My mum is a chaplain with Veterans, and is also an author of many books from the Vietnam War era. Unlike the 1st and 2nd world wars where blockbusters have been made to tell the stories of our ANZACS, Vietnam has been treated with much more silence. I know socially and politically Vietnam was not a popular war, but having met some of the wonderful Anzacs who served in Vietnam, I asked mum if she would write of one of the encounters so we can honour their bravery. Today’s BLOG is courtesy of Carla Evans.
The Battle of Long Tan fought on 18th August 1966 – Vietnam War
Army Intelligence had queried the increased activity of the enemy in the Long Tan area. Soldiers of D Company (108 men) were sent to investigate.
Accompanied by the sounds of a scheduled music concert by Aussie singers such as Little Patti and Col Joye, men of D Company 6 RAR, left Nui Dat, the Australian Head Quarters and headed out into the surrounding jungle to what was going to be a life changing event for some and the sacrifice of lives to others.
It was early afternoon with high humidity, thunderstorms and monsoonal sleeting rains when contact was made against North Vietnamese soldiers of the 7th Division, a highly trained fighting unit of 2,500 men.
The Battle of Long Tan commenced. This battle was fought in a rubber tree plantation - the size of 3 football fields.
It was fierce and intense. The blowing of trumpets, a signal to attack by the North Vietnamese, guided wave after wave of this Regiment towards the outnumbered Australians. The slender rubber trees gave little protection to the oncoming, yelling and shooting North Vietnamese, but the Australian soldiers held their ground.
As early evening approached and the battle was still raging, the Aussies had another major problem – their ammunition was very low. Pilot Frank Riley, Co-Pilot Rob Grandin together with Pilot Cliff Dohle and C-Pilot Bruce Lane, members of the RAAF, flew their ‘Huey’ (Iroquois) Helicopters to the scene of this vicious battle and with the aid of soldiers on board, managed to kick out further ammunition wrapped in blankets to aid their comrades below. Without their heroic efforts, this battle may have had a very different outcome.
18 Australians were killed and 23 wounded. The North Vietnamese lost over 200, but this is a conservative number as many of the wounded were dragged away from the battle field, with obvious signs when Australian soldiers came to check for further wounded the next day.
Thankyou members of D Company, 6RAR, and for those who paid the ultimate sacrifice, may you Rest In Peace.