Our 2023 commemorative poster acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the end of Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War. Display our poster for Anzac Day to help remember and recognise the contributions of all Australians in the Vietnam War.
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Australia's involvement in the Vietnam War began in 1962 when 30 military advisors landed in South Vietnam's capital, Saigon. South Vietnam was facing a communist insurgency waged by the Viet Cong, a guerrilla force backed by the North Vietnamese. As the situation in South Vietnam deteriorated, its ally, the United States (US), increased its military commitment. In March 1965, Australia did the same, sending an infantry battalion and supporting arms to serve under US command.
Over the years to come, Australia's involvement in Vietnam deepened. After serving alongside US troops, senior Australian military leaders concluded that Australian forces could be more effective in their own area of operations, employing their own tactics against an elusive, determined enemy. To do so meant an increased commitment. In 1966, Australia deployed a task force, based at Nui Dat in the centre of Phuoc Tuy Province, which formed the main area of Australian operations.
Each of Australia's 3 services took part in the Vietnam War. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) carried out transport, bombing and ground support operations. Its most visible presence was in the form of the Iroquois helicopters that played such an important role in infantry operations.
The Royal Australian Navy operated offshore, providing naval gunfire to land-based targets, patrolling waters, and transporting men and equipment to and from South Vietnam. Naval clearance divers worked in coastal waterways, removing explosive devices and other hazards, as well as protecting shipping off the port of Vung Tau from enemy mines.
Several dozen Australian military nurses also served in Vietnam. RAAF nurses tended the wounded and ill on medical evacuation flights, while Army nurses served 12-month tours in the country.
The Australian Army played the dominant role in Australia's war. Australian soldiers performed various tasks, from combat infantrymen, engineers and armoured personnel to those who served in supporting and staff roles. The Australians aimed to drive the Viet Cong from Phouc Tuy Province, denying them the support of the villages, their bases and assembly areas. Nowhere in South Vietnam, including Phuoc Tuy, was this aim achieved. Australian forces met with some success, but the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese Army allies remained a dangerous foe until Australia's combat forces withdrew at the end of 1972.
In Australia, opposition to the war grew until, by the early 1970s, thousands were marching in protest. By then, Australia's military commitment was winding down. On 11 January 1973, the Governor-General signed a proclamation formally ending Australia's involvement in Vietnam.
RAAF personnel returned to Vietnam to carry out evacuation and humanitarian operations in 1975 during the war's final days. South Vietnam surrendered to the North on 30 April that year, ending a conflict that had lasted more than 10 years.
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