Warwick remembers Battle of Long Tan

DAY IN HISTORY: Lest we forget Battle of Long Tan

THE First Australian Task Force claimed a major victory in the Vietnam War after overcoming insurmountable odds in a brutal firefight throughout a rubber plantation outside of Long Tan on August 18, 1966.

The 1 ATF D Company, numbering around 100 men, was sent out to pursue a Viet Cong force that attacked their headquarters the night before at Nui Dat.

However, the Australians, aided by New Zealand and American troops, ran into a much larger enemy force, including Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops, and were subsequently attacked.

Pinned down and overwhelmed, D Company faced utter annihilation but valiantly fought on as the enemy threw wave after wave of attacks.

Conditions were deplorable as the monsoon weather turned the plantation into a mud pit but still the battled raged strong artillery fire supporting the Australians.

At one point, D Company exhausted their ammunition, only to be relieved by a near suicidal mission by the No.9 Squadron RAAF.

However, defeat seemed certain with the far superior enemy numbers gearing for a final assault.

But with darkness falling, the cavalry arrived and evacuated D Company from the plantation.

Returning in strength the next day, the Australians, believing they had suffered a crippling defeat, found they had won a major victory, fending off a force that consisted between 1500 and 2500 troops.

The 1 ATF lost 17 men, with another 24 wounded, in the battle of Long Tan while the enemy left behind 245 dead and over 300 wounded.

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