The Battle Of Long Tan

Discussion in 'Modern' started by parsifal, Aug 17, 2010.

  1. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Today represents the forty fourth anniversary of the nearly unknown battle, which saw combat by Australian forces in the finest of ANZAC traditions. Several members of the Australian forces, one of them now deceased were honoured with long overdue awards for acts of bravery and self sacrifice.

    18 soldiers of a comapny sized force lost their lives that day. Some reports estimate Viet Cong losses at over 500. Those of us who knew some of the survivors, as well as those who owe some of their freedom to these men should take a minute to remember.....lest we forget.

    The following is an internet summary of what happened in the battle


    "The newly arrived 1st Australian Task Force established its Phuoc Tuy operations base in 1966 at Nui Dat, a piece of high ground surrounded by rubber plantations.

    The Viet Cong had achieved dominion in the province and decided to inflict a politically unacceptable defeat on the Australians. Their plan was to lure the Australians from their base by firing recoilless rifle and mortar shells into it. They theorised that the Australians would sweep the area around the base in an attempt to stop the attacks, and the Viet Cong would ambush the sweeping forces.

    On the night of 16/17 August 1966, the Viet Cong fired a barrage of shells into Nui Dat, wounding 24 Australians. Prior to this event, the Australians had become aware, from radio intercepts and sightings, that a large enemy force was operating close to the base. Australian patrols sent out specifically to find the Viet Cong had not encountered the force.

    On 18 August 1966 D Company of 6RAR was patrolling in the area of the Long Tan rubber plantation when, at about 3.15pm, the lead platoon (11 Platoon, commanded by 2Lt Gordon Sharp, a national serviceman) encountered a small group of Viet Cong who fled leaving one of their number killed by the Australians. The aggressive patrolling continued until, at about 4.08pm, the main body of the Viet Cong 275 Regiment was encountered. The Viet Cong attacked vigorously with mortars, rifle and machine gun fire.

    In pouring rain, the Australians returned fire with platoon weapons and artillery which was firing from the Nui Dat base, some five kilometres to the west. Close air support was also called for but couldn't be used because the target was unable to be identified accurately in the conditions.

    At 5pm D Company's commander, Major Harry Smith, radioed for ammunition resupply. Two RAAF Iroquois helicopters which happened to be at Nui Dat to transport a concert party were tasked and flew at tree top level into the battle area where they successfully delivered the sorely needed boxes of ammunition.

    The combination of aggressive fire from D Company soldiers plus devastating artillery fire from Nui Dat had swung the battle in the Australians' favour but the Viet Cong continued to manoeuvre to gain the upper hand. Meanwhile, A Company of 6RAR had been ordered to move to the support of the beleaguered D Company.

    They did so mounted in armoured personnel carriers from 1st APC Squadron which forded a flooded stream and then shortly afterward encountered a substantial enemy force. 2 Platoon of A Company dismounted and advanced on the enemy who fled.

    Although the Viet Cong could still be seen massing in failing light at 6.55pm as the relief force arrived in the D Company area, the enemy force melted away as darkness descended. The battle of Long Tan was over.

    The Australians consolidated their position for the night and then commenced evacuation of their wounded using the lights from APCs to guide in helicopters. During the night the Viet Cong cleared many of their wounded and dead from the battle field. A number of the wounded Australians lay there all through the long terrifying night, as the Viet Cong moved around them.

    Morning revealed that the Viet Cong force, estimated at 2,500, had been badly mauled. 245 Viet Cong bodies were found in the battle area. It was apparent that the Viet Cong commanders had failed to appreciate the effectiveness of artillery fire and had paid dearly as a result.

    The Australians had lost 18 killed, 17 from D Company (including the young platoon commander of 11 platoon) and one from 1st APC Squadron, and 24 wounded"
     
  2. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Good to see some of the diggers being awarded long over due medals from this battle on tonights news. :salute:
     
  3. Grunherz

    Grunherz New Member

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    I agree. Way to go guys.
     
  4. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Truely an often overlooked contribution... Good on ya!
     
  5. RabidAlien

    RabidAlien Active Member

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  6. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    Great post. Thanks.

    MM
     
  7. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    :salute:

    My brother got to Viet Nam in early 68. He spoke very highly of Australian soldiers.
     
  9. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    i remember hearing about the Diggers getting "bloodied" down in the delta at an old rubber plantation. knew several Aussies throughout vietnam and along with the Koreans were some of the toughest troops there. in my vietnam "stuff" i proudly have a digger hat that cost me a 5th of Jack Daniels.
    LBJ awarded the PUC to the unit and as i recall the S Viets wanted to award the gallantry cross to the unit but the Australian government refused to allow a foreign award
     
  11. Vassili Zaitzev

    Vassili Zaitzev Well-Known Member

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  12. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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