The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (4411171) Private Alan John Cooper, 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War

Accession Number PAFU/830.01
Collection type Film
Object type Last Post film
Physical description 16:9
Maker Australian War Memorial
Place made Australia: Australian Capital Territory, Canberra, Campbell
Date made 26 May 2013
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC
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.

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial every day. The ceremony commemorates more than 102,000 Australians who have given their lives in war and other operations and whose names are recorded on the Roll of Honour. At each ceremony the story behind one of the names on the Roll of Honour is told. Hosted by Andrew Smith the story for this day was on (4411171) Private Alan John Cooper, 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Film order form
Speech transcript

4411171 Pte Alan John Cooper, 3rd Royal Australian Regiment
KIA 26 May 1968
No photograph in collection.

Story delivered 26 May 2013

Today is the 45th anniversary of the First Attack on Fire Support Base Balmoral, South Vietnam. We remember and pay tribute to Private Alan John Cooper, of the 3rd Royal Australian Regiment, who died 45 years ago today while fighting in this attack.

3RAR arrived in Vietnam in 1967. As part of the 1st Australian Task Force they were stationed at Nui Dat in the Phuoc Tuy province. In late April 1968 they took part in Operation Toan Thang, which aimed to block Communist forces withdrawing back to the north following the Tet Offensive. 3RAR was stationed on the Bien Hoa/Bien Nuong border.

3RAR occupied Fire Support Base Coogee before moving five kilometres north on the 24th of May to establish Fire Support Base Balmoral. The men immediately began work on their defensive positions and wiring around the perimeter, while four Centurion tanks arrived from 2 Troop, C Squadron, to add fire support to the FSB.

At 3.45 am on the 26th of May, 3RAR came under an intense barrage of mortar, rocket, machinegun, and small arms fire. It was during this bombardment that Private Cooper was killed by a mortar round which landed in his position.

As soon as the barrage lifted, a concentrated infantry attack was launched against D Company's position. At the same time, A Company's position was breached by North Vietnamese soldiers using improvised Bangalore torpedoes, but as this breach was not exploited it was thought this attack was a feint.

D Company, with the support of the centurion tanks and artillery fire from the nearby FSB Coral, were able to drive the North Vietnamese attack off with heavy losses. In the attack by the North Vietnamese 3RAR suffered three of its number killed and 14 wounded.

Two days later, FSB Balmoral once again came under attack with a preliminary mortar and rocket bombardment before a ground assault. This attack was also repulsed. On the 5th of June the battalion withdrew from FSB Balmoral back to Nui Dat.

Alan Cooper's name is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with more than 500 others from the Vietnam War.

This is but one of the many stories of courage and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Alan John Cooper, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

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