By Kevin Nelson
The 18th of August marks an important date in Australian history, the Battle of Long Tan. The battle saw 108 ANZACS take on a Vietnamese Cong force at an estimate of 2,500 strong at a rubber plantation in the Phuoc Tuy province. Eighteen ANZACS lost their lives that day with a total of 24 wounded in a battle that was considered one of the heaviest conflicts throughout the Vietnam War.
Fifty-one years later, veterans and members of the Bathurst community stood at the foot of the Carillion War Memorial to remember all Australians who served in Long Tan and the Vietnam War.
Bathurst’s annual Vietnam Veterans Day ceremonies began with a memorial service and lying of Wreaths at the Carillion War Memorial, the ceremony was attended by many different veterans, including Frankie from Redgum’s famous song ‘I was only 19’. The men had many stories of the war back here and in Vietnam, but the same line continued to echo, “ If it wasn’t for the New Zealand forces on the Artillery guns, things would have definitely been different”.
Friends of veterans were also in attendance, including Danny Smith who was attending to commemorate his recently deceased mate who served in Long Tan. Danny told many stories about his mate and how the war impacted his every day life.
The city of Bathurst continues to commemorate all those who served, particularly one veteran called James Dietrich who has organised a new plot to commemorate all veterans from the Boer War right up the present. The new memorial will feature pavers with the veteran’s name, years of service and what area of the military they served in.
Veterans gather at the foot of the Carillon to remember those who served. Photo: Kevin Nelson
The celebration of Bathurst’s Vietnam veterans continues on Sunday with an official march held at the Bathurst and District Vietnam Veterans Memorial Park on Boundary Road.