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Did any British Forces Serve In Vietnam?

Bodenplatte

War Hero
I refer you to my earlier post here: RP578's post about the Black Watch request

The Black Watch line came from Dean Rusk in a heated off the cuff remark to Times reporter Louis Heren, that's all it ever was. Ellis in her book, attributes the bagpipe band request to Wilson's written recollection of a conversation with Johnson, although I've not seen the original source. Again, likely an off the cuff remark with no bearing on anything in reality.

I suppose that "Heated off the cuff remark" etc was made during the interview where Rusk went on to say, "When the Russians invade Sussex, don't expect us to come and help you." ? LBJ had charged Rusk and his State Department with rustling up international military support for the Vietnam adventure, and personally asked Harold Wilson to provide even a token force, for political and psychological reasons. According to an article in the New York Times a couple of years back, Robert McNamara (US Secretary of Defense throughout much of the Vietnam war) is on record as saying that he would pay a billion dollars for a British brigade.
No doubt the reason for specific mention of the Black Watch by either LBJ or Rusk was that awareness of the regiment in the US was due to the fact that their Pipes, Band and Drums were on tour in the US at the time of JFK's assassination. They had, in fact, given a performance on the White House Lawn just a week before Dealey Plaza. JFK and family definitely attended this performance, and his VP LBJ probably did. Not long after, the pipers marched in the procession at the funeral in Washington.

When considering the possibility of clandestine British involvement in Vietnam, it's worth considering the temper of the times in UK. There was much restrained chatter in some quarters about the possibility of a military coup in UK, due to suspicion of the motives and allegiances of Labour politicians, amongst others. It is now common knowledge that Wilson was being monitored by MI5. Most of the WW2 spooks and special forces founders/leaders were still alive and active, and the SAS was virtually unknown, and in many ways a law unto itself. As late as the early 1990s I heard a senior ex-SAS officer say, in effect, "That embassy siege was the worst thing that ever happened to the regiment, because it brought us into the public eye. We need to form another regiment nobody has ever heard of, and get back to having some fun."

That there was the will in many British quarters, to become involved in Vietnam can't really be denied. I felt personally ashamed at the time that we were not, at least, standing by our ANZAC friends.

That there was a clandestine opportunity is obvious - US SF were more than capable of providing a haven for a few Brits. Even General Harold Johnson, Chief of Staff of the US Army, stated that his own SF were "fugitives from responsibility who found a haven where their activities were not scrutinised too carefully."
 
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Which was completely unnecessary.

Exposing them to strong sunlight would have had the same effect.

I was going to suggest that they have been deep-frying everything ever since.
 

Bodenplatte

War Hero
Interestingly (slight drift), the US commander in Vietnam in 1962/63 was against direct British military assistance. He felt that because American and British military tactics, training, and procedures were very different, any involvement by British forces would cause more problems than it would solve.

That would be General Paul Harkins, the immediate predecessor of the better known William Westmoreland.
Harkins was eventually severely criticised for his overly optimistic assessments and reports on the early progress of the American involvement in Vietnam.

"We are winning,
This I know,
General Harkins tells me so"

went the song.

The US Press Corps rapidly lost confidence in Harkins, and more broadly in the whole corrupt South Vietnamese establishment. At a reception at the US Embassy in Saigon, the New York Times correspondent, the great David Halberstam, responded to a toast to the General by shouting out, "General Harkins should be court martialled and shot !"
Sounds like quite a party!

I suspect that any reluctance on the part of Harkins to calling for British assistance was more due to the sort of anti-British prejudice that he had shown in WW2 when he was George Patton's right hand man. He was a principal staff officer to Patton from 1939 right up until Patton's death, and he accompanied Mrs Patton when she returned to the States after her husband's death.
 
When the the USA asked for British help with Vietnam in the early 60s, The UK government agreed to help with everything except combat troops. The Beverly deployment (I think it was just one aircraft) was a way for the UK to have it both ways -- a transport aircraft providing humanitarian/flood relief aid.

Interestingly (slight drift), the US commander in Vietnam in 1962/63 was against direct British military assistance. He felt that because American and British military tactics, training, and procedures were very different, any involvement by British forces would cause more problems than it would solve.

I wonder if it was because the British were advising it be treated like a counter-insurgency (álà Malaya) while the Americans still saw it as a ‘main force’ action, with a focus on ‘fix and destroy’?
 
I wonder if it was because the British were advising it be treated like a counter-insurgency (álà Malaya) while the Americans still saw it as a ‘main force’ action, with a focus on ‘fix and destroy’?
That happened in a smaller way as I said before with 1 RAR's tour in Vietnam in 1965/66 while attached to 173 Airborne Brigade with the Australians using tactics that they had used for COIN operations in Malaya in the fifties, and the American Paratroopers using tactics based on 'fix and destroy'.
 
The failure to provide air support to 29 Brigade during the Imjin River action probably being the most infamous.
There was no failure to provide air support to 29 Brigade during the battle of the Imjin River. When serving with the Commonwealth Liason Mission in Korea in 1983/84 I attended battlefield presentations at the scene of the battle several times, one of them when the veterans of the Battle attended - 1 Glosters, 1RNF, 1 RUR and supporting elements. There was never any mention of a failure to provide air support. 45 Field Regiment was firing constant fire missions in support of the Gloucesters and other regiments.

Lofty Large in his book 'One mans war in Korea' mentions an American air strike coming in, in their support. He stated that the whole purpose of the Gloucesters holding out as long as possible was to hold the high ground so that the attached FOO's could call in air and artillery strikes on the bunched up Chinese soldiers in the valleys.
 
On the contrary. it had caused significant, occasionally fatal, problems on occasion in Korea.
Can you give examples of that?. 41 Commando RM worked very well with the USMC and the USN, especially leading Task Force Drysdale to link up with the 1st Marine Division in the Battle of the Choisun Resevoir in 1950.
 

QRK2

LE
Can you give examples of that?. 41 Commando RM worked very well with the USMC and the USN, especially leading Task Force Drysdale to link up with the 1st Marine Division in the Battle of the Choisun Resevoir in 1950.

Indeed they did, 41 (Independent) Cdo RM were, of course, equipped and indeed uniformed (less berets) to US standards and are completely non representative of the rest of Commonwealth Land Forces involvement. Some relevant examples of issues have already been given by others, beyond that you can do your own reading.
 
Indeed they did, 41 (Independent) Cdo RM were, of course, equipped and indeed uniformed (less berets) to US standards and are completely non representative of the rest of Commonwealth Land Forces involvement. Some relevant examples of issues have already been given by others, beyond that you can do your own reading.
I have done my reading. Extensive reading and their are few if any examples, which is why you can't produce them.
 
According to an article in the New York Times a couple of years back, Robert McNamara (US Secretary of Defense throughout much of the Vietnam war) is on record as saying that he would pay a billion dollars for a British brigade.
And yet he balked at US$2.50 for Chroming M16 Bores
 

Cutaway

LE
Kit Reviewer
I have done my reading. Extensive reading and their are few if any examples, which is why you can't produce them.
Don't sweat it, he also believes the RLI were enroute to Korea before being re-rôled as SAS and sent to Malaya.
 
Just in time for the Tet offensive then. It must have been a busy time. Were you on Operation Coburg? When did you do your tour with 4 Troop if you don't mind me asking?
The answer to your first two questions is yes.
Below is a short history of 4 Troop.

4 Troop, New Zealand Special Air Service (4 Tp NZSAS)
This 26 all ranks unit served as ‘Number 4 Troop' in the Australian Special Air Service (SAS) Regiment Squadrons deployed into Nui Dat. There were three detachments that were replaced each November:

A number of the troopers and NCO's deployed with the first detachment returned for a second tour of duty with the third detachment. There were also a good number of infantry and artillery personnel that returned for a second tour of duty in Vietnam with 4 Tp NZSAS in the second and third detachments.

Although under operational command of the Australian SAS Squadron Commander when deployed into the field on operations, 4 Tp NZSAS was an independent command and self-sufficient. The OC had the powers of Subordinate Commander under NZ Military Law. The ANZAC Battalion 2IC (a New Zealand Officer) was the ‘Commanding Officer' for disciplinary matters.
 
Dropping napalm on the Argylls being another.
Argylls put out white air recognition panels on hill 282
NKPA put out white air recognition panels on hill 388
British TACP under Radcliff had a defective radio and could not contact the inbound strike, and British FACS failed to inform the inbound strike where the friendly panels actually were
 
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