"This image is the front cover of 'The Battle of Long Tan' by Lex McAulay showing part of the Long Tan painting by Fletcher and courtesy of the AWM."'
For those interested in the book; Arrow Books; ISBN 0 09 952530 5
For the full story, check out the links at the end of this page
On the 18th of August 1966, the most intense battle ever to involve Australian soldiers and forces of the National Liberation Front ( NLF ), commonly called the Viet Cong ( VC ), was fought in a rubber plantation at a place called Long Tan, Phuoc Tuy Province, in the Republic of Vietnam ( RVN ). Although battles involving larger Australian units were fought before and after Long Tan, on no other occasion was so small an Australian force engaged for so long,and so intensely, by so large an enemy.
It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction, and this seems to be the case at Long Tan. Any fictional presentation of 100 inexperienced young soldiers fighting at least ten and probably fifteen or twenty times their own number, in a rubber plantation providing little cover, in a blinding rainstorm; then being relieved by a force arriving just as the enemy is massing for the final unstoppable charge--any such scenario would be ridiculed as the worst type of Hollywood glorification of war.
Yet this is what did happen on that August afternoon
Unfortunately, almost no documents allowing a view of the VC side are known to be taken by the Australians, either at the battle or later. This is regrettable, as it was the intention of the author specific rather than anonymous recognition to the Vietnamese participants, who, though defeated, performed as they so often did in the face of Allied firepower, and went into the attack again and again; and then removed as many men and weapons as they could from the battlefield, to the extent that only three wounded VC were left to be captured the next day.
The performance of the VC on the scene should be rated highly, and the Australian feat of arms can be appreciated only when the mettle of their enemy is taken into account.
It is to the young men of both sides who fought that day at Long Tan that this book is dedicated.
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