Soldiers from 7RAR Examine the Ashes and Rubble of Houses in Long Dien
Royal Australian Regiment (RAR)rubbleTet Offensive
Soldiers from 7RAR examine the ashes and rubble of houses in Long Dien during February 1968. At the end of January 1968 in response to intelligence reports suggesting the likelihood of an assault on Saigon during the Tet festivities, 2 and 7RAR, as part of Operation Coburg, were deployed along the Viet Cong’s main approach to the city to block enemy troops moving back after their attack. On the night of 31 January, the Australians learned that the village of Trang Bom, one and a half kilometres from their positions, had been overrun by waves of Viet Cong. The next afternoon the 2nd Battalion drove them out, the following day the Viet Cong reclaimed the village and the Australians, after bitter house-to-house fighting once again forced the enemy’s retreat. When 7RAR’s Delta Company went forward to search the area, one platoon came into contact with an enemy battalion and was almost destroyed. Only after being hit by artillery fire and air strikes did the Viet Cong withdraw. Medics found Delta Company’s survivors in shock and the wounded lying in agony. Further fighting followed for 7RAR when Charlie Company went in to an enemy bunker complex that even an accurate napalm strike could not destroy. Only after seven hours of intense combat did the Australians prevail. Frequent, intense contact marked this phase of the Tet Offensive for 2 and 7RAR as the Viet Cong’s survivors withdrew from Saigon and, as expected, passed the Australian positions. In a series of ambushes during the first week of February, the Australians killed 90 enemy and captured another five. On 11 February elements of 3RAR relieved 7RAR and moved into the area of operations. 2RAR returned to Nui Dat on 13 February. Baria and Long Dien were the first experience of combat for many of 3RAR’s soldiers. Tet was a serious test of their training under battle conditions, but because the majority of the fighting took place in a built up environment with the support of armoured personnel carriers, it was unrepresentative of much that followed in 1968 and, as the official historian observed was, ‘an entirely new experience for any battalion at that time.’
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Original version: Collection with various creators donated by Bernie Weisz; Archival digital version: SLCC Digital Archives. CREATIVE COMMONS Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License.
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