The Association

131 Divisional Locating Battery (131 DLB) was established in Sydney in the 1950s. A Battery Detachment was operational in South Vietnam in the period 1966-1971. 131 DLB comprised a significant proportion of National Servicemen drawn from all Australian States and Territories. Consequently, the Battery structure was principally of young soldiers, with slightly fewer than half being Regular Soldiers. A total of 476 soldiers served in SVN with 131 DLB. Of these soldiers, 143 are deceased (December, 2023) - according to our "Honour Roll",11 within 15 years of the cessation of hostilities.

Importantly, the 131 DLB Detachment was supported by the Battery which was involved in training and preparing replacements back at the home base at Holsworthy.

During the period of operation in SVN 131 DLB experienced two deaths in action and a number of WIA. To the young Gunners of 131 DLB these deaths and battle injuries were traumatic.

In 1967, the 131 DLB Detachment in SVN began the publication of a newsletter called “The Eyes and Ears”. The name reflected the artillery intelligence gathering functions of the unit and was generated from the unofficial sub-title to the official name 131 Divisional Locating Battery. This identifier was – “The Eyes and Ears of the Task Force”.

Subsequent to their return to Australia and completion of their National Service a core of former Battery personnel maintained contact; some drifted away preferring not to maintain contact for whatever reasons.

In 2009, a group from 131 DLB decided to resurrect “The Eyes and Ears”. From an initial number of 15, there are now more than 280 ex-131 DLB Gunners who have re-established contact and receive monthly editions of this newsletter. That represents some 58% of those who served in SVN more than forty years ago.

131 Locators Symbol

February 2019 marked the tenth year of publication of The Eyes and Ears since being resurrected into its current format, and still generates significant feedback. It has become the principal focus of the 131 DLB group, including those who did not serve in SVN. There was concern within the core group that irreplaceable material may be lost forever if action was not taken to formalise the information recording processes. Consequently, it was felt that the establishment of an Association website would be invaluable for ongoing communication between members and the ability to connect with former members of 131 DLB, for mutual support and friendship.

The group is now registered as 131 Locators Association Inc. under the NSW Associations Incorporation Act. Incorporation was achieved in July 2010. The organisation thus has a legal base. Membership is open to a wider cohort than those who served with 131 DLB. Along with provision being made for membership of families of fallen 131 DLB members, this has extended to the 20th Surveillance and Target Acquisition Regiment, RAA, which consists of Regimental Headquarters, 131st Surveillance Target Acquisition Battery, 132nd Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Battery Combat Service and Support Battery.

A range of activities including organised Anzac Day attendances in major cities, reunion events and committee meetings have been successfully established. Additionally, an Honour Roll, recording the relatively high level of young deaths among ex 131 DLB soldiers, has been developed and is being maintained.