A Diggers personal view point, gained while serving with 3 Platoon 'A' Company 7RAR as a Rifleman in Australia's longest ever war - fought in South East Asia.


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  • The site in Historical Prespective
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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 xxx. 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 occasion 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.



While I have no formal qualifications as a historian I have had a number of unique viewpoints of world events both in England after World War Two and in Australia before 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 wonded 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.

Whisten 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 (2006) 'war on terror'. In those days the 'terror' was comunisum. This stand off between 'communist countries such as Russia, China and Korea those behind the 'Iron Curtian' and the Free World saw an unpressidental arms race. This was made all the more dangerous as Japan had been defeated by the dropping of two Nuclear bombs, a terrible weapon in which one bomb had more detructive power than all the bombs dropped in WW2.

KOREAN WAR 1950 -1953

The first test of the Free World against the Communisum took place in Korea. In a war for the first time fought under the flag of the United Nations. In 1950 North Koria invaded the South who could not resist and basically the whole country except a small area. General Macarthur was put in charge and he used the Marines and their skills devloped in WW2 fighting against the Japanses.

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 centainly was a very dangerous time for the world and I don't as a invdual 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 Missle Crises. Russia had staged a few misslies 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 missles.

The world held its collective breath for a few days until news film showed the ships with missles on board leaving Cuba. President Kennedy a World War Two verteran 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 Commenart 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 Technolgy 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 investigate 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 Egland within minutes, Australia awoke to the news of the shooting of Kenndy. Soon after the word came that he was dead. It was perhaps the first trully world 'event'? The world stood stunned at the news. Who had done such a thing and why? Soon an arrest of a Lee Harvy Oswarld seemed to bring some answers, but 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 buring 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 Kennedu's death was an esculation of US help to a small counrty across the world that know one had heard of at that time, VIET NAM. The US had for a nubber of years used 'advisors' to assist the South Vietnamise forces against the North. This took the form of CIA agents and members of the US elete Special Frces the Green Berets. The Green Berets were a devlopment of President Kennedies 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 and 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 Ccommander 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.  






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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