Deniliquin Pastoral Times

How the battle unfolded

- PASTORAL TIMES. ~ Contribute­d by Tom ‘Sarge’ Cheeseman and the Deniliquin RSL Sub-branch.

Because of Covid-19 restrictio­ns, Wednesday, August 18 passed just like any other day. But for many in our community it marked a solemn day — Vietnam Veterans’ Day. The Deniliquin RSL Sub-branch was to be joined by Edward

River Council Mayor Norm Brennan and the wider community to commemorat­e the day, until the lockdown was put in place. In lieu of the ceremony, the following history has been provided to the

Vietnam Veterans’ Day was originally known as Long Tan Day, chosen to commemorat­e the men of D Company 6 Royal Artillery Regiment who fought the Battle of Long Tan in 1966.

On that day, 108 Australian and New Zealand soldiers fought a pitched battle against over 2500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops in a rubber plantation not far from the village of Long Tan.

Eighteen Australian­s lost their lives and 24 were wounded.

The rubber plantation where the battle took place was 4km to the east of the main Australian base Nui Dat.

After a small exchange of fire with a small group, the enemy fled eastwards with 11 Platoon in pursuit.

But little did the Australian­s realise they were about to run in to a major concentrat­ions of Vietnamese soldiers.

Just after 4pm, 11 Platoon of D Company came under heavy fire, during a monsoonal downpour.

With 10 Platoon ordered to rejoin Company HQ, 12 Platoon tried to reach 11 Platoon’s position but also came under fire.

As a result, D Company was now splintered in to groups.

Due to the conditions, the helicopter­s could not land to re-supply them, therefore dropped ammunition from tree top height in to the position.

As the battle continued, with little to no ammunition remaining and the position about to be overrun, the Australian­s called in a ‘danger close mission’.

The artillery target was directed to D

Company’s position, and fired more than 3500 rounds.

As darkness fell, about 7pm, B Company and the M113 Armoured Personnel carriers arrived.

They blasted .5 calibre machine guns in to the rubber plantation, causing the enemy to withdraw in to the darkness.

And the Battle of Long Tan was over. On the third anniversar­y of Long Tan — August 18, 1969 — a cross was raised on the site of the battle by the men of 6RAR.

Veterans from the battle gathered at the cross to commemorat­e the fallen, which gave birth to Long Tan Day.

Following the ‘Welcome Home Parade’ in 1987, then Prime Minister Bob Hawke announced that Long Tan Day would become Vietnam Veterans’ Day.

It is the day we recognise the service of all those men and women who served in Vietnam.

We remember those who died in the country, and those who have died since, resulting from the physical and mental trauma of war.

We remember also those who are still suffering the disabiliti­es through sickness or injuries as a result of this war.

A total of 49,211 Australian­s served in Vietnam of which 41,910 were Army, 2,858 Navy and 4,443 Air Force.

Casualties incurred during our 10 years of involvemen­t were 501 killed in action and 3,131 non-fatal casualties.

Lest We Forget.

 ??  ?? Despite there being no Vietnam Veterans’ Day service, Deniliquin RSL Sub-branch president Don Ward (left) and secretary John Harris (right) attended the Deniliquin Cenotaph to lower the flags on Wednesday.
Despite there being no Vietnam Veterans’ Day service, Deniliquin RSL Sub-branch president Don Ward (left) and secretary John Harris (right) attended the Deniliquin Cenotaph to lower the flags on Wednesday.

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