Daryl Bristowe - On patrol

Running time
2 min 28 sec
Date made
Department of Veterans' Affairs


…we got lost. And for four days, we were using at the time American ration packs, which the Australian one is a one-day ration pack, the American ones were one meal. So you had to be resupplied because you can only carry so much because you're carrying ammunition. And in my case, because I had all this up here, I didn't have to carry, I think it was the M26 fragmentation grenades because they figured I had enough on me, but I had to carry two smoke grenades, which I had attached somewhere.

And because, as I said, I had the M16, I was carrying a bandolier of five magazines. I had no room in the webbing. So I carried the M16 rounds in my pockets because we had pockets on the side. And because I was superstitious, I only put 19 rounds in each magazine, but because I only carried 19 and it wasn't my weapon to worry about.

When I came back to Australia, I hand loaded my own magazines myself and I used tracer. Do you know what tracer is? Can you imagine eight magazines, 19 rounds. I created Star Wars before the movie came out and gee it looked good of a night-time. But I did that and every couple of days, you sort of... When we went out to do an ambush, you always had the straight line, about a hundred metres, 200 metres from the path, the track and the others were forming like a triangle.

And every time we go, we'd move around. You know, if you were on this flank, you'd be in the front next. And I never knew what was out there 'cause I never went out there and I didn't want to go out there. But my task was to fire illumination rounds in the air. There had to be seven rounds at any given time. And how the contact was initiated in front of us was.. You know what a Claymore mine is? Well , they had them all the way along like a hundred metres or whatever, and it could be command-detonated this end or this end. So, if the people were coming this way, that person when the first person came to him, he fired the Claymores.

Or if it came the other way, he fired the Claymores, so that way you get everybody. And as soon as the Claymores went off, I was asleep by the way, because I was tired. You didn't need to stay awake, but I was in the front row. And I started firing these flares, couldn't see it. My night vision was gone. Thank goodness I had tracer, and a couple of times, I got spoken to harshly.

Everybody's firing straight-forward. I'm doing this. Flare up, pick up the magazine, 19 rounds, weapon down. Another flare up, as the first one hit the ground, the eighth had to be up and so on until the whole 24 had gone. And all my ammunition was gone, but I always knew it was me, because everybody else was firing in a straight line. I always fired low, just seeing the rounds going off. So, if we ever find a squeaky American, a squeaky Vietnamese, you know it's me. I had something to do with it.

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