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THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE INDO-CHINA WARS presented.

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Presentation on theme: "THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE INDO-CHINA WARS presented."— Presentation transcript:

1 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE INDO-CHINA WARS presented by DAVE SABBEN MG 05 b – Coral/Balmoral May-June 1968

2 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT III Corps (Third Military Region) 1ATF & Coral/Balmoral Area of Ops (See next map) South Viet Nam 2 of 22

3 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS BACKGROUND Mid-1965 – mid-66 1RAR with 173 rd Airborne Bde - Operates out of Bien Hoa Primary Result: NVA stop major ops in Phuoc Tuy for rest of 1966, all of 1967 and until Tet of But the VC still active. May/June1966 1ATF & 1ALSG into Phuoc Tuy with 5RAR, 6RAR and supporting units. August 1966 Battle at Long Tan foiled NVA/VC plan to eliminate ANZAC base. Secondary Result: Because of this, 1ATF considered “under-utilised”, so Westmoreland requested 1ATF to operate outside Phuoc Tuy province. Feb 1968 – Tet Offensive Hits all major centres in SVN. 1ATF (3RAR) fighting in Ba Ria 3 of 22

4 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS WAR SITUATION By the end of 1967… The VC/NVA were almost broken. So much so that the North was ready to start Peace Talks in early Pre-Talk Offensives… The Communists had a history of launching major Offensives just prior to and during Peace Talks: * Korea, for Panmunjom Talks; * French IndoChina War, for the Geneva Peace Accords; * and now for the “American War”… …so the West was ready… Planning for Tet 1968… The Offensives had usually been started during a holiday stand-down and Tet (Lunar New Year) had been used before. So ARVN and US forces kept reserves on duty over the Tet period – just in case. Feb 1968 – Tet Offensive When the Tet 68 Offensive started, only the Press was really surprised! 4 of 22

5 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS TET 1968 Why? The mostly-VC Offensive was set to trigger a general population uprising prior to the start of the Paris Talks. Result? All major population centres and military targets were attacked. Few were taken. Only one was held for more than a few days: Hue. There was no uprising. The ARVN fought better than expected. The VC were decimated, and they never recovered for the rest of the War. Where the NVA took part (the few major centres) they too were defeated. “Counter-Attack”… From 19 Feb to 10 Mar, the ARVN did Ops to clear up the results of Tet. They then recalled troops to the Saigon area and mounted a major Op to clear around Saigon: Operation “Quyet Thang” (“Determined To Win”) Started 11 Mar. By 7 April, >2600 enemy kia. It was so successful, it was decided to extend it to a Phase 2…. 5 of 22

6 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS THE FOLLOW-UP Operation “Toan Thang” I and II (“Complete Victory”) Started 8 April. 70,000 troops. Similar success.. Then, a surrender… On 19 April, a senior NVA officer surrendered – Col Dac, Assistant Political Officer for all the VC around Saigon. He told of a 10,000 NVA force headed to Saigon for a new offensive due early May. With the same aims as the Tet Offensive – win ground, trigger an uprising, influence the Paris Talks - this was dubbed “Mini-Tet”. Allied forces were gathered to Saigon. Build-up… On 25 April, 2RAR went even further into Bien Hoa and a 1ATF forward HQ was established at Bear Cat. On 29 Apr, APCs were also deployed.. 1ATF ANZAC As part of the Allied cordon, 1ATF deployed to the NW of Phuoc Tuy on 21 Apr and then placed 3RAR outside the province on 23 Apr. From 21 Apr… AO Taupo: AO Sturt AO Hume AO Giles AO Belize AO Kennedy AO Lawson …to 4 May AO MURRAY BRIDGE: AO Hunter AO Nepean AO Swan 6 of 22

7 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 5 – 11 May AO COLUMBUS AO Ayre AO Simpson 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 AO Belize AO Kennedy AO Lawson From 21 Apr… AO Taupo: AO Sturt AO Hume AO Giles …to 4 May AO MURRAY BRIDGE: AO Hunter AO Nepean AO Swan SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS Result? It was another disaster. By 9 May, half of the 10k attackers were dead. MINI-TET 5 May 68 On 3 May, 3RAR returned to Nui Dat and was replaced by 1RAR, which had arrived in VN only 2 months ago. Mini-Tet launched: 4am, 5 May, co-ordinated attacks on all three cities. 11 Regiments from 7NVA Div and 9 VC Div – 10,000 soldiers. The defenders were waiting. Backfire… The attacks failed, but it was also a disaster for the US with 652 kia and 2225 wia, it set a new record for US weekly casualties. The US media, fresh from their Tet scare, ignored the victory and stressed the new record. 1ATF ANZAC Once the attacks went in, on 5 May, 1RAR, 2RAR, APCs and Artillery redeployed to Ayre and Simpson to cut off enemy withdrawal to the NE. 7 of 22

8 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 5 – 11 May AO COLUMBUS AO Ayre AO Simpson 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH May – 6 June AO SURFERS AO Newport AO Manly AO Bondi Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS BLOCK POSITIONS On 10 May, 3RAR flew to Simpson to replace 2RAR which was due to RTA in June (replaced by 4RAR). New Block position orders: Also on 10 May, 1ATF was ordered into new cut-off positions to the North of Saigon and Bien Hoa. Allied locations… To the West was the US 1 st Infantry Div (the Big Red One); to the East, Bns from 101 Airborne; to the South, ARVN 5 Div and to the North, known NVA territory. AO SURFERS The new position was in the Ba Da Secret Zone – an NVA- controlled area between the known enemy staging town of Binh My and Tan Uyen. It was 7 or 8 Km of road plus 7 or 8 Km on either side. The whole area was named “AO Surfers” and was divided into three parts – AOs Newport, Bondi and Manly. Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG Binh My 16 Nai River 16 AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N 8 of 22

9 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE TASK: 1ATF was given the task of blocking enemy forces withdrawing from the South. The enemy were said to be moving fast, disorganised, with low morale and low on ammo. Little was said of the enemy within the sanctuary areas to the North. THE (ORIGINAL) PLAN: 7am,12 May – 3RAR fly in and secure LZ to become FSB Coral. Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG Binh My 16 Nai River 16 AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY FSB Coogee PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N Once secure, 102 Bty to fly in, then 1RAR, then 161 (NZ) Bty. The FSB to be in place by early afternoon. Once 1RAR at the LZ, C/1RAR to start to clear road SE to Tan Uyen; and 3RAR to move West to establish FSB Coogee. On 13 May, road convoy would bring 1ATF HQ, Engineers, US Artillery, APCs etc to FSBs. C/1RAR 3RAR 102 Bty 1RAR, 161 Bty FSB Coral 3RAR 9 of 22

10 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE EXECUTION : Overnight 11/12 May, US forces, unaware of 1ATF plans, moved into AO Manly and had a major contact 3000m West of LZ. Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG Binh My 16 Nai River 16 AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N FSB Coral The LZ selected for the first Coy was unsuitable – B/3RAR was landed 1000m to the SE and had to go to the original LZ and clear it for the others - delay. The delay compounded, and the US wanted some choppers back for their own use during the day. 3RAR was not on the ground until noon, and then at both LZs. 161 Bty arrived before the LZ ready – landed 1000m SW. 102 Bty arrived 3 hours late at 2pm. 1RAR followed. Last Coy in at 4pm. Mortars in at 5pm. Confusion and disorder at the LZs. No one in overall control or to co-ordinate units & defences. And 9Km to the East, the NVA Commanders watched, and sent out their recce parties… 10 of Bty 1RAR, 3RAR, 102 Bty

11 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT An Infantry patrol returns to base at FSB Coral. The Terrain was generally flat to gently undulating. Open spaces either cleared or with tall grass and shrubs. Rubber plantations. Open forest (as here) or thick forest. Some jungle. 11 of 22

12 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT NIGHTFALL 12 MAY At 6pm, it rained – heavily. Shallow pits, no wire and no Claymore mines out. Defences were not co-ordinated. Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG Binh My 16 Nai River 16 AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N C/1RAR 3RAR 102 Bty 1RAR FSB Coral During the day there had been several small contacts but the enemy had always bugged out – they were the recce parties sent to gather info, not to fight. The 1RAR and 3RAR Coys were dispersed for defence, as per standard CRW war tactics. Here’s a closer look at FSB Coral as at nightfall, 12 May… 102 Bty and 1RAR HQ were defended by the Mortars, AntiTank and Assault Pioneers of 1RAR, with HQ 3RAR nearby. 161 Bty defended by 3RAR Mortars plus only one Platoon were 1000m away. The Companies of 1RAR and 3RAR were scattered thinly around the FSB up to 2000m away from the guns. 16 D/1RAR A/1RAR C/1RAR B/1RAR 11 & 12 Pl D-/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 1RAR HQ ATk,APnr Mor/1RAR 102 Fd Bty Arty HQ 3RAR HQ ATk,APnr Approx 2 Km N 161 NZ Arty Mor/3RAR 10 Pl D/3RAR 12 of 22 16

13 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 16 1RAR HQ ATk,APnr D/1RAR A/1RAR C/1RAR B/1RAR Mor/1RAR 102 Fd Bty Arty HQ 3RAR HQ ATk,APnr 11 & 12 Pl D-/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 161 NZ Arty Mor/3RAR 10 Pl D/3RAR Approx 2 Km N OVERNIGHT 12/13 MAY The enemy recces continued into the night. A few contacts but again, quickly broken off. Midnight to 3:30am, noises out front of 1RAR Mors & ATk Pls. (Enemy marking assault lines, digging shell-scrapes etc) 3:30am – enemy mortars & RCLs into FSB for 5 minutes. Then 3:40 – assault on 1RAR Mor & Atk and 102 Bty fronts. Attacks lasted an hour. 161 Bty and the two Mortar Pls fired indirect support but 102 Bty & the Anti-Tank Pl fired splintex and HE over open sights. US air (Spooky, gunships, ground attack aircraft) overhead. Enemy over-ran Mors and into 102 Bty lines, reaching two gun positions. Close fighting and a counterattack took back 1 gun. At 4:40 the attack faltered - the enemy withdrew to the NE. MAIN ATTACK At 5:00 there was a renewed assault at reduced strength. The enemy again breached the Mortar lines, capturing two mortar tubes but being unable to remove them. At first light, 6:10, the enemy again withdrew NE, taking most of their casualties with them. At dawn the Australians regained their lines. 9 kia, 28 wia, of which 5 kia and 8 wia were from 1RAR Mortars of 18 men. 1 gun, 2 mortars damaged. 52 enemy kia buried plus 1 POW. Many weapons captured. RESULT: It was a win, but a costly one. As at Long Tan, the NVA claimed an extravagant victory. In view of the disorganisation of the fly-in and the lack of co- ordinated defences, the result is a credit to the men in the forward lines (50% Nashos!). 13 of 22

14 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 16 D/1RAR A/1RAR C/1RAR B/1RAR 11 & 12 Pl D-/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 1RAR HQ ATk,APnr Mor/1RAR 102 Fd Bty Arty HQ 3RAR HQ ATk,APnr Approx 2 Km N 161 NZ Arty Mor/3RAR 10 Pl D/3RAR 13a of 22 (TODAY) Here’s a Google map image dated 2011 of the Coral area. Note that the kink at the road junction is now gone. The site corresponds to the North- East front of the 102 Bty defences, also to the front of the 1RAR Mortar Platoon and the 1RAR Anti-Tank Platoon as will be shown when we replace the air photo with the map we’ve been using. Keep your eye on the white square….. These two memorials have been placed near the site of the mass grave where the NVA dead were buried after the second attack. The area in the white square is enlarged below – on the corner of the road is a monument to the NVA who died at Coral and nearby is a Shrine to their memory. We will visit both these places.

15 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT The 105mm gun overrun by the NVA at FSB Coral. Note again the terrain – flat, open and with little cover. Normally the guns would have been “dug in” behind earth revetments but these were incomplete when the attack came in. 14 of 22

16 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 16 1RAR HQ ATk,APnr D/1RAR A/1RAR C/1RAR B/1RAR Mor/1RAR 102 Fd Bty Arty HQ 3RAR HQ ATk,APnr 11 & 12 Pl D-/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 161 NZ Arty Mor/3RAR 10 Pl D/3RAR Approx 2 Km N Day # MAY As soon as the road was cleared by C/1RAR, two convoys drove to Coral. APCs, Engineers, 1ATF HQ, a US 155 Bty and much-needed defence and ammo stores arrived. In view of the attacks of the previous evening, the defences were shrunk and tightened. Coral became the largest FSB established by 1ATF in SVN.. FSB COOGEE On the 13 th, the US broke contact and moved back West, allowing 3RAR to move to their assigned area in AO Manly. They established FSB Coogee with 161 Bty and a Troop of (6) APCs. Moreover, the Australians realised they were no longer in a CRW war – this was Conventional warfare and required a change of strategy: limited patrols by day and tight defence at night. 16 1RAR HQ D/1RAR Tanks APCs C/1RAR B/1RAR 102 Fd Bty Arty HQ Engineers 1Fd Regt 1ATF HQ Approx 2 Km N Atk/1RAR US 2/35 Arty APnr/1RAR A/1RAR Mor 1RAR Track Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG Binh My 16 Nai River 16 AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N FSB Coral 3RAR 161 Bty 2Tp APC FSB Coogee 1ATF HQ 1ATF maint area US Arty Mor/1RAR US Arty HQ Arty HQ 131 Div Loc 102 Fd Bty Mor/1RAR Atk/1RAR LZ APCs B/1RAR 15 of 22

17 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 16 1RAR HQ D/1RAR Tanks APCs C/1RAR B/1RAR 102 Fd Bty Arty HQ Engineers 1Fd Regt 1ATF HQ Approx 2 Km N Atk/1RAR US 2/35 Arty APnr/1RAR A/1RAR Mor 1RAR Track Day # MAY Around Coral, Platoon patrols went out m. It was active, with 9 contacts resulting in 3 kia, 5 wia for 14 enemy casualties. The enemy was still around, and interested. Despite this, the night of 14/15 May was quiet. A counterattack reclaimed the A Coy position. Daylight showed 5 kia & 19 wia in 1RAR with 34 enemy bodies buried. Day # MAY Less action than the 14 th, but still contacts with recce parties. Night 15/16 MAY At 2:30am, Coral was shelled again, followed at 2:40 by large attacks from the East against A and B Coys. The A Coy position was penetrated. 4:00am Attack 2:40am Attack 2:40am Attack 60 guns fired in support, plus US air. Another attack at 4:00am targeted C Coy and a third attack at 5:15am tried to get between C and A Coys. 5:15am Attack 16 of 22

18 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 16 MAY and beyond Following the failure of their second series of attacks, the enemy left FSB Coral alone. On 18 May, the CO, 1ATF, Brig Hughes, went on R&R, command passing to his 2ic, Colonel Dunstan. In view of the changed conditions at Coral, Dunstan’s first action was to call the tanks up from Nui Dat to AO Surfers. The logistics of the move were huge – they would leave Nui Dat on 22 May by road via Xuan Loc (“Blackhorse”) and arrive at Coral on the afternoon of 23 rd – a road trip of 120 Km. The 24 th would have to be reserved for servicing and any repairs and maintenance. Ben Cat Tan Uyen BIEN HOA Ba Ria Nui Dat Bear Cat Saigon River Dong PHUOC TUY BIEN HOA LONG KHANH BINH DUONG GIA DINH 20 Km N Mangrove Swamp Vung Tau South China Sea Long Binh Xuan Loc 1 2 SAIGON Binh My PHUOC THANH Nai River “BlackHorse” 1 PROVINCE BORDERS It was a big move, both tactically and administratively. There was much opposition to the use of tanks in Vietnam, but there were. also many supporters. 17 of 22

19 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG Binh My 16 Nai River 16 AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY FSB Coogee FSB Coral PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N FSB Balmoral MEANWHILE, AT COOGEE 3RAR with support from 161 Bty at Coral, patrolled and learned the land. A few contacts, but generally quiet after the large US battle a week before. With the lack of enemy in the area, the COMAFV, Maj Gen McDonald, suggested to Dunstan that perhaps 3RAR should cross the road to the north and return 161 Bty to Coral. The enemy was evident north of the road, not south of it. On 24 May… B/3RAR on APCs & D/3RAR on foot moved into AO Newport and secured an area about 4500m N of Coral, to become known as FSB Balmoral.. Choppers flew the 161 guns back to Coral and the rest of 3RAR flew in to the clearing after massive fire suppression by US air. The NVA were very aware of the arrival of 3RAR.. By the night of the 24 th, Balmoral was a Battalion defended position with artillery support from Coral. Approx 100m N HQ/ 3RAR D/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 10Pl/D 11Pl/D 12Pl/D Wire APnr/3RAR Mor/3RAR Atk/3RAR 3RAR Admin Three APCs Three APCs HQ 2/A/3Cav and 3 APCs Wire Thick Forest Clear Forest Grassland (with many B52 craters) Thick Forest 18 of 22 Technically, Balmoral was not an “FSB” since it did not contain a Fire Support Unit. It was a “Battalion Defended Locality”.

20 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT The fly-in of 3RAR to the Balmoral defended location site. B & D/3RAR with the APCs secured the Balmoral site on 24 May, with the rest of the Battalion flying in to the cleared area to the north of the position. ( Note B52 crater R foreground ) 18a of 22

21 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT The 11 Pl/D/3RAR front line. From the 11 Pl MG pit looking North West, from where came the enemy assaults of the morning of 26 May. The enemy reached the B52 crater and used it as a fire position for small arms and RPGs. 18b of 22

22 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Approx 100m N HQ/ 3RAR D/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 10Pl/D 11Pl/D 12Pl/D Wire APnr/3RAR Mor/3RAR Atk/3RAR 3RAR Admin Three APCs Three APCs HQ 2/A/3Cav and 3 APCs Wire Thick Forest Clear Forest Grassland (with many B52 craters) Thick Forest 25 MAY 4 tanks (2 Tp, C Sqn) moved from Coral to Balmoral protected by two Platoons from B/1RAR. About half way there, they ran into an enemy bunker system. All the activity in the area had given away Balmoral’s security. Enemy recce parties were quick to arrive outside the perimeter. And they were looking for a fight The Infantry became entrapped in the contact. The tanks moved forward and, firing canister, cleared the jungle, destroyed several bunkers and allowed the Infantry to withdraw. In the process, the tanks killed many enemy in and near the bunkers. Having extracted the Infantry, the column bypassed the bunkers and moved on, calling in arty & airstrikes on the target. They arrived at Balmoral mid- afternoon and the Infantry was choppered back to Coral as the tanks were put into position.. Approx 100m N HQ/ 3RAR D/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 10Pl/D 11Pl/D 12Pl/D Day Positions Night Positions Day Positions Night Positions Wire APnr/3RAR Mor/3RAR Atk/3RAR 3RAR Admin Three APCs Three APCs HQ 2/A/3Cav and 3 APCs Wire Thick Forest Clear Forest Grassland (with many B52 craters) thick Forest NIGHT 25/26 MAY At 3:45am, Balmoral was shelled, followed immediately by a major assault from the North East. The enemy was more than a Battalion strong, each assault line being about Coy in strength. 3RAR had suffered 3 kia and 13 wia. At daylight, 6 enemy bodies were buried and huge drag marks attested to many casualties being cleared from the battlefield. A diversion was mounted from the South East on the A/3RAR wire which was breached by bangalores but not exploited. The main attack failed to breach the D/3RAR wire and was repulsed by SA fire with artillery and air support. The tanks, which were not dug in, were not able to offer the decisive support they offered later, when dug in against NVA RPGs. The enemy withdrew at about 5:00am. MAIN ATTACK DIVERSION ATTACK 19 of 22

23 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT Approx 100m N HQ/ 3RAR D/3RAR A/3RAR C/3RAR B/3RAR 10Pl/D 11Pl/D 12Pl/D Day Positions Night Positions Day Positions Night Positions Wire APnr/3RAR Mor/3RAR Atk/3RAR 3RAR Admin Three APCs Three APCs HQ 2/A/3Cav and 3 APCs Wire Thick Forest Clear Forest Grassland (with many B52 craters) Thick Forest ATTACK from NE DIVERSION ATTACK 26 MAY D/1RAR plus 4 tanks left Coral at 6:00am to clear the bunker complex hit on the 25 th. A 3- hour combined Infantry/tank attack caused the enemy to desert the complex. 3RAR lost 1 kia and 8 wia but found 42 bodies, many weapons and again, huge drag marks. Many of the NVA kia’s were estimated to be just 16 or 17 years old – a sign of the desperation of the North. 27 and night 27/28 May After more recce on the 27th, the enemy launched another series of attacks on Balmoral starting 2:30am on the 28th. A two-pronged multi-Battalion attack from both North West and North East, both hitting D/3RAR, were again supported by a feint on A/3RAR from the South East. Coral was also fired upon to disrupt their supporting fire. this time, the dug-in tanks were critically effective and all attacks were beaten off. 20 of 22 ATTACK from NW

24 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT 30 May Tanks again made the decisive difference when C/1RAR endured a heavy contact 3000m East of Coral. Two tanks and 4 APCs were sent to support. They drove into the contact, rescued the Coy and closed the contact. C/1RAR lost 1 kia and 7 wia with 24 enemy kia being buried. Actions like this proved the tanks’ worth, but this was “their finest hour”. Few if any similar actions were experienced in the remainder of the Vietnam War. On 5 June… …Balmoral was abandoned. On 6 June, Coral was abandoned and AO Surfers reverted to a US area of responsibility. The Australian forces returned to Phuoc Tuy province. Action around Coral & Balmoral reduced in frequency and scale as the operations continued. OUTCOMES The ANZACs had lost 25 kia and 109 wia. The enemy had lost 238 NVA and 38 VC by bodycount, with hundreds more dragged away. Hundreds of weapons had been captured. The battles at Coral and Balmoral had been glimpses of conventional war. One Company at Long Tan had experienced this in one afternoon – 1RAR, 3RAR and supporting Arms experienced it for four harrowing attacks over two critical weeks. And in each case, the ANZACs had prevailed. US and ARVN Operations had accounted for 7645 kia, for a loss of 578 kia and 3719 wia. The Media ignored the ratios. It adopted the Hanoi mantra – “Ratios don’t count. The only thing that is important is the numbers you lose”. LEST WE FORGET 21 of 22 Tan Uyen Dong BIEN HOA BINH DUONG 16 Nai River 16 PROVINCE BORDER 1a Approx 5 Km N Binh My AO NEWPORT AO BONDI AO MANLY FSB Coogee FSB Coral FSB Balmoral

25 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE DECISIVE BATTLES OF THE INDO-CHINA WARS presented by DAVE SABBEN MG 05 b – Coral/Balmoral Questions? 22 of 22

26 THIS SLIDE AND PRESENTATION WAS PREPARED BY DAVE SABBEN WHO RETAINS COPYRIGHT © ON CREATIVE CONTENT THE FINE PRINT This Powerpoint show is copyright to Dave Sabben but is freely available for any non-profit use. It may be downloaded free from Dave’s website: It was prepared for presentation to those who join his Decisive Battlefields and Long Tan Trek Tours of Viet Nam (see green panel for the “commercial”) as introductions for the various battles. Because the shows are live presentations, much more is in the narrative than is included in the text on the slides. The shows are intended to be introductions and overviews – not detailed expositions or analyses. Views and conclusions are the author’s and are not offered as the only possible or even as fully comprehensive views. Where possible, permissions have been obtained to use maps or photos but some have been used without specific permission. Copyright holders who want their material either not used or credited, please contact Dave Sabben at Anyone wishing to make an anonymous donation towards the cost and time of putting this show together is invited to make a donation of any amount to (Australian) Westpac bank account BSB# , Account# (branch = 360 Collins St, Melbourne), or (Australian) CBA bank account BSB# , Account# (branch = Hampton, Victoria), either account in the name of David Sabben. If passing this slide show to others, please don’t remove this slide. THE “COMMERCIAL” As at 2011, Dave Sabben leads one tour per year (second half of October) to visit some of the areas of Australian/ANZAC operations of The highlight of these tours is to walk the Long Tan battlefield with Dave (a platoon Commander in that battle). The walk takes about 4 hours – about the time of the battle – so the group goes to all the key locations of the battle and hears about what happened pretty much in “real time”. For further enquiry into these tours, please visit: and select VN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Tours.html orVN%20Long%20Tan%20Trek%20Tours.html VN%20Decisive%20Battlefields%20Tours.html An optional extension to the Long Tan Trek Tour takes in the main US battles of northern South Viet Nam including Da Nang, Hue, the DMZ (including Khe Sanh) and the A Shau Valley (Hamburger Hill), then visits both Hanoi (‘Hanoi Hilton’, War Museum) and the Dien Bien Phu valley (both Viet Minh and French positions). As well as the once –a-year-in-October tours, Dave can arrange a similar tour at any time of year for a group of 20 or more. Dates, durations, standards of accommodation, inclusions etc will be all your call. Please contact Dave (with numbers and preferences) at Note that these are “battlefield-oriented” tours – they do NOT go to all the popular tourist sites. “Tourist” tours can be added before or after. If passing this slide show to others, please don’t remove this slide. PLEASE DO NOT REMOVE THIS SLIDE


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