Corporal Hukarere Bristowe
The late Corporal Hukarere Bristowe enlisted in the New Zealand Army on 22 April 1963 and after service in Malaysia and Borneo between November 1963 and November 1967, with the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, came to Vietnam on the 12 November 1967 as a section commander in 4 Platoon, Victor Two Company.
During Operation Duntroon on the night of 13 January 1968, in Phuoc Tuy Province, 4 Platoon was ordered to carry out an ambush task on a track. Corporal Bristowe with one other soldier was manning the forward position of the platoon, when a platoon sized enemy force approached along the track. To ensure that the maximum number of enemy would be caught in the ambush, Corporal Bristowe held his fire until the leading enemy was nine feet from his position. On opening fire Corporal Bristowe killed six of the enemy immediately and two more were pinned down by his fire. He kept the enemy under fire until other members of his platoon came forward to deal with the remaining enemy.
On 7 February 1968, during Operation Coburg in Bien Hoa Province, Corporal Bristowe’s section was occupying a sector of the Victor Company perimeter, when that company came under a heavy enemy attack. At 0630 hours on hearing enemy movement, Corporal Bristowe notified his platoon commander and then when ordered, engaged the enemy with claymores and small arms fire. For the next hour a group of forty or fifty enemy made repeated and persistent attacks to overrun Corporal Bristowe’s section, but were unable to do so because of the accurate and heavy fire which the section maintained. Throughout this time Corporal Bristowe moved amongst his men, disregarding the enemy small arms and rocket fire and continuing to control and direct their fire. The enemy were eventually forced to withdraw leaving seven dead on Corporal Bristowe’s perimeter and many signs of additional casualties.
Corporal Bristowe displayed exceptional coolness and tenacity during both these actions. His determined and aggressive behaviour as a section commander in the face of the enemy were an inspiration to his men and the principal factor in cultivating the exceptional morale of his section. His personal courage and qualities of leadership were instrumental in inflicting heavy casualties on the enemy, and bring great credit to himself, his unit and the ANZAC Battalion.