, new positions, I have deployed to all of them, been there, done that. For shoot and skoot fire missions in Sebatik Island, we would deploy silently by assault boats upriver from Sg Limau and skoot like hell after our fire missions, airlifted by Allouettes. The L5 Oto Melara is a fantastic and versatile gun. Only lack of imagination would hold its deployment back. Deployments in good old Asahan Range are really so bookish. Yuk!

Deploying into enemy territory can be scary. We were operating in the Malaysian Thai border and had prepared gun positions in Markers Zulu, Tango, and Xray. 15 RAMD was patrolling east of Marker Tango and was out of range from our guns. I was tasked to redeploy into their AO about 25 km away. I tasked for an air recce of the area and spotted an old abandoned and unmarked heli LP. The clearing was too small and over grown with forage. It allowed me to be winched down as I dont know how to absail, to get its fixation and check out the needs for further clearings. The next day an Engr party and I did the needful to prep the position to take in one gun and first line ammo. The old LP platform made of thin tree logs were still intact and made a good gun platform. We were on a small knoll and Tac 15 RAMD with a section of mortars on an adjacent knoll 200 meters along the same spur.

I started preparing for HF fire tasks with CO 15 RAMD as soon a one gun and ammo were airlifted into the new position. My HF plans included targets by the mortar section. We were at it for a week, when I called the mortar Sgt for a target briefing the next morning. The mortar Sgt came early for my briefing and while he waited for my orders, he decided to wander around the gun by himself.

Bang!! Musoh!!

Everybody went into their individual defence dugouts, expecting an enemy attack. None came. The mortar Sgt screemed in pain. He had stepped on an old improvised booby trap placed 6 inches from the gun's right trail. He had lost his left foot. The mortar Sgt was medevac out. We were all sorry for him; it could be anyone of us Gunners. It was all fated, so we believed. We were there for one whole week before the incident and nobody stepped on the booby trap six inches from the gun. I was the first person to be winched down to the position during my recce. The enemy could not have placed the booby trap the night before the incident as the remants of the booby trap showed evidence of rusty nails, and a rusty battery.

Good Luck, Bad Luck, Maybe. I had lost another one of my nine lives.

Allen Lai

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