Operation Coburg

Operation Coburg (24 January − 1 March 1968) was an Australian and New Zealand military action during the Vietnam War. The operation saw heavy fighting between the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) and North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong during the wider fighting around Long Binh and Bien Hoa. American and South Vietnamese intelligence reports had indicated that an imminent communist offensive during the Tet New Year festival was likely, and in response the Australians and New Zealanders were deployed away from their base in Phuoc Tuy Province to bolster American and South Vietnamese forces defending the Long Binh–Bien Hoa complex north-east of Saigon. 1 ATF deliberately established fire support bases astride the communist lines of communication in the vicinity of the village of Trang Bom, expecting that they would attempt to destroy them. The Australians subsequently clashed with the Viet Cong during early patrols in Area of Operations (AO) Columbus, while later Fire Support Base (FSB) Andersen was repeatedly subjected to major ground assaults.

Although the operation was mounted too late to prevent the attacks on Saigon, the Australians and New Zealanders successfully disrupted the communist lines of communication, limiting their freedom of manoeuvre to attack the Long Binh–Bien Hoa complex, while they were also able to successfully interdict their withdrawal, causing heavy casualties. The operation was also significant as it was the first deployment of 1 ATF outside its Tactical Area of Responsibility (TAOR) in Phuoc Tuy, and in this it set a precedent for later operations outside the province. Meanwhile, the remaining Australian forces in Phuoc Tuy Province also successfully repelled repeated Viet Cong attacks against Ba Ria and Long Dien, as part of the Tet Offensive that had engulfed population centres across South Vietnam.

Background

Military situation

Tet-Offensive-Map
Major South Vietnamese population centres and installations targeted by the Viet Cong during the 1968 Tet Offensive

At 18:00 on 29 January 1968, South Vietnamese forces began a 36-hour ceasefire in celebration of the arrival of the Year of the Monkey. Earlier, the communists had declared a seven-day ceasefire as part of the Tet festival, that was normally a period of truce and for community gatherings and family reunions in Vietnamese society.[1] However, unbeknown to the South Vietnamese and their allies, the North Vietnamese leadership had decided to use the ceasefire to launch a large offensive in the south in order to break the deadlock that had developed in the conflict—despite the reluctance of Democratic Republic of Vietnam President Ho Chi Minh and Defence Minister General Vo Nguyen Giap.[1]

Primarily the brainchild of General Nguyen Chi Thanh, the upcoming offensive would be timed to provoke a popular general uprising among the South Vietnamese people against the government and its American supporters.[2] Yet prudence required that the South Vietnamese maintain 50 per cent of their forces on standby, while American and allied forces under General William Westmoreland—the Free World Military Forces—remained on full alert.[1] However, despite such measures the fighting at Khe Sanh had largely succeeded in diverting American resources and attention away from Saigon and towards the demilitarized zone, affording the communists the element of surprise.[3]

Meanwhile, after a number of Viet Cong units mistakenly began the planned offensive against South Vietnam a day early—attacking several towns in I and II Corps on the morning of 30 January—the President of the Republic of Vietnam, Nguyen Van Thieu, subsequently cancelled the ceasefire.[4] Regardless, the offensive proper began in the early hours of 31 January when 85,000 to 100,000 North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops simultaneously assaulted population centres and allied installations across South Vietnam.[1][2] US and South Vietnamese intelligence reports of the impending attacks had afforded some forewarning, and although failures had caught some allied units unprepared, they did not come as a complete surprise.[1] Indeed, the growing threat had earlier prompted Lieutenant General Frederick Weyand, commander of III Corps Tactical Zone, to request the use of the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF)—now at full strength with three infantry battalions and support arms—outside of their usual base in Phuoc Tuy Province in order to defend the vital bases in the Long Binh–Bien Hoa complex north-east of Saigon.[Note 1][Note 2] The request was subsequently approved, although the Australians only agreed on the basis that one of their battalions—3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR)—would remain at Nui Dat to secure it in case of attack.[7]

Prelude

Opposing forces

On 24 January 1968, 1 ATF headquarters under the command of Brigadier Ron Hughes inserted by air into their new area of operations, between Bien Hoa and Long Khanh provinces east of Bien Hoa, approximately 55 kilometres (34 mi) from Nui Dat.[7] Initially the force would consist of two battalions—2 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) and 7 RAR—with armour from A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, 105-millimetre (4.1 in) M2A2 Howitzers from 106th Battery and 108th Battery, 4th Field Regiment, Royal Australian Artillery, as well as aviation assets in support; while later elements of 3 RAR would also be committed.[8] Coincidentally they would be operating in the same area that 1 RAR had fought in as part of the US 173rd Airborne Brigade in November 1965. On that occasion 1 RAR had encountered heavy resistance in a series of bunker systems protecting key communist supply lines at Gang Toi.[7] This time 1 ATF would establish itself astride the communist's lines of communication in the expectation of provoking an aggressive response from the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong. Within days the Australians would establish a fire support base in order to deny the communists access to suitable sites for launching 122-millimetre (4.8 in) rocket attacks on the important allied bases and installations in the Long Binh–Bien Hoa complex, including the airbase at Bien Hoa and the large Long Binh Logistics Depot.[8]

Australian Iroquois No 9 Sqn RAAF during Operation Coburg SVN 1968 (AWM VN68001101)
Australian Iroquois helicopter from No. 9 Squadron RAAF inserting troops during the battle

As part of the plan to protect these bases a combined US-Australian force would establish a screen to interdict movement along the northern approaches to Long Binh–Bien Hoa. 1 ATF was subsequently allocated the north-eastern sector, into a new area of operations named AO Columbus.[9] Only sparsely inhabited, AO Columbus was situated east of Long Binh between Highway 1 to the south, and the Song Dong Nai river to the north. Rectangular in shape, it measured 26 kilometres (16 mi) from east to west and 17 kilometres (11 mi) from north to south. The west of the AO was mainly covered in jungle, whilst grassland predominated in the east.[9] Meanwhile, Bien Hoa airbase itself would be defended by US 199th Light Infantry Brigade, occupying AO Uniontown to the west. Across the Song Dong Nai the US 101st Airborne Division occupied AO Manchester, while the South Vietnamese 18th Infantry Division defended its TAOR to the north-west.[10]

The concept of operations for Operation Coburg called for two infantry companies from 7 RAR to move by road with the rear echelon units in order to secure FSB Andersen, that had been established 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) north of Trang Bom for easy access to Route 1.[11] The remainder of the battalion was deployed by helicopter along with 2 RAR/NZ, while the 4th Field Regiment, RAA was inserted by road.[12] The Task Force Maintenance Area was subsequently located at Andersen, with 1 ATF re-supplied throughout the operation by elements of 1st Australian Logistic Support Group deployed forward in Long Binh.[13] FSB Harrison was located 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) to the west of Andersen[11] with both bases positioned so that each could support the other in the event of attack.[14] A small number of SASR patrols would be used to provide reconnaissance for the task force.[15]

People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces identified in AO Columbus included North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong units and consisted of a battalion group from the 274th Regiment from the Viet Cong 5th Division, a battalion of 84A Artillery (Rocket) Regiment (NVA) equipped with 122-millimetre (4.8 in) rocket launchers and 82-millimetre (3.2 in) mortars and a small element of the Dong Nai Regiment, as well as other Main Force elements of the 273rd Regiment from the Viet Cong 9th Division. Local force elements included a number of company and platoon strength units in addition to various district and village guerrilla forces. These forces were believed to be lying in wait to attack the nearby American bases as part of the planned offensive.[7][16]

Battle

Patrolling in AO Columbus, 24 January − 16 February 1968

W Coy 2RARNZ during Operation Coburg SVN 1968 (AWM CAM680180VN)
New Zealanders from W Coy, 2 RAR/NZ patrolling during Operation Coburg

The Australians began an intensive patrol program in AO Columbus[8] and were soon fighting up to platoon-sized Viet Cong units in a series of bunker complexes.[7] Between 25–29 January the Australians conducted reconnaissance-in-force operations and a series of minor patrol clashes followed up to the end of January.[8][17] On 26 January B Company, 2 RAR/NZ fought a two-hour action against about 25 Viet Cong entrenched in a bunker system. While on the same day 9 Platoon, C Company, 2 RAR/NZ also assaulted and occupied a camp initially believed to be of similar strength and held it for 19 hours after repeated attacks from a Viet Cong force estimated to be of company strength.[10] Meanwhile, whilst providing flank security the New Zealanders in V Company, 2 RAR/NZ engaged in a series of skirmishes which resulted in 12 Viet Cong dead and many weapons captured with two New Zealanders wounded.[18][19] On 27 January there were heavier contacts still, resulting in 14 Australians wounded and one Viet Cong killed.[10]

Although 1 ATF was well placed to deny the communists the use of its AO, it was increasingly obvious that there was little role for the SAS. Indeed, the heavy presence of Viet Cong prevented them from operating normally, and the first attempt to insert a patrol was called off due to the presence of hostile forces in the vicinity of the landing zone; two Viet Cong were subsequently killed and the patrol was extracted after only 30 minutes.[15] A second attempt lasted only fifteen minutes longer, and they were also extracted following a brief contact. Finally, two patrols were joined together in an effort to provide more protection, and on 29 January they patrolled out from 7 RAR battalion headquarters. After only 30 minutes the Australians encountered a small party of Viet Cong; however, they tried again two hours later but were detected. The following day they tried for a third time and were contacted. Unable to operate effectively, the SAS patrols were withdrawn and returned to Nui Dat on 1 February.[20]

Meanwhile, on 29 January D Company, 7 RAR contacted a battalion concentrating in bunkers during a two and half hour battle[7] that saw nine Australian casualties, including one killed, while seven Viet Cong were also killed.[10] On 31 January Viet Cong overran the village of Trang Bom, just 1,500 metres (1,600 yd) south-west of FSB Andersen. The Australians reclaimed it that afternoon only for the communists to attack again the next day. Once again the Australians recaptured it, this time in savage house-to-house fighting involving D Company, 2 RAR/NZ and A Squadron, 3 CAV.[21] C Company, 3 RAR was subsequently inserted to assist with the protection of FSB Harrison.[10] In response to the attack on Trang Bom, D Company, 7 RAR was dispatched forward to search the area. The lead platoon advanced on a Viet Cong camp—later found to be battalion-size—and was almost destroyed in the ensuing firefight. With half the platoon soon becoming casualties, another platoon was moved forward to aid their extraction. Close support from artillery protected the Australians from further casualties however, and the Viet Cong was eventually forced to withdraw.[22] Six Australians had been killed and 36 wounded in the engagements up to that point, while one New Zealander had also died and one wounded. More than 40 Viet Cong had been killed and nine wounded.[23]

In the early hours of 31 January key installations in the Long Binh–Bien Hoa complex in AO Uniontown had come under heavy attack by the Viet Cong 5th Division, as part of the second prong of the communist attacks against Saigon.[23][24] With the Tet offensive erupting across South Vietnam, Bien Hoa airbase received heavy rocket fire that caused extensive damage to buildings, aircraft, and facilities, while the Long Binh Logistics Depot and the prisoner of war camp were also hit. [23] Over the next three days the US 199th Light Infantry Brigade—later reinforced by the US 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment and an infantry battalion from the US 101st Airborne Division—were forced into heavy combat fending off communist indirect fire and ground attacks. By 1 February the Americans had gained the upper hand however, winkling out the last remaining Viet Cong following a sweep of Bien Hoa that cleared the town.[25]

Australian SAS patrol Operation Coburg SVN 1968 (AWM P01979010)
An Australian SASR patrol

The attacks on Bien Hoa forced a change in tactics for the Australians, and 1 ATF's mission was quickly changed from reconnaissance-in-force to a blocking operation designed to intercept withdrawing communist forces.[23] Between 31 January and 1 February, the Australian battalions moved into company blocking positions and a number of minor contacts occurred, resulting in some Viet Cong casualties and the capture of more weapons and equipment. Once in position, the intensity of these clashes increased as the Australians sprung platoon ambushes.[23] Indeed, during early February, the nature of contacts in AO Columbus began to change, with the Australians increasingly faced by larger company-sized Main Force units located in static defensive positions.[8] During the first week of February the Viet Cong began streaming through the AO, retreating from Saigon in the wake of heavy losses during Tet. Although the Viet Cong managed to avoid becoming decisively engaged, around 90 were killed and five captured, as the Australians maintained their blocking positions.[26]

C Company, 7 RAR had been detached in order to protect the task force headquarters as well as to act as a reserve, and was particularly heavily engaged during this phase. The force had been gradually patrolling, when 6 kilometres (3.7 mi) north of Trang Bom on the morning of 5 February, it contacted a large Viet Cong force consisting of a regimental headquarters and three companies in a well constructed defensive position defended by several heavy machine-guns. The Australians assaulted the position on three occasions over the next three days in vicious fighting supported by airstrikes, artillery and helicopter gunships.[23] During one such attack on 7 February, Lieutenant Mark Moloney—one of the company's platoon commanders—charged forward with six M72 rocket launchers to attack a series of bunkers single handed. Moloney succeeded in destroying several before he fell badly wounded; he survived, and for his actions was recommended for a Victoria Cross. Moloney's award was never made however, although Gunner Michael Williams and Corporal Graham Griffith were both awarded the Military Medal for their actions under fire.[27][Note 3] The battle continued for seven hours, with the Australians eventually routing the defenders in the bunker system in a battle later hailed as "probably one of the most brilliant actions ever fought by an Australian rifle company." However, amidst the confusion of Tet such efforts went largely unnoticed by the western press.[23]

Early the same morning the night harbour occupied by the New Zealanders from V Company, 2 RAR/NZ had been attacked by a Viet Cong force consisting of elements of three companies from the 274th Regiment, shortly after stand-to at 06:15. The incident proved to be the most intense fighting involving New Zealand forces in Vietnam to that point, and over the course of an hour the attack was successfully repelled with the assistance of highly accurate artillery support from the 108th Battery, RAA operating in direct support, as well as from mortar fire. The Viet Cong withdrew following the arrival of a light fire team of gunships, leaving behind 13 dead and a number of other blood trails. Nine New Zealanders were wounded in the engagement, six of whom subsequently required evacuation by helicopter.[29]

Elsewhere, Tet had also engulfed Phuoc Tuy province and although stretched thin the remaining Australian forces there were soon drawn into heavy combat as Viet Cong units simultaneously attacked the main provincial towns. Dunstan was forced to dispatch the Task Force reaction force from Nui Dat, with A Company, 3 RAR under the command of Major Brian Howard moving to reinforce South Vietnamese government forces following an attack by a 600-strong force from D445 VC Battalion on Ba Ria, the provincial capital, before first light on 1 February.[30] Fighting from street to street in a series of firefights at close quarters the Australians successfully repelled the attack, killing 40 Viet Cong.[31] Later, on 3 February, D Company, 3 RAR spoiled a harassing attack on Long Dien, and conducted a sweep of Hoa Long.[32] Overall, the fighting in Phuoc Tuy between 1–9 February resulted in 50 Viet Cong killed, 25 wounded and one prisoner. Five Australians were killed and 24 wounded.[33]

While the Australians in AO Columbus had successfully interrupted the pre-positioning of communist forces on one of the main approaches to Saigon, in hindsight they had been deployed too late to interfere seriously with the offensive.[7] Over the period 9–12 February 1 ATF redeployed, moving south back towards the fire support bases. The remaining companies of 3 RAR subsequently relieved 7 RAR and moved north on 11 February, while 2 RAR/NZ returned to Nui Dat on 13 February. FSB Harrison was abandoned and all command and support elements concentrated at FSB Andersen.[33] Contact was minimal during this period, with just three Viet Cong killed.[34]

Fighting at FSB Andersen, 17–28 February 1968

3RAR soldier FSB Andersen SVN 1968 (AWM THU680128VN)
Defensive position at FSB Andersen, South Vietnam 1968

The Australian defence of FSB Andersen was left to 3 RAR, M113 armoured personnel carriers from 1 Troop A Squadron, 3rd Cavalry Regiment, and a troop of engineers from 1st Field Squadron. Artillery support was provided by 161st Field Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery and the American 155-millimetre (6.1 in) M109 self-propelled medium guns of B Battery, 2/35th Artillery Regiment. A radar detachment from 131st Divisional Locating Battery was also attached as were elements of 161st Reconnaissance Flight.[35] A Company, 3 RAR together with the supporting arms was left to defend the base, while the other three rifle companies continued reconnaissance-in-force operations throughout the AO.[35] Airstrikes and artillery also targeted known Viet Cong base areas, however the number of ground contacts was limited.[36]

Late on the evening of 17/18 February the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army launched an assault on FSB Andersen.[8][37] The first attack was preceded by a heavy rocket and mortar barrage in the early hours of the morning, followed by two waves of infantry each of company size. The attack focused on the south-west of the perimeter manned by 3 RAR's echelon and mortar platoon, as well as an American medium artillery battery. The perimeter wire was subsequently breached, but the attack was repulsed by mortar counter-battery fire, Claymore mines and the heavy weight of machine-gun fire from armoured personnel carriers and the American gunners.[8] The communist barrage had had a devastating effect, falling among the American and New Zealand gun positions, the mortar lines and the battalion echelon, as well as scoring a direct hit on an Australian engineer standing patrol.[38] A second attack shortly after, this time from the north, was repelled by small-arms fire from the forward Australian pits.[8] Total Viet Cong casualties were unknown, although four bodies were found on the wire at dawn, while numerous bloodstains and bandages were found during a later sweep of the perimeter and a suspected mortar base-plate location.[38] Seven Australians and one American were killed, while 22 Australians and three Americans were wounded.[37]

161 Bty RNZA Operation Coburg SVN 1968 (AWMTHU680110VN)
A 105 mm M2A2 Howitzer from 161 Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA), fires during Operation Coburg

As a result of the growing threat to the Australian base, the decision was made to reinforce FSB Andersen, with C Company, 3 RAR flown in by the time of the second attack two nights later.[8] The APCs had also been redeployed to cover the south-east ridge and the southern approach from Trang Bom.[38] The communist assault commenced just before midnight on 19 February, this time focussing on the south-east, and was preceded by heavy machine-gun fire. The attack was stopped short of the wire, regardless the forward pits were hit by rifle grenades, while the Assault Pioneer positions were attacked with satchel charges.[8] The only casualties were four Viet Cong killed.[37]

The final attack on 28 February also began with a mortar attack, but the communist assault wave was broken up by mortar fire, and was forced to withdraw to the east.[8] Three Americans were wounded.[37] A clearing patrol later revealed that the Viet Cong had inserted a mortar team to the edge of the rubber trees by night in a Lambretta and a cart and had then manhandled the tubes into position.[38] 3 RAR's defence of FSB Andersen was the first occasion in the history of their operations in Vietnam that an Australian fire support base had been subjected to a ground assault[38] while during all three attacks the cavalry and artillery in support had played a key role in the defence.[39] Throughout the later part of the operation the patrolling rifle companies had systematically searched the AO and although contact was infrequent the patrols had been effective in denying the subsequent use of the area to launch rocket attacks against the bases in Long Binh and Bien Hoa.[38]

Aftermath

Casualties

Operation Coburg ended on 1 March 1968 with 3 RAR redeploying to Nui Dat by air. The fighting had cost the Australians 17 killed and 61 wounded, while allied casualties included two New Zealanders and one American killed, and eight New Zealanders and six Americans wounded.[40][41][Note 4] Communist casualties included at least 145 killed, 110 wounded and 5 captured, with many more removed from the battlefield.[37][Note 5] Large quantities of weapons and equipment were also captured by the Australians.[37] Overall, Coburg was considered a success by the Australians and Americans. Although they had been inserted too late to prevent the attacks during Tet, 1 ATF had successfully disrupted the communist lines of communication, limiting their freedom of manoeuvre to attack the Long Binh–Bien Hoa complex, while the Australians had also successfully interdicted the Viet Cong withdrawal, causing heavy casualties.[45] The operation was also significant because it had also been the first deployment of 1 ATF outside Phuoc Tuy, and in this it set a precedent for later operations outside the province.[37] The Royal Australian Regiment and the 3rd Cavalry Regiment were subsequently awarded the battle honour "Bien Hoa", one of only five presented to Australian units during the war.[37]

Assessment

At the strategic level the general uprising never eventuated, and in late February the communist offensive collapsed. Suffering more than 45,000 killed—against South Vietnamese and allied losses of only 6,000 men—it had been a tactical disaster for the communists.[46][47] Regardless, the offensive was a turning point in the war. Prior to Tet American commanders and politicians had talked confidently about winning the war, arguing that Westmoreland's strategy of attrition had reached the point where the communists were losing soldiers and equipment faster than they could be replaced.[46] Yet the scale of the fighting, and the surprise and violence with which the offensive was launched, had shocked the public, contradicting such predictions of imminent victory. Confidence in the military and political leadership collapsed, as did public support for the war in America. Ultimately, Tet was a publicity and media triumph for the communists, and Hanoi emerged with a significant political victory.[33][48] In its wake President Lyndon Johnson announced that he would not seek a second term in office.[49]

Subsequent operations

Tet had a similar effect on Australian public opinion, and caused growing uncertainty in the government about the determination of the United States to remain militarily involved in Southeast Asia.[50] Amid the initial shock, Prime Minister John Gorton unexpectedly declared that Australia would not increase its military commitment in Vietnam beyond the current level of 8,000 personnel.[51] The war continued without respite however, and between May and June 1968 1 ATF was again deployed away from Phuoc Tuy in response to intelligence reports of another impending offensive. The Australians subsequently took up positions north-east of Saigon during Operation Toan Thang I to interdict communist lines of communication, fighting a series of significant actions over a 26-day period that became known as the Battle of Coral–Balmoral.[52]

Notes

Footnotes

  1. ^ With the war continuing to escalate following further American troop increases, 1 ATF was heavily reinforced in late-1967. A third infantry battalion arrived in December 1967, while a squadron of Centurion tanks and additional Iroquois helicopters would also be added in early 1968. In all a further 1,200 men were deployed, taking the total Australian troop strength to over 8,000 men, its highest level during the war. This increase effectively doubled the combat power available to the task force commander.[5][6]
  2. ^ Long Binh was located in the 9th district on the north-eastern edge of the capital Saigon, while Bien Hoa was further out in the same direction, outside the city boundary. There was a major air base in Bien Hoa.
  3. ^ Despite being recommended for the VC by his battalion commander, Lieutenant Colonel Eric Smith, Moloney received no award at all due to procedural reasons related to the temporary detachment of his company.[28]
  4. ^ There are significant discrepancies in the Australian casualty figures in the After Action Report and these are repeated in the Official History, neither of which are consistent with the operational reports nor the narrative. An examination of the AWM Roll of Honour as well as the histories of the battalions and units deployed during Operation Coburg supports the higher casualty figures listed here.[42][43][44]
  5. ^ Included in the Viet Cong wounded figures were 52 believed killed in airstrikes and another 24 killed by artillery.

Citations

  1. ^ a b c d e Horner 2008, p. 196.
  2. ^ a b McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 287.
  3. ^ Ham 2007, p. 349.
  4. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 297.
  5. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 249.
  6. ^ Kuring 2004, pp. 331–332.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g Horner 2008, p. 197.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Coulthard-Clark 2001, p. 287.
  9. ^ a b McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 294.
  10. ^ a b c d e McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 296.
  11. ^ a b O'Brien 1995, p. 103.
  12. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 291.
  13. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 447.
  14. ^ Anderson 2002, p. 79.
  15. ^ a b Horner 2002, p. 231.
  16. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 293.
  17. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 295.
  18. ^ "Military Cross (MC) Brian Thomas Albert Worsnop 816452. Major. Royal NZ Infantry Regiment Victor Two Company" (PDF). The Vietnam List – NZ in Vietnam 1964–75. New Zealand Government. Retrieved 5 November 2015.
  19. ^ McGibbon 2010, p. 203.
  20. ^ Horner 2002, pp. 231–232.
  21. ^ Ham 2007, p. 351.
  22. ^ Ham 2007, p. 352.
  23. ^ a b c d e f g McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 299.
  24. ^ Van Thai & Van Quang 2002, p. 221.
  25. ^ Starry 1978, pp. 122–127.
  26. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 301.
  27. ^ Ham 2007, pp. 352–353.
  28. ^ Ham 2007, p. 649.
  29. ^ McGibbon 2010, pp. 204–206.
  30. ^ Horner 2008, pp. 197–198.
  31. ^ Horner 2008, p. 198.
  32. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, pp. 308–309.
  33. ^ a b c McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 310.
  34. ^ AWM 95-1-4-86 Operation Coburg After Action Report, p. 9.
  35. ^ a b Stuart 1968, p. 22.
  36. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, pp. 301–303.
  37. ^ a b c d e f g h McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 303.
  38. ^ a b c d e f Stuart 1968, p. 24.
  39. ^ Anderson 2002, p. 96.
  40. ^ Veterans Advocacy and Support Service Australia Inc. "1968 Vietnam War Timeline". Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  41. ^ AWM 95-1-4-86 Operation Coburg After Action Report, p. 24.
  42. ^ Stuart 1968.
  43. ^ O'Brien 1995.
  44. ^ Newman 1995.
  45. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 304.
  46. ^ a b Ham 2007, p. 345.
  47. ^ McNeill & Ekins 2003, p. 311.
  48. ^ Ham 2007, pp. 358–359.
  49. ^ Ham 2007, p. 362.
  50. ^ Edwards 1997, p. 193.
  51. ^ Edwards 1997, p. 196.
  52. ^ Coulthard-Clark 2001, pp. 288–289.

References

  • "AWM 95-1-4-86 Operation Coburg After Action Report" (pdf). Headquarters 1st Australian Task Force. Retrieved 8 August 2009.
  • Anderson, Paul (2002). When the Scorpion Stings: The History of the 3rd Cavalry Regiment, Vietnam, 1965−1972. Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-743-2.
  • Coulthard-Clark, Chris (2001). The Encyclopaedia of Australia's Battles (Second ed.). Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-634-7.
  • Edwards, Peter (1997). A Nation at War: Australian Politics, Society and Diplomacy during the Vietnam War 1965–1975. The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975. Volume Six. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86448-282-6.
  • Ham, Paul (2007). Vietnam: The Australian War. Sydney, New South Wales: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-7322-8237-0.
  • Horner, David, ed. (2008). Duty First: A History of the Royal Australian Regiment (Second ed.). Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74175-374-5.
  • Horner, David (2002). Phantoms of War: A History of the Australian Special Air Service (Second ed.). Crows Nest, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86508-647-9.
  • Kuring, Ian (2004). Redcoats to Cams: A History of Australian Infantry 1788–2001. Loftus, New South Wales: Australian Military Historical Publications. ISBN 1-876439-99-8.
  • McGibbon, Ian (2010). New Zealand's Vietnam War: A History of Combat, Commitment and Controversy. Auckland: Exisle. ISBN 0908988966.
  • McNeill, Ian; Ekins, Ashley (2003). On the Offensive: The Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1967–1968. The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975. Volume Eight. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-304-3.
  • Newman, K.E. (1995). The ANZAC Battalion: A Record of the Tour of 2nd Battalion, the Royal Australian Regiment and 1st Battalion, the Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (The ANZAC Battalion) in South Vietnam, 1967–68 (Second ed.). Swanbourne, Western Australia: John Burridge Military Antiques. ISBN 0-646-25824-9.
  • O'Brien, Michael (1995). Conscripts and Regulars: With the Seventh Battalion in Vietnam. St Leonards, New South Wales: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 1-86373-967-X.
  • Starry, Donn A. (1978). Mounted Combat in Vietnam. Washington D.C.: Department of the Army. ISBN 0-16-001569-3.
  • Stuart, R.R. (1968). 3RAR in South Vietnam 1967–1968. Brookvale, New South Wales: Printcraft Press. OCLC 500218701.
  • Van Thai, Hoang; Van Quang, Tran, eds. (2002) [1988]. Victory in Vietnam: The Official History of the People's Army of Vietnam, 1954–1975, translated by Merle L. Pribbenow (English ed.). Lawrence, Kansas: University Press of Kansas. ISBN 0-7006-1175-4.

Coordinates: 10°57′0″N 107°1′0″E / 10.95000°N 107.01667°E

1st Australian Task Force

The 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) was a brigade-sized formation which commanded Australian and New Zealand Army units deployed to South Vietnam between 1966 and 1972. 1 ATF was based in a rubber plantation at Nui Dat, 8 kilometres (5.0 mi) north of Ba Ria in Phuoc Tuy Province and consisted of two and later three infantry battalions, with armour, aviation, engineers and artillery support. At the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966, units of 1 ATF defeated a Viet Cong force of at least regimental strength. While the task force was primarily responsible for securing Phuoc Tuy Province, its units, and the Task Force Headquarters itself, occasionally deployed outside its Tactical Area of Responsibility including during Operation Coburg and the Battle of Coral–Balmoral in 1968. Other significant actions included Hat Dich in late-December 1968 and early 1969, Binh Ba in June 1969, and Long Khanh in June 1971. 1 ATF was withdrawn in late 1971.

274th Regiment

The 4th "Đồng Nai" Regiment (also known as the 274 Viet Cong Main Force Regiment or VC 274th Regiment by the US and its allies ) was a regiment of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The regiment was part of the VC Division 5 and operated in the Bien Hoa, Đồng Nai, Phước Tuy and Long Khánh provinces.

The Regiment consisted of a headquarters and three battalions (1st, 2nd and 3rd Battalions). Each battalion of the regiment consisted of a HQ, three rifle companies and a heavy weapons company. The regiment consisted of about 1,500 men, recruited from outside the area of their operation supplemented by North Vietnamese Army regulars. Local Viet Cong elements acted as scouts during operations.

The regimental HQ had eight supporting companies equipped with 82 mm mortars, 12.7 mm heavy machine guns and 75 mm recoilless rifles and communications, transport, medical and engineer companies.

The Regiment or its battalions participated in the battles of Suoi Chau Pha, Hat Dich, Long Khanh and during Operation Coburg against Australian Army forces and the Battle of Phuoc Long against the Army of the Republic of Vietnam.

After the Tet Offensive in 1968, the regiment left Division 5, stayed and operated in Ba Ria-Long Khanh region, under direct command of Military Region 9.

2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

The 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR) is an amphibious light infantry battalion of the Australian Army part of the 1st Division Amphibious Task Group based at Lavarack Barracks in Townsville.

2 RAR was first formed as the Australian 66th Battalion in 1945 and since then it has seen active service during the Korean War, Malayan Emergency and Vietnam War. In addition, the battalion has participated in peacekeeping operations in Japan, Rwanda, East Timor and the Solomon Islands and has contributed rifle companies to the security force protecting the Australian embassy in Baghdad following the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In May 2006, 2 RAR's headquarters, support company and a rifle company deployed to Iraq as part of the third rotation of the Al Muthanna Task Group. In June 2011, the battalion deployed to Urozgan Province, Afghanistan as Mentoring Task Force Three (MTF3). In 2011, 2 RAR was selected to be the Army's Amphibious Ready Element Landing Force embarked on the Navy's new Canberra-class amphibious assault ships. The conversion process was completed in October 2017.

3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

The 3rd Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) is a mechanised infantry battalion of the Australian Army, based in Townsville as part of the 3rd Brigade. 3 RAR was initially formed in 1945 as the 67th Battalion and has seen active service in Japan, Korea, Malaya, South Vietnam, East Timor, the Solomon Islands, Afghanistan and Iraq.

7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment

The 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7 RAR) is a regular infantry battalion of the Australian Army. It was originally raised in 1965 as part of Australia's commitment to the Vietnam War and it eventually served two tours in Vietnam in 1967 and 1971. In 1973, following Australia's withdrawal from the conflict, the battalion was amalgamated with the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment to form the 5th/7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5/7 RAR).

These two units remained linked until 2007, during which time they served together in the mechanised infantry role in East Timor and Iraq. In December 2006 – early January 2007, 5/7 RAR was delinked and 7 RAR was re-raised. In January 2009, 7 RAR achieved operational status, a year ahead of schedule. The battalion deployed to Afghanistan as part of Operation Slipper in 2008–09 and 2012–13. Following its return in 2013 it was converted into a standard infantry battalion. It currently forms part of the 1st Brigade and is based at RAAF Base Edinburgh in Adelaide.

9th Division (Vietnam)

The 9th Infantry Division is a division of the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN), first formed from Viet Cong units in 1964/5 in the Mekong Delta region.

Battle of Coral–Balmoral

The Battle of Coral–Balmoral (12 May – 6 June 1968) was a series of actions fought during the Vietnam War between the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) and the North Vietnamese 7th Division and Viet Cong Main Force units, 40 kilometres (25 mi) north-east of Saigon. Following the defeat of the communist Tet offensive in January and February, in late April two Australian infantry battalions—the 1st and 3rd Battalions of the Royal Australian Regiment (RAR)—with supporting arms, were again deployed from their base at Nui Dat in Phước Tuy Province to positions astride infiltration routes leading to Saigon to interdict renewed movement against the capital. Part of the wider allied Operation Toan Thang I, it was launched in response to intelligence reports of another impending communist offensive, yet the Australians experienced little fighting during this period. Meanwhile, the Viet Cong successfully penetrated the capital on 5 May, plunging Saigon into chaos during the May Offensive in an attempt to influence the upcoming Paris peace talks scheduled to begin on the 13th. During three days of intense fighting the attacks were repelled by US and South Vietnamese forces, and although another attack was launched by the Viet Cong several days later, the offensive was again defeated with significant losses on both sides, causing extensive damage to Saigon and many civilian casualties. By 12 May the fighting was over, and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong were forced to withdraw having suffered heavy casualties. US casualties were also heavy and it proved to be their most costly week of the war.

1 ATF was redeployed on 12 May to obstruct the withdrawal of forces from the capital, with two battalions establishing a fire support base named FSB Coral, just east of Lai Khê in Bình Dương Province, in an area of operations known as AO Surfers. However, poor reconnaissance and inadequate operational planning led to delays and confusion during the fly-in, and the Australians had only partially completed FSB Coral by the evening. The North Vietnamese mounted a number of battalion-sized assaults on the night of 12/13 May, with a heavy bombardment from 03:30 signalling the start. Exploiting the disorganised defence to penetrate the Australian perimeter, the North Vietnamese 141st Regiment temporarily captured a forward gun position during close-quarters fighting, before being repulsed by superior firepower the following morning. Casualties were heavy on both sides but the Australians had won a convincing victory. The following day 1 RAR was deployed to defend FSB Coral, while 3 RAR established FSB Coogee to the west to ambush staging areas and infiltration routes. Coral was again assaulted in the early hours of 16 May, coming under a heavy barrage followed by another regimental-sized attack. Again the base was penetrated but after a six-hour battle the North Vietnamese were forced to withdraw after suffering heavy losses. Expecting further fighting, the Australians were subsequently reinforced with Centurion tanks and additional artillery. On 22 May, FSB Coral was again attacked overnight, coming under a short but accurate mortar bombardment which was broken up by Australian artillery and mortars.

The Australians then moved against the communist base areas east of Route 16, with 3 RAR redeploying to establish FSB Balmoral on 24 May, 4.5 kilometres (2.8 mi) to the north. Now supported by tanks which had arrived from Coral just hours before, the infantry at Balmoral were subjected to a two-battalion attack by the North Vietnese 165th Regiment. Following a rocket and mortar barrage at 03:45 on 26 May, the attack fell primarily on D Company before being repelled with heavy casualties by the combined firepower of the tanks and infantry. The next day the Australians at Coral assaulted a number of bunkers that had been located just outside the base, with a troop of Centurions supported by infantry destroying the bunkers and their occupants without loss to themselves. A second major North Vietnamese attack, again of regimental strength, was made against Balmoral at 02:30 on 28 May but was called off after 30 minutes after being soundly defeated by the supporting fire of the tanks, artillery and mortars. Regardless, the battle continued into June as the Australians patrolled their area of operations. However, with contacts decreasing, 1 ATF returned to Nui Dat on 6 June, being relieved by US and South Vietnamese forces. The battle was the first time the Australians had clashed with regular North Vietnamese Army units operating in regimental strength in conventional warfare. During 26 days of fighting the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong sustained heavy losses and were forced to postpone a further attack on Saigon, while 1 ATF also suffered significant casualties. The largest unit-level action of the war for the Australians, today the battle is considered one of the most famous actions fought by the Australian Army during the Vietnam War.

Battle of Hat Dich

The Battle of Hat Dich (3 December 1968 − 19 February 1969) was a series of military actions fought between an allied contingent, including the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) and the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) and Viet Cong (VC) during the Vietnam War. Under the codename Operation Goodwood, two battalions from 1 ATF deployed away from their base in Phuoc Tuy Province, operating against suspected PAVN/VC bases in the Hat Dich area, in western Phuoc Tuy, south-eastern Bien Hoa and south-western Long Khanh Provinces as part of a large allied sweep known as Operation Toan Thang II. The Australians and New Zealanders conducted sustained patrolling throughout the Hat Dich and extensively ambushed tracks and river systems in the Rung Sat Special Zone, occupying a series of fire support bases as operations expanded. Meanwhile, American, South Vietnamese and Thai forces also operated in direct support of the Australians as part of the division-sized action.

On 6 February 1969, two additional battalions from the Thu Duc VC Regiment were reported to have entered the Hat Dich area and 4 RAR/NZ (ANZAC) was subsequently redeployed with tanks and armoured personnel carriers in support, resulting in the heaviest contacts of the operation. The fighting lasted 78 days and was one of the longest out of province operations mounted by the Australian and New Zealanders during the war. Although there were few major actions, the fighting resulted in heavy PAVN/VC casualties and forced them to abandon their permanent bases in the Hat Dich, as well as disrupting their preparations for an upcoming offensive during Tet. Immediately following the operation the ANZACs were redeployed to block the approaches towards key US and South Vietnamese bases in Bien Hoa, Long Binh and Saigon in anticipation of the 1969 Tet offensive, during Operation Federal.

Battle of Suoi Chau Pha

The Battle of Suoi Chau Pha (6 August 1967) was fought during the Vietnam War between Australian troops and the Viet Cong. The battle took place during Operation Ballarat, an Australian search and destroy operation in the eastern Hat Dich area, north-west of Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province. Following a covert insertion the day before which had caught a number of Viet Cong sentries by surprise, A Company, 7th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (7 RAR) had patrolled forward unaware of the presence of a large Viet Cong main force unit nearby. Clashing with a reinforced company from the Viet Cong 3rd Battalion, 274th Regiment, a classic encounter battle ensued between two forces of roughly equal size. Fought at close quarters in dense jungle amid a heavy monsoon rain, both sides suffered heavy casualties as neither was able to gain an advantage. Finally, after a battle lasting several hours, the Australian artillery proved decisive and the Viet Cong were forced to withdraw, dragging many of their dead from the battlefield after having suffered crippling losses.

January 24

January 24 is the 24th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. 341 days remain until the end of the year (342 in leap years).

Lost communities of Porter County, Indiana

The lost towns are a group of places that are still commonly used by county residents. Each was at one time a post office, a store that served a part of the county, a grain elevator used by farmers to ship their crops, or a development that was or may still remain a unique designation. There may be a residential association or some other legal body devoted to the area. More often, these communities are communities of people who still refer to their homes by these geographic designations.

Military history of Australia

The military history of Australia spans the nation's 230-year modern history, from the early Australian frontier wars between Aboriginals and Europeans to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 21st century. Although this history is short when compared to that of many other nations, Australia has been involved in numerous conflicts and wars, and war and military service have been significant influences on Australian society and national identity, including the Anzac spirit. The relationship between war and Australian society has also been shaped by the enduring themes of Australian strategic culture and its unique security dilemma.

As British offshoots, the Australian colonies participated in Britain's small wars of the 19th century, while later as a federated dominion, and then an independent nation, Australia fought in the First World War and Second World War, as well as in the wars in Korea, Malaya, Borneo and Vietnam during the Cold War. In the Post-Vietnam era Australian forces have been involved in numerous international peacekeeping missions, through the United Nations and other agencies, including in the Sinai, Persian Gulf, Rwanda, Somalia, East Timor and the Solomon Islands, as well as many overseas humanitarian relief operations, while more recently they have also fought as part of multi-lateral forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. In total, nearly 103,000 Australians died during the course of these conflicts.

Military history of Australia during the Vietnam War

Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began with a small commitment of 30 military advisors in 1962, and increased over the following decade to a peak of 7,672 Australian personnel following the Menzies Government's April 1965 decision to upgrade its military commitment to South Vietnam's security. By the time the last Australian personnel were withdrawn in 1972, the Vietnam War had become Australia's longest war, and was only recently surpassed by Australia's long term commitment of combat forces to the War in Afghanistan. It remains Australia's largest force contribution to a foreign conflict since the Second World War and was also the most controversial in Australian society since the conscription controversy during the First World War. Although initially enjoying broad support due to concerns about the spread of communism in Southeast Asia, a vocal anti-war movement developed in response to Australia's programme of conscription.

The withdrawal of Australia's forces from South Vietnam began in November 1970, under the Gorton Government, when 8 RAR completed its tour of duty and was not replaced. A phased withdrawal followed, and by 11 January 1973 Australian involvement in hostilities in Vietnam had ceased. Nevertheless, Australian troops from the Australian Embassy Platoon remained deployed in the country until 1 July 1973, and Australian forces were deployed briefly in April 1975, during the Fall of Saigon, to evacuate personnel from the Australian embassy. Approximately 60,000 Australians served in the war; 521 were killed and more than 3,000 were wounded.

Ronald Lawrence Hughes

Major General Ronald Lawrence Hughes, (17 September 1920 – 2 February 2003) was a senior infantry officer in the Australian Army, seeing service during the Second World War, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. Joining the Australian Army in 1937, after graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1939 he served in New Guinea and Borneo during the Second World War. He commanded the 3rd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (3 RAR) during the static phase of the war in Korea in 1952–1953. Later, he commanded the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF) in South Vietnam in 1967–68, during some of the heaviest fighting of the war experienced by the Australians. He subsequently filled a number of senior command and staff positions before retiring in 1977.

Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment

The Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment is the parent administrative regiment of regular and reserve infantry battalions in the New Zealand Army. It is the only regular infantry regiment of the New Zealand Defence Force.

Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery

The Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery is the artillery regiment of the New Zealand Army. It is effectively a military administrative corps, and can comprise multiple component regiments. This nomenclature stems from its heritage as an offshoot of the British Army's Royal Artillery. In its current form it was founded in 1947 with the amalgamation of the regular and volunteer corps of artillery in New Zealand. In 1958 in recognition of services rendered it was given the title the Royal Regiment of New Zealand Artillery.

Special Air Service Regiment

The Special Air Service Regiment, officially abbreviated SASR though commonly known as the SAS, is a special forces unit of the Australian Army. Formed in 1957, it was modelled on the British SAS sharing the motto, "Who Dares Wins". The regiment is based at Campbell Barracks, in Swanbourne, a suburb of Perth, Western Australia, and is a direct command unit of the Special Operations Command. It has taken part in operations in Borneo, Vietnam, Somalia, East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as many other peacekeeping missions. The SASR also provides a counter-terrorist capability, and has been involved in a number of domestic security operations.

Tet Offensive attacks on Bien Hoa and Long Binh

The attacks on Biên Hòa, Bien Hoa Air Base and Long Binh Post, occurred during the early hours of 31 January 1968 and continued until 2 February 1968. The attacks by Vietcong (VC) and People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces were one of several major attacks around Saigon in the first days of the Tet Offensive. The attacks were repulsed with the VC/PAVN suffering heavy losses, having inflicted minimal damage on the bases.

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