I'm a Victorian freelance writer & photographer living in the Macedon Ranges north of Melbourne.
Battle of Long Tan 50th Anniversary
Vietnam Veterans Day, also known as Long Tan Day, is observed annually on August 18th and this year commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
The Shrine of Remembrance will once again be centre-stage for commemoration services for Vietnam Veterans Day and the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
At about 2 AM on 17th August 1966 the Australian base at Nui Dat was fired upon by Viet Cong artillery and mortars. The next day D Company, 6th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment was deployed into the Long Tan rubber plantation in search of the enemy. The 105 Australians and 3 New Zealanders came under very heavy fire from the Viet Cong estimated to number anything from 1500 to 2500.
After a battle which raged for 3 hours D Company was re-enforced by troops from A Company, 6th Battalion brought in by Armoured Personnel Carriers.
The fighting continued until early evening when more reinforcements in the form of the Battalions B Company also arrived.
In the face of the additional fire-power the Viet Cong broke off the engagement and retreated.
The Australians had lost 18 troops killed and 21 wounded. The Viet Cong left 245 dead on the battlefield and carried off an unknown number of wounded. It was later learned that D Company had encountered an enemy Regiment preparing to attack Nui Dat in force.
Vietnam Veterans will be supported by serving units in a march to the Shrine of Remembrance. Photo: Ian Gill / Footloose PhotoBank
Vietnam Veterans Day 2016 will commence with a Gunfire Breakfast at 10 AM. It will be followed by a march to the Shrine of Remembrance and culminate with a wreath laying ceremony on the Shrine Forecourt at 12 midday.
Sadly our Vietnam veterans returned home to a country divided over Australian involvement in the war. Many were ostracised and subjected to demonstrations and vilification.
Vietnam Veterans Day 2016 will be another opportunity to thank all those who served, but especially this year to remember those who lost their lives in the battle of Long Tan, fifty years ago to the day.