Monday, July 17, 2006

The Battle of Long Tan

Here in the good ole USA we tend to forget that a number of other nations had forces in Vietnam, but there were troops there from several other countries, including Australia.

Now a group of Australian veterans of the now-almost-forgotten Battle of Long Tan are petitioning their government for medals honoring the bravery and sacrifice of the Diggers of Delta Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment, as the 40th anniversary of that battle approaches. The Australian forces were outnumbered by at least 20-to-1, yet fought steadily over a two-day period to repel an advancing force of North Vietnamese and Viet Cong guerillas.

The Australian government has steadfastly refused to honor their service with appropriate medals for bravery, even though later firefights that were less costly and more routine resulted in medals for the participants.

The History Channel has scheduled a documentary about the Battle of Long Tan for August 16th -- it ought to be worth watching, to get another view of the Vietnam War.

I picked up a copy of the book when I visited the Australian Vietnam Veterans Museum when I was in Australia in early 2004, and it is a fascinating read.

BTW, the Diggers, like their American counterparts, also had extreme difficulties in getting their own PTSD issues recognized by the government, as demonstated in yet another book I picked up in Australia, The Battle After the War, by Ambrose Crowe.

The Australians unfortunately have a long history of being used and abused as the instruments of Empire -- you don't have to look any farther than The Battle of Gallipoli for proof of that.

So it would seem from all this that veterans everywhere have a hard time getting the proper respect and acknowledgement from their own governments.


Chuck said...

I remember meeting the Aussies...they sold me a bottle of some ratty-ass whiskey...I think it was called 5 Star...great guys

Granny said...

I was going to leave a comment about Gallipoli. Then I scrolled down through your post.

Spadoman said...

Served with a guy from New Zealand as well. We went to Hong Kong on R&R together around Christmas of 1969. That was the last time I threw up until I had this kidney stone last month.

Veterans are from all over in the Vietnam war. Even the "other side". Their Mothers and Fathers cry at their wounds and losses just like American Moms and Dads do. Their wives and children are co-dependants of the PTSD just like the Aussies and Americans et al.

Check out an entry in my blog entitled "The Warrior"

Good stuff here, good to be home again.

JBlue said...

I wonder why their government refuses to recognize their service this way?

Dr Hibbert said...

Wow what a great post. As an aussie I'd like to say thanks for acknowledging those guys they were and are true hero's. I posted a litlle on my blog about it too. Too bad our lame ass government can't acknowledge them.

Anonymous said...

as an australian soldier who was in vietnam i hold respect and honour for the long tan vets, but do please get the facts correct, long tan wasnt the most costly or the biggest fought by australians ,not that i disagree with most of the comments posted here . this link will show the facts

Farnsworth68 said...

Anonymous is correct. I should have said "up till that time".
Turns out the action at FB Coral was of larger magnitude, lasted more days and cost more lives.
I should have remembered this myself, since it took place while I was there, during the May 1968 "Little Tet" Offensive.
Thanks for the correction, Anon. You Aussies have always had my admiration and respect.

Anonymous said...

Heya there,

I'm a young Australian living in Victoria. My father was an ex-army reserve soldier and i grew up with a taste for australian Military history.
I'd like to say thanks to you mate for posting even this small token of recognition for the soldiers of Dcoy 6RAR. Too many young people of my generation have no knowledge of even what happened during the vietnam war American or Australian. Whats worse is that they don't care.
I took a vested interest in the Battle of Longtan and had the honour of meeting with one of the Sgts of Dcoy 6RAR, Dave Sabben. What is little known even in Australia is that the official histories written about Long Tan drastically underestimate the reality of the battle despite evidence procurred in 1969 as to the full scale of the VC/NVA forces involved.
It's a tragedy and deplorable that the Australian government hides from these men even now.
You sir are a credit to people as people and for that i thankyou.

Anonymous said...

Anon Said: "I took a vested interest in the Battle of Longtan and had the honour of meeting with one of the Sgts of Dcoy 6RAR, Dave Sabben."

Dave Sabben was actually a Lieutenant or 2nd Lieutenant(cant remember) and was a platoon commander at the battle, I also had the pleasure of attending a lecture on the battle by him when I was a serving soldier in the early '90s...A fantastic softly spoken gentleman who gave a fascinating insight into the battle. Am heading to Vietnam in October and look forward to seeing the battle site. also nice to see some recognition that there were other countries that have their own Vietnam experience as well

Anonymous said...

Hi, Comments are valid but lets face all fighting is a battle to the individual your life is on the line. Long Tan happened to be the first "large scale' battle but many other followed that are not recognised. I was at Coral and have revisted just last week, bears abosolutely no resemblance to the actual battle site. Well done to all veterans of all nations who fought this horrible war.

Farnsworth68 said...

Thanks, Anon--
I went back to Vietnam in 2008 and the places I had been 40 years earlier were all but unrecognizable. The then-remote spot on Highway One between Saigon and Long Binh where I was ambushed one night when my Jeep was fired on -- and hit -- was grown up with buildings crowded up next to the highway. A VC would have had no place to hide in 2008.
--The F Man