If there is an Australian National Remembrance Day, commemorating Australia’s commitment to the Vietnam War, today, 18 August is that day.
On that day in 1966, 105 Australians and 3 New Zealanders entered a rubber plantation at Long Tan, Phuoc Tuy Province.
The Australians of ‘D’ Company, 6th Royal Australian Regiment (RAR) came into contact with a large enemy force, later identified as the Viet Cong 275th Regiment and local ‘D445’ Provincial force, estimated at between 1500 - 2500 soldiers.
Realising the overwhelming force the Australians went into defensive positions, called in artillery support from Australian, NZ and US batteries with the barrage falling at times within 100 metres of the defenders. The battle raged all night and two Huey Iroquois from 9 Squadron RAAF managed some resupplies to the Company.
The VC eventually disengaged after hours of fierce fighting. Daylight revealed the bodies of some 245 enemy with battlefield evidence suggesting several hundred more VC casualties.
The Australian toll was 18 killed and 23 wounded. It was the most costly single battle for Australia during the war.
Lest we forget