“A gripping story of lethal combat and a fight for justice.” – Major General John Cantwell AO, DSC (Ret’d)
“A must read for every Australian.”
“A truly remarkable story.”
On the afternoon of 18 August 1966, just five kilometres from the main Australian Task Force base at Nui Dat, a group of Viet Cong soldiers walked into the right flank of Delta Company, 6 RAR. Under a blanket of mist and heavy monsoon rain, amid the mud and shattered rubber trees, a dispersed Company of 108 men held its ground with courage and grim determination against a three-sided attack from a force of 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army troops.
When the battle subsided, 18 Australian soldiers lay dead and 24 had been wounded. Battlefield clearance revealed 245 enemy bodies with captured documents later confirming the count at over 500 enemy killed and 800 wounded.
These men were led by a gruff and gusty perfectionist, Major Harry Smith. Now, some 53 years after the battle, Harry tells his story. The Battle of Long Tan is more than just an account of a historic battle. Harry Smith takes his readers on an extraordinary journey — one that ultimately reveals a remarkable cover-up at the highest military and political echelons.
The Battle of Long Tan is also Harry’s life story and portrays his many personal battles, from failed marriages to commando-style killing; from a horrific parachute accident through to his modern-day struggles with bureaucracy for recognition for his soldiers. Harry’s battles are tempered by his love of sailing, where he has at last found some peace.
The Battle of Long Tan portrays the wrenching, visceral experience of a man who has fought lifelong battles, in a story that he is only now able to tell. Harry can still hear the gunfire and smell the blood spilt at Long Tan. For him, the fight continues.
Lieutenant Colonel Harry Smith SG MC (born 25 July 1933) is a former senior officer in the Australian Army, seeing active service during the Malayan Emergency and the Vietnam War. He was Officer Commanding of D Company, 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (D Coy, 6RAR) during the Battle of Long Tan on 18 August 1966.
After service as a Cadet and National Serviceman, Smith joined the Australian Regular Army as a private soldier and then graduated as Second Lieutenant from the Officer Cadet School, Portsea, in December 1952. He was subsequently posted to the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment in 1955 and served during the Malayan Emergency between 1955 and 1957.
From June 1966 to June 1967, Smith, then a major, was Officer Commanding D Coy, 6RAR. On 18 August, after heavy mortar shelling of the Australian base at Nui Dat the previous night, companies from 6RAR were sent out to locate the Vietcong units involved. Smith led the 105 soldiers of D Coy and the 3 man NZ Artillery Party out on patrol, but at 3.15pm, while patrolling a rubber plantation at Long Tan that afternoon, they encountered a reinforced regimental-sized Vietcong force (the Viet Cong 275th Regiment, supported by the North Vietnamese Army 806 Battalion and the local D445 Battalion) preparing to advance on the base. A monsoon struck at the same time, but Smith organised his forces to successfully hold off the assault, while coordinating support from Australian, New Zealand, and United States artillery units back at Nui Dat. D Coy was reinforced at 6.55pm by a B Company Platoon then A Company in 3 Troop APCs, the Vietcong having already started to withdraw.
18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded during the Battle of Long Tan, but under Smith's command, D Coy had fended off a numerically superior force, with at least 293 Vietcong confirmed as killed, and another 500 believed wounded. 800 enemy killed or died from wounds were listed in records found in 1969. Nine Delta Company men were given gallantry awards, only half those recommended, and many of these had been downgraded from the original nomination. Only one private soldier of all those in forward sections who fought the enemy at the coal face was recognised. Smith’s command and leadership of his men during the fierce fighting saw him recommended for the Distinguished Service Order(DSO), but he instead received the lesser Military Cross (MC), and his Platoon Commanders were downgraded from MC to MID, while two senior officers not at the battle were awarded the DSO for their alleged involvement.
Following service in Vietnam, Smith commanded 1 Commando Company at Georges Heights and after overseas training with UK, USA and Canadian airborne units, was posted as CO/CI of the first Army Parachute Training School in 1973. Smith left the Army in 1976 after a parachuting injury and later pursued cruising the east coast and gulf, covering 150,000 nautical miles over 33 years.
In 2008, after years of campaigning for better recognition of Long Tan veterans, Smith's MC was upgraded to the Star of Gallantry (the Australian replacement for the Imperial DSO). Two of his officers who fought at Long Tan had their MID awards upgraded to Medals for Gallantry corresponding to the original nominations of MC but his soldiers' awards were not recognised. On 9 March 2011 at the Maryborough Military & Colonial Museum, Smith was presented with the Star of Gallantry by local MP Paul Neville. Many of the Long Tan veterans were in attendance for the ceremony. Smith continues to fight with Defence and the Honours Tribunal for the awards his soldiers should have received in 1966 and there is to be a further review later this year.
The ISG unintentionally gained a fascinating insight into Saddam’s dictatorship through interviews with most of ‘the Quartet’, Saddam’s senior committee of trusted lieutenants, and uncovered a web of international corruption surrounding Iraq’s erosion of UN sanctions.
The author interweaves his daily experiences in Iraq with interviews with Saddam’s men and historical analysis of pre- and post-war Iraq. He explores Australia’s intelligence relationships with allies and also covers the human rights issues in the coalition occupation of Iraq, as well as the development of the insurgency in Iraq and the rise of ISIL.
This story is not just about the Iraq War; it’s a rare look into Australia’s allied intelligence relations, and the international politics, intrigue and corruption surrounding the war.
This book, the result of many years of research, details the work of the Company from its raising in August 1914 until the end of the war in November 1918. Drawing on both official records and personal papers, it explores the varied activities of an engineering unit, ranging from the taxing work of building bridges and other vital infrastructure in and behind battle zones to the highly dangerous task of extending trenches and barbed wire obstructions on the front line.
From senior command levels down to the rank-and-file Sappers, the book combines a careful account with personal experiences and observations to present a compelling portrait of the unsung heroes of the AIF. As an example of the role of engineers in the First World War, Purple Patch offers an authoritative examination of the achievements of this most notable unit.
37,576 Australian aircrew graduated from the EATS. Over 300 were killed whilst training for war and 9874 aircrew were killed or listed as missing while on active duty. Those who fought under this scheme during World War II amounted to just 6.7 per cent of Australian service personnel serving overseas yet the aircrew losses amounted to almost 25 per cent of all the Australian fatalities during the war. This made serving in EATS among the most hazardous duties of the war.
The Empire has an Answer was researched using more than 35 000 articles, from 150 metropolitan, regional, and district newspapers, and what materialised was a story of one of, if not, the greatest training programs the world has seen.
Follow the journey from the conception and implementation of the scheme, through recruitment and basic training, flight training, and then into combat. The individual accounts woven into the narrative provide a first-hand experience of the triumphs and trials of typical airmen and airwomen who performed extraordinary feats in a time of great need.
The significant achievements and success of the Empire Air Training Scheme has for the most part been overlooked in our history, until now.
In 1966, Bob Grandin was a Royal Australian Airforce helicopter pilot stationed in Vietnam. This book is written
from the logbook he kept while working in Nui Dat and is a fascinating look at life during war – the dangers, the
challenges and the mundaneness.
On 18 August he was co-pilot on a 9 Squadron Iroquois ‘Huey’ helicopter that flew over the enemy to resupply desperate
solders engaged in battle at the Long Tan rubber plantation. Enduring extremely poor weather conditions and enemy fire
the critical role played by Bob and 9 Squadron in the Battle of Long Tan contributed to the success of this battle.
The narrative of his war experiences are interwoven with stories of his life after Vietnam, revealing the difficulties he
faced back home, the impact of the war on his psyche and relationships, and his struggles with PTSD.
A collection of Australian newspaper articles saved by Bob’s father feature throughout, giving further insight into how
important helicopters were in Vietnam, and also how the press reported the war to the Australian public.
Answering the Call provides the unique perspective of a wartime helicopter pilot and is an important addition to
Vietnam War history.
TIES IN WITH A MAJOR FILM – DANGER CLOSE
When the battle subsided, 17 Australian soldiers lay dead, 24 had been wounded of which one died 9 days later. Battlefield clearance revealed 245 enemy bodies with captured documents later confirming the count at over 500 enemy killed and 800 wounded.
These men were led by a gruff and gusty perfectionist, Major Harry Smith. Now, some 49 years after the battle, Harry tells his story for the first time. But this book is more than just an account of a historic battle. Harry Smith takes his readers on an extraordinary journey — one that ultimately reveals a remarkable cover-up at the highest military and political echelons.
Written in partnership with award-winning journalist Toni McRae, Long Tan A lifelong battle is also Harry’s life story and portrays his many personal battles, from failed marriages to commando-style killing; from a horrific parachute accident through to his modern-day struggles with bureaucracy for recognition for his soldiers. Harry’s battles are tempered by his love of sailing, where he has at last found some peace.
Long Tan A lifelong battle portrays the wrenching, visceral experience of a man who has fought lifelong battles, in a story that he is only now able to tell. Harry can still hear the gunfire and smell the blood spilt at Long Tan. For him, the fight continues.