Australians in Vietnam

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by beagleboy, Sep 4, 2012.

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  1. Came by this video via another recommendation from a mate. I kinda remember this from when I was a wee laddie on the tele. A rather contemporary view at the time, and I reckon a good film. Enjoy:

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  2. I would recommend a book called "Tiger Men" written by a friend of mine who is now living in Bangkok. See: Barry Petersen is a Vietnam War hero with a difference.

    Barry is a true gentleman and has help me and many others to set up companies here in Thailand. His health is now failing, but his spirit is as tough as ever.
  3. Sorry to hear Barry is crook, I agree he's a good bloke.
  4. AlienFTM

    AlienFTM LE Book Reviewer

    On Kindle, between review books for Arrse and life in general, I am currently reading Crossfire: The Australian Reconnaissance Unit in Vietnam, presumably the same people.

    A good read.
  5. -

    Not quite.

    Haran's book Crossfire deals with the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) reconnaisance unit. 1 ATF was established in Phuoc Tuy province in 1966.

    The film clip relates to the prior Australian deployment of 1RAR who were filling in as the third battalion of US 173rd Airborne at Bien Hoa in 1965 prior to the establishment of the "do it our own way" Task force in "our" province - Phouc Tuy. Big difference.

    Barry Petersen served with AATTV even earlier (late 63-early 65 from memory) on a CIA project in the Central Highlands. Big, big difference.

    The Australian experience in Vietnam depended on time and place. That '65 Bien Hoa 1RAR film clip BB posted would be almost unrecognisable to a '71 Phouc Tuy 2RAR digger in 1971. (By which time Petersen was 2nd touring as a 2RAR Company Commander, with some distinction I might add)

    Time and place are critical to understanding the Australian experience in Vietnam. Petersen's two tours were as vastly different as it was possible to get.

    Hope that helps.

  6. Thanks for the film clip. Wish we had a quarter the number of choppers, shown at the end of the film, in Borneo!

    Several guys from my regiment left after our Borneo tour and joined the Australian Army a couple received gallantry awards in Vietnam.
  7. Those are US choppers. At that stage the Aussies only had 161 Recce Flight AAAvn with Siouxs, never more than about 8-10 aircraft. Later when 1 ATF was established 9 Sqn RAAF with Hueys was deployed, eventually 16 aircraft at maximum strength. So the Aussies were always dependent on US helicopters to an extent.

    9 Squadron RAAF | Australian War Memorial
  8. One of the main impacts it made on me, and backed up by chats I've had with Barry over the past 10 years or so, was how well he adjusted from one role to the other. He was a young Captain working alone with a Warrant Officer, the two of them leading a private army of over 1000 indigenous tribesmen resistance fighters with bag of cash and his wits, then having to leave under threat of death from "his own side" (the CIA) because he refused to get involved with the Pheonix assassination programme. Then he was a Company Commander fitting in with the more conventional doctrines and tactics in use at the time. Chalk and Cheese, but he was able to adjust.
  9. Thai_exile, what's the most number of tours for an Aussie in Vietnam?
  10. Sorry, I have no idea. I am a Brit, so I am not party to the folklore.
  11. Now that the dust has settled and there has been time for a more generous reappraisal of Australian involvement in Vietnam several well-regarded books on the subject have been published on top of the more historical record volumes published by the government.

    One of the most fascinating books for me is "The Team" which concerns the AATTV in Vietnam which is, I believe, still the most decorated unit in Australian Army history. Capt. Petersen was a member of that team and his exploits are well reviewed. The whole book is worth reading if you can find a copy as it is out of print.
  12. Thanks, BaronBoy. I'll start looking. Maybe Barry has a copy that I can borrow.
  13. Just as a matter of interest, during 2001 /2001 I cleared a gas pipeline route from Long Hai beach in Vung Tau Baria province, to the new power stations site at Phu My, through what had been an Aussie area.

    The pipeline comes ashore across the sand dunes at Long Hai, which were mined and booby trapped, then ran alongside what looked like it had once been a CQBR facility several hundred metres long.

    The area is overlooked by the Dingh mountains, which VC occupied and who must have been able to watch the Aussies training. The foothills to the mountains are lousy with UXO to this day and bomb craters can still be seen in some places between the pipeline and the mountains.

    There must have been some fierce fighting at some stage in that area as we dealt with almost 200 items of ordnance within a pipeline right of way 25 metres wide and 39 km long - which had been cleared twice before by local clearance teams. The finds included a 250lb WP bomb and many 155's some of which had been fired unfuzed and still with the transit plugs in situ - I guess these must have been fired by SVN troops from Vung Tau - along the main route to Saigon.

    Anyway it was a fascinating experience.
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  14. ^. Sounds like it kept you bloody busy there.
  15. still a lot of aussies in Vungtau,on the coast road north ,our vietnamese baker does all his expat shopping deliveries in a recycled aussie army ambulance, using the stretchers as shelves!! he makes great meat and potato pies