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Thread: Australians in Vietnam

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cuts View Post

    Keeping with the Oz thread, the Australian SAS were supremely effective in Viet Nam, earning from their VC opponents the respectful moniker of Phantoms of the Jungle. (Until fairly recently some of the Canungra trg staff were veterans of this miitary episode.)
    I read somewhere the NVA had complete respect for all Australian Infantry.

    We apparently used the Jungle as our friend just like them, when on patrol we were prepared to suffer in the conditions and spend vast amounts of time in the bush to challange the NVA/VC's use of it.

    An NVA general said the Americans saw the Jungle as a hinderance and were almost scared of it and the NVA's use of it and thus the NVA had an advantage, he said they had no such advantage when encountering Australians.

    Apparently the Australian sector become one of the most safest zones in Vietnam and dangerous for the VC, after the defeat at Long Tan the NVA moved on as attempting to destroy the Australain base was for political purposes and of no real military significance and they realised they had a fight for that sector.

    The access to Battlefields for Australians and recognition of what went on is apparently unprecedented amongst combatants and Memorials are in place for battles involving Australians in Vietnam.

    Every August the anniversary of Long Tan gets bigger, each year some ex NVA combatant puts on a stubborn brave face but others share freely the goings on of that battle and the respect for the Army involved.

    Heck they let our Prime minister visit the long tan memorial in Vietnam.

  2. #17
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    Interesting. I seem to recall seeing a TV docu (at the time) on the South Korean (Tiger ?) Battalion acquiring much the same reputation.

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    When at the JWS in Johore, Malaya, some of our instructors were Australians which who had just completed their tour of duty in Vietnam. This was pretty standard, and is typical of the cooperation which existed between the commonwealth forces. These troops also saw action with British troops in the Borneo confrontation (the undeclared war between Britain and Indonesia) beween 1962 and 1966, and the skills which had been honed there, stood them in good stead in Vietnam.

    http://www.hotkey.net.au/~marshalle/sas/sasops.html

    http://www.hotkey.net.au/~marshalle/lt/lt.htm

    An Australian won a Victoria Cross (VC) in Vietnam, which was the last to be won up until those of the Falklands in 1982.
    Last edited by 32Bravo; 03-28-2007 at 04:37 PM.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


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    Quote Originally Posted by 32Bravo
    An Australian won a Victoria Cross (VC) in Vietnam, which was the last to be won up until those of the Falklands in 1982.
    Four actually, Maj P.J. Badcoe VC

    WO2 Kevin Arthur "Dasher" Wheatley VC

    WO2 "Ray" Simpson, VC DCM

    and Warrant Officer Class 2 Keith PAYNE VC, the last surviving Aussie holder of the Victoria Cross.
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    I was writing from a memory of some forty years ago. Please forgive it being a little vague.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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    Notwithstanding what I said in the Why did America Lose? thread about Australian troops being well trained, this was something that improved progressively and wasn't always too good in the early stages. The link from which the following excerpt is taken has some interesting views on a range of matters about Australians in Vietnam.

    Sergeant John Joseph ‘Tiny’ O’Shea

    ‘Tiny’ O’Shea, in the old tradition of men being given nicknames opposite to their features was, in better days, a six foot two sandy haired man of big stature and, if you asked him, not bad looking. After a dispute with his parents which resulted in his occupation of a boat shed for six weeks, Tiny decided to join the army and after finishing in the top three of his recruit course, asked for and was granted posting to Armour.

    The Corps did nothing with Tiny for some time and he spent a while breaking up various concrete edifices for make-work. Getting right royally sick of labouring, he went AWL. On return he was charged and given a job in the Officers Mess. Finally, he was sent on a Motor Transport course and was posted to the 1st Armoured Regiment Transport Troop.

    All of the above serves to illustrate how blasé the Corps (and indeed the Army) was in preparing soldiers for war. At the time the above was going on, the prospect of active service was a distant dream for most servicemen and the Corps trained its soldiers accordingly. Shortly, it will be seen how this lack of training affected Tiny.

    O”Shea was sent to Vietnam on HMAS Sydney, posted to HQ Australian Force Vietnam as transport driver. He landed with “15 rounds for my Owen (gun) and the blokes with pistols had only half a clip.” His job in Saigon (Now Ho Chi Minh City) was to drive an Australian Staff officer and to act as escort as the man made his way around Vietnam, by air as well as vehicle.

    Tiny would make it his business to drop into the Australian Cavalry Troop at Bien Hoa, to give out the latest gossip and to keep everyone up to speed as to what was going on in the rest of the country. Now, that Troop had, like everyone else, been sent with minimum preparation and so was often short of personnel, what with an illness here and a leave there. Tiny volunteered to go on operations with the Troop and after gaining permission, he did a ‘soldiers five’ with one of the Troop drivers and went off to war. He drove
    the author for a while, who was perhaps a bit pedantic as to his instructions while on the move. Tiny takes up the story.

    “So I hop in the driver’s seat then you’re saying ‘OK start up-driver advance, (pull the) left (steering) stick, right stick, slow down, speed up,’ I didn’t know what the hell was going on!” The short instruction he had was just not enough, although to his credit, he quickly assimilated the driving ‘go’.

    On one operation, Tiny’s penchant for bad luck took hold of him. At the time, the Troop had pulled up in a protective formation around a large clearing to allow a helicopter re-supply. J. J. was preparing a brew for himself and his crew commander while two hundred metres or so away a platoon was sweeping around the location over a paddy field. One soldier approached a little too close to one of the larger water buffalo, which took exception to his presence and charged. The Digger swiped at it with a back hander, but unfortunately the hand he used was holding his M79 grenade launcher which discharged, lobbing a high explosive shell into our position. Murphy’s Law being what it is, the round landed about five metres from the rear of Tiny’s vehicle, not to mention his backside -peppering it with (he says) a million pieces of schrapnel.

    He takes up the story;
    “Jungles (nickname for his commander at he time) gives me an axe and says ‘Chop these trees down; we’ve got to clear a landing zone’, and next thing I’m flat on me arse. I got a hole in me bloody bum and a hole in me leg and me back.”

    People clustered around and he was duly casevaced. While he was contemplating the vagaries of life, a captain from the 1RAR company involved rushed up and;
    “…was screaming down my ear hole ‘What happened, where did it come from?’ I said ****ed if I know! I mean, I was a green as grass and this bloke is trying to ask me where the grenade came from!”

    Later, when Tiny came back to the Troop, he was reminded about the old army rule about never volunteering for anything. He replied, “Damn right!” However, he went against this dicta and extended his tour. This extension
    saw him involved in the battle of Long Tan. When the Cavalry Troop was activated to take Alpha Company 6RAR, to the relief of Delta Company, Tiny’s carrier (he was now a crew commander) was posted at a creek crossing while the rest of his section (two APCs) was sent back to pick up the Commanding Officer of 6RAR and the padre, amongst others. When this was achieved, the section went on to the battle itself.

    Now, this was in spite of the fact that O’Shea had never done an APC drivers course, a crew commanders course, a radio operators course or training on the .50 calibre machine gun which was fitted to each vehicle. It well shows the fact of the Australian soldier’s willingness to adapt and just get on with things, but does no credit to the powers that were in regard to training its men for combat. Another illustration of this took place in an earlier incident, where Tiny was acting as radio operator to his Troop officer, Lieutenant Ruttledge. For some reason, Tiny had been given an M60 machine Gun, the Infantry main section weapon. As Tiny says:
    “…and I had this M60, which I had never seen before and it had a belt of ammunition on it. I’m standing outside the cargo hatch with a foot each side of the seat and ‘Jungles’ is saying, ‘Cover the top of the houses, cover the rubber, cover this, cover that,’ and I’m swinging this thing around and would have shit myself if it had gone off.”

    Tiny returned to Australia in September 1966. The Corps finally recognized that he should be properly trained and he undertook a Centurion gunnery and Crew Commanders course. He took part in the Australian trials of the Sheridan tank (“a bloody shocking thing”) and after further service at Puckapunyal was sent back to Vietnam to B Squadron Of the Armoured Regiment.

    His bad luck continued. His Troop was conducting support operations in that disaster area for Australians, the Long Hai hills, when his vehicle was almost destroyed by a mine. He says; “There was some soft ground and my driver went down about five gears. I turned around to see what was going on and I got hit in the head like a sledge hammer.”

    He was very badly knocked about, losing an eye. He was casevaced to Vung Tau and from there to the huge American base at Long Binh. While never to be described as a modest person, Tiny was horrified to realise that
    when he had commenced to recover from the operation to put him back together, he had a deep burning sensation when passing urine.

    Now, the medical staff at the US hospital was mostly female and for some reason Tiny never had an opportunity to speak to male members on the fact that he thought he might have a ‘dose.’ Finally, when the pain became too much, he sought a senior nurse and confided to her his problem. She laughed, saying that he had had a catheter inserted in his penis and the pain was merely the result of its insertion and its removal, and the pain would go away, which it did.

    After ten days in hospital he was returned to Australia and sent on five months theraputic leave. Towards the end of this, he received a telegram informing him that he was to attend a radio instructors course. He says that he was psychologically unready to come back to work, being most aware of the false eye with which he had been fitted.

    In the normal way, the Corps didn’t give him the courtesy of attending the initial ‘how to instruct’ course, and he was lumbered with a lesson, ‘The Radio Net’ on almost the first day he was there. Although well enough physically, Tiny was still quite sensitive about the false eye he had been given and was somewhat reluctant to appear in the instructional mode.

    Now, all the gurus of the Radio Wing sat in the back of the classroom, watching as to how the trainee would go. Tiny said to the class that he would love to tell them about the Radio Net but he didn’t have a clue and if they looked in the relevant Training Pamphlet, it would show them all about it and if they went outside they could look it up and that the Wing Staff would love to have a talk about his performance.

    This they duly did, and after much argument about preparation time and other things, Tiny was taken off the course.
    http://armoured.alphalink.com.au/Knights.pdf

  7. #22
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    The best contribution any individual Australian made in Vietnam was made by Ted Serong. In addition to this link by Anne Blair http://www.vietnam.ttu.edu/vietnamce...s/tenyears.htm , see also her book on Serong http://www.allenandunwin.com/Militar...=9781865084688

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 32Bravo View Post
    Interesting. I seem to recall seeing a TV docu (at the time) on the South Korean (Tiger ?) Battalion acquiring much the same reputation.
    That would be right.

    ... nearly all will agree that the story of the ROK military in Vietnam resides in its very high kill ratio of enemy killed to Koreans lost and the stark fear these courageous war fighters brought to the hearts of the enemy. Captured enemy documents reflect that the enemy worked hard to avoid the Koreans, and were told to stay away from them unless they were sure of victory.
    http://www.talkingproud.us/International061406.html

    Hardly anybody seems to know about the large contribution, about 10% of the American troops and dead, Korea made in Vietnam. I doubt anybody outside Korea knew much about it at the time. I remember being surprised the first time I read about it in somewhere in the mid sixties.

  9. #24
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    From a very good paper on Australian friendly fire casualties in Vietnam, whick should dispel any myths that Australians were jungle supermen as they are sometimes presented.

    Clashing patrols

    In the jungles of Vietnam it was more often the case that the
    infantry were the instrument of their own fratricide.
    Movement in close country or at night was always very
    difficult and tiring, and when troops became disorientated,
    the results were often tragic. In one typical incident, a soldier
    with the 1ATF Logistic Company was undertaking the
    relatively simple task of moving from one flank of his section
    to the opposite flank, but at night and in rain he lost his way.
    He accidentally moved outside the perimeter and attempted
    to re-enter the position from in front of the sentry group.
    Although challenged, he apparently failed to hear this. He was shot at close range and killed. Nor was it only
    relatively inexperienced service corps soldiers who were
    vulnerable.

    Nearly five years later, in March 1971, during 2RAR’s
    second tour, a veteran infantry non-commissioned officer
    (NCO) met a similar fate. After an afternoon contact, a
    platoon from B Company harboured for the night near the
    banks of the Suoi Soc River. At first light, the platoon
    sergeant, Tom Birnie, led a small patrol across the stream to
    reconnoitre to the east of the platoon’s night position. It was
    expected that he and his patrol would rejoin the platoon by
    returning along the same route. In the course of the patrol,
    Birnie found signs of the enemy crossing the stream and,
    after seeking permission from the platoon commander, he
    followed this track and crossed the stream. After a short
    distance, he and the patrol came under fire, and the sergeant
    was seriously wounded. Unbeknown to Birnie, the stream
    followed a circular path around the platoon’s position and the
    patrol had actually approached their own troops from the
    opposite direction. One of the sentries, not expecting
    movement from this direction, assumed that it was enemy
    and opened fire.

    Gary McKay, a platoon commander with D Company 4RAR,
    on that battalion’s second tour of Vietnam, offers another
    description of typical patrol clash when both parties are
    moving. In September 1971, McKay was part of a companysize
    operation in thick jungle in the Phuoc Tuy province.
    While out on patrol, McKay received a warning order from
    his company HQ that he could expect to encounter enemy
    troops in force within a kilometre of his position. He issued a
    verbal warning to his platoon before moving off. The platoon
    had gone no more than 150 metres when firing broke out at
    the front of the file. McKay called out ‘contact front’ to his
    platoon signaller so he could inform the OC, but was
    surprised when the signaller replied that their neighbouring
    platoon (10 Platoon) had already reported that they were also
    in contact. In McKay’s words:
    My mouth went dry and my heart skipped a beat as it struck
    me what was happening. I sprinted forward screaming out
    for everyone else to cease firing and came up level with my
    forward scout… One of the 10 Platoon soldiers had been hit
    with a bullet in the head; the other had been lightly creased
    in the area of his scrotum ...

    McKay’s example emphasises the problems of coordination
    between even small, well-trained units in restricted terrain.
    Unlike previous conflicts, where there was little public
    scrutiny or understanding of the problem of fratricide, during
    the Vietnam War these incidents were often widely reported,
    highly sensitive and they quickly became a political issue. As
    early as May 1966, the death of Australia’s first national
    serviceman in Vietnam, Private Errol Noack (5RAR), had
    caused a sharp but brief reaction in Australia. As the
    Australian official historian records:
    Noack had not been pleased when he had learned that the
    ballot had selected him for national service but, like most
    conscripts, he had obeyed the call and gone quietly into the
    Army. His uncle said, ‘If there’s one thing we don’t want,
    it’s any political propaganda being made out of Errol’s
    death’, but that wish was disregarded in Holt’s and
    Calwell’s rush to issue statements. Holt said that the
    Government had acted in ‘Australia’s highest national
    interests’. Calwell asserted that the Liberal and Country
    Parties and their DLP allies shared a terrible responsibility,
    but that the ALP was ‘free of the blame for any
    casualties’.

    At the time of his death it was widely believed within 5RAR
    that his comrades had accidentally shot Noack when a VC
    unit got between two Australian companies. They believed
    that Noack was killed either by VC fire or the crossfire
    between the two Australian sub-units. The official historian
    believed that, on the weight of the evidence, the latter was
    more probable, noting:
    The newly-arrived battalion was finding navigation in the
    Nui Dat area unexpectedly difficult and the two companies
    had come closer to each other than they had realised. They
    were operated under standing instructions to communicate not with each other directly but with battalion headquarters.

    This conclusion is supported by the evidence in the first volume of
    the official history dealing with combat operations that quotes the
    after-action report of OC B Company 5RAR, who had deployed a
    listening post between his company and A Company when: ‘The
    next thing we knew A Company was firing on our listening post …
    One member of our listening post, Private Errol Noack, happened
    to stand up at the time. He was struck by a bullet and was seriously
    wounded.’ Noack died three hours later at the 36th (US)
    Evacuation Hospital at Vung Tau. Noack was shot at 6.25 pm, at the end of a tense day of extreme, enervating heat when both companies were
    expecting renewed contact with the enemy.

    The battalion’s officers were immediately made aware of
    the high political importance attached to Noack’s death, but
    the pressures now exerted by and on political and military
    authorities were not conducive to frank and honest
    assessments. After a flurry of messages between Nui Dat,
    Saigon and Canberra the task force commander, Brigadier
    OD Jackson, sent a short signal to Canberra, saying that
    after visiting the battalion and interviewing officers and
    non-commissioned officers he was satisfied that Noack had
    been killed by Viet Cong fire. The strong suspicions to the
    contrary held by many in the battalion did not become
    public in Australia until long afterwards.

    Errol Noack’s death certainly has all of the hallmarks of
    classic accidental fratricide. The newly arrived troops were
    operating in complex terrain, which made navigation and
    command and control difficult, and they were fatigued and
    expecting to encounter the enemy. When they did see a
    briefly visible target, they may have either mistaken other
    Australian troops for the enemy or indeed they may have
    inadvertently hit one of their own in an exchange with a
    fleeting VC force. The truth, regardless which version is
    correct, is that Errol Noack was as much a casualty of war as
    any other Australian soldier KIA in Vietnam. The problem
    then, and now, is that the public and press are generally
    ignorant as to the realities of combat, and, in a time of war,
    the matter becomes so emotionally and politically charged
    that the truth inevitably becomes casualty.
    http://www.defence.gov.au/army/lwsc/.../WP/WP_128.pdf

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rising Sun* View Post
    That would be right.


    http://www.talkingproud.us/International061406.html

    Hardly anybody seems to know about the large contribution, about 10% of the American troops and dead, Korea made in Vietnam. I doubt anybody outside Korea knew much about it at the time. I remember being surprised the first time I read about it in somewhere in the mid sixties.
    Bearing in mind I saw the docu about forty years ago, as I recall, they were so successful that there area of responsibility became a 'No-Go Area' to the NVA and VC.


    "Although God cannot alter the past, Historians can"


    Samuel Butler


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    Default Re: Australians in Vietnam

    The Minefield: An Australian Tragedy in the Vietnam War http://xmb.stuffucanuse.com/xmb/viewthread.php?tid=5789

    The greatest Australian military blunder post WW2 occurred during the Vietnam war when 20,000 powerful mines were basically given to the enemy and used against Australian forces.

    A fascinating article.

    In 1967, Brigadier Stuart Graham issued the calamitous order: First Australian Task Force would construct an 11 kilometre barrier fence minefield containing 20,292 powerful M16 landmines in southern Vietnam's Phuoc Tuy Province.

    As work on the laying of the minefield went on through May 1967, 13 Australian sappers were killed and dismembered as a result of detonations caused by the stress of the job.

    What he failed to realise was that the opposing forces were well positioned to lift thousands of the mines and turn them back against the Australian Task Force with horrendous, far reaching results.

    For protracted periods, Australia's own M16 mines became the enemy's most effective strike weapons, causing over 50 per cent of all task force casualties. The minefield also guaranteed the enemy's successful defence of its vital area and base complexes against task force incursions

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by herman2 View Post
    What he failed to realise was that the opposing forces were well positioned to lift thousands of the mines and turn them back against the Australian Task Force with horrendous, far reaching results.
    It was worse than a failure to realise.

    Graham was warned by other officers against sowing the mines, but he had inadequate forces for his tasks and chose to sow the minefield to try to make up for his resource deficiencies. Various other factors resulted in the minefield not being properly guarded which allowed the VC to lift the mines.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

  13. #28
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    Default Re: Australians in Vietnam

    Afrikakorpsdesertfox, I know you mean well in directing people to the Wiki for information, but unfortunately it's proven to be a very fallible tool for research.
    The major problem lies in it's very ethos - anyone can edit it.
    This unsurprisingly means that the village idiot, should he have internet access, can write whatever notion enters his skull.

    Even here on WWincolor we are sadly not immune.
    There was a 'gentleman' - or perhaps howling moonbat might be more accurate - who would put forward preposterous ideas that flew in the face of known fact and natural law, and 'back them up' with a Wiki reference he himself had created !
    (If you're interested you can read more on this lunatic by clicking here.)


    One is much more likely to find reliable information on a veterans forum, or indeed one like ours here.
    "Don't call me stupid !" - Otto 'Galtieri' West.
    __________________
    Stupidity should be a crime. Ignorance should be punished.
    Refusal to accept corroborated facts should result in a chainsaw enema.

    a luta continua, em adiante a vitória
    __________________

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    Default Re: Australians in Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by afrikakorpsdesertfox View Post
    If you want to learn about the vietnam war then go to www.wikipedia.com
    and search vietnam war
    If you want to learn about fatuous go to www.wikipedia.com and search fatuous .
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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    Default Re: Australians in Vietnam

    Quote Originally Posted by Cuts View Post
    One is much more likely to find reliable information on a veterans forum, or indeed one like ours here.
    Omitting, of course, plainly fatuous comments.
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
    Montesquieu

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