August 29, 2019
There’s no question about America’s role in the outcome of the Vietnam War. However, it is also important to note Australia’s involvement, most notably in The Battle of Long Tan, where the Australian Task Force (1ATF) secured one of the most critical victories.
The Battle of Long Tan took place on a rubber plantation in South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. On August 18, 1966, the Viet Cong (VC) and People’s Army of Vietnam (PAVN) fought against the Australian Task Force (1 ATF).
It was a victory against all odds. The Australian Task Force (1 ATF) were outnumbered 20-1 by the Viet Cong (VC). The ATF showed incredible courage and perseverance during the battle, despite a shortage of food, water and ammunition.
In the heat of combat, the 108 ATF soldiers found themselves pinned down by an enemy force of about 2,000 soldiers. When the battle began, a monsoonal lightning storm hit, with torrential rain plastering the muddy fields with extremely limited visibility.
The battle lasted 4 intense hours, with an estimated 400,000 rounds of ammunition shot through the murky fog. The hard-fought conflict took place over an area no bigger than two football fields.
Two daring RAAF pilots from 9 squadron flew through the dangerous weather to drop boxes of ammunition and other provisions to replenish ATF supplies. Back at the Australian base at Nui Dat, U.S. air support was requested, and Americans were quick to lend a hand.
The odds seemed to be stacked against the Aussies. But the ATF had a strategy- the fire support of three batteries complimented by a battery of American medium artillery from 2/35th Artillery Battalion. The allied soldiers fired ceaselessly, unloading almost 3,500 rounds.
The battle finally came to an end with 18 Australian casualties and 24 wounded. On the VC side of things, at least 250 were killed and an even greater number were wounded.
American General William Westmoreland commended the Australians, declaring that they had won one of the most spectacular victories in Vietnam.
The Battle of Long Tan deserves to be remembered, for the bravery and strategy of the Australian soldiers undoubtedly shifted the tides of the Vietnam War on a larger scale.
Stay on the lookout for more information on a movie depiction of The Battle of Long Tan, as portrayed in the upcoming film Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan.