Extract from interview with Helen Frizzell, 25-26 August 2009
Reproduced with permission of Peter Skidmore
There was a curfew every night at around about dark until maybe 6 or 7 in the morning, and there were people, manning points. So the city would be divided up maybe ever kilometre or less with barbed wire across the road and, and security posts that they, pillboxes that they would sit in and stop any, any traffic that was moving around. Most of the shooting I heard at night time seemed to be shooting at dogs that were running around on the loose, and didn't seem to be much activity.
There was one event which happened next door to Kiwi Village. Kiwi Village was positioned right next door to an Army camp base, and obviously the VC [Viet Cong] or somebody came into that at night time and laid some satchel charges, and there were some huge explosions and a lot shooting, and parachute flares going on. And all I remember was I was reading a book in bed, and next thing I was lying on the floor. I'd got blown out of bed, was terrified as hell, and was keeping a very low profile. I, in fact, stayed on the floor for some time.
But there were, there were a couple of incidences like that when I was there, in the six months. You had to really get out of the city boundary to hear and see some of the activity that was going on. It seemed to be more rural, so you'd have to go maybe five or ten k's [kilometres] out of town before things started to have any sort of active signs of military activity.
And I remember driving along one day and hearing all these thumps and thuds and wondering what on earth was going wrong, and I realised that two paddy fields over there was howitzers being let off, and there was a confrontation going on. And there wasn't much more for it, other than do a U-turn and go away or carry on driving. And we just carried on driving. So–
But in the township itself, there was a couple of incidents, but that was about it?
There were other incidences that I'd heard of, or experienced, but they were pretty minimal spread over six months. There would have been no more than one a month that I was aware of. There were a couple of rockets went over the town – one in the daytime, one at the night time. One I mistook as a rocket turned out to be an LPG cylinder on the loose, that had lost its pressure valve on the top. And that scared the hell out of everybody, including me.
Vietnam War Oral History Project, Manatu Taonga Ministry for Culture & Heritage