The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (55613) Private Robert Buchan, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Place Asia: Vietnam
Accession Number PAFU2015/503.01
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 13 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 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 Jana Johnson, the story for this day was on (55613) Private Robert Buchan, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War.

Speech transcript

55613 Private Robert Buchan, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment
KIA 11 December 1969
No photograph in collection – family supplied image

Story delivered 13 December 2015

Today we remember and pay tribute to Private Robert Buchan, who was killed in action during the Vietnam War.

Robert Buchan was born in 1947, the only child of Robert and Jane Buchan of Inchture, near Perth in central Scotland. When Robert was four the Buchan family sailed to Australia and spent six years in Longreach, Queensland, before returning to Scotland in 1960. Buchan completed his schooling at Stanley Secondary College and spent a year studying animal husbandry and farm mechanics at the City and Guilds of London Institute before working as a dairyman on a farm near Errol.

In June 1966 Buchan returned to Australia and found work as a farm labourer at Gidgegannup in Western Australia. There he lived with the Carvells, who saw him as one of the family and affectionately knew him as “Jock”. He was particularly close to his foster sister, Janet.

Buchan enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in January 1968, not long after his 20th birthday. After recruit training in New South Wales he was trained at the School of Infantry at Singleton, where his section commander described him as being “well disciplined”, with “NCO potential”. As a rifleman, Buchan was posted to the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, at Enoggera Barracks near Brisbane, and spent the following months training in preparation for the battalion’s second tour of Vietnam. After further training at the Canungra Jungle Training Centre in Queensland, Buchan sailed for Vietnam on board HMAS Sydney in May 1969.

Based at the 1st Australian Task Force at Nui Dat, 6RAR was bolstered with two rifle companies, mortars, and pioneers from the New Zealand Infantry Regiment. Its main focus of operations in Phuoc Tuy province
was to carry out reconnaissance-in-force and ambush operations. The task force established a number of fire support and patrol bases near the northern borders of the province and the battalion carried out operations in depth to interdict and destroy communist Vietnamese forces.

Numerous enemy contacts occurred during Operation Marsden, a four-week reconnaissance-and-ambush operation in the north-east of the province, involving an extensive search of the rugged Nui May Tao mountains. On the morning of 11 December 1969 soldiers of 12 Platoon, Delta Company, 6RAR, patrolled along a well-worn track in an area known to contain Viet Cong. As the acting commander of the lead section, Lance Corporal Buchan was called to the front of the patrol to investigate the discovery of a suspected enemy bunker when the group was ambushed. The opening volleys hit Buchan in the chest, wounding both him and the forward scout.

After an intense fire fight the section was able to withdraw and regroup, but Buchan succumbed to his wounds before it ended. Aged just 22 when he died, he was cremated in accord with his parent’s wishes and his ashes were returned to Scotland. A memorial service was held in his honour at the church where he was christened.

Many years later Buchan’s parents expressed the heartache they felt at losing their only son to a conflict they little under stood. In their final years they visited the Carvell family at Gidgegannup to maintain the relationship with their son’s surrogate family in Australia.

Robert Buchan continues to be missed by his comrades, who remember him as an independent and respected member of their platoon, fiercely proud of his Scottish heritage, who gave his life fighting alongside them. Their mate Jock is commemorated in the Garden of Remembrance at the Perth War Cemetery in Western Australia.

Robert Buchan is also listed on the Roll of Honour on my left, among the more than 500 Australians who died while serving in the Vietnam War. His photograph is displayed today beside the Pool of Reflection.
This is just one of the many stories of service and sacrifice told here at the Australian War Memorial. We now remember Private Robert Buchan, and all of those who have given their lives in service of our nation.

Aaron Pegram
Historian, Military History Section
Edited by Ashley Ekins

  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (55613) Private Robert Buchan, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War. (video)
  • Video of The Last Post Ceremony commemorating the service of (55613) Private Robert Buchan, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, Vietnam War. (video)