Arthur Law (Australian Army), Partners & Allies

Running time
2 min 14 sec
Place made

Department of Veterans' Affairs

Arthur Law served as an infantryman in Vietnam and observed firsthand the different tactical approaches used by the Americans and the Australians.


In 1965, the Australian Government agreed to send an infantry battalion to Vietnam: 1st Battalion, The Royal Australian Regiment. Attached to the US Army's 173d Airborne Brigade (Separate) in Bien Hoa, their number included a confident lance corporal named Arthur Law.

"We were very confident young men. Individually and collectively. We were world beaters. We'd been told so often how we were the best."

It wasn't long before they were in action alongside American troops. Their tactics were different.

"The American tactic when we first arrived there, was as soon as they contacted an enemy and started shooting, because of their terrific fire power they've got behind them, they would pull back a hundred metres so that they could employ their artillery and all that sort of stuff.

The enemy very quickly realised this and would move forward with them, if you're up close you can't use those weapons so it was down to you know, pistols and rifles and machine guns. And initially when we were having contacts we were getting quite a few kills, ‘cos they were moving forward on us, until they realised the blokes in the bush hats aren't Americans.

Quite often we would have Americans with us, to observe our way of doing it. Some were good, some were not so good. Same as our guys. They were quite brave people in so far as, when we got shot at, everybody was on their guts on the ground looking for where the shot was coming from and trying to return fire. The Americans would trade shots you know, they'd run forward and you know, real cowboy sort of stuff."

Just weeks before he was due to go home, Arthur was involved in Operation Silver City, a heliborne assault.

"And the next thing, shooting starts. And I'm down on my face on the ground and I've been shot through the leg and there's blood spraying everywhere. Ah, shit, you know.

I'm eternally thankful for the American evacuation system, their hospital system, which I reckon you could probably not get anywhere else in the world. You knew that if you were wounded and they could get you out before it really got bad, your chances of survival were almost a hundred per cent."

More stories

Was this page helpful?
We can't respond to comments or queries via this form. Please contact us with your query instead.