No Long Tan Movie for 50th Anniversary

DANGER CLOSE MovieUnfortunately I have some sad news for everyone who has been interested in our movie based on The Battle of Long Tan called DANGER CLOSE. We simply have not been able to raise the remaining funds needed to make the movie in time for a release around the 50th Anniversary of The Battle of Long Tan next year – August 2016.

As you might know we have assembled an incredible team starting with our Director Kriv Stenders who directed the box office hit RED DOG and who is currently filming the follow up BLUE DOG. We have a cracking script written by Australia’s most successful writer, Stuart Beattie. Stuart wrote the scripts for COLLATERAL starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx, all of the PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN films, GI JOE, Australia and wrote and directed TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN.

Sam Worthington who narrated my Battle of Long Tan Documentary is producing the film with me through his own Full Clip Productions. My producing partners John Schwarz, Charles Hannah and Executive Producers Meyer Shwarzstein, Peter Wetherell and Michael Schwarz have produced critically acclaimed mini-series and films like DEADLINE GALLIPOLI, THE WORLD’s FASTEST INDIAN, BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA and many others. Our First Assistant Director Chris Webb and Line Producer Paul Ranford have worked on films such as MAD MAX, GETTIN SQUARE, RED DOG, THE WATER DIVINER, DEADLINE GALLIPOLI, THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY, THE MATRIX, MAD MAX FURY ROAD, MAO’s LAST DANCER, BABE and many others. We also have a fantastic, potential ensemble cast lined up, led by Sam Worthington (AVATAR, TERMINATOR SALVATION) in the role of Major Harry Smith.

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Jack Kirby – An Unsung Hero of the Battle of Long Tan

CSM WO2 Jack Kirby, D Coy 6RAR

Arguably the backbone and discipline of any infantry company is the Company Sergeant Major (CSM). These soldiers of Warrant Officer rank are part father figure, part teacher and part principle / headmaster. Almost all of the CSM’s I’ve come across have had very strong and unique personalities made up of steadiness, humour, discipline but ultimately a sense of fairness. In the case of D Company (Coy), 6RAR, the CSM was the 31 year old WO2 (Warrant Officer) Jack Kirby.

While the short and nuggetty Major Harry Smith, Officer Commanding (OC) D Coy and the young soldiers strode out on training runs, Jack Kirby was feeling his age and weight. Kirby was a Malaya veteran and naturally a big build. Unable to keep up on the runs, he nevertheless plugged along, always finishing and earning the respect of the soldiers. At the Battle of Long Tan he was to deepen and broaden their regard with his steadiness, bravery and humour.

Throughout the battle ‘Big Jack’ Kirby disregarded his own safety while braving enemy fire to distribute ammunition. Kirby continuously exposed himself to enemy fire to carry wounded Australian’s over his shoulder back to the Company Aid Post. At a critical point in the battle Kirby rushed out of the D Coy perimeter to silence a wheeled enemy heavy machine gun which was setting up less than 50 metres away from the Australians. He knew in just a few moments this heavy machinegun would be able to strafe and decimate the Australians. Kirby killed the enemy machinegun crew, rushed back and continued to carry on handing out ammunition, moving around the entire company position and giving out words of encouragement to the D Coy soldiers.

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Secret Australian Army Intelligence – Battle of Long Tan

One of the little known and fascinating aspects of the Battle of Long Tan is the intelligence that was being collected, analysed and distributed to the 1st Australian Task Force (1ATF) Commander Brigadier David Jackson and some of his headquarters staff.

During the Vietnam War a secret radio intelligence and tracking unit from the Australian Army – 547 Signal Troop – was stationed at Nui Dat in support of 1 Australian Task Force (1ATF).

As you will see in the diagram below, believe it or not this secret Australian Army radio tracking unit was, for 16 days right up until 4 days before the Battle of Long Tan, tracking the radio transmitter of the Vietnamese 275 Viet Cong Regiment as it moved from its base area through to when it stopped just short of the Long Tan rubber plantation. This is the regiment comprising 2,500 soldiers who would fight against D Company, 6RAR during the Battle of Long Tan only a few days later on 18 August 1966. Intelligence indicating a possible enemy regiment of 2,500 men being in the vicinity of the Long Tan rubber plantation was not shared with Australian combat commanders like Major Harry Smith who led D Coy, 6RAR during the battle. However, it is important to remember that throughout all wars and conflicts intelligence assessments are just that, assessments. It is always easy in hindsight to say certain pieces of intelligence were proven after the fact but in this case most rational people would argue that this type of information should have been shared with combat commanders as it my alter their planned force disposition, tactics, routes and even the levels of ammunition they take out on patrol.

Battle of Long Tan Radio Signals Intelligence
Click on image for larger version

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Facts and Figures About the Battle of Long Tan

**N.B. I’ve created a new BATTLE OF LONG TAN website with a lot more information and resources, please check it out!

As part of the work behind this project, I undertook more than 2 years of extensive research in order to ensure accuracy of our “The Battle of Long Tan” documentary and the upcoming “Long Tan” feature film. To help us inform the media about the facts and figures surrounding the battle we developed a simple .PDF document with all the information.

Click on this link to download The Battle of Long Tan Fact Sheet (.pdf document).

Here is just a sample of some of the Facts & Figures:

Total Australian and enemy casualties as a result of the Battle of Long Tan –

  • 18 killed (17 from D Coy, 6RAR and 1 from 3Trp, 1APC Squadron)
  • 24 wounded
A wounded Corporal Buddy Lea in hospital
A wounded Corporal Buddy Lea from, 10 Platoon, D Company in hospital shortly after the battle. He was shot twice while helping the injured Sgt Paddy Todd back to the D Company aid post.

NVA and VC

  • 245- 800 killed (245 bodies officially counted on the battlefield but many more bodies were found over two weeks after the battle and VC tactics were to remove the dead so no accurate counts could be made.)
  • More than 1,000 wounded (Identified from captured documents)
  • 2 wounded NVA soldiers were captured on the battlefield
  • 1 wounded VC soldier was captured on the battlefield
Total number of forces opposing each other on the battlefield at Long Tan –

Australia & New Zealand
  • 105 soldiers from D Coy, 6RAR, Australian Army
  • 3 man New Zealand Forward Artillery Observation party, 161 Bty RNZA
Total 108 men

NVA and VC
  • 2,000 soldiers from 275 Viet Cong Main Force Regiment (effectively an NVA Regiment as the unit was formed in North Vietnam)
  • 500 soldiers from an unidentified North Vietnamese Army Battalion, probably from 33rd NVA Regiment
  • 550 soldiers from D445 Viet Cong Provincial Mobile Battalion (local force VC)
A total of approximately 3,000 troops faced off against D Coy, 6RAR. But it is estimated that only around 2,500 directly took part in the battle.

Australian, New Zealand and American Supporting Units
  • 103 Battery, Royal Australian Artillery (6 x 105mm L5 pack howitzers)
  • 105 Battery, Royal Australian Artillery (6 x 105mm L5 pack howitzers)
  • 161 Battery, 16 Field Regiment, Royal New Zealand Artillery (6 x 105mm L5 pack howitzers)
  • A Battery, 2/35th Howitzer Battalion, US Army (6 x 155mm M109 Self-propelled howitzers)
  • 9 Squadron, Royal Australian Air Force (8 x Bell UH-1B Iroquois ‘Huey’ choppers)
  • Unidentified  United States Medical Company (Air Ambulance) – 1 x UH-1B Huey participated in the night airlift of wounded Australians from the edge of Long Tan alongside 9 Squadron, RAAF)
  • 3 Troop, 1 Armoured Personnel Squadron, Australian Army (7 x M113 APC’s)
  • B Company, 6RAR (32 soldiers – 48 had returned to Nui Dat for R&R on 17 August – arrived during last 10 minutes of the battle)
  • A Company, 6RAR (108 soldiers – arrived on the APC’s as the battle ended)
  • United States Marine Corps, Marine Attack Squadron 542 (VMA-542) – 2 x F-4 Phantoms provided an airstrike in support of D Coy, 6RAR

Ramping up Development on our Long Tan Movie

We are ramping up development of the ‘Long Tan’ movie with a view to having a completed film released in late 2011 or at the latest for ANZAC day 2012.

This is not to say that we haven’t been doing anything for the past 6 years having produced the critically acclaimed and award winning ‘Battle of Long Tan’ documentary and all the publicity around the 40th Anniversary back in August 2006 and of course much more behind the scenes!

Battle of Long Tan documentary
On set on our award winning Battle of Long Tan documentary.

We now feel the time is right and that we’ve established enough of a basic foundation of awareness across the media and film industry about the story to now move things forward more aggresively.

We are currently pulling together the development, production and marketing plans along with timelines covering the next 17-21 months.

Most of what we do over the next 7 months will be behind the scenes from a financing and development point of view but we will be releasing key information on a regular basis as we move forward.

When I begin to feel impatient I remind myself of the nine year development timeline for the award winning Australian film, ‘Shine’ in which Geoffrey Rush won an Oscar for best actor and the film went on to take more than $100m at the box office and DVD. As they say, “Patience is a virtue”.

Onwards and upwards, Martin Walsh – Producer.

Introducing the Battle of Long Tan team

I wanted to introduce you to the team behind our upcoming movie, Long Tan based upon the true story of The Battle of Long Tan.

First of all there is me, Martin Walsh! I produced the ASTRA award winning and TV Week Logie Award Nominated documentary on the Battle of Long Tan for The History Channel in Australia and New Zealand. I am also a senior marketing executive specialising in digital marketing and social influence marketing. You can see me in action below during this interview which I did for Sky Channel on the 41st anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in 2007:

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Sam Worthington is keen on Long Tan movie role

Sam Worthington, who is currently starring alongside The Dark Knight’s Christian Bale in Terminator Salvation now shooting in the US, has told the producers he is keen to be considered for a major role in the Bruce Beresford directed film about the seminal conflict of the Vietnam War – the Battle of Long Tan. ”

Sam Worthington
Sam Worthington

“I believe Long Tan to be a very important story to tell. It’s a true tale that touched me so much, especially when I had the privilege of meeting the soldiers two years ago,” said Worthington in a message to the Battle of Long Tan producers, Sydney-based Red Dune Films and Beverly Hills, California-based partner Brainstorm Media.

Worthington, who recently completed a starring role in James Cameron’s Avatar, narrated the award-winning documentary on Long Tan produced by Martin Walsh, of Red Dune Films, for the History Channel’s 40th anniversary of the battle in 2006.

Walsh has been developing a feature version of the story since 2004.

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