Peter Jarratt's story

Peter Charles Jarrett was born on 21 June 1936 in Berrigan, New South Wales. He was educated in Sydney and worked for 18 months after school before joining the Australian Army when he was almost 18.

After 6 months at Officer Cadet School in Portsea, Victoria. Peter joined the Royal Australian Armoured Corps as second lieutenant. Later he became tank troop leader at the 1st Armoured Regiment at Puckapunyal, was posted to the National Service Training Battalion at Holdsworthy, and did more tank work at Puckapunyal.

In 1963, Peter deployed to South Vietnam and served with the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam (AATTV). Members of the AATV provided training and assistance to the South Vietnamese.

Peter remembered the close relationship with the United States (US) forces. His unit was given US kits and, when wounded, treated in US military hospitals. He recalled the vulnerability experienced in the field and the importance of sending advisors out in pairs so they could look out for each other.

Service in the Vietnam War was an important time in Peter's life, but he was glad to return home. He continued with his army career after the war, leaving the Army 1983 after 29 years of service.

Peter Jarratt (Australian Army), The Australian Army Training Team Vietnam

Transcript

In 1962, the first 30 Australian soldiers were sent to Vietnam. They were called the Australian Army Training Team Vietnam and they provided training and assistance to the South Vietnamese.

"They were experienced officers, or warrant officers, many with World War Two experience; certainly many of the warrant officers had fought the Communist terrorists in Malaysia so they'd had jungle experience.

We were issued a weapon, 45 automatic American pistol, a tin hat "" steel helmet which I never ever wore; some other bits and pieces of American kit, all our ID cards, the whole thing, which was plugged into the American system so that we then became a part of the American structure. If we got wounded we went to an American hospital to be sorted out.

But the first eye-opener for me was when General Timmes stood up on our briefing, he was the head sharang of the military advisory group in Vietnam; and Timmes stood up at the front and, you know, forty years ago, but he went through 'God is on our side, the Communist pagans,' or whatever, 'We will defeat them, it is our role, our mission in the world.'

And I didn't think God was on my side at all, I didn't think there was any God in any case, so I wasn't sure that he was sitting behind me at all. When you're involved in a fire situation where people are actually shooting at you and you're shooting back, and you can't speak the language, you feel pretty vulnerable, which is why we always sent advisors out in pairs, so that one man could watch the other's back. You look after each other."

The Training Team were 'first in, last out' and became the most decorated Australian unit to serve in Vietnam.

"Looking back on it, it was a very important time in my life, a time when I had more power and control and freedom to do what I wanted to than I've ever had. I was glad that I was there but I was glad to come home. At the end of it I waved Vietnam farewell and said, 'That's it'."


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DVA (Department of Veterans' Affairs) ( ), Peter Jarratt's story, DVA Anzac Portal, accessed 19 June 2024, https://anzacportal.dva.gov.au/stories/oral-histories/peter-jarratts-story
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