Here are some facts everyone should know about Australia and the Vietnam War.
- Australia’s decade-long involvement in the Vietnam War (from 1962 until 1972) is the “longest major conflict” this country has ever been a part of. The conflict started in the 1950s and ended in the mid-1970s.
- When the government of South Vietnam first called on the USA and Australia for aid in 1962, the latter dispatched just 30 personnel. This group was known as the Australian Army Training Team (AATTV) and consisted of officers and sergeants.
- The AATTV were not allowed to take military operations for the first two years of the Vietnam War. This regulation, says the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, “proved completely impractical” – especially when Australians were caught in ambushes.
- As the battle raged on, Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War started being contested by those back home. Between 1969 and 1970, a number of demonstrations took place, culminating in a country-wide protest of 200,000 people.
- More than 500 personnel from Australia were killed during the Vietnam War, and more than 3,000 were wounded. A total of 50,000 served, including the Navy and the Air Force.
- Australians’ experience of the Vietnam War is quite different to what you might see in silver-screen reimaginings of the event. According to the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, our involvement was mostly limited to “small unit actions”, rather than momentous battles, such as those that took place at Hue.
- The AATV was not only the first group to arrive in Vietnam, but also the last to depart when Australia pulled out of the conflict in 1972.
If you want to learn more, check out Inside the Vietnam War, starting November 27 at 9.30pm, only on the History Channel.