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Sandy Tocock
Sandy Tocock

South Vietnam .. A September Sunday in 1969

WO K.A. [Sandy] Tocock,mid - Recovery
An E-mail
---- Original Message -----
From: frankmeredith &.....
To: kenjam &....
Sent: Saturday, November 13, 2004, 8:51 AM
Subject: Sandy Tocock


I am seeking to make contact with Ken ("Sandy") Tocock, ex-RAEME, who served in Vietnam in 1969.

My name is Frank Meredith; I served as a tank Troop Leader in Vietnam, 1969/70. A few days before the end of Ken's tour in Vietnam, he helped me out of a very difficult situation by supervising the recovery of a tank which was bogged. Although not an unusual event, on this occasion the bogged tank was blocking the very busy Route 1 highway between Saigon and Vung Tau on a Sunday afternoon.

Matters were made worse when the Task Force commander, Brigadier Weir, happened to be over flying in his helicopter and landed to express, in very strong language, his displeasure at me and the situation.

I understand that a photograph taken at the time and titled "Never on Sunday" is in the War Memorial archives. Ken came to my assistance, despite his understandable reluctance to leave the Nui Dat base when he was about to leave for home.

His expertise in recovering the tank probably saved me even more unpleasant consequences than those which followed from the incident.

The reason for making contact is to seek Ken's permission to use his name in relation to this incident in a possible publication on tank troop probably saved me even more operations in Vietnam. Also, I would appreciate if Ken can remember the approximate date of the Sunday in September 1969.

Trouble on Route 1
Sunday Sept 2nd

At 1400 hrs I am in the B Squadron Sgt's Mess at Nui Dat downing a couple of my favourite beverages UDL V&Os, I was celebrating the end of my tour three sleeps and a wakey wakey. Just as well I had only had one and a half when the Duty Sgt informs me to report to the Sqd Commander Major Alex Smith.

It appears that one of his troops has a spot of trouble on route one north of Baria. The ARV, my ex vehicle was at the scene, and as my replacement had not arrived in theater a temporary replacement crew commander seconded from Saigon was in command, and appears that he had no ARV experience, and they were having problems with the task at hand.

I was to be choppered out to assist.

As we flew over the area, what a mess. The road in question was the main highway from Vung Tau to Saigon, and as it was Sunday afternoon all the holiday traffic from V.T. to Saigon was backed up for about five miles; motor bikes by the million, TucTucs, Mercedes and "you name it"; they were there.


The Problem: One of the tanks had pulled to one side because of the traffic congestion and sunk down on one side to a very acute and dangerous angle. The recovery crew had tried to pull the vehicle out parallel to the road, but this had only served to cause the vehicle to sink more.

On landing I was approached by the troop leader, Lt Frank Meredith and some over bearing civilian Yank. I don't know to this day what his part in the situation was.

route1-pic2 arv rec on the bitumen


On making an appraisal of the situation I told Mr Meredith that I would have to put the ARV in the center of the highway, about three vehicle lengths from the casualty, drop the vehicle spade through the bitumen, and raise the rear boom to lift and haul the bogged vehicle.

This did not go over too well with the God Dam. On explaining it was that or the highway remaining blocked till he could come up with a better idea, he told me in no uncertain terms to get on with it.

The crew moved the ARV to the required position; we then lowered the spade anchor and backed up the vehicle to drive it in to the bitumen; we then raised the rear boom to its full height approximately 15 feet. I then instructed them to attach a snatch block to the right front of the tank after removing the towing bollard. We then reeved a two to one tackle to give a purchase of approximate sixty ton, (any amount to achieve a successful recovery).

I am given to understand that there is a photo of the incident in the Australian War Museum entitled Never On Sunday

After completing that task I returned to the Dat to continue celebrating and the next couple of days were bit of a blur

Lt Meredith subsequently raised the Psy Ops Unit at HQ 1 ATF. I hear he left the service soon after returning to Australia.

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