Heroism of soldiers in battle honoured
The 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan is an opportunity to remember the price paid by Western Sydney soldiers in the Vietnam War.
The battle was fought by Australians on August 18, 1966, in a rubber plantation in the Vietnam province of Phuoc Tuy.
St Marys man Lance Corporal Jack Jewry, 19, died during the fierce fighting.
Private Terry Ryan, of Penrith, was shot in the arm during the battle but his platoon commander removed the bullet during the fire fight.
In all, 18 soldiers died during the battle, Australia’s costliest in Vietnam.
It was also one of the few battles in recorded history to be won against such odds.
The 108 soldiers of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment D Company were cut off during a patrol through the plantations and fought to withstand massive waves of attacks by the Viet Cong 275th Regiment, numbering at least 2000 fighters.
Caught in the rubber plantation in torrential rain, away from the relative safety of the Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, the infantrymen fired at the enemy and circled around their wounded.
They called in artillery support from four batteries, sometimes in the “danger close” range, within 50m of their position, to prevent being overwhelmed by Viet Cong.
Almost four hours after initial contact, armoured personnel carriers caught the Viet Cong by surprise with an assault on the flank, protecting D Company and forcing a retreat.
Harry Smith and Jack Kirby testfire a captured machine gun.