Service History

In these pages we summarise operations for 3RAR Charlie Coy from December 1967 to November 1968.

3RAR Calendar ’67-’68
3RAR Operations ’68

See links below for references to more detailed historical information.

Overview of the War

But firstly, by way of introduction, here is an overview of Australia’s involvement in the Vietnamese conflict (sources listed below):

The Vietnam War was the longest major conflict in which Australians have been involved; it lasted ten years, from 1962 to 1972, and involved some 60,000 personnel. A limited initial commitment of just 30 military advisers grew to include a battalion in 1965 and finally, in 1966, a task force. Each of the three services was involved, but the dominant role was played by the Army.

The United States began sending larger and larger numbers of troops to South Vietnam. Australian soldiers were in South Vietnam as advisers from 1962. In 1965 Prime Minister Menzies, in an attempt to tie the United States to defence of Australia against any threat from Indonesia, announced that Australia would send combat troops. This included conscripted soldiers, National Servicemen, after 1966. These were chosen by a ballot of all 20 year old males, though only a small proportion of all eligible men were called up.

Most Australian Army operational units served in South Vietnam during the war. They served mainly in the Phuoc Tuy province of Vietnam – at the Nui Dat base and at the logistics base at Vung Tau. Many officers and warrant officers served with distinction in South Vietnamese Army units as part of the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). The normal tour of duty was one year with complete unit replacement where appropriate, otherwise the unit remained in situ and only the personnel changed.

From mid 1966 the main task of the Australians was to secure Phuoc Tuy province in which they were based. This involved fighting the North Vietnam Regular Army soldiers based there, as well as the local Viet Cong guerrillas, and denying them food, supplies and safe places. There was also a significant commitment to improving infrastructure in the province, with many Australian soldiers being employed on road and bridge construction, among other projects.

In 1967 the Australian commitment reached its peak at about 8,300 personnel in Vietnam at the one time.

In the early years Australia’s participation in the war was not widely opposed. But as the commitment grew, as conscripts began to make up a large percentage of those being deployed and killed, and as the public increasingly came to believe that the war was being lost, opposition grew until, in the early 1970s, more than 200,000 people marched in the streets of Australia’s major cities in protest.

By this time the United States Government had embarked on a policy of ‘Vietnamisation’ – withdrawing its own troops from the country while passing responsibility for the prosecution and conduct of the war to South Vietnamese forces. In 1970 Australia too was winding down its commitment , and by the end of 1972, the troops had virtually all been withdrawn, with security of the Province being handed over to the South Vietnamese Army.

In 1975, after the withdrawal of United States’ support, the North Vietnamese and the Viet Cong guerrillas took Saigon, and ended the war with the reunification of Vietnam under Communist rule. Millions lost their lives, millions more were made refugees and the disaster that befell the region continues to reverberate today.

About 57,000 Australians served at some time in Vietnam, with more than 500 Australian servicemen dying as a result of the war, while some 3,000 were wounded, otherwise injured or were victims of illness.

For Australia the Vietnam War was the cause of the greatest social and political dissent since the conscription referenda of the First World War.

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs:
The  ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland’s website
The Australian War Memorial:

For more history try these web-links:

But please be cautious, you may find some of the images disturbing.

The  ANZAC Day Commemoration Committee of Queensland’s website  provides some good summary information including:

The Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA) hosts a site dedicated to the Vietnam war:  There are several pages devoted to Coral / Balmoral:

Wikepedia’s coverage of 3RAR in the Battles of Coral – Balmoral in May – June 1968 is very comprehensive:

Lachlan Irvine (Fire Control Centre) gives a personal ‘warts and all’ account of Coral and Balmoral here:

For more detailed information on the Battle of Kapyong, also look at:

The Vietnam Memorial in Canberra was dedicated in 1992.  See the memorial here:



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