Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force (Nui Dat) records

Accession Number AWM103
Collection type Official Record
Object type Official Record
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975

Item copyright: Commonwealth of Australia copyright

Copying Provisions Copyright restrictions apply. Only personal, non-commercial, research and study use permitted. Permission of copyright holder required for any commercial use and/or reproduction.

In 1966 the Australian government announced a significant increase in its military contribution to the war in Vietnam with the establishment of a Task Force. The Task Force which included 2 infantry battalions, an artillery regiment, an armoured squadron, a cavalry squadron and other supporting arms and services replaced the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR), which had been sent to Vietnam in June 1965.

The force which began arriving in April 1966 was known as 1 Australian Task Force (1ATF). It was based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province, east of Saigon. A support group, the 1st Australian Logistical Support Group (1ALSG) was also established at the port of Vung Tau.

While 1 ATF was under the national command of Headquarters Australian Force Vietnam (HQ AFV) located in Saigon, it was under the operational command of Headquarters II Field Force Vietnam (HQ II FFV) located at Long Binh, east of Saigon.

The first two battalions to join the Task Force were 5RAR and 6RAR. A civil affairs unit was added to 1ATF in March 1967 to carry out and coordinate a vast range of construction, resettlement, medical and dental, education and welfare activities for the civil population of Phuoc Tuy. In December 1967, 1ATF was augmented by a third RAR battalion and a squadron of Centurion tanks in February 1968.

1ATF took part in a number of major operations outside Phuoc Tuy Province in 1968-1969. These were operation 'Coburg' in January/February 1968, 'Thoan Thang' in May 1968 and 'Federal' in 1969. In May 1968, 1RAR and 3RAR with artillery and tank support fought off large scale enemy attacks on Australian positions in the battle of Fire Bases Balmoral and Coral while in June 1969 5RAR was involved in an engagement at the village of Binh Ba.

By 1969 growing opposition to the war in Australia forced the government to announce a withdrawal of forces. In November 1970, 8RAR was withdrawn and not replaced. 1ATF began withdrawing from Phuoc Tuy between late October and early December 1971 and the last of the logistic support elements left in March 1972. Nearly all Australian troops were withdrawn from Vietnam by December 1972 with the remainder by June 1973.

The records in this series were transferred from the Department of Defence to the Australian War Memorial from November 1981–March 1982. The consignment was accessioned as OW82/11. The series became known as AWM103 in the mid 1980s when the Memorial adopted its new numbering system for Official Records.

Files were removed from this series in 1982 and were used as research material for a report prepared by the Australian Army and tabled by the Minister for Defence in December 1982 entitled Report on the use of herbicides and insecticides and other chemicals by the Australian Army in South Vietnam. As the records were declared open for public access they were placed in an artificial series known as AWM181, Herbicide Series. Being no longer used for this purpose, in 1998 these records were removed from AWM181 and incorporated back into AWM103.


The files contain material relating to the operations and activities of 1 ATF and also units under its command. Subordinate units were required to submit reports to 1 ATF on a regular basis documenting their individual activities and operations.

The files cover a wide range of topics including amenities, casualty and accident reports, civil affairs, equipment and supplies, operating procedures, operations reports, personnel matters, security, training, transport, works projects and visits.
System of arrangement and control

The system of arrangement and control is the original Department of the Army filing system, as used when the records were created.

Registered files

Registered items have a three-part item number conforming with the Department of the Army registry classification of correspondence catalogue. The first number represents the primary topic of the item, the second and third numbers refine the topic further.

The registered files are controlled by a card index, AWM104. This index is also the control series for other records relating to the Vietnam War including AWM98, AWM116 and AWM100. Researchers should note that most of the unit records previously allocated to series AWM100 will have been removed from this series and allocated their own series number by the end of 2004.

Non registered files

Non registered items (not having registered item numbers) were given imposed numbers by the Australian War Memorial (AWM), beginning at 1 and continuing serially. They are single numbers, not two or three part numbers like the registered items. They retain their original titles. Where no title was found, the AWM has imposed one that best describes the item's contents. All imposed information is enclosed in square brackets.

Related information