Attack repulsed at Australian base DPR/TV/842

Accession Number F04671
Collection type Film
Measurement 3 min 20 sec
Object type Actuality footage, Television news footage
Physical description 16mm/b&w/silent
Maker Errington, William Alexander (Bill)
Place made Vietnam: Bien Hoa Province, Fire Support Base Coral
Date made May 1968
Access Open
Conflict Vietnam, 1962-1975
Copyright Item copyright: © Australian War Memorial
Creative Commons License This item is licensed under CC BY-NC

Australian troops this week repulsed North Vietnamese regular soldiers who attacked the Australian Task Force forward Fire Support Base (FSB) Coral in north west Bien Hoa province, about twenty five miles north of Saigon. It was the second, and by far the largest attack on the base in the past four days, during Campaign Toan Thang, a United States and allied operation in III Corps. In a three hour pitched battle the obviously highly seasoned enemy used rocket propelled missiles, mortars and ground troops in the attack on the base, which had been established only four days previously. The brunt of the ground attack was borne by members of the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. Australian troops retaliated with ground fire, 105 mm guns from 102 and 161 Batteries, and medium and heavy United States artillery, as well as the battalion's own mortars. Air strikes and gun ship helicopters were also called in against the North Vietnamese at the height of the fire fight. It is believed that as many as two battalions could have been used in the ground attack or in support. The battle started at 2.30 a.m. with the firing of enemy rockets into the battalion and gun positions. It continued for more than three hours under a brightly moonlit sky. Soon after dawn, when all enemy firing had ceased, troops from the 1st Battalion sent out clearing patrols to inspect up to two hundreds yards outside the base perimetre wire. On the immediate perimetre the battalion recovered twenty seven bodies by body count. A further ten bodies were found further a field. Blood trails and signs that the attackers attempted to drag away many of their dead indicate that casualties were much higher. The patrols also recovered scores of rockets and rocket launchers, automatic weapons, grenades, explosives, rifles and webbing equipment. The North Vietnamese were dressed in an assortment of green, khaki and black uniforms, and most wore Ho Chi Minh sandals, thong-type footwear cut from car tyres. Also identified: Private Geoff Clyde, 21, of Toowoomba, Qld; Commander of 10 Platoon 1 RAR, Lieutenant John Salter of Townsville, Qld; Pte Dan MacDonald, 20, of Croydon, Melbourne, Vic.

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