A for­got­ten war re­mem­bered

Many Viet­nam War sto­ries are un­told, writes

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Play Magazine - - TV -

IT took four decades af­ter World War II for the tale of un­likely hero Oskar Schindler to sur­face. And it’s been sev­eral decades since Australia with­drew from the Viet­nam War and sim­i­lar emo­tion­ally-charged sto­ries, which may not be of the same mag­ni­tude as Schindler’s, are still aris­ing out of the long ago, but not for­got­ten, con­flict.

All The Way, a doc­u­men­tary based on a book Viet­nam: The Aus­tralian War by Paul Ham, por­trays an­other side of the Aussies who were con­scripted to fight in what was to be the un­winnable war.

Di­rec­tor Anne De­laney was com­pelled to make the doc­u­men­tary af­ter read­ing Ham’s well­re­searched story about Australia’s in­volve­ment in Viet­nam. Her best rec­ol­lec­tions are from blackand-white TV news sto­ries.

‘‘As soon as I picked up the book I wanted to be on that project,’’ De­laney says.

‘‘What I loved about it, is he (Ham) has wo­ven the pol­i­tics with the mil­i­tary his­tory, and has grounded it around the emo­tional sto­ries of the sol­diers.’’

One of the sol­diers who cap­tured De­laney’s at­ten­tion is Barry Petersen, a char­ac­ter rem­i­nis­cent of Apoc­a­lypse Now’s Colonel Kurtz. Petersen was sta­tioned in the Cen­tral Highlands to train a pri­vate army of Mon­tag­nard war­riors who were nei­ther loyal to the north nor the south.

His army of indige­nous tribes­men grew to more than 1000 and suc­cess­fully am­bushed the Ho Chi Minh trail, the North Viet­namese sup­ply line.

Thurs­day, 9.30pm, ABC1.

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