The Battle of Long Tan (and Vietnam Veterans Day)

August 18, 2018

On 18 August 1966, also known as Long Tan Day and Vietnam Veterans Day, Australian forces engaged in fierce fighting against the communist enemy in the Battle of Long Tan – our most deadly battle of the entire Vietnam War.

It was a decisive victory, against great odds, and proved a major local setback for the insidious Viet Cong.

The battle occurred in tropical rubber plantations near Long Tan, in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam. It involved our D Company 6 RAR Battalion (and three New Zealand troops) against the Viet Cong and People’s Army of Vietnam – forces of the communist enemy that had come down from the north.

Whilst the Australian troops of D Company had more powerful weaponry (and as it turned out, due to bravery and ingenuity, better resupply), they were hopelessly out-numbered 20 to 1 (around 2,000 versus 100) – see further battle details below.

Essentially, the fierce battle occurred on the afternoon-evening of 18 August during torrential rain with 18 Australians killed and 24 wounded. According to Australian records, our communist enemy suffered 245 deaths before disengaging and retreating.

The next three days involved clean-up (ie rescuing our wounded and recovering the dead) with our victorious operation officially ending on 21 August.

Commemorate Long Tan Day – a decisive Australian victory in the Vietnam War – and Vietnam Veterans Day by:

  • if you are in/near Canberra, visiting the Australian War Memorial there and checking out its splendid Vietnam War display
  • viewing this Australian War Memorial video recollecting the Battle of Long Tan from a participating (then) Lieutenant’s perspective (1986)
  • downloading and watching your favourite Vietnam movie
  • reading about Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War more generally
  • having a meal and/or a drink down at your local Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) Club and paying respects to the men and women who have served our country and are doing so now
  • following the Royal Australian Army, Air Force and/or Navy on Facebook to show your support for our land, air and sea defences (but without painting the nail of your pinky (finger) pink), and/or
  • sharing this Action Plan post on social media with family, friends, veterans, anti-Marxists, fellow proud Aussie patriots and those that still think our borders, national interests, values, freedoms, culture and way of life are worth fighting for.

Further details of the battle that day

Our three platoons (10, 11 and 12) of D Company entered the plantations that day searching for enemy forces that had attacked our base at nearby Nui Dat the day before (17 August). This was a base our forces had strategically set up and secured over the preceding months to impede/cut-off a major transit and resupply route being used by the communists infiltrating from the north.

Later that afternoon, in torrential rain, our platoons came under heavy fire from multiple directions by enemy forces more numerous and better equipped than expected. Thanks to efficient, and some heroic, resupply efforts (by helicopter, armoured carrier and foot), our forces were able to eventually hold their positions and withstand the human waves of assault launched by the communist infantry over the ensuing 3-4 hours of fierce battle until the enemy disengaged and fled.

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