Today the Australian Defence community honoured Australia’s Vietnam veterans and their involvement on the battlefield in Vietnam, as the Australian Defence Force (ADF) commemorated the 50th anniversary of the Battles of Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral.
Chief of Army, Lieutenant General (LTGEN) Angus Campbell, AO, DSC, joined members of the ADF who participated in the commemorative national service held at the Australian Vietnam Forces National Memorial on Anzac Parade in Canberra.
LTGEN Campbell paid tribute to all Vietnam Veterans and said the actions between the Australian forces and the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong over the 25 days of fighting were among the largest and most protracted battles fought by Australians during the course of the Vietnam War.
“The Battles at Coral and Balmoral took place between May and June 1968. The battles involved almost 3000 men, this was the first Australian all arms brigade-sized operation since World War II,” LTGEN Campbell said.
“When the Fire Support Bases at Coral, Balmoral and Coogee were established in early May 1968, the enemy forces reacted aggressively and commenced their attack of Coral on 13 May. This followed with an assault on Balmoral on the night of 25–26 May and again on 28 May.
“Armoured, artillery and infantry units fought hard to destroy the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong forces. When the battles finally ended, 26 Australians had been killed in action, with almost 100 wounded.”
Members of the Royal Australian Artillery from 8th and 12th Regiment manned artillery guns sited at Mount Pleasant to fire a salute at the commencement of the service to remember all those who died in Vietnam.
“It’s important that we recognise our history and the people who made that history. Australia, then and now, has been blessed to have incredibly dedicated individuals committed to serving our nation,” LTGEN Campbell said.
Australian combat units were engaged in the Vietnam War from 1962 to 1973, in response to a request for support from the Republic of Vietnam to the United States and its allies.
The Australian Defence Force is supporting other commemorative activities for the 50th Anniversary of the Battles at Fire Support Bases Coral and Balmoral, in Townsville this week at Lavarack Barracks with 1st Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment.
Imagery of the 50th anniversary commemorative service will be available at: http://images.defence.gov.au/S20180926