Friday 15 August 2008 by Libby Stewart. 5 comments
News, Battle of Long Tan, Vietnam

Vietnam Veterans Day is commemorated on 18 August every year. The day was originally known as Long Tan Day, chosen to commemorate the men of D Company, 6RAR who fought in the battle of Long Tan in 1966. On that day, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against over 2,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation not far from the small village of Long Tan. The Australians prevailed, but only after fighting in torrential rain for four hours. They were nearly overrun, but were saved by a timely ammunition resupply, accurate artillery fire from the nearby Australian base, and the arrival of reinforcements by armoured personnel carrier. Eighteen Australians lost their lives and 24 were wounded, the largest number of casualties in one operation since the Australian task force had arrived a few months earlier. After the battle the bodies of 245 enemy soldiers were found, but there was evidence that many more bodies had been carried away.

On the third anniversary of Long Tan, 18 August 1969, a cross was raised on the site of the battle by the men of 6RAR. Veterans from the battle gathered at the cross to commemorate the fallen, and the day was commemorated by them as Long Tan Day from then on. Over time, all Vietnam veterans adopted the day as one to commemorate those who served and died in Vietnam. In 1987, following the very successful Welcome Home parade for Vietnam veterans in Sydney, Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced that Long Tan Day would be known as Vietnam Veterans Day. Since then, it has been commemorated every year as the day on which the service of all those men and women who served in Vietnam is remembered.

Links

"No time to fear" article by Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith MC (Ret’d) from Wartime issue number 35

40th anniversary of the battle of Long Tan, Speech by His Excellency Major General Michael Jeffery AC CVO MC (Retd), Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia, 18 August 2

Vietnam Veterans' Remembrance Day, Vietnam Veterans' Federation of Australia, ACT Branch, Monday 18 August 2008, (external link)

Comments

Edouard

This website has alot of information although could you please get more not just on the Battle of Long Tan, more about what happens now on the actual day and how they celebrate it. I hope you read this email! I went to the memorail and it was pretty detailed!

Bruce Cameron

"The Australians prevailed, but only after fighting in torrential rain for four hours. They were nearly overrun, but were saved by a timely ammunition resupply, accurate artillery fire from the nearby Australian base, and the arrival of reinforcements by armoured personnel carrier." It is nice to see mention made of the contribution made by APCs (delivery of reinforcements)and helicopters (ammunition resupply). It's a pity the units involved are not named, ie. 3 Troop 1 APC Squadron and 9 Squadron RAAF. It would be nice to see acknowledgement of the bravery of the APC crews in swimming their vehicles across a monsoonal ravaged watercourse and fighting through the enemy to reach D Company. This can be done without taking anything at all away from the incredible feat of arms displayed by D Company. The figure of 24 WIA comes from the Official History.... which gives the breakup as: D Coy, nineteen; A Coy one; B Coy one; and "three cases of severe battle stress who were also evacuated". Missing is the APC Section Commander who was WIA (Sgt O'Reilly). This is presumably how the AWM came to increase the number of WIA to 25 as quoted in the AV presentation in the Vietnam Gallery. Casualty figures should be consistent across the AWM. Bruce Cameron

bruce

the vc say bull dust to the supposed 2500 vc at the battle that day

Stella

Totally agree with Edouard! its all about LONG TAN! we need to know about the actual day itself, is there a march? a conference in Canberra? what actually happens?

Allen Mclean

My late brother, being a "Nasho", from 1971 to 1972, has influenced my keen interest in the Vietnam War. In 2010, on November 11, I had the opportunity to visit the Long Tan battle site, completing the walk from Nui Dat Base site. Though my brother was not involved in the specific action, I felt it important to visit the site on his behalf, and because of my growing interest in the conflict. Today I am here at the Australian War Memorial to learn even more about the battle of Long Tan.