Yesterday while the media and almost the whole of New Zealand watched the funeral of Sir Paul Holmes there was another funeral being held, in Paihia, of a Kiwi war hero, Brig Harry Bowen Honnor, CB, MVO
Shamefully our media have not covered the funeral of a true hero. There are very few images of Harry Honnor, but I found the one in this post of him receiving his Korean Presidential Unit Citation from the Auckland based Consul General for the Republic of Korea, Mr Dae-hee Lee, in Whangarei on Long Tan Day, 18 August 2011.
My father in law served under Harry Honnor in Vietnam, in the Battle of Long Tan.
We said good bye to Harry Honnor on a magic BoI day at Paihia yesterday. The service was held at the beautiful old stone St Paul’s Anglican Church on Marsden Road just across from the beach. He was farewelled with full military honours which brought Paihia to a standstill and something different to the many hundreds of tourists who witnessed the event.
Brigadier Harry Bowen Honnor will be remembered with affection by generations who served in the 1940’s, 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as a soldiers soldier, a tough but much respected commander and an icon of the Paihia community where he made his home following his retirement in 1983. Read more »
During the battle the company from 6RAR, despite being heavily outnumbered, fought off a large enemy assault of regimental strength. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded, while at least 245 Viet Cong were killed. It was a decisive Australian victory and is often cited as an example of the importance of combining and coordinating infantry, artillery, armour and military aviation. The battle had considerable tactical implications as well, being significant in allowing the Australians to gain dominance over Phước Tuy province, and although there were a number of other large-scale encounters in later years, 1ATF was not fundamentally challenged again.
The battle has since achieved similar symbolic significance for the Australian military in the Vietnam War as battles such as the Gallipoli Campaign have for the First World War, the Kokoda Track Campaign for the Second World War and the Battle of Kapyong for the Korean War.
One of those men who fought in the Battle of Long Tan that day was my father in law. He was firstly in the field as an OP and then brought back to man the guns that day as they fought to save the Aussie soldiers.
Each gun fired over 1200 rounds that day and night in support of the Aussies. The battle was fought in a rubber tree plantation near the village of Long Tan, about 40 km north-east of Vung Tau, South Vietnam on August 18–19, 1966. The battle was fought all afternoon and most of the night in pouring monsoon rain. The guns ran so hot that wet blankets were draped over them in an attempt to keep the barrels cool.
Last year another veteran of this battle Major Morrie Stanley sadly passed away. Our news media at the time barely covered it but the Aussie media did. They know what these guys did to save their boys and they well remember it.
This post is to remember their service.
There is an online documentary about the Battle of Long Tan [embedded below]. It is superb and well worth spending the time watching.