Australia was a strong and reliable ally of the United States in the Vietnam War. This podcast is highly appreciative of the job the brave Australians carried out during that contentious war. When the Americans think of their big battles in Vietnam they think of events like those at the Ia Drang Valley, Dak To and Khe Sanh. The Australians hold the Battle of Long Tan as one of their most memorable of the war.
The Battle of Long Tan has been mentioned before in this podcast from the Australian standpoint. A Story with an American perspective of the battle appeared in The National Interest website. It was titled: Revealed: The Super Epic Battle Where 100 Australian Soldiers Defeated 2,500 Viet Cong and was submitted by Michael Peck. That story will be featured in this episode.
The battle officially began on August 17, 1966. In response to a mortar attack on the Australian base at Nui Dat a company of troops was sent out to close with and destroy the enemy guns. The force dispatched on the mission was D Company, Sixth Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment. It was composed of 105 Australian infantrymen and a New Zealand forward observer team. When they reached the Long Tan rubber plantation they ran into a major Viet Cong unit, the entire Viet Cong 275th Regiment.
The Viet Cong assaulted the “American Mercenaries” as the North Vietnamese liked to call the Australians in human wave attacks with the mission of wiping them out to the last man. The tough Australians had other ideas. They fought the attackers with a furious response. A weather condition added to the Aussies challenge with the attackers, a heavy monsoon rain was falling on the combatants making aerial fire support a non option.
That is when the New Zealand artillery forward observers took charge of the fire support and proceeded to decimate the attackers with highly accurate artillery fire from the 18 guns back at the Nui Dat base. The attackers were finished off when as darkness fell a relief column of mechanized infantry arrived and tore through the ranks of the Viet Cong with armored personnel carriers.
All Australians have a right to be proud of their men at the Battle of Long Tan.