16 August 2011
The NZ Defence Force will provide ceremonial support for the inaugural Vietnam Veterans’ Commemoration this week. The wreath laying ceremony coincides with the 45th anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan.
What: Vietnam Veterans’ Commemoration
Where: National War Memorial, Buckle Street, Wellington
When: 11.30am, Thursday 18 August.
Media please note: there will be time after the ceremony to interview some of the Vietnam veterans attending.
For further information please contact Ally Clelland, Defence Communications Group, 021 569 13015
New Zealand’s contribution to the Vietnam War
On 29 June 1964, New Zealand combat troops entered what would become New Zealand’s longest and most controversial war. By the time New Zealand withdrew its combat forces in 1971, over 3,500 had served there; 187 were wounded and 37 died.
New Zealand’s commitment included 161 Bty, RNZA, two infantry companies deployed in succession from 1 RNZIR over the period May 67 to December 71 (V and W Companies ), an SAS detachment (4 Troop, NZSAS), and a tri-Service medical team (1st New Zealand Services Medical Team) plus a number of support roles within 1st Australian Task Force.
About 130 personnel were made available for service in 1st Australian Logistics Support group, including several nurses who served in 1st Australian Field Hospital. In January 1969 a 26-man Special Air Service troop arrived in Vietnam, raising the strength of New Zealand’s force to its peak of 543 men and women. From 1968 New Zealand units were integrated within the 1st Australian Task Force, the gunners joining an Australian field regiment, the infantrymen forming part of an ANZAC battalion and the SAS serving as part of an Australian SAS squadron. Most were based at Nui Dat in Phuoc Tuy province. A small number of RNZAF personnel also served as helicopter pilots or forward air controllers.
New Zealand also provided two training teams of Army personnel which were deployed at the National Training Centre at Chi Lang providing training for Vietnamese and at Dong Ba Thin providing training for Cambodian troops.
Alongside its military effort, New Zealand also tried to alleviate the suffering among civilian population caused by the war. A civilian surgical team served at the provincial hospital at Qui Nhon in Binh Dinh province from May 1963 to April 1975. There were also civilians deployed as NZ Embassy staff, war correspondents, welfare and nursing staff, and as members of Red Cross teams.
The Battle of Long Tan – 18 August 1966
The Battle of Long Tan is regarded as the most significant battle fought by Australians during the Vietnam War.
The battle was fought between the Australian Army and Viet Cong forces in a rubber plantation near the village of Long Tần, about 27 kilometres north east of Vung Tau, South Vietnam. The action occurred when D Company of the 6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), part of the 1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF), encountered the Viet Cong (VC) 275 Regiment and elements of the D445 Local Forces Battalion. D Company was supported by other Australian units, as well as New Zealand and United States artillery.
During the battle the company from 6RAR, despite being heavily outnumbered, fought off a large enemy assault of regimental strength. Eighteen Australians were killed and 24 wounded, while at least 245 Viet Cong were killed. It was a decisive Australian victory and is often cited as an example of the importance of combining and coordinating infantry, artillery, armour and military aviation.