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war stories: david eberly

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Everybody knew that we would have to move out of that hide position because we were so closed up, we were such an easy target, so it was a.. really a question of out of the frying pan into the fire. We come out of our position of concealment but then we were exposed on... the plains. But it was the only option that we had.

So it was... really a controlled frenzy. Everybody was starting to get as much liquid down them as possible because we knew we were going to have to start moving fast; we knew that we were going to have to leave a lot of our... equipment behind so we need to sort of get as much liquid down and refill our water bottles before we start moving.

People started to throw chocolate.. started to eat chocolate...

Q. Tell me how did you first.. what did you do, you first began to hear the creak of the APC......?

About four or five hundred metres out of that hide position we started to hear track vehicles coming from the East which is to our lefthand side as we were moving South.

It was... very frustrating because you couldn't see what it was. Because of the lie of the ground there was a slight rise. These vehicles have come from the main supply route, and they were now starting to move towards this... depression that we was in.

There's nowhere you can go... it's pointless running because again you make up an extra hundred metres and that's about sort of sixteen turns of... the tank trucks. It's nothing... it means nothing.

So we just had... to stop where we were, get our bergens off, our rucksacks, what we call our bergens off because we're not going to be able to do anything with them on... and prepare the 66s, the... anti-tank rockets. By now these were... already prepared, these were all stripped down and they were just closed up so there was very minimal sort of work you had to do. Just open them up and get ready.

Again it's... a very frustrating time because... you can't see what's happening. All you can do is hear what the noise are. You know it's a track vehicle, you know... that these... vehicles are coming, but there's nothing you can do. You've got to wait...

And everybody was... sort of shouting at each other, trying to... maybe get information from somebody from the extreme righthand side, can they see anything, you know. I couldn't see anything, any of the people to my left.. Stan couldn't see anything at all and you was just hoping that maybe it was this sort of.. your mind was cut in half, you understand the realism of it, they're going to come over and they're going to see you but the... sort of.. the fantasy side of... your mind is saying, "Well, maybe they won't. Maybe they'll turn left and go somewhere else".

And that's want you want because that's the last thing you want is to start getting involved in any contact of any type. Number one that's not our task; we're not there to start fighting people. [W]e're not a big force for that... We're not armed enough for that, that wasn't our task.

Q. And what happens next?

We... heard the... 66 go off on the extreme lefthand side and what the patrol had is what we call `mobility kill'. It had stopped the vehicle because it's destroyed the... tracks or... the wheels itself, but it hasn't damaged the people inisde so that.. obviously they're... cut, they're bruised, they're slightly dazed but it hasn't destroyed the firing and the protection capabilities of that vehicle.

It then, for them and for us, got very chaotic. They were very confused about what was going on.. the... Iraqis, their command and control was... very unorganised. It looked like people were screaming out other vehicles and just firing. That was a... time of confusion, for them.

And it was a time of confusion for us because we were... trying to,... first of all, take in... what... we're going to start fighting. This might have been the... first sort of three vehicles of sixteen. We weren't too sure, but basically we were in the shit! There's nowhere to go but forward.

It... wasn't so much a sort of an up and... charge sort of situation... What we try to create is a thing called `fire and manoeuvre' so there's always fire going down, but we're always going forward.

This in training is always very good and looks very good, but in practice it never is. It's very confusing;m people possibly getting wounded, getting injuries which slow 'em down, weapons have... stoppages, so it stops the flow but that's all part, again it's not a science, it's all part of what goes on.

For myself personally I just scream and shout, but it's for me.... I don't really know the reason why it's just something that... I feel that I have to do, whether it's trying to give me more aggression, more... sort of courage or whatever, I don't know what it is.

Q. And you're firing at the Iraqis, what do you remember of that?

...Again, it's a very chaotic time... you're trying to take aim, you're out of breath 'cause... you're exerting yourself now. You're trying to get in fire position, you're weapon will move up and down, you're... trying to take aim shots because you want to conserve your ammunition...

Q. How far away are the Iraqis?

Well the... at one stage they were... sort of a hundred metres away, but we had to go forward, and we got to about fifteen, twenty metres... and still firing and moving on and by this time there was an APC that moved back with some more troops. They... got in the APC, and they started to move back.

The 66s had been used up apart from mine because I left it back at the start point. Again, with all the adrenalin, shouting at the people, telling 'em that we're going to go forward... Also, you get involved in your own little world with the people around you. So it is a big effort, it is a patrol effort, but everybody's involved in their own little world.

Q. And what does the scene look like now? A lot of dead Iraqis....?

There's .. yeh... there's people who are dead, there are people who are wounded... People cry, people scream, people beg, 'cause they think that... you're going to kill 'em, that you're going to go up and execute 'em. People beg.

The troops that withdraw were... very much now sort of re-organising theirselves... It's very much like a scenario in a school playground where you would get two gangs: they would have a fight, one would run away and then sort of poke their fingers out

"We're going to get you!"

And then they'd sort theirselves out and come forward again. Now we don't want to get involved with that, so we ran... that's enough. The object is... not to fight the enemy it's to get away from 'em.

Q. And what was your most vivid memory, your snapshot memory of that engagement?

Just... one ... teenager, basically, one... 17 year old conscript who was in the truck... who was just sitting there crying. I don't know how badly he was wounded... He... wasn't in the throes of death, but he was just sitting there crying, and he was covered in blood. He was shot or injured somewhere 'cause he thought... he was going to die which... it's pointless doing anyway, all of that stuff; you just want to get away.

It... wasn't a scene of carnage but... there was dead and wounded and, again, ... the only concern you have about... these soldiers is if they're wounded they are nowhere near their weapons.

So as you move forward you... you know if they're going... to do anything or not because... you're looking at 'em and you're pointing your weapon at 'em and they... and quite rightly so, ... they want nothing to do with it... [I]t's a natural reaction; they're wounded, they're conscripts, they don't want none of this.

So as long as you know you're safe with these people, that they've thrown their weapons away, that's fine, or they're backing out from it. And a lot of 'em are so involved in their own... little world as well 'cause they're injured, they think they're going to die, probably some of them did afterwards. So it's... just small contained areas that... you see.


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