The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (17073) Captain Karl Baudistel, Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam.

Place Asia: Vietnam, Quang Nam Province, Da Nang
Accession Number PAFU2015/497.01
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 7 December 2015
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 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 Gerard Pratt, the story for this day was on (17073) Captain Karl Baudistel, Australian Army Training Team, Vietnam.

Film order form
Speech transcript

17073 Captain Karl Baudistel, Australian Army Training Team Vietnam
KIA 13 August 1967
Photograph: P09707.018 (detail)

Story delivered 7 December 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Captain Karl Baudistel, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Karl Baudistel was born in November 1938, the oldest of four sons of Gustav and Gwen Baudistel of Deception Bay in Queensland. Karl’s father was a German national who had been a reservist in the German army during the First World War before immigrating to Australia sometime in the 1920s.

Following the start of the Second World War, Gustav was interned as an “enemy alien” at nearby Gaythorne, but was released on parole several months later. Karl’s parents divorced soon after, and he and his brothers were raised by his mother, mostly on Palm Island where she later worked as a Child Welfare Officer. Here the boys enjoyed the freedom and adventure of island life, including horse riding and sailing. As the oldest, Karl helped his mother raise the other three children, getting them to school and helping them with their homework. The Baudistels later returned to Brisbane, where Karl completed his schooling at Brisbane State High.

Baudistel began officer training in 1956 at the Royal Military College, Duntroon, where he distinguished himself in the study of platoon and company tactics and infantry fieldcraft. He also excelled on the sporting field, playing hard but fair in the First XV, competing in athletics, winning the college championship athletics prize in 1959, and competing in the college pentathlon. Baudistel graduated from Duntroon as a second lieutenant in December 1960 and was posted as a platoon commander to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville. He married Betty Robertson, and over the next few years the couple bore two children: Kirsty and Vanessa.

Baudistel deployed to Malaysia in October 1961 as part of 2RAR’s second deployment the Malaysian Emergency. Based at Camp Terendak near Malacca, the battalion was committed to anti-communist operations in Perlis and Kedah, searching for remnants of the Communist Terrorists along the Thai–Malay border. Returning to Townsville in August 1963, he was promoted to captain and transferred to the University of New South Wales Regiment in Sydney, where he served for two years as adjutant of the battalion. He began training as a specialist tropical warfare advisor, with the purpose of being deployed to South Vietnam as part of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam.

The AATTV was a specialist unit of the Australian Army that provided training and assistance to South Vietnamese forces during the Vietnam War. Baudistel arrived in Vietnam in January 1967 and was attached to a US Mobile Strike Force based at Marble Mountain, south of Da Nang. Here he helped select and trained South Vietnam’s indigenous soldiers to wage war against the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army. He was given command of Charlie Company, 5th US Special Forces Group, and worked with Nung mercenaries and Montagnard tribesmen to help bolster US Special Forces operating near the North Vietnamese infiltration and supply routes.

On 13 August the 5th US Special Forces Group was involved in a helicopter assault on an enemy-occupied position near Chu Lai. Later that night North Vietnamese troops attacked their position, and Baudistel was mortally wounded. Aged just 29, he was cremated and his ashes returned to Australia. Today he is commemorated on a small plaque at the Albany Creek Crematorium in Queensland.

Karl Baudistel was a highly skilled and professional officer. His US Army commander wrote that Baudistel was “so uniquely and eminently qualified to perform this myriad of demanding duties in an outstanding
manner that his replacement will be most difficult to procure”. He was also an adoring husband and father.

Karl Baudistel is listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, along with more than 500 other Australians who died while serving in the Vietnam War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection. He is standing third from the right.

This is just one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Captain Karl Baudistel, and all Australians who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section

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