Sergeant William Tasman Ward MM.
accompanying the award of the Military Medal
William Ward enlisted in the Australian
Regular Army on 25th September, 1967. In
December, 1967 he was posted to the 5th
Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. He
arrived in South Vietnam in February, 1969
as a Section Commander of the Assault
Pioneer Platoon, Support Company.
In May, 1969, elements of A Company were
pinned down in heavy contact against a well
armed enemy battalion headquarters position
entrenched in bunkers and caves. A rifle
platoon commander and several soldiers had
been wounded in front of the enemy position
and despite repeated attempts, the officer
could not be extracted.
Sergeant Ward was helicoptered into the
contact area with a flame thrower and came
under immediate enemy fire. After several
unsuccessful attempts to get into a fire
position behind the enemy, Sergeant Ward
with a non commissioned officer and a small
element from A Company reached a position
within twenty yards of the enemy position.
All this time, over a period of several
hours, the enemy had been delivering heavy
fire against all efforts to outflank his
position. Because of the terrain, the flame
thrower could not be employed from a prone
position. Sergeant Ward without hesitation
and at the risk of almost certain death,
deliberately fully exposed himself to
engage. the enemy. His movements brought
immediate and heavy enemy fire against
himself. Any fragment penetrating the flame
fuel containers meant death or wounding to
Sergeant Ward and the non commissioned
officer with him. On his first attempt to
use the flame thrower, the weapon misfired.
Sergeant Ward, still in his exposed position
calmly remedied the fault and then delivered
effective flame into the enemy strongpoint,
enabling the rescue of the wounded officer.
This was the first known usage of the flame
thrower under close combat conditions by
Australian troops in this theatre.
This outstanding display of personal courage
by Sergeant Ward has served as an
inspiration to all members of his battalion
throughout 1969. It reflects great credit on
himself and The Royal Australian Regiment.