ALBUM 4 - 104 SIG SQN

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104 Sigs - Mark Howie checking batteries 1971
4-1.   Mark Howie charging batteries.   The 24 volt batteries powered the Command Net Radio Sets housed in the bunkers and Radio vehicles.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

104 Sigs - Allan Thackeray and Patrick Phillips manning Commcen desks - Aug 1971 
4-2.  COMMCEN reception area with Allan Thackeray manning 'Out Clerks' desk and Patrick Phillips at the 'SDS' desk.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

SDS = Special Delivey Service.
COMMCEN or COMCEN = Communications Centre

104 Sigs - COMCEN inside 1971   
4-3.  COMCEN.  Manned by ?  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.   [1971]

Note:
The 104 Sig Sqn 1 ATF COMCEN was the hub of communications for the Task Force.   The COMCEN handled all Telegraph Messages from other HQ's and Australia (via 110 Sig Sqn in Vung Tau and Saigon), all formal written messages between units, the telephone system (Ebony Switchboard) and the delivery of messages to units using SDS and ADS.   The Telegraph equipment was not computerized and normally operated at 50 bauds.   The Telephone System was manual.  The COMCEN was manned 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  COMCEN facilities were also deployed forward to FSPB's, when required.

104 Sigs - Skarky Gill at Routing Clecks desk Comcen - Aug 1971
4-4.  Brian (Sharky) Gill at 'IN and Routing Clerks' desk in the COMCEN.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

N
ote:
The ADS bags hanging on the wall.  Air was the only means by which we could deliver messages in our AO  outside of Nui Dat, securely, safely and quickly.  Note the bag names - BEARCAT (We normally had a radio retrans detachment at the base) - FSB ROBIN (GR YS435575) - FSB CENTENARY (GR YS661679) - FSB KATE (GR YS422883) - TUNUNDA (?)

AO = Area of Operation
ADS = Aerial  Delivery Service
FSB (or FSPB) = Fire Support Base (Fire Support Patrol Base)

104 Sigs - Inside Comms Con Bunker (Just outside SQN HQ) - Aug 1971   
4-5.  Brian Duncan manning the COMMS CON bunker located beside SQN HQ.  This bunker was dug in late 1968 with three and a half feet of OHP.   It operated as the Sqn CP during emergencies and 'Stand-To's.  It also was equipped to mirror the Radio bunker on Nui Dat hill.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

HQ = Headquarters
SQN = Squadron (104)
OHP = Overhead Protection
CP = Command Post
COMMS CON = Communications Control

104 Sigs - Sgt Denis (Shorty) Boland manning Comms Con - Aug 1971 (Monitoring TF Radio Nets)
4-6.  Denis (Shorty) Boland manning COMMS CON.  COMMS CON everyday working role was to monitor and report security breaches across the 1ATF VHF radio networks.  The office was located in the Sqn HQ building and entry to the COMMS CON bunker was via steps (many) from this office.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.   [1971]

COMMS CON = Communications Control
1ATF = 1st Australian Task Force
VHF = Very High Frequency

104 Sigs - Radio bunker inside manned by Raymond Jenkin - Aug 1971 (TF Radio Command Nets)
4-7.    Inside the Radio bunker on Nui Dat hill.  The bunker is manned by Raymond (Ray) Jenkin.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

Note:
The unit was responsible for radio communications from Task Force Units to the Task Force Headquarters at Nui Dat.  Therefore Radio Operators and equipment was detached to the deployed combat units (Infantry, Engineers, Armour, Aviation, etc), FSPB's and Liaison Officer Teams  located with other Allied Forces (US Army, Marines, RTAF, ARVN, etc).

104 Sigs - From Left Sgt Lawrence Harbridge - Cpl Alan Moloney - Sig Peter Rowe - ? - 1971 (SQN Orderly Room)
4-8.  104 Sig Sqn Orderly room (rear of Sqn HQ building). From left Lawrence Harbridge (Chief Clerk), Alan Moloney, Peter Rowe, ?  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

ARVN = Army of the Republic of Vietnam

104 Sigs - Laurence Hart - Edward Edwards TG Wksp in Comcen 1971 (Keeping the 50/75 baud machine going)
4-9.   Telegraph (TG) Mechanics workshop inside the COMCEN.  Laurence Hart and Edward Edwards are the two guys hard at work. Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

104 Sigs - Sig Mark Howie - Radio Tech's bench Tech Maint - 1971 (Keeping the Radio equipment going)
4-10.   Mark Howie at the radio repair bench inside Technical Maintenance (Tech Maint).  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.   [1971]

104 Sigs - from front - Anthony Campbell - Anthony Pool - Peter Smith - 1971 (Ebony - The TF Switchboard)  
4-11.
  Ebony Sir!  Switchboard manned by  (from the front) Anthony Campbell, Anthony Pool and Peter Smith.  The Sqn maintained the 1ATF telephone system and allow connections to other HQ's.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

Note:
Ebony Sir!   "Ebony" was the 1ATF (Nui Dat) switchboard designator.   Ebony handled  thousands of telephone calls in a normal day and operated, like most of the units communications equipment, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  Ebony was in the early years of 1ATF based on SB-86 switchboards.  These were later replaced by the AN/MTC-1 switchboard shelter shown above.

104 Sigs - Graham Matthews and Mark Howie Tpt Office - Aug 1971 (Radio and SDS Vehicles) 
4-12.   Graham Mathews and Mark Howie standing outside the Transport Office.  Note the sign changed from the one used in 1968 - same theme however.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

 

104 Sigs - HQ Building - Lt Michael Castle Admin Offr - Aug 1971 (looking in front door - Left  21C, CommsCon, Duty NCO -  Right OC, SSM - Back Orderly Room)
4-13.   Looking into Sqn HQ building from the front with Michael Castle (Admin Officer) in view.  Left side first was Sqn 2IC (Bob Semple) then COMMS CON then Duty NCO.  Right side first was Sqn OC (Tony Roberts) then Sqn SSM (Brian Fisher).  Sqn Orderly room was at the other end of the building.  Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

Comment:
In 1968 the walls of the Sqn HQ were never painted.  Someone must of located paint and some poor Digger(s) got the job of painting the walls.


OC = Officer Commanding
2IC = Second in Command
SSM = Squadron Sergeant Major
NCO = Non Commissioned Officer
Digger = Australian Soldier

104 Sigs - Over HMAS Sydney at Vung Tau - Unit member on the way home 1971
4-14.  HMAS Sydney "The Vung Tau Ferry" off Vung Tau loading equipment for return to Australia.  Sqn members in-bound for the trip home 6th November 1971.   Note the Gunships on the forward flight deck and the Huey at the rear flight deck pulling pitch. Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

Note:
HMAS Sydney was a WW2 vintage aircraft carrier, use to ferry Australian troops and equipment to and from the war.


HMAS = Her Majesty's Australian Ship

104 Sigs - HMAS Sydney - Ken Mackenzie stepping from  Huey doorway - 6 Nov 1971 (Vung Tau VC Hill back right)
4-15.   104 Sig Sqn members arriving on the flight deck of HMAS Sydney.  The Sqn after 5 years in the war was on its way home.  Ken Mackenzie is stepping out of the Huey (photo right side) with his gear.   Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

Note: 
VC Hill (Vung Tau) on the horizon left part of photo.  Also this photo has the three Australian Defence Force Services featured. The RAAF, the ARA and the RAN.

104 Sigs - going down into HMAS Sydney - Unit members on the way home 1971
4-16.  Unit members riding the aircraft elevator down to the hanger deck for on-board processing and return to Australia.    Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

RAAF = Royal Australian Air Force
ARA = Australian Regular Army
RAN = Royal Australian Navy

 104 Sigs - Unit Photo (Second - See story) - 26 Aug 1971  
4-17.  104 Sig Sqn group photo of most of the unit members on the 26 August 1971. Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

104 Sigs - Ken Mackenzie and Colin (Harry) Sinclair - Soui Ca 1971  
4-18.  Ken Mackenzie (front) and Colin (Harry) Sinclair taking a break in the vicinity of Soui Ca, west of Nui Dat in Feb 1971.   Photo supplied by Ken Mackenzie.  [1971]

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