Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began as a small effort of as little as 30 men and increased over the following years to around 7,680 Australians. Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War was focused largely by the increase of communism in Southeast Asia after the Second World War and the fear of its spread which developed in Australia during the 1950s and early 1970s.
Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War was the longest in duration of any war in Australian history. The Vietnam War lasted from August 1962 until May 1975. The Australians consisted mainly of army personnel but also had large numbers of air forces and navy personnel’s and some civilians also took part in the war. Almost 60,000 Australians served in the Vietnam War and approximately 521 Australians died in the Vietnam War.
The reason as to why Australia became involved in the Vietnam War was because Australia felt threatened by the expansion of communism and that the domino theory would come into effect.
Robert Menzies tried to fight this through containment and forward defence. Since the United States had become involved in the Vietnam War Australia had to support its great ally by becoming involved in the war also. It was in Australia’s interest that the United States should become committed to Asia and the fight against communism in Asia. After the cold war Robert Menzies was afraid of communism and that the domino theory would take effect and that Australia would be invaded by communism. To fight the panic of communism Robert Menzies sent 30 Australians in the role of advisors. This was to support his strategy of forward defence where defending Australia from communism was stopping the communists in South Vietnam. This meant that communism was stopped in Vietnam and would stop it moving south making Australia safe.
One of the major and most significant battles Australia fought in was the battle of the long tan. In May 1966 the first soldiers of the 6th Battalion RAR (Royal Australian Regiment) arrived in South Vietnam. A few days before the battle radio signals indicated large Viet Cong forces within five kilometres of the Australian task force base which was located Nui Dat. As patrols set out they found nothing. On the evening of 16th August 1966 Nui Dat became under attack from mortar teams and recoilless rifles. On the 18th August around 3.15 Australian forces entered the Long Tan Plantation. Less than an hour later the Viet Cong attacked in forces which resulted of the Australians being under mortar, machine gun and small arms fire attacks. The Australians were surrounded due to short ammunition and fighting an enemy who was extremely difficult for the Australians. The Australians called for air support which consisted of helicopters to drop ammunition and blankets for the wounded. As the fighting continued the Viet Cong had been planning for another assault but were required to move back into the plantation. When the Australians returned to the scene the following morning they realised that the amount of defeat that they had inflicted on the enemy. The Australians counted 245 enemies dead in the plantation and the surrounding jungle. Eighteen Australians were killed in the Battle of Long Tan and 24 were wounded.
Due to the separation of the war it became unpopular. The Vietnam Veterans had fought for their country for an extent amount of time which they had experienced and faced death and other forms of fighting context. The Veterans felt that they were being blamed for the war which they fought for their country through hardship and comradeship.
The Australian Veterans departing from Vaug Tau 1971.
The respect was lost for the Veterans due to the loss of the war. The respect Australia had paid to