The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975

The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975 covers Australia's involvement in the Malayan Emergency, Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation and Vietnam War. The series is an official history and was funded by the Australian Government and published by Allen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial. Peter Edwards was appointed the official historian for the series in 1982. The series comprises nine volumes, which were published between 1992 and 2012. A single-volume summary of the series, Australia and the Vietnam War, was published in 2014.

The coverage of the effects of Agent Orange in volume 3 of the series has been criticised by some Australian veterans of the Vietnam War, who argue that it presented veterans who sought compensation as being dishonest. In 2015 the Australian War Memorial commissioned a book to consider the long-term effects of Agent Orange on veterans' health, as well other medical effects of the war.[1]

The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975
Fighting to the Finish cover - fair use claimed
Cover of Volume 9, Fighting to the Finish: The Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1968–1975
AuthorPeter Edwards (official historian) and nine other authors
GenreOfficial history
Military history
PublisherAllen & Unwin in association with the Australian War Memorial
Publication date
Preceded byAustralia in the Korean War 1950–53 
Followed byOfficial History of Australian Peacekeeping, Humanitarian and Post-Cold War Operations 

Publishing history

The nine volumes in the series are:[2]

  • Volume 1: Crises & Commitments: The Politics and Diplomacy of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1965 (1992) – Peter Edwards with Gregory Pemberton
  • Volume 2: To Long Tan: The Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1950–1966 (1993) – Ian McNeill
  • Volume 3: Medicine at War: Medical aspects of Australia's involvement in Southeast Asia 1950–1972 (1994) – Brendan G. O'Keefe and F.B. Smith
  • Volume 4: The RAAF in Vietnam: Australian Air Involvement in the Vietnam War 1962–1975 (1995) – Chris Coulthard-Clark
  • Volume 5: Emergency & Confrontation: Australian Military Operations in Malaya and Borneo 1950–1966 (1996) – Jeffrey Grey and Peter Dennis
  • Volume 6: A Nation at War: Australian Politics, Society and Diplomacy during the Vietnam War 1965–1975 (1997) – Peter Edwards
  • Volume 7: Up Top: The Royal Australian Navy in Southeast Asian Conflicts, 1955–1972 (1998) – Jeffrey Grey
  • Volume 8: On the Offensive: The Australian Army in the Vietnam War 1967–1968 (2003) – Ian McNeill and Ashley Ekins
  • Volume 9: Fighting to the Finish: The Australian Army and the Vietnam War 1968–1975 (2012) – Ashley Ekins with Ian McNeill

See also


  1. ^ Pemberton, Gregory (13 July 2015). "Vietnam War's medical history to be rewritten to correct record on Agent Orange". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 12 December 2015.
  2. ^ "Official Histories – Southeast Asian Conflicts". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 29 September 2012.
1st Australian Civil Affairs Unit

The 1st Australian Civil Affairs Unit (1 ACAU) was raised in 1967 to coordinate the Australian Army's contribution to the US and allied Pacification Program during the Vietnam War, operating in Phuoc Tuy Province. Although other Australian units also conducted civic action projects in South Vietnam at various times, 1 ACAU had the primary responsibility for them once it was deployed. It was withdrawn from South Vietnam in November 1971.

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.

275th Regiment

The 275th Regiment, also known as 275 Viet Cong Main Force Regiment, was a regiment of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The regiment was formed in May 1965.

33rd Regiment (Vietnam People's Army)

The VPA 33rd Regiment was a Vietnam People's Army regiment that served during the Vietnam War.

5th Infantry Division (Vietnam)

The VC 5th Infantry Division was a division of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War and later became part of the People's Army of Vietnam. The division consisted of the 274 Regiment and 275 Regiment plus supporting units. Formed in August 1965 the VC 5th Division's headquarters was located in Northeast Phuoc Tuy in the May Tao Mountains, the 274th Regiment's headquarters was located in the Hat Dich area and the 275th Regiment's headquarters was also located in the May Tao Mountains. The division operated in the Bien Hoa, Dong Nai, Phuoc Tuy and Long Khanh provinces. North Vietnamese regulars also reinforced the division during operations.As part of the campaign against Saigon it was tasked with isolating the eastern provinces by interdicting the main roads and highways, including national routes 1 and 15 and provincial routes 2 and 23. It this role it proved a major challenge to the ARVN, with the 275th Regiment successfully ambushing a South Vietnamese battalion near Binh Gia on 11 November 1965. The division or elements participated in the Battle of Long Tan against Australian Army forces, as well as a number of other actions. Other notable battles included the battles of Bien Hoa, Long Binh, Snuol, and Loc Ninh. Later in the war the division also operated in Cambodia.

Presently, the 5th Division is under the 7th Military Region.

Australia in the Korean War 1950–53

Australia in the Korean War 1950–53 is the official history of Australia's involvement in the Korean War. The series consists of two volumes covering Australia's strategy and diplomacy in the war and the Australian military's combat operations respectively. Both volumes were written by Robert O'Neill, and they were published in 1981 and 1985.

Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV) was a specialist unit of military advisors of the Australian Army that operated during the Vietnam War. Raised in 1962, the unit was formed solely for service as part of Australia's contribution to the war, providing training and assistance to South Vietnamese forces. Initially numbering only approximately 30 men, the size of the unit grew several times over the following years as the Australian commitment to South Vietnam gradually grew, with the unit's strength peaking at 227 in November 1970. Members of the team worked individually or in small groups, operating throughout the country from the far south to the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the north. Later they were concentrated in Phuoc Tuy province as Australian forces prepared to withdraw from Vietnam. It is believed to be the most decorated Australian unit to serve in Vietnam; its members received over 100 decorations, including four Victoria Crosses, during its existence. The unit was withdrawn from Vietnam on 18 December 1972 and was disbanded in Australia on 16 February 1973. A total of 1,009 men served with the unit over a period of ten years, consisting of 998 Australians and 11 New Zealanders.

Australian Embassy Guard Platoon, Saigon

The Australian Embassy Guard Platoon, Saigon was an Australian Army unit assigned to protect the Australian embassy in South Vietnam. The platoon was established in March 1972 as the Guard and Escort Platoon, and was redesignated in December that year. The Australian Embassy Guard Platoon, Saigon was disbanded at the end of June 1973. It was the final Australian Army unit to serve in South Vietnam.

Battle of Binh Ba

The Battle of Binh Ba (6–8 June 1969), also known as Operation Hammer, was a battle during the Vietnam War. The action occurred when Australian Army troops from the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR) fought a combined communist force of North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong, including a company from the 33 NVA Regiment and elements of the Viet Cong D440 Provincial Mobile Battalion, in the village of Binh Ba, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) north of Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy Province. The battle was unusual in Australian combat experience in Vietnam as it involved fierce close-quarter house-to-house fighting, although the majority of enemy killed was through heavy artillery and air-bombardment. In response to communist attempts to capture Binh Ba the Australians assaulted the village with infantry, armour and helicopter gunships, routing the Viet Cong and largely destroying the village itself. Such battles were not the norm in Phuoc Tuy, however, and the heavy losses suffered by the communists forced them to temporarily leave the province. Although the Australians did encounter communist Main Force units in the years to come, the battle marked the end of such large-scale clashes, and ranks as one of the major Australian victories of the war.

Bruce Alexander McDonald

Major General Bruce Alexander McDonald, (23 March 1925 – 23 March 1993) was a senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing service in the Second World War, the Indonesia-Malaysia Confrontation and the Vietnam War.

Douglas Vincent (Australian Army officer)

Major General Douglas (Tim) Vincent, (10 March 1916 – 8 October 1995) was a senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing active service during the Second World War and the Vietnam War. Graduating from the Royal Military College, Duntroon in 1938 into the Signals Corps, he volunteered for service in the Second Australian Imperial Force soon after the outbreak of the Second World War and served in Syria, Western Europe and Borneo. Later, he served as Commander Australian Force Vietnam (COMAFV) during the Vietnam War. After a number of senior staff positions he retired in 1973. He was actively involved in defence issues in his retirement and served as a chairperson of the Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) prior to his death.

Jeffrey Grey

Jeffrey Guy Grey (19 March 1959 – 26 July 2016) was an Australian military historian. He wrote two volumes of The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975, and several other high-profile works on Australia's military history. He was the first non-American to become the president of the Society for Military History, but is perhaps best known as the author of A Military History of Australia (first edition 1990).

Military history of Australia during the Malayan Emergency

The Malayan Emergency (Anti-British National Liberation War) was a guerrilla war fought between Commonwealth armed forces and the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA), the military arm of the Malayan Communist Party, from 1948 to 1960 in Malaya. Australia's commitment to the emergency lasted 13 years, between 1950 and 1963, with army, air force and naval units serving. The Malayan Emergency was the longest continuous military commitment in Australia's history. Thirty-nine Australians were killed and 27 wounded.

The Australian Government sent Royal Australian Air Force Dakota transport aircraft of No. 38 Squadron and Lincoln bombers of No. 1 Squadron to Malaya in June 1950. The 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2 RAR), arrived in 1955. The battalion was later replaced by 3 RAR, which in turn was replaced by 1 RAR. In 1955, the RAAF extended Butterworth air base, from which Canberra bombers of No. 2 Squadron (replacing No. 1 Squadron) and CAC Sabres of No. 78 Wing carried out ground attack missions against the guerillas.

The Royal Australian Navy destroyers Warramunga and Arunta joined the force in June 1955. Between 1956 and 1960, the aircraft carriers Melbourne and Sydney and destroyers Anzac, Quadrant, Queenborough, Quiberon, Quickmatch, Tobruk, Vampire, Vendetta and Voyager were attached to the Commonwealth Strategic Reserve forces for three to nine months at a time. Several of the destroyers fired on Communist positions in Johor State.

In 1973 an Australian Army infantry company, known as Rifle Company Butterworth, was deployed to RAAF Base Butterworth to provide a protective and quick-reaction force for the base during a resurgence of the Communist insurgency in Malaysia. While the base was handed to the Royal Malaysian Air Force in 1988 and the insurgency officially ended in 1989, Rifle Company Butterworth was maintained as a means of providing Australian soldiers with training in jungle warfare and cross-training with the Malaysian Army.

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.

No. 79 Squadron RAAF

No. 79 Squadron is a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) flight training unit that has been formed on four occasions since 1943. The squadron was established in May 1943 as a fighter unit equipped with Supermarine Spitfires, and subsequently saw combat in the South West Pacific theatre of World War II. Between June 1943 and the end of the war in August 1945 it flew air defence patrols to protect Allied bases and ships, escorted Australian and United States aircraft, and attacked Japanese positions. The squadron was disbanded in November 1945, but was re-formed between 1962 and 1968 to operate CAC Sabres from Ubon Air Base in Thailand. In this role it contributed to the defence of Thailand against a feared attack from its neighbouring states and exercised with United States Air Force units. No. 79 Squadron was active again at RAAF Base Butterworth in Malaysia between 1986 and 1988 where it operated Mirage III fighters and a single DHC-4 Caribou transport during the period in which the RAAF's fighter squadrons were transitioning to new aircraft.

The squadron was re-formed in its present incarnation during 1998 and is currently stationed at RAAF Base Pearce, where it has operated Hawk 127 jet training aircraft since 2000. The unit's main role is to provide introductory jet aircraft training to RAAF pilots as well as refresher training on the Hawk for experienced pilots. No. 79 Squadron also supports Australian Army and Royal Australian Navy training exercises in Western Australia and the Northern Territory.

Operation Hardihood

Operation Hardihood was a security operation conducted from 16 May to 8 June 1966 during the Vietnam War by the U.S. 503rd Infantry Regiment, the 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (1RAR) and the 5th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (5 RAR) in Phước Tuy Province, South Vietnam to secure the area around Nui Dat for the establishment of a base area for the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF).

Order of battle for the Battle of Long Tan

This is an order of battle listing the Australian and Viet Cong forces involved in the Battle of Long Tan which occurred in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam on 18 August 1966.

Peter Edwards (historian)

Peter Geoffrey Edwards, AM (born 29 August 1945) is an Australian diplomatic and military historian. Educated at the University of Western Australia and the University of Oxford, Edwards worked for the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Australian National University and the University of Adelaide before being appointed Official Historian and general editor of The Official History of Australia's Involvement in Southeast Asian Conflicts 1948–1975 in 1982. The nine-volume history was commissioned to cover Australia's involvement in the Malayan Emergency, Indonesia–Malaysia confrontation and Vietnam War. Edwards spent fourteen years at the Australian War Memorial (AWM) writing two of the volumes, while also researching, editing, and dealing with budget limitations and problems with staff turnover. Since leaving the AWM in 1996, Edwards has worked as a senior academic, scholar and historical consultant. In 2006 his book Arthur Tange: Last of the Mandarins won the Queensland Premier's History Book Award and the Western Australian Premier's Book Award for Non-Fiction.

VC D440 Battalion

The VC D440 Battalion, also known as the Viet Cong D440 Provincial Mobile Battalion, was a Local Force battalion of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. The battalion operated in the Phước Tuy and Long Khánh provinces usually along Route 2. It was formed in 1968 under the command of Comrade Hai Tinh and consisted mainly of North Vietnamese Army personnel.The battalion or elements of it participated in the battle of Binh Ba against Australian Army forces, as well as a number of other actions. The unit generally performed poorly against Australian forces however, and it was eventually disbanded in August 1970 with most of its personnel transferred to D445 Battalion.


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