Little Pattie and Col Joye Concert at Nui Dat Vietnam War – 18 Aug 1966

Here is a small amount of film of 17 year old Little Pattie and Col Joye at Nui Dat on the day of the Battle of Long Tan – 18 August 1966.

Sydney entertainers Col Joye and the Joy Boys and singer Little Pattie, toured the Australian Task Force area at Nui Dat, South Vietnam on an armoured personnel carrier before giving shows for troops. They stopped to watch an air strike on the foothills of a nearby mountain. Smoke rises as bombs pound Viet Cong positions. Continue reading →

New book by Long Tan Commander Harry Smith

Lt. Col Harry Smith SG MC (retd), former Officer Commanding of Delta Company, 6RAR during the Battle of Long Tan has released his own book.

Written in partnership with award-winning journalist Toni McRae, “Long Tan A lifelong battle” is also Harry’s life story and portrays his many personal battles, from failed marriages to commando-style killing; from a horrific parachute accident through to his modern-day struggles with bureaucracy for recognition for his soldiers. Harry’s battles are tempered by his love of sailing, where he has at last found some peace.

On the afternoon of 18 August 1966, just five kilometres from the main Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, a group of Viet Cong soldiers walked into the right flank of Delta Company, 6 RAR. Under a blanket of mist and heavy monsoon rain, amid the mud and shattered rubber trees, a dispersed Company of 108 men held its ground with courage and grim determination against a three sided attack from a force of 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops.

When the battle subsided, 17 Australian soldiers lay dead, 24 had been wounded of which one died 9 days later. Battlefield clearance revealed 245 enemy bodies with captured documents later confirming the count at over 500 enemy killed and 800 wounded.

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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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Passing of another Long Tan Veteran – Harry Esler

Harry Esler and Grandkids
Harry Esler and his Grandchildren

Sadly, another of the brave, gallant, Battle of Long Tan veterans has passed away this week.

20 year old Harry Esler was conscripted into the Australian Army in 1965 as part of the very first intake of Australian National Servicemen for the Vietnam War. After National Service training, Private Harry Esler was posted to 10 Platoon, D Company, 6RAR in September 1965 and he would go on and fight as a 21 year old riflemen in the incredible Battle of Long Tan.

Harry was 70 years young, and sadly he passed away on Wednesday morning, 15th April 2015 at his home in Newcastle. Our thoughts are with his family, friends and fellow Vietnam warriors this week.

 

UPDATE – The funeral service for the late Harry Esler will be held at:

9.30am, Wednesday 22nd April, 2015
The Chapel of Pettigrew Funeral Home,
3 Harris Street, Wallsend, NSW

I’ve pulled together some of the interesting moments during the Battle of Long Tan which included Private Harry Esler:

  • Esler says, “They stuck us on a plane and flew us to Vietnam. We landed on a beach and I thought, This is it. This is going to be great. A nice little beach at Vung Tau. Then they whipped us up to Nui Dat into the middle of a rubber plantation. When we got there it was all mud. There was no machinery to help us, we had to do it all by hand.” Continue reading →

Remembering 21 year old Private Paul Large

These are some recollections about a young Australian, Paul Large from Coolah in rural New South Wales who departed for the Vietnam War on his 21st birthday. He was killed in action 10 weeks later at the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966. Paul was the only brother of five sisters.

 

“… The CO of Canungra announced on Friday night that Delta Company was the best company, and 12 Platoon the best platoon, that has been through since World War II. It might not seem like much to you, but, believe me, it is an achievement that any company would be proud to have. We will have a reputation to live up to, but after working with all the blokes out there, we are all sure we can live up to it.”

Private Paul Large, 12 Platoon, Delta Company 6 RAR, writing home to his parents about the training at Canungra, Queensland, on the eve of departing for Vietnam. The letter is dated 3rd April 1966, five months before the Battle of Long Tan.

By Lawrie Lovegrove, ‘Duck’. A mate of Paul Large.

‘Largie’

Paul Large, 20, enjoying a beer at a pub in Brisbane in May 1966.

My earliest contact with Largie at Coolah was after my good mate Mick Donohue left the Catholic school to attend the public school, although it was some years after. Largie at that time ran with a different mob of mates, as all young fellows do from time to time — blokes like “Grimmy” Graham and “Bogan” Elliott are two that spring to mind. It wasn’t until Largie’s Dad and Mum, Vic and Dulce, moved to the house in Hospital Street where he was more closer to our territory that we started to knock around together more. Most kids up to the age of 12-13 seemed to stick to their own “territory”, but after that moved further afield and went bush and became “free-range ferals”. Fences were just something you climbed over, to keep stock in, not necessarily someone’s boundary. We never did any harm while on someone’s land, just chased kangaroos and rabbits with Sticks and rocks. Of course, it’s so different today, but looking back it was probably the reason we grew healthy and quickly.

But going back again to the pre-Hospital Street days when Largie lived in Binnia Street opposite old “By Golly” McCann’s, we used to spend time down by the creek, catching yabbies, swimming, pelting flat spinners on the water, and generally having a good time, always accompanied by Largie’s old black mongrel, Monty. We never got bored, unlike kids today. We always found other things to do, new territory to conquer, and made our own fun. During these times, Largie was always an innovator, suggesting we do this or that, and either leading or urging someone else to do something he wasn’t quite game enough to do himself. I can’t say I have any memory of Largie with a serious face. Continue reading →

Long Tan Vietnam Hero on List of Victoria Cross Possibles

CSM Wo2 Jack Kirby, D Coy 6RAR Long Tan
Company Sergeant Major WO2 Jack Kirby, D Coy 6RAR on the morning after the Battle of Long Tan

The Commander at the helm of the historical and bloody Battle of Long Tan has welcomed the addition of an ‘unsung hero’ of the Vietnam War to the list of candidates for a retrospective Victoria Cross.

Lt Colonel (Retired) Harry Smith said it was “only right and proper” that the Defence Honours Awards Tribunal investigate posthumous VCs for soldiers in the Vietnam and Korean conflicts alongside those for the two World Wars.

“I am cheered that my formal application for Warrant Officer Jack Kirby for his sustained gallantry at Long Tan has been accepted. Throughout the battle ‘Big Jack’ disregarded his own safety while braving enemy fire to distribute ammunition,” commented Smith. You can read more about what Jack Kirby did during The Battle of Long Tan in our previous blog post: Jack Kirby – An Unsung Hero of The Battle of Long Tan.

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Coincidence and Fate on a Battlefield called Long Tan

By Tim McCormack

“What an extraordinary coincidence that two young McCormack’s, unrelated and from different states, ended up dying next to each other on a battlefield in Vietnam.”

Albert McCormack Battle of Long Tan
Albert McCormack at 19, just a few months before being conscripted for National Service.

A knock at the door….the fateful telegram….and then the 20th August 1966 headlines in that evening’s edition of the Examiner Express – ‘Launceston Boy Killed in Viet. Battle’ – thrust the Vietnam War into the face of every Tasmanian. Albert Frederick McCormack was Effie and George McCormack’s youngest and Tasmania’s first son to die in the conflict that hardly seemed real in the distant ‘Apple Isle’…until Long Tan.

Albert’s life began and ended in war. He was born on 20 March 1945 before World War II had ended in either Europe or the Pacific. Twenty-one years later his life was cut short in the hail of bullets that has come to represent the defining Australian battle of the Vietnam War – in a rubber plantation on the outskirts of the hamlet of Long Tan.

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D Company, 6RAR List of Veterans – Battle of Long Tan

From time to time I get emails or requests for more information or a detailed list of names of those who fought in the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966.

There were 105 soldiers from D Company, 6RAR and 3 soldiers from 161 Battery RNZA who fought on the battlefield at Long Tan. The list below totals more than 108 as some members of D Coy were on language courses and attending to other duties at the time of the battle. However, all members of D Coy, 6RAR from August 1966 are entitled to wear the Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) and the U.S. and South Vietnamese Presidential Unit Citations for Gallantry. Continue reading →

Long Wait is Over – 45th Anniversary of Battle of Long Tan

Today, Thursday 18 August 2011 is the 45th Anniversary of the legendary Battle of Long Tan.

The long wait for proper recognition of the gallantry of those who fought and died in this battle is almost over.

45 years ago today 105 Australians and 3 New Zealanders fought and defeated an overwhelming enemy force of 2,500 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong soldiers in a rubber plantation in South Vietnam called Long Tan. This three and a half hour battle was so fierce it resulted in the deaths of 18 Australians and more than 500 enemy.

43 years ago U.S. President Lyndon B Johnson awarded the U.S. Presidential Unit Citation (PUC) for gallantry to D Company, 6RAR for extraordinary heroism. A similar award was also given by the South Vietnamese President. However, no unit citation was given by the Australian or New Zealand governments and individual awards were downgraded or not given at all. Some of these individual awards have only recently been upgraded.

2Lt Dave Sabben (21 yrs) - Former platoon commander 12 Platoon, D Coy, 6RAR

Today, at Gallipoli Army Barracks at Enoggera in Brisbane, the long wait for proper recognition comes to an end. At 3pm today, Australian Governor General Quentin Bryce will formally present the Australian Unit Citation for Gallantry (UCG) to the surviving Long Tan veterans of D Coy, 6RAR. In addition, former 12 Platoon Commander Dave Sabben will also be presented his upgraded individual medal, the Medal for Gallantry (MG) for his acts of leadership and gallantry on the battlefield at Long Tan. Current soldiers of 6RAR who have recently returned from a second tour of Afghanistan will formally troop the colours and be on parade during this historic ceremony. Many surviving Long Tan veterans will be on parade today, many with their family present along with a number of Next of Kin of those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country 45 years ago.

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A Chance to Walk the Long Tan Battlefield with a Long Tan Veteran – Oct 2011

2LT Dave Sabben, Commander 12 Platoon, D Coy 6RAR overlooking dead enemy surrounding their wheeled 7.62 Machinegun the morning after the Battle of Long Tan.

There is still availability on the 7 day Long Tan Trek Tour departing 12 October 2011, and the follow-on 12 day Decisive Battlefields Tour to Vietnam 18 October 2011, both hosted and guided by Long Tan veteran, former commander of 12 Platoon, D Coy 6RAR 2Lt Dave Sabben.

This Tour also makes a donation to the AVVRG (Australian Vietnam Veterans Reconstruction Group) – an Australian non-government organisation(NGO), which is a community of volunteers seeking to make a difference to the lives ofdisadvantaged citizens of Vietnam. AVVRG is registered and licensed to operate and provide humanitarian aid in Vietnam, and is the official custodian of the Long Tan Cross. You can read more about the Kindergarten they built in South Vietnam here.

Continue reading →