Test Firing Goryunov SG43 after Battle of Long Tan

Checking out a capture VC Machine gun – circa 1966.

 

2/7758 Warrant Officer 2 John William ‘Jack’ Kirby, Company Sergeant Major (CSM) D Company, 6th Battalion The Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) of Windsor, Brisbane, Qld, (left), and Major Harry Smith of Ashgrove, Brisbane, Qld, Officer Commanding D Company 6RAR, test firing the Goryunov SG43 7.62 x 54mmR Soviet made Chinese communist heavy machine gun captured at the battle of Long Tan.

Smith and Kirby distinguished themselves at the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966. Smith was awarded the Military Cross (MC) and Kirby the Distinguished Conduct Medal (DCM). On 6 February 1967, whilst participating in Operation Tamborine, Kirby was fatally wounded by artillery fire from the 161st Battery, Royal New Zealand Artillery (RNZA), when 12 105mm rounds accidentally fell on and around the D Coy Headquarters. This friendly fire incident killed four Australians (including Kirby) and wounded 13 others.

Battle of Long Tan Cross – Australian War Memorial ABC TV

Governor General of Australia Quentin Bryce along with Long Tan veterans Lt Col Harry Smith OC of D Coy, 6RAR, 11 Platoon’s Bob Buick, 12 Platoon’s Dave Sabben, APC Commander Adrian Roberts, 10 Platoon’s Sgt Neil Rankin, Bill Akell, Willie Walker and others, their families and next of kin, officially opened the original Long Tan Cross exhibition at the Australian War Memorial this afternoon in Canberra. The original Long Tan Cross is on loan from Vietnam.

 

‘Iconic’ Long Tan cross arrives in Canberra –

From Evernote:

‘Iconic’ Long Tan cross arrives in Canberra –

Clipped from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-26/long-tan-cross-in-canberra/4156620

Source: ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
When 6 RAR deployed on its second rotation to Vietnam, a commemorative service was conducted and the Long Tan Cross was erected on the Battlefield of Long Tan.  The young soldiers from D COY contacted an estimated 2500 enemy soldiers and fought in monsoonal rain across that afternoon and early evening in 1966 and for the first time the original cross is leaving Vietnam to be displayed at the Australian War Memorial.  The full article in todays ABC News is shown below.

‘Iconic’ Long Tan cross arrives in Canberra

Updated July 26, 2012 14:07:30

An important symbol of the Vietnam War is in Australia for the first time to go on display at the Australian War Memorial.

Eighteen Australian soldiers were killed in a rubber plantation by the Viet Cong during the battle of Long Tan on August 18, 1966.

Three years later, Australian soldiers returning for a second tour of duty erected a cross at the battle site to commemorate the losses.

The large concrete cross is now on loan to the Australian War Memorial (AWM) from the Dong Nai Museum in Vietnam.

It will go on public display on August 17 to mark the 46th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.

Dr Peter Pedersen from the Australian War Memorial says the battle was a defining moment for Australia in the 10-year Vietnam War.

"The cross has come to commemorate not just the sacrifice and loss of Delta Company 6RAR in the battle, but also the involvement and sacrifice of all Australians in the Vietnam conflict – that’s why it’s iconic," he said.

AWM acting director Nola Anderson says it has taken a few years to negotiate the loan.

"It’s a real bit of history that Australians can come and see. That will mean a lot for Vietnam veterans, to actually see this cross that was on the actual battlefield," she said.

"It’s a cross that bears the marks of history as you look at it. It’s not a pristine cross at all. It’s a cross that’s seen history and it’s a cross that symbolises a lot of very significant history to Vietnam veterans."

A replica cross still stands at the Long Tan site.

 

"That cross is a pilgrimage site for Australians and Australian veterans going back to Vietnam," Dr Pedersen said.

"Up until recently, possibly right up until now, the replica cross is the only memorial to foreign troops on Vietnamese soil, apart from one to the French."

The cross will be on display at the Australian War Memorial from August 17 until April 2013.

"It’s a chance for Australians to come to the memorial to see the cross, and acknowledge that sacrifice and remember," Dr Pedersen said.

Topics: unrest-conflict-and-war, history, canberra-2600, act, australia

First posted July 26, 2012 13:42:54

Standing by Your Mates

Specific engagements or events often come to symbolise and connect us to the “character” of a particluar war.  Breaker Morant in the Boer War, the Gallipoli landings in the Dardanelles through to the Somme on the Western Front in WWI.  The Kokoda track and Battle of Coral Sea in WWII, the Battle of Kapyong in Korea, these are the amongst some of the most well known battles that as Aussies we associate the devotion to duty of our servicemen.


In Vietnam the Battle of Long Tan fought in 1966 is undoubtedly a signature event and it is on the anniversary of that battle, fought in a rubber plantation in South Vietnam during monsoonal rain, when the 108 men of D Company 6RAR stood fast against an enemy vastly superior in numbers (estimated to be as high as 2,500), that Australia commemorates Vietnam Veterans day each year on the 18th August.

Aussies resolutely sticking by their mates is witnessed at the Battle of Long Tan not only by the men of D Company but also through the combined arms support of Artillery fire which covered them, Armour support from 1 APC squadron bringing the ready reaction force and war planes delivering close air support during the afternoon.  9 Squadron RAAF, flying well outside the operational restrictions in force at the time flew their helicopters into the battle delivering an ammunition resupply to an almost depleted D Company on the ground.

In recognition of their achievements, US President Lyndon B Johnson awarded the Presidential Unit Citation to the men of D Company 6RAR, an honour received only once before by an Australian unit when 3RAR were awarded the citation for their accomplishments at the Battle of Kapyong in Korea.

18 young Aussie diggers lost their lives killed-in-action at the Battle of Long Tan and a continual flow of casualties was a constant reminder of the high cost of war at that time in our history.  Greater Australian battlefield casualties resulting from any single engagement in Vietnam occurred only one other time.  Fought over a period of three weeks in 1968, 1 Australian Task Force was inserted to block infiltration routes into Saigon during the expected TET offensive.  Whilst successful in achieving their aim, sadly 25 diggers were killed at the Battle of Coral/Balmoral.

On Thursday 18th August please pause to remember Vietnam, and all Veterans who continue to serve our Nation.

“Lest We Forget”

Long Tan Cross loaned to AWM

As you already know, the original Long Tan Cross, erected by 6 RAR on the 3rd anniversary of the Long Tan Battle, is being loaned by the Vietnamese government to the Australian War Memorial.

 

Harry Smith has advised

 

“I have been told the AWM LT Cross display will be on the afternoon of the 17th August. That date has been set so as to facilitate people attending the Canberra VVAA National Memorial service on the morning of the 18th, as in 2006. This year is devoted mainly to AATTV, given 50 years since the first 30 Advisers went to SVN.

 

As earlier, I am seeking to get all the soldiers at the 1969 Cross ceremony there. They have first priority. I am also seeking to get a representative group, total “about” thirty all up, from, say, Aust A Coy (5), B (3), and D (9) Coy 6RAR, APCs (3) and NZ Arty (3), Aust Arty (3), plus USAF (1), US Arty (1), and 9 Sqn RAAF (2). Former OC Admin then A Coy Maj O’Brien rang me and wishes to be included as he was in one of the ammo helicopters. He has just been in hospital for 2 months.

 

Given the recent reduction in funds by the PM, we may not fare well.”

 

I will advise as I learn of further developments however in the meantime, you may wish to alert members, particularly those of the battalion’s second tour who were instrumental in the erection and dedication of what has become an Australian icon of the Vietnam war.

 

Regards,

Graham Smith