A Brief History of the Australian Forces in Vietnam

                             BRIEF HISTORY


                              1962 - 1972


     ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION...................................PAGE 1
     INTRODUCTION OF BATTALION GROUP.........................     1
     TASK FORCE INTRODUCTION.................................     2
     RAAF BOMBERS............................................     2
     FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS.................................     2            
     R.A.N. CONTRIBUTION.....................................     3 
     1967 STRENGTH...........................................     3
     OCTOBER, 1967, INCREASE.................................     4
     COMMANDER, AUSTRALIAN FORCE.............................     4
     NEW ZEALANDERS..........................................     4
     BATTLE HIGHLIGHTS.......................................     5 
     SPECIAL AIR SERVICE SQUADRONS...........................     6
     ARMY AVIATION...........................................     6
     CIVIL AFFAIRS...........................................     6
     TRAINING SOUTH VIETNAMESE FORCES........................     9
     REDUCTION IN FORCE ( 1970 ).............................    10
     REDUCTION IN FORCE ( 1971 ).............................    10       
     AUSTRALIAN ARMY ASSISTANCE GROUP........................    11
     HONOURS AND AWARDS......................................    11
     INDIVIDUAL AWARDS.......................................    12
     CASUALTIES..............................................    13

                                Page 1


            Australia's first military contribution to the Vietnam conflict
 was a small team of Army officer and warrant officer advisers who arrived in 
 July, 1962.

            These advisers, of whom there were originally 30, joined with
 American advisory teams training Vietnamese military forces in training 
 centres of the Army of the Republic of Vietnam ( ARVN ) mainly in northern

            Over the years, the Australian team of advisers ( AUSTRALIAN
 ARMY TRAINING TEAM VIETNAM - AATTV ) grew to 100 members, all officers or
 warrant officers, and then, from 1970, to 222 of all ranks. They were em-
 ployed with operational units of the ARVN and Special Forces and in mobile
 advisory training teams. These advisers not only helped train South Viet-
 namese soldiers, but also led them into battle. Many of the won bravery 
 awards including four Victoria Crosses - the highest gallantry award for
 members of the British Commonwealth armies.

            The Royal Australian Air Force made it's first contribution to
 the allied effort in Vietnam when, in August 1964, a RAAF transport flight
 was established in South Vietnam with three Caribou aircraft.

            These Caribous were on a ferry delivery flight from Canada and
 were originally scheduled to go to Australia.  The crews were informed by cable, 
 just before they left Canada, that the aircraft were to proceed to Butterworth 
 and then Vung Tau, where they would form the first portion of RAAF Transport 
 Flight Vietnam (RTFV). 

At the end of August 1964, three more Caribous were sent to Vietnam, where the unit, working under USAF control, operated over the length and breadth of the country, mostly in support of the US Special Forces. RTFV was reformed as No. 35 Squadron on 1 June, 1966; and members of this air transport unit flew many times into remote airstrips to move Vietnamese civilians and military units out of dangerous situations and carried out regular services between Saigon, Nui Dat, and Vung Tau. INTRODUCTION OF BATTALION GROUP ------------------------------ Following a decision of the Australian Government to increase it's assistance to the Republic of Vietnam, the 1st Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment, together with a logistic support element, arrived in Vietnam in May-June 1965. Supporting artillery, armoured personnel carriers, engineers and Army light aircraft arrived in September 1965. The operational element comprised about 1300 men and was located at Bien Hoa as part of the United States 173rd Airborne Brigade. Many of their operations were conducted in War Zone " D ". HQ Australian Army Force Vietnam ( HQ AAFV ) was located in Saigon and the AATTV remained de- ployed with the U.S. Advisory Teams. ****************************************************************************** Page 2 TASK FORCE INTRODUCTIONS ------------------------ The 1st Battalion completed it's tour of duty and returned to Australia in June 1966. At that time there was a substantial increase in Australia's commitment and the battalion group was replaced by a Task Force with it's own logistic support. At the same time, HQ AAFV was upgraded to a joint Australian Headquarters with RAN and RAAF representation. The two major ground units were called the 1st Australian Task Force and the 1st Australian Logistic Support Group. The principal infantry units of the Task Force were the 5th and 6th Battalions, the Royal Austra- lian Regiment and the 3rd Special Air Service Squadron. The artillery re- giment contained two Australian batteries and one New Zealand battery. The Task Force was given it's own tactical area of responsibi- lity in Phuoc Tuy Province, south-east of Saigon and the Task Force head- quarters was established in a rubber plantation at Nui Dat just north of the provincial capital Baria, about 35 miles south-west of Saigon. Number 9 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force, an Iroquois helicopter squadron, was deployed in June 1966, primarily to support the activities of the Australian Task Force. It's tasks included troop po- sitioning, resupply and medical evacuation. No.9 Squadron had a close affiliation with the Task Force; supporting the ground troops in most of the major battles in which the Australians were involved. Two squadrons of RAAF Hercules air transports, based in Aus- tralia, supported Australian operations in Vietnam from 1965. The long long range transport aircraft were used to carry personnel and cargo and and for medical evacuation to Australia. RAAF BOMBERS ------------ The twin-jet Canberra bombers of No.2 Squadron were deployed to Vietnam in April 1967. They were relocated at Phan Rang Air Base on the coast, northeast of Saigon, and bombed enemy concentrations and other tar- gets from the southern tip of Ca Mau to the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam. A number of their bombing tasks were conducted in the Australian area of responsibility in Phuoc Tuy Province. The remaining RAAF unit was termed a base support flight. This flight was formed in July 1966 to enable No.9 Squadron to carry out it's primary operational tasks. FORWARD AIR CONTROLLERS ( FACs ) -------------------------------- From 1967, Forward Air Controllers ( FACs ) of the RAAF took a prominent part in operations. Those pilots flew light aircraft on preca- rious missions over ground troops, calling in fire and bombing support. Two RAAF pilots employed in this role were awarded DSOs and many others won DFCs. ****************************************************************************** ****************************************************************************** Page 3 In 1969 No.9 Squadron introduced it's own heavily-armed helicop- ter "gunships" to give close fire support to Australian troops and to pro- tect their utility helicopters operating on troop movement and medical evacuation from forward areas. NAVY CONTRIBUTION ----------------- The Royal Australian Navy's guided missile destroyer, HMAS Hobart, was assigned in March 1967 to duties with the US 7th Fleet in the South China Sea and in the Gulf of Tonkin. HMAS Hobart was engaged in bombardments tasks of the coast, dest- roying Vietcong supply routes and installations. She also spent periods of duty on Operation Sea Dragon, employed in the destruction of enemy waterborne logistics craft off the coast of North Vietnam and on numerous occasions was engaged in battles with enemy coastal batteries. In September 1967 Hobart was relieved by her sister ship, HMAS Perth, and the two ships alternated in six monthly tours of duty in the Vietnam area until 1969 when HMAS Bris- bane and then HMAS Vendetta carried out tours. HMAS Hobart returned to Viet- nam in March 1970 for her third tour. HMAS Vendetta was the first Australian- built ship to serve in Vietnamese waters. Both HMAS Hobart and HMAS Perth were awarded the U.S. Navy Unit Commendation for Vietnam service. HMAS Bris- bane, the last Australian destroyer to serve in Vietnam left the war zone in September 1970. Since February 1967, a team of RAN clearance divers was attached to US Naval forces operating in South Vietnam engaged in ordnance disposal and diving tasks. The first team was awarded the ( U.S.) Meritorious Unit Citation for it's service in Vietnam. The RAN commitment was further increased in October 1967 when eight naval helicopter pilots, four observer officers, four air crewman and 30 ground staff were deployed with the United States 135th Aviation Company which provided helicopter support to allied forces, including the Australian Task Force in Vietnam. In addition, eight RAN helicopter pilots were attached to No.9 Squadron ( RAAF ) in Vung Tau. The RAN troop transport, HMAS Sydney made several trips each year to Vietnam with men and equipment to relieve the Australian Military Forces deployed there and assist later with the withdrawal of the force. 1967 STRENGTH ------------- The strength of the Force in 1967 was approximately 6300. The Army element was approximately 5000, with 3500 of these in Task Force area. Principal army units at that time were the 2nd and 7th Battalion R.A.R., 1st Special Air Service Squadron, " A " Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 4th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery and the 1st Field Squadron, Royal Aust- ralian Engineers. About 40 percent of the Army force was made up of National Servicemen. The remainder were voluntarily enlisted soldiers. ****************************************************************************** Page 4 OCTOBER 1967 - INCREASE IN FORCES --------------------------------- In October 1967 the Government announced that Australia's commit- ment would be increased to more than 8000 including Navy, Army and Air Force components in the November-December period. Army units making up this increase were: * The 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, toge- ther with combat and logistic support - total of 1200 men. * A squadron of 50-ton Centurion tanks, crewed and maintai- ned by a force of 250 men. * One hundred and twenty five men of all ranks allotted under the establishments of headquarters and units be- cause of operational needs in the area. The 2nd and 7th Battalions and later the 3rd Battalion were rep- laced in 1968 by the 1st, 4th and 9th Battalions and in 1969 these were re- placed by the 5th, 6th and 8th Battalions. Thus by the end of 1969, all nine battalions of the Regiment had served in Vietnam. In all, the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th Battalions served a second tour of duty. COMMANDER, AUSTRALIAN FORCE VIETNAM ----------------------------------- The first commander in Vietnam was Brigadier O.D.Jackson and in April 1966, when the command of the forces was raised to major-general, the appointment was taken up by Major General K.Mackay. Brigadier Jackson took command of the Task Force. Major General Mackay was succeeded by Major Gen- eral D.Vincent in January 1967 and he was succeeded by Major General A.L.Mac Donald in 1968, Major General R.A.Hay in 1969, Major General C.A.E.Fraser in 1970 and Major General D.B.Dunstan in 1971. Deputy Commander of the force was an RAAF air commodore. In add- ition to being Force Deputy Commander, the air commodore was Commander of the RAAF in Vietnam. NEW ZEALANDERS -------------- Integrated with the Australian Task Force units were elements of New Zealand infantry and; until early 1971, artillery. At any one time, one of the Australian Battalions had one or two companies of New Zealanders and bore the title Royal Australian Regiment/New Zealand ( ANZAC ) after it's battalion numeral. In addition, a number of appointments at the Task Force and Logistic Support Group were held by New Zealanders. In 1971, the New Zealand Government decreased it's contribution to one company only of the Anzac Battalion. ******************************************************************************************************************************************** Page 5 BATTLE HIGHLIGHTS ----------------- All battalions have had their share of fighting, but D Company of the 6th Battalion, on it's first tour in 1966-67, earned the high honour of being awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation. The award was made for it's part in the battle of Long Tan, when; on August 18, 1966, the Company was on sweep operations in a rubber plantation and was attacked by a regi- ment of North Vietnamese and Vietcong troops. Although outnumbered by more than 10 to one, the Company held it's position for more than three hours until a relief force from other com- panies arrived in armoured personnel carriers. The enemy fled, leaving 245 dead on the battlefield. D Company lost 17 killed in action and 21 wounded. One soldier of 3rd Troop, 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron, was also killed in action. In anticipation of the 1968 Tet offensive the major part of the Tasf Force was deployed into Bien Hoa Province in late January of that year to cover the approaches to Long Binh, Bien Hoa and Saigon. Some of the hea- viest fighting by the Task Force took place during the following five weeks resulting in more than 220 enemy being killed. In Phuoc Tuy Province during the same period, rapid reaction and the relief of Baria by a company of the 3rd Battalion supported by armoured personnel carriers, after the capture of the town by Vietcong, did much to cement the relationship of the Austra- lians with the people of the province. Other battle highlights were during the May 1968 enemy offensive near Saigon. The 1st and 3rd Battalions were probing out from two fire sup- port bases, " Coral " and " Balmoral " in Bien Hoa Province. The support were elements of 12th Field Regiment and A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment. In the early hours of May 13, " Coral " was attacked by rocket, mortar and small arms fire, followed by a ground attack. Elements of two North Vietnamese Army Regiments ( 141 and 165 NVA Regts ) were involved. They were aiming for the guns of the base and the mortar position of the 1st Battalion. One 105mm howitzer and two mortars were damaged, but rapid reaction by the Australians resulted in 58 enemy being killed and three detained. Again, in the early hours of May 16, " Coral " was attacked with a heavy rocket and mortar barrage, followed by an estimated battalion-sized attack against the defences of the base. The enemy were stopped on the wire defences. 34 North Vietnamese soldiers were killed and one detained. Between May 17-22, patrols from both battalions were active and in contacts killed 18 of the enemy. Tanks of C Squadron, 1st Armoured Regiment, moved up to the fire support bases and became dominant factors in the battles of " Coral " and " Balmoral ". ****************************************************************************** Page 6 At " Balmoral ", 3rd Battalion came under heavy rocket and mortar attack early on May 26, followed by a ground attack by North Vietnamese troops. Six communists were killed and large quantities of arms, ammunition, rockets and launchers were recovered by the clearing patrols. At the same time, " Coral " received it's fourth rocket and mortar attack. On May 28, both bases were again the targets for heavy mortar and rocket attacks. At " Balmoral " the attack was supported by ground assault. With artillery and helicopter gunship support, the battalions killed a further 46 enemy and seven more were detained. On May 30, a company of the 1st Battalion patrolling out from it's base was pinned down by an estimated company of North Vietnamese hol- ding a well prepared and defended bunker system. Tanks and armoured per- sonnel carriers were called in and attacked the bunker system despite hea- vy rocket fire. Twenty-nine enemy were killed and 16 claimed as possible kills. On June 5 and 6 the Task Force elements returned to base at Nui Dat. Total Australian battle casualties during the period was 26 killed and 110 wounded. SPECIAL AIR SERVICE SQUADRONS ----------------------------- Special Air Service squadrons were most successful in their re- connaissance missions in support of the Task Force. RAAF helicopter crews of No.9 Squadron, working in support of the S.A.S. operations, formed the closest interservice link yet seen between Army and RAAF. In December 1969, the 3rd S.A.S. Squadron conducted an operatio- nal parachute descent in the east of Phuoc Tuy Province. It was the first operational parachute descent by Australian soldiers since the assault on Nadzab, New Guinea, in 1943. The 2nd S.A.S. Squadron, the last to serve in Vietnam, returned to Australia in October 1971. ARMY AVIATION ------------- The Vietnam war is the first in which Army Aviation units have been deployed overseas in an operational area. Since September 1965, 161st ( Independent ) Reconnaissance Flight in Vietnam increased it's aircraft strength from two helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft to six helicop- ters and four fixed-wing aircraft. CIVIL AFFAIRS ------------- Aid to the South Vietnamese people of Phuoc Tuy Province was a vital aspect of the work of the 1st Australian Task Force since it took over it's operational role in the province in 1966. However, in mid-1967 a unit was formed and despatched to Vietnam as part of the Task Force with the pri- mary aim of assisting the people of the province. It was titled the 1st Aus- tralian Civil Affairs unit. ****************************************************************************** Page 7 In the months which followed, planning and supervision of projects were the main task for the unit. By December 1969, projects were larger and big steps had been taken to improve the living conditions of the people. In 1968, the civic aid budget was $150,000 and this increased to $230,000 in 1970. Nearly $174,000 of this was to be spent on Phuoc Tuy Pro- vince and included 55 projects ranging from classroom construction to the establishment of a concrete products industry at Long Toan. Early in 1970, the Civil Affairs unit began it's biggest building project to that time - the construction of a 12 room school at Bau Pram. Village development works normally involved villagers in their own projects by providing them with technical advice, labour assistance and materials that were in short supply. Great care was taken not to attempt to lead or dominate the villagers who selected and planned their own projects as part of the Vietnamese Village Self Development Plan. Assistance to local economy was a feature of civic action work and many of the projects in the province were carried out by local contract with supervision provided by the C.A. unit. All units of the Task Force also were responsible for the construction, maintenance and welfare projects. In October 1969, a joint venture began at Baria Hospital on a major renovations and building programme. In this programme, the 17th Construction Squadron , Royal Australian Engineers, was allotted the task of building kitchens, di- ning rooms, toilets and showers, a water supply, a sewerage system, road works and landscaping. In addition to civil aid projects in Phuoc Tuy Province, members of No.2 Squadron, RAAF at Phan Rang; until the time of their return to Aus- tralia, carried out projects in their local area and, in Saigon, members of the Force Headquarters gave extensive assistance to orphanages. WINDMILLS --------- Australian-manufactured windmills were installed in 13 villages and hamlets in Phuoc Tuy Province. Apart from the work involved in sinking a bore for the windmill, piping was laid to provide a number of water points in the villages and hamlets. Consequently, the villagers were able to draw water from taps at a number of points in the village compared with the old practice of using one central well. In addition, several village water sup- ply systems were modified and pumps and wells provided for others. Major projects in which the Army was involved were the construc- tion of 600 houses for Vietnamese soldiers and their families at 13 different sites throughout the province, the rebuilding and resurfacing of Route 2, the main highway which runs north-south through the province and the construc- of a 120 foot steel and concrete bridge over the Song Rai river on Route 23 between the provincial towns of Dat Do and Xuyon Moc. ****************************************************************************** Page 8 The Civil Affairs Unit was active with agricultural improvements and results showed an upward trend in rice quality, chicken breeding, arti- ficial insemination ( pigs ) and sorghum production. On the medical side, Australian doctors and dentists performed medcaps and dentcaps for several years. These were phased out as local doctors became more capable of taking over the responsibility. Small dispensaries were constructed in several villages and constant repairs and improvements were made in Phuoc Tuy's main hospital in Baria. In June 1971 major renovations and buildings were completed. The- se included a new toilet block and septic system for the medical ward and the addition of an annex to the maternity ward. From mid 1968, more than 60 classrooms were built and in June of 1971 stage one of the Dat Do high school was completed. It provided Dat Do with a new school consisting of three classrooms, a science block and li- brary. Maintenance of school equipment and furniture and the provision of toilet blocks was carried out on a continuous basis. Australian assistance to the province took many forms apart from the projects already mentioned. Market buildings, community centres, sporting facilities, village offices and the provision of electricity were some of the other forms of assistance provided by a variety of units. Apprentice Training Scheme -------------------------- From early 1970, 17th Construction Squadron undertook the training of Vietnamese youth in the trades of plant operator, plant fitter, electrical wireman, bricklayer and carpenter. On graduation, the apprentices were pre- sented with a tool kit appropriate to their trade and assistance was given in placing them in a suitable job with a civilian contractor. Assistance from Australia ------------------------- Many organizations and individuals in Australia offered to raise funds and goods to supplement the Army's civic effort and donors were encou- raged to support three organizations with which the Army dealt most. These were the Returned Services League, which conducted Operation " New Life Viet- nam ", organized appeals for surplus household goods and arranged shipment through the Army, the Defend Australia Committee, which appealed for cash and goods and the Australian Vietnamese Civil Aid Project which appealed for cash donations and education projects. From cash donations three class-rooms were built at both the Baria High School and An Ngai Primary School, a science block and library building at the Baria High School, provision for roadwork machinery at the ARVN War Veteran's Rehabilitation Centre as well as the purchase of school equipment and baby foods. Goods donated and distributed included simple farm machinery , baby foods, baby's and children's clothing and toys for orphanages, cooking utensils, clothing, food, toys, and sewing machines for refugees and social welfare organizations. ****************************************************************************** Page 9 Youth Work ---------- The Task Force also supported the South Vietnamese Government's youth and sports programme. Boy Scout troops were established in Dat Do and Hoa Long and every week-end up to 10 sporting teams from the Task Force pla- yed civil and Vietnamese military teams throughout the province. Education --------- Apart from the work being carried out in the construction and repair of school rooms, English was taught to 800 high school students and public servants. The library established at the Baria High School was the first of it's kind in the country and these facilities have now been extended to three other high schools in the province and the Vietnamese are establishing simi- lar libraries throughout South Vietnam. TRAINING SOUTH VIETNAMESE FORCES -------------------------------- Although training of Vietnamese units has been a prime task for members of the Australian Army Training Team, troops of the Australian Task Force have expended considerable effort in training ARVN units in Phuoc Tuy Province. Units from 18th ARNV Division have been re-trained in six-week periods. Each unit concluded the training with a one-week operation under the control of the Task Force Commander. By February 1970, five battalions and one company had been trained under this scheme. Operational commitments in Cambodia for 18th Division in 1970 caused the scheme to lapse. In addition, a training scheme called the Bushman's Scouts program- me, was in operation. In this programme, former Vietcong worked with forward elements of Australian infantry units during operations after they had recei- ved basic training. In mid-1970, Mobile Advisory Training teams were introduced to help prepare Vietnamese provincial soldiers for increased responsibility on the withdrawal of allied forces. The teams lived and worked with Vietnamese com- panies in compounds scattered all over Phuoc Tuy Province. A Jungle Warfare Training Centre was established on the site occu- pied by the 8th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment, after that unit re- turned to Australia in November 1970. Run by 23 Australian advisors, the Centre gave particular attention to instruction in the methods of jungle warfare which had been developed by Australian forces. The Centre had students from all over Vietnam, with each military region providing a set number of students for each six-week course designed to train company and platoon commanders. ****************************************************************************** Page 10 This centre is part of the Vietnamese Central Training Command. The Australian contribution has been to train the Vietnamese instructors in the first instance and to continue to guide and advise them in training techni- ques. The Centre moved from Nui Dat to the National Training Centre at Van Kiep, on the outskirts of Baria, in mid-October. REDUCTION IN FORCE ( 1970 ) --------------------------- United States' forces began to withdraw in 1969, with the South Vietnamese forces assuming more responsibility for national defence.Follo- wing an announcement of further U.S. withdrawals in April 1970, the then Australian Prime Minister, Mr. John Gorton, announced that Australian forces would be reduced by one battalion and some support troops. The 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, which completed it's tour of duty in November 1970, was withdrawn without replacement. REDUCTION IN FORCE ( 1971 ) --------------------------- On March 30, 1971, the new Prime Minister, Mr. McMahon, announced, inter alia, that.......due to the satisfactory progress towards the objecti- ve of establishing the circumstances in which South Vietnam could determine it's own future, the Government had decided that further reductions of the Australian forces in Vietnam were feasible and desirable. The reduction was made gradually over a period of four to six months commencing in May 1971. Spread over the three Services it had the effect of reducing the total Australian personnel by about 1000 men. The force remaining comprised 6000 men compared with a peak of 8000 in 1968-70. Those withdrawn were: * Selected combat and supporting forces of the Army task force, including the tank squadron, totalling about 650 men; * Royal Australian Navy personnel, about 45 in number, serving with the United States Assault Helicopter Company; * The RAN Clearance Diving Team ( clearance of underwater explo- sives ) of 6 personnel; * No.2 Canberra Bomber Squadron involving 280 men; some aircraft of the Caribou transport squadron and about 44 men. " Out by Christmas " -------------------- The Prime Minister announced on the 18th August 1971 that the bulk of Australia's combat troops would be withdrawn by Christmas 1971. Planning and preparation, both in Australia and Vietnam proceeded rapidly to handle the immense task of bringing home the thousands of men and varieties of equipment, as well as handing over to the Vietnamese forces the responsibi- lities of the !st Australian Task Force. ****************************************************************************** Page 11 The 3rd Battalion, R.A.R., arriving home in October 1971 and early in November 1971, the remaining elements of the 1st Australian Task Force moved from their base in Nui Dat to the coastal logistic base at Vung Tau. The last remaining major combat unit to leave Vietnam - the 4th Battalion, R.A.R. - arrived back in Australia on 17th December 1971. They arrived on board the RAN fast transport, HMAS Sydney, with the 104th Field Artillery Battery and airmen and helicopters of No.9 Squadron, RAAF. Remaining elements were to come home by the early months of 1972 after the preparation and packing of stores for return to Australia or for hand over to the South Vietnamese authorities. AUSTRALIAN ARMY ASSISTANCE GROUP -------------------------------- On December 9, 1971, the Minister for Defence announced that in consultation with the Vietnamese Government, Australia was to provide a 150 man Australian Army Assistance Group, including 30 instructors assigned to the training of Cambodians in Vietnam. The Group would include elements to assist in training at the Jungle Warfare Training Centre at it's new loca- tion at Van Kiep in Phuoc Tuy Province and to assist in advising and training Territorial Forces in Phuoc Tuy Province. It was to include a small group of engineering personnel, who would be needed at the J.W.T.C. at Van Kiep, and a headquarters and supporting ele- ment. The Minister said none of the element would have a combatant role and would remain in Vietnam so long as it had a contribution to make. The first commander of the A.A.A.G., Brigadier I.A.Geddes, was ap- pointed in December 1971. HONOURS AND AWARDS ------------------ In addition to the United States Presidential Unit Citation awarded to D Company of the 6th Battalion for the battle of Long Tan in 1966, a num- ber of unit awards were made to Australian units by both the American and South Vietnamese Governments. A United States' Navy Unit Commendation was awarded to HMAS Hobart for her service in Vietnam between March and September 1967 and to HMAS Perth for her service from September 1967 to April 1968. Later, a United States' Meritorious Unit Commendation was awarded to HMAS Perth for service from September 1968 to March 1969. ****************************************************************************** Page 12 United States' Meritorious Unit Commendations were also awarded to the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam ( AATTV ), which served there from 1962 and to an Australian Navy Clearance Diving Team for it's service in Vietnam from February to July 1967. In 1971, approval was given by Her Majesty the Queen for the accep- tance of Vietnamese Unit Citations by the 8th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, and No.2 Squadron RAAF for Vietnam service. The 8th Battalion was awarded the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry Unit Citation for it's service from November 1969 to October 1970 and particularly in respect of operations in the Long Hai Hills. The Vietnamese Unit Citation, the Gallantry Cross with Palm, was awarded to the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing. USAF, and it's units which included No.2 Squadron RAAF for it's service in Vietnam from 1968 to October 1970. INDIVIDUAL AWARDS ----------------- Of about 50,000 Australians who have served in Vietnam more than 1000 won awards for their services. Among the awards for gallantry were four Victoria Crosses to mem- bers of the Australian Army Training Team ( WO2 Kevin WHEATLEY - post. 13 No- vember 1965 ), ( Major Peter BADCOE - post. February-April 1967 ), ( WO2 Rayene SIMPSON, DCM - May 1969 ), ( WO2 Keith PAYNE - May 1969 ). Five awards of the CB ( Companion of the Order of the Bath ) were among those for distinguished service and there were 601 Mentioned in Despat- ches for either gallantry or distinguished service. There were six awards made for non-operational gallantry, including three George Medals. PRAISE FOR THE EFFORT OF THE FORCES IN VIETNAM ---------------------------------------------- In the House of Representatives on November 25, 1971, the Minister for Defence, Mr. David Fairbairn, said that the men and women of the three Services carried out their assignments in Vietnam in the best tradition of the Australian Armed Forces. They had added lustre to a great record. Referring to the efforts of Australian troops in Phuoc Tuy Provin- ce, he said: " Today our troops are withdrawing and leaving behind a diffe- rent Vietnam from the one they went into. It is one where physical security has been vastly improved. Very much more land is under cultivation, and some of the latest yielding varieties of crops are being grown. Much of the land is now owned by local " tillers of the soil " instead of the previous land- lords. ****************************************************************************** Page 13 New roads have been built and today the people can travel these roads with greater freedom from harassment and illegal tax gatherers than ever before in the past decade. Hospitals, water supplies and schools have been improved and other important public utilities upgraded. These are real achievements largely made possible by Australian servicemen. Our force in Vietnam has added significantly to a better life for the people in our for- mer area of responsibility ". CASUALTIES ---------- Casualties suffered by Australian forces in Vietnam have been: * Killed in action: 423 ( including 4 RAAF, 4 RAN ) * Wounded in action: 2398 ( including 30 RAAF, 20 RAN ) * Missing: 2 RAAF (see "NOTE:" below) * Non-battle casualty deaths: 71 ( including 8 RAAF, 4 RAN ) *************************************************************** ****************************************************************************** ****************************************************************************** United States Commander, General Westmoreland said of the Australian troops: "I HAVE NEVER SEEN A FINER GROUP OF MEN. I HAVE NEVER FOUGHT WITH A FINER GROUP OF SOLDIERS." ******************************************************************************

NOTE: Mate Kevin J. Gillett from Down Under wrote to us at the VVHP about information he has read that there are more than two "Missing." The 2 RAAF above "refer to the Canberra crew," and Kev states that "LCPL Tiny Parker and I think one other from A Coy 1RAR in 65/66" have been overlooked/not reported.

As these stats are from the *official* DOD files, they need to be informed of this for action.


Compiled 1995 by Shane Fontana