WO2 (later WO1) P.B. McGRELLIS - RAINF
AATTV 1965-1966


 
 

(Photo courtesy of Pat McGrellis)

ARVN soldiers under instruction of WOII Pat McGrellis

"WO2 Patrick (Pat) Brian McGrellis  enlisted in the Australian Army in July 1950 at the age of 18 years. Pat was posted to Japan as a reinforcement for 3 RAR in 1951 and then to Korea after undergoing training in Japan. Pat was promoted to Sergeant duringthis tour of duty and as a result of a number of skirmishes with the enemy was also wounded in action. Prior to service in South Vietnam, Pat's service included a stint at Maralinga atomic testing site, Papua New Guinea and Western Command. On advice of posting to South Vietnam in 1965, Pat underwent training at Jungle Warfare Centre - Canungra. WO2 Pat McGrellis commenced his tour with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) in June1965.

On arrival in South Vietnam, WO2 McGrellis was posted to 1st Bn, 3 Regt ARVN, a posting which he held for 6 months. His battalion commander was an ex-North Vietnames officer who had fought against the French at Dien Bien Phu. This battalion initially had a reputation for breaking under fire,  but with the aggressive direction of the Battalion Commander and staff, the battalion conducted many successful search and destroy missions in over seven provinces. An unusual direction by this commander was that helmets were to be painted red, blue and yellow.This was very unsettling for Pat and although he did not paint his helmet, the commander believed that it would make his men fight harder as they would know the enemy could see them easily. He wanted his men to make contact and fight.

Some of the provinces, WO2 McGrellis operated in were, Quang Tri, Thua Thien, Quang Nam, Quang Tin and QuangNgai this being due to the reputation of aggressiveness the battalion held. One contact of interest was a contact with a NVA battalion near/or on theLaotian border. This firefight lasted a few days and help was sought from the 11th Marine Bn at Phu Bai,  the ARVN battalion had suffered heavy losses and the intervention of the marines saved the day. The team to which WO2 Pat McGellis was attached consisted of an US Army Captain, US Army Lieutenant and a US Army Master Sergeant (Signaller).  This team was split into two smaller teams and Pat worked with the US Army Lieutenant later Capt Konnie Lubavs. (See photographs below). Naturally under these circumstances, a strong bond of friendship existed between these men.

Pat McGrellis was relieved after six months with this battalion by WO2 James 'Jim' A. MacDonald - RAE -AATTV and both he and Capt Konnie Lubavs were killed in action on 7th February1966.  Konnie Lubavs had only six weeks of his tour of duty remaining.  Pat McGrellis had lost a great mate and his memory remains with him for the rest of his days.

WO2 Pat McGrellis was then posted to an outpost/training camp in Thua Thien province situated approximately 35 kms South of Hue.  Although remote, this outpost was used to train South Vietnamese regulars.  These soldiers once trained were posted on to South Vietnamese battalions and a new batch would arrive.  Although a number of  probes against this outpost were made by the enemy, Pat McGrellis saw his initial six month posting with the regular ARVN battalion as the highlight of his tour.

On his return flight to Australia on 16 May 1966 , Pat counted his blessings.

  (Photographs below were kindly supplied by WO2 Pat B. McGrellis AATTV 1965-66.)



 

Some of the weaponary and ammunition captured as a 
result of a successful ambush which saw 31 enemy
killed in action (confirmed kills)and numerous blood
trails which indicated further enemy losses. 
Friendly casualties amounted to one man being wounded
in action.

WO2 Pat McGrellis and Capt
"Konnie"  Lubavs spend a
little relaxation at the local
market.

 

 

 Array of machine guns, other weaponary and munitions
captured as a result of the ambush. Note the Russian
DPM Light Machine Gun, a modified version of the DP
and capable of firing 500-600 rpm.   Also visible is the
Chinese Communist 7.62mm Type 53 carbine;copy of
the Soviet M1944.

Capt Konstantins"Konnie"
Adolfs LUBAVS United
States -Army. Killed In
Action 7th February 1966
Companion and friend of
WO2 Pat McGrellis.
Lest We Forget


 
 
 
 
 

Parade of some members of the South VietnameseArmy
Regulars undergoing training.

WO2 McGrellis and CPT
Lubavs on river patrol.This
kind of patrol being a very
kind of patrol being a very
Australians in South Vietnam.

 (I would like to thank WOI Pat McGrellis  - AATTV  for providing the photos and above account of his time in South
 Vietnam. The  aim,  is to give, you the reader  some understanding of the tasks that faced Team members in
South Vietnam.  Unfortunately, friend and mate Pat McGrellis passed away on 30th October 2003 and his widow, Margaret, lives in Mandurah, Western Australia).

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