The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (2786017) Private Dal Edward Abbott, 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War

Place Asia: Vietnam, Bien Hoa Province, Fire Support Base Coral
Accession Number PAFU2014/175.01
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 30 May 2014
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 Copy provided for personal non-commercial use

The Last Post Ceremony is presented in the Commemorative area of the Australian War Memorial each 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 Meredith Duncan, the story for this day was on (2786017) Private Dal Edward Abbott, 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Speech transcript

2786017 Private Dal Edward Abbott, 1st Battalion Royal Australian Regiment
KIA 30 May 1968
No photograph in collection

Story delivered 30 May 2014

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Dal Edward Abbott.

Originally from Ashfield, New South Wales, Dal Abbott was conscripted under the National Service Scheme in March 1967. He underwent basic training at 1 Recruit Training Battalion, Kapooka, before being posted to Singleton for infantry training. In September 1967, he was posted to the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, where he became a member of 3 Section, 7 Platoon, C Company.

Abbott enjoyed the battalion's intense training program in preparation for deployment to South Vietnam, and he was proud of his mates and the unit in which they were serving. His mates knew him as a quiet but friendly young man, someone who fitted in easily with the wider unit. He was held in high regard by his fellow soldiers, officers, and NCOs. In the weeks leading up to deployment, Abbott spent as many of his weekend leaves as he could with his much loved parents and fiancée.

Abbott's battalion deployed for its tour in Vietnam, relieving 7 RAR on 9 April 1968. Soldiers were involved in patrols, reconnaissance, searches, and security operations. In May, 1RAR was sent to the north of Saigon for Operation Toan Thang, which aimed to block the retreat of communist forces following the second communist offensive. On 12 May, 1RAR set up Fire Support Base Coral, which held up under heavy attack twice in the ensuing days.

On the morning of 30 May, C Company conducted a reconnaissance-in-force operation. Just before 9 am the Australians were engaged by the Viet Cong, and in pursuit the Australians came up against a bunker system containing at least a company of North Vietnamese Army regulars. The NVA, using small arms, machine-guns and rockets opened fire and engaged the rear elements of C Company with mortar fire. The officer commanding C Company immediately requested reinforcements and artillery strikes.

Dal Abbott was the number 2 on his section's machine-gun, his job being to provide protection to the gunner, load new ammunition belts into the gun and assist with any stoppages to the gun. As machine-gunner Private Bob McLean began to fire the second belt of ammunition, the gun had a stoppage. McLean struggled to clear the gun and Abbott moved to assist his mate. When he raised his head to assess the problem, he was shot and killed instantly.

With the NVA threatening to outflank the forward platoons, the Australians were forced to retire and Abbott's body was left behind. Fire support arrived shortly after in the form of Centurion tanks sent from FSB Coral, turning the battle in favour of the Australians. Dal Abbott's body was recovered, and his remains were sent to Borneo with the agreement of his family, where he was laid to rest in the Terendak Cemetery. He remains there to this day.

Dal Abbott's name is now listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with more than 520 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 Dal Edward Abbott, and all of those Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.