Australians in Vietnam

#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:

[video=youtube;6E2-OOQo13c]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E2-OOQo13c&feature=related[/video]
 
#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

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#4
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
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.
-

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.

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

Petersen's two tours were as vastly different as it was possible to get.

Hope that helps.

Mick
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.
 
#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.
 
#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
 
#16
Thai_exile, what's the most number of tours for an Aussie in Vietnam?

Phil, it depends what you classify as a tour. For most regular army a tour was 12 months. For many nashos it was shorter due to their two year commitment and training requirements. My dear old dad had done two tours pre 1966 one of 12 months one of 5 months. It all depended on the circumstances and the need.

The records for long service are held by the really hard core AATTV war dogs like Ray Simpson VC DCM and Ossie Ostara DCM who served almost continuously except for time out recovering from wounds.

Simpson served August 1962- July 63
July 64 - October 64 (wounded)
May 67 to October 1970 continuously.

Ostara an ex WW2 Australian Commando served with AATTV
November 64- June 66
July 67 -February 69
April 69 - January 70
February 70- July 70

That is a serious amount of time on active service. They clearly loved it.

Ossie Osborne MM (A pom) did
August 64 - July 65
October 66 -February 68
June 69 - July 71

SAS fellows like Joe Flannery MBE (pom) and Danny Neville DCM had multiple 2 year tours in Vietnam (with Borneo in between) either with AATTV or the with task force.

CMF men like Len Opie DCM spent most of the 60's at war and at the sharp end.

There are probably more I have forgotten.

As far as Task force only service is concerned I think the record is held by Jim Riddle who served continously from December 1968 to March 1972. First with 4RAR thence 9RAR, to 8RAR and back to 4RAR with stints at the Australian Reinforcement Unit in between. Riddle - the eternal corporal - was also a pom who had previous service with the British Army in Borneo.

Riddle, who I am led to believe enjoyed a cold ale on a hot day, has retired to the UK and is probably propping a bar in some British Legion somewhere and claiming that he was the longest serving digger in Vietnam and no bastard believes him.


All of them were children of the depression and would most likely shrug it all off. They were very, very hard men and sometimes the old and bold have a point.

Best regards

Mick
 

sirbhp

LE
Book Reviewer
#18
go to you tube and have a shufti at the battle of long tan. they earned their pay that day all right .
 
#19
Ostara an ex WW2 Australian Commando served with AATTV
November 64- June 66
July 67 -February 69
April 69 - January 70
February 70- July 70

That is a serious amount of time on active service. They clearly loved it.


Mick
His DCM citation:

adviser

Army Number: 21406
Rank: Warrant Officer Class One
Christian Name: Ernest Barrington
Surname: OSTARA
Award: DCM

Warrant Officer Ostara served with the Australian Imperial Forces during World War Two and saw active service with the 2/6th Australian Commando Squadron from 1943 to 1946. He enlisted in the Australian Regular Army in September 1947. Before being allotted for duty with the Australian Army Training Team in South Vietnam he served with the First Battalion Royal Australian Regiment in Korea in 1953 as well as in a number of instruction posts including appointments with cadets, commandos and the Infantry Centre. Warrant Officer Ostara commenced his tour of duty with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam on 10 November 1963, his first assignment being that of Adviser to the Vietnamese National Training Centre at Dong Da.

At 1500 hours on 7 January 1965, the Reconnaissance Company, with Warrant Officer Ostara as Senior Adviser, was in refresher training at Dong Da Training Centre. An operation was in progress in the Northern end of the training area where a "Tiger Company" (a heliborne reaction force) was clearing a Viet Cong company from a nearby village. The Viet Cong broke clear and moved South across undulating scrubby country in plain view of a group consisting of Australians and Vietnamese troops. Under the guidance and with the assistance of the Australian members of the Training Team, the Vietnamese troops blocked the Viet Cong move with machine gun fire inflicting seven casualties on the Viet Cong and forcing them to take cover and move into a narrow step sided water course. At this stage the group of 10 Vietnamese troops who were being instructed by Warrant Officer Ostara, under his direction quickly took up an intercepting position further up the water course. The advancing Viet Cong on meeting this group threw grenades which caused panic among the Vietnamese troops under training. Quickly assessing the seriousness of the situation and to protect the troops under his care Warrant Officer Ostara single handed attacked the Viet Cong force. With his personal carbine he shot down the leading elements of two who proved to be a senior Viet Cong Commander and his orderly. Rounding a bend to follow up, he found no remaining enemy. His actions made a tremendous impact on the force to which he was attached, which on succeeding days undertook further successful operations. Warrant Officer Ostara's action was a splendid individual effort and is in the highest tradition of the Australian Regular Army and reflects great credit upon himself.
And a photo:

 
#20
Ossie Osborne MM (A pom) did
August 64 - July 65
October 66 -February 68
June 69 - July 71
Osborne's MM citation:

http://vietnamveteransillawarra.org...t2009/Incoming (30) July and August 2009.pdf


Army Number: 52506
Substantive Rank: Warrant Officer Class Two
Christian Name: Leslie Daniel
Surname: OSBORNE
Honour or Award: MM
Warrant Officer Osborne served in the Australian Imperial Force from 1940 to 1945 with the 2/11
th
Infantry Battalion. He subsequently served in Korea with the 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian
Regiment. Warrant Officer Osborne was posted to the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam in
August 1964.
From March 1965 to July 1965 Warrant Officer Osborne was a member of the advisory team to the 1st
Battalion, 3rd Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division, Army of the Republic of Vietnam. During this
period he took part in numerous operations in which his performance was consistently outstanding.
The advisory team was composed of Warrant Officer Osborne, Captain Chalmers (US Army), the team
leader, and Sergeant First Class Allen (US Army). On 29 May 1965 the 1st Battalion moved on a
reinforcement operation from Nam Dong to Khe Tre in Thua 'Mien Province. At about 1350 hours the
Battalion Headquarters Company, with which Warrant Officer Osborne was moving, came under heavy
mortar, automatic weapons and small arms fire from a superior Viet Cong force which had been waiting
in ambush positions. Quickly assessing the position Warrant Officer Osborne assisted the Battalion
Commander and Captain Chalmers in locating the opposing force, including automatic weapons and
81mm mortar positions. At considerable personal risk he then gave covering fire to Captain Chalmers
whilst the latter called by radio for air support.
Seeing that the Vietnamese soldiers were becoming demoralised and disorganised in the face of the heavy
Viet Cong attack and were starting to fall back, Warrant Officer Osborne repeatedly exposed himself to
heavy enemy fire in his efforts to encourage the soldiers to hold their ground. At this point the
Battalion Commander was killed, Captain Chalmers was wounded and the Vietnamese soldiers withdrew
in disorder leaving the advisory team on their own. Whilst Sergeant Allen called for a helicopter to
evacuate Captain Chalmers, Warrant Officer Osborne dressed the latter's wound and by his own fire, held
off the enemy who continued to press their attack. Then, with Warrant Officer Osborne and Sergeant
Allen alternatively giving covering fire and assisting Captain Chalmers, the three men withdrew before
the pursuing Viet Cong to a point 400 yards distant where a helicopter was able to land.
 

Similar threads

Top