A Diggers viewpoint of being at the sharp end. Gained while serving with 3 Platoon - 'A' Company -7 Battalion (Infantry) Royal Australian Regiment, as a Rifleman in Australia's longest ever war - fought in South Vietnam.  

Chapter 1 - Page 6 - Updated MARCH 2011 - Next Page:- ANZAC Legend 7/35

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 "A GRUNTS VIEW" is a Nationally Recognised site by the Australian National Library, via their on-site archive called "PANDORA".

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oink a digger 10

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  • The site in Historical Prespective
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  • End of World WarTwo
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  •  new21.gifHistorical Perspective!
  •  Oink at NDP Brigid in 1970  


Over the years I have been approached by numbers of students about my Vietnam Experince and I have helped them with their projects. I say 'help', that does not mean I write the project as I expect the sudents to do their own research, which may entail then reading some key pages of this site.

However what has been missing from the site is the historical picture. By 'historical picture' I mean how the Vietnam War came about. What events in the world impacted on Australia that made the decisions to commit Combat forces to serve 'along side' USA forces in Vietnam.

'Along side' is a bit of a misnomer, as US and Australian units rarely if ever, fought side by side in Vietnam, as they did when the Diggers and the GIs went in to battle together in World War One.

It is an unknown fact that in France at the Battle of Hamel 4th July 1918; that 1000 American soldiers lined up on the start line at 0245hrs with 7000 Aussie Diggers. The 'Dough Boys' as they were known, trained with the Diggers for many weeks. Lt General Sir John Monash the Australian Commander wanted to give the US soldiers a chance to experince combat alongside Diggers who had many years of experince, some of whom fought at Gallipoli in 1915. During the Vietnam some individual Aussies served along side US soldiers including one Aussie officer who commanded a Marine unit, a very rare event. But US and the Aussie Diggers did not serve together or fight side by side.

The only Australian Infantry Unit to do so was 1st Battalion the Royal Australian Regiment. By the end of the Vietnam war the Regiment had nine infantry Battalion and except for 8RAR and 9RAR all served two tours of Vietnam. However in 1965 when 1RAR was attached to the 173rd Airborne to protect the Air Base being built at Bien Hoa. If you want to know more about 1RAR read Bob Breens book, "First To Fight". 'Click' on those words and it will take you to the Book Page. Scroll down to find the book's listing.

That is not to say that US and Australian forces did not support and assist each other. There are countless occasions when USA DUSTOFF choppers would pick up wounded Australians and take them to hospital. Or US heavy artillery would fire support missions for Australian Grunts in the field, to mention but a few.

Some of the questions and viewpoints I will address are:- The world situation post World War Two. The 1950s. What was so different about Australia in the 1960s. Why did Australia get involved in the Vietnam War? This site of course deals with only a small part of the Diggers experience fight in the War. Experiences of the Veteran after Vietnam. The fall out of the Vietnam War.


I have no formal qualifications as a historian. I am self taught in the process of reseaching events and people who impacted on Military History. Although I read widely my focus is the Australian experince in War.

I believe I have had unique viewpoints of world events; both in England after World War Two then in Australia during and after the Vietnam War. I was born and brought up in post WW2 in England. I have clear memories of my parents buying some food items with coupons as war rationing was still in place. Many areas and buildings in Liverpool bore the evidence of the German bombing campaign against industry and civilians. I became aware as I got older that my Dad had been one of those who had fought the Germans in North Africa, he was wounded in action.

See Memorial page.


The World was exhausted after fighting its self to a stand still with Millions and Millions of people dead, injured and displaced. While Russia also known as the USSR, had lost about 20 Million and much territory during the war it had an eye on its future as its forces fought the German Army back in to Germany. Determined not to be invaded again the Russian Army controlled many of the Countries from East Germany to the boarders of Russia.

Whinsten Chruchill the war time leader of Great Britan said of this event "a Iron Curtain has decended on Europe". This situation had a number of effects on the world that was to major impacts similar to the present (2007) 'war on terror'. In those days the 'terror' was communism. This stand off between 'communist countries such as Russia, China and Korea those behind the 'Iron Curtain and the Free World saw an unprecedented arms race. This was made all the more dangerous as Japan had capitulated (surrended) after the USA dropped two Nuclear bombs on two Cities. A terrible weapon in which one bomb had more detructive power than all the bombs dropped in WW2, put together.


 KOREAN WAR 1950 -1953

The first test of the Free World against the Communism took place in Korea. In a war for the first time fought under the flag of the United Nations. The UN was formed out of the carnage of the War with Australia taking a major lead in creating a forum in which Countries could bring issues that concerned them and discuss with other Nations of the World. In 1950 North Korea invaded the South who could not resist and basically the whole country except a small area was over run. General Macarthur was put in charge and he used the Marines and their skills developed in WW2 fighting against the Japanese.

The end of the war came in 1952 but it had started a new stand off between the West and those behind the Iron Curtain. This time the stakes were higher as countries now had the nuclear bomb. As stupid as it sounds today this started a 'Nuclear race' as countries strived to make as many and as powerful nuclear weapons as they could.  Korean War. The resulting numbers of nuclear weapons could have destroyed the world many time over. The gulf between the 'Reds' the Communist Countries and the 'Capitalist Running Dogs' as they called the West; grew ever larger.

It certainly was a very dangerous time for the world and I don't as a individual sheet home the blame for this madness to one side over the other. Both sides had aircraft in the air 24 hours a day carrying nuclear missiles ready to 'strike' at the other side. There were many reasons for this conflict, now called 'the Cold War' and far too complex for this site and its not the purpose of the site to fully explain it, except for this brief overview from my personal viewpoint.



This danger was evident and it came sharply into focus during the Cuba Missile Crises. Russia had staged a few missiles on the door step of the USA in Cuba. President John F Kennedy as it seemed to us in Britain, put the world on the brink of nulcear war to force the removal of the missiles.

The world held its collective breath for a few days until news film showed the ships with missiles on board leaving Cuba. President Kennedy a World War Two veteran was seen in a new light both in the US and across the world. He set the challenge that the US would put a Man on the Moon. This also started a race between the USSR and the USA, the 'Space race'. In fact the USSR won that with Solviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarrin circled the earth in 1963 and more importantly arrived safely back on earth.

An event of course the USSR trumpeted across the world. One of the features of the Countries behind the Iron Curtain was the lack of news about events that showed that Country, its Culture or its Technology in a bad light. Something In these days of 'instant new' across the world may seem incredible but remember there were NO personal computers, NO Internet, NO CCN, NO satellites beaming news across the world during events such as September 11, 2001 and the World Trade Center Attack. Those countries controlled their own people with an iron hand and no news was good news.



One event that did stride the world in its tragedy was the killing of President John F Kennedy, on the 22nd of November 1963 in down town Dallas Texas. The President and his wife were visiting Dallas during his campaign for a second term. Although there were a number of threats made against Kennedy prior to the visit, the people of Dallas turned out in their thousands to give him a warm welcome. The facts of what really happened that day in the Dallas Plaza have NEVER been fully investigated nor explained. In these days of TV there are shows like CSI when they strip down a crime to sorting out one drop of blood. The President of the United States of America was gunned down in his own Country and no one has ever been charged with his murder?

It is known is that as the Presidents limo turned in to the Plaza his Secret Service driver broke the rules of the secret service and had the car practically crawling around a very tight corner. As the limo drove past the Texas Book Depository a number of shots rang out and Kennedy was hit and severely wounded. Unlike today with many people owning digital video cameras, with out the film by an amateur photographer who caught the death of the President, nothing would be known about the actual events of the shooting.

The news swept around the world in a few hours. Reaching England within minutes being mid afternoon. Australia awoke to the news of the shooting of Kennedy. Soon after the word came that he was dead. It was perhaps the first truly world 'event'? The world stood stunned at the news. Who had done such a thing and why? Soon an arrest of a Lee Harvey Oswarld seemed to bring some answers? He also was gunned down within 24 hour hours, perhaps to stop him telling what he knew about the events? The man that killed him Jack Ruby died some time later of cancer taking his secrets to the grave.

The world was in shock and mourned as one as the US went through the process of burying its President. It seemed that a light of the world and the hope he offered had been snuffed out. One of the major policy decisions effected by Kennedy's death was an escalations of US help to a small county across the world that no one had heard of at that time, VIET NAM. The US had for a number of years used 'advisors' to assist the South Vietnamese forces against the North. This took the form of CIA agents and members of the US elite Special Forces the Green Berets. The Green Berets were a development of President Kennedy's ideas and in fact when he was killed that put a black patch on their cap badge in his honour. It is still there today.

The word was Kennedy could not see were Vietnam was leading for the US as he held talks with the Joint Chiefs, those that headed the Armed forces of the USA, about pulling out of Vietnam. After he was killed and President Johnson looked at the situation he decided on the opposite course. He agreed with General Westmoreland the US Commander in the area and increased the US troop levels and allowed them to go on 'Combat Operations'. 

At the same time the culture in the 1960s reflected this threat in a number of ways. Moving in to the 1960s a culture of young people and their music started to change the world, quite literally. It was called the Age Of Aquarius, Flower Power, it was the emergence of the 'hippy' culture, sex, drugs and rock and roll.   From an age where Children were seen and not heard, the music of the age changed for all time when Elvis Presley's music arrived. Followed some years later by the Beatles, The Rolling Stones and other rock and roll bands on both sides of the Atlantic. Australia had a small part when the Bee Gees who lived here after moving from England, returned to the UK and started their music career.

Australia was a great place to grow up in the 1960s. I was working at a Steel Works, surfing all my free time and listening to the Beatles mostly and buying Beatle vinal LP records, which are like huge CDs.


Despite having fought side by side during World War Two Russia and the USA fought what was known as the "Cold War". That is without actually declaring war worked against each other. Not only directly by building up their armies, air forces and navies but helping other Countries. Russia, China and Korea, Coummunist Counties helped other Communist insurgencies with money, training and weapons of all sorts. The two countries also had spy agencies that worked to place spys in to each other's country. The USA had the CIA and Russia the KGB. Many of the movies of that age reflected the conflict including the early James Bond movies; which documented the Countries actions against their former allies in World War Two.

One way Countries protect themselves was to have a "Treaty " with other Countries. Australia was in a Treaty with the USA and New Zeaaland, called ANZUS. When the decision was made to expand the efforts against the Communist North Viet Nam the Australian Government decided that this country needed to support the Americans. Much the same way the Howard Government decided to get involved with the USA in Iraq. It is not my task to write a substantial tome on the Viet Nam War, that is better left to the many books on the subject. Although you should remember that those writers do so in terms of their own point of view and many are writing from distant persective; where as my perspective as a soldier on the ground during the War. Which gives me a certain advantage as to a front row seat; a participant of the Australian experince of that War.








58th BATTALION AIF.Platoon Commander. During the attack on Mon St. Quentin patrols failed to clear a number of enemy strong points. Pte Mactier single handed, in daylight, jumped out of his trench, closed with and killed a machine gun garrison of eight men with his revolver and bombs.

Then threw the machine gun over the parapet. Rushing forward about 20 yards he jumped into another strong point held by 6 enemy who surrendered.

During the attack on Mon St. Quentin patrols failed to clear a number of enemy strong points. Pte Mactier single handed, in daylight, jumped out of his trench, closed with and killed a machine gun garrison of eight men with his revolver and bombs.

Then threw the machine gun over the parapet. Rushing forward about 20 yards he jumped into another strong point held by 6 enemy who surrendered. Continuing to the next strong point he disposed of an enemy machine-gun which had been enfilading our advancing troops. He was then killed by another machine gun at close range.

It was due to his exceptional Valor that the Battalion was able to move to its 'jumping off trench' and carry out the successful operation of capturing the village of Mont St. Quentin.

1st September 1918: © DJL

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