December 1, 2022

Eric Halkyard

Biography of Eric Halkyard

Eric Halkyard was born in Manchester, the United Kingdom, on the 29th March 1943.

His service in Vietnam included:-

1 Australian Reinforcement Unit, from the 9th July 1970 to the 6th August 1970.
8th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, from the 7th August 1970 to the 20th November 1970.
7th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, from the 21st November 1970 to the 16th January 1971

… the fatal action in Vietnam …

In the early morning of 16 January, a half platoon lay–up patrol from 6 Platoon B Company, led by Second Lieutenant George  Wenhlowskyj, at a position on the northern edge of Nui Dien Ba, had heard noises and movement to their south. A little later a group of enemy, later estimated to be about fifteen strong, passed 30–40m from the patrol but the ambush was unable to effectively engage them because of the very thick vegetation. The next morning a group of twenty enemy passed the same location. The ambush was sprung when there were seven enemy in its killing ground, only 5 metres in front of the patrol. Corporal John Lawson described its springing:

“It seemed wrong if not unfair that the enemy were so unsuspecting. They entered the killing ground (what a cruel name). They were just having a stroll in each other’s company. I detonated the claymores, bodies went flying in a hideous fashion throughout the air. Bob Cusack’s machine gun opened up and then it jammed. Christ, why now? There was a loud explosion and then silence.
I quickly moved around the other pits. Eric was obviously dead and Buck had been wounded. The enemy who had not been caught commenced to remove the dead and wounded. We now had two machine guns out of action, one dead, one wounded, and for all we knew there was some evidence of a superior force to our rear who could now be starting to feel most angry. George in brilliant fashion was organising support. While it was arriving in the form of gunships and artillery, he handed me the M79 with orders to keep the enemy occupied. A casevac helicopter arrived for Buck and the body of Eric. A sweep was ordered through the killing ground. Another helicopter arrived for the enemy dead. Support artillery came whistling in, fascinating to feel its arrival.”

Five enemy bodies were found and there were at least seven wounded.

Unfortunately, one wounded enemy had thrown a grenade into a machine gun pit just before he died, killing Lance Corporal Eric Halkyard and wounding Lance Corporal Bill Rogers. Armoured personnel carriers were reacted to assist the contact but they were unable to penetrate the dense vegetation. From the large quantity of supplies being carried and the captured documents, it was deduced that this was a group of Viet Cong from the Long Dat District forces returning from a resupply mission. One enemy was identified as Tran Van Khoa, the Commander of the Military Proselytising Section of the Long Dat District Company, who was also on the Long Dat District Party Committee. He was a former secretary of the An Ngai Party Chapter.

Eric Halkyard had served in the British Army in 2nd Battalion, the Grenadier Guards for six years including service in the British Army of the Rhine and South America. His father and both his brothers had also served in the British Army.

Official Commemoration
Garden Of Remembrance
Commemoration Position
Wall 156 – Row C

Detail compiled by ‘Doc’ Russell, SA

4 thoughts on “Eric Halkyard

  1. Hi Kev have spoken to the men either side of Eric, this is not the full story. I went through Inf. training with Eric , he was a true gentleman ,Flea

    1. Hi I am Eric’s cousin, on his Mothers side and yes you are so right he was a true gentle, a kind and sensitive person, i have a photo of us both when we was at our Aunties early 50’s, he attended my wedding in 1961..sadly didn’t see much of since then, wish i had …god bless him…

      Thank you for reading this.

      Best Regards.

      David Mills. 

  2. I have had the pleasure of sampling a couple of cleansing ales with Bob Cusack in Western Australia and all i can say is what a great man with many a great aviating tale as well as this sad episode of the loss of a great man fighting in a foreign country for a country he wasn’t born in , Vale Eric Halkyard

  3. I served with Eric and was his number 2 on the M60, we shared the same hutch, and as others have said he was a true gentleman. I had the privilage of meeting his cousin and her husband a couple of years ago when they came to Melbourne, we continue to stay in touch. I am disapointed that someone who was not part of the section and not part of the contact can cast inuendos on what took place. As the person who was next to Eric and considered him a close mate, was wounded at the time, I have NOT been spoken to about the incident, I don’t think I could have been closer. Buck

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