6RAR

The Army’s last regular force Vietnam veteran retires, thank you Sir for your service

Portrait of Major Gordon Benfell who is retiring after serving 52 years with the New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF). He is alson the NZDF’s last serving Vietnam Veteran.

The Army?s sole remaining Regular Force Vietnam War veteran, Major Gordon Benfell, is retiring after 52 years of service.

Major Benfell joined just before he turned 15, originally to be a radio technician, but then decided to do something weapons-related.

He spent three years as a Regular Force cadet, graduating as a Lance Corporal. At 18 he was a weapons instructor at the Training Wing of the nearby First Battalion Depot, then started training for deployment to Vietnam. ? Read more »

Battle of Long Tan Day – 50th Anniversary

On this day in 1966, 50 years ago:

The?Battle of Long Tan was fought between the?Australian Army and?Viet Cong forces in a rubber plantation near the village of?Long T?n, about 27 kilometres (17?mi) north east of?Vung Tau,?South Vietnam. The action occurred when D?Company of the?6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), part of the?1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF), encountered the?Viet Cong (VC)?275 Regiment and elements of the?D445 Local Forces Battalion. D Company was supported by other Australian units, as well as New Zealand and United States artillery.

skippy1During the battle the company from 6RAR, despite being heavily outnumbered, fought off a large enemy assault of regimental strength. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded, while at least 245 Viet Cong were killed. It was a decisive Australian victory and is often cited as an example of the importance of combining and coordinating infantry, artillery, armour and military aviation. The battle had considerable tactical implications as well, being significant in allowing the Australians to gain dominance over Ph??c Tuy province, and although there were a number of other large-scale encounters in later years, 1ATF was not fundamentally challenged again.

The battle has since achieved similar symbolic significance for the Australian military in the?Vietnam War as battles such as the?Gallipoli Campaign have for the?First World War, the?Kokoda Track Campaign for the?Second World War?and the?Battle of Kapyong for the?Korean War.

One of those men who fought in the Battle of Long Tan that day was my father in law. He was firstly in the field as an Op and then brought back to man the guns that day as they fought to save the Aussie soldiers.

The Kiwi guns were instru?men?tal in sav?ing 3 pla?toons of D Com?pany of the ?6thBat?tal?ion, Royal Aus?tralian Reg?i?ment (6RAR) and enabling the thrash?ing of a Reg?i?ment of Viet?Cong.

Each gun fired over 1200 rounds that day and night in sup?port of the Aussies. The bat?tle was fought in a rub?ber tree plan?ta?tion near the vil?lage of Long Tan, about 40?km north-east of Vung Tau, South Viet?nam on August 18?19, 1966. The bat?tle was fought all after?noon and most of the night in pour?ing mon?soon rain. The guns ran so hot that wet blan?kets were draped over them in an attempt to keep the bar?rels?cool.

MorrieStanelyS1966In 2010 another veteran of this battle,?Major Morrie Stanley, sadly passed away. Our news media at the time barely covered it but the Aussie media did. They know what these guys did to save their boys and they well remember it.

Today is the day I remember their service.

Above is the online documentary about the Battle of Long Tan . It is superb and well worth spending the time watching.

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The Long Tan Cross

Lest we forget.

Battle of Long Tan Day

On this day in 1966:

The?Battle of Long Tan was fought between the?Australian Army and?Viet Cong forces in a rubber plantation near the village of?Long T?n, about 27 kilometres (17?mi) north east of?Vung Tau,?South Vietnam. The action occurred when D?Company of the?6th Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (6RAR), part of the?1st Australian Task Force (1 ATF), encountered the?Viet Cong (VC)?275 Regiment and elements of the?D445 Local Forces Battalion. D Company was supported by other Australian units, as well as New Zealand and United States artillery.

During the battle the company from 6RAR, despite being heavily outnumbered, fought off a large enemy assault of regimental strength. 18 Australians were killed and 24 wounded, while at least 245 Viet Cong were killed. It was a decisive Australian victory and is often cited as an example of the importance of combining and coordinating infantry, artillery, armour and military aviation. The battle had considerable tactical implications as well, being significant in allowing the Australians to gain dominance over Ph??c Tuy province, and although there were a number of other large-scale encounters in later years, 1ATF was not fundamentally challenged again.

The battle has since achieved similar symbolic significance for the Australian military in the?Vietnam War as battles such as the?Gallipoli Campaign have for the?First World War, the?Kokoda Track Campaign for the?Second World War?and the?Battle of Kapyong for the?Korean War.

One of those men who fought in the Battle of Long Tan that day was my father in law. He was firstly in the field as an Op and then brought back to man the guns that day as they fought to save the Aussie soldiers.

The Kiwi guns were instru?men?tal in sav?ing 3 pla?toons of D Com?pany of the ?6th Bat?tal?ion, Royal Aus?tralian Reg?i?ment (6RAR) and enabling the thrash?ing of a Reg?i?ment of Viet?Cong.

Each gun fired over 1200 rounds that day and night in sup?port of the Aussies. The bat?tle was fought in a rub?ber tree plan?ta?tion near the vil?lage of Long Tan, about 40?km north-east of Vung Tau, South Viet?nam on August 18?19, 1966. The bat?tle was fought all after?noon and most of the night in pour?ing mon?soon rain. The guns ran so hot that wet blan?kets were draped over them in an attempt to keep the bar?rels?cool.

Last year another veteran of this battle Major Morrie Stanley sadly passed away. Our news media at the time barely covered it nut the Aussie media did. They know what these guys did to save their boys and they well remember it.

Today is the day I remember their service.

There is an online documentary about the Battle of Long Tan [embedded below]. It is superb and well worth spending the time watching.

The Battle of Long Tan Documentary from Red Dune Films on Vimeo.

RIP – Major Morrie Stanley

After a short battle with cancer, Morrie Stanley passed away peacefully at his home in Campbells Bay, New Zealand today on 16th September 2010. Morrie is survived by his wife Alva and two sons.

Morrie Stanley was a Captain at the Battle of Long Tan, and my father in law was a gunner who helped send those 3500+ rounds out to help save the 6RAR troops.

18 August 1966, South Vietnam – for more than three and a half hours, in the pouring rain amid the shattered trees of a rubber plantation called Long Tan, Morrie Stanley radioed in more than 61 artillery fire missions and corrections in support of the 108 besieged soldiers of D Company 6RAR. Unable to see in the rain and murk exactly where the 3,500+ rounds of high explosive rounds were falling, working entirely by radio communication with the forward platoons and the artillery units back at Nui Dat, from a folded map held in his hand, constantly wiping off the mud and running rainwater, this New Zealand officer was calling in every ounce of his experience and training. His M16 rifle lay unattended next to him in the water despite the repeated reminders of his radio operator, fellow New Zealander Willy Walker to keep it in his hand.

Many, including the Long Tan veterans and military historians credit the skill, professionalism and gallantry of Morrie Stanley in keeping much of the enemy at bay whilst the front lines soldiers fought off the foremost attacking waves of Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers. At critical points during the battle Morrie was directing artillery to within 50 metres of the Australian front line positions.

The Artillery being controlled and directed by Morrie in support of D Company during the battle comprised eighteen 105mm howitzers from 161 Field Battery (New Zealand), 103 Field Battery (Australia), 105 Field Battery (Australia) and six 155mm M109 self-propelled howitzers from 2/35th Howitzer Battalion (US Army).

103 Australians and 3 New Zealander’s fought and defeated 2,500 Viet Cong and North Vietnamese soldiers in a rubber plantation called Long Tan. 18 Australians were killed and 21 wounded with more than 500 enemy killed and 1,000+ enemy wounded.

A true hero. Rest in peace.

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