One For the HOLDFAST Fraternity

Was sent this site from a colleague, no I'm not an Engineer. But, I thought some fine fellows may be interested in the history of a rather remarkable part of the Royal Australian Engineers (RAE) illustrious past. As an aside, RAE have a Special Operations Engineer Regiment (SOER), which will take its history from the site I recommend.

Tunnel Rats : about us
The father of a friend, a senior US Army officer, talked with me about the tunnel rats when he was between Vietnam tours. He really admired their courage,crawling through mazes of tunnels. They really impressed him. Enought to impress me enough that I remember 40+ years later.


Book Reviewer
I remember reading a book about the 1st War sappers and miners when I was a kid. I think it was called Tunnellers All or some such.

Anyway it was a bit of a riveting read for a young schoolboy, especially bits like when water dripping onto the stethoscope gave them cause to believe they were being sapped.

Fast forward a few years to Cpl Matt on the mic steth down a hole in London with a 1000 kg legacy of Hitler when suddenly tic, tic, tic. ******** going half crown sixpence I discovered that air was escaping from the fuze cavity and the tic, tic noise was the little bubbles of air bursting as they emerged from behind the fuze locking ring.
I'd just like to say that I think these Tunnel Rat johnnies, both US and Australian were amazingly brave and must have been 'as sound as a pound' mentally as well.

I presume they were volunteers because if I had ever been ordered to do that work I admit now that I'd have had a GBFO problem with it.

I did some pot holing once while in BAOR and ******* hated it - throw in a few snakes, punji sticks and a chance encounter with the enemy and I simply can't imagine anything worse. Oh, and proper jungly spiders.

I think (emphasis on think) as an infanteer I would have turned my hand to most things if ordered to on active service but that job - bloody hell.
Although a lot of the ground was laterite and excellant for tunnelling, tunnels were not a feature of VC activity in Phuoc Tuy province which was the TAOR of the Australian Task Force. The tunnel problem was north in the 'War Zone D' (VC name, IIRC. Australians operated there for only a limited period. There was a cave complex problem in the Long Hai hills but after one mild attempt the Australian Task Force concluded that the risks of attempting to evict the VC from this area were not worth it. H&I fire every night, the occasional Arclight (3 x B52), night ambushing tracks in and out and even direct fire with 203mm against cave mouths were the sum of it.
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