6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment - New Zealand (ANZAC)

6th Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) was raised at Alamein Barracks in Brisbane on 6 June 1965. It arrived in Vietnam in June 1966 and formed half of the infantry component of the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) with 5RAR. The task force replaced 1RAR in Vietnam. It was stationed at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province.

Once the Nui Dat base site had been cleared and secured, the task force began patrolling the province. The purpose of the patrols was to undermine Viet Cong (VC) and North Vietnamese Army operations in the area. This was done by seeking out and engaging the enemy, denying supplies and limiting contact with villages for the collection of taxes and recruitment. These duties dominated the experience of 6RAR during its first tour.

The battalion took part in Operation Smithfield from 16 to 18 August 1966. On the night of 16 August the task force area was rocketed and mortared by the VC and the following day companies of 6RAR were sent out to investigate. D Company was attacked by the enemy during a sweep through a rubber plantation on 18 August. For over three hours 108 troops engaged between 1500 and 2500 enemy troops, before being joined by a patrol from B Company and then relieved by A Company, which arrived in seven M113 APCs from the 1st Armoured Personnel Carrier Squadron. The action became known as the Battle of Long Tan.

For the remainder of its tour, 6RAR was active in Phuoc Tuy with patrolling and other security operations. The battalion was relieved by 2RAR in May 1967 and returned to Brisbane on 14 June 1967.

6RAR returned to Vietnam on 19 May 1969, relieving 4RAR/NZ. On 21 May the battalion was joined by V4 Company, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (RNZIR). Its name was formally changed to 6RAR/NZ (ANZAC) battalion on the same day.

Throughout its second tour, 6RAR was mainly involved with pacification operations in Phuoc Tuy, which 1ATF had adopted as its first priority in April 1969. This involved seeking out and destroying the enemy in its base areas, preventing enemy access to the civilian population, and helping to create a secure climate for South Vietnamese social, political, and military life. This work was demanding, dangerous, and monotonous for the troops. It was the primary task undertaken by the battalion during its second tour.

The last operation carried out by the battalion in Vietnam was Operation Townsville (24 March-23 April 1970), a search-and-destroy mission in the north-east of Phuoc Tuy province. During this operation the battalion captured operational wireless codes and one-time signal pads of the VC, Ba Long province headquarters. These could be used to decipher codes and obtain intelligence. Capturing this type of information occurred four times during the war, once by Australians.

6RAR was relieved by 2RAR in May 1970. The battalion returned to Australia later that month.

Glossary

Battle Honours

Casualties

  • First tour: 36 killed, no wounded figure available
  • Second tour: 13 killed, 156 wounded

For more information please see the Roll of Honour and Vietnam War Nominal Roll (external website) databases.

Commanding Officers

Decorations

  • First tour
    • 1 DSO
    • 1 MC
    • 1 DCM
    • 3 MM
    • 1 BEM
    • 1 QC
    • 6 MID
  • Second tour
    • 1 DSO
    • 6 MC
    • 3 DCM
    • 3 MM
    • 2 BEM
    • 17 MID

For more information please see Honours and Awards database

References

  • Avery, Brian, We too were ANZACS : the sixth battalion, Royal Australian Regiment/NZ (ANZAC) : South Vietnam 1969 to 1970, (Rosebud, Vic. : Slouch Hat Publications, 2004)
  • Horner, David Murray, Duty first : the Royal Australian Regiment in war and peace, (Sydney: Allen & Unwin, 1990)
  • Kuring, Ian; Australian Army History Unit, Red Coats to Cams : a history of Australian Infantry 1788 to 2001, (Loftus N.S.W.: Australian Military History Publications in association with the Australian Army History Unit, 2004)
  • McNeill, Ian Graham; Australian War Memorial, To Long Tan : the Australian army and the Vietnam war 1950-1966, (St Leonards, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial, 1993)
  • McNeill, Ian Graham; Ekins, Ashley, On the offensive : the Australian Army in the Vietnam War, January 1967-June 1968, (Crows Nest, N.S.W.: Allen & Unwin, 2003)
  • The History of 6RAR-NZ (ANZAC) Battalion, (Ennogera, Qld. : 6RAR-NZ (ANZAC) Battalion, 1972)