The Effects of Australian Involvement in the Vietnam War and Tet Offensive

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Australia played a major role in the Vietnam War, particularly the Battle of Long Tan and the Tet Offensive. We needed many troops due to our association with the Americans and because we were scared of the spread of communism. 520 Australian troops died in the war with 2, 400 troops wounded.

The Battle of Long Tan was a significant battle in the Vietnam War that the Australians played a major role in. Twenty one Australians were wounded at Nui Dat the night before the battle had begun. In the rubber plantation where the Australians were battling the Vietnamese, they were well camouflaged as the weather was rainy and the floor was muddy and all the trees allowed the troops to be hidden. Australians were not as prepared for this battle as the Vietnamese were, they didn’t carry enough ammunition, only three magazines with twenty bullets in each. When they ran out of ammunition they then would call back to camp, by radio, for more. Due to the weather and the many trees in the rubber plantation the helicopters dropping in the ammunition struggled to find their troops. In order to allow the helicopters to know where to drop the needed items, the troops on the ground would throw a smoke grenade which would let out a big cloud of smoke which the helicopter above would see for the drop. The Vietnamese were not the only cause to the deaths of multiple Australians in this battle. Friendly fire is when a troop from your team would accidently fire their gun at you thinking you were a Vietnamese. Friendly fire killed thirty three Australians. The Battle of Long Tan felt much longer then it actually was. It was a very significant battle that the Australians had played a major role in.

Around four kilometres west of the Battle of Long Tan there was a base camp in Nui Dat. Australians would call Nui Dat ‘The Dat’ and this is because it was more than just their military bases, it was also their temporary home. The rubber trees provided shade across the camp which was useful in order to give protection among the troops. Although base camp sounded like a good place to be, the constant noise of aeroplanes and helicopters arriving and departing and the intermittent fire of artillery would have been stressful and did not allow time to relax or have ‘down time’. There was however occasional concerts which would allow segments of entertainment for the men to try forget the stresses of the war. Nui Dat was a place for the troops to come when they had finished their time in battle for rest and recreation.

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During the Vietnam war, Australians had 59, 000 troops. Our troops were hardworking and very committed to the war. Australia’s air force was always on patrol as we constantly needed back up or deliveries of more ammunition or for someone to be airlifted out of the battles. The war was not a good place to be and especially for our Australian troops who were only nineteen or older. In order for our troops to be chosen to go to war there was a barrel with birthdates in it. If your birthday was called out then you would be sent to war and if you didn’t turn up the police would come and bring you themselves. 109 people out of 520 were killed from jumping jacks which were land mines that were hidden in the ground. If stepped on they would explode to an extent that people would be instantly killed or in critical condition if they were lucky. Our troops were brave and strong and never knew what they had coming when they had been told they were going to war.

Agent orange was a herbicide that was used as a military tactic to expose the enemy in their jungle hideouts. It was spread over the jungles via planes and some Australians had used it with spray bottles to clear land for easier fighting. This chemical has now effected many Australians lives after the 72, 000, 000 litres that were sprayed. Some people experienced immediate effects such as runny nose, itchiness or minor rashes, but others have experienced long term effects that have included cancers, tumours and other disease due to the Agent orange which has become a part of their DNA. Some of the children of these soldiers have been effected by the Agent Orange having some sort of heath problems when they were born and even the Australian soldier’s grandchildren have effects from the Agent Orange.

Australians involvement in the Vietnam War was very significant and has effected the lives of those Australians today. This effect has also carried out through two generations of the Australians that were at the Vietnam War. This war caused thousands of lives to be lost over around 20 years. The Vietnam War and Australia’s will never be forgotten.

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