The French gain full colonisation of Vietnam and divide
Vietnam into three areas. Cochinchina (south), Annam
(central) and Tonkin (north). Underground political
parties emerge. The strongest is the Communist Party,
later to be led by Ho Chi Minh.
Japan invades Indochina and occupies Vietnam. Ho Chi
Minh merges his Communist Party, (renamed the
Communist Workers Party) into a broad coalition
called the Viet Minh. The Viet Minh receives aid
from the United States to carry out guerrilla
warfare against the Japanese Occupation Forces.
With the defeat of the Japanese in August, Ho Chi
Minh assumes power and proclaims the independence
and unity of the Democratic Republic of Vietnam
Chi Minh asserts that the Democratic Republic of
Vietnam is the only legal government; recognised by
the Soviet Union and China. Australia, America and
Great Britain support the government of Emperor Bao
Dao. America provides military and economic aid to
the French in Indochina.
May. After a
55 day siege, the French are finally defeated at the
"Battle of Dien Bien Phu." The defeat signals the
end of French presence in Indochina.
The Geneva Accords partitioning Vietnam but calling
for joint elections on reunification within two
years. During that year, 850,000 people migrated
south, most of them Catholics and small landowners.
Some 80,000 Vietnamese went north almost all of them
guerrilla cadres who had resisted the French.
11th October. The
two Vietnams' come into being.
The United States begins to funnel in aid directly
to the Saigon Government and agrees to train the
South Vietnamese Army
The Prime Minister of Australia Sir Robert Menzies
greets the President of South Vietnam, Ngo Dinh Diem
and reaffirms support for the Republic of South
Hanoi leaders form the National Liberation Front for
South Vietnam, which the Saigon Government dubs the
"Viet Cong" meaning Communist Vietnamese.
United States Government seeks an indication through
diplomatic channels of Australia's willingness to
assist in South Vietnam.
Australia's Minister for Defence Athol Townley,
announces 30 military advisers will go to South
Military Adviser, Sergeant William Francis Hacking,
becomes the first Australian to die in Vietnam
Prime Minister Menzies visits Washington where talks
centre on Vietnam.
The Australian Government introduces conscription
for two years national service.
Warrant Officer Class 2, K. G. Conway, becomes the
first Australian to be Killed In Action during an
attack on his special forces camp at Nam Dong, Thua
Thien Province. He held the medal of 'Knight of the
National Order of Vietnam' and the 'Cross of
Gallantry and Palm'.
The Menzies Government announces that combat troops
will be committed to South Vietnam. The First
Battalion, The Royal Australian- Regiment, (1RAR)
are deployed in June. The Australians' are placed
under American command and serve with the 173rd
Airborne Brigade in Bien Hoa Province.
Harold Holt succeeds Menzies as Prime Minister and
on 8th March announces the commitment of troops will
be stepped up and will include conscripts.
newly formed Fifth and Sixth Battalions' RAR,
comprising roughly half conscripts and half regular
soldiers are to be deployed to Phuoc Tuy province 60
miles south east of Saigon, forming the infantry
element of the First Australian Task Force (1ATF)
which will be under Australian command.
During 'Operation Hardihood', an operation conducted
to secure the area where the task force will be
placed, Private Errol Wayne Noack of 5 RAR becomes
the first national serviceman to be killed in action
in South Vietnam. Over the next 12 months the Fifth
and Sixth Battalions' carry out major operations
against VC and NVA forces.
At 4.08 p.m. D Company of 6 RAR make contact with a
large force of NVA and VC just inside the edge of a
rubber plantation on the northern side of Long Tan.
The 'Battle of Long Tan' had commenced and over the
next three hours the 108 soldiers of D Company with
vital artillery support, hold their ground against
an enemy force comprising the 275 VC Regiment,
reinforced by an extra battalion of NVA soldiers and
the D445 VC Battalion, all up numbering 2,500
soldiers. At battles end the Australians had killed
245 VC and NVA soldiers and wounded several hundred
for the loss of 18 Australians killed and 19
wounded. D Company, Sixth Battalion is awarded the
United States Presidential Citation.
During Operation Remark in the Long Hai Hills, B
Company, 5 RAR sustain heavy casualties through a
huge land mine and booby traps. (Read the 'Long Hai
Fifth and Sixth Battalions are relieved by the
Second and Seventh Battalions RAR. A New Zealand
rifle company, Victor Company of the First-
Battalion, Royal New Zealand Regiment (RNZIR)
arrives at Nui Dat and is attached to 2 RAR. The
Australian Battalion is re-designated 2RAR/NZ/ANZAC
(ANZAC- Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). They
continue to carry out operations against VC and NVA
units inside and outside Phuoc Tuy Province.
The Prime Minister announces an increase of 1700
personnel to Australia's commitment in South
Vietnam, including a third infantry battalion and a
squadron of tanks.
Prime Minister Harold Holt drowns at Portsea.
Third battalion establishes itself at Nui Dat as
1ATF's third battalion.
John Grey Gorton is sworn in as Australia's Prime
1ATF H.Q., 2 RAR and 7 RAR are moved to Bien Hoa
Province to help protect U.S. positions in Long Binh
and the Saigon area against an expected attack. 3
RAR remain at Nui Dat. 1 RAR and 4 RAR arrive to
relieve 2 & 7 RAR.
The Task Force is moved in to defend Fire Support
Base (FSB) Anderson. NLF/PAVN (National Liberation
Front and Peoples Army of Vietnam) forces launch
three attacks on the firebase. Assault troops attack
in waves supported by machine guns and rocket
propelled grenades (RPG's). The Australians with
American support withstand the heavy fighting which
The TET Offensive begins with over 100 major attacks
on cities and major towns throughout South Vietnam,
including several attacks around Saigon.
D445 VC Battalion attack and enter military
compounds in the provincial capital of Baria. A
Company 3 RAR, in nine APC's crash through the VC
cordon to rescue ARVN (Army of the Republic of South
Vietnam) and U.S. forces. D445 Battalion counter
attack, but with the assistance of the two ARVN
battalions and American air strikes they are
repulsed and withdraw from the capital.
National Liberation Front (NLF) and Peoples Army of
Vietnam (PAVN) forces attack 119 cities, towns and
military targets across the Republic of South
Vietnam. FSB Coral occupied by elements of 1 RAR and
3 RAR, supported by the New Zealand 161 Field
Battery and the Australian 102 Field Battery are
established in Binh Duong province north east of
Saigon in an attempt to block enemy withdrawal and
13th May. NVA
carry out a pre-dawn attack supported by rockets and
mortars. 1 RAR's Mortar Platoon is overrun and a gun
position is captured. The Australians repel the PAVN
with American helicopter gunships.
Coral is attacked again by PAVN forces but this time
do not broach the defensive perimeter. The attacks
on Coral cost the lives of nine Australians and 28
Balmoral, five kilometres from Coral is attacked by
a large force of NVA regulars. Assault waves
attacked D Company 3 RAR's defence perimeter. With
Support of the tanks the NVA are repelled.
27th May. FSB
Coral, D Company 1 RAR, with the support of four
tanks conducts a sweep between the two fire support
bases, discovers and smashes an extensive bunker
system killing a large number of NVA and VC.
28th May. A
pre-dawn attack is carried out by the 141st NVA
Regiment against FSB Coral and Balmoral and again
the NVA are repelled. The actions fought at Coral
and Balmoral cost the lives of 26 Australians and a
further 110 wounded.
Task Force returns to Phuoc Tuy Province, with the
familiar routines of clearing and ambush patrols.
RAR commences its first tour and relieves 3 RAR. US
President Lyndon Johnson announces the cessation of
aerial bombing and naval shelling of targets in
Richard Nixon is elected the next president of the
United States and declares to; "End the war and
negotiate an acceptable Peace."
From now on it becomes unquestionably a no-win war!
president Richard Nixon, announces the unilateral
phased withdrawal of American ground forces, with
the first 25,000 men to leave in June. The
"Vietnamisation" of the war commences with
increasing the size of the ARVN forces and massive
injection of military aid. In Australia, anti-war
and anti-conscription protests and rallies become
bigger and more frequent.
The Fifth Battalion, the "Fighting Tigers" returns
to Phuoc Tuy Province.
6th June. NVA
forces enter the village of Binh Ba, six kilometres
north of Nui Dat. The Task Force dispatches two
companies from 5 RAR with tanks to rid the village
of NVA. The "Battle of Binh Ba" begins. As the
battle was going on, VC occupy the village of Hoa
Long south-west of Nui Dat. C Company 5 RAR, with
the aid of a troop of tanks and APCs enter the
village and with the fire-fight lasting all day, C
Company finally defeats the VC.
operations inside and outside of Phuoc Tuy Province
the battalion was involved in the "Vietnamisation"
programme by training Regional Forces (RF), and
Popular Forces (PF).
Leader of the opposition
Labour Party, Gough Whitlam announces if elected all
Australian troops will be withdrawn by 30th June,
RAR moves to South Vietnam.
Following the withdrawal of 25,000 US troops from
South Vietnam and plans by the US Government to
withdraw a further 50,000, the Prime Minister, Sir
John Gorton, advises any further substantial
reductions will include Australian soldiers.
22nd April. Prime
Minister Gorton announces that one of the Task Force 3
battalions, the Eighth Battalion, will not be replaced when
its tour of duty ends.
8th May. Anti-Vietnam
War protesters stage the first moratorium marches in
"Vietnamisation" begins in earnest, with large areas
of the province being handed over to the South
NVA main force units re-enter Phuoc Tuy Province and
are engaged by 1 ATF.
June to September.
A PAVN main force unit, the 33rd Regiment extends
its activities in Phuoc Tuy Province.
RAR engage in a major battle with a battalion from
the 33rd PAVN Regiment in an extensive bunker
system. In the intense fighting, six Australians are
killed in action. This was the last major action
involving 1 ATF.
RAR returns to Australia.
4 RAR is the last unit to leave Nui Dat. To cover
the final withdrawal, 4 RAR work out a plan to
deceive the enemy into thinking the task force was
continuing to operate in strength. Patrols,
helicopter flights and artillery fire were kept up
in an historic echo of the Gallipoli withdrawal.
A handful of Australian advisers remain in Vietnam
and witness the Communist offensive in the spring,
with major attacks on cities and towns throughout
Lieutenant Colonel Kirkland, commander of the
Australian Army Training Team, (AATTV) recommends a
complete withdrawal by November.
The last men were home by Christmas and it was over!
President Nixon announces agreement has been reached
for "peace with honour."
Prime Minister Gough Whitlam announces establishment
of diplomatic relations with Hanoi, but retains
recognition of the South Vietnamese Government.
South Vietnam's President Nguyen Van Thieu declares
the war has begun again.
Anzac Day; Australia closes its embassy in Saigon,
completing the withdrawal from South Vietnam.
Communist forces capture Saigon.
"End of a Tragedy
dreadful chapter of Asian History has ended .....
another unknown chapter is about to begin.
And suddenly there is nothing left to say. The tears
have been shed. A million words have described the
agony and the horror and the bloodshed. It's over,
thank God. Now we can only pray that the people of
South Vietnam will be shown the mercy they have, for
so long been denied."
The Sydney Daily
Telegraph 1-5- 1975
Newspaper Article, Staff reporters (1988), The
Australians Who Died In Vietnam, The
Textbooks. Maclear. M. (1989),
Vietnam, The Ten Thousand Day War, 7th Great
Britain, Methuen London. p/67.