On this day in 1966, 50 years ago:
The Battle of Long Tan was fought between the Australian Army and Viet Cong forces in a rubber plantation near the village of Long Tần, about 27 kilometres (17 mi) north east of Vung Tau, South Vietnam. The action occurred when D Company of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF), encountered the Viet Cong (VC) 275 Regiment and elements of the D445 Local Forces Battalion. D Company was supported by other Australian units, as well as New Zealand and United States artillery.
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.
The Kiwi guns were instrumental in saving 3 platoons of D Company of the 6thBattalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR) and enabling the thrashing of a Regiment of Viet Cong.
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.
In 2010 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.
Today is the day I remember their service.
Above is the online documentary about the Battle of Long Tan . It is superb and well worth spending the time watching.
Lest we forget.